September 29, 2005

  • Search Optimize Viral Campaigns

    Does search engine optimization matter when you are doing a viral marketing or teaser ad campaign? Absolutely! One Degree and the “Uncle Yaris” TV ads give us a textbook example. Because I wrote about a few days ago, we’re getting a ton of search traffic right now on the terms Uncle Yaris and

    I find it truly ironic that I wrote “they’re from Toyota as a simple Google search will tell you” and now that page itself is the top result:

    Google will redirect you to the site if you search on, but Yahoo shows this:

    <lost due to link decay>

    And MSN puts One Degree at the top of an Uncle Yaris search as well:

    <lost due to link decay>

    My quick review of the search results didn’t reveal as a result for any of the searches now driving traffic to us.

    Lesson learned? Teaser campaigns will generate LOTS of search activity. If you haven’t optimized your site so that the search engines can find you, your curious customers won’t either. Any SEO experts out there want to chime in with a few suggestions on what Toyota should have done with — other than hire you?

    And to Toyota? Thanks for running a TV teaser campaign for One Degree! We’re lovin’ the traffic!

    Originally published at on September 29, 2005.

September 28, 2005

  • Toyota’s Quirky Uncle Yaris

    <image lost to link decay>

    So “Toyota” has started a TV teaser campaign based around “Uncle Yaris”. The ads feature the “quirky” Uncle Yaris — who looks like he could be my nephew, are uncles really that young these days? — doing “quirky” stuff. Did I mention the ads are “quirky”?

    The ads end with a full screenshot of the web address “”.

    The ads of course tie into the Canadian launch of the new sub-compact “Yaris” that was “announced at the Frankfurt Auto Show” earlier this month. I can’t really say I understand this campaign. The site doesn’t do anything and doesn’t ask anything of me (no sign-up or send to a friend or find out what this is about or anything). I can Google Yaris and find out everything I need to about the car — so what exactly is the point of this campaign? Is it to get people like me to post things like this?

    Originally published at on September 28, 2005.

  • Solving The Feed Search and Partial Feed Puzzle

    One of the nice things about all this “Web 2.0” stuff is that we get some new problems to solve. Let me outline a problem that’s been bugging me for a while now that was brought top-of-mind by the launch of Google Blog Search a few weeks ago. I’ve also got a possible solution I want to put out there for feedback.

    Here’s the situation:

    1. Ad-supported sites rely on people seeing the ads on their site. That’s how they make money. That’s good.
    2. Feeds allow ad-supported sites to notify past readers (subscribers) that there is new stuff at the site to see (along with the ads that support the content). That’s good.
    3. If an ad-supported site publishes a full feed with all the content, ad-free, they don’t make any money. That’s not good.
    4. If you put the ads in the full feed it kills much of the value of the feed to the subscriber and becomes very hard to measure. That’s not good.

    So a partial feed (while not the preferred choice of subscribers) is the logical compromise. Subscribers are notified of new relevant posts and can easily click-through to see the ad-supported content. A compromise, but a good thing.

    And here’s the problem with that situation:

    1. Feeds (through ping services) also act as notifiers for aggregators and search services. Because this makes it possible for prospective readers to find a publisher’s content, this is good.
    2. But a new class of services only looks at what is in the feed to assess the content. So anything not mentioned in an ad-supported site’s feed is not crawled and therefore not searchable by users. For both publisher and reader, this is a bad thing.
    3. The problem is made worse by the fact that one of the best new services, PubSub only reads feeds, not the full related posts. That’s bad.
    4. But what is really bad is that Google Blog Search is only crawling feed content, not the original posts.

    So the essential problem we’re faced with is you need to produce a full feed so that people who might be interested in your content can find you when using ping-centric search tools. But producing a full feed means that regular readers can avoid ads on your site by viewing your content only in their feed reader.

    And finally, my suggested solution:

    • Create a “Public Partial Feed” that is easily available and conspicuous on your site. Make it so that auto-discovery can find this feed.
    • Make a “Ping-friendly Hidden Full Feed” that is hard to find unintentionally and have that feed sent to ping-centric search tools.

    Is anyone doing this? Are there any issues I’ve missed in using this approach?

    Originally published at on September 28, 2005.

September 27, 2005

  • One Degree Calling

    When I took iStudio to task for not having a feed, iStudio fixed the problem and let me know via a comment at One Degree within an hour of the post going live.

    This morning I started wondering if any of the other web shops and interactive agencies in Canada are paying attention to the blogosphere. The scientist in me figured an experiment was in order.

    So, here is a list of ten randomly selected Canadian interactive shops. Let’s see how long it takes them to spot their company name and URL and add a comment to let us all know they found this contest they didn’t even know they were participating in. I’ll update the post with “time to reply” updates as they find us.

    Results To Date:

    To Be Heard From:

    • Blast Radius
    • Critical Mass
    • Devlin
    • Henderson bas
    • Indusblue
    • N5R
    • Note to our competitors: To make sure comments are legit, e-mail me from your work e-mail so I know the comment is really from the company and not from a “passionate customer” helping you out! Note to those reading our feed: To make sure those monitoring feeds instead of blogs have a fair chance I’m posting the whole post rather than an excerpt this time.

    Originally published at on September 27, 2005.

  • Turn Complaints Into An Advantage

    A few weeks ago we started getting what I called “subscription spam” through our e-mail newsletter sign-up forms. It seems that comment spam attacks are mistaking e-mail sign-up forms for comment fields. Apparently e-mail lists are now collateral damage in the comment spam wars. Because we use a double-opt-in process we saw bounces from the fake e-mail addresses the spammers were using. That’s how we knew this was happening. And it was getting pretty irritating because these automated tools were becoming more aggressive and we were seeing several bounces per hour from these silly things. Worse still, the bounces were coming back from big portal sites and from their perspective it looked like we were spamming them! I sent off a note to Campaign Monitor to see if they had been seeing this with other clients, but it seemed we were the first ones with the problem. The way Campaign Monitor turned this complaint to their advantage is a great lesson for all marketers…

    Rather than give us the typical “your problem not ours” answer, David Greiner at Campaign Monitor started working with us to figure out what was going on. We did a bunch of tests on our site using code variations they came up with until we found something that did the trick. Today Campaign Monitor rolled out an upgrade to their service that includes the changes they first figured out using One Degree as a guinea pig. To me this is a great example of how to use in-bound e-mail and customer complaints in general as an asset rather than a burdensome, but necessary cost centre.

    Campaign Monitor shows us how to do this right:

    • Read your support requests and reply promptly.
    • Have those designing the service involved in customer support so they can feel the pain of their decisions and will feel motivated to fix problems as they arise.
    • Don’t abdicate responsibility even when at first the problem doesn’t appear to be yours.
    • Take advantage of passionate users who’ll help you figure out how to improve your product for their needs, and then roll those enhancements out to the broader customer-base.
    • Use a blog to keep customers up-to-date on what you are doing with the product and to share knowledge between customers.
    • Give props to those who help out. They might just blog about you too. (Thanks for the link David!)

    Originally published at on September 27, 2005.

September 8, 2005

  • ThinData Gets Press For Doing Right Thing

    If you read the Globe article “mentioned in my last post”, you’ll know that “ThinData” are undoubtedly thankful that they’ve been treating Aubrey Stork so nicely:

    The Internet merchandising company he worked for in Toronto was shrinking and, as other people left the company, he had to take on their responsibilities. Mr. Stork says he tried to no avail to discuss the burden with his bosses. “It forced me to look at my long-term goals and I realized I had reached my limit and it was time to look for a new job,” Mr. Stork says. And he did. Now, four months into his new job as a production specialist at ThinData Inc., a website marketing company in Toronto, Mr. Stork says that he loves to go to work every day because he’s getting encouragement from management in the growing firm to expand his horizons and work toward his goal of becoming an account manager. “I definitely feel more appreciated,” he says.

    Reason Number 34 to “do the right thing”: It might get you press in unexpected but pleasurable ways.

    Originally published at on September 8, 2005.

September 1, 2005

  • Closed For Renovations

    Unbelievable. I mean really unbelievable.

    The Gap, Gap Kids, Baby Gap, Gap Maternity, Gap Body, and Old Navy web sites are offline and according to USA Today have been for a while now:

    Hoping to minimize the customer inconvenience, Gap Inc. waited until after most back-to-school shopping had been finished before launching a “soup-to-nuts” overhaul of its major e-commerce sites, said company spokeswoman Kris Marubio. “We think this is going to make for a more compelling and exciting experience for shoppers,” Marubio said.

    The San Francisco-based company isn’t disclosing when the sites will reopen. Instead, visitors are being asked to leave their e-mail addresses with and so they can be informed when the sites are selling clothes again. “It’s major project for us so we know it’s going to take some time,” Marubio said. She warned the company may still have to fix some bugs even after the sites reopen.

    The continuing closure of and is likely to put another small dent in Gap Inc.’s sales, which have been sagging in recent months. The slump already has prompted management to lower its profit projections for this year. and each generated online sales of $236 million last year, accounting for 3% of Gap Inc.’s total revenue of $16.3 billion. attracted 4.2 million visitors in July while drew 2.6 million visitors, according to Nielsen/NetRatings, a research firm.

    As Eric Peterson at Jupiter Research points out, they’re losing over a million dollars a day. And they can’t say when it will be open again! Haven’t they heard of a staging server? (Note that Banana Republic’s new site has reopened and gives a tour of new features at the site. One can only guess that similar features will be seen at the “Grand Reopening” of and sometime this fall.)

    Originally published at on September 1, 2005.