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Yahoo and Ebay to Partner

Filed under: — 12:28 pm

Yahoo and eBay have announced that they are partnering. Under the terms of the agreement, Yahoo will become the exclusive provider of graphical advertising throughout eBay’s site and will provide some sponsored search results. PayPal will also become the preferred payment provider for purchases made on Yahoo. Skype will also be used as another marketing avenue for advertisers.

The PayPal agreement could be a huge win for eBay, as Yahoo has many paid services. It could be especially valuable if PayPal is then promoted as the preferred payment method on all of the Yahoo Stores, where merchants can easily create their own online stores. I’ve noticed in at least one Yahoo Store that PayPal is already a default, so this may not have as much of an effect as I originally thought. I’m not sure how other stores are setup.

Sources: CNNMoney, AP, Forbes


Dell Burns Itself with Low Prices

Filed under: — 1:30 pm

By all accounts Dell has not been doing well. In recent weeks they have been offering many PCS at rock-bottom prices. They often discount machines before a fiscal quarter ends, in hopes of meeting expectations. “On May 8, Dell said it would post fiscal first-quarter revenue of $14.2 billion, at the low end of its earlier projection of $14.2 billion to $14.6 billion. Worse, Dell said it expects earnings of about 33 cents a share, falling short of a projected range of 36 cents to 38 cents, including an estimated three cents of stock-based compensation. The announcement sent shares down by almost 6% in extended trading.”

“The trouble for Dell is that unit volumes aren’t compensating for price reductions. Besides hurting Dell’s sales and profit, sluggish unit growth is also eroding market share, another key measure of overall health. In the calendar first quarter, Dell’s share slipped for the first time in memory, analysts said. According to market researcher IDC, Dell’s worldwide share of the PC market fell to 18.1% from 18.6%, and in the U.S., share fell to 32.3% from 33.9%.”

While dell is selling mid-range and high-end machines, those sales aren’t sufficient adn Dell is still being forced to cut prices. Dell also recently announced the acquisition of high-end computer manufacturer Alienware. Alienware always held a special place in my heart, and I hope that Dell doesn’t take them down with the ship.

Source: BusinessWeek


What’s In A Name?

Filed under: — 12:48 am

Freakonomics mentions the fact that ‘DeShawn Williams’ will not get a call back. Even if his resume is identical to ‘Jake Williams’… who will.

Seth makes an interesting point:

Standing out is not the same thing as being remarkable. Standing out can just as easily get you ostracized. I don’t think Purple is the same as just being different.

Anyway, Mr. Godin may be linkless but you can read more about the importance of names on page 168 of Freakonomics…

Update: J D Moore points out the fact that a number of HR departments now format resumes to remove this kind of discrimination. Good point.


LEGO Hates The Word LEGOS

Filed under: — 11:14 pm

BoingBoing points out one of the dumbest things I’ve ever seen. Apparently LEGO is merely a brand name and NOT the name of their product. Therefore we’re not supposed to call them LEGOS. Click the image to see what happens when you try

It’s called plurality, LEGO, and don’t tell your loyal customers how to act, jerks.


Movies Help Point Out Obvious: TV Ads Hardly Effective

Filed under: — 2:28 pm

The WSJ reports today that this summer’s movies fared pretty poorly becuase network TV ads aren’t working as well as they used to. Seth Godin has been telling us this for a few years now though:

Moviegoers “are no longer a captive audience in prime-time broadcast network television, and I think all of these tactics basically reflect a new awareness of that,” says Lee Doyle, director of client services for WPP Group PLC’s Mediaedge:cia, another ad-placement firm.

The article mentions the fact that companies are also realizing the ineffectiveness of Super Bowl ads:

“We’ve found that the retention rate is actually not that great,” says Russell Schwartz, head of marketing at New Line, referring to how many viewers remember the spots. Given that the big game is broadcast long before the summer season begins, he adds, “there might be a more effective way to spend your $2.4 million than on a 30-second spot seven months before your movie opens.”

Apparently everyone is out here on the internet or busy listening to word-of-mouth.



Dow Jones Makes More Online

Filed under: — 9:04 pm

The business2.0 blog points out an interesting (yet hardly surprising) fact: more money is made online than off for Dow Jones (WSJ publisher). The blog poses the question: why print? The answer seems pretty straight forward and I’ll let my father sum it up:

The question is likley answered by the ad revenues and their ad client’s preference for “print” ads. Madison Ave has spent a century (in round numbers) perfecting how to get mind share with a printed page as the medium. That won’t die quickly.

Ironic. Seth Godin points out the amazingly high cost of a full page ad in a paper such as the WSJ… an ad that, as he illustrated, most people ignore.

But, thats not the only reason the presses wont stop any time soon. Simply put: the concept of a ‘newspaper’ has not yet disappeared.

…[it’s] how folks are educated. Mostly, they had books and other printed material, so takes another generation or 2 that never had “printed” material when they got their education to erase the printed page.

I guess I should point out that he gets the WSJ delivered every morning while I use the RSS/online subscription model. Same paper, different medium.


GM Introduces New Lineup

Filed under: — 6:34 pm

WSJ: Under pressure to revive sales, General Motors Corp. is about to unleash an important element of its turnaround effort: A slew of new, better-looking vehicles.

I held off on posting about this last night becuase its nice follow-up to the last post. Wagoner has realized and acknowledged that GM is “no longer” in the transportation indeustry but also arts and entertainment. Frankly, he’s far too late to do much about it. “Although many of its new models won’t hit showrooms for months, GM is eager to build some buzz. ” Ehh, buzz may work, then again, the conversation may focus more on share value than new cars. In any case, I’m anxious to see some newer, sleeker cars coming out of GM. It may make next year’s In Motion show even more worthwhile.


Ethan Allen’s TV Ads Working

Filed under: — 10:57 am

Reuters: Furniture maker and retailer Ethan Allen Interiors Inc. on Monday said a television marketing campaign began to generate positive results in May, sending its shares up as much as 3.7 percent.

Seth Godin: TV advertising is collapsing so fast you can hear it.


All Marketers Are Liars by Seth Godin

Filed under: — 4:01 pm

I had the privilege of reading a copy of Seth Godin’s latest book entitled All Marketers Are Liars- The Power of Telling Authentic Stories in a Low-Trust World (blog). Let me start off by saying I read this book becuase I had the worldview that Seth is the marketing guru. His concept of a purple cow and permission marketing have changed the way many people go about marketing.

I suppose I should first explain the term ‘worldview’. It’s an idea Seth discusses that basically says ‘this is the way I think about _____’. A worldview can be as simple as feeling strongly about recycling and organic products. Godin points out that as a marketers all you have to do is tell a story that matches a particular set of worldviews. The best part? The story doesn’t necessairly have to be true. Thus: all marketers are liars.

…well, maybe not liars. They’re storytellers. Huh, the title itself is a story… a provocative one at that. If you think about it, many people hold the worldview that marketers are useless and just lie to try to get your money. This book’s title certainly lines up with their values. The title markets the book by telling a story that people have already told themselves.

I found this book a bit more interesting than Purple Cow, actually. Seth includes a number of interesting details. He talks about cotton and how its not as great as we think (even harmful). All that recycling we take part in? In many cases a waste of time. Seth argues that marketers have used our worldviews (saving the world, enjoying the touch of cotton) to market products to us. Products that that we don’t need, but want.

Now, marketing with a story isn’t as easy as that. You’ve got to have a product that begs to be told about. Plus, your story has to be consistent. You can’t just force feed the public a cute commercial and expect us to not see through it. In addition, it’s much harder to tell a story if your company is ‘medium-sized’. Small is good (think interviews) and big works too (Fox News).

Overall, I really enjoyed this book. I now look at advertising and products differently. I also realize why many commercials won’t sell very well and try to determine ‘which worldview is that supposed to appeal to’? In addition, I’ve become more aware of my own values and worldviews.

Don’t just take my word for it. Check out a five page excerpt available online. Also visit the BBBT and its collection of reviews, blog entries, and discussions with the author.


GM’s ‘In Motion’ Auto Show A Blast

Filed under: — 11:48 pm

Today was a great day at Invesco Field at Mile High… or as we like to (and should) call it: Mile High Stadium. It was the host to General Motors’ ‘In Motion’ advertis-err auto show. It was free, fun, and pretty exciting. How trusting is a company thats letting thousands of people drive hundreds of their cars over a four day period? It was this simple: fill out name and driver’s license number, walk to car, drive around in a _____ (insert luxury sedan, SUV, H2, etc. here). It was a great day, great cars… great time. Plus they gave us lunch. I know what you’re thinking “oh, you drove over to a multi-car test drive…” Hardly The atmosphere was not what you’d find with a dealer sitting on your lap. There was genuine excitement and energy. I think GM is making the right move allowing people to get their hands on their cars…

…coincidently the WSJ has an article today on GM, its struggles, and how it plans to change things soon. Their four-point plan includes: overhaul the pricing strategy, consolidating Pontiac and Buick, spending more to “woo” import buyers on the coasts, and upgrading aging GM dealerships in key markets.

…did I mention I was driving a BMW 325 just hours ago?


Grapevine: The New Art of Word-of-Mouth Marketing

Filed under: — 10:44 pm

It appears the founder of BzzAgent, Dave Balter, is writing a book about this new and exciting form of marketing called ‘word-of-mouth’. Having been a BzzAgent for a while I can expect this to be an interesting book. I love the questions prompted before even being able to preview it (BzzAgents can become participants in the book process). One which is found before every campaign sounds like ‘how likely is it you’d be willing to recommend ____ to people?’ Well Dave, I don’t know… I haven’t tried it yet. So, Dave, I can’t honestly tell you how much your book will or will not suck before I try it. It sounds like I need to assume whatever you give me is pure gold and I’m merely being used to convey that to everyone else…

In any case, here’s a little blurb about it:

We don’t want to give too much away, but each chapter in Grapevine is preceded by a look into the life of the marketing campaign for “SparklyPerfect,” a fictional super-product. It’s got all the best features and expansive advertising and marketing strategies behind it. It seems the only thing that’s missing is honest and genuine word of mouth! What to do, what to do… The amusing fictional representation of SparklyPerfect is told in a series of vignettes which help the reader understand the flow of word of mouth through the marketplace.


Yahoo! Helps Small Businesses

Filed under: — 11:56 am

According to Yahoo! over half of small business in America aren’t yet online. Solution: offer them a free website! The site is offered through the local listings and allows businesses to not only list themselves but provide their own five-page site to go along with it. Check out the blog entry with the annoucement.

…the search war continues. I swear a new feature is released by someone every week or so. At least Yahoo! is trying to help small businesses, right?


WSJ Says Advertisers Leery of Blogs

Filed under: — 1:58 pm

Yesterday I noticed ‘blogs’ in a WSJ headline and thought that I certainly had to have a read. The article, Many Advertisers Find Blogging Frontier Is Still Too Wild, talks about the big players (Gawker’s Nick Denton, Weblogs, Inc.’s Jason Calacanis) and, despite hesitation from advertisers, they’re making some excellent money. Jason commented on an article I wrote a while back on Blogosphere News:

Right now we’re just 100% focused on finding great bloggers and getting them paid as much as possible. Last year people blogged for spare change, this year it’s paying the rent/part of the rent, and next year (2006) it will be 3/4 to fulltime. 2007? the blogging talent wars??! :-)

You may think to yourself “with 70-something blogs you’d have to be making a ton of money to support that many bloggers’ rent”. Well, you’d be right. According to the article, Calacanis’ network brought in $925,000 in only four months. The article also talks about the corporate sponsorship Mr. Denton’s blogs have recieved. If one were to look through Calacanis’ archives it’d be obvious that the two blog-lords dispute (among many things) their values with regard to money. The Wall Street Journal doesn’t talk about the competition and opposing values, but, it does mention the ability for the smaller bloggers to make some cash, too (Adwords). I, for one, have chosen not to include any of my own advertising becuase a) I don’t have many readers and b) I can’t make a site layout as nice as Jason’s to incorporate them. ;-)

I think the main point here is: there is money to be made, no question. Still, some companies don’t want to be actively associated with “the conversation”.

PS: Jason, if you’re looking for a business news blog… err…


Tooth Tunes Reinvents The Toothbrush

Filed under: — 1:11 pm

Brushing your teeth just became fun(ner?). I have an electric brush that beeps every thirty seconds and stops automatically after two. Its perfect. But wait, now there are Tooth Tunes. John at Brand Autopsy talks about the remarkable product that sends soundwaves through the teeth up into the inner ear:

For six years, Hasbro has been trying to develop the right use for their invention of a tiny devise that can transmit sound through enamel and bone. They first tried to use the technology in a lollipop but at $10 bucks a pop, consumers balked. Next, Hasbro considered using pens, spoons, and forks but none of those prototypes made it to the marketplace. Hasbro finally settled on a toothbrush and will launch Tooth Tunes in late summer.

This is a classic example of what Seth Godin spoke of in Purple Cow. The product is the marketing and vice versa.

Update:Mary provides some a helpful comment:

This is nothing new. A company called Orawave was into the tuned musical toothbrush market first with a superior product called the Tuned Musical 2-Minute Twin Spin toothbrush. Unlike the Hasbro brush — Orawave’s has a replaceable head, comes in 4 cool designs, plays 8 DIFFERENT tunes so you get a different tune each time you brush, has a 2 minute timer, twin heads and plays music only AFTER the person has brushed for the full 2 minutes - a reward. And it sells for less than $7. Dentists recommend you change your brush heads every 3 months and since Hasbro’s brush heads cannot be replaced, you will need to shell out $10, 4 times a year! 4 replacement heads for the Orawave only cost about $8 TOTAL.

Thanks, Mary!


Lovemarks and Buzz Are Only Good When Authentic

Filed under: — 9:41 pm

The title sounds reasonable enough, right? A number of people are upset with the lovemark/buzz trends cropping up. In short: companies are being semi-deceptive. In an recent post from Churh of the Customer, Jakie says:

The problem with stealth marketing is when prospects become unwitting participants in a cloaked process … Prospects are used by advertisers who stealthily insert commercial messages into real-life situations and hope they aren’t found out.

I, personally, had become a member of BzzAgent when FastCompany did an article on them. As I started going through the motions it was clear that this was a ploy to create little “agents” that would just name-drop and evangelize products they (most likely) did not believe in. The way the reports are structured leads you to believe they’re looking (and rewarding) the most convincing liars and superficial-friends. Sure, I could decide I don’t like the product but still tell my friends about it and get points. Or I could even decide not to talk to them about it and outright lie! What an awesome system…

Needless to say, similar criticism is out there with regards to lovemarks. Again, for those unaware, the idea behind a lovemark is one that goes beyond a brand; where a customer is loyal beyond reason (Apple anyone?). But, now there is an agency out there, as BadMarketing reports, that claims to be able to manufacture that level of love and respect! Thats ridiculous. Earlier our friends were manufacturing positive word of mouth and now agencies can design something thats tied to people’s emotion? No, lovemarked brands are those that earned the title by offering great products or services and by not being jerks about it. As the article mentions, people respect Google because it wasn’t filled with arbitrary ads.

Just some things to think about when designing your products, maybe. As Godin says, the marketing doesn’t come after the product development… the product should be the marketing and vice versa.

Why Lovemarks Offends Us | via AdPulp | also Truth in advertising

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