Archive for September, 2008


Best URL Shortener I’ve used yet – Part 2

In a previous post, I lamented the loss of tracking data that comes with using certain URL shorteners – these sites are providing a great service, but at the same time, are removing some of the control you have over your data. I suggested as a partial solution to that problem, since it provides stats on how many people have clicked on the shortened URLs you create.

However, there’s another interesting addition to the seemingly ever-broadening URL shortener market – uTag. uTag is Australian. Sweet. It’s different from other URL shortener offerings in that it lets users raise revenue from using uTag shortened URLs, with payments being deposited into your PayPal account… any uTag links users click on open with a drop down advertising bar in the top of your browser, hence making your link-love ad revenue supported. This might sound irritating for users, but the bar can be closed down with a click of the user’s mouse button if it annoys them. Whilst it’s probably not the right way to go for your polished, corporate marketing blogs / twitter accounts, it’s another way to monetize what you do online and effectively represents opt in ad displays, which in itself is a new concept (i.e. you can turn embedded ads on or off)

Screencast of how uTag works stolen from the uTag blog FAQ post.


Who’s Blogging, Who Isn’t: Technorati State of the Blogosphere 2008

Technorati is probably the most credible source when it comes to commenting on the state of the blogosphere, so I put great faith in the stats in the Technorati State of the Blogosphere.  Whilst it’s shaping up to be a great 5 days of reading (the results are being released over the next 5 days), I have impossibly high standards because I’m a self important young thing, and as such I have 2 ‘complaints’ (well, they’re more requests really – seriously, it’s a great read so far).

1 – Alot of the demographics supplied are traditional gender / age / nationality / socioeconomic -based snapshots. which are useful but also decidedly old-hat (although it’s hard to gather, more of the good information they supply on behavioural segmentation of who’s blogging would have been interesting)

2 – I’d like to know more about who’s reading blogs and how. Having spoken to a room full of high school students recently, I was amazed that RSS was still a mystery to most of them, and probably still too to the average Joe, so it’d be interesting to know more about the other side of the blogosphere (ie readers, not bloggers, and know how many blogs they read per day, how they find blogs, how they consume their data etc). From a bloggers perspective, I’m more interested in knowing who my audience is rather than knowing the breakdown of why people blog.

Anyway, over the next few days you can keep logging back into the website for more info:

  • Day 1: Who Are the Bloggers?
  • ( v v v to be released later this week v v v )

  • Day 2: The What And Why of Blogging
  • Day 3: The How of Blogging
  • Day 4: Blogging For Profit
  • Day 5: Brands Enter The Blogosphere
  • 18

    Microsoft’s new ad campaign: case study in starting online controversy Pt.2

    DISCLAIMER: I’m still contracting at Microsoft, so take what I say with a grain of salt 🙂 I’m still also a fan of Windows.

    So Seinfeld got dropped from the ads. No surprise really. With an ad campaign basically saying “Yeh, so we’re out of touch” which really did nothing except celebrating being out of touch, the writing was on the wall. Jerry was an interesting choice for a number of reasons, not the least because he was featured in an Apple ad back in the day, but really, he had to go.

    However, his departure does not necessarily make this campaign a failure. It is still generating so much conversation and controversy, which still appears to be a good thing – all eyes are firmly focused on Microsoft at the moment. Are they f–kin up, or are they doing something completely crazy and new? Whether dropping Jerry was a planned planned tactic or not, Microsoft is:

    1. Once again the centre of attention right now
    2. Showing that it is adaptive. Some people think the ads sucked. What better way to tell your customers you are listening than to change the campaign to suit?

    I still reserve judgment about whether this is a good campaign or not because as I have mentioned I don’t know where the campaign’s going. But every time any little details about the campaign come out, it’s hitting TechCrunch, Engadget and most of the other popular news sites, aswell as a good number of the Apple blogs and fansites (eg/ TUAW), so leveraging that momentum and attention is going to be critical.

    Image from Engadget

    Rumours reported on Engadget suggest there may be a more direct reaction by Microsoft to Apple’s aggressive “I’m a Mac” campaigns in the future releases. This is actually what I have wanted to see from the start. There is alot of (borderline) misinformation in the Mac ads (less than technical people have told me Macs can’t get viruses and can’t crash, so from that perspective, the ads seem to be working somewhat). 

    This is a perfect battleground for Microsoft to take back some of what was theirs. They really need to address the damage the “I’m a Mac” ads did. I’m envisioning guys in fluoro Spandex roller blading through Central Park in NY doing crazy extreme stuff like going backwards (sic – I’m being sarcastic there in case that didn’t come across) and giving high fives to each other and generally being trendy dicks. All listening to white headphones (for the vision impaired and slightly slow, iPod has white headphones) Fade out. Product shot of Zune.  No B.S. – thats Microsoft. Thats what I’d be doing…

    EDIT – 19/9/08: Third ad in the campaign, minus Jerry, has been seen at Gizmodo. It’s not bad, really it’s not. Without being too combatitive, it definitely moves towards dispelling the nerdy image Apple branded MS with. Tony Parker is in there. Tony Parker’s the man. And he’s a PC!

    EDIT 2 – 19/09/08: Wow, talk about saturation bombing!! The following PC / Windows ads went live on US TV tonight (PST) 


    Microsoft’s new ad campaign: a case study in how to start online controversy

    I’m as close to a Windows fanboy as you can get without having to do something demeaning to win a piece of Windows-branded clothing at a trade show somewhere. There, thats my disclosure. Friends have been asking what I think of the new Gates / Seinfeld ads as much as what they used to ask me what I thought about the old Apple ads – being a PC guy, I thought the Apple ads sucked :). To be honest, I don’t yet know what I think of the new MS ads, because I’ve only seen the first and second one – I don’t know where it’s going, and am not privvy to knowing what will unfold in the coming releases in the series. One thing is for sure, it looks like the guy shooting the footage came straight from the bar. Thats how you achieve edgy camera work for minimal budget – get a wino to do it. 

    The extended, 4 minute long version of ad 2.

    At any rate, people are talking about it. There are over 3100 Diggs for the blog post on the second ad on Engagdet. I think the key to this discussion is in it’s complete and bewildering obscurity (in this regard it reminds me of Demitri Martin & the Clearification campaign for Vista). I’ve been following various email trails amongst friends and colleagues speculating what people think the ads are really about – the favoured theory is that each of the characters are a metaphor for various people and products in the Apple / PC firefight that Apple kicked off in earnest with their ads… the little girl may or may not be Mac apparently (thats pure speculation so don’t quote me).

    Anyway, in wrapping this up, if this is not buzz, then what is? It’s a different story, of course, whether buzz translates to results.

    EDIT – 18/09/08: So Jerry’s been dropped from the ads. Hardly surprising.


    Twitter marketing… Who can and who can’t criticise it.

    Every man and his dog has written a blog post about why Twitter is / isn’t the future of marketing. What works / doesn’t work. Why / why not to use it. Meh… I am, on the whole, over it (with two notable exceptions. The first is an excellent, excellent Twitter-related post on Chris Brogan’s blog on how to use it to track conversations about whatever topic you choose – it’s well worth a look. The second exception is an interesting stat read on the AusDev blog about attendees for Australia’s Tech.Ed event this year – the crowd are tech savvy digital natives, but only 6% are using Twitter… it’s still not that widely used by Joe Public, but let’s not go down that rathole right now).

    I thought instead I’d throw a different spin on things and talk about whose opinions on the topic we should actually put value in, since everyone seems to have an opinion and there are some ‘interesting’ theories out there (the post is actually inspired by an article I came across via a friend – there are many other articles out there though that I feel somewhat miss the point of twitter). I’ve kept the lists short because I’m interested to see different / additional views to mine (or if anyone will actually leave comments at all 😀 )- please leave comments below.


    1. You get to criticise twitter if you’ve been using it for at least a month. Twitter is a “don’t knock it until you try it” kinda service. It’s definitely not like Facebook status updates. It’s definitely very different to having a corporate blog, which I’ve also seen suggested.
    2. You get to criticise twitter if you check semi-regularly on the status updates of your friends / customers / idols / future stalking victims
    3. You get to criticise Twitter if you ACTUALLY participate. When I say participate, I mean that you do more than just post. Broadcasting what you are doing is only part of twitter. Following what others are doing is another part of twitter, but still only a small part. To truly know the benefits and downfalls of twitter as a social media or as a marketing tool, you need to be doing both, aswell as responding to other people’s tweets. It’s a near-realtime conversation medium, not a broadcast medium.


    1. You don’t get to criticise Twitter if you think it is a type of broadcast media
    2. You don’t get to criticise Twitter if who have never tried it.
    3. You don’t get to criticise Twitter if you think you can achieve the same results with a corporate blog (I could point to some really poorly informed marketing blog posts at this point but won’t cos I’m not feeling terribly bitchy today). If you think this, see “Who Can’t” point #2
    4. You don’t get to criticise Twitter if you have less than 5 followers (I’m willing to renegotiate this one because you might be using it to stay in touch with close friends only in which case 5 followers is perfectly legitimate. However, with this being a marketing blog discussing marketing issues, you’re hardly likely to achieve your business objectives with Twitter if you’re reaching only 5 people)
    5. You don’t get to criticise Twitter if you’re in an industry where using Twitter is not appropriate. For example, there’s probably not likely to be many illiterate people using twitter, so why would, say, an adult reading school use it to market their wares?

    Any more suggestions? Please comment below.

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