13 Feb

Impressive Marketing at Skybox

As much as I think Chile can be world class in some areas, its web sites are usually a parody of bad mid-90’s layouts and broken code. Exhibit A: popular starting page chile.com (competitor sitios.cl isn’t much better). However, a few people stand out and clearly know what they’re doing. Not only is Skybox running geo-targeted ads in Facebook, they’re also combining geo-targeting with seasonal themes and quite likely, content targeting too. Exhibit B: lingerie ad on Adrants. The landing page could have been better customized to the ad unit, but as far as internet marketing savvy goes, I’m nitpicking and these guys are a decade ahead of most businesses in the country. Seeing an Axe skyscraper in Spanish on Facebook that mirrors the outdoors ads currently displayed here in Re

01 Nov

Scam Alert: Canon IP5300 Ink Vampire

We have several products from Canon and we usually like their stuff, but what they’re doing with their IP5300 inkjet printer makes me think it was the last product I bought from this brand. Here’s the deal: they put little chips on their ink tanks to be all smart about it and tell the printer when they’re going to be empty. First problem is, I have a tank complaining that it’s empty even though it’s more than half full. Second problem is, the damn printer driver won’t let me print even *in greyscale* (which uses a separate black ink tank) because of that supposedly empty tank. Third problem is, the bypass they’re telling me to use to force the print doesn’t work most of the time. This system is supposed to be smarter and it’s just plain dumb instead.
Given that a) I have no time to deal with that kind of shit and b) ink is an order of magnitude more expensive than champagne, I’m concluding that this is a deliberate scam to sell more ink. Or an extremely incompetent way to write printer drivers. Either way, if you’re considering buying Canon printers, you’ve been warned. I understand that the inkjet printer business model is razor and blades on steroids, but this is too much.

14 May

Introducing MarketingCharts.com

One of the things we’ve been working on lately is our new site MarketingCharts.com. We are still getting rid of some kinks and have some UI improvements coming, but the site should already be quite useful as it is. Need fresh, updated marketing metrics (about online and offline stuff)? Drop by, check the data out and download the stuff you need for your next presentation, it’s in Excel format for your convenience.
Right now the online charts are in gif format. We’ll probably add some Flash-based online charting component at some point but we wanted to get the ball rolling and see what kind of data users would value most. Anyway if you let a new site manage its release, it will nag you constantly with its squeaky voice: “but I’m not ready, you need to fix me here and improve me there and test me some more.” Hey baby new site, get out in the world already and learn by getting bruises on your knees!

25 Jul

Is a Broken Contact Form Acceptable?

In the course of the various gigs and projects I’m involved in, I end up looking for and using contact information on literally hundreds of corporate web sites per year. It’s already bad enough when a company selling armament or semi-conductors has impossible to find or broken contact information (bouncing email addresses or failing contact forms), if not simply none listed at all. But when we’re talking about the Canadian subsidiary of one of the Big Threes not listing any online contact info, and adding the insult to the injury with a broken help link, you’ve got to wonder whether anyone cares about the basics of customer interactiosn. Yahoo Canada, I’m inquiring about local advertising opportunities for a client of mine, is it too much to ask from an internet company NOT to force me to make a phone call? I’ll try that form (not really adequate but whatever at this point), we’ll see how it goes. You’d think a company like you has automatic “garbage collection” on their sites by now. Here’s hoping Google Canada sucks less.

01 Jul

Welcome to Media Buyer Planner

My friend and business partner Tig Tillinghast just launched another online trade publication at MediaBuyerPlanner.com. The domain name is pretty much self-explanatory so go check it yourself if you’re in that trade. Congrats and good luck MBP! We’re also making good progress with our joint DID and have more in the pipeline but we prefer to get to learn the markets we go into rather than flood search engines with bland cut’n’paste blogs.

24 Apr

Creative Destruction or Just Plain Havock?

People interested in game design, product management, the (un)intended effects of incentives, internet app scalability, co-design between companies and customers, and online social behavior, could do a lot worse than to research the effects of Blizzard’s latest "Honor" patch to World of Warcraft. You can read threads such as this one, or better, go directly experience the wild wild west (and 10-second lag anytime a battle turns massive) on PVP (Player vs. Player) servers. In a nutshell, Blizzard changed the rules more than three months after launch to incentivize player killing without the disincentives described in the manual that comes with the game. Almost as soon as that happened, I think it’s fair to say (as I’ve experienced it myself) that all hell broke loose!
I believe Blizzard has studied their user base demographics and reached the conclusion they could milk the product even more by rewarding hardcore players and immature people who enjoy aggravating others, than by providing a competitive but fair environment to all, including casual gamers. This is intriguing because the game was definitely successful at reaching out beyond the hardcore. I’d love to see the stats on customer support requests and subscription cancels. After you’ve spend literally days building up a character in a game with great underlying characteristics, it’s hard to suddenly let go, but people could put their accounts on hold to wait for a better day.
It’s also interesting to look at how people have adapted and will continue to adapt their in-game attitude (for those who will stick to it). I’m sure there’s already more defensive grouping going on among people who want to complete quests without looking like gank bait. Instances (tougher environments where small groups of players are isolated from the rest of the world and which require better coordinated tactical skills) are probably becoming even more popular.

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20 Jan

Shaping a Standout Shopping Aid

BusinessWeek about PriceGrabber:

"PriceGrabber.com boasts 16 million unique users, 10.5 million products in its database, and 6,500 merchant clients […]
We started what is called SKU association. We basically bundled or associated all these products — they’re identical with each other together. And then we would say: O.K., here are the product results that we have.
Other examples are bottom-line price: The inclusion of tax and shipping. This is something that we’ve had almost since inception, about five-and-a-half years ago, and, of course, that’s something others have introduced more recently.
We also have what we call product tours. It gives you 3-D pictures of the products and more detail. Another differentiator is we will tell shoppers if a product is "refurbished.""

12 Jan

What Amazon’s Most Wished For Items Could Tell Us

I’m not sure how new this is (at least 8-days old), but I just spotted a list of most wished for items at Amazon – in the top right corner, where the Gold Box used to be – that is, "items that were recently added most often to Wish Lists". This will probably become more social as time goes by, for instance by letting you restrict it to your network of contacts and contacts of contacts (think Friendster meets Amazon Circles). Marketers will want to track how product desire spreads among people.
It would be interesting to compare what people fantasize about and what is actually purchased. It might be the case that some products are good at creating desire but for some reason don’t turn into sales success, for instance because of inadequate pricing or a bad reliability reputation. How long it takes to translate a wave of interest into desire then (purchasing) action would also be revealing.

29 Oct

Products First, Then Channels (One Can Dream)

Peter Davidson: A Movie Marketing Experiment:

"Movie producers need to understand that they are telling a story across multiple formats and distribution channels. The real money is not in the theatrical release but in the DVD sales, Toys, Video games and the set up for future stories. The focus will shift from theatrical release as the premiere event to the theatrical release as a skillful marketing event for the additional formats channels and formats for the same story. The theatrical release will be tailored and designed to promote the purchase (or download) of the DVD and or the video game."

That, and I think it’s a strong underlying trend that customers expect more and more control for their money rather than a take-it-or-leave-it attitude from companies, especially as far as discretionary spending is concerned.

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28 Oct

Relaunching the BizNetTravel Blog

This week I’ve been taking over the BizNetTravel.com blog from my buddies Rick Bruner and Steve Hall who are too busy with respectively a new job and posting like crazy at AdRants. I might take it into a slightly different direction, though I don’t know yet what that is. It’s pretty transparent that the blog’s goal is to attract customers for my client Andras Revesz, since it’s integrated directly within his site (Rick’s idea, which I believe is the proper execution). There’s another blog just for special travel deals which is more challenging to make interesting to read.
In both cases if the content doesn’t generate leads and sales it’s ultimately failing at its job, but people are not going to go there to read ads either. It might be tempting to focus on travel tips and practical advice rather than news and offbeat links, but on the other hand there are only so many tips you can provide and this ain’t very exciting anyway. Please read us there for a while and tell me how we’re doing.