Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Show Me One Teen Who Reads a Newspaper

Tapping into the youth market is something of a grail-quest for marketers and rightly so. A new Teenage Research Unlimited study commissioned by Newspaper Association of America has found that consumers between the ages of 12 and 17 accounted for $158 billion in sales in 2005. And nearly 50% of those surveyed said they planned to spend even more in the 12 months ahead.

We obviously know that this set lives on the Web: 82% have computers at home; 71% have active Internet connections; 44% have made an online purchase. But, according to these new "findings," 54% spent at least one hour reading a newspaper in any given week... that's more than the percentage of those who spent one or more hours at the mall!

Unless educators are forcing their students to read dailies, I just don't see how this is possible.

Web Sales on Thankgiving Day Higher Than Expected

Forget Black Friday and Cyber Monday says Hitwise, who today reports that Thanksgiving Day was 2005's top online shopping day.

Consumers took to Web in droves according to their findings - the total number of shoppers was up nearly 19% when compared to last year. Here are the destinations they turned to:

Top 15 US Shopping and Classifieds Web Sites for the Week Ending November 26

I Want My Yahoo! RSS Folder

In an attempt to "educate more people about the technology," Yahoo! has added an RSS folder to approximately 50% of their account holders' Inboxes.

"This is really taking RSS to another level," said Senior Director of Personalization Products Scott Gatz.

I'd be inclined to agree if only I'd made the cut.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

TiVo Sells Out

TiVo's plan to introduce a TV-based advertising search service that will enable users to select the commercials they want to see based on search-style keywords only proves one thing: they just don't get it.

In collusion with some of the world's largest agencies, "TiVo intends to capture the best of the Internet advertising model and create a unique advertising product for the television medium that will provide measurable results," said Vice President of National Advertising Sales, Davina Kent.

Um, yeah. Good luck with that.

Top 10 Online Family and Lifestyle Destinations

According to Nielsen//NetRatings, MySpace attracted the biggest audience among family and lifestyle sites for the week ending November 13. Here's how the rest shook out:

Top 10 Online Family and Lifestyle Destinations

Monday, November 28, 2005

RSS and the Seven Requirements

Last November, Jupiter Research found that only 6% of the marketers they surveyed were unaware of RSS as a communications tool. 5% had already used feeds; 19% said they planned to do so in the year ahead. But did they?

In their continuing investigation of "Alternative Message Distribution Systems," Jupiter's new report (commissioned by Silverpop) turns it's attention to IRSS - same topic, more or less, just tweaked to include built-in measurement and personalization functions. Their findings suggest that in order for any of these tools to succeed, they must first meet the following criteria:
  1. They must be secure;
  2. They must be customizable and relevant;
  3. They must be measurable;
  4. They must guarantee delivery;
  5. They must put the controls into the hand of the end-user;
  6. They must be ubiquitous; and
  7. They must be built on open technology using existing standards.

To the list above, I'd like to add one more: they must be used.

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Micro Persuasion Hacks Bloglines

Bloglines is the focus of Micro Persuasion's latest post in the "social media hacks" series. More great advice for those of us who want to push the tools we use to their limits. Two big thumbs up!

Two Sides to Every Survey

The PR side of me sees tremendous opportunity in the fact that 72 million people turned to the Web for news related to hurricanes. The human side, however, finds the following statistic far more encouraging: 13 million people contributed financially to relief efforts, driving the number of online donors up 53% from January of this year.

I guess there's hope for us after all.

Saturday, November 26, 2005

Shopping Virtually This Holiday Season?

Be Careful Buying Online warns The Washington Post:
  1. Know your merchant - carefully read through their privacy and security policies and look for customer testimonials.
  2. Beware of scams - purchasing through emailed links in a definite no-no.
  3. Register safely - create unique passwords for each of your shopping carts and never, ever give out personal information.
  4. Shop securely - add an "s" to the "http" in the retailer's URL to prevent third parties from intercepting sensitive data.
  5. Use your credit card - "zero liability protection" means you pay nothing if your account falls prey to an identity thief.
  6. Secure your computer - conduct regular scans for viruses and consider installing a personal firewall.

Happy shopping, all!

27 Ways to Get Noticed in New York

New York Magazine's Brooke Kosofsky Glassberg sees the Big Apple as a city "sponsored, product-placed, and wrapped in logos."

"Effectiveness of the more subtle electronic promotional strategies of the twentieth century are waning," she reports, before serving up this short list of vehicles currently being explored by Gotham's ingenious marketers:

  1. Starbuck's coffee sleeves
  2. Street hawkers with megaphones
  3. Ads on urinals and on the back of stall doors
  4. Gym locker-room ads
  5. Bathroom-door ads
  6. Sidewalk chalking
  7. Sidewalk ashtrays
  8. Street-lamp banners
  9. Distributing flyers
  10. Buses
  11. Bus shelters
  12. Static subway-entrance ads
  13. Spotlights or projections on buildings
  14. Mobile billboard trucks
  15. Wrapped vehicles
  16. Airplanes
  17. Scaffolding broadsides
  18. Spray-painted faux-graffiti murals
  19. West Side Highway billboards
  20. "Tall-wall" vinyl banners on sides of buildings
  21. Subway platforms
  22. Subway cars
  23. Taxis
  24. Kodak’s Times Square moving-images display
  25. Digital subway-entrance ads
  26. Marathon naming rights
  27. Naming rights to the new Jets-Giants stadium
Clever, yes, but for risk-takers with a bit of coin.

Details on measurement were not provided.

Friday, November 25, 2005

Just How Black Was "Black Friday"?

Several weeks ago, an intrepid group of bargain hunters launched a Web site dedicated to finding "Black Friday" deals on- and offline. Retailers are hoping these little extras will be enough to draw big spenders amidst rising fuel and energy costs. Some already say it's working.

Approximately 130 million consumers are expected to make holiday purchases this weekend say National Retail Federation experts. At least $439.5 billion will be spent in malls across the US in the November-December shopping period.

Not to be outdone, online retailers are gearing up for "Cyber Monday," the day that kicks off their November-December period. In all, approximately $19.6 billion will be spent says comScore Networks.

So far, tech-toys and dolls, says CNNMoney, are accounting for many of the sales.

For Jupiter Research analyst, Patti Freeman Evans, there's no clear winner: "Sometimes you can get better deals online, sometimes you can get them in stores with sales and coupons and rebates."

I guess we'll just have to wait and see.

Frequency of Pre-teens Online and a Favorite Pursuit

Citing a new study conducted by Mediamark Research, MediaPost reports that 60% of Internet users between the ages of 6 and 11 can be found online at least once a month. 1 in 12 were said to connect daily.

As far as favorite activities go, 84% said they'd played a video game within the last month. Of the 20% that admitted to gaming every day, 30% were boys, 11% girls.

I'll bet my Sony PSP that those numbers go up after Santa arrives...

Murdoch Puts His Money Where His Mouth Is

Rupert Murdoch's vision of a future where "traditional press and the Internet" co-exist "for many, many years to come," has already cost the mogul nearly $1.5 million. Now, whether or not you agree with his policies, you have to give the man props for his, um, enthusiasm.

"The Internet has been the most fundamental change during my lifetime and for hundreds of years," he says in an interview published by The Hollywood Reporter. Come on now, with all that's gone on this year alone, keeping a global media empire in the black has to be a definite challenge.

Anyway, it's a great piece that hints at his organization's long-term strategic plan to adapt. Recommended reading for aspiring magnates and practitioners everywhere.

How to Make Your Blog Sing

Here's a neat little add-in courtesy of del.icio.us:

"Play Tagger allows you to easily play mp3 files directly on your website or blog. Simply include a tiny javascript, and your mp3 links will automatically become playable right on the page. In addition, your visitors will have the opportunity to easily tag and post the mp3 link to del.icio.us. This script is extrememely lightweight, as is the flash movie that plays on demand."

Think beyond music, and the possibilities are endless.

Improbulus over at A Consuming Experience has already given it a try - anyone else?

Thursday, November 24, 2005

You Know Your Campaign's Working When...

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!
Mike Thompson, The Detroit Free Press

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

New Project in the Works for Craigslist Founder?

Here's one to watch: speaking before a class of Oxford University business students earlier this week, Craig Newmark hinted at a future journalistic endeavor that would adopt the same "wisdom of the masses" that helped make his classified advertising service such a smashing success.

Newmark's proposed project is "intended to preserve the best of existing journalistic practices, and should help retain newsroom jobs." In a quote captured by The Guardian, he said that US newspapers are "afraid to talk truth to power." Thus Americans have "lost a lot of trust in conventional newspaper mechanisms." Beyond what we've already seen online, he'd like to help correct that by arming the public with a technology platform that lets them decide what's newsworthy and what isn't.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

MarketingSherpa's Four Email Marketing Alerts for 2006

Over the next few weeks, our Inboxes will be inundated with special offer newsletters, many of which we agreed to receive. Unfortunately, most will be deleted unread. In times like these, it's no wonder that email marketing's street cred should suffer. I mean, next to banner advertising, this is one tactic that sure does take a ton of criticism. For those who use it and use it well, a new study by MarketingSherpa reminds us that "what works can always be made to work better."

Here are four valuable lessons I gleaned from their report:

  1. Blame poor campaign execution for underwhelming response, not the tactic;
  2. Use visuals to convey messages - pictures really are worth a thousand words;
  3. Mind "The Arc of Attention" - always send to your more recent opt-ins first; and
  4. Understand how filters work and beat them at their own game.

Feed Fans More Engaged

RSS devotees visit an average of 10.6 news sites daily according to a new Nielsen//NetRatings study. Of those surveyed, 78% were found to be male. 48% have been online since 1994. Says senior research manager Jon Gibs, "users are particularly focused on breaking news, and trend toward an older demographic." He goes on to tag convenience as the impetus behind usage.

That men led the adoption pack wasn't exactly a revelation. What's more surprising is that buy-in among the younger, savvier set had yet to occur. Ignoring cultural differences with regard to Web usage, there's a definite opportunity there.

Mark Those Calendars! Monday, November 28th is "Cyber Monday"

The Monday after Thanksgiving has a new name, apparently. According to Shop.org's Scott Silverman, "Cyber Monday is the day the consumers set their sights on surfing for holiday gifts and shopping online." His quote appears in a recent Personal Tech Pipeline article.

With pre-holiday sales in the offline world already said to be falling short of projections, Web-based merchants are scrambling to claim their share of the pot. To juice consumers, a slew of promotions promising everything from bargain-basement prices to free shipping will be extended.

So I guess 2005 is the year e-commerce finally takes off, huh? And not just for the big guys? While transactions are certainly up when compared to those reported at this time last year, I'm not conviced that special offers will be enough, especially among older consumers whose concerns over privacy and identity theft lead to frustration and abandoned shopping carts more than they do sales.

Call me crazy, but this whole "Cyber Monday" thing sounds an awful lot like "The Great Pumpkin" to me: will those magical dollars finally appear or will hopeful online retailers be left holding yet another sack of rocks?

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Digital Divide Seen in Online Bill Payment

Add bill payment to the list of favorite online pursuits among savvy under-30-somethings. According to Forrester Research, adoption by this segment will increase by 219% over the course of the next five years. That's roughly 4 million new users each year until 2010, or, as InternetWeek's Antone Gonsalves writes, "47 million US households."

Among the report's other predictions, a 32% spike in boomer adoption and a negligible rise among the older generation who haven't yet tired of writing checks.

Google Targets Offline Shoppers Too

Just in time for holidays, Google's Froogle has added a great new function that will direct comparison shoppers still fearful of purchasing online to local brick-and-mortars who carry the products they seek.

The new mapping application will target by user-specified ZIP code. Detailed directions, integrated search results and easily movable maps based on satellite imagery are among the core features.

It's even available for your mobile phone.

Cool.

Will Marketers Rally Around Microsoft's New Toy?

If you're a gamer, you know that today marks the release of Microsoft's XBOX 360. iMedia Connection has published a fascinating article by Gamespot SVP Susie Reider on the future of in-game advertising and the opportunities next generation consoles present to marketers.

I've got mine, and no, it's not for sale.

Stop drooling

Monday, November 21, 2005

On Serendipity and the Aggregation of Blogs

Amidst all this talk of tail-wagging, the following quotes on blogging appeared today in the Business and Technology section of The Seattle Times - I thought they were worth sharing:

"The challenge isn't getting people to publish," said (Gather founder Tom) Gerace, a seasoned Web entrepreneur. "The challenge is helping people find really great content."

"As news shifts from print to online, community-based services are all trying to crack the same nut: doing for news what eBay did for yard sales, Yahoo! did for forums, Amazon.com did for books, Match.com did for dating, Slashdot did for geek-think and so on."

The article goes on to discuss a number of recent acquisitions, search tools and aggregators before arriving at an obvious conclusion: the true strength of the blogosphere is in community as content.

The Next Time You Exit Your Parked Car...

you could look down and see one of these.

Add this to the list of "Brilliant Things I Should Have Thought of First" - sheesh!

How to Get Your Travel Client Blogging

I just shared a terrific resource with a cautious client who's interested in giving blogs a try.

Founded in 2002 by techie/designer/travel-enthusiast Alistair Watters, TravelBlog is a free, road warrior-friendly network with thousands of contributors who span the globe.

I think it's a great opportunity for my client - and colleagues - to jump right in and engage a community that's already predisposed to traveling. And the feature set is top-notch. Among the best:
  • Unlimited blog creation and hosting
  • Image Galleries capable of hosting fifty 1200 x 1024 photos
  • Route Mapping application to visually track journeys
  • Visited Countries Map to highlight visited or covered destinations

I hope they take my advice and go for it...

Movielink Announces Beta Test

Hoping to iron out some kinks, up-and-coming download directory Movielink is looking for a few good cinefiles to beta test their pay-for-keeps service. Participants will be able to download their favorite films (at a cost of $8.99 each) and experience unlimited playbacks on their PCs, notebooks or, with a special cabling, TVs. And, according to a statement released this morning, support for mobile devices is coming soon.

The portal, a joint venture between Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios, Paramount Pictures, Sony Pictures Entertainment, Universal Studios, Warner Bros. Studios and newcomer 20th Century Fox also offers free trailers and 24-hour rentals starting at just under a buck. Download sales hit the 100,000 mark last month.

Sounds like a great opportunity for us to connect with our audiences - anyone know if the brains behind this operation left room for us in their plans?

Online Ad Buys Up 34%

Striking fear into the hearts of network execs and newspaper moguls everywhere, Internet advertisers helped set a quarterly spend-record according to a new report issued by the Interactive Advertising Bureau and PricewaterhouseCoopers.

Up nearly 5% from the second quarter, advertising revenue is expected to exceed $12 billion by the end of the year. Not surprisingly, an increase in time spent online and new tools that target and track placements are at the heart of the shift.

Food Network Cooks Up New Web Series

Food Network president Brooke Johnson has entered the TV vs. Web debate by introducing an exclusive Web series. Three episodes of Eat This With Dave Lieberman - sponsored by the ever-clever Microsoft - are available now. Future installments (clocking in at three-to-five minutes in length) are scheduled to appear weekly. Smart move.

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Search Runner-up in Race for Favorite Web Activity

With search gaining ground over email as a favorite Web task among affluent broadbanders with higher levels of education, SEO and SEM could now be more important than ever. According to a study issued this afternoon by the Pew Internet and American Life Project, 77% of the 94 million US adults who went online this fall did so to check email, while 63% used a search engine.

Anyone See the "Spammies" Skit on SNL Last Night?

Man, I wish I had a video clip to share - it was hilarious.

Micro Persuasion Posts 10 Wikipedia Hacks

Not to sound like a gushing fan, but Steve Rubel's recent entries on social media hacks have been among my favorites for weeks. Yesterday, he added his latest batch, this time focusing on Wikipedia.

Blogging Lures One-time Critic

Back in January, USA Today's Kevin Maney held a very different view on blogs.

An article he wrote on the topic made the rounds and inspired numerous conversations before landing on the bottom of bird cages near and far.

In the time since, Maney appears to have had an epiphany of sorts, developing a sudden interest in the arena he once challenged. In fact, earlier this month, he quietly entered the ring with
a blog of his own.

Maybe he's realized that blogs really do "add a fascinating new element to public discourse." Maybe he has aspirations of being the next Thomas Paine. More likely his change of heart came at the behest of his employer. Whatever the case may be, I say good for him.

Anyone taking bets on seeing a Daniel Lyons Blog anytime soon?

Saturday, November 19, 2005

E-shoppers Give Comparison Sites Pre-holiday Boost

Comparison sites like Froogle.com, PriceGrabber, NexTag and ShopLocal sure are popular, especially this time of year. Forrester Research is predicting that some 2.5 million US households will buy merchandise online for the first time this holiday season. Shopzilla and Shopping.com currently lead the pack: each lured approximately 15 million unique visitors in September, according to Nielsen//NetRatings.

That's quite a bit of discretionary income, wouldn't you say?

Like Print, Radio Struggles for Audience

Ah, Summer... the heat, the Yankees, the humidity... and if you happen to be in radio, the downtrends.Affecting all markets, the share drop, according to Billboard Radio Monitor, was to be expected. Having digested Arbitron's summer survey, they did note some exceptions: "a 2.1% Spring-to-Summer gain for teens 12-17, due to a 3.9% rise in listening by boys 12-17 during that period. Also, listening by men 25-34 was flat, at 15.8%, for both Spring-to-Summer and year-to-year comparisons."The Fall 2005 survey period wraps on December 14th. For a list of 2006 survey dates, go here.

Google Pushing Their Luck in the EU?

"Same ad spend. More conversions. Google Analytics shows you which keywords perform and which ones you should cut."

And if you happen to be in Europe, well, you could be breaking the law.

CorporateBloggingBlog states: "according to EU law, Web site owners who set cookies must not only alert their visitors to the fact, but also explain how they're being used and how they can be disabled."

Hmm, this doesn't bode well for Google, whose
Google Analytics relies on the pesky trackers. Debates about the amount and intended usage of the data that's being collected by the search goliath have already appeared in more than one forum.

I suspect many of you have been testing the service since it's official release on Monday. I know I have.

Seth Godin and Shel Holz have already shared their thoughts - anyone else care to chime in?

Friday, November 18, 2005

Got Blog Block?

Writer's block sufferers would do well to read Chris Garrett's Ten Killer Post Ideas for some great tips. Thx Chris!

Tonight, I Enter the Fray... Well, Sort of...

For the better part of six months, I have been actively blogging behind my company's firewall. You see, I work for a rather well-known PR firm and like many of my marketing and communications brethren, had to test the waters before diving in deep.

Taking a cue from
a better-known blogger, I'd like to get this party started by clearly stating that the views you'll come to read in this arena are solely my own. From time to time, I may tout the amazing work my agency - and more importantly, my team, The Web Relations Group - has done. I may republish older compositions and give them timestamps that pre-date this one just to confuse you. I'm funny like that. Heck, I may even brag about my almost-wife, our three cats, our house or my obsession with music and video games.

Deal with it.

My intention is to share, not influence; to launch a multi-channeled dialogue, not a one-sided diatribe. In letting it all hang out, so to speak, I expect to be challenged. In fact, I welcome it as I know I have much to learn.

And don't we all.

Bottom line: be kind, be fair, be thought-provoking. If you like what I have to say, please feel free to link to me - flattery will get you everywhere! If not, critique, advise and recommend. I'm a big boy, and can certainly take it. In my benevolence, out-and-out attacks will be ignored and maybe even deleted. Get on my bad side, and well...