What's The Buzz?

We were wrong and we don’t mind admitting it. Last week we attributed to Tim Lee a post on I-Advertising that actually came from Robert Roe. It was Robert who said “Experienced people can make intuitive judgements based on a small amount of information that prove as useful, and less expensive.”

But Tim does agree with Robert’s statement, explaining “if we have Prior knowledge about CTR, we are able to reduce the sample size significantly” and save tons of money by doing so. Tim explained how and why in copious detail as the sample size discussion continued.

The source of the sample size problem, suggested Doug Bates, is a communications gap between the marketer and the researcher. “The marketer’s implicit question is different from what the researcher is interpreting, and the marketer doesn’t know how to articulate what it is they really want,” he wrote.

There were more responses to Jim Dattilo’s post last week in which he asked about profitable ways of getting more people to a content site, and Yevgeniy Leshchinskiy asked a related question about how to sell advertising on his site.

Responding to Jim, Linda Wise recalled the days in which Wall Street City was spending $70k a month for online advertising. “Our advertising sales certainly didn’t keep up with our promotional spending at that point,” she said, “but we used the traffic we generated to build our credibility with advertisers and customers alike. We kept our site fresh, which encouraged people to keep coming back, and developed other less expensive marketing programs to build even more site traffic and support our banner advertising campaigns. Within a few months, our site was at a million impressions per month, which enabled us to sell advertising to larger national accounts. We were also able to cut back on our promotional spending because we had established our audience.”

Rob Griffin and Geoff Payson both delivered get out there and sell, sell, sell pep talks. “If you want to sell advertising on your site you are going to have to look for it,” Geoff wrote, “And offer something that will work for the advertiser. Beyond that you have got to make calls, follow up calls and catch the client at the right time. You have to be busy and lucky. Not too many media buyers surf the net to stop in and buy your banner space. Bring the space to them and sell them on you first.”

The simile of the week on I-Advertising was Chris Donaldson’s comparison of web advertising to the state of films when talkies were first introduced in the late 20’s.

“At first, there was a revolt among filmgoers and many filmmakers, all claiming that this ‘new breed’ of cinema was contrary to the ‘art’ and would be nothing but short-lived,” Chris wrote. “For a brief period, everyone stared at one another not knowing who would be right. But in the end, the champion once again won out –content. For as audiences realized that this new technology delivered better stories, they quickly abandoned any arguments they may have had and lined up, cash in hand. So too the Internet. We’re caught in that great moment when all of us are wondering ‘Is this rich media stuff really going to work?’ Though I believe the answer is a resounding yes, the trick is still the same. Content will ultimately dictate the value of any CPM.”

AltaVista’s decision to test the pay-per-click model was, once again, the major discussion topic on Online Ads.

When a search engine sacrifices relevancy to commercialism it’s doomed itself,” wrote Akilesh Rajan. “Once an engine starts to change a business model, you gotta know there’s a bigger problem somewhere,” added Matthew da Silva.

If AltaVista doesn’t clearly distinguish paid listings, as GoTo does, it’s deceptive, wrote Robert J. Woodhead, who thinks AltaVista’s minimum bid price of $0.25 for a clickthrough is “outrageously high.”

In a long, albeit articulate post, GoTo.com president and CEO Jeffrey Brewer said AltaVista’s actions don’t go far enough to benefit users. It adds two advertising places “without allowing the free market to affect the relevancy of the search listings,” he wrote, adding, “To allow the free market to sort for relevancy and deliver more relevant results, a search engine has to do it all the way or not at all.”

Search Engine Watch Editor Danny Sullivan said the current crawling and ranking system used by most search engines is inherently unfair. “We need something else, and paid listings probably have their place.”

Jim Meskauskas voiced concern that pay-for-placement “ploys” compromise search engines’ editorial integrity. Online Ads Moderator Richard Hoy replied that the engines have no editorial credibility to compromise. “They can be (and are) manipulated in a variety of ways to forward someone’s marketing agenda.”

There was, of course, more on Online Ads than just AltaVista. Mark J. Welch was ticked to the point of considering legal action about a flood of email from AllAdvantage.com, which he described as an MLM pyramid scheme that promises to pay people for surfing the web. He wanted to know to whom he could air his gripe. He found a buddy in Mike Gnitecki, who had the same problem, emailed the company and got a response from its Spam Control Manager (abuse@alladvantage.com) to the effect that it’s not them spamming but “some of our users.” Mike wasn’t impressed.

Apparently Leo Sheiner is still bristling from Jim Reardon’s charge that Leo’s safe-audit.com “allows and condones fraud.” Leo posted his reply, which sounded to us exactly like the one he posted a couple of weeks ago when Jim first leveled the accusation.

And Tim Lee wrote to clarify the comments he made and we reported on last week about branding. He said that a web business (instead of Procter &Gamble) and a web business brand (instead of a product brand) should be used as an example to illustrate why branding is important and why the Internet is not the right place for branding a web business. “We cannot use an apple as an example but then make a conclusion about an orange.”

Want to sign up? You can join Online Ads at www.o-a.com or I-Advertising at www.internetadvertising.org.

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