Recently in Business

This is a pretty good ad

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It may be a little too specific for the general public - but if you are in the business of marketing and selling online you'll get it:

Internet Trends

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Here is something that anyone with a pulse should be familiar with:

17 luxury brands with poor web user experience

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This is a good article:

I've always found it ironic that some of the most fancy hotels have some of the worst websites in the world. It's the same with restaurants. Both are long serving fans of Flash and autosound, and the result can be hellish.

If websites are particularly bad, and if I'm the one tasked with booking or buying something, then I can tell you for a fact that I will look elsewhere. The problem is that there isn't always an 'elsewhere'. Luxury brands pride themselves on their uniqueness, after all. If your better half wants some Jimmy Choo for her birthday then that's what you need to buy.

I work a lot with luxury retailers (and have also done work for hotels and restaurants) - and many of the clients tend to still have a lot of misconceptions about the internet in general and what a "website" really is. What you can't forget in the end is that even if you are a Gucci or Ferrari or whatever - you still have to have a website that defines the user's definition/expectation of a website. Can you market or brand and have one off amazing visuals, images, presentations, movies, etc. Yes, definitely - but in the right place and at the right time (meaning, not onload when someone firsts visits!). But the web still has a core demographic of people looking for information.

And if they have come to your website, they usually want to be able to find that information, in a click or two. Splash screens, pop ups, begging people to join your email list or like your Facebook page, auto play music, etc. - these are distractions and at worse turn users off so much that they leave your site and maybe even begin to have a negative feeling towards your brand or business. So don't blow it. Read the article and get an idea of some of the specific mistakes still being made.

Network Solutions Domain Names

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Are on sale:

Why You Can't Work at Work

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We use Basecamp, and I think that Fried is a pretty sharp guy. This video has some good insights that I am sure many people can relate to:

Ads Posted on Facebook Strike Some as Off-Key

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Ya think?

TECHNOLOGY Ads Posted on Facebook Strike Some as Off-Key By BRAD STONE Published: March 4, 2010 From mainstream companies to others that are more off-putting, advertisers on Facebook are a motley bunch.

There is a lot of crap on Facebook - they should definitely be paying more attention to this kind of stuff.

And so it begins...

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Okay so it is Television and not print - and they are still going to be employees - but - digital employees:

"Going forward, the network will rely more heavily on so-called "digital journalists" who produce, record and edit much of their material."

This is it - this is the beginning of the digital/web revolution (okay not really the beginning, it started when Tim Berners-Lee figured out HTML). I am sure there have already been similar cases in the print and TV news world like this, but here it is laid out plain. This is terrible news for employment - not simply because of the actual people getting laid off at ABC, but the precedent. If people like ABC news have figured out that today's technology means a reporter can now write, report, shoot, and edit their own pieces - then all the networks will be right behind them. Hundreds of thousands of jobs may have just disappeared.

Continued consolidation in social shopping sites

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Following on the heels of the Stylefeeder deal, ThisNext has announced their acquisition of StyleHive. Good times if you are a social shopping start up I guess, but I wonder if the cashing out by these companies means they were starting to hit a wall on growth and/or operating costs?

Headlines

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Couple of headlines, seemingly unrelated probably to most:

Confirmed: Time Inc. Buys Personal Shopping Engine StyleFeeder

The Times to Charge for Frequent Access to Its Web Site

So what is going on here? I am going to guess you have never heard of Stylefeeder. The genius who started it up a few years ago is walking with perhaps tens of millions (the article says, "well into eight figures."). This site (to my recollection) was started up so his girlfriend could more easily share stuff she found online with her friends. Of course now it is called a fancy "personal shopping engine". What it is is pure genius - no inventory, very low cost, community based, and churning out cash sending shoppers to online stores.

And then, the NY Times, instead of ever going forward - stepping back in time and again thinking they are going to charge for content. Really? Why have the people at the Times failed to morph/grow/invent anything new with all the web traffic they have? Why do all these dead tree companies let others innovate, and then pay through the nose (hello About.com!) to try to... to try to do I don't know what. What in the world did the Times ever think it was going to do with About.com? And now you have Time Inc. paying for Stylefeeder, which they'll probably screw up and drive people away from.

But the richest part to me is the absolute hubris of people like Bill Keller (the Times executive editor) - here is how he sees the plan:

"It underscores the value of what we do -- trustworthy, aggressively reported professional journalism, which is an increasingly rare and precious thing," Mr. Keller said. "And it gives us a second way to sustain that hard, expensive work, in addition to our healthy advertising revenue."

This is flat our crazy talk. "trustworthy, aggressively reported professional journalism"? I got two words for you Bill - Judith Miller.

So where am I meandering to? Time Inc. should have been developing properties like Stylefeeder for years now. Again, they already had a huge online presence, well known brands, etc. and instead of having anyone with vision, they are now going out and straddling themselves no doubt with more debt in a race to compete.

The NY Times is even worse - they are absolutely deluded in their thinking that their reporting has unique value because it is done by reporters. That ship has sailed. People are and will continue to get more and more of their news online, for free, from passionate writers who know about their subjects (yes - that dreaded word - bloggers!). The Times should be fostering an independent, vetted, global writing team, sans salaries, that gets paid a portion of advertising revenue based on the revenue their reporting generates. Yes it will need editors and controls, but could you imagine the quality and insights gained from people writing about subjects they know about? (I am sure you can because if you are reading this drivel you probably read other blogs too!).

Something has got to give in the dead tree, brain dead corporate news and infotainment world. Hashing out what and when to charge for your content every few years isn't going to make it!

Murdoch On Blocking Search Engines: "I Think We Will"

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Yeah - RIGHT! Good luck with that....

There's a chance that the content produced by the Wall Street Journal, the New York Post, and a number of other important organizations will soon become impossible to find using Google. Rupert Murdoch indicated in a recent interview that News Corp. may block search engines...

Finally, in response to a question regarding why News Corp. doesn't just block search engines, Murdoch said, "Well, I think we will..."

Full article and video here. Notice how this is quoted by SkyNews... which Murdoch conveniently, you know - what's the word I'm looking for... OWNS.

Look - this is pure crap. And if he really believes he can live without Google, Bing, Yahoo!, etc. he is really out of touch. No one is going to pony up for this stuff. What value does any of his properties add? If anything, his news ops are marginalized now by their political alignments. I for one would be happy to have his crap publications deleted from my search results as it is.

I guess Amazon didn't get the memo

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top-logo._V11874419_.gifNew feature in my in-box this morning about being able to tweet Amazon products using your Amazon Associates account... sounds ripe for all kinds of bad stuff to happen:

Dear Associate,

Today we are excited to announce the launch of a new feature called Share on Twitter. You can access Share on Twitter from the Site Stripe and post to your Twitter account from Amazon detail pages in just two clicks.

The Share on Twitter feature is easy to use. Simply log in to your Amazon Associates account and then visit any detail page on Amazon.com. By clicking on the Share on Twitter button in the Site Stripe, a new window will open and an Amazon-generated message is pre populated in the 'What are you doing?' text area of your Twitter account (you may be asked to log in to your Twitter account). That message will include a shortened URL that already includes your Associates ID. You'll have the option to edit this message or simply hit the 'Update' button to post to your Twitter account. When Twitter users click on the link in your post and make a qualifying sale, you'll earn referral fees. That's it.

And I guess Amazon doesn't see any issue with the new FTC rules?

FTC Guidelines Raise Big Blogging Questions

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This is one of the biggest crocks of crap I have ever heard:

The Federal Trade Commission has released its revised guidelines concerning the use of endorsements and testimonials in advertising. The revisions include a focus on "bloggers" and social media users, requiring them to properly disclose when they have received payment in the form of either money or product from a company or organization and produce content regarding said company or organization. The word is that bloggers can be fined up to $11,000 per post for not disclosing.

And then (par for the course) Matt Cutts chimes in on the side of the FTC:

"As a Google engineer who has seen the damage done by fake blogs, sock puppets, and endless scams on the internet, I'm happy to take the opposite position: I think the FTC guidelines will make the web more useful and more trustworthy for consumers," he says. "Consumers don't want to be shilled and they don't want payola; they want a web that they can trust. The FTC guidelines just say that material connections should be disclosed. From having dealt with these issues over several years, I believe that will be a good thing for the web."

How about the FTC regulates Google? How about that Matt? Just this week I found several websites set up promoting a high end shoe brand. How did I find these? From Google AdWords campaigns. But guess what? The ads themselves feature stolen creative from other retailers, the sites all play on trademarked names, and then when you go to them they all profess to be selling name brand merchandise for unheard of discounts. Why? Because the whole thing is a scam run from China and no doubt whatever you order is not real merchandise. This is the kind of "payola" Google is peddling to "consumers" right now - today! Sure, we'll take your pay per click money! Oh - you are fraudulently using other peoples creative, misleadingly trading off brand names, and selling fake merchandise... look - over there - a blogger!

Matt Cutts... give me a break!

Condé Nast Closes Gourmet

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And so it begins:

Gourmet magazine, which has celebrated cooking and travel in its lavish pages since 1941, will cease publication with the November issue, its owner, Condé Nast, announced on Monday.

It looks like these executives are starting to get it. These things (the ad revenues they were used to getting) are not predicted to come back any time soon - and so these dinosaur magazines are finally closing.

I don't want to revel in their demise - it can't be easy if you are an employee - but this has to happen. I think things like this will be felt in the job market for years and keep the unemployment rolls higher than most people think for some time to come.

A point I keep coming back to is that they should have been figuring out what to do on the web and taking it more serious since the get go. Now they have dead and dying brands and are playing catch up with bloggers!

Murdoch - still doesn't get it

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Excellent article in Vanity Fair about Rupert Murdoch. The most interesting insight is how he is mostly responsible for driving the price of news down in the first place (through his ruthless business practices with his newspapers) and now he is the last man standing in wanting to charge for news on line (good luck!).

I have no sympathy for Murdoch - he is a dinosaur and a terrible kind of capitalist to me - he would and has done everything for a dime. To see him miss so big with the Internet - and to see him still struggling to make sense of it still is fine with me.

Ad Shift Throws Blogs a Business Lifeline

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Just lost a post discussing this article - F***! Go read -

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