Archive for August, 2008

31
Aug
08

Internet Explorer Beta 2 has landed: Things e-marketers should know.

I’ve recently installed and am currently using IE8 (Beta 2). Have to admit it’s not bad at all, but it did break my blog¬†ūüôā (see below – That’ll serve me right for using generic wordpress CSS…)

Good news is “Compatibility View” allows users to still view any websites which have’t yet been optimised as the site’s designers¬†meant¬†them to be viewed¬† – which will be most IE optimised sites since IE8 is still in beta.

Anyway, there’s a few things e-marketing managers should keep in mind about¬†the world‚Äôs most popular browser. I’ll go over a couple more in the coming weeks, but for now, the main thing you need to know is…

“IE8 will break the internet”

Well, that’s not strictly true, but this melodramatic phrase, used quite a bit on blogs and tech news sites over the past 6 months, sums up what pretty well the main thing e-marketers should be aware of and acting on before IE8’s RTW (release to web) version. 

What does “IE8 will break the Internet” mean?

In a nutshell, it’s a reference to old versions of Internet Explorer¬†(IE7 and earlier) that¬†were not strictly web standards compliant. We have ‘web standards’, created and championed by not-for-profit organisations like the W3C (World Wide Web Consortium)¬†in order to ensure¬†the web remains accessible, interoperable¬†and predictable. I’m no web standards expert so I can’t tell how to make sure your site is standards compliant, but most web developers really¬†should be at least familiar with web standards guidelines (if they aren’t, there’s an extremely comprehensive guide at http://www.w3.org/).

You don‚Äôt, however,¬†need to be a web standards expert to know if your site is going to be OK or not ‚Äď the easy way to test is to simply download the IE8 beta2 from http://www.microsoft.com/windows/internet-explorer/beta/. ¬†

Anyway, let‚Äôs get away from standards and back to IE8. Internet Explorer is the most popular browser on earth, so¬†many companies / web developers / web designers in the past¬†optimised their sites to run in IE. Since IE has not traditionally been 100% web standards friendly, these IE optimised sites¬†were of course¬†in turn¬†not necessarily built¬†to¬†comply to web standards.¬†With IE8 now focusing on web standards compliance, there are fears some these old IE optimised sites will ‘break’ when viewed in standards compliance mode (which will be the browser’s default mode)¬†in IE8.

And break some sites have (for example, see my screengrab at the top of the page). You can see that the ‘breakage’ in this case, and indeed in most cases I’ve come across, is not all that dramatic – definitely not deserving of the doomsayer’s¬†“IE8 will break the Internet” monicker. However,¬†it’s the small things that count online, so things like having a text box out of alignment can really detract from an otherwise beautiful site. Like it or not,¬†little errors in wen design and development reduce your credibility, no matter what sort of business you run.

As a stopgap measure, the IE team have built in a “Compatibility View” into IE8 which shows broken sites as they were originally designed to be shown (this concept is called backwards compatibility). Whilst it may be tempting then to just leave your site as it currently is and rely on viewers to click on the Compatibility View button (see picture below) to view the site properly, the reality is IE8’s new features will take users a while to learn… alot of¬†users are going to be viewing your broken page before they work out what Compabtility View is. And knowing how many people are using Internet Explorer, this could well result in loss of business (or at least an unprofessional-looking online experience for up to a billion or so browsers).

 Compatibility View in IE8

Don’t Panic!

The good¬†news is this- IE8 is only in beta so you’ve still got time to get your web developers / agency fixing things up all purty before IE8 gets wider adoption and Joe Average starts using it (at the moment, you’ll see techies and early adopters using the beta2, meaning the scale of breakage is still small).

Swing back in the next couple of days and I’ll have a blog post on ‘Web Slices’ in IE8, what they are, and why marketers should know about them. Hopefully I might also have worked out¬†how to update (or at least change) the CSS of my blog so it looks how it should ūüôā

EDIT: Whilst it’s a few months old now, I came across this¬†article about the 3 modes the IE8 team built into the product to try to minimise breakage. It’s a good read for better insight into how IE8 is trying to avoid breakage.

EDIT 2 – 18/9/08: For the developers amongst you (if any actually read this blog) there’s a highly comprehensive MSDN¬†page covering IE and compatitibility at http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-au/ie/cc405106.aspx

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29
Aug
08

And the Marketing Strategy of the Year for 2008 is…

… making a racy ad, “leaking it”¬†on YouTube &¬†then officially distancing yourself

For the record, I’m not saying that the below companies are actually doing this. For the record too, I’d never do – or recommend doing –¬†something like this… but you have to admit that, although it’s a potentially dubious and¬†high risk strategy, companies have gotten some pretty good viral style attention from having controversial¬†ads ‘leaked’ over the past 6 months. They can then mop up most of the outrage it instigates amongst more conservative members of the viewing public by distancing themselves from the ad…¬†If it can be done by mistake, why can’t it be done on purpose.

Example 1 – JC Penney

Take JC Penney for starters. Saatchi and Saatchi made them a nice little ad featuring 2 fit young things practicing how to get dressed as quickly as possible, with the tagline “Today’s the day you get away with it”.

 

Not entirely too offensive or racy, but JC Penney apparently found it suitably offensive to decide not to use it.

Fast forward a few months and it’s leaked on YouTube after winning an award at Cannes. JC Penney, understandably outraged, piss and moan and eventually have the video removed from Youtube (but in typical fashion there’s a few other copies of it on Youtube plus it’s since popped up a few other places). The interesting thing about all this is the fact that JC Penney never paid for TV time to air the ad and likely never even paid for production of¬†it, but it’s been getting probably close to the number of views a TV campaign might achieve, plus massive amounts of discussion in forums, blogs and other online vehicles.¬†I seriously doubt it’s going to be bad for Saatchi and Saatchi either, since it may slightly damage relations with JC Penney but it is a great case study in creating excitement online. So, as a brand awareness¬†campaign, this¬†has probably¬†been quite successful (hell, as an Aussie blogger, I’d never heard or given a damn about JC Penney before now… and for the sake of a good blog post, lets ignore the potential issues of brand damage and the damage to the S&S / JC Penney relationship for a moment too).

Example 2  РGuinness

The more recent Guinness “Share one with a Friend” ad is another example. Same story, except the ad is perhaps better produced. It tugs on all the appropriate emotional strings (sex, shock,¬†humour, surprise), and features what is essentially 30 seconds of Guinness logo time… I mean really,¬†I’ve never seen an ad that¬†gets people looking at a bottle of Guinness for 30 seconds¬†whilst being totally entertained…¬†This is one of the better crafted ads I’ve seen in a long time, but was¬†apparently too racy for even a beer company.

It would have been (is) the perfect viral video.

However, the ad was deemed unsuitable by Guinness and was never to see the light of day. Enter (again) youtube, and the ad is getting some good numbers (my last count was 235,000 views of the different copies of it in various places on youtube, not to mention offline vehicles and the versions that have been taken down at Diageo’s request). Diageo / Guiness were, just like JC Penney, a bit miffed at having an ad they’d canned leaked on the net,and a similar¬†hoopla kicked off to the JC Penney case. So this meant that, again, without paying for any TV time or even having to build a supporting campaigns to drive traffic to the video, Guinness managed to get it’s brand in front of hundreds of thousands or people for very little money and drove some real¬†brand¬†exposure time for it’s product. Particularly in the case of beer companies (as opposed to the slightly more conservative¬†JC Penney) this is a positive thing for the company. And any potential negative issues are mitigated by the company distancing itself from the ad, even though behind closed doors it may actually fully endorse it. So the conservative fuddy older¬†Guinness drinkers¬†/ investors remain placated, whilst¬†the younger generation of¬†Youtube using beer drinkers see a very different vision of Guinness to what they’re used to.¬†And all this was achieved¬†for probably what would amount to money for jam.

Nice, no? It’s a fine line to tread though.

14
Aug
08

The Best URL shortener I’ve used yet

Of late, I’ve been checking twitter alot. I mean ALOT. Like 30 times a day.¬†It’s weird, but Twitter gives so much more to me than Facebook despite it being infinitely simpler. The reason is¬†the level of participation activity amongst Twitterers is about 10 times the activity of Facebookers – every time I view my twitter feeds, there’s a handful of new things happening. And I always get a laugh or learn something interesting about people I know.

If you’ve ever used twitter to direct people to your blog, other people’s blogs, interesting websites¬†etc, you’ve probably used URL shorteners. Using Snurl.com, Tinyurl.com, is.gd etc means you have more of your 160 characters in the twitter message for including important¬†stuff that people actually care about. Like smiley faces, LOLspeak¬†and exclamation marks…

However, using URL shorteners¬†reduces¬†the amount of control / information¬†you have.¬†Here’s my 2 beefs with them.

  1. The first is that if you are driving traffic from your twitter account to someone’s blog, it would be great if you could then leave a pingback on that person’s blog to either your twitter page or your own blog. Pingbacks are important because it lets authors know they are being read. They are also important, because the author might in turn decide to share traffic with you (and at the very least will probably go to your twitter page¬†/ profile or blog). However, current URL shorteners don’t let¬†the blogger I’m sending traffic to¬†see who’s sent traffic his way at all. Which kinda sucks…
  2. My second beef was that I could never tell how many people had clicked my link-I can track outgoing clicks on a website that I own using AdCentre, Google Analytics, whatever. However,¬†with snurl.com (or the other aforementioned services), you don’t own the click through¬†data any more, so you¬†can never see how many people actually follow the shortened URL. No-one wants to be twittering into a black hole… and how do you know if you are twittering to a black hole if you don’t know how many people are actually following your links?

Luckily, Bit.ly has solved this second beef of mine and has as such been dubbed “The Greatest URL Shortener of All Time According to Nick’s Worldview“… you can now see how many people are following your shortened URLs (see pic below). Neat huh?

Now, if someone out there can just work out how¬†I can point to someone’s blog with a shortened URL and have the pingback on their blog¬†listed as from the URL of my selection, that’d be awesome! (and admittedly,¬†a spammers dream come true too)




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