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Thursday, December 15, 2005

The Acid Test: Can You Opt Out?

Our lives in this online direct response world have ups and downs, and we grumble. But let's put it in perspective.

Today, as I do every six months, I paid my car insurance bill. In Ontario, car insurance is required by law, and you have to buy a certain amount of liability insurance, too. The only way to avoid buying car insurance is to not drive a car.

I don't know what I'm getting for my money, but I do know this much: it isn't "insurance."

If I have a serious accident - say, to the tune of $4,000 - that insurance company is then going to turn around and recoup every last penny in the form of significantly increased premiums. "And more," comes the helpful contribution from my better half.

So I guess this is some kind of legalized extortion, then. If I could, I suppose I'd probably shop for the liability insurance part and the personal injury, death, and dismemberment parts, in a more competitive marketplace. When it came to the actual vehicle, I'm pretty sure I'd "self-insure" if I had the choice. After all, if I have a $4,000 accident, I'm going to pay it all back anyway, right?

So turning to matters nearer and dearer to this blog, we are so focused on comparing your Yahoo Search Marketing and Google AdWords opportunities, and in talking to our clients we hear many complaints about certain kinds of traffic, poor reporting, etc.

Some of those complaints are totally valid. The most valid complaints are related to the parts of the network, or features, you can't opt out of. The second most valid complaints are about the stuff you can't control very well. And the third most valid complaint is about poor reporting that makes it difficult to understand what you're doing, let alone control it. We can get into a lot of specifics about the shortcomings of the two platforms on all fronts.

Stepping back from it, though, I know this much. At least it isn't legislated extortion. You don't have to buy advertising. No one's putting a gun to your head.

But insofar as online traffic to many of us is a little like owning and driving a vehicle, we'll feel compelled to keep pecking away at all of the above, the most valid, second most valid, and third most valid kinds of complaints.

Posted by Andrew Goodman




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