Friday, November 30, 2007

amapedia home page

amapedia home page

Brilliant idea by Amazon.

They've setup their own version of Wikipedia that seems to revolve around the products within their site. They've cunningly put it on a fully separate domain from their shops.

The trick is that they now get two listings within Google. One for their shop and one for their 'nice' site explaining all about the book but not in a "selly" way.

Of course it has nice convenient links for you to go and buy it on Amazon no matter what you write in the copy.

It'll be interesting to see if any companies copy it. It'll be difficult to get the critical mass to push some content into it, but getting two places on the top page in Google is definitely worth it.

Monday, November 26, 2007

More Vouchers = Bad Christmas

Gap warns consumers over hoax email vouchers - Brand Republic News - Brand Republic

Brand Republic ran a stroy this morning about some fake vouchers which were floating out there in the online world.

There seems to be a growing surge of online vouchers floating around. In the last week I've had vouchers forwarded to me from GAP, Selfridges, Carnaby Street and Wagamamas. The many newspapers are mentioning people like Threshers.

I remember reading about couponing in a business book. It's all about identifying people who are willing to pay but are put off by high prices. Give them a relatively difficult but straightforward means of obtaining a discount and they'll buy. The effort these people go through then means that the free spending people who wanted the product at the higher price anyway still pay full price. Hey presto, everyone's happy.

The problem is when too many of the high spending people get a hold of the discount voucher. The internet makes it very easy for vouchers \ promotional codes to be spread around in areas where the retailer or producer doesn't necessarily want them to be. Before you know it a discount meant for friends and family appears all over town.

Obviously the majority of retailers will put some crafty T&Cs on the voucher to ensure that they don't end up bankrupting themselves with this sort of offer. However the customer experience in this sort of situation will be quite bad. You've gotten the consumer's hopes up and then dashed them.

Branding considerations also need to come into play. It's nice to see your brand being sought after, but people shouldn't perceive your product as cheap or a bargain (unless you're talking about Tesco Basic). A brand's value is in two things: Amount of people who want it and the amount people will pay for it. Apple's trick is not just the fact that everyone wants their products, it's also the fact that they're willing to pay almost twice as much as the nearest competitor.

Most retailers are fully aware of the potential risks involved with giving out these voucher codes. The current vouchers available show the fact that retailers are a little more worried about Christmas than normal.

All shops have something to gain by saying that Christmas will be bad (helps lower expectations for their quarterly reporting and allows them to not look greedy over the christmas period) but they very rarely do anything about this pessimism until later in the season. This season people seem to be slashing all over the place before all the decorations have gone up.

Good thing is that if they're desparate now, they'll be more desparate later. Might be worth postponing the Christmas shop!

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Threadless: No Longer Rootless

Threadless: From Clicks to Bricks

Threadless are opening a store. Can't think of many other situations where an online retailer has opened a real world shop...

I'm sure there are examples - I can imagine many family stores started life as an eBay shop. I just like the way the Article talking about this in Business Week made it sound really hard and difficult!
Web retailers are often unprepared for the costs of running a store, including rent, payroll, and utilities.
These sound suspicously similar to the bland pronouncements from the usual crew of consultants and 'experts' cooked up for this kind of article.

Do they seriously imagine that people won't realise they have to pay rent on a shop? That staff are free? That no-one will charge them for electricity?

While I know some people are a bit stupid you'd think by the time someone is successfully running an $11 million dollar business they might know how to pay rent.

The guy being quoted, Jim Okamura manages the Chicago office of a "Global Retail Consultancy". I bet he charges a good amount per hour. I wonder how much he would charge for that advice.

It's all based on his
Jim has 14 years of consulting experience focused on the retail industry, including strategic planning, branding, consumer behavior and multi-channel project work.

I imagine those 14 years have been well spent.

Monday, November 12, 2007

The Value of Digital Citizenship

I am a firm believer in the existence of a Digital Community. I think that both people and companies who make their living on the internet owe something to the great beast that has spawned so much in the past ten or fifteen years.
Some of the things I do, of which this blog is the main thing, is contribute small amounts of content to the overall beast, in the hope that it will one day prove useful to somebody browsing on the internet. The vast majority of people on the internet are using it for benevolent purposes and I believe you have to trust in the good intent of that majority.
I saw an interesting idea today. If a website has been setup to defame your brand (example), it is possible to find ways to make that website disappear from Google.
The company who came up with the idea were strongly advising against this rather extreme tactic, but it got me thinking.
The problem is that most brands and brand managers want to control their brand on the internet. That doesn't work anymore. You make a brand and then release it to the public through advertising. Now it used to be that the only feedback people got about your brand was from their friends, the media and your adverts. Now there are many regularly visited places that can give people independent views of brands and companies.
This has spawned whole movements above and beyond those that used to plague nestle - the amount of effort to setup the movements has decreased hugely so the number of movements has increased. Mild hate campaigns can be setup with ease and spread quickly across a whole host of forums and social networks on the web.
In the face of this, many executives will ban any use of their brand, company or even logo in anything that could conceivably end up out of their direct control. This is silly. If you want people to actually take some time to build a relationship with your brand, you need to show them that you trust them. You need to give them the opportunity to complain. You need to be happy to show people that you are an open company.
Obviously you need to address the moaning, but that's the point. Letting the moaning happen is not a choice. Stopping the moaning is very difficult. Putting your prices up will never be a decision welcomed by your customers, but it's sometimes necessary. Explaining why the prices have gone up will help your cause. Explaining why powdered breast milk can sometimes be useful for parents will help.
Letting people make their own minds up is something that brave brands do because brave brands are confident that they have the best product. Trying to control the conversation is something that brands do when they have something to fear. If you have a problem ask for ideas from your customers. Show them that you listen.
Bit rambling. I think I've made my point, but I don't know what it was.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Facebook didn't kill the internet!

Facebook's Big Ad Plan: If Users Like You, They'll Be Your Campaign - Advertising Age - Digital

AdAge report from the press conference where Facebook touted their new ideas.

Beyond the simple things (that Bebo have already been doing) around making sponsored profiles, Facebook are doing something that's actually interesting to marketers and to facebookers. The idea of being able to tell your friends when you've listed something on eBay should be quite useful - extending the reach of personal advertising of this kind.

The idea of Amazon reviews being posted onto facebook is useful too - this is a true use of an opensocial schema. The idea behind it seems to be that facebook should act as a node \ aggregator in the parsing of internet data about our friends. If facebook is notified that you have posted something to the internet (that you are willing to share), facebook will then inform your friends. Facebook sees it's role as combining Twitter, Blogger, MySpace, Amazon and eBay into a navigable interface.

Should be interesting to see how many people facebook can get to use this system. I think this will be of most interest to the smaller retailers who will get the chance to let people know that people shop there. IF you see that your friends are shopping somewhere, you will trust the shop more and therefore hopefully buy from them.

Might be an interesting way of growing some of the smaller players on the internet.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Old Guardian Stuff

Nice ad from the Guardian proving their ethical credentials (and also showing off their reasonably comprehensive archive).

I'm surprised there's little been done by the whole historical crowd to pull out and aggregate this data. I'm sure Google will get there at some point quite soon...

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Ad Tracking Rebellion

Uh - Oh!

The idea that advertisers can target people's behaviour on the internet has allowed many companies to become big. The size of the tracking has been increasing in recent months. There are rumours that facebook's new ad announcement on Tuesday will involve a large degree of tracking consumer's behaviour across other sites.

This will definitely rile the privacy advocates, who will be quite disturbed by the idea that facebook's database will be usable across the whole of the internet. The privacy controversy will deter some people from using facebook as much.

It should be interesting to see what evolves from this. Trust is an extremely important thing for social networks - we share a large amount of data with our social network providers. Although many people are willing to share the data with literally everyone, even more people want to limit the data sharing and control where it ends up. How many facebook profiles are shared with everyone?

I don't actually know what the data says but I'd bet that a good proportion are not shared.

I personally believe that facebook is going to come up with a funky way to advertise on their own site. If they do propose an external network model, we'll see some problems arising for many of the other companies that use almost any kind of behavioural targeting.

One quick look at the largest networks reveals many of them collecting large amounts of information on people using cookies. Tacoda (now owned by AOL), Blue Lithium (Yahoo), Adviva and many others will be exposed. Already around 8% of webusers employ some kind of cookie deletion software or some kind of cookie blocker. Increases in this will not make our job any more fun.

Google will remain smugly aloof (at least until they own Doubleclick!) as their model relies entirely on ads relevant to searches, not who the people are.

Friday, November 02, 2007

Sony slowly getting there

Sony Gets It Right. The New PS3 Ad. « Agency Spy

Rather than focusing on a brand that is rather mysterious, Sony are finally shouting about the features of their box of tricks.

Still not sure they've quite beaten the gears of war ad that the Xbox 360 had earlier in the year - that one definitely did something different for me. I think the Gears of War ad was the first time I considered that the new generation of consoles were doing something other than having slightly better looking graphics.

Ultimately, the success of a console depends on getting good games. I don't think the console makers have done enough to produce exclusive games as of yet. Not having GTA IV exclusively will hurt Sony, and Helo 3 boosts the Xbox. Heavenly Sword looks rather generic beat em up and I am yet to see a game on the PS3 that I actually want to play.