Archive for August, 2004

Spending more on SEO and getting less for it?

Wednesday, August 11th, 2004

BtoB, the main trade rag for the advertising and marketing industry, reported today that:
“Online advertising spending overall will increase 144% over the next five years, from $6.6 billion in 2003 to $16.1 billion in 2009, according to Jupiter. Online ad spending is expected to rise to $8.4 billion this year. Much of that increase is being fueled by paid search, which is projected to grow at a compound annual rate of 30% over the next two years.”

Keywords everybody wants are heading up in price. Some analysts see a decline in ROI from search marketing in general. Ah, it was everybody’s darling for a while–tricks and search engine optimization (SEO) finagling have been the rage. Startups joining the ranks, almost like a new dot-com wave…

But in this study Jupiter Research recommends–though they’re too embarrassed to call it this–going back to the basics. How much is each order worth to you? TEST, test, test to see which creative brings better responses–that is, into responses that translate into sales. The shiny new tool may be losing some of its luster as we head back into the old standbys–but maybe they all will eventually. You simply must give value to your customers, count the profit on each order, test what you’re doing (repeatedly) etc., etc. There’s no easy way out of that…

What they didn’t factor in, is the power of blogging

Microsoft: where are you?

Tuesday, August 10th, 2004

It’s happened; Microsoft is losing control of its own services.

Recently I signed up with Microsoft’s personal email address service. I was researching at the library one day and stumbled on this option for reserving a URL name. Thinking I was being extra smart, I signed up then and there–congratulating myself on having saved that name and being able to use email to it right away.

Now, in one of those cases of 20/20 hindsight, I see it was a big mistake.

I have now spent weeks trying to find someone who will take responsibility for this action–someone who will help me be able to use my URL for a website. Because, unbeknownst to the unwary surfer, you can save the URL name with Microsoft’s personal email address offering, but you cannot–no matter how hard you try–get Microsoft to host a site or even to transfer the right (okay, I don’t care, go ahead and keep my non-refundable fee) to someone who WILL host a website at that address.

Calls to my Microsoft webhosting (bCentral) service have yielded concerned and kind responses that they can’t help with that. They even told me where the domain was pointing, who “hosts” it (and yes, that’s right, I paid, they host…but only email, no websites allowed). No response whatsoever from that “host” Melbourne IT. Eventually after much frustration, I finally got an email from someone named Emerson who explained in no uncertain terms that my money was non-refundable, etc. etc. and who said he would do something, but who has since disappeared from the face of the virtual earth.

Emails to Emerson go into a black hole. Calls to a telephone number my kind bCentral people gave me yielded nothing.

Emerson, where are you? Microsoft, have you grown so large that you’ve lost complete touch with whole segments of your business?

Competitors working together?

Saturday, August 7th, 2004

Just posted an entry on about bioscience companies collaborating extensively to find answers to big questions in genetics–and then going home to apply what they’ve learned together to their own area of expertise.

What brings competitors together like this? I think that it’s because there’s a unifying force among those who practice bioscience: everyone is studying basically the same thing–life.

In business it feels different. There’s no overarching central theme that everyone is striving to be in synch with.

Maybe when we have the answers to the biggest questions in science, it’ll become more competitive–just like business. I remember a snippet of dialog from a book I read recently. A young Maya Angelou had hooked up with an older wiser man, a freedom fighter from South Africa I believe. She was expressing her frustration at the terrible attitudes that white people had and remarking that African Americans were just generally nicer people and would be better at being holders of power and money. He looked at her sagely and said, “Don’t you understand? We’re only nicer because we don’t have the power.”

Okay, that’s my little bit of cynicism for the week…

Business success needs focus–and funds

Friday, August 6th, 2004

Ideas, they say, are a dime a dozen.

So what does it take to make something turn into a living for you–and maybe for a bunch of other people? Hard looks at the realities, in most cases a big dose of money (a wise colleague says from experience, “successful businesses need money”), a bit of luck and, of course, incredible persistence and hard work.

The trend today–of expanding global markets but decreasing traditional job opportunities–is making entrepreneurs of many of those who might have been thought unlikely candidates. Thank heavens there are generous spirits out there who’ve been down that road and are willing to share…

RANKING 89 – You, as an owner or executive of a small or midsize business, are the quintessential entrepreneur. You know what cash flow means to your business, you know what sweat equity it takes, and you probably know a lot about luck. If you can find the time, find a way to share your insights. Sharing helps build community–something sorely needed in these challenging economic times.


Tuesday, August 3rd, 2004

The Democratic National Convention actually set aside a special area in the stands with tables and wireless access so bloggers could blog the proceedings. This is a huge sign of recognition from the general community. One observer, a media critic at the Boston Phoenix Weekly, says that blogging is not a fad, “but that doesn’t mean it’s here to stay,” according to this article in eweek. It isn’t clear from the text whether this guy was present and blogging or was just called upon to comment.

Anyway, he says the Internet rewards passionate people who don’t care if they make much money. Yes, that’s certainly true. But here’s a guy whose newspaper already does all the marketing for his service–at no inconvenience to him. Quite a bit different from a business owner’s agenda…

Sorry, sir, but you’re missing the bigger picture about blogging for business.