June 26, 2003

  • Thought

    This Business 2.0 article gives details on Autobytel’s new contextual ads for competitive products strategy.

    “Here’s how it works. Say you’re interested in a Honda (HMC) Accord. You surf to Autobytel.com and click through to the Accord research page. Splashed across the top, above all that detailed Accord data, is a box labeled “Sponsored by Ford.” It jeers: “The Ford Taurus has a larger engine than the Honda Accord DX.” An adjacent link takes you to the Ford web site for more details on the Taurus where, the theory goes, you’ll soon forget all about the Accord.”

    The biggest issue I see with this approach is Autobytel’s credibility in consumers’ eyes. If someone goes to the site to research Honda’s and sees the page is sponsored by Ford, my guess is many users will be skeptical not only of the sponsored link copy but of the entire page — maybe the entire site.

    Autobytel ends up looking like it is pimping for Ford rather than providing unbiased research on cars.

  • Thought

    Deloitte Consulting’s “Bullfighter” is getting a lot of media and blog coverage:

    “So, we call it our online conscience. Bullfighter is software that runs in Microsoft Word and PowerPoint, within Microsoft Windows 2000 or XP. It works a lot like the spelling and grammar checker in those applications, but focuses on jargon and readability. Download it for free, or order a CD-ROM/book package. Then install it.

    This is a brilliant piece of viral marketing (and also a useful tool for the jargon-prone).

  • Thought

    Clay Shirky is a bright guy. In The Music Business and the Big Flip he writes:

    “The curious thing about this state of affairs is that in other domains, we now use amateur input for finding and publicizing. The last 5 years have seen the launch of Google, Blogdex, Kuro5in, Slashdot, and many other collaborative filtering sites that transform the simple judgments of a few participants into aggregate recommendations of remarkably high quality.

    This is all part of the Big Flip in publishing generally, where the old notion of ‘filter, then publish’ is giving way to ‘publish, then filter.’ There is no need for Slashdot’s or Kuro5hin’s owners to sort the good posts from the bad in advance, no need for Blogdex or Daypop to pressure people not to post drivel, because lightweight filters applied after the fact work better at large scale than paying editors to enforce minimum quality in advance. A side-effect of the Big Flip is that the division between amateur and professional turns into a spectrum, giving us a world where unpaid writers are discussed side-by-side with New York Times columnists.”

June 25, 2003

  • Thought

    Interesting article on the beautiful International Herald Tribune (IHT) site called Google ferrets out a better way to get advertisers.

    Here’s a quote from a happy AdWords user:

    “Before Vavra advertised with Google, she was selling about 10 suits a month over eBay, the online auction site. Then she bought 50 Google keyword ads using her Visa card. The next morning, she said, sales took off. The business has continued to grow; she now sells almost 120 suits a month. She expects to spend $60,000 this year on Google search ads.

    ‘Our business exploded from Google, and Google alone,’ she said.”

  • Thought

    The Reputations Research Network is collecting research on reputation systems (hence the name).

    Reputation and managing it across time and context will be a key role for someone or something on the Net. It will be interesting to see if it is possible to develop a portable reputation (vs. the local reputation users have within systems like eBay or amazon.com).

    Here’s the Reputation Research Networks mission:

    This site is for researchers who are studying how reputation systems should work in theory, how they actually work in practice, and how they could work better. You can find out about people, papers, and practical systems. And you can contribute pointers to useful information.

    Note that the NYT wrote an article about this project called More Companies Pay Heed to Their ‘Word of Mouse’ Reputation.

  • Thought

    AlwaysOn Picks Top 100 Companies for 2003

    The premise of the competition is that consumers and businesses are demanding greater access to the Web for more convenience and productivity, and these demands are beginning to drive the next boom in high technology.

June 20, 2003

  • Thought

    Great analysis on coping With price transparency by Jupiter’s Jared Blank.

    Travel sites should reveal competitors’ rates because consumers don’t believe they are getting a good deal if they don’t shop around. Even better, it will keep consumers on your site. Best-rate guarantees encourage people to shop around. Revealing competitors’ prices discourages the behavior.

  • Thought

    Dave Winer is documenting “what makes a weblog a weblog?”

    “Rather than saying ‘I know it when I see it’ I wanted to list all the known features of weblog software, but more important, get to the heart of what a weblog is, and how a weblog is different from a Wiki, or a news site managed with software like Vignette or Interwoven.”

  • Thought

    I’ve seen some people questioning the wisdom of Google’s AdSense, but overall I think the concept is spot on.

    Contextual advertising is the only kind that will work online in the long run. Of course, AdSense text ads on content pages (as opposed to on Google’s search results pages) will have to have lower clickthroughs, but this misses the point. Since the ads are targeted based on Google’s crawl of the page, the ads should be relatively targeted (read useful) and therefore should give good results when people do click.

    The lower average clickthrough doesn’t matter since the advertiser only pays for results.

    One thing I’d like to see is a way to see (before signing up) what kind of ads they would be serving. My guess is many sites will be nervous about trying this because they don’t want to see competitors or “cheesy” sites advertising on their pages.

  • Thought

    There’s a new site that’s just been launched by Mark Hurst at Good Experience. This Is Broken is looking for visual examples of online and real-world experiences that have clearly gone off the rails.

    That shouldn’t be too hard.

June 19, 2003

  • Thought

    In the June 2003 issue of Business 2.0, John Battelle, wrote a great article called “Putting Online Ads in Context”:

    Let that soak in: This is a new revenue source for the entire Web, one that not only is unobtrusive but, because it’s based on relevance, might even be useful to readers. Contextual advertising “could be much larger than the paid search market,” claims Bill Demas, senior vice president at Overture. Google’s Wojcicki seconds his assertion. For the sake of independent, high-quality content on the Web, we can only hope they are right.

  • Thought

    I’ve been a very silent blogger for the last six weeks or so. I’ve been working on major changes to the company’s service offerings and the changes prompted a much-needed rethinking of this entire site.

    The new site went live today. Hope you like it. Feedback is welcome.