Archive | October 2006

Newspapers – Good Advice From One of the Web’s Top Experts

Last week Dave Morgan,Chairman of Tacoda, posted on MediaPost Publications a great article called Newspapers, Now Or Never. As you all know, I tend to pick on newspapers, but I also say good thing as well, see my article on Canadians logging on for Daily News or Newspapers Can Survive If They Can Lose Their Arrogance (sounds negative, but really it was a positive article).

Basically what Dave Morgan was telling the newspaper industry is the following:

What do newspapers need to do to turn the scale issue around? Four things, I believe:

1) Set their digital divisions free.
2) Think beyond the page.
3) Embrace user-generated media.
4) Create local ad networks

According to Dave, What are newspapers’ biggest competitive weakness relative to GYM (Google, Microsoft, Yahoo)? It’s lack of scale and lack of vision. Yahoo and Google built their market positions first by establishing extraordinary scale and communicating a very compelling vision for the future into the marketplace and to their customers, partners and employees.

Read the rest of his article at MediaPost.

As far as small business owners go and how this impacts them, my last discussion about having multiple marketing plans and execute based on what is best for your business. Let’s face, are small business really loyal to their newspaper, tv station, Google, MSN, Yahoo, etc. etc. – I don’t believe that. As small business owners we want to sell products and services, period, and whoever can provide us the most customers for the least amount of money will ultimately wins our business.

If you are a current newspaper advertising, ask your rep. about what their organization is doing and what their future vision is. Believe me some of the Canadian newspapers have good visions and if they can execute properly they will be major forces in the next 5-years. However, some of them are so caught up in everything that is going wrong that they are now in the mood of sucking every last penny they can from advertisers, getting defensive when business challenge the model and their sales people are resorting to hard-ball tactics to sell.

Again, sit back enjoy the show and extract the most you can for your advertising options knowing that many advertising vehicles can deliver you results.

My next post will be more about specific Internet strategies for small businesses – stay tuned.

Au Revoir TV Guide in Canada – It Was a Pleasure

Next month, for the first time in more than 50 years, Canada’s TV Guide won’t be available on the newsstands. In an increasingly common move, the publication is shifting its listings online, ditching the print version.

As consumers spend more of their time online, Transcontinental Inc., which publishes the Canadian TV Guide, apparently believes consumers would rather get their TV listings in digital form, Reuters reports. The print edition’s circulation tumbled to 243,000 from 430,000 over the past four years. Canada’s TV Guide will shift online and offer free listings supported by advertising.

Some of you might be thinking, probably the first in many print publications that will go down because of the Internet. In this particular case, I actually think the reason had little to do with the Internet and more to do with digital cable, satellite or cable tv listing services, more so than the Internet. Even though TV listings are available online, many people I talk to have never used them online and don’t even know where to find them if they wanted to. However, most of them say I hit my TV guide on my remote and either by cable company, satellite or phone companies system comes on-screen for me.

In terms of a strategy for small businesses, this is something you can use to your advantage, as we may be entering the golden age for small to medium sized businesses who can start to squeeze print publishers for more bang for the buck. Print publishers are worried that revenues are declining and moving online and now may be the opportunity to take advantage of weakness. For mid-sized organisations with a 100K-500K per year in advertising budget you can really leverage this amount. Let’s face it, unlike 30-years ago, no media company can claim they have exclusive access to your audience – there is just to much of a media mix that exists today to make this claim.

Therefore, any small business should create 2 marketing plans. One based on their existing program and one without their primary advertising supplier. When you meet with your primary rep, show they both plans and explain to them that you want additional coverage – just make sure you know exactly what that is when you have your meeting. You may be surprised in how much you can leverage from this strategy.

As for the TV Guide – I am glad its going online – at least I know the web address now, http://www.tvguide.ca/

Pay for Video Ads – Branding For Small Businesses is Finally Possible

Imagine you are a small florist, operating in downtown Calgary or Toronto. Until the advert of the Internet, TV advertising or “video” advertising was only for the big brands – however, once again the Internet is changing the rules.

Back in May of this year, Google announced in Click to Play Video Ads. Basically, you target your advertising – similar to that Google’s text ads and pay when somebody views your video. The ad agency types will argue that this is not branding, in the traditional sense, but then again, the Internet is changing many of the traditional ways business has been done.

What I like about Video ads is that if you truly want to distinguish your business from your competition – get a good video done for your business. If you are not sure where to start, visit my post on Spot Runner and have your TV ad built for you online.

SEO G did a great job of explaing the benefits of these types of ads in a recent post, Google Pay Per Video Ads (PPC Video) — Beginning of Larger Media Play? in summary they are:

1. Images Can Be Unobtrusive
2. Text Ad Blindness
3. A Picture is Worth 1000 Words (And A Video Is Worth A Million)
4. Geo-Targeting for Branding

So let’s recap the process here – a) Google launches Pay Per Video Ads (PPC Video) back in May, b) Google purchases YouTube.com in October and c) You kick your competitors in the teeth.

Think about it – you are a florist in downtown Calgary. You have a video ad – no chance would you waste your money promoting on your local television station, instead you take your video, purchase PPC Video ads on Google – and deliver your message to only people with a Calgary IP address on websites that talk about flowers, weddings, valentines, etc. This ad will eventually show up on YouTube.com where a potential customer is watching a wedding video, happens to be in Calgary and sees the opportunity to watch your video. If they are not in the market for flowers – no cost to you, if they are in the market, you pay to show your video, they pay to purchase flowers from you.

Sounds like another way that the small business owner can increase sales.

20 Ways Search Engines May Rerank Search Results

Here is a great explanation by William Slawski of various ways that Search Engine may rerank search results. Conclusion – what you may be seeing is different than somebody else, even under the same search key. If you have hired a SEO professional to optimize your site, ask them for 6-different ways that Search Engines can rank your site – this will tell you whether they actually know what they are talking about.

For a full explanation of each of the methods below, please visit William’s web site and the post “20-Ways Search Engines May Rerank Search Results

Search engines try to match words used in queries with words found on pages or in links pointing to those pages when providing search results. Often, the order that pages are returned to a searcher are based upon an indexing of text on those pages, text in links pointing to those pages, and some measure of importance based upon link popularity. Before pages are served to a viewer, however, they may be reranked for one reason or another. Here are some possibilities:

1. Filtering of duplicate, or near duplicate, content
2. Removing multiple relevant pages from the same site
3. Based upon personal interests
4. Reranking based upon local inter-connectivity
5. Sorting for country specific results
6. Sorting for language specific results
7. Looking at population or audience segmentation information
8. Reranking based upon historical data
9. Reordering based upon topic familiarity
10. Changing orders based upon commercial intent
11. Reranking and removing results based upon mobile device friendliness
12. Reranking based upon accessibility
13. Reranking based upon editorial content
14. Reranking based upon additional terms (boosting) and comparing text similarity
15. Reordering based upon implicit feedback from user activities and click-throughs
16. Reranking based upon community endorsement
17. Reranking based upon information redundancy
18. Reranking based upon storylines
19. Reranking by looking at blogs, news, and web pages as infectious disease
20. Reranking based upon conceptually related information including time-based and use-based factors

Conclusion

The rankings that you see for web pages in response to a query may not be the same rankings that other people see.

Great explanation of the various method – very nice job by William – thanks for the posting.

LinkedIn Adds Services Directory

Just announced today, LinkedIn has added a services directory to its website, a feature that users of the business networking site have been asking for.

What is LinkedIn? In a nutshell, LinkedIn is a social networking site for people in business. This is not the place for kids looking to cram up MySpace.com with their thoughts, videos and pictures, rather LinkedIn is a connection of professionals that you build based on your contacts. You can see my LinkedIn profile here.

So how do I use LinkedIn and why would I recommend this for business owners?

1) I use it as a place to record my history – in a nutshell a digital resume.
2) I use it as a contact manager – if I do something different, with a click of the button I can notify people.
3) I use it to make new contacts for products, services or information.

How does the last one work? Well basically its like 6 degrees of separation. For example, I have 45 wonderful directly connected to me. Those 45 people connect me to over 6000 people (the 2nd degree). Those 6000 people connect me to over 710,600 people (the 3rd degree). What this basically means is, that if I need to contact somebody at the 3rd degree, I can send an email to my direct contact, who can forward through their contact base to reach the third person.

In business, the old saying goes, it’s not what you know, rather who you know. LinkedIn makes that happen in a way that is truly amazing and a great tool for business owners.

I highly recommend the usage of this service.

Tags – Can Small Businesses Use Them

Tags – say what? Most likely the first thought you had.

I started playing around with Swicki, but the way is a brand owned by Eurekster that basically is “tag” based community search. Not sure what I mean by this, look at the top of my blog page – you will see my community powered swicki.

Essentially what this does is track all the searches done everyday by users and presents the information in such a manner that is based on tags or searches and presents the information in a random type fashion. Why do this? For starters, it prompts users about different search terms. Let me give you an example:

Search is a powerful tool, if and when you know what you are looking for. By let’s face it, not counting the super technies, searching can be a daunting task if you can’t quite hit the right combination of words. What tags do – or a site Swicki – is present to the user with what other people have already searched for and what is most common.

This can be a great tool for business owners to present to their Internet users, as sometimes it is very difficult to conduct a search of a merchants web page. Let’s face it, if your business follows the 80/20 rule, then running a swicki on your site, specifically for search results, could save your users a lot of time in trying to figure out the right combination of keywords to use to the find the product. Chances are somebody has already searched for your content, so make it easy for the next user to search the same subject by clicking on the tag or text link instead of having to re-enter the search term.

Newspapers Can Survive If They Can Lose Their Arrogance

Our friends at Search Engine Watch having been published a great article called, The Ongoing Struggle of Free vs. Fee, Part One and Two which discusses traditional media and whether it can survive. I strongly suggest your read both these parts, as there is a some good information. One of the keys I have taken out is that finding ways to monetize content will be key.

To my headline. What is happening is that traditional mediums are now forced to adjust to the new landscape? This is no different to when radio came on stream, then TV, then the Internet. The Internet will not replace any medium, it will however, be an opportunity for the traditional companies, if they choose to do it right.

I think the talk about newspapers is justified in the sense that they have the most to loseWeight Exercise from the Internet. The reason however, is not that newspapers can’t adjust, just that newspapers are still run by very arrogant people. Specifically what I mean by this comment is this; prior to the Internet, newspapers owned their local markets. There was a high barrier of entry for competitors, they were the only mechanism that delivered every day, they contained more information than TV and radio and they were very inexpensive for consumers and actually presented fairly relevant advertising to those consumers. However, when the Internet came onto the scene, all of a sudden the local markets were not controlled by the newspapers anymore. If I wanted information I could get it every second of every day with more insights that what newspapers could provide. Then came the targeted ads, that maximized advertising revenues for advertisers and gave the consumers relevant advertising based on what they were looking at.

Newspapers can survive if they change their model. Newspapers have the distribution network already in place in their local markets, but the product may need to change. For example, what if newspapers allowed a person to customize their content that was delivered to them daily – similar to speciality channels on TV. What would this mean for a local businesses? Would you be more or less inclined to spend on targeted newspaper delivery? For example, take the top headings in newspapers, local news, national news, sports, entertainment. Why not expand those. Why not allow users to choose which channels they want delivered with the opportunity to add channels or remove channels. Sure it is going to require more work and yes margins may fall, but the 21st century is about choice. At the end of the day, most of your users will choose the exact same thing – this is what is happening online – everybody has the choice, but are all doing pretty much the same thing.

Remember, small businesses are not loyal to newspapers, tv or the Internet. For the small business owner it all comes down to who produces the best results. Just like the flock of advertisers to Google, that flock can go to newspapers just as quick.

Newspapers – stop doing what you have been doing, change your tactics and sing with Gloria Gaynor – I will survive.

News Groups and the Newly Launched Google Groups

Newsgroups? Ever heard of them? If not, here is a quick introduction, if so and you are a small business, the question is why are you not using them for your business?

Two reasons for this post today, 1) to remind everybody that newsgroups can be a great tool for small businesses and 2) to highlight the fact that Google Groups has relaunched and it’s pretty darn nice – see screen shot below.

Small Businesses and Newsgroups

The first problem with newsgroups is spam – there is a lot of it. However, newsgroups are still used by a large portion of the public that is looking for specific topics of discussion. This can range from everything to do with cars, business, health, pictures, photography, etc. When it comes to newsgroups there are over 100000 of them, so they basically cover every topic know to man.

So how does a local business use newsgroups? To start with find the groups where you local audience resides, for example in Calgary I might watch calgary.general as a newsgroup. Let’s assume that you are an automotive repair shop. Every week, I would view the newsgroup scanning for posts looking for user who are asking for information on auto repair. When you spot a question, provide the response and tag your companies website with that response. What you don’t want to do is simply post in the newsgroups promoting your web site without any context – this is called spam. Nobody on the newsgroups will consider it spam if you post a reply and the signature of your reply contains your business name and website URL.

What this does for you is a couple of things; a) you start to become that groups expect – this will lead to sales, maybe not right away, but over time it will, b) it helps with your SEO marketing by creating links as well as opening your site and business to the groups search on Google, and c) it is a good place to refine your business story.

As for Google Groups, here is the new beta site screenshot below. If you have not tried newsgroups, take a look – there is a lot of good information available.

Google Groups

Can a Small Business Take Advantage of the Google/YouTube Deal?

Today was a crazy day. Many people were asking for my opinion on the announcement of Google and YouTube. First my personal opinion, this was a good deal for Google. Why? Because it continues their vision of connecting people to content. To me, at the end of the day, YouTube was very much like Google in the fact that they didn’t create anything rather they become the middle man between content creators and people looking for content – very much in line with what Google does. That’s all great, but what exactly does that mean for a small business?

I think we the advent of online video, there is a real opportunity for local businesses to take advantage to television style production. In the old days (back when my dad walked 10 miles to school and 20 back, everyday), a commercial or infomercial created by a business meant one thing – air-time on a TV station. However, today, a company can invest in the production of a commercial or infomercial and use it in a variety of places without ever touching television. For example you could use the video on your website, company CD’s, post it on Google video or YouTube, and a host of other places.

What I am saying is that if your business has a great concept for video and you have some application, it may be worth the investment. A commercial no longer needs to be played on television to be effective.

And if you think TV production is really expensive, read my post on SpotRunner.

Union Battles Moving Online?

CocaColaAlthough this does not affect small businesses in a direct manner, I wanted to share with all my readers a new public relations strategy used by corporations in their fight with unions. I think we will start to see an all out war online of unions and corporations pleading their case for public sympathy in their case. From a corporate standpoint this is a good strategy as it gives the opportunity to present the facts without the emotional involvement that many unions try to bring to the negiotation table. That being said, this converse is also the same for the unions and in fact could gain some support amoung the non-unionized workforce.

It will be interesting to see how it plays out, but here is a summary of this Coco-Cola’s fight:

Coca-Cola Counters Critics With Search Ads – read the full article at MediaPost.

FOR THE LAST FIVE YEARS, Coca-Cola’s public relations department has battled charges that the company is responsible for improper anti-union tactics in bottling plants in Colombia. Now, the company has started using another tool in its public relations arsenal: search engine marketing.

Last week, a U.S. federal court dismissed a claim filed by Sinaltrainal, a Colombian labor union, stating that the accusations were too vague. Since 2001, some union activists have charged in court that Coca-Cola conspired to intimidate–and in some cases, assassinate–union leaders in Colombia. Coca-Cola always denied the charges, but the anti-Coke campaign gained traction at U.S. colleges. Around a dozen colleges–including New York University–banned the sale and marketing of the beverage company’s products.

To get the word out about its court victory, Coca-Cola purchased keyword ads on terms related to the controversy, including “Killer Coke”–a phrase contained in the url of the protesters’ Web site, KillerCoke.org. The ad copy reads: “Coke Lawsuit Dismissed: Suit against Coca-Cola bottlers in Colombia dismissed. Read more,” and users who click on the link are taken to a Coke Web site with more information. The ad also appears on political sites that have discussed the issue, including some sites that virulently attacked the company, such as DemocraticUnderground.com.

Read the rest of this article by Shankar Gupta with MediaPost.