August 30, 2001

  • Thought

    People like the Internet even if venture capitalists don’t.

    This CNET article discusses a recent Gartner Dataquest survey that found that 65% of American homes now use the Internet on a regular basis and almost 25% of those households are on broadband connections (primarily cable).

    Further, 91% said that they intend to stay connected which Gartner took as a sign that the Internet is now an essential part of the American home.

    It’s clear that consumers love the Net and businesses need to understand that despite the anti-hype, this channel is not going away.

August 29, 2001

August 24, 2001

  • Thought

    The print version of the newly minted Business 2.0 gets two big thumbs up.

    The magazine has taken the best of eCompany Now (which was getting pretty darn good on its own over the last few issues) and the best of Business 2.0 (always a favourite) and put them together into a really nice package. My understanding is that we’ll see a bit of a redesign happening this fall, but for now it looks pretty much like eCompany with Xplanations inserted.

    One article that really jumped out and made me think a bit was this one called “Why So Many People (Not You, Of Course) Made So Many Brain-Dead Investments (And How Not to Make Them Again)”. While the article is really about the markets, I think it is also important reading for those of us working on strategic partnerships, business development and strategy building. It is very easy for these same flaws in logic to infect our thinking about business decisions as well as stock picking. Consider it a must read for Internet strategists.

August 22, 2001

  • Thought

    Autodemo has a cool technology for online site demonstrations.

    I was checking out the DVD of “The Straight Story” when I noticed an option to get an automated demo of Amazon’s 1-click ordering system. Since this was new and I always find Amazon to be on the cutting edge of customer experience (note that I didn’t say cutting edge of technology), I clicked the link.

    The demo worked as advertised and didn’t require any downloads (it’s all Flash-based).

    I think we’ll see more of this type of technology evolving as companies focus on improving usability as a way of increasing sales. Now we have to hope that people won’t take to creating hopelessly complicated technologies and then using demos to cover-up their poor design.

    (The Straight Story is an outstanding film by David Lynch, although you would never know it was a Lynch film).

  • Thought

    While the expression “the Internet changes everything” might be out of fashion, I keep running into things that I can’t imagine existing in a non-Net world.

    Today’s proof that The Internet Changes Everything is a site from the UK called “What should I put on the Fence?” which is at (what else)

    Here we have what some would consider a stereotypical British eccentric who has become a bit obsessed with the fence where he used to lock up his bike.

    The site is a one man effort providing statistics on how long various items stay on the fence after he chains them on. The people who own the building are going crazy trying to keep up with “the fencemaster.”

    What is really fascinating is that many people are following his “adventures” on the Net and making requests for various items they’d like to see on the fence. People are now starting to visit the fence in question as a tourist spot. Some are adding their own items.

    I can’t imagine how the world could get involved in one man’s fight to chain things to a fence without the Net. Seriously, find an hour or so and dive into the mind of another person. Fascinating and scary.

August 21, 2001

  • Thought

    We should all take a moment to mourn the passing of the Industry Standard magazine this week.

    Of all the dotcom casualties, I find this one hitting hard. The Standard was always one of the better sources of information on the Internet industry and I’ll miss its no-nonsense style.

    The San Francisco Chronicle can fill you in on all the sad details…

    Industry Standard Joins The Dot-gones

August 16, 2001

  • Thought

    E-mail marketers need to consider how the fight against spam may in fact be hurting their ethical e-mail campaigns.

    Editor And Publisher has a really good article called Spam Fighters Block Legit E-mail that gives real world examples of what can happen to a perfectly legitimate e-mail as it winds its way through increasingly strict filtering systems on the web. Definitely worth a read for anyone managing an opt-in list.

  • Thought

    Maybe I should pick up a Pepsi with those Lifesavers…

    The new issue of the revamped Business 2.0 (merged and melded with eCompany Now) has a great article on Pepsi’s use of the Web (and Yahoo) in their PepsiStuff promotion.

    I think we’ll see more of this online/offline promotion blending as it lets the web do what it’s good at — instant access, database building, cheap content distribution — and let’s offline promotion do what it is good at — build brand, increase trial and impulse purchases, and create word of mouth.

    I also thought it refreshing (pardon the pun) that Pepsi didn’t start sending the 3.5 million people who registered the Pepsi corporate newsletter, but rather built another great promotion around voting on the all-time best Pepsi ad. 320,000 people watching your ads online is not bad!

August 15, 2001

  • Examples of Beyond The Banner Ads

    I have to go buy some Lifesavers.

    As you can see from this MediaPost article Lifesavers has come up with a GOOD way to go “beyond the banner.”

    Essentially what they’ve done is pay to change their logo so that the “o” in About is replaced by a Lifesaver, like this:

    Clicking the logo launches a large graphic pop-up for a Lifesavers contest.

    This to me is inventive and consumer friendly as it adds a little serenpidity to surfing but doesn’t really interfere with the task at hand the way pop-ups/unders do.

    Of course the idea is not a new one. We’ve seen Yahoo and Excite do this type of stuff back in 1996 with “101 Dalmatians” spots on the background of the home page. More recently MarketWatch has been selling “wallpaper” as an ad space (the jury is out on that).

August 14, 2001

  • Thought

    Not enough people think of web design as software design.

    This article on called “Style vs. Design” is a rather personal rant on the need for a better understanding of what “style” is for, and what “design” is.

    Here’s a quote:

    “Most of all, I worry about Web users. Because, after six years of commercial Web development, they still have a tough time finding what they’re looking for, and they still wonder why it’s so damned unpleasant to read text on the Web — which is what most of them do when they’re online.”

August 7, 2001

  • Thought

    This CNET Article gives more details on the increasingly antagonistic approach to marketing that is developing online.

    One of the biggest issues I see with these applications that “enhance” the browsing experience (thereby offering new ways to advertise) is how the consumer actually gets the application in the first place. If the application is unknowingly downloaded as spy-ware along with a wanted application and then is very hard to get off a user’s hard drive, is it really ethical to support such applications? The fact that Gator is happy being known as “hijackware” says something about their feelings towards consumers I think.

  • Thought

    MarketingSherpa has a nice case study on Norm Thompson that is worth checking out. This is a good example of how direct marketing discipline can really help the overall development of a Net Marketing and e-commerce strategy. These guys took their time and did things right. They measured everything and focussed on adding value and creating loyalty instead of following trends and making a quick buck of newbies. Well done.

August 4, 2001

  • Thought

    Dan Gillmor of the Mercury News wrote an article on “lessons learned” from the first wave of e-commerce called “Don’t write off Internet commerce.”

    I agree with the five points he raises — especially the first one about the Net adding value to retailing. I think this is an under-played aspect of the value of the Net. Especially when you consider that research suggests that 2/3 of web-influenced purchases happen offline.

    I’d add that when looking at the likely success at e-tail of various products, it is important to assess the amount of information needed to make a purchase, the real-world availability of the product, and the desirability (demand) for the product. If information need and desirability are high while real-world availability is low, I think you’ve got a potential winner. At least from a sales standpoint. To make the business a success you’ll want to add high gross margins and low cost to ship. A unique branded product doesn’t hurt either!

August 3, 2001

  • Thought

    The Globe & Mail was nice enough to let people know about the results of the recent AIMS poll in this article: “AIMS Poll Finds Optimism Amidst Dot-com Gloom.”

    If I sound pleasantly surprised in the article, it’s because I was. The poll shows that the “meltdown” is not quite as bad as it seems. The Net ain’t goin’ anywhere folks, so let’s just get back to making it an amazing thing and not worry about the doom and gloom.

August 1, 2001

  • Thought

    Junction City is running a nice little parody campaign (I hope) to get John Cusack to be the President of the United States of America.

    In addition to their solid arguments for John in the White House (“He made the tough decisions in Grosse Pointe Blank. He couldn’t be bought in Eight Men Out.”), I’d add “He had a really great record collection in High Fidelity and it would be good to have some soul in the Oval Office.”

    Of interest to marketers is the “Spread the Word” page. Remember, you saw it here first.

  • Playing Whack-a-Mole with Online Ads

    This whole pop-under thing is getting ridiculous.

    I just went the New York Times site and watched as this pop-under loaded:

    Here we have the Grey Lady, the newspaper of record for the entire planet, resorting to sneaky ads that look like Windows systems messages. This can’t be good for the image of the NYT or for the concept of online advertising as something that people might actually want to look at. More and more online advertising is looking adversarial to consumers. This pop-under actually goes to the effort of trying to hide the window title by adding lots of spaces and dots so that it shows as a blank box on your toolbar rather than revealing itself as a browser window!

    I can’t believe this is going to do anything but harm in the long term.

    My suggestion is that all publishers immediately stop accepting anything that is designed to trick visitors into clicking. That includes fake error messages or non-functional interactivity that just causes you to go to the advertiser’s site.

    Now I’m off to play “whack a mole” with more pop-up ads.

  • Thought

    The AIMS event yesterday was well attended and I was happy to see that we had an active and vocal crowd.

    As moderator of the panel it was pretty hard for me to get an accurate read on the overall value of the session and I’d like some input on what we can do better for the next panel. If you have thoughts, please drop me a line.

    Thanks to Farhan, Kevin and Nancy Lee for making the panel a pleasurable experience for me.

July 20, 2001

  • Thought

    I’m looking forward to moderating the “Permission Panel” at the AIMS event on July 31st (if you’re an AIMS member you should have received your e-mail invite by now).

    The panel looks great:

    Nancy Lee Jobin

    President & Founder, Graffiti Direct & Interactive

    Kevin Krossing

    Managing Partner, Net Perceptions

    Farhan Merchant

    CEO, PointSite

    I’ve got a bunch of questions I want to ask, but if you’ve got some burning questions about permission-based marketing, personalization and building loyalty online, drop me an e-mail and I’ll try to get them to respond.

July 19, 2001

  • Thought

    Here’s Wired News’ wrap up of this year’s Webby Awards:

    Webby Winners Have Their Say

    I wish I’d been there simply to hear the acceptance speeches, which were wisely limit to five words. Yes, words, not minutes. Here’s my favorite speech — from travel site — quoted in its entirety: “Thanks, now please go away.” Very clever.

    The article also includes a handy list of all the winners by category with links, so when you’re looking for inspiration, start clicking.

  • Thought

    PICTOPLASMA is a site that I’ve been meaning to mention here at imho*.

    The site is dedicated to illustrated characters and it is absolutely packed with some of the cleverest design you’ll see on the web. It’s great inspiration to do a bit more with design. Of course, the usability of Pictoplasma is atrocious as it is with most “arty” sites. Once you figure out how the site works I’m sure you’ll find something you’ll want on a T-Shirt. Hint: the Archives page you’ll want to hit first is NOT the yellowish ball marked “archive” but rather the yellowish ball ABOVE that yellowish ball.

    Here is a great example of what you’ll find there:

    Auflegen by Kabeljau_blum

  • Thought

    The Online Journalism Review has a great article on the effectiveness of online advertising. How refreshing.

    I particularly like this quote from a Pepsi exec…

    The advantage of advertising on the Web, DeCecco said, is that “you can’t get a database off a TV commercial.”

    We need more success stories! If you’ve got one, send it to me and I’ll post it for the world to enjoy.

July 18, 2001

  • Thought

    There isn’t much point in developing a web strategy and not knowing what you want to do, why you want to do it, and how you will know that you did what you set out to do.

    Web Analysts can help decode the gems of knowledge in the flood of data that a typical web site generates in a day (look a TRIPLE mixed metaphor!).

    ZDNet: eWEEK: Analyzing a good Net career

July 17, 2001

  • Thought

    Another piece in the NYT worth checking out is “Virtual Revenge and the Decline of the Dot-Coms”.

    Here’s a quote from the article:

    “What most irks Tim Cavanaugh, the former editor of Suck, an online magazine that stopped publishing last month, is the sense that all that is good and successful about the Internet is being wrapped into the collective repudiation of it.”

    Just because some overzealous investors backed ideas that shouldn’t have got off the cocktail napkins they were written on doesn’t mean the entire Net was a figment of over-active, over-greedy minds.

  • Thought

    This New York Times Article (registration required) is interesting. It presents the case of the publisher of, one Andrew Sullivan and the commotion that was caused by him taking sponsorship dollars from a company in an industry he has spoken positively about. It seems that the separation of editorial and advertising church and state (already problematic online) are exaggerated beyond some people’s comfort zone when both are housed in one person.

    Maybe part of the problem is the word “sponsor”. Would it be better if it was “patron”? Or does that imply even more control of the content? Anyone interested in being imho*’s first patron, please drop us a note.