August 22, 2002

More Good Stuff
Stumbled across these on a "marketing" search on Daypop: Marketing Myopia is great: "Marketing Myopia is a place to vent, and call out the darkside of marketing and advertising.... ad campaigns, bullshit marketing ploys, evil corporate P.R. machines, etc." The have a poll going: "What will you do with your X10 camera?." We're calling you out, shameful marketers! Also, found ASAP, "A Stand Agains Pop-Under ads." Show your support. Sign up today.
So many times I find myself on the same wavelength as Steve MacLaughin on his blog, Saltire. Steve points us to some interesting stuff today. First, he points us to Andrew Hinton's review of David Weinberger's Small Pieces Loosely Joined. Great revew. Check it out.

Then he points us to Tara Grubb's blog. She's running for the House as NC's rep on the Libertarian ballot. Great idea. Every political candidate should be doing this. I'm sure at some point in the future all candidates will, and I think this could be a tremendous benefit to our democracy. I wonder who the first official who gets elected will be because he/she blogs.

Next, Steve chimes in on the Doc, Winer, Lessig debate on copyrights (for those of you who have been following, if you haven't start now). I don't know where I stand here. I guess somewhere in the middle. Yes, creative people should be paid for their work. But business' control of copyrights is really hampering creative, scientiffic, etc. progress. I really am ignorant on the facets of the debate. Listen to some people who aren't. This is a vitally important issue for our marketplace of ideas.

August 20, 2002

Anne Holland chimes in with notes from her interview with Michael Zimbalist, Executive Director Online Publishers Association, on some of the blury issues revolving around the report (she also initially comments here).

August 19, 2002

New PR & Marketing blog: Mudd PR & Marketing. (via Glob of Blogs ... errr Globe of Blogs)

August 15, 2002

Happy Blogday to Me
I randomly checked out some of my archives and realized I made my first post a year ago today! Of course it took me until November to make it to my second post.
Executive Summary Responds to Vin Crosbie
Rick responds to Vin Crosbie's ClickZ article on the OPA's report (which I blogged about here and here). Vin understandably is cautious of the over-hyped PR ... afterall that is partially to blame for the bubble burst. But I think the OPA's report was perfectly transparent and defined exactly what it identified as content. Bottom line, we need to define "content" on the web. Because this medium is interactive, conversational and transactional online content cannot be identified as we define content on TV, magazines, etc. If anyone is to blame, it's the news media for not clearly reporting how content was defined.

August 14, 2002

Why do Humans Speak?
Nature released a new study today show compelling evidence of why humans can speak and animals cannot. From the Washington Post:

The findings, released online today and due for publication soon in the journal Nature, provide the most compelling evidence to date that the gene, which researchers described in detail only last year, may have played a central role in the development of modern humans' ability to speak. Researchers said that could have given them a critical advantage that allowed them to supplant more primitive rivals.

A mounting body of research suggests that the mutant gene conferred on human ancestors a finer degree of control over muscles of the mouth and throat, possibly giving those ancestors a rich new palette of sounds that could serve as the foundation of language.

The article goes on to say scientest may try to insert the mutated gene into mice, but doubt it will work. Animal Farm, anyone? ;-) At the very least we'll have a bunch of squeaky "cheeses" if it works. Sorry for being so cheesey .....okay I'll shut up.

Neat stuff, this is something I've always wondered about.

August 13, 2002

Speaking of critics, Saltire points us to Blogcritics.
Economics or Lies?
Vin Crosbie isn't too keen on the new report issued by the Online Publishers Association and comScore (which I talk about here, and Rick Bruner talks about here). While I see the point Vin makes on blurring the line between product, service and content, it seems Vin ignores the point he made in a previous ClickZ article. Unique sells on the web -- if there's a need, economics says one can sell his/her content.

August 12, 2002

Critical Flaws
With the advent of online publishing tools like Blogger, the web has become a whirling opinion-fest of amateur critics and professionals alike. This is great. But with this expanded marketplace of ideas comes a lot of drivel, unintelligent mud.

An article in Sunday's Washington Post caught my eye, by Philip Kennicott, who is the Post's classical music critic. Philip has also noticed this onslaught of critics (he names magazines, newspapers, websites, blogs, TV) ... who utilize some pretty lowly tactics. I am amazed at how many "professional" critics lower themselves to these tactics (like, ironically enough, the Post's David Futrelle review of David Weinberger's, Small Pieces Loosely Joined) ... and how many amateurs take the high road.

Kennicott lists 10 most abused tactics, which I think all of us in the blogosphere should take note of in both how to read critics and how to write critically:
(paraphrasing excerpts)
1. The High-Low Switch - Typical forms include the guy's guy, who announces at the beginning of the article that he knows nothing about opera or ballet, and then proceeds to lampoon the oddities and peculiarities of a world in which he remains an outsider. Or the opposite: the "sophisticated" critic who over-analyses, over-examines and over-emotes about sports, cars or barbecue.
2. How much for that Degas in the window? - The essential gambit is to reduce art to money and then marvel at the absurdity of a human nature that places extraordinary value on such inconsequential things.
3. There are people starving in Africa - There are nine coal miners trapped in Pennsylvania, but there are millions about to die of starvation in Africa. The critic is saying that you, the reader, are worried about the wrong thing; but that means the critic is worried about you being worried about the wrong thing, which, to be blunt, is rather a silly thing to worry about given that there are people starving in Africa.
4. The sinister extrapolation - Telltale signs of the form include evidence of spongy social science ("Some researchers see a connection between ...") and the nagging sense that the author hasn't, in fact, actually seen the movie, read the book or gone to the women's greased mud-wrestling exhibition that prompts the dire prediction of cultural collapse.
5. The rag and bone shop - A form that flourishes during crisis, when the "courageous" critic steps forth to voice the dark thought that no one else dares express.
6. Modest Proposal - The critic proposes the unthinkable to shine light on moral prejudice and hypocrisy. It is, unfortunately, much harder to carry off than its venerable status would suggest.
7. The straw man as whipping boy - The best sign of the straw man as whipping boy is an article that begins by vaguely imputing the false assumption to somebody else: "Some people think quilting is just for grandmothers, but don't tell that to the Men's Stitching Society of East Rutherford." The article then proceeds with a string of people contradicting the assumption that no one, in fact, really made in the first place.
8. Mozart was a talentless hack - Part of every critic's responsibility is to rethink and reevaluate the received wisdom. But for a sure-fire attention grabber, take an elephant gun to a sacred cow. Dredge up some momentary annoyance you may have felt when a concert ran on too long, or your mind wandered reading Shakespeare, or your feet ached at the van Gogh show.
9. The author was a scoundrel - Which doesn't, of course, mean that he wrote a bad book, but that has never stopped critics hoping to find that elusive philosopher's stone that connects personal misbehavior with bad art.
10. The Revival - The author, who generally leads a sheltered life, hewing to the same cultural habits for years, accidentally discovers that "swing dancing is back." Or "mah-jongg is sweeping the nation." Or "bowling is hot in the inner city." In fact, no actual trend may be discernible, but it sure seems that way if you dip into the cultural margins for 10 minutes and then report back to the mainstream on developments that are new only to you.

After Googling Kennicott, I stumbled across a few other goodies here and here, and here.

August 09, 2002

PR: Pitching Blogs
Rick Bruner (via Nick Denton) points us to an interesting article from the PRSA on how PR should "pitch" blogs. Cautiously, honestly and with smarts. I think they're on the right track.
Marketing Profs: Design for Community: An Interview with Derek M. Powazek
Rob Poel highlights some of the highlights of this fantastic article by Derek Powazek. I though the article was so good I went to Derek's website. His website was so convincing that I needed to buy his book. And I just did. Check out Rob's site for more info.

This just reinforces what I already believe. The future of online marketing is enabling your customers to talk to one another and giving them voice-ownership in your web site.
Deep FUN
What's life if you can't laugh. Bernie KeKoven makes sure we do (via Doc).

August 08, 2002

Back to the Future -- VCR: Personal Video Recorders (i.e. TIVO) :: Salem Witch Trials: McCarthysim
Doc links us to this great testimony circa 1983 on all the damage VCR's are going to do to intellectual property rights and the effectiveness of advertising. Deja Vu anyone?
Doc quoting the testimony:

Mr. VALENTI: "But now we are facing a very new and a very troubling assault on our fiscal security, on our very economic life and we are facing it from a thing called the video cassette recorder and its necessary companion called the blank tape. And it is like a great tidal wave just off the shore. This video cassette recorder and the blank tape threaten profoundly the life-sustaining protection, I guess you would call it, on which copyright owners depend, on which film people depend, on which television people depend and it is called copyright...

"Because unless the Congress recognizes the rights of creative property owners as owners of private property, that this property that we exhibit in theaters, once it leaves the post-theatrical markets, it is going to be so eroded in value by the use of these unlicensed machines, that the whole valuable asset is going to be blighted. In the opinion of many of the people in this room and outside of this room, blighted, beyond all recognition. It is a piece of sardonic irony that this asset, which unlike steel or silicon chips or motor cars or electronics of all kinds -- a piece of sardonic irony that while the Japanese are unable to duplicate the American films by a flank assault, they can destroy it by this video cassette recorder...

Now, let me tell you what Sony says about this thing. These are not my words. They are right straight from McCann Erickson, whom you will hear from tomorrow, who is the advertising agency for Sony and here is what they say. They advertise a variable beta scan feature that lets you adjust the speed at which you can view the tape from 5 times up to 20 times the normal speed.

Now, what does that mean, Mr. Chairman? It means that when you are playing back a recording, which you made 2 days or whenever -- you are playing it back. You are sitting in your home in your easy chair and here comes the commercial and it is right in the middle of a Clint Eastwood film and you don't want to be interrupted. So, what do you do? You pop this beta scan and a 1-minute commercial disappears in 2 seconds.

Mr. RAILSBACK. Is that all bad?

Good Stuff
I've been reading more and more of Robert Loch's Net Marketing Blog. Two interesting articles from today.

The first is by Joseph Jaffe. He discusses the Agency of the Future where two entities emerge: Generation (ideas) and Integration (execution). Very interesting concept once you give the article a read. My initial thoughts are that Generation and Integration are so closely tied together, can they be separated and still operate effectively?

The second article comes from Emerging Interest. Great piece on how to differentiate your pitch in today's environment. Some oldies but goodies and some solid newbies too.

August 04, 2002

Why We Should Never Falter on Our First Ammendment Rights
URLs Blocked in Saudi Arabia. (from Nick Denton). Some low-lights: - AltaVista provides the most comprehensive search experience on the Web!
Answering Islam, A Christian-Muslim Dialog and Apologetic - Yahoo: Society and Culture > Religion and Spirituality > Faiths and Practices > Islam > Opposing Views - Free online translations: English to French, English to German, English to Italian, English to Portuguese, English to Spanish, French to English, French to German, German to English, German to French, Italian to English, Portuguese to English ...
Women In American History - Google: Society > History > By Region > North America > United States > Women
Israel Defense Forces - The Israel Defense Forces Army Spokesperson's Office, Providing the latest objective, accurate and timely information from the Middle East.
the farting contest - Entertainment > Humor > Tasteless > Bathroom Humor > Farting (looks like Austin Powers is out of the question) - A Website 5,762 years in the Making! - : offers busy women a community in which to share advice. Join other women like you to talk about, books, parenting, careers, computers, diet/fitness, food, money, pets, relationships, beauty, shopping, travel and working from home.

August 01, 2002

US Customers Spending $300 Million in Fee-Base Content in Q1 2002
The Online Publishers Association and comScore have release a report on the increase in customer spending for online content. Rick Bruner brings it to our attention as does the New York Times and this Press Release.

This is a great report and really validates the belief that fee-based content can be a substantial revenue-stream for some online publishers. Customer spending for Q1 2002 was $300 million, an increase of 155% over Q1 2001. Whereas the newspaper advertising to subscription ration is 3 to 1 the online ratio is 11 to 1. There is someways to go, but it shows that online revenue streams are diversifying.

One thing to keep in mind here is, not all content can make it as fee-based. In fact, I doubt very few content sites will. This report not only shows that people will pay for content, but it takes a special kind of content to make it. Fee-based content must either be highly unique and/or valuable or tied to a service.

Highly Unique and/or Valuable
The report breaks content into several categories: Business Content, General News, Entertainment, etc. Within each category you can start to see how and why these sites charge for content. Under Business, top performers are, eMarketer, Here, the content is information. Valuable, unique information. Excite couldn't get away with charging for access to their news stories. But WSJ can because they are second to none. Playboy, which falls under Entertainment, also ranks up there. Their content is also second to none (so I've heard, of course ;-)). Consumer Reports delivers top-notch product research.

Content Tied to a Service
What gets me is most of the fee-based content isn't information based. The "content" fullfills a need and provides a service. sets you up on a date. provides a means to receive streamed content. enables you to send greeting cards. Online gaming sites replace your Nintendo and let you play against people online. These are really online services with an element of content.

So what does all this mean? Primarily nothing we already didn't know. You need to be unique and have value to sell your content online. What we may not have known, is people are willing to pay for content. 12.4 million people. $300 million worth in one quarter.