Is it mere coincidence that the morning after finishing Stanley Bing's Sun Tzu Was a Sissy, a hilarious take on corporate warfare that ends in an incongruous call for peaceful international relations, that I wake up to read that the IRA is laying down arms? I don't think so, but that's probably because I'm guilty of innumeracy.
Now this guy knows how to create a great story. He dumps ten tons of his cheese into the freezing cold waters of a fjord in northern Quebec, claiming that putting cheese under pressure will make it ripen better. Now he's sending divers down for the cheese, and that brought TV cameras. First time around, they didn't come up with it, which now makes it elusive, scarce cheese. And a government agency is taking issue at the method, which makes it the elusive, scarce cheese they didn't want you to have. Points for style... it beats bribing grocery conglomerate executives.
Speaking of artificially constructed scarcity: what's the deal on the idea that the Gillette Mach III, and only the Gillette Mach III (turbo and non-turbo editions), is so likely to be shoplifted that they need to keep it behind a counter, or worse, construct some elaborate security shelving to prevent it being thieved? Am I the only one who thinks that Gillette must be paying drugstores and grocery stores to continue erecting these ludicrous barriers to purchase by way of defending the ever-mounting price of Gillette's best? As if these are the only items in a drugstore anyone would think of shoplifting. What's next, Gillette Mach III Rx Edition -- Ask Your Pharmacist?
I suspect that in the great rock-paper-scissors game of marketing, a great story more often than not trumps usability. Sometimes, they go hand in hand, but not always. Hard to get sometimes works.
Wednesday, July 27, 2005
Demir Barlas points out that Yahoo's acquisition of Konfabulator signals their intent to continue competing for control of the desktop. Currently, some of the cool tools offered by this company include desktop RSS aggregation, a desktop tool that will let you check GMail, and more.
Barlas notes astutely that "Yahoo and Google penetrate businesses, particularly small businesses, from below, since their tools are typically adopted by individual users who retain Yahoo- and Google-based habits and preferences and carry them to work."
Do you suppose the acquisition means they'll put the kibosh on that GMail-checking tool?
Tuesday, July 26, 2005
Andrew takes a look at some advanced Google AdWords strategies in his latest article on Traffick.com:
Recently, Google introduced what they’re calling "simplified keyword states" and "quality-based minimums" as a way of injecting more flexibility into its AdWords online advertising platform. Advertisers will no longer have to grapple with the former clickthrough rate (CTR) "cutoff" of "0.5% normalized for ad position." Now, there is no cutoff, and low CTR’s will not cause a campaign to be slowed. However, for low-CTR keywords, advertisers may be forced to bid higher than the current minimum bid of .05 in order to keep their keywords active.
In doing a quick search for the San Jose Hilton, I noticed there was a fair bit of info available through Google Local, like how many rooms, whether pets are accepted, parking situation, etc.
It's not clear, though, that the hotel has gone into Google Local Business Center to enter this info. It looks like Google has pulled info from Superpages and MobilTravelGuide.com. Obviously, doing this is easier when there are existing info sources, as is the case in the travel industry.
So the "file" on this hotel through Google Local is getting more extensive, including rates, basic hotel information, and a cross-section of reviews (Google continues to pursue the path of "meta-reviews," pointing users to reviews from other sites like Yahoo and wcities.) That's exactly what users are going to want.
But many other types of businesses will need to be more proactive, since Google wouldn't know where to pull info from, if any is indeed available.
The big gap right now is simply in businesses taking advantage of the opportunity and posting their information. Without it, results are messy and hard to find, even for major businesses. (For example, within 80 miles of Toronto, there are about ten La-Z-Boy furniture galleries. The parent site does a good job of giving you product info, and you can look up physical addresses of dealers. But to find out anything about the hours of operation of the local outlets, you need to call. Argh.)
This is one of those "get ahead of your competitors" opportunities that small businesses should take advantage of now. In two years, everyone will have done it, and the playing field will be more level.
It still looks to me as if there will be two kinds of local listings players here: those who act as feeders of raw information to the portals, and the portals themselves, who will get the lion's share of the visits from users who will not tolerate hunting around various directories to get the info they need. Google and Yahoo are still positioned as premier info aggregators, and as such, they profit disproportionately from information they don't directly gather or own (though they can also gather and own content in their own right).