April 29, 2003
I’ve been reading about Apple’s iTunes Music Store and think they got it half-way correct — or maybe more accurately, 1/3 correct.
Buying songs you know and love for $0.99 is perfect if you want to burn discs of current favourites. And Apple seems to have “fixed” most of what was wrong with earlier online download sites. I think this will be a hit — especially when they get the Windows version live — which they realistically need to do to make this work.
But what happens if you’ve heard that Miles Davis is really cool but you don’t know anything about him? Well, for about $10 a month, a subscription to listen.com let’s you listen to most every album miles ever recorded. You can then make your decision about what songs you’d like to own forever (if any) and decide to download those for 99 cents (via Apple for example).
And sometimes you just want music on in the background — music in a specific genre or to match a particular mode. You might want classical in the background for a brunch, 70s pop songs while you clean the house, or ambient “chill” for late night surfing sessions. In these cases you’re less interested in the actual performers than the feeling the music induces in you or your guests.
So people have at least three goals with music: to own it, to explore it, and to use it to augment other tasks. The iTunes Music Store appears to do an admirable job of the first goal, but leaves the other two out in the cold.
The “home run” in online music will be a service that combines cheap downloads (I think the magic number will be 10 cents a track, not a buck), music on demand from a vast library of diverse music styles, and high-quality commercial free “radio” that offers songs to match hundreds of genres, moods and situational settings.
April 28, 2003
Jakob Nielsen’s intelligent take on text-based (and contextual) advertising is called “Will Plain-Text Ads Continue to Rule?”
Jakob has always had (justifiably) unkind things to say about “traditional online advertising”, but he likes text ads, provided they are put in context by search results. I think that Jakob overly limits the effectiveness of contextual text ads because if the ads are truly placed in context, they also become a content point, just like other pages on the site the user is visiting. His argument regarding online classified ads being viewed as content not ads by online users is spot on — but it also applies to truly contextual text ads as well.
Great posting by Brad Templeton regarding the past, present and future of spam called “Reflections on the 25th Anniversary of Spam”. While the history lesson might not be to everyone’s interest, I strongly suggest you read his comments on the current state of spam and his overview of the various solutions that are being proposed. If you are involved in e-mail marketing in any way, you need to start thinking about this stuff.
(FYI, while I didn’t really know him, Brad and I went to UofW together at the same time and I always saw him wondering around the Math And Computer building. How far we’ve all come.)
April 22, 2003
The New York Times did a big write-up on E-mail Marketing and Spam — effectively ending the hopes that the two concepts can ever be separated in the public’s mind again. The article uses “marketing” and “junk”, “spammer” and “marketer” as synonyms and offers wonderful examples of spammers making the case against anti-spam advocates (thereby limiting the effectiveness of legitimate e-mailer’s concerns).
What a mess.
April 16, 2003
A fascinating recounting of a classic example of mass delusion known as The Seattle Windshield Pitting Epidemic.
While the story is important as an example of mass delusion, it is also interesting to note the lack of scientific awareness shown by the public and media.
While SARS is real, I felt an eerie connection between what is happening in Toronto with SARS and what happened with windshield pits in 1954. Of course, I’m not saying that SARS is a mass delusion, only that the public reaction to an(as yet) minor threat is out of proportion and unscientific.
Isn’t it hard not to have a moment of panic when someone coughs near you? Or when you shake hands with a stranger?
[via the always wonderful Boing Boing]
April 10, 2003
If you search on SARS Virus on Google today you will notice the a “Google Public Service Announcement” at the top of the page linking to the CDC SARS page. Another indication that Google gets that it isn’t like other companies and needs to consider the overall “ecology” of the Net in which it increasingly plays a central role.
Of course all the sponsored links are to hucksters selling masks and sterilization kits. Ugh.
Great article called “Permission To Spam?” on ClickZ. Increasingly the challenge with e-mail marketing is going to be getting past the perception that your message is spam — even if you did clearly get permission.
In the long-run, smart marketers have to begin to temper expectations and realize that they have to make their lists cleaner and their messages more valuable to subscribers if they plan to succeed. For example, I know recommend double opt-in as standard for all lists. Even though it will decrease list size, it eliminates any chance of people not knowing what they signed up for. And you eliminate anyone with over aggressive filters because they never respond to the confirmation list, which means you’re less likely to be sending messages into spam filters.
April 2, 2003
Danny Sullivan did a nice piece on the history of major search engines.
April 1, 2003
Macromedia put on an interesting Briefing with Forrester Research last week here in Toronto. Summary information is available on the Macromedia site.
This was the first time I heard (or at least absorbed) the real concept behind Forrester’s “X Internet” concept. Their idea of downloadable applications replacing web pages still sounds silly to me. They are missing the fact that the Internet does many things and deseminating flat, factual data and opinion is one of those things and HTML does it very well. Still, many things we do on the Net are computer assisted tasks that HTML is NOT that good at. Macromedia presented some interesting applications such as a hotel room reservation system that reduced a many stepped HTML process with one dynamic Flash application. This was very compelling and is a good example of where Forrester thinks we’re headed.
I’d also point out a great use of multimedia in online presentations which Macromedia provided as part of the post-briefing link package. Click on the “Pass along this summary video presentation to your colleagues” link to view.
A good article on the problems with simple solutions to the spam problem by the founder of JamSpam.