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Archive for December, 2004

Merry Christmas, Happy Hannukah, Thrilling Kwanza and Wonderful Winter Solstice

by henrycopeland
Friday, December 24th, 2004

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We’ve been hiking in Black Mountain NC, and will be re-cosmopolitanizing next week in NYC. I’m mostly offline through January 3, 2005. All e-mails to info at blogads dot com will be answered swiftly!

More than Moore

by henrycopeland
Monday, December 20th, 2004

Everyone knows about Moore’s law, which suggests that computing power doubles every 18 months. Compound this and you’d find that computing power grows roughly 100-fold every ten years; today’s $1000 computing device will cost $10 in 2014.)

But there are other forces at work. Forces like Dell, who powers my notebook.

Five years ago, it took two workers 14 minutes to build a PC; it now takes a single worker roughly five minutes to do the same. … A dozen years ago, Dell stored roughly 30 days of inventory – the outer casings, motherboards, Intel chips and other components needed to feed the beast – in warehouses around the Austin area. The company, based just north of Austin in Round Rock, Tex., no longer operates any warehouses; instead, it requires suppliers to stock 8 to 10 days’ worth of goods no further than 90 minutes from its assembly plants. Its de facto warehouse, therefore, is the lineup of semi-trailers parked in the 48 truck bays that line one wall of its plant.

Dell’s CEO says, “If we asked for a 10 or 15 percent increase in productivity, we’d get conventional solutions. But if we ask them to double their productivity, then they have to rethink everything.”

Crafting a recipe for blogad success

by henrycopeland
Friday, December 17th, 2004

Toby Bloomberg, Atlanta’s leading blog evangelist, has been working with one of her clients to test Blogads. The small test wasn’t a raging success. Toby has blogged the experience, and I’ve added some thoughts in her comments. I’ll repeat them here to have a copy secure for my own reference:

In a subsequent test, I’d love to see the creative engage more directly with the sensibilities of targetted blog(s).

As Toby noted, the best clicks came from www.TowleRoad.com, where the ad creative gave a nod to the blog’s gay readership. Next time, let’s nod harder…or wink or nudge or cajole! (Here’s that creative:

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The creative for the other blogs could have run anywhere on the Internet. Here it is:

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As Toby, Donna and I discussed before the ads ran, what makes each blog unique is its personality; blogads do best when they engage blog personalities. Great blogs inspire strong group identities. These groups see the world through a certain set of eyeglasses. They speak in certain codes and fixate on certain issues.

So ads ideally show the advertiser (and the product buyer) to be one of “us” rather than one of “them.” Show some friendliness towards a blog’s sensibilies and two good things can happen. Readers click AND clickers have positive disposition as they engage your offer.

Here’s a thought experiment that pushes this strategy to its logical (and profitable?) extreme.

Every marketer dreams of having a product that appeals to everyone; but most of us would be very happy to sell to 20% of a given marketplace. Consider, for example, Volvo, which sells roughly 100,000 cars a year in the US. What if, rather than simply observing that Volvo drivers tend to be Democrats (65/35), Volvo sought to align itself as THE itself Democratic light vehicle of choice by running ads exclusively in Democratic venues and discounting Volvos to key Democrats?

If a Volvo became an identity badge for Democrats, Volvo might lose 35,000 yearly sales to Republicans, but how many sales, out of the total US sales of 17 million a year, might be gained?

Of course, this is untenable for two reasons. Volvo is owned by Ford and Ford seeks to appeal to Republicans too. And Ford Inc has Republican shareholders.

But what an established, publicly traded company like Ford can’t do, a privately owned upstart with a clean-slate brand CAN.

Consider the success of Ben & Jerry’s. Heck, if frozen milk can tap into a political sensibility to grow a brand, anything can. Ben and Jerry were happy to forgo ambitions for a certain large market segment, the apolitical ice-cream consumers they could never realistically win anyway, to absolutely own another segment that was reachable.

So let’s bring this back to Gourmet Station. I’d love to see a package of ads that appeal very strongly to a particular sensibility and run on key blogs. Gun-rights activists? Girl-scout troop leaders? Bush-detractors? For Gourmet Station, what sensibility is the analog to the eco-liberals Ben & Jerry won over?

Therein may lie a gourmet recipe not only for a great blogad campaign, but for long-term company growth.

Misc: clicktracks, Rss ads,

by henrycopeland
Friday, December 17th, 2004

Here’s a tool for tracking post click action.

Kottke on RSS ads.

Powerline is Time magazine’s blog of the year.

Also, Time magazine details “10 things we learned about blogs in ’04,” says “Radio had its golden age in the 1930s. In the 1950s, it was television’s turn. Historians may well date the golden age of the blog from 2004′when Merriam-Webster.com’s most searched-for definition was blog. How long can it last? Who knows?” Mentions blogads sellers www.instapundit.com, www.dailykos.com, www.wonkette.com, and www.talkingpointsmemo.com Congratulations everyone!

NYTimes mag continues fascination with bloggers, this time focusing on sex and privacy. I swear NYT thinks (or wishes) blog was a dirty word.

Online steamroller

by henrycopeland
Thursday, December 16th, 2004

The dotcom bubble burst in 2000, but the revolution is only just beginning. Witness the impact of Craigslist.com on San Francisco’s rental market. SFGate reports:

Homefinders, a family-owned firm that billed itself as “the East Bay’s oldest and largest service for rentals since 1970,” closed its Shattuck Square office this week and pulled the plug on its Web site, leaving scores of customers in the lurch and a handful of employees without jobs.

“This type of business just isn’t viable anymore,” said Dana Goodell, 42, who bought Homefinders five years ago from the founders, her father and uncle. “In the boom days, there were thousands of people coming here from all over the country. After the dot-com collapse, there was a surplus of apartments.”

Listing services, which typically charge tenants a set fee, also have succumbed to the great equalizer known as Craigslist.com. The familiar online clearinghouse lets visitors advertise apartments, used furniture, concert tickets or themselves for free. Only employers posting jobs pay fees.

A boon to consumers, Craigslist has proven a thorny problem for those who try to make money by publishing ads for workaday necessities.

“You can’t compete with free,” Goodell said. “Our market niche is over.”

Goodell, who said the firm’s payroll swelled to more than 30 around 2000, released the remaining three employees last week and plans to file for bankruptcy.

RentTech, which bought Berkeley’s Rental Solutions about five years ago, closed earlier this fall. Two other rental services — San Jose’s Home Renters Guide and Berkeley Connection — were purchased and folded into San Francisco’s MetroRent in 1999 and 2000.

Craig Newmark, founder of Craigslist, is ambivalent about his site’s influence, widely cited for the apartment listing industry’s consolidation. “I’m personally bothered by the loss of jobs,” Newmark said. “But a lot more people benefit” when the Web replaces information middlemen, he said.

I talked with Craig last week in Boston. He’s got 70 servers and does an estimated 1.4 billion page impressions a month. “It is hard to know exactly, because we’re very cache friendly,” he said. Roughly 1/3 of his impressions are in SF. (To put his traffic in perspective, NYTimes.com does roughly 450 million impressions a month.)

Who is TDavid and why do we care what he thinks?

by henrycopeland
Thursday, December 16th, 2004

The American Marketing Association has now offered a complimentary pass for its upcoming blogs-and-marketing day to TDavid, the blogger who ruthlessly critiqued next week’s event.

But a friend of mine thinks this is overkill. He writes: “Who is [TDavid], anyway? Anyone know him?… Is he really anyone who’s opinion we even need to worry about?”

Here’s my answer.

TDavid is a blogger. He’s an opinionated, obsessive, savvy geek with a megaphone who can, with a few perceptive comments and just one or two readers who also blog, ruin your reputation in 15 minutes.

While TDavid may not know anyone in New York or Chicago marketing circles, he’s woven into the fabric of the locale, Seattle, the AMA is trying to sell to. He’s got local readers and friends. And TDavid goes to blogger Meetups in Seattle. Let’s assume he said something about the AMA event if he chatted with the Seattle Times journalist or any of the 30-40 bloggers who attended last night’s Seattle blog Meetup.

There’s risk but also reward in doing business in a blogged economy. Robert Scoble wrote an interesting post yesterday about how a Microsoft team is using blogger feedback to shape product development: “How did they decide what to fix? They did a scan of all the blog comments and picked the most important things that the bloggers asked for (that could be done quickly).” Product development has never been so easy.

Back to TDavid, who has also reviewed Tablet PCs, AskJeeves, MSNToolbar, Onstar, Saturn Relay in the last week. He’s gone out of his way to provide feedback on the AMA’s offer. Until the AMA is swamped with other feedback on the upcoming event, TDavid is worth his weight in gold.

The future of marketing is engaging rather than ignoring bloggers like TDavid. For the AMA’s Seattle blog-day, TDavid would be a perfect guest star.

For some background, here’s my post yesterday. (I’ve got a personal interest because I’m participating in the Chicago day.) BTW, I’m loving this chance to re-grok Cluetrain.

Bassik: Long live the Blogad

by henrycopeland
Wednesday, December 15th, 2004

Michael Bassik of Malchow Schlackman Hoppey & Cooper writes a very kind review of blogads , including some feature requests. My wife, who also thought I was crazy during Blogads’ first 18 months, got a chuckle out of Michael’s lede:

At the March 2004 Politics Online conference at George Washington’s Institute of Politics, Democracy, and the Internet, Henry Copeland from Blogads posed a question to the panel on Internet advertising: ‘Have you considered placing ads on blogs?’ I was on that panel, along with Cliff Sloan from The Washington Post, Nick Nyhan from DynamicLogic, and Charles Buchwalter from Nielsen//NetRatings.

All of us on the panel had heard of blogs, perhaps even visited one or two before. But who would actually pay money to place a tiny tile banner alongside of someone’s random thoughts? We all thought Henry was crazy, along with everyone who agreed with him.

Steven Berlin Johnson on blog advertising

by henrycopeland
Tuesday, December 14th, 2004

One of the key books shaping my understanding of how networked blogs (aka the blogosphere) transcend traditional journalism is Steven Berlin Johnson’s Emergence: Connected Lives of Ants, Brains, Cities, and Software.” Johnson details how scores of unrelated players can collaborate and effect higher order behavior that mystifies observers who understand only top-down organizations.

So I was honored to be interviewed by Johnson for his latest article in Discover magazine. His overview: This is not a dream: You can make a chunk of change by writing a Web log.

Bit by bit over the past 10 years, the Web has erected a global platform for personal wisdom. Services like AdSense’along with other advertising outfits, including one called Blogads, which focuses exclusively on blogs’are simply the final plank. You can now compose, design, publish, promote, and make money from your writing without ever leaving your desk. Some high-profile bloggers’particularly in the world of political commentary’have attracted hundreds of thousands of people to their personal sites, making enough money from AdSense or Blogads to quit their day jobs. The liberal commentary site Daily Kos has a monthly audience that exceeds that of venerable magazines like The New Republic and The Nation.

I was a little surprised Johnson didn’t get into the blogosphere’s emergent behavior, but perhaps he’s saving that for Emergence II.

AMA enters the blog jungle

by henrycopeland
Tuesday, December 14th, 2004

The American Marketing Association is doing a series of one day events about blogging. Putting together a blogging event in this fast and fierce environment is tough, and I have great admiration for organizer Toby Bloomberg’s enthusiasm and determination. AMA will be doing events in Seattle, New York and Chicago, and I’m excited to participate in the Chicago event.

In dealing with various ad agencies, I constantly butt heads with the differences between traditional marketing Weltanschauung and blog marketing. (Interesting to note that the advertisers themselves are often less conservative.)

Now there’s a classic “blogs and marketing” case study brewing around next week’s AMA “intro to blogs” event in Seattle.

First, read the event’s agenda. The goal is to answer the question: “are blogs a credible marketing strategy for your brand or company?”

Then read here what a blogger, TDavid, wrote about the event on his blog. In short: “The overview doesn’t seem to know/hold the answer… And who do they have that’s speaking to answer this question?” He offers a speaker by speaker (and blog by blog) deconstruction of the event.

What’s my humble blog marketing advice for AMA blog event? While it is probably too late to do more than change the wording of the Seattle agenda, there’s still time to make substantive changes to the New York and Chicago agendas. Here’s a game plan:

a) Chant some Cluetrain: markets are conversations… and what you hear ain’t always pretty. Better to learn from criticism than ignore it or dismiss it. Greatness isn’t conceived, it’s iterated.

b) TDavid seems to be chiefly concerned by lack of substance. Are there any real-life case studies panelists are bringing along that can be listed? If participants don’t have first-hand experience, then they could make some calls and bring along some second-hand information. A great writing rule applies: “show, don’t tell.”

c) Respond in the comments section of TDavid’s blog. He’s done a very honest critique and is begging: “Please anybody who can counterpoint me on this, use the comments section and do so.” Commit to improving, welcome your further constructive AND concrete suggestions about ways to improve event. Who would HE like to hear speak?

d) Pack more information into the event: many blog events these days have LOTS of people on stage and ruthless moderation. Add more speakers. Get a debate going among panelists.

e) Commit to using the audience as a resource. Dave Winer has done a great job of turning www.BloggerCon.com into a blogospher-like roundtable rather than a one-to-many broadcast.

f) After tweaking upcoming events, respond again to TDavid’s post again in his comments section. Let other bloggers know about his critique and AMA’s responsiveness. My bet is plenty of bloggers would be interested and the press might pick up the event. Picture your desired headline outcome: “AMA takes own blog medicine, thrills participants.”

g) Comp TDavid a ticket to the event — he’s given a lot of great free advice and would make a great participant.

Damn, I just reread the Cluetrain 95 theses. It’s all in there. And still today, only a few advertisers have any sense the world is changing.

Factoids from Harvard

by henrycopeland
Saturday, December 11th, 2004

Factoid 1 of the day, from Buzzmachine: “Mohammed said the President understood what blogs are and their importance and they found the staff in the White House views reading blogs as part of their jobs now. The brothers said they were in the White House not just as Iraqi citizens but as representatives of the blogosphere.”

Factoid 2: Craig Newmark says Craigslist, with 70 machines, is doing roughly 1.4 billion impressions a month, roughly 1/3 of that in SF. 1.4 billion is rougly twice as many impressions as the NYT.com and WP.com added together.


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