Did he really say that???
Ok, there I did it, but I had a good reason. A lot of purist will think I did this just for the link and that's not entirely true. I've been subscribing to John's website for over 6 months now (maybe longer) and it is a very informative website and shows you, as a blog or website owner, how to monetize traffic.
What first attracted me to the site was his willingness to share real counts, how much money he makes from his blog, as well as strategies for increasing your traffic. Plus, in general it is a fun read and as opposed to other "experts", he really backs up his talk with facts and figures. This recent post is a prime example of why I'm a loyal reader and why I took the review offer.
In today's post called How to Increase RSS Subscriptions, he gives enormously valuable advice to bloggers and website owners on how to increase subs as well as monetizing traffic. Here's what I found so valuable about the post:
Did I take the link offer, you betcha. However, I wouldn't have taken it if I didn't think it was valuable and I had an example I could show you readers. John, the site is awesome and should be a must read for any blogger or wanna be blogger. Thanks for the link!!!!
Just yesterday I was following a link to an article and ended up over at Reuters.com, but before I could see the article, of course I got blocked with an introductory message. And, guess what - it was for Yahoo's new Personal Finance page. The intro message was well done and you should have expected no less from Yahoo. After, I was redirected to the article, it turned out that Yahoo has a block on almost the ads on the homepage, including a sponsorship on the upper right, two box units, and a small banner unit on the left. Hmmmm....
Then I found a purple ad spread over three pages in today's Wall Street Journal print edition touting their new sponsored search platform, code named Panama. The ad was again tastefully done, but I thought to myself, only MSN was so desperate to advertise in newspapers for their search platform. I wonder what gives because both are slightly odd.
The Reuters ad buy is a little strange because Reuters already powers a lot of the news article in Yahoo Finance so there is a huge overlap between the two. In fact, this was confirmed in a test I did with Reuters a few years back when I looked at the actual audience duplication. Plus, doesn't Yahoo already have a huge advantage with the traffic on Yahoo Finance and the cross promotion found on their finance homepage? I know you are probably saying, maybe they got it for free or as a makegood, but nothing is free in web advertising and Reuters has to be "charging" something because they didn't sell the spots to another advertiser.
While Yahoo might have some valid reason for the Reuters buy, the print advertising campaign for Panama is even stranger. At first, I wasn't going to bash this, but then I remembered that this is an online product targeted at a unique audience (media buyers and advertisers) promoted with a highly untargeted, expensive, and in my opinion a complete waste of an advertising channel. Yes, I have no love for the print ad in a national newspaper and when I've been associated with campaigns, I've seen ZERO results attributed to this and that includes new accounts, sales, visits to a website, word of mouth, etc. The only reason it could possible make any sense was to target it to Wall Street and other industry execs to show that Yahoo is fighting back versus Google. Again, even that is a waste of money and surprises me a bit.
Both advertising campaigns seem a little off for Yahoo and typically of what you'd find MSN doing on behalf of their search products and website pages. I didn't think Yahoo was so desperate to advertise in this manner especially when they have one of the crown jewels of advertising channels, themselves.
Ahh, back to one of my favorite subjects, Vonage. Sorry I didn't post this sooner, but besides being in meetings on Friday, I had family obligations all weekend long.
On Friday Federal Judge Claude Hilton agreed with Verizon that Vonage shouldn't be allowed to use Verizon's VOIP technologies, but gave them two weeks to come up with a work around and/or come up with a reason to stay the execution, err I mean injunction. Of course, this probably won't kill Vonage, but perhaps their looming suit with Sprint might. This ruling sent the stock down to $3, but as of Monday showed a little bounce. I guess traders figured this wasn't the death blow, yet or was convinced by this Vonage press release.
Yes, a Vonage press release which should only be read when you had a few cocktails or when you are so depressed that you need someone else's misery to brighten your outlook. The title is classic which is solely aimed at the traders to boost the stock price while people in the company cash out. " Vonage Comments on Recent Court Proceedings, Outlook for Appeal and Market Overreaction" with a subtitle that the company is confident in their appeal. Nice, a press release solely directed at traders to boost their stock price and to brag how they knew this was coming and prepared accordingly. Yes - just like the Titanic prepared to hit an iceberg.
And, just in case you missed it - according to the press release "Vonage's accomplishments continue to validate its business model and strategy. The company has achieved 19 consecutive quarters of double digit revenue growth, doubled revenues to $607 million in 2006 alone, and added nearly 1 million net subscribers last year." Wow, that's great, right and of course all of those other people that have been dumping this worthless piece of stock are crazy right? Yes, well they neglected to tell you that their brilliant strategy lost $266 million last year.
Oh and that customer count they bragged about? Well, their churn was still high for 4Q last year, but it was slightly better because these geniuses decided to leave more people on their service by increasing the grace period for non-payment. "As part of our effort to improve customer satisfaction and increase retention, we extended our customer grace period for non-payment in order to better resolve customer accounts that may be past due. This increase had a one-time positive impact of 10 basis points on our average monthly customer churn for the fourth quarter." Or how about (via the same financial release) that their average cost per sale was $249 for the year, $306 for the 4Q all while lowering marketing costs. I've said this before, optimizing a marketing campaign should never result in a raising of CPA unless of course you are completely clueless.
Ahh the Vonage press release. Why issue this? Who knows but the one thing Vonage has been successful at was getting uninformed investors to buy into this worthless company from day one and why stop now? Please tell me you have some master plan for recovering any money from this or that you somehow bought at $3 and are waiting for a big day in the market to make your 10% back or so. One of the many Jim Cramer sayings that I've always remembered is "Bulls make money, bears make money, but pigs get slaughtered." Here's hoping you have a plan, little piggie ;-)
Wow, quite a number of articles on YouTube, Google, and the News Corp and NBC alliance plus the Viacom lawsuit that it looks to me like the vultures are circling over YouTube's non-user generated content or what is affectionately called copyrighted material. Seriously, it might be too late for GoogTube to even go back to the negotiating table with the legal content owners to cut a deal (not really, but written for effect). Sure YouTube will be there for user generated content and free hosting of videos, but once the professional content and clips move elsewhere, so will the traffic. As far as I can tell, 7 out of the top 10 most viewed videos this week are professional clips, so what will draw people to YouTube - crappy home videos? Here's a few of my favorite reasons for GoogTube to be worried about the vultures flying over head:
I actually don't jump for joy over this because I am a huge fan of Google. I just think we should all stand up for the rights of the content creators who paid to produce what you watch online. Why should GoogTube determine how much they should get paid for their hard work? This definitely won't be easy for GoogTube, but who knows they may still wind up dominating the entire online advertising industry anyway, right?
I'm sorry I'm a little behind on my posts, but I do have to work sometime. Anyway, I got quite a number of emails from friends and co-workers on what I thought of Google testing a cost per action deal structure. Funny thing is that I caught wind of it a while back and wrote a post called Google Testing CPA Network - Yahoo? Anyway, here are my thoughts on CPA and while I'm not as cynical as that original post, I'm not that far off from where I was back in June of last year.
I tried looking around for clarification on the above, but couldn't locate it based on my usual blog readings. So in the end, would I test CPA? Yes, but only for clients that have shown successful content campaigns already. Do I think this is some change the game or advertising altering panacea that delivers great value for advertisers while rescuing Google from click fraud issues? No.
I've run a TON of CPA deals over the years totaling in the multi-million dollars. What I've found is when publishers are desperate for ad dollars, an advertiser can make a killing, but otherwise a CPA deal is just one of many options available to you. Sometimes it is better for you, sometimes it is better for the publisher, and sometimes nobody wins and you get outbid for the inventory; heck, there is always the possibility you don't convert enough and the publisher drops you altogether. However, if you aren't already translating your CPM or CPC deals into a CPA than you really don't understand performance marketing and a straight CPA deal won't be able to cover up your marketing short comings.
*****By the way, my friend Kevin Lee from Did-it wrote a post for ClickZ which mirrors my post almost to the letter. Good to know great minds think a like.
As announced over in Second Life Insider, Coldwell Banker has not only launched a presence in SL but is also selling and renting its own tracks of land. I really like this move and wish more companies as well as political campaigns follow the lead of many companies that either embrace the way SL works or create destinations that keeps people coming back. If you plan on just opening up a place to peddle your RL products, SL is not the place for you. You already have places which are web pages.
RL companies that embrace how SL operates by creating SL products (ex - real estate, banking, cars), places that encourage people to visit often like NOAA, takes advantage of showcasing products that only a 3D environment can deliver or virtual communications really understand how this 3D world works. Companies and political campaigns that just develop a SL location just for the sake of being cool, getting buzz, or generating traffic are going to be disappointed in the long run.
You need to create SL products or SL destinations to keep residents interested. I'm glad the folks at Coldwell Banker did their homework and embraced how SL really works. Well done.
A very interesting article on the front page of the Wall Street Journal today called Sales of Music, Long in Decline, Plunge Sharply. I can't help but thinking this foreshadows the big TV versus YouTube and other video sharing sites battle. However, before we jump into that, here are the high or low lights from the article:
The article also talked about how individual CD sales are declining for folks like Norah Jones. However, those individual declines can easily be explained if you believe in The Long Tail and that record companies should no longer be relying on mega hits. This also explains the decline in retail stores and shelf space where storing music and songs online and downloading what you want, legally, is more efficient and cheaper than stocking shelves and betting on a hit. BTW - I don't feel sorry for Norah Jones because she stole a Grammy from Springsteen for The Rising.
Enough background and back to my post. Do I care about retailers? No and I don't care about the music industry having to change how they produce music because the term hits is quickly fading as individuals determine what they like and join communities around their music tastes. What I do think is interesting is that the music industry has paid to produce the CDs and paid the musicians who made the CDs. That gives them rights to protect their product just like Viacom in their battle with YouTube.
Who are we to say how someone makes money? If a musician signs on with a label who produces their music, why should they have that stolen from them. Who are you to say how someone makes a living? Don't give me - well tough, they should tour more or figure out some other way to get paid. Or, the classic, well take less money. Who is to tell you how much is too much money? Isn't this America where you can plot your own way? Last time I checked it was.
If you want to distribute your music for free, good for you. If you think you have a better revenue model that gets you paid what you think it is worth; then go for it. How about a share of the advertising revenue from the downloading site? Great. If you sign on with a record company because you believe it is more efficient or you'll get paid more; great, but guess what, they are going to want to protect their investment which means your fans may get in trouble for illegal downloads. Or, sometime in the near future your contracts will get smaller and smaller.
This is simple. A company produces your work, they want copyright protections which means places like YouTube and music download sites have to pay attention. Why should the dollars involved with this transaction (viewing TV clips or listening to music) be shifted from going to the legal copyright owners to the sites that facilitated the transaction?
Advertising revenue is generated because someone paid the site owner who stores the information and makes it easy to download; what gives you the right to determine how the transaction is paid? Last time I checked, nobody should tell you how much you should sell your product for or how to push it out. Again, this is simple - it is about how someone gets paid and their rights to determine that method.
According to Hotline On Call, the creator of the 1984 video ripping on Hillary Clinton was fired from their agency Blue States Digital; Blue States Digital was also a vendor of Senator Obama's campaign. The questions at the bottom of the article are right on point, proving to people not involved in political marketing that you really can't sneak around and try and get away with something. Unlike the private sector where you can hide behind websites, fake email addresses, etc it is hard to avoid be outed when there is an army of bloggers and wanna be news hounds waiting to sniff out a story.
Right now, I very rarely post comments on blogs and will only do so if it is a clear delineation from politics. However, I really show restraint on political posts no matter how wrong the person is or when they claim to be an expert on a subject that they clearly know nothing about. I even thought about registering an email just for those purpose, but then you have the dreaded IP address mapping problem. So, in the end, you refrain from certain actions because you can't remain anonymous.
So, I needed some downtime today from one of my more complicated projects, so I logged on to Second Life and decided to take a tour when it came to Presidential candidates. I was curious to see what was happening so I searched on the big three. My first stop was what I consider the classic SL retail establishment - a place where a smart entrepreneur recognized an opportunity and started selling candidate yard signs and t-shirts. The top three on the list as you can see from the screen shot, were Clinton, Obama, and Ron Paul (?). Of course, I didn't buy a sign or a t-shirt because I have my own, so then it was off to a Hillary Clinton SL destination under construction.
The location which is being built by Second Life resident King Zuhal a UK resident in his first life is a definite upgrade from all other SL unofficial/official HQs. It includes a large conference room including a video screen, electoral map of the US, a platform for SL town halls, plenty of pictures, and a really clean, professional look. I asked King a few questions about the project.
PMF: Are you officially connected with the campaign? King: Not yet, we are contacting the RL HQ
PMF: I like the design, it is much better than other executions. King: Obama's is impressive, but hey this is a long campaign, we just want to have some fun and some good debate in SL
The chat was very informative and here's my take on it as a SL resident and somebody, if you've read my history of posts, has a completely different opinion on SL; one that is very upbeat. A) These are again the classic SL entrepreneur building something and hoping to cash in with a very professional design B) SL residents are not aware of how the RL political world is viewing SL locations and when a location is attacked, while it might be fun for residents, it is not something that a campaign wants to be associated with C) Campaigns are going to be dragged into SL whether they want to be or not, because just like a website or blog, anyone can build something.
While this design is closer to what a professional might develop, I still don't think it is a destination that will keep residents coming back. As a potential official HQ it has all the amenities you could ask for, whether a campaign uses it or not, that's a different story. At least residents are stepping up to the plate now and starting to build locations that showcase what a 3D environment can deliver.
As I was checking through all the major campaign's search campaigns, I started to notice that a YouTube ad was appearing on all the candidate's names and I thought hmmm that is interesting. I only browsed through the top candidates of each side and as long as they are featured on YouTube's You Choose '08 page, there is a corresponding Google text ad directing the clicks into the individual candidate's YouTube video page. Some screen shots are shown in this post, but here are a couple of interesting observations:
Of course, their ad buying raises a couple of questions, namely:
I wrestled with what I actually think about it and I guess I'm coming up in a neutral to positive position. If you are not running any PPC ads (not sure where the logic is for that move.....), but you care enough about YouTube, than Google is doing you a big favor. If you are running PPC ads, I also think it could be helping you by keeping someone else out of the #2 position and sending people into a page that hopefully you've been working on. The most negative aspect of it could mean your CPCs are going up or you are dropping in the rankings for your own name.
You thought search engine marketing was complicated in the private sector? Try outbidding Google for your own brand name....
Sorry for the infrequent posts over the past few days. Not only have I been fighting a cold (and the cold/snow), but I was down in DC since Wednesday for meetings and the Politics Online Conference. Besides running into practically the entire Campaign Solutions and Connell Donatelli agencies, I spent quality time with my friend Richard K from Yahoo as well as Adrienne S from Comcast. Anyway, here's my wrap-up from the conference.
It really was a great time and well worth the trip even if the trip home was difficult with the snow storm. One final thought - to everyone that put down Second Life, you really don't understand where it is going and what it can do. I don't disagree that the current versions of the unofficial SL spots are not up to par and probably have no shot at making an impact, but 2008 is a long way off to count Second Life out.
Ok, so by now you’ve seen the headlines that Viacom is suing Google for $1 Billion for violating the 1998 Digital Millennium Copyright Act and no surprise here, I think GoogTube has a problem. Now I’ve never been accused of being a lawyer and I haven’t gone over the DMCA in depth, but here’s why I think this is a problem as someone that has negotiated quite a number of big business development deals over the years:
Let’s stop there for a second regarding making money off the
advertising. There is an interesting
paragraph at the end of the article that says “YouTube…doesn’t display ads on
pages where consumers can actually view videos unless it has an agreement with
the content owner. But advertising does
appear on pages listing results users see when they search for videos on
Ok. That’s interesting. I wonder what would happen if Viacom borrowed some online advertising techniques from those ruthless internet advertisers of the gambling and porn industry and posted a 10 second video on YouTube and linked to their site to view more. Does this mean that since they don’t have a content deal with Google they could post what they want and order Google to pull down what they don’t want, all while sending valuable traffic to their own site where they can monetize the traffic?
Anyway, in the content deals that I’ve negotiated it usually goes like this:
Pretty simple. I’d rather see this get done at the negotiating table rather than the court room because it really is just about advertising revenue. One thing is certain, the DMCA needs to get rewritten.
I get asked this a lot when someone first talks with me about Second Life - What do I do in Second Life? In fact based on the traffic I've been seeing on my website, a lot of people are looking for this information too. Needless to say, I am not what you would describe as an expert, but just a humble guide who is figuring it out for himself. Right now my biggest help right now is the official guide to second life. So here's what I've been up to lately in SL.
So, that's what I've been up to lately. I've also been trying to figure out how to design my own clothes and with help from a very talented designer, I think I might make some progress. One thing you'll find in Second Life is that men's clothes selections are pathetic at best...Anyway, stay tuned for more on SL.
Like most men (and some women), I like cleavage and from my Elsie Lee posts from a few weeks back, I'm not ashamed to use attractive people to sell products and services. So, when I see someone using the cleavage technique to boost clicks, I often get a kick out of it. In fact, just the other day, I saw this ad from ClassesUSA which of course prompted a click from me.
Ahh, the sexy woman with the cleavage thinking about what college degree she needed. Not only is the photo nice and crisp, but they did a great job matching the colors so that the whole ad POPS and that's before the cleavage shot. I thought, wow, this should attract a lot of young people and get them some traffic. However, as you should know, just generating clicks doesn't mean much unless it converts on the back end.
Unfortunately for ClassesUSA their landing page doesn't complete the deal and the older married couple staring at you is a little shock to your system. Kind of like when your 6 year old walks in on Mommy and Daddy in a bedroom moment. Seriously, the clicks that they are generating from this ad, can't be interested in the landing page image, in fact, it probably is scaring them off.
I never believe that the image on an ad has to appear on the landing page, but I do believe that that messaging, creative, and branding should be in sync. Clearly, there is a disconnect between their two creatives.
Anyway, I don't know too much about their product or service and I really don't think the ads are bad - definitely not in the LowerMyBills awful category, which by the way, I still get a lot of traffic daily from people complaining about these crappy ads. I just thought I'd share with you my shocking experience from clicking on an attractive women and ending up on a landing page featuring someone that looks like your Aunt and Uncle....BTW - that guy's smile is creepy - like your Dad catching you in a funny moment.
A while back I wrote a post called Working Through World of Warcraft's Burning Crusade in which I wrote about how much better the game is since the expansion pack. One of things I've recently noticed is the inflation of all the prices of items within the game itself which I've found very interesting, Every item in the auction house seems pricier now and it is due to all the level 60+ in the Outlands getting enhanced equipment and the easy flow of gold from the quests and drops.
Just last night one of my guild friends gave me an unbelievable helmet for free even after I told him the one I had on was much better. He didn't care and said I could sell it. If you aren't too careful, you could drop a few gold pieces out of your armor if you do a complex move and sadly you wouldn't notice; that's how easy it is now to get gold.
Instead of having a tough time getting gold, I now find myself hovering in the high 100s and wouldn't think about twice dropping some serious coin. I wonder if Blizzard realized that this would happen. It definitely causes issues for new players who don't have an alt that sends gold down to them. Now, prices in the auction house are much higher which means it takes you longer to get items that you need. I wonder if anyone else realizes the inflation....
I know two Vonage posts in a day, but their press release is laughable. Seriously, this is the type of commentary that gets investors confused. That's why you must get different points of view whenever you invest your own hard earned money. That's why I stressed to you this week in a post called Only The News That's Fit to Sell, that you need to read multiple sources if you are concerned about a subject or want to invest in stocks. Here's what the brilliant PR folks at Vonage said about their ruling yesterday:
Vonage Vindicated on Four of Seven Patents
HOLMDEL, N.J., March 8, 2007 /PRNewswire-FirstCall via COMTEX News Network/ -- We are delighted that the jury rejected Verizon's meritless claim that we infringed their two billing patents. Of the seven patents Verizon originally sued on, they prevailed on only three and we expect that verdict to be reversed on appeal. The jury's damage award represents a 70% reduction from Verizon's $197MM claim. The jury also unanimously rejected Verizon's claim that Vonage willfully infringed its patents.
In addition, we don't believe there is any basis to support Verizon's request for an injunction and we will have the opportunity to present our position to the trial court shortly. If the trial court does impose an injunction, we will seek an immediate stay from the Federal Court of Appeals. Vonage's customers should see no change to any aspect of their phone service.
That's awful and misleading and before you say "oh come on you are too harsh" read it again and figure out what they are selling. They are selling that their service will still be good and that you shouldn't dump their stock (which people are doing right now). Just more bad spinning on an awful stock.
I was looking through my posts the other day because I had quite a few visitors read through the best posts tab at the top and I thought, hmmmm I haven't written a What The Vonage Post in a while. And those my friends, are some of your favorites. Anyway, I'm obviously up very late due to a late dinner and I was reading through my RSS Feeds and saw this article from Business Week called What the Verizon Verdict Means for Vonage. And of course this just made me sick....
Its not bad enough that their phone quality and customer service suck, or that their former marketing plans were wasteful and untargeted or that they screwed their own customers in investing in a worthless company, now they lost a patent infringement lawsuit versus Verizon and have another one pending with Sprint. This my friends is a poorly run company and why you MUST READ THE PROSPECTUS before you invest in an IPO. I'll explain why later.
According to the BW article, What The Vonage must pay $58 million dollars in damages plus a whopping 5.5% per subscriber per month. On top of that an injunction will most likely be handed down and if that doesn't scare its customers off, I'm not sure what will. Of course this piece of ripped paper for a stock will appeal and most likely look for some company to buy out their remaining suckers err I mean subscribers and put this mistake where it belongs - in the IPO trash heap of all time. According to the article this ruling will add $1.6 per line per month in costs which will further push its numbers in the tank.
Now one lesson for all you wanna be IPO investors is to read the prospectus. If you would have, you would have noticed this paragraph at the top of pager 15..
We may be subject to damaging and disruptive intellectual property litigation.
We have been named as a defendant in three suits currently pending that relate to alleged patent infringement. See "Business—Legal Proceedings—Patent Litigation." In addition, we have been subject to other infringement claims in the past and may be subject to infringement claims in the future......
Parties making claims of infringement may be able to obtain injunctive or other equitable relief that could effectively block our ability to provide our services and could cause us to pay substantial damages. In the event of a successful claim of infringement, we may need to obtain one or more licenses from third parties, which may not be available at a reasonable cost, if at all.
Seriously this was bad news from the start and I mean right from the very start. A co-worker of mine at Harrisdirect once said to me back in 2004 that I should look into working at Vonage. I told her, no way, that company is all about price and provides no real value. Of course I was wrong on part of that. It did provide value to the original owners who made a killing on the IPO while you investors got stuck buying a piece of paper that wasn't worth using to wipe down your dirty windshield.
I got this email today from AdAge called Poll: Premature Presidents and I found it very misleading. Here's the question:
The next president won't step into the White House until January 2009, but candidates have been jockeying since late last year and a number have already made it official. Some political watchers -- Newt Gingrich among them -- say it's entirely too soon and potentially harmful to democracy. Others, including consultants, say it boils down to a mix of needed fundraising and advances in technology that results in a democratization of the political process.
THIS WEEK'S POLL QUESTION: Do you think political candidates for the presidential race are beginning their marketing too early?
Here's what's misleading about it:
Of course the poll relates to this AdAge article called Too Soon? Two-Year Prez Race Could Lead to Marketing Miscues which is actually a well written article. Commenting on the article, I don't see how candidates can sit on the sidelines and why as Americans we shouldn't take our time learning as much as possible about the people who lead our country.
Media now is expensive. Have you tried to buy TV ads lately? How about online advertising on the New York Times? Last time I looked that wasn't cheap either. Google costs money as does social marketing, although not very expensive even if done correctly.
Campaigns need to work all channels now, not just trying to have a debate on Channel 2 at 7:30 PM that reaches 50% of a viewing audience. Cable, internet, network, video games, social marketing all have contributed to a fragmentation of American's attention span and to play in all of them, costs time, money, and people. And, given that it is less than 9 months away, how would you expect to raise $100 million in as little time as possible?
Raising funds, gathering email messages, building social networks, signing up state support takes time. It just doesn't pop up over night anymore. Our attention span is too fragmented, the media channels are too spread out and costly, and with the non-stop news from MSM and bloggers means you just can't wait until the last minute.
I worked in corporate America for 15 years and I never once saw a plan that required this much money and was successfully launched and delivered objectives in a short time span. Besides, isn't it our duty to get involved instead of blindly sitting on the sidelines and lazily casting a vote, if you get around to it? If they make mistakes along the way, isn't it better to see what they are and how they react, rather than wait until something very important comes along. How someone reacts in a pressure situation is an important trait, no?
This morning I did my usual routine - helped my son get ready for school and then I sat down to read newspapers and my RSS feeds while my daughter watched Sesame Street (BTW - I like the Mr Noodle version that was eaten by a dinosaur in Jurassic Park 3). Anyway buried on page 6 of the Newark Star Ledger in a page with snips of Associated Press articles was this title White House board clears surveillance, which I of course read. The small article with little fanfare wrote about how the Privacy and Civil Liberties Board setup to investigate the White House's electronic eavesdropping and financial tracking found that the White House did not violate citizen's civil liberties. Now whether this board did a thorough job or not, I can't tell from this article, but what I can see is that this wasn't featured on the front pages of newspapers. Hmmm?
Not to hold the Star Ledger up as a pillar of fair news reporting, I looked in the WSJ and found nothing. How about the NY Times? Well, I did find an article with a little more meat in it called Privacy Board Clears US Spy Programs, but that was only after I searched for it. It had no link from the main US News page. How about the USA Today that was involved in reporting of the wiretapping story? Nothing but the AP article and once again only after I searched for it. Am I missing something here? Maybe because this wasn't a scientific experiment and just a casual browsing of news sites.
People, the news world has one mission in life - to sell more advertising by upping circulation numbers and only articles that can do that get your attention. There must be so much pressure to go after falling circulation numbers and advertising revenues that perhaps the news you are reading is not as perfect as you once thought it was.
Just like the blogging world where one of your best tools to get an audience is to be controversial, the MSM has to do the same. Call it the J.Jonah Jameson of Spider-man fame (hyphen included as that was the original version of the name) strategy. Jonah would only print articles or photos that he thought would describe Spider-man as a menace, whether he really believed it or not. Why? Because he was solely focused on selling newspapers.
Am I writing that you should ignore main stream media (MSM)? No. What I am writing is to not stay so focused on reading only one source of information. To really be involved in a subject try reading multiple media sources in a day including blogs and other online news sites. Perhaps with enough versions of the same article, you'll actually get a better view of what is the truth. Reading multiple views of the same subject (liberal and conservative) will only help you understand and see the only truth which is that All The News That's Fit Print Are The Ones That Are Fit to Sell.
BTW - on the front page of the Star Ledger is an article about a pretty wife's trial for murder and dismemberment of her husband. Very interesting article and one that I've been personally following. The title of the article is No one saw her chop him up, state admits - nicely done.
In yesterday's Newark Star Ledger there was an article called Let Us Entertain You which highlighted the FCC's wrong thinking on telecommunication mergers and why they are completely clueless on XM and Sirius' plan to merge. The article's sub-title says it all: Bundled packages catch on. But consumers have yet to see any savings from Verizon, cable TV companies. You know why that is? Simple. When the FCC allowed the Baby Bells to buy up the long distance companies they eliminated their competition. Now in NJ we have none.
I live a 30 minute country drive from the old and better AT&T's corporate HQ that is now serving as Verizon's HQ in Basking Ridge NJ and I have little competition. I have Embarq (the worst brand name ever, but good customer service) for Local and my choice as a competitive alternative is Comcast's crappy bundle. And, since I can't stand cable I use the one alternative presented to me which is DirectTV; that's it folks. Nothing else. Does Verizon have plans to invade Embarq territory? Nope. Phone calls offering me to switch services? Nope. That's long gone. You see as that article pointed out, prices are not going down because there is no competition. Zilch. Nothing. This is what happens when the FCC doesn't have a clue and allows companies to merge, stifling competition.
Now over to Satellite Radio where the FCC once again is traveling down a clueless road - similar to a chicken running around a farm with its head cut off. Every single time someone gets in their car there is competition for that person's entertainment. At my finger tips I can choose between FM radio, AM radio, tape (who still uses that), CDs, and of course XM Radio. If that isn't an ongoing competitive battle for my listening ears I don't know what is.
The other day I was traveling into NYC and needed traffic reports. Wham, I jumped over to AM radio instead of XM's poorly delayed NY traffic. Isn't that consumer choice at its best? Doesn't that mean that an advertiser on AM radio pitched me a commercial? Sure it does.
I don't know how the FCC can justify eliminating the well documented and experienced telecommunication wars where we saw and enjoyed lowered prices; plus, all parties were ready to invade everyone else's business. Now - silence and Net Neutrality problems thanks to the FCC's wrong thinking. (And if you think this has nothing to do with Net Neutrality, you are reading the wrong blogs. It is about controlling access to your household and broken promises). It is this wrong thinking that may cause problems for a product that surely benefits consumers in a completely competitive environment found at an arm's length every time you are in your car.
So, I picked up the Official Guide to Second Life in Barnes&Noble the other day and I highly recommend it. I like the tips and the tours, plus I can catch up on the history of Second Life. I'm even more impressed now than I was when I bought the book. I plan on taking the Chapter 3 tour any minute now. In the meantime between the Guide and my own personal experience, I've learned the following which should help any marketer if you consider an SL location.
Recently Linden Labs shut off first land acquisitions and at first I was upset, but now I don't mind so much. Sure I sold my First Land for L$6,000 turning a nice profit from the L$512 I paid for it, but the area was completely cheezy and didn't really enhance my experience. Now I have a place on the beach with sea gulls, waves, ocean sounds, and a wind-surfer. Believe it or not, I find it relaxing, about the equivalent of watching a fish tank.
If you ever considered a SL account or location, I highly recommend the book. If you are planning on building a corporate place remember this important point - build a destination that entertains people so that they return often. Building a spot that avatars show up once in a while or requires them to stay for Linden dollars is a waste - you need to build places that people want to show up and interact with.
A few months back I received a message via MyBlogLog inviting me to check out Outpost-Earth. Usually the messages I receive are people who enjoyed reading my post and sent me an encouraging message. This time, I realized that Outpost-Earth was a blog directory, but aside from the typical one I've joined in the past, I could see that my posts might actually get on their homepage and I might actually get some traffic.
When you just start out with your blog the first thing you discover is that the only people that really read your blog are friends and family. I once had a fellow blogger tell me that whenever she made a new post she emailed her list; while that is a good strategy, it kind of defeats the purpose because it is a one time traffic hit. So, your next step to get traffic is to join a series of blog directories and get yourself listed in the major search engines. Again, all good strategies, but what I've found is that you see very little return for your time invested. That is until I actually tried Outpost-Earth. (BTW for more traffic generating tips read these posts).
What makes Outpost-Earth so good for a blogger is that you get your post featured on their homepage plus in the sections that categorize your blog including your topic as well as region. Another key feature is the readability of the posts and user interface to actually find content you are looking for. So, instead of sites that categorize you based on existing traffic and/or votes by people who think you had a good article (bringing up a chicken-egg problem) you actually have a fighting chance to be discovered. (Side note: new bloggers find that they can't get listed or voted until they get traffic and of course can't get traffic without getting listed or voted sending you into a dizzy traffic building stroke)
Outpost-Earth is a great traffic driving tool for bloggers as well as readers looking to tap into new authors without following the herds of everyone else in the blogosphere. If you own a blog, check them out and join their community. It is also a good place to discover new blogs to read.
Hey, it has been a while since I did a marketing rapid fire, mostly because I use the tag posts for you readers. Anyway, a couple of random observations from the last day or two...
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