Archive for the ‘marketing’ Category

Internet Marketing

Sunday, April 29th, 2007

Internet marketing means different things to different people. I like to use my own simple definition: the purpose of Internet marketing is to increase brand exposure and drive traffic to a given web property. Wikipedia takes on a different angle and defines Internet marketing as “the use of the Internet to advertise and sell goods and services”. I’m not sure I agree with this, but there is one thing I think we can all agree on. There isn’t ONE way to market or sell a service online. A comprehensive, well-planned campaign is necessary for success.

Why do I say that?

Well, as an Internet marketing & strategy consultant, I come across clients who want to specifically leverage one type of Internet marketing vehicle to promote their site. Whether it be SEO, pay-per-click, or e-mail marketing, the client is set on one method and their vision is narrow. Surprisingly enough to them, the strategy they are set on using is not always the best choice. Furthermore, a true campaign encompasses different strategies.

At the end of the day, increasing brand exposure and driving qualified traffic are the main goals. It doesn’t matter how this is accomplished. SEO, link building, affiliate marketing, e-mail campaigns, PPC, and advertising are all great, but the goals and milestones of the company must be outlined. From there, an online strategy can be set forth.

Add to that the fact that some techniques, such as link building, have two-fold effects. Not only does link building provide much needed SEO juice, but it also drives direct traffic via the link itself. Killing two birds with one stone is always a plus.

Companies and clients alike need to be open-minded when it comes to marketing on the web. There isn’t a single solution. Innovation, creativity, a well-developed plan, and solid execution are the key points to a successful campaign online.

Vertical Creep to the MAX

Monday, April 23rd, 2007

As a general rule, search engines are supposed to operate on an unbiased basis. Organic results are displayed in a logical manner and paid listings are clearly marked (in most cases). The concept of ‘vertical creep’ is a grey area that blurs the line between an unbiased search result and an internally-associated link.

Vertical creep is defined as a company-associated search result that appears above the organic results, but below the paid listings. Yahoo calls them ‘Shortcuts’, a seemingly useful yet sly name to make the result appear more user-friendly and less commercial - although we all know the true intention.

Essentially, if Google or Yahoo can display an appropriate, internally-linked result for news, weather, a movie, or an image search, then it is to their benefit as there is a higher chance they will maintain the user within the site. In other words, niche searches that could be performed using other in-house search tools vertically creep within the traditional results of the main engine (if this makes any sense).

Now at first, searchers were a bit out-raged at the idea but have since pulled back a bit. But now I noticed that Yahoo in particular is taking this idea to a whole new level. For any new movie search, such as ‘300‘ or ‘Disturbia‘, a giant movie poster and description are displayed (see screenshot below). In addition, a searcher can also play the movie trailer or check local showtimes. Talk about unbiased. Only further down the page do we find links to the production company, IMDB, or perhaps Wikipedia.



This blatant attempt at keeping searchers within the Yahoo properties is bound to be met with some controvery. I, for one, do not appreciate huge ‘ads’ that appear to be cleverly integrated within the organic results. Obviously this is purely a business move and an attempt at increasing revenues, as old flicks do not receive this treatment or exposure.

My hope is that search engines continue to operate without opinion or manipulation over the search results. Let the user decide where he or she wants to click. May the best result win.

What Ever Happened to Zune?

Thursday, April 19th, 2007

Microsoft Zune logoRemember that highly-touted, over-budget, lackluster Microsoft MP3 player Zune? If you don’t, I forgive you. If you do, you may be wondering the same things as I.

Is it still around? Did anyone actually buy one?

I don’t know a single person that bought the device. Nor do I ever hear or read anything about it anymore. It’s like it doesn’t exist. The iPod still seems to be the player of choice for most of the population. The disease that is the Apple culture has gone mainstream and never looked back.

I think we need a term for this recurring Microsoft trend.The scenario seems to follow an eerie, recognizable pattern in which the company enters an established market late in the game, and produces a hyped, high budget, flop of a product. How about the “Microsoft Syndrome”?

A recent example that comes to mind is the announcement of an Adobe Flash competitor named Silverlight. Isn’t it a little late in the game? Flash is the industry standard. In addition, most web junkies hate the plug-in from a usability perspective anyway.

I think the company needs a wake-up call. This software giant continues to ‘innovate’ and push the boundaries beyond traditional products into new, unchartered waters. Sometimes this move works (xBox), while most of the time it crumbles (Live Search, Zune).

If I had one piece of advice for the company, it would be this: stick with your core competency and focus on creating a more useful, enjoyable experience. Almost everyone hates Windows for many reasons. But since there is a monopoly, consumers have no other choice if they want to operate a PC. Furthermore, the company has a stranglehold on their bread-and-butter - the office suite. But this area is in jeopardy as competitors, such as Google and Zoho, threaten with web-based suites. Therefore, Microsoft needs to erect barriers against these competitors and create more robust offerings to satisfy consumer needs.

Finally, as mentioned, the company needs to focus on the Windows experience. After all, this is what made the company the worldwide mogul it is today. Without the OS, Microsoft is nothing. And I suspect there may be some heavy competition and surprising innovation in the area in the very near future.

Web 2.0 Start-Up Roundup

Thursday, April 5th, 2007

I would like to profile a few interesting web 2.0 start-ups I have come across over the past month or so (in no particular order):

ZipLocal (

ZipLocal is a new hyper-local search directory, focused initially on the Greater Toronto Area and Montreal with future plans to expand to 45 metropolitan markets across Canada. The service aims to be a user-powered next-generation local directory that will provide a rich, self-defined experience. Essentially, the site provides directory-based listings, plus rich community-level search. The data itself is being pulled from existing directory databases. Expect new features, such as tagging, to be added in the coming months.

CrispyBlogPosts (

CrispyBlogPosts is essentially a social bookmarking site strictly for blog posts. The site allows you to share, rate and discover the best blog posts on the net. You can also submit a blog post, create a new channel, and view popular content. Kudos for the clean, slick interface.


VBS TV is a new broadband television network (IPTV), creatively directed by Spike Jonze. The site streams free VICE-produced content that is updated daily. The service claims to use an advanced video player technology to optimize the viewing experience. Content covered on the site ranges from heavy domestic and international news, to underground cultural coverage, to music, and more. All content is available on-demand and enabled for sharing and embedding.

AutoRoll (

AutoRoll is a widget that showcases the blogroll of your readers. In essence, it displays links to blogs your readers are visiting the most often. The service traces the number of visits of each unique reader on each blog that has installed AutoRoll. The more often a reader visits a specific blog, the greater his affinity is with this blog. The benefit to the publisher is highly qualified incoming traffic from other blogs, as well as a useful, pertinent blogroll. 

SeekSift (

SeekSift is a simple way to personalize and track syndicated web content. The service only tracks up-to-date information on local events, travel deals, job listings, and your blogs (to name a few). Content can be accessed via an RSS, e-mail, or both. The service is free.

Clipperz (

Clipperz is an easy way to store and manage your passwords and credentials online. But it is more than a password manager. Not only does it simplify the sign-in process across numerous sites by remembering your user names and passwords, but it also protects confidential and private information. The service is free and completely anonymous (no e-mail is required).

The Future of the Internet is Offline

Friday, March 30th, 2007

A true leap in the evolution of the Internet will occur when the line between online and offline is blurred. As we stand, there is a gaping void between the two worlds. A business usually classifies itself as an Internet company or an offline business. Having said that, I do not know how this transformation will take place, but it will be a magical moment and a step forward in the history of technology.

When online actions begins to have offline consequences, we will be moving in the right direction.

Some organizations with an online presence, such as charities and non-profits, benefit not only from the added exposure and awareness, but also via a more streamlined fundraising effort. These groups are a good example as they essentially do not ‘exist’ offline (offices aside). Therefore, online and offline collaboration are very important to them. This may be one of the few examples where the void is starting to be filled.

Shopping is a totally different story. Research has shown time and time again that consumers research products online, then purchase offline. Tracking this discrepancy is nearly impossible. How is a company to know that an offline purchaser performed research and due diligence online before making the ultimate purchasing decision? Without some sort of questioning or survey, it is impossible. I expect big changes to occur in this industry. Offline conversion tracking will be the Holy Grail.

Once the integration and interaction between these two seemingly separate worlds can occur, expect behavioural changes to be next. Just like any action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. Opposition to the new changes may result. Furthermore, adaption and education around new systems will be necessary. But in the end, offline may very well be the last piece of the online puzzle.