August 26, 2005

  • Embrace The Raw

    E-marketer Editorial Director Ezra Palmer manages to pull together blogging, the Sex Pistols, Cicero, and Paul Gauguin in an interesting post at iMedia Connection called How Blogs Pertain to You. Here’s a quote, but read the “whole article”:

    It’s probably not wise to generalize about something as amorphous as the Blogosphere, but here goes: the Blogosphere is a place for people who want a more personal relationship with various entities they deal with on a regular basis — corporate, government, media, you name it. They want to have a sense of a person behind or within the enterprise. They are looking for something or somebody real. All of which brings to mind the Sex Pistols. (Really.) John Lydon and John Simon Ritchie couldn’t sing or play musical instruments, but they took the stage names of Johnny Rotten and Sid Vicious and in 1977 their album, “Never Mind the Bollocks Here’s the Sex Pistols,” upended the music world, tapping into listeners’ desire for something real — real emotion, real anger, real energy. Tired of calculated professionalism, music fans (some of them, anyway) embraced the raw.

    And further on:

    Nonetheless, there is clearly a meaningful group of consumers — your consumers — who want that feeling of community, the feeling of “the real.” They don’t want corporate speak or push-button options. They actually might like to know about your personal taste in music and don’t mind if you aren’t a good speller. How many of these consumers are out there? It’s almost certainly far short of a majority. (After all, the best-selling single in 1977 was not by the Sex Pistols but Debby Boone, with “You Light Up My Life.”)

    Originally published at on August 26, 2005.

  • Getting Real About Podcasting

    Ted Schadler (“guest-guest-blogging” for Charlene Li at her blog) has a good post called Getting Real About Podcast Adoption:

    Podcasting feels like the Internet first did: a whole new way of experiencing the world. But at the end of the day, radio is radio and consumers will only listen to things they find valuable. So what will podcasting adoption look like? In Apple’s view of the world, podcasting is radio reinvented — as long as it runs on an iPod. To the rising tide of podcast hosts, podcasting is better than blogging for becoming famous. To venture capitalists like Kleiner, Perkins Caufield & Byers, Charles River Ventures, and Sequoia Capital, podcasting is a bet on the next big thing. To commercial operators like Clear Channel, it’s yet another channel for selling advertisements.

    The post is worth a read as it goes into the novelty factor, the fact that downloads don’t equate to listeners, and more.

    Originally published at on August 26, 2005.

August 22, 2005

  • What You’ll Be Talking About This Week

    I guarantee that if John Markoff’s article about Google in the New York Times is correct this is what much of the blogosphere will be buzzing about this week:

    On Monday, Google is planning to introduce a second-generation version of its downloadable computer search tool, Google Desktop. It will come with both personalization and software “agent” features — learning capabilities — plus an invitation for independent programmers to develop small programs to extend the capability of the system. Both capabilities are likely to be seen as further competitive threats by Microsoft, which is focusing on similar information retrieval and organization advances in its long-delayed next-generation operating system, Windows Vista. “We’re really trying to make this into a platform,” said Nikhil Bhatla, product manager for Google Desktop. As with Apple Computer’s popular Dashboard feature, the idea is that it will be simple for programmers to extend the reach of Google Desktop by adding custom applications, known as live content panels. Google executives say they plan to unveil on Wednesday a “communications tool” that is potentially a clear step beyond the company’s search-related business focus. While executives would not disclose what the new software tool might be, Google has long been expected to introduce an instant messaging service to compete with services offered by America Online, Yahoo and MSN from Microsoft.

    My advice to Internet marketers? Don’t get sidetracked by reading the tea leaves about new Google products — leave that to the pundits.

    As with everything Google does, it will attract incredible amounts of ink but it will take time and reflection to understand the the direct impact on how you market online. If you think about it, how have the introduction of Orkut, Gmail, Google Maps, or other recent Google roll-outs directly effected your Internet marketing strategy? Unless you are competing in these spaces, it probably hasn’t changed much.

    None of this is to say that you shouldn’t pay attention to what Google and the other big players do. It’s just to point out that letting the dust settle first and then digging into the deeper impact of their strategy on your strategy is probably a smart move.

    Originally published at on August 22, 2005.

  • Will Feeds Kill Newsletters Within A Year?

    I certainly hope so. Otherwise “this Globe & Mail article” (paid access only now) will make Chris Pirillo and me look a bit silly.

    (Interestingly enough, two years later, Tessa Wegert who interviewed us for the Globe article is writing for One Degree.)

    Here’s a snippet:

    What does RSS mean to the content-rich e-newsletter industry?

    About three months ago, Ken Schafer, president of the Toronto-based Internet consultancy Schafer Group and a founder of The Association for Internet Marketing and Sales (AIMS), simultaneously launched an e-newsletter and added an RSS feed to his company’s blog. Though it’s difficult to determine exactly how many RSS users subscribe to a feed — marketers cite this as one of the few limitations of the system — he estimates that there are about 10 times as many people viewing his feed as the e-newsletter.

    Mr. Schafer credits the concept behind RSS with the popularity of the program among his subscribers. ‘[RSS] feeds give the control back to the reader.’ As Internet content publishers, both Mr. Pirillo and Mr. Schafer believe that RSS could replace the need for e-newsletters. ‘It gives us everything we wanted from e-mail newsletters, and everything spam has taken away,’ Mr. Schafer says. ‘I would be surprised if in three years there are any e-newsletters left.’

    Well Chris (and the rest of you), do you think we’ll see the demise of e-mail newsletters (not all e-mail) in the near future?

    Originally published at on August 22, 2005.

August 20, 2005

  • Really Long URLs for Slim-Fast Promo

    Marketing Magazine’s August 15th issue has an article called “The Spot’s Next Shot” that gives details on a new cross-channel campaign from Slim-Fast:

    “I’m not sure whether it is the way to the future, but it’s definitely a breakthrough for the category that we operate in,” says Sinem Uner, brand manager of Slim-Fast at Unilever in Toronto. “I think it’s a much better way to intrigue consumers.” In Slim-Fast’s case, the decision to use short spots on HGTV, Life, Showcase and the Food Network to drive consumers to the Web made sense when research found Slim-Fast’s target market of women 25 to 54 often uses the Internet as an information source.

    What’s more, psychographic data found Slim-Fast’s target group is comprised of often-frustrated dieters who are bombarded with messages on health and weight loss from various media. “When they hear about these things, they’re more likely to surf the Web,” Uner says. Enter, a lighthearted domain name “that taps into our consumer insight and empathy.”

    Along with a minisite at, the campaign featured some of the longest domain names I’ve ever seen used in a consumer campaign, namely and

    While the URLS are clever and probably pique the audience’s interest, I’m sure they had significant drop off in web traffic from people not being able to recall the domains. I couldn’t remember them in the time it took me to open a new browser window after reading the Marketing article so I can imagine lots of people where left playing a guessing game when they got to their computers minutes, hours, or days after seeing the commercial.

    On the other hand, is a great domain for this campaign. One of the nice things about Canadian campaigns is that short useful domains like that are still to be had.

    Originally published at on August 20, 2005.

August 19, 2005

  • CBC Unplugged

    I still on occasion run into people who laugh at the idea that “the Internet changes everything”. On most occasions I just smile, secure in the knowledge that it does and that someday the last few hold-outs will find something that causes even them to say, “whoa — that changes everything”.

    Sometimes, when feeling generous and up for a debate, I’ll pull out a host of examples of radical change in culture and business. Today I think I may have found a new one to add to the list — CBC Unplugged. is a place for listeners to re-connect with their favourite personalities and shows, by way of podcasts that locked-out producers are making. It is not affiliated with the CBC. We all hope to be back at our jobs soon and put your programming on the radio.

    Think about that for a moment. What happens when the CBC decides to lock-out workers? The staff route around the corporation and start putting shows online via podcasts. Brilliant. Kudos to Tod Maffin for shaking things up. I wonder if Dave Winer could have imagined a national broadcaster being disintermediated by that little white on orange rectangle?

    Originally published at on August 19, 2005.

August 15, 2005

  • Should Marketers Use Subscriber Auto-Reply Info?

    Let me pose an interesting question to your our ever-faithful One Degree readers:

    • If someone on your permission-based e-mail marketing list configures their old e-mail address which is on your list to auto-reply with a message that includes a new e-mail address you wouldn’t otherwise know, can you as a marketer safely update your list with this information?
    • Would the subscriber expect you to?
    • Would you be on solid legal ground in terms of having permission to use this address?
    • What might you do to ensure that your subscriber is happy?
    • What have you, or would you, personally do in this situation?


    By the way, this comes from a real situation a reader sent me. If you run into particularly sticky issues you are struggling with, let us know and we might put your question to the One Degree readership to see if they can help you out. (No promises though)

    Originally published at on August 15, 2005.

August 12, 2005

  • Target OwNz The New Yorker

    This is a bit off topic, but the “New York Times has an article” saying:

    The Aug. 22 issue of “The New Yorker”, due out Monday, will carry 17 or 18 advertising pages, all brought to you by the “Target” discount store chain owned by the Target Corporation. The Target ads will even supplant the mini-ads from mail-order marketers that typically fill small spaces in the back of the magazine. The Target ads, in the form of illustrations by more than two dozen artists like Milton Glaser, Robert Risko, and Ruben Toledo, are to run only the one time in the issue. They are intended to salute New York City and the people who live — and shop — there. Many mainstream magazines like Time and Life have published what are known as single-sponsor issues, carrying ads only from marketers like Kraft Foods and Progressive insurance. Target has been a sole sponsor before of issues of magazines, among them People. The goal of a single-sponsor issue is the same as it is when an advertiser buys all the commercial time in an episode of a television series: attract attention by uncluttering the ad environment.

    I bring this to your attention because, if you look around One Degree, you’ll realize that this is pretty much what we want to do. Our contention is that online clutter kills branding opportunities and for highly-targeted sites like One Degree you need to give sponsors lots of space to get their message across. And as readers, we hate the noise that kills the user experience on most ad-supported sites so we’re happy to stand up and show there is another way. If you have examples of sites that you think are doing a great job of integrating ad messages into the overall experience, I’d love to hear about them. Post your examples below or “contact me” directly.

    (Oh, and the title is a Friday afternoon test on whether you’re hip to “leet speak”, but of course you already knew that!)

    Originally published at on August 12, 2005.

August 10, 2005

  • Did Tucows Get Off Easy?

    I’ve been thinking about our “Liberty Village Renamed Toronto’s Porn Alley”.

    Is it just me or did Tucows get off really easy here? In the MSNBC version of the Dateline NBC story, it says (emphasis mine):

    We arrive at the address. It’s a postal drop — just a little mailbox. It seems like a dead end. But when we go back to our computer we find there’s another Toronto company affiliated with “Spunkfarm.” This one is called “Python,” and there’s even an address. Maybe the porn mailer is there. We go to the location, not a mail drop. But it certainly doesn’t look like an office. The space was going to be a Middle Eastern restaurant. Another dead end.

    There is one place in Toronto that might help us: It’s called Tucows. That’s the place that registers those Web site names. It’s what led us to Toronto to begin with. The receptionist is happy to look up the name “Spunkfarm” for us. We get another address — this one very nearby.

    My reading of this story is that Dateline didn’t know what to do after looking at the WHOIS for the site in the story. But when they went to Tucows, the receptionist gave them the real address of the people involved. If Tucows hadn’t handed over the information to an undercover reporter this story may never have surfaced. It seems that Joey’s post nicely deflected the privacy issue by picking on the sensationalistic aspects of the story (which there certainly were). And Tucows CEO’ blog is silent on this (and has been silent all year for that matter). Had Steve Rubel picked this up like it was a Kryptonite lock they might not be off the hook so fast. Joey is clearly a nice guy, a smart blogger, and well-loved by most in the blogosphere. It seems that his post diffused what might have been an issue had he not been there. Maybe Joey is a valuable resource for Tucows much as Scoble is for Microsoft in that they both serve as lightning rods for the blogosphere — taking the hit to leave the corporate message intact. And because they were out there ahead of controversy they are more likely not be jumped on like a blogless Kryptonite or clueless Dell.

    Originally published at on August 10, 2005.

August 6, 2005

  • Liberty Village Renamed “Toronto’s Porn Alley”

    Oh dear.

    Last night Dateline NBC ran a piece on tracking down porn spammers.

    If you missed the piece, you’ll definitely want to check out the MSNBC version of the show— everyone is going to be talking about this around the water cooler Monday.

    The feature (which long-time anti-spam activist Ray Everett Church points out was shot six months ago) starts when a Texas housewife gets zoo-sex spam and calls John Hockenberry instead of hitting delete. Hockenberry takes up the case and near the end of the second page we find out that:

    Sadly, no owners are listed on the Web site itself, but Web sites have to be registered, kind of like a car has to be registered. And we found the place that keeps those registrations. We were told that “Spunkfarm” was associated with a company in Toronto, Canada.

    Whoever sent Julie those pictures is in a nice place like Toronto?

    There is one place in Toronto that might help us: It’s called Tucows. That’s the place that registers those Web site names. It’s what led us to Toronto to begin with. The receptionist is happy to look up the name “Spunkfarm” for us. We get another address — this one very nearby. We discover that down these dingy alleys of old industrial buildings, and a man on the street tells us that the whole area here is all dot-coms. “Mostly, mostly porn though,” he adds. We’re at Toronto’s Internet porn district. The man takes us around back to the freight elevator and gives an idea what goes on inside this building. There are more companies that seem to see porn within the building. At this point, no one knows we are with “Dateline” or that we’re wearing hidden cameras. We find the building and start asking questions…

    I’m sure Tucows isn’t going to be too happy with being called “the place that registers those Web site names” but I think they might also have to do some spin doctoring on why they’re giving out customer addresses to anyone who stops by reception. I won’t recap the rest of the article, but I will tell you that they do in fact find the spammers and not only are they in Liberty Village but in Montreal.

    While digging around a bit on this I found Brian McWilliams’ Spam Kings blog for his book of the same name. Interesting insider stuff (apparently the guy in Montreal is a “chickenboner”). He’s got some great links to stuff MSNBC didn’t mention. “Republic of T” takes a different approach in “Idiots with Email” pointing out that a spam filter might be easier than calling in Dateline. In the comments there someone echoes June’s inbox license rant.

    It’s interesting how this plays out — the locals find it ironic, while over at LiveJournal some are suggesting “Toronto’s porn alley” should be part of our guided tours:

    “And did you know that there is a whole underground internet porn industry in this one section of the city?!?!?! There were all these old industrial buildings that now house as said before, internet porn. And when we were there WHY did we not go there?”

    Maybe we should replace “Toronto Unlimited” with “Visit Toronto’s Porn Alley”.

    Update: Image taken from York Heritage Properties. I hope they don’t mind.

    Update 2: Apparently they do mind. Image removed.

    Originally published at on August 6, 2005.