March 30, 2005

  • Newsletter Changes

    Canadian domain registrar “” a looks like it still has faith in e-mail newsletters (and so it should).

    Here’s their announcement to their current list telling of changes coming:

    Dear Subscriber to’s Monthly Newsletter,

    This notice is to inform you that will be publishing a new and improved monthly newsletter which will debut in April. The new newsletter replaces’s monthly newsletter and is named “The Server Room”. It will include a new design, new monthly features and high-quality articles written by industry experts. We will highlight issues of importance to Internet-era businesses, profile real-world web experiences, offer relevant news summaries and, in general, try to earn your attention with incisive articles aimed at your needs. Be on the lookout for “The Server Room” which will be delivered to your mailbox the first week of April. We are confident that you will find it interesting, worthwhile and informative and welcome your feedback after you have seen it.

    Sincerely, Inc.

    As a subscriber, I was pretty happy to see they’d be upping the quality of the e-mail, but then again I’m a marketer. I’m not sure all subscribers will be thrilled about another e-mail in their inbox if it doesn’t directly benefit them — and this doesn’t.

    They also missed an opportunity to ask subscribers to add the newsletter mail-out address to their address books to help avoid spam filter problems. If they change the mail-out address this is coming from I think they’ll find that lots of people don’t get future messages because Webnames mucked up their filters with the changes.

    Does anyone have any experience with switching over from one sending e-mail address to another? What are the pros and cons?

    Finally, I’m really not too sure about this rampant need to create a sub-brand for everything we do. Calling their newsletter “The Server Room” doesn’t really help Webnames establish themselves and further disconnects their content from their service. “Ariad” made a smart move a few years ago when they moved away from a heavily sub-branded newsletter (“Empact” intended to mean “E-mail Impact”) to their current strategy of calling it “Ariad’s Online Marketer” and using the company name as the sender. Ariad was smart to keep their company name front and center.

    Let’s hope does the same.

    Originally published at on March 30, 2005.

March 29, 2005

  • I’m A Happy Customer

    One Degree uses “CampaignMonitor” to manage its newsletter (you are a subscriber aren’t you?).

    I love the product and in sending a routine support question to them I happened to gush at them a bit. My “Bloglines” “vanity feed” just found that CampaignMonitor “just added me” to their “Happy Customers/Press” blog category. And now that I’ve linked to them, they will, in turn, see that I’ve linked to them when they next check their vanity feed. “And so it goes.”

    Tip: Since not everyone monitors feeds using “Technorati”, “Feedster” or “PubSub”, it’s a good idea to click on all your links after you’ve blogged them so that you’ll create at least one referrer in their web stats. That way they can find you when they check their logs. Do you have any examples of companies using blogs to capture and promote testimonials?

    Originally published at on March 29, 2005.

  • AIMS — Inaugural Think Tank Event

    “AIMS” has just announced the inaugural event in their Think Tank Series will be on April 27, 2005.

    This is an interesting new twist for AIMS as it is a premium breakfast event.

    Network with your colleagues and hear what the CEO’s of two leading Global Internet Services firms are seeing on the internet horizon. Our panelists include Mark Kingdon, CEO of “Organic” (from New York) and Canada’s own Gurval Caer, CEO of “Blast Radius”. The session will be moderated by Ken Schafer, President of “Schafer Group”:(and past-president of AIMS) [ed. — and your humble author].

    The AIMS Think Tank Series is a breakfast series that brings together Internet thought leaders to discuss the trends, innovations, and technologies that Canadian Internet and Marketing executives need to know. This series is for Directors, VPs and above.

    You can get “more event details and register” for this event now.

    Originally published at on March 29, 2005.

  • Crispin Porter Bogusky And That Viral Chicken

    The April 2005 issue of “Fast Company” includes a fairly lengthy piece called “Ruling The Roost that chronicles life at super-hot ad agency “Crispin Porter + Bogusky”.

    Online folks know CP+B primarily for their work on a certain viral marketing campaign for Burger King. The whole article is worth a read, but of particular interest to you will be the hatching of Subservient Chicken:

    With plans in place to stage a couple of days’ worth of hot chicken Webcam action to go along with the Subservient Chicken spots, Benjamin wanted more. Then he got an idea (surprise!). If he were able to come up with an exhaustive list of commands that the film crew could shoot the chicken performing, maybe he could create a site where the chicken would simultaneously carry out millions of demands in real time. Burger King never pushed him or the agency to do this. He just thought it was cool. “Our approach has always been, ‘Follow the work,’ “ says account-services director and partner Jeff Steinhour, meaning if ever you’re in doubt about a decision, simply ask whether it’s going to make the work better.

    Suddenly, the situation became a no-brainer. The film crew grabbed a friend’s apartment in L.A. and shot the chicken doing 200 different actions while Benjamin set to work on the Web site’s functionality. Even before it was finished, everyone in the agency knew they had a barn burner on their hands. When the site neared completion, Benjamin emailed the URL to several people within CP+B asking them to send the link out to friends to test. From that single email Benjamin sent on the morning of April 8 last year, without a peep of promotion, the Subservient Chicken site ended the day with 1 million total hits.

    Like all good Internet phenomena, Subservient Chicken took off literally overnight. By the end of January, nine months after its release, the site had scored well over 385 million hits and was still getting 250,000 to 500,000 hits per day. “I guarantee they’ll take home some awards for Subservient Chicken this year,” says Joan Minihan Reilly, the associate director of the Advertising Club of New York, which hosts the International Andy awards this month for creativity in advertising.

    Awards are nice, but results are even nicer. As Andy Bonaparte, a Burger King ad director, bragged to Adweek in October, the site helped “sell a lot, a lot, a lot of chicken sandwiches.”

    If you haven’t visited “Subservient Chicken” yet, you know have a legitimate reason to do so. If your boss looks over your shoulder, just tell them it’s viral marketing research.

    Originally published at on March 29, 2005.

March 28, 2005

  • Jigsaw Uses Contacts As Currency

    The New York Times’ “A Service That Aims to Make Cold Calls a Bit Warmer” gives some interesting background on a new social networking service called “Jigsaw”. This is an interesting one.

    I can totally see that the dynamics of the model are great and I am sure they could make a business of this. Still, I’d be really concerned about the fact that the data they’re trading is someone else’s personal information. Given that the first thing I ask when I’m cold called is “where did you get my name?” and “how did you get my number/e-mail?”, this “valuable information” being shared could end up hurting relations as prospects get creeped out by how they were found. Also, I really hate that they want to supplement an paid service with ads. Ads don’t belong in every business model and I think pure online services like this dilute their value greatly when they try to make a few extra bucks with banner ads.

    Does anyone know if CEO Jim Fowler (not “the Jim Fowler”) has a blog? It would be interesting to hear about his experiences with privacy and business model issues as they clearly have an interesting idea here.

    (Tip’o the hat to Kevin Speicher at “Woodgreen” for the link)

    Originally published at on March 28, 2005.

  • Is It Time To Drop IE 5.x?

    “37 Signals”: “just announced” that they will not be supporting Internet Explorer 5.x on their sites anymore. 37 Signals is the company behind the innovative Ta-Da (“mentioned earlier”), “Basecamp”, and the soon-to-be-announced “Backpack”. Most of what 37 Signals does can be considered online applications (they’re drinking the “ajax”) so this move makes sense.

    But what about marketers? Is it time for marketing sites to give up on old browsers? What do your stats show? What percent of your marketing site’s traffic comes from IE5.x?

    Originally published at on March 28, 2005.

March 22, 2005

  • Google Likes Dashes More Than Underscores

    One of the things mentioned at the SXSW “How To Trick-out Your Blog” session was that Google seems to like dashes a bit more than underscores in URLs.

    I’ve since found some discussion that seems to confirm this:

    I seriously doubt that the impact of the switching from underscores to dashes is significant enough to warrant changing current URLs (and generating a sea of broken links that kind of defeat the purpose), but for new sites, it makes sense to use dashes instead of underscores.

    And as an added bonus, the URLs are also more human-friendly as underscores are harder to discern when they are linked (the underscore blends into the underlining of the link).

    Originally published at on March 22, 2005.

  • More Reasons Not To Use Pop-up Ads

    Jakob Nielsen’s “Most Hated Advertising Techniques” provides some hard data on what many of us have known for a while now — aggressive online ads alienate site visitors out of proportion with the potential upside of clickthroughs. Here’s a particularly relevant part of the article:

    “Users have started to defend themselves against pop-ups. The percentage of users who report using pop-up or ad-blocking software increased from 26% in April 2003 to 69% in September 2004, which is an astonishing growth rate. Users not only dislike pop-ups, they transfer their dislike to the advertisers behind the ad and to the website that exposed them to it. In a survey of 18,808 users, more than 50% reported that a pop-up ad affected their opinion of the advertiser very negatively and nearly 40% reported that it affected their opinion of the website very negatively.”

    Originally published at on March 22, 2005.

March 14, 2005

  • What is Google Caribou?

    I’m at “SXSW” this week, enjoying the warm weather and (relatively) interesting sessions. I’m still not really used to people in the audience having their laptops open surfing the web wirelessly. It looks like more of a distraction than a benefit and most people seem to use it to check their e-mail and visit the blogs of the panel participants when bored. This, of course, leads to some unavoidable voyeurism as it is pretty much impossible not to look at a neighbor’s screen as they surf.

    During the “Blogging Showdown” panel this morning, I noticed that an attendee from “Blogger” was checking an application called “Caribou”. The logo and interface were clearly Google, looking much like a Gmail clone. There was a small “alpha” under the Caribou logo, but other than that I couldn’t really make anything out before the laptop was closed.

    So, what is Google Caribou?

    Well, after some initial excitement that I had a scoop on a Google RSS reader or something like that, I find that (“in all likelihood”) Caribou was the pre-beta name for Gmail. Still, it seems odd that an online version of an alpha release is still available. Is it possible that Google is recycling the name and using it for internal alpha versions of Gmail upgrades?

    Originally published at on March 14, 2005.