Articles of Interest

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

MarketingSherpa's 10 Best Blogs for 2005: Winners Named + Hotlinks for Your Surfing Pleasure : Practical News & Case Studies on Internet Advertising, Marketing & PR
Congratulations to MarketingSherpa's 2005 Best Blog winners, and thanks to the 2,065 tough judges who carefully evaluated 52-nominated blogs to pick them:

Best individual's blog on the general topic of marketing and advertising

Awarded to: Seth Godin's Blog

Honorable Mention: Adrants

Editor's Note: Both these Blogs won last year, albiet in reversed positions. In a world where the average Blog lifetime is something like six months, we're impressed and inspired by two bloggers producing award-winning work year after year. So many bloggers start red-hot and then quickly run out of steam. Seth Godin and Steve Hall beat the odds and we salute them!

Best group weblog on the general topic of marketing and advertising

Winner: MarketingVOX

Honorable Mention (Tie):
Marketing Genius
Church of the Customer

Editor's Note: Congrats to Tig Tillinghast of MarketingVox who has kept the editorial quality high while going through business model and management changes. MarketingVox is one of the few completely self-sustaining Blogs we know of. And, we've heard Tig's expanding his formula to new industry niches shortly, including a blog for defense industry news.

Best PR-topic blog

Winner: Media Guerrilla guerrilla

Honorable Mention: Strategic Public Relations

Editor's Note: Even if you're not into PR, definitely check out Mike Manuel's Media Guerrilla Blog to see one of our fave Blogger self-photos. If you're going to post a photo of yourself on your Blog -- which is a great idea -- this is one to be inspired by. Also, the writing and hotlinks rock. Mike deserved this award win.

Best B-to-B marketing-topic blog

Winner: Guerrilla Consulting

Honorable Mention: B-to-B Lead Generation Blog

Editor's Note: If you're in the consulting business (or you daydream about leaving your corporate job for a freelancing someday), check out this year's B-to-B category winner for genuinely useful advice and links on how to score clients.

By the way, we hear a new hardcover book is coming out soon by the author of the Honorable Mention Blog in this category, proving a blog can lead to fame in more ways than one.

Best blog on small business marketing

Winner: Duct Tape Marketing

Honorable Mention: Small Business Trends

Editor's Note: Wow! Duct Tape Marketing won hands-down for the second-year running, gaining more votes than any other blog in any category in the entire contest. Most bloggers can only dream of such a huge and passionate fan base.

Best blog on online marketing

Winner: Chris Baggott's Best Practices in Email

Honorable Mention: Charlotte Li's Blog

Editor's Note: As a leader at a fast-growing technology company, Chris has an insane travel schedule. Kudos to him for keeping this effort up for 18 months now. If you're trying to convince a C-level exec at your organization to start a Blog, and they say, 'I'm too busy", taunt them with Chris' example.

Blogs on Search Marketing

Winner: Search Engine Roundtable

Honorable Mention: Brad Fallon

Editor's Notes: We adore the unusual editorial tactic for the winning Blog in this category -- instead of linking to news sites, the authors comment on and link to the very best new threads on search marketing on discussion boards all over the Web. So, it's a true insiders-insider blog, and a reflection of what people are realy talking about (vs what the media thinks.)

Best Blog on Niche Marketing

Winners (tie):
Ypulse - Media for the Next Generation

WonderBranding - Marketing to Women to women

Honorable Mention:
Lipsticking- Smart marketing to women online

Editor's Note: All three of these blogs are not only useful for advice on their topics, but also worth watching if you plan to launch a Blog to promote yourself as a niche marketing consultant. (P.S. Whoa, get ready for neon-pink and orange when you visit Ypulse.)

Best non-English-Language Blog

Winner: MarketingFacts (completely in Dutch)

Honorable mention: Media Culpa (in Swedish with some English)

Editor's Note: We only wish we could read them for ourselves. Many thanks to the European MarketingSherpa readers who evaluated these blogs for us.

Top readers' choice write-in vote

Winner: Easy Bake Weblogs

Honorable Mention: Collateral Damage (CMO Magazine) view.html?ID=401

Editor's Note: Fascinating that these two winners, both with more than 50 write-in votes in a category that generated more than 500 nominations, represent the two ends of the online media spectrum.

Easy Bake is by a self-publishing entrepreneur, who hopes you'll like his Blog so much you'll buy his also-self-published book. Collateral Damage is by a professional journalist who was asked to write a Blog as part of his editorial duties at CMO Magazine which is published by the gargantuan trade magazine company IDG.

How the Best Blogs were chosen:

In April 2005, we asked MarketingSherpa's 173,000 readers (who are mainly marketing execs at medium-large businesses and the agencies who serve them) to nominate their favorite blogs on the subjects of marketing, advertising, and PR.

Our editorial staff was not allowed to make any nominations. This is a "People's Choice" award based on what MarketingSherpa readers really like.

It's awfully easy to start a blog on an impulse, but equally difficult to keep the effort up posting consistently over the long-term. So we cut nominated blogs that had been started after January 1st, 2005 (you guys can try again next year.)

We also cut blogs that were off-topic, rarely updated, or otherwise seemed to be less on target for MarketingSherpa's readership. A total of 52 nominated blogs qualified for the next round.

Next, we invited all 173,000 MarketingSherpa readers to vote for the best Blogs in the categories listed above, plus a write-in category where they could put any additional blog's name. We included hotlinks to every blog so folks could check them out prior to voting.

We also allowed nominated blogs to post links to the voting form for their own readers, however we asked all voters to evaluate every nominee in a category and not just one single blog. (Which worked out fine.) However, MarketingSherpa staff were not allowed to vote, or influence results in any way.

Voters were asked to rate each blog in a category by one of three designations - "Excellent", "Not bad", and "Blah". To make sure everyone understood what was expected from an "excellent" vote, we included the following instructions:

#1. Personality:
Is there a clear personality? Do you feel like you know the writer(s)? Is there a feeling of intimacy that may be missing from mainstream media?

#2. Usefulness:
Is the information either darned useful or very enjoyable to read? Did it make you think, or laugh, or click? Are there handy links to other places?

#3. Writing style:
Is it a sales pitch badly disguised as a blog? Is it a long-winded column instead of a snappy, slightly-informal blog? Is it just news briefs without analysis or insight?

#4. Usability & design:
Is the typeface easy to read? Can you find links to archives? Is the writing concise and skimmable? Are graphics limited to what's useful or fun?

#5. Would you revisit?:
Is it useful or engaging enough for you to visit it again someday? Or will you forget it the minute after you vote?

On June 13th, we closed the voting form in order to tabulate winners. 2065 people had cast votes. Although some votes appeared to come from links, these didn't appear to change the overall results. So, the same blogs almost certainly would have won even if only MarketingSherpa readers had voted.

Also interestingly, in several categories, the blog that was probably the best known to voters prior to voting, did not end up being the winner. So, fame didn't make a big difference.

What did winners get anyway?

Aside from fame, hotlinks, and glory, winners will receive an award icon they can put on their Blogs (if they choose) to impress visitors. They will also receive a lovely MarketingSherpa Best Blog 2005 coffee mug to display on their desks and make their visitors and/or co-workers jealous.

Again, our thanks to everyone who helped make our Readers' Choice Blog Awards successful. Get your voting cap ready for next year!

Useful links related to this article:

Want to see who won last year? Here are 2004 winners:
(Open access)

Three useful MarketingSherpa stories about marketing with Blogs:

#1. Case Study: How to Build Your eretail Business with a Blog (6-8% of Readers Convert to Buyers)

#2. Case Study: 7 Practical Tactics to Turn Your Blog Into a Sales Machine

#3. How to Discover & Get Mentioned in the Most Powerful Blogs for Your Industry


Will Include 1.5 Million Searchable Videos and 27 Content Channels
June 14, 2005
By Kris Oser
NEW YORK ( -- Music and video freely accessible to anyone on the Web is the centerpiece of America Online's planned switch to an advertising-supported operation aimed at maximizing daily traffic rather than subscription sales, according to the company.
AOL is planning to make most of its vast content, as well as new kinds of content, accessible for free to everyone on the Web.

Executives from the Time Warner online service unveiled the new content strategy at a press event yesterday. The portal, which has 22.6 million subscribers, will still provide those subscribers with a package of software and support services such as parental controls, special sections for children and antivirus and security programs. But the emphasis beyond that will now be on providing free content for the general Web-surfing and -searching public.

The service has been steadily losing its paying subscribers.

The new version
The new version of AOL, scheduled to go live the end of this month, features 27 channels, a video “hub,” the ability to develop one’s own personalized home page with RSS feeds, free e-mail and a variety of upgraded search tools, including a new video search function.

AOL executives noted that 56% of Internet users in the U.S. use broadband connections to access the Internet from home and that the overall online market is now supporting much higher levels of mainstream advertising. The company believes that online video is now a key draw for the rapidly evolving broadband audience.

The video offerings will be a combination of licensed and original programming, said Kevin Conroy, executive vice president and chief operating officer of AOL Media Networks.

1.5 million videos
The AOL video hub will present clips, replays and other material from Time Warner’s HBO, along with a growing collection of film from movie, TV and other entertainment arenas. Original content includes The Biz reality show; a top 10 video listing of what’s popular each day; a top five of programs on TV the night before; a comedy channel of up-to-the-minute news; and sports updates. This content, which will be introduced over the course of the year, will be added and filed along with the 1.5 million videos housed in AOL’s video search engine, SingingFish, acquired in 2003.

Also searchable is AOL Music. Mr. Conroy points to AOL Sessions and Live performances of musical groups as proof that content will bring visitors. Although it was not promoted, the opening of AOL Music to the general public last October boosted its audience by 37%, he said.

Video advertising units will consist of 15-second "pre-rolls" (ads appearing before video clips) that include an “ad curtain,” which borders the video-play window and continues to show ad messages as the content plays, said Michael Kelly, president of AOL Media Networks. Some advertisers are considering 30-second spots, he said.

AOL has debuted a video player compatible with all video content on the Web. And, in taking down the for-pay wall, all AOL content will be accessible for the first time to search-engine spiders, exposing AOL content to a potentially much broader audience.

Search engine marketing is the core of the marketing tactics rolling out this summer, Mr. Conroy said. By tracking what keywords Web surfers respond to, AOL can determine what areas of are performing best and how to target online promotions.

Monday, June 13, 2005

Micro Media Fragmentation Begets Micro Ratings, Need For TV Search

MediaPost Publications Home of MediaDailyNews, MEDIA and OMMA Magazines
by Joe Mandese, Monday, Jun 13, 2005 7:46 AM EST
SAN FRANCISCO - THE IMPACT of micro media fragmentation on the major electronic media came to light last week during a series of presentations and panel discussions at MediaPost's OMMA West conference here. That fragmentation will make the kind of average ratings erosion that has pulverized the TV landscape with the rise of multichannel TV over the past 20 years look quaint by comparison. As hundreds, thousands and potentially millions of new channels come on stream, average channel viewing may become meaningless and could become replaced by new media search methods. That scenario is premised not on theory, said eMarketer CEO Geoff Ramsey, but on what already is occurring on the Internet where millions of Web sites vie for prominence among a relatively limited number that the average consumer actually visits each week.
According to an eMarketer analysis, the average Internet user now spends 7.5 hours per week online surfing among "millions" of sites, but actually visits an average of only 17 per week. By comparison, Ramsey pointed out that the average TV viewer spends 34.4 hours per week, but watches an average of only 13.6 channels per week even though there are about 100 available to the average household. The same principle holds up on radio, where the average listener listens to only 3.2 stations per week, even though there are an average of 73 available.

This principle has been well known within the TV industry for decades, and has been used by executives at the major TV networks to explain why they would always reap a sizeable share of viewing despite rampant cable channel fragmentation. That principle comes from the field of cognitive research, and is known as the "rule of seven plus or minus three." That rule suggests that given a virtually unlimited set of choices, the human brain will gravitate to a relatively small number - somewhere between 7 and 10.

Nielsen Media Research's data has born that out, with the typical viewer watching less than 14 channels per week. Given millions of choices, eMarketer's Ramsey said the same thing is true of the Internet, where only 17 sites are used by the average person during the average week.

The impact of a new TV channel explosion fueled by digital cable and satellite TV, broadband Internet and other sources, will likely make the TV channel environment more akin to the Internet than old-time television, and would lead to an entirely new TV navigation system, said experts participating in a MediaPost Spin Board panel discussion.

That system, they said, would be based on search, and would likely make search engine data as important for TV as it currently is for the Internet.

"The meta data of that data is more important than" the data published by many Internet sites, said Shelly Palmer, managing partner of Advanced Media Ventures Group LLC, and a Spin Board columnist.

Palmer was referring to the current influence of Internet search engines for navigating the Web, and the fact that paid search terms continue to grow in value for marketers and publishers seeking to capture user traffic. Palmer suggested we would soon see a "My Yahoo!, or My Google for TV," and that would lead to similar bidding for key TV search terms.

eMarketer's Ramsey noted that keywords and terms now rival expensive prime-time CPMs in terms of price and are growing fast.

Tom Hespos, president of Underscore Marketing, and another Spin Board columnist, said the more toward TV search was a natural outgrowth of Internet navigation, as well as basic human psychology.

He described this as the "brand effect" of search, noting, "If you're in the place where people expect you to be, maybe you're the guy to go to."

The Effects Of Media Channel Fragmentation
Average Hours Per Week:
Television 34.4
Radio 19.9
The Web 7.5

Number of Channels/Sites:
Television - 100.0
Radio - 73.0
The Web - Millions

Average Used Per Week:
Television - 13.6
Radio - 3.2
The Web - 17.0

Source: eMarketer.

Thursday, June 09, 2005


Says New Media Initiatives Are a Company Priority
June 08, 2005
By Claire Atkinson
NEW YORK ( -- Acknowledging his company's need to "leverage the great migration" of viewers to consumer-controlled media formats, Walt Disney Co. president and COO Bob Iger yesterday said the company has made video on demand and digital ad formats a high priority.

Photo: AP
Bob Iger, who takes over as CEO of Disney in October, sees video on demand and other new media formats as crucial to the company's long-term success.
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New media initiatives
Speaking to 200 industry analysts at the Deutsch Bank Media Conference in the ballroom of Manhattan's Pierre Hotel, Mr. Iger sought to allay concerns over potentially revenue draining technologies such as digital video recorders that encourage ad skipping. He said the company was involved in a number of new media initiatives, including discussions with advertisers about how to embed their message in content that would be DVR proof.
Mr. Iger, who takes over officially as CEO in October, said Disney plans to make content available in video-on-demand formats that had the potential to excite and attract consumers. "What we might offer is Desperate Housewives, with a scene that might have been missing -- that's something I believe we could actually sell." ABC has been offering additional unseen footage from its top rated show on its Good Morning America broadcast.
Mr. Iger said Disney is aggressively seeking out new business opportunities to capitalize on new media opportunities. "I think we need to create primary businesses in that space [new media]," he said. He added that Disney's traditional businesses and their management should not "get in the way of a very very important migration to new media platforms."
ESPN model
He added that he sees the ESPN new media model as a direction for other Disney media properties. "That's the profile I want to create for the whole company... content that lives on all media platforms." ESPN provides live sports cast and interactive games through broadband online channels ESPN 360. The company has also launched ESPN Mobile, its own branded cell phone.
Mr. Iger characterized ongoing talks with Time Warner Cable and Comcast about VOD program distribution as "pretty productive," and predicted that viewers might see such shows as early as 2006. One sticking point with cable systems operator, Comcast, has been the issue of how content providers would be compensated. Comcast envisions VOD essentially as a free service for subscribers.
ABC Network
Addressing the overall health of the ABC Network, Mr. Iger said it is likely to turn a profit this year in large part because of the positive response of advertisers to its program slate for fall 2006. "ABC is on track to have a modestly profitable year and obviously the success in the upfront goes a long way in terms of supporting strong economics next year," said Mr. Iger.
ABC is projected to shift from a $154 million loss last year to a $30 million profit for full year 2005, according to a research note issued by Deutsch Bank on May 27.
Mr. Iger said ABC's strong creative streak has helped the company beyond simply increasing ad rates at ABC. Disney rolls out first season DVDs in September of its two breakout hits, Desperate Housewives, and Lost. The shows have also been licensed around the world. Mr. Iger added that ABC was well positioned to take advantage of the scatter market this year. "ABC held back inventory in enough good shows that if business develops and it's a little too early to tell, they are certainly going to be well positioned to take advantage."

Thursday, June 02, 2005

OPA: Web Ads A Draw For Many Consumers

MediaPost Publications Home of MediaDailyNews, MEDIA and OMMA Magazines
OPA: Web Ads A Draw For Many Consumers
by Wendy Davis, Thursday, Jun 2, 2005 6:00 AM EST
RATHER THAN CHASE CONSUMERS AWAY, advertising on Web sites can drive consumers to visit those sites and spend more time there, according to a report released Wednesday by the Online Publishers Association.

"Far from being a turn-off, relevant advertising is a reason why people get engaged with sites," said Michael Zimbalist, president of the Online Publishers Association. "Contextually relevant ads are considered to be a useful aspect of the site."
For the study, "Online User Experience Study," the Online Publishers Association and the Media Management Center at Northwestern University surveyed 2,215 online users and conducted in-person interviews with 65 respondents. Researchers questioned respondents about their experiences at 39 different sites in seven categories: national news, local news, aggregated news, entertainment, games, visits, finance, and lifestyle.

Zimbalist said that some respondents who cited ads as part of a site's appeal said that the site gave them ideas for shopping, or that the ads were "interesting."

Even when visitors reported annoyance with online ads, that didn't seem to translate into less usage, said Zimbalist.

The report also found a high correlation between how entertaining or absorbing visitors found sites and usage, as determined by the frequency of visits and the length of time spent visiting. Some other factors correlated with high usage included whether a site seems to be concerned with people such as the visitors, and whether it's a regular part of visitors' days.