Five Topics That Roared in 2000

Every Monday I get anywhere from a few to a few-dozen emails from readers in response to that week’s column. It’s always gratifying when readers take the time to tell me what they think (especially when they aren’t calling me names). But more important, reader feedback helps me understand what other people in the industry think about the topics I write about.

I received email in response to just about every article I published last year. But a few articles seemed to elicit many more responses than others. It is interesting to see which topics riled people up the most in 2000. Here are the top five.

Why Dot-Com Ads Can Fail.” In March I argued that many dot-com advertisers were wasting money on outrageous but forgettable broadcast advertising and explained how their rush to market was severely hampering their marketing efforts. I made the point that traditional agencies that don’t understand the web can’t position Internet businesses effectively.

A lot of people from traditional agencies took exception to this point, arguing that their deep branding experience more than compensates for any lack of interactive expertise. Since then, most of the big-spending dot-coms have gone out of business. I guess we’ll never know the level of success these companies might have achieved if they had adopted a more strategic and integrated approach to advertising.

Free Data No More.” Written in May, this article resulted in the most passionately negative feedback I received all year. I thought it conveyed a respect for the value of people’s privacy and time by arguing that people should be paid for giving information about themselves. But I guess getting anywhere near the issue of privacy can stir up some pretty strong feelings.

Many readers wrote to me that they were sick and tired of seeing people’s privacy being bought and sold like a cheap commodity. Others said that violations of privacy were going to ruin the industry. (Many thought this was a good thing.) One reader even likened my article to advocating slavery. Writing the article was a good lesson in just how passionate some people are about protecting online privacy.

Postcard From Greece.” I filed this article when I went on vacation in late August. I intended it to be a tribute to the country and a sketch of the state of the Internet industry there. Since the article didn’t really take on any serious issues, I was surprised by the volume of feedback that I received.

Many readers shared their memories of Greece or offered statistics about Internet penetration in Europe. But most surprising was the handful of Greek readers (I hadn’t known I had any) who felt that my anecdotal characterizations of the state of the Internet industry in their country were inaccurate and unfair. They felt that my readers should know that there are many companies in Greece building web sites and doing Internet advertising. Now you do.

Internet Advertising Best Practices: Five Rules to Brand By.” This November article garnered a lot of mail. Benchmarks and best practices are a valuable commodity in our new industry, and many readers wanted more information about what works and what doesn’t. In the future, I’ll be sure to write about any new study that quantifies successful e-marketing tactics.

Slandering Online Advertising.” This column from last month attracted the most attention and inspired the strongest feelings of all my articles last year. I received dozens of emails from people who, like me, are upset by the fact that online advertising is often misunderstood and undervalued. Many people from online publishing, agencies, and companies that advertise online wrote in support. Thanks.

So there they are, the articles I wrote that stirred people up the most in 2000. This year I hope to provoke even more discussion and feedback on the ClickZ Forum, through email, and perhaps even at the water cooler. Exchanging ideas is good for the industry, and one of our greatest assets is our passion for the Internet.

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