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Archive for November, 2010

Five Essays on the Open Web – Post 5 – Marty Weintraub

Friday, November 26th, 2010

On Black Friday, nobody can hear you blog. But perhaps fittingly, our final post of the week comes from social media advertising expert Marty Weintraub. Mr. Weintraub has allegedly been quoted as saying: “Facebook is the new black.”

Marty Weintraub:

The web is ubiquitous… and permanent.

The web is as ubiquitous and permanent as business, sex, sharing, ego, voyeurism, exhibitionism,  humans’ need to connect and our dear mothers’ lilting speech patterns.    The world wide web, its amazing tools and humanistic UIs, amplifies all that we people are, within and without.

The www will never mold, because it’s bridge technology that assimilates all the creative and commercial acumen that humans have attained, for better and worse. How important were the printing press, roledex, fax machines. supper clubs, arenas, theaters, wars, telephone, radio, broadcast, cable and satellite television networks?  The web is all of these, amplified, and more.

The web embodies the build out of all things human, with better tools for keeping track. It will exist as long as our planet has the resources and there are people about, doing what people do.

Marty Weintraub is President of aimClear, an Internet-focused advertising agency with offices in Duluth and St. Paul. He is a well-known speaker at conferences like SES and SMX.

Five Essays on the Open Web – Post 4 – Chris Sherman

Thursday, November 25th, 2010

In Canada, it is just barely legal to work on the U.S. Thanksgiving holiday. Hence, with turkey envy in my veins, I post the next installment in our five-part series of mini-essays on the future of the Web. Chris, you always have been and always will be webiquitous to us.

Chris Sherman:

This Is the Best of All Possible Webs

As much as I respect and admire Tim Berners-Lee, I can’t agree that the web is facing any kind of danger of “withering” or being susceptible to impending demise, collapse or other threats of ultimate doom. The web is now like the atmosphere – ubiquitous. Certainly there are existential challenges that will raise alarms and calls for action (global smarming, searchquakes, facetwitidiocy). But like the atmosphere, the web may change but it ain’t going away, and we will continue to live (and hopefully thrive) in it day to day.

I’m not Canadian, but through my FutureSoBright® lenses I see that we’re still just starting on the upslope of a hockey stick graph of growth, and there’s no looking downhill, no matter what the oppressive/regressive/luddite contingents are clamoring about. “Webiquitous” isn’t a popphrase now, but will be in the future – even if it doesn’t rank well in Google. With a tip of the hat to the Arabic word for “essence,” the web is actually morphing into the true manifestation of the tower of Babel, but in a digitally sound version 2.0 release.

Call me Candide… but that’s OK. This is the best of all possible webs.

Chris Sherman is Executive Editor of Search Engine Land, President of Searchwise LLC, and author (with Gary Price) of The Invisible Web: Uncovering Information Sources Search Engines Can’t See.

Five Essays on the Open Web – Post 3 – Andrew Goodman

Wednesday, November 24th, 2010

Continuing our five-part series celebrating Tim Berners-Lee’s Scientific American essay, with some thoughts from yours truly.

Andrew Goodman:

People Don’t Want to Live in Burma

Tourism isn’t booming in Burma: many think it might be unethical to enjoy paradise at the invitation of a military dictatorship. Or possibly you’d be worried that you’d be spied on constantly, or kicked out. That’s what happened to this travel journalist the first time he went there, yet he’s still writing a feature on Burmese travel, and as a result of the feature, people are still going to go there.

I’ve been to resorts in Cuba several times; something many Canadians do in winter – it’s a short flight and great value for a four-star experience. But yes, I’ve heard that there are downsides to the regime there; foremost among them a decided lack of multiparty democracy and other basic political freedoms. I’m not immune to hypocrisy; no one is.

Aldous Huxley famously taught us that it is not the point of the gun that we should fear most; it’s the insidious slide into acceptance of compromises that come with comfort and shiny objects. Luxury and convenience at prices anyone can afford are the Huxleyan drug of our age.

Don’t be distracted by pea-shooter would-be dictators in government – like the 19 goofs in the Senate who voted to censor the Internet (including some Democrats who, for their stance on this issue, can no longer be thought of as liberals).

There are serious threats to freedom that run deeper than this. And many of them could come from the private companies that seek to become synonymous with their own proprietary, next-generation visions of communications networks.

Internet Protocol, and the open interface protocol that sits on top of it – the World Wide Web – are often considered to coexist with technological and communications freedom. If these standards are upheld – and if access to the network is maintained on a level playing field – there is much more likelihood that our daily interactions as well as our commercial aspirations can be contemplated without fear of reprisal or restriction from any major public or private sector behemoth.

The problem is, a dozen or fewer major technology companies seem bent on warping this relatively open environment for their own private ends. Companies like Apple are accused (by direct competitors, natch) of not liking “The Web”. They certainly won’t let Flash run on their device.

Companies like Google, Facebook, and Microsoft are also all enormously powerful, and most of them seem to prefer, in some contexts, a restrictive, walled garden environment that hurts their competitors and helps them to better lock you in. In other cases, they advocate openness.

In more nooks and crannies of their product array than I can remember, I’ve given a small cheer when Google adopts or advocates some aspect of open standards, like microformats,, or Android. And I get a darker feeling of them being The New Boss, Same as the Old Boss, in the way they deploy things like Google Places, Universal Search (also known as: “if you’re not on YouTube, you’re dead”), and yes, even Google News.

The power of the top few monopolists in the field is not to be underestimated. Facebook’s total current grip on the social graph equates to them knowing everything about you and everyone you know. Google’s Street View, carried to its logical conclusion in concert with Facebook and Foursquare, amounts to a one-sided, total surveillance society that far surpasses what 18th-century dystopians mapped out when they described simple prison architecture and watch-tower technology.

Google’s mission statement is “to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible.” Facebook’s is: “to give people the power to share, and to make the world more open and connected.”

  1. Do you have to believe them?
  2. Why them?
  3. Why are you letting them monopolize that?

In a way it’s just a lucky accident that Facebook and Apple, and still Microsoft, are strong enough to stand up to Google, and vice-versa.

As when we launched in 1999, there are five or six would-be monopolists duking it out – not one or two. It’s important to recognize that Google wasn’t seen as one of them at the time (it was a startup), and Apple was still a fallen giant, and a laughingstock to some.

Maybe it’s just luck, then, but as long as there are these dueling elites, and a citizenry paranoid enough to mix their allegiances based on a “single overlord adoption threshold,” we may be fine.

Berners-Lee is right to remind us that our consumer and ecosystem voices must continue to refer to the institutional power of open standards. This is a powerfully idealistic language that harkens back to the language of “classic republicanism” upon which nations like France and America hurtled (wildly unrealistically) into the modern world.

In the world of government, a practical way of ensuring that – for example – we don’t remove people’s freedoms in the name of an arbitrarily-declared “more important freedom,” is to build checks and balances. We need to take the same attitude with our private sector “organizers and empowerers”.

Like it or not, technological protocols like the World Wide Web serve as our protective, constitution-like institutions.

A well-rounded approach to hard questions like “Is Cloud Computing Safer in Canada?” is at least accessible to educated, tech-savvy readers. Although they certainly have vested interests in helping businesses study these issues in a way that keeps their own brand name involved, companies like Google have at least made some effort to foster the spread of relevant, third-party information so that savvy people can stay on top of both opportunities and threats.

Unfortunately, the average commercial user of the Internet may be unaware that they’ve entered a world called the “cloud,” which may be far less “safe” than they assume.

Or is it quite that? If Google, Facebook, and Microsoft have their way with us (consumers, rank and file business owners), the “cloud” will be mainstream. And from the standpoint of sheer obviousness, maybe it’s time to be thankful that their nine-figure persuasion budgets will finally railroad holdouts in my family and professional circle, so I don’t have to do all this cloud-education myself.

But there is a Huxleyan quality to what is “easy and convenient and cute”, isn’t there? The purpose of cute and easy is to make you forget that there are tradeoffs.

But then again, you’d have to be living in a cave not to have heard dark warnings about the cloud, on the other hand. Media battling media; The Social Network – hardly a flattering profile of Facebook – is killing it at the box office. With worldwide box office at $175 million and counting, these are revenues that Facebook itself might take time out to count.

Also working in our favor is that Microsoft’s advertising is (with the exception of the Bing ads) generally laughably mainstream and stale. No one buys in because it isn’t cool. The latest effort – “To the Cloud,” takes the “to the Batpoles” metaphor and a possibly amusing Monty Burns sensibility, and dilutes it to the point of unrecognizability, personifying it in drab, unentrepreneurial “Startup” people seated around an exposed-brick co-working-looking facility; or a Mom trying to share photos with family. At least there is no danger of this vaguely derivative message attracting any copyright lawsuits. There is no danger of entertaining anyone, either.

So, if Microsoft and Facebook are so famously heavy-handed and transparently pushy that our spidey senses will generally be well honed to be sufficiently suspicious of their motives and omnipotent presence… probably what it means is the folks you really have to watch out for still work at Google and Apple.

Google News still notes pedantically at the bottom of the page: “The selection and placement of stories on this page were determined automatically by a computer program.”

  1. Do you have to believe them?
  2. Why them?
  3. Why are you letting them monopolize that?

The real value and straight narrative of “better, easier, unbiased, fast” are all important values in the creation of the tools we use every day, of course. But when the meta-narrative is “hey, we’re just making the world a better, unbiased place to live, so why the push-back?,” the purpose may be to quietly win you over to a larger mission you didn’t consciously sign up for: giving up too much of your privacy, losing consumer choice, etc.

Not so long ago, AOL’s “walled garden approach” was running neck-and-neck against this quaint thing we called the “Web.”

What happened? As it turned out, people didn’t want to live in Burma.

What about this time around?

Andrew Goodman remains Editor-at-Large of He is founder and president of search marketing agency Page Zero Media, author of Winning Results with Google AdWords, and co-founded, a consumer review site.

Five Essays on the Open Web – Post 2 – Chris Tolles

Tuesday, November 23rd, 2010

Our next mini-essay contributor, Chris Tolles, takes a bullish view of the future open playing field of the Web, due to the continued prevalence of… of all things… spam!

Chris Tolles:

Spam as a social asset

I’m not worried about the future of the web.  And you know why?  Spam.  Despite the massive amount of effort of the companies that supposedly are exerting undue control over our web experience – it is the spammers that prove again and again that freedom and ingenuity will always triumph over centralized control.  While I curse my inbox, or the crappy search results, or people hijacking a friend’s Facebook page – these experiences also showcase, in their platforms’ inability to being able to prevent these pipsqueak pirates from annoying their users, that these Internet giants, too, are mortal and put their virtual pants on one leg at a time.

Chris Tolles is CEO of Topix and a veteran of technology startups, including his well known role as co-founder and VP Marketing of NewHoo, which was operated as the Open Directory Project, the largest human-edited directory on the Web, following its sale to Netscape/AOL.

Five Essays on the Open Web – Post 1

Sunday, November 21st, 2010

The World Wide Web turns 20 next month. Will it make it safely into middle age, or flame out like Jim Morrison?

Tim Berners-Lee sparked debate this week with a timely piece in Scientific American – Long Live the Web: A Call for Continued Open Standards and Neutrality. Some observers felt he was taking a particular swipe at Facebook and Apple.

Sir Tim doesn’t pussyfoot around about the open, neutral Web’s significance: “The Web is now more critical to free speech than any other medium,” he writes. “It brings principles established in the U.S. Constitution, the British Magna Carta and other important documents into the network age.”

Traffick asked some leading thinkers in the space for their views on Berners-Lee’s essay. This is the first of five mini “essays” as we take the week to reflect on the future of the Web. With thanks to all of our guest authors.

Elliot Noss:

Open Will Always Win in a Fair Fight

We all need to support an Open Internet with vigilance and not take it for granted. TBL does a good job of identifying a range of threats to the Open Internet, but in my opinion some are more dangerous than others.

On the Internet, “Open” operates like a natural force. In a fair fight, open always wins over closed. I am less concerned with walled gardens like Facebook. We can already see that one of the primary weapons in competition between Facebook and Google is openness.

I said that open will always win in a fair fight. For this reason, I believe the more serious threats to the Open Internet come from governments and IP-interests. Legislation like COICA in the United States, elements of C-32 in Canada and especially ACTA in many countries serve to greatly threaten an Open Internet. Governments are using the “threat” of security as an excuse to snoop and censor. Intellectual property interests are using their lobbying power to protect their narrow commercial interests, whatever the cost. I said that open will always win in a fair fight. It is governments and those who influence them for their own narrow interests who can make the fight unfair.

We all can and should help. Support organizations like Creative Commons. Let your politicians know how you feel about odious legislation. Support ICANN, which is the first true exercise in global (not international) governance and helps protect the Internet from the likes of the ITU. We all know how to get our messages out, but we simply do not turn our abilities into actions often enough.

The Open Internet allows innovation without permission. This important value must be protected.

Elliot Noss is President and CEO of Toronto-based Tucows, Inc., an ICANN-accredited domain name registrar since 1999. Today, the company operates brands and divisions like Hover, Yummynames, and OpenSRS.

Just Say No to SEO Articles

Wednesday, November 17th, 2010

Ed’s note: Every so often we publish a guest column (reprint) of our favorite candid SEO experts out there, Jill Whalen. This latest rant/sensible-advice appeared in this week’s High Rankings Advisor. Enjoy!

Last week I was speaking with a potential client in need of SEO consulting who told me that they had been working on their product part e-commerce website over the past few months by adding “SEO articles” to it on a regular basis. “SEO articles?” I thought. “Why would an e-commerce site that sells product parts need articles about SEO?”

Of course, I knew they weren’t talking about writing articles about SEO, but writing articles for SEO. Which is often just as silly. Unfortunately, I hear this on a regular basis because so many believe that writing keyword-stuffed articles is somehow an SEO requirement. They don’t know why they might need these articles — only that, for whatever reason, the Google Gods want them. And so they write articles that nobody would be interested in reading, but which are stuffed chock-full of the keywords for which they would like Google to show their site.

And then they wonder why it’s not happening for them.

“Did we not provide Google with the SEO articles they require?” they ask incredulously.

“Why does Google not show our ‘History of Product Part A’ article when someone is searching to buy one of them?”

“Let me explain,” I say, and ask them to put themselves in the shoes of the potential buyer.

“If you were looking to buy Product Part A, which page would you rather find in Google? The one with the product part information, the price, choice of color/size, information on how to purchase it, and an ‘add to shopping cart’ button? Or the one that tells you the history of said product part?”

The choice, of course, is easy when presented that way. And suddenly – BAM! It all starts to make sense.

“That was exactly MY thought before we embarked on this crazy SEO scheme!” they reply. “It just didn’t make any sense to me, but I figured that Google was just weird and had its own reasons for liking stuff like that. So why do so many SEOs recommend this?” is their next logical question.

I wanted to tell them that most SEOs don’t have the slightest clue what Google really wants. But instead I told them that it’s usually because many SEO consultants don’t have a good grasp of why they do what they do. Once upon a time, some of them probably stumbled upon some websites that provided a lot of valuable industry information via a blog or resource center, and noticed that the site also did well in Google. So they put 2 and 2 together and came up with the not-so-brilliant idea of writing articles created solely for SEO purposes — and then they spread the information to the many places online where SEO myths are propagated.

And the SEO article creation industry was spawned.

Let’s step back for a moment and look at the difference between “SEO articles” and information provided on a site that is there without regard to SEO.

When your goal is to create SEO articles, you’ll almost always make the wrong decision on what to write about or how to write it because you’ll be thinking about search engines rather than your target audience. Anything and everything you write or post to your website needs to have a reason for being there.

And that reason is not SEO.

What you add to your site should always enhance it in the eyes of your target audience. If an article about the history of Product Part A is truly something your target audience would be interested in — that is, it helps those people who might buy the product make their decision — then by all means, write that article. But don’t lie to yourself. Your gut will let you know if you really do believe it will be helpful, or if you are just looking for an easy way out!

Your goal is to get into the mind of your potential buyers and figure out what their pain points might be. What might hinder them from buying a particular product? What might prevent them from buying it from you? Maybe they’re not sure if the part will fit the gizmo that they were buying it for. Maybe they don’t understand why the latest version of Product Part A (rev.2.56) is worth so much more than the previous version (rev.2.0). So write an article pointing out the differences, and why the manufacturer decided to rev it up, and how the extra money it costs will be well worth paying because it will likely last twice as long.

That is useful information for your target audience.

It’s also an article that others interested in Product Part A might link to. And it sets you up as an expert on those types of products. You don’t need to think about SEO when you write such an article, because that’s not why you’re writing it. And yet, by the very act of *not* thinking about SEO, you’ll have created a potential SEO boon for your site.

The article itself will likely show up for long-tail searches relating to Product Part A (perhaps when people are seeking out the differences between the two revs). And if it naturally garners links, that link juice will spread to the rest of your site, providing your sales pages with a better chance at ranking for your money terms — i.e., pages that bring in people who are ready to buy now.

So banish the notion of “SEO articles” from your vocabulary. Optimize the actual pages of your site that are there to do business, and provide as much additional information as you can that will set your business apart from the others. Get into the head of your potential customers and give them exactly what they need to become informed buyers who want to buy only from you.


Jill Whalen is the CEO of High Rankings, an SEO consulting company in the Boston, MA area since 1995. Follow her on Twitter @JillWhalen.

5 Stages of Digital Marketing Professional Development

Friday, November 12th, 2010

Trade shows and conferences are like the Energizer Bunnies of the digital marketing industry. Despite hard times, demand for events has grown. I think I’ve figured out why. But first let’s walk through what it’s like to kick off a digital marketing career these days.

Someone launching, say, a search marketing career will encounter information overload. Of course, overload’s not as bad as ignorance. Narrow specialists who don’t get up to speed with related parts of the digital marketing puzzle face career marginalization.

Surprisingly, only a relatively small cadre of newcomers belongs to the same club more advanced members of our tribe do – that of plugged-in, voracious information-gathering and networking. To some, it comes naturally; others need to be taught.

Sadly, by the time many marketers make it to mid-career, they’ve been too heads down to offer useful strategic help to their companies. In certification courses, the instructors and I are sometimes asked what sources we use to stay plugged in. We might mention a dozen or so key ones. To you, references to core sources like TechCrunch or Search Engine Watch may roll off the tongue. But to many, staying current is someone else’s job. Many companies and individuals are skimping on professional development.

So what are the professional development hallmarks of a digital marketing career that can sustain momentum?

Stage 1: Organize your info IV drip. I’d rather know a sleep-deprived information junkie than someone who sits around waiting to be spoon-fed everything. You can always dial back from too much. New recruits should do research and settle on an initial stream of a couple dozen useful sources. Experiment with multiple consumption and updating methods: e-mail, RSS, Twitter, internal company “Digging” – whatever works. Privilege insight over mere news.

Stage 2: Webcasts. Whether these are educational seminars put on by companies like FreshBooks (a B2B vendor that has fostered a small business community beyond its own product); sponsored Webinars on Search Engine Watch and ClickZ; or excellent videos made available by the likes of Google, there is no shortage of distance learning opportunities. Books and audio books also fit into this stage.

Stage 3: Local networking events. It shouldn’t matter where you are, there must be vibrant associations and one-off talks near you. Use a talk or performance as an excuse to meet other smart people and socialize. This ritual accelerates learning and connections.

Stage 4: In-depth training courses and certification programs. Professional associations like the Search Engine Marketing Professional Organization (SEMPO), the Web Analytics Association, training firms like Market Motive, and major players like Google have all invested in developing intensive training courses to meet the exploding demand for compressed deep learning. Companies like Bruce Clay, Inc. and Page Zero Media [disclosure: my company] frequently offer intensive training courses in conjunction with the SES and SMX conferences.

Stage 5: The big conferences. Let’s be frank. The people who run digital marketing and strategy conferences have had a very long time for trial and error refinement. One pioneer, Alan Meckler, launched Internet World in 1993! But what was too far ahead of the curve in many markets in the 1990s is now addressing the meaty part of the curve. Digital marketing isn’t something you dabble in anymore: it’s now your profession. What makes larger conferences so unique is that they offer the opportunity to sample new ideas, make connections, learn from a variety of presentation styles, and follow up with networking and social opportunities. Today, many attendees enjoy direct tutorials from big players like Google and Bing (“university” format). To say nothing of the perennial popularity of site clinics inside the session rooms and the increasingly popular Express Clinics run by experts like Matt Bailey and Judith Lewis, out next to the trade floor. Finally, proof that “water cooler talk” isn’t dead: attendees often remember keynotes for years, long after the tweets have come and gone.

It’s plain to see why Stage 5 is a perennially popular option. Companies and individuals are looking at the costs and benefits of these professional development opportunities. The explosion of OMS San Diego‘s attendance year-over-year, for example, indicates that comprehensive events are fulfilling a need in the current market for information. If a marketing manager is heading out of the office, then coming back with news and to-do’s from multiple related disciplines from a single event is an attractive proposition cost-wise as opposed to making multiple trips.

Some attendees will go primarily for training and stay on for the conference. Others will sign up for one conference day or a trade show pass, and then add training to their schedule. Whatever makes sense.

All of this explains why many of our industry conferences have done well financially through a tough recession, despite fragmentation and competition for eyeballs and bums in seats.

An earlier version of this column appeared at ClickZ on March 10, 2010. Reprinted by permission. Repositioning Its Own Corpse

Tuesday, November 9th, 2010

In 1998, two new search engines came out, both eventually going public, both capturing an immense amount of user mindshare and both becoming amazingly popular.

One was Google. The other was Ask Jeeves.

One did a lot better than the other.

But the other did something unforgiveable. It went from lucking into the improbable status of being a multi-billion-dollar brand in web search technology — one of fewer than ten companies that have ever sniffed this — to kissing it all goodbye.

Even after Ask Jeeves bought Teoma and stopped being a “natural language” “answer set mapped to popular questions” service, people kept right on using it, blissfully unaware that its mandate had changed.

It took dropping the Jeeves and continuing to further reposition the brand into irrelevance to really kill the company’s identity.

In 2003, Ask Jeeves ceased being a “Q&A” engine to try to be another contender in the search engine arms race. Seven years later, the company hopes to reverse course and pump life into the site by pursuing new directions in curated-plus-automated question & answers (note: I’ve done no research on this and don’t plan to). As a result, they’ve laid off a bunch of engineers.

Many consumers probably thought that happened years ago.

Today it’s about fresh, current brands that are positioned top of mind with users: Google, Facebook, Twitter. There will be precious little life left in the brand that Ask sadly and voluntarily sabotaged seven years ago.

Sure, Google won with technology. What Ask squandered was an opportunity to be in the top 3-4 search properties or even a solid #2 based on positioning alone — a “lovemark” that could have gradually bolstered its technology in keeping with its image, rather than trying to out-Google Google.

Users are savvy today, and they’ve also got style. They’re looking for new leadership. Reinvigorating is a little like trying to revive AOL. You might as well start with a completely clean slate.

Fast Company is Right About This, At Least: Clicks Matter

Thursday, November 4th, 2010

Like Pace Lattin “doesn’t cross paths with Shoemoney at all,” I don’t cross paths with Pace Lattin at all (although Lattin and I are fellow ClickZ columnists).

All I can do is read what he’s writing on his blog, accept the words on their face, and try to get meaning out of them.

Commenting on the already-well-documented brouhaha about Fast Company’s ill-fated, easily-gamed “Most Influential Online” survey, Lattin makes the following incomprehensible statement:

The real strange thing is that in the article they mentioned that “clicks are the currency” of the internet This is probably the worst statement I’ve heard about the internet and marketing in general. Perhaps in 1998, “clicks” were the most important thing, but with all the developments and technology that have occurred in our industry, I’m amazed that a company like FastCompany would ever make this ridiculous claim. It completely ignores the real truths of interactive marketing, from real influence in social networking, to real influence in branding, to real influence in blogging.

It’s fine to finesse a point here and there, to make a point.

And it appears we all agree that the Fast Company survey was lame, as definitively documented by Danny Sullivan.

But why blatantly deny a very important point in our industry? That clicks are currency? In a large part of the online marketing world, advertisers pay for clicks. That makes clicks, literally, currency. Of the $25 billion that Google will make this year on advertising, over $20 billion of that will have been charged by the click. That’s a lot of currency.

As for the specific alternatives Lattin suggests, I only have questions.

“The real truths of interactive marketing”: Define “interactive marketing”. Can you distiguish between real truths and fake truths?

“Real influence in social networking.” Please distinguish real influence from fake influence.

“Real influence in branding.” Define “branding.” Now go back, and define it again. Compare your responses. Please distinguish real from fake influence.

“Real influence in blogging.” Please distinguish real from fake influence.

Clicks=currency: that much we know.

Fake and invalid clicks should be filtered out, not paid for, and not counted in surveys. That, we also know.

Who wants to win a “most influential” contest, anyway?

If you sell stuff online, don’t advertise

Tuesday, November 2nd, 2010

No, I don’t mean it that way. Of course you should advertise!

What I mean is, if your economic engine is driven by product sales, customer acquisition, and the like, then what are you doing on your website distracting users with ads?

Unless your business is advertising-driven, it’s almost always a bad idea to entice users to click away from your site so they can go buy something from… I dunno, say… your competitors. The revenue you make from that visitor is a penny or two. The lifetime value of a customer, I hope, is much higher.

And yet you see these kinds of muddled models all the time.

Merely strange is the etailer or B2B supplier who also shows low-rent AdSense ads.

Stranger still, unless you can somehow explain it to me, is someone who shows a custom banner in something like their shopping cart checkout process, allowing the user to consider buying from some other company. It would be like a car salesman handing out flyers for the Lincoln Navigator as his prospect walked from the test drive over to the desk to sign paperwork to lease an Acura RDX.

If she was buying a Ford Flex, I’d almost understand. Same company as Lincoln, higher margins on the Lincoln. Then again, they’re about to sign the paperwork. Do you really want to interfere with that?


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