Tuesday, November 14, 2006
Intrigued, I decided I wanted to find out more. So, with out further a do I clicked the head image to visit the homepage. It took me back to where I was, so instead I went to edit the URL in the address bar (Firefox 2) and take a look what happens yourself.
If you have Java completely off, nothing. However, if you have it turned on, you are unable to select the URL in the address bar, edit it, or indeed, copy it. Instead, you get an angry little jump to the Username box. Username glows red and your expected to fill in the form before you get to see the rest of the site.
Eeek, crimes against user alert! I was outraged! I tend to have minimum java settings on as, well, I enjoy surfing the web. But that made me fell violated. You don't mess with my address bar goddamn it. That's not on. There's persuasive marketing, then there's this. Seriously etribes - you expect me to hand over all my personal details, without letting me see the site? Hmmm. No thanks.
UPDATE: Check the comments - this is a Firefox specific bug and they're working to fix it. Let's hope their promotion email didn't go out to too many Firefox users. ;)
Monday, November 13, 2006
Having worked in the BBC's mammoth New Media department, at times I was involved in ensuring the correct programme website URLs made it to TV trails and programme credits. Often TV people would never see the benefit of doing such a no-brainer as publicising the related website off the back of the programme.
Other times they would add URLs without actually checking those URLs existed. And then there was the joy of trying to get them to stick to the text-book pronunciations and correct display syntax. It was one big roundabout of fun, games and an ongoing battle with old media mentality.
As a result, I'm maybe a bit to sensitive to spotting URLs on BBC programmes and trailers. Which is explains why Saturday night, at the end of Spielberg's latest TV epic - Into The West, I was amazed by what I saw on the end credits. Given all the advertising and the big impact of this series - tiny details like displaying a correct URL should have been easy. The URL being displayed was like so - /intothewest.co.uk.
I tutted knowingly and typed in bbc.co.uk/intothewest - which unsurprisingly, worked fine. My wife quipped, 'they forgot the bbc bit at the start!' I said 'no, there wouldn't be the co.uk on the end if that was the case.'
Whatever, Monday morning, the site they displayed is still giving an error message (maybe it's a redirect URL?) I can guess what happened, and the truth is it could have easily been fixed with a bit of communication. Whatever happenend, it doesn't look too clever given the high profile of the TV series.
Thursday, November 09, 2006
Basically, ReviewMe is a new blog marketing, buzz generating word of mouth service, an offshoot of the excellent Text Link Ads. The idea is simple, write blog reviews of stuff, get paid for doing it - helping yourself and the companies sponsoring you.
Whilst there will be a whole array of ethical issues around this, pay no attention - they'll generate a lot more heat than light. Many unpaid Bloggers out there will already happily shill about something they like, cultural items, products, a nice new site or whatever. Maybe some more adventurous ones will even throw in the odd Amazon affiliate link or something similar, and why not? This is the logical extension of bloggers' love of writing about stuff and a great way for less affiliate and marketing minded bloggers to earn some cash from their creative output.
The trick will be not annoying your readers too much and striking a balance between your usual posts and themes and the sponsored posts. This shouldn't be a problem, because you only pick up and write about the things that interest you. If the chances are you would write about it anyway, why not get a bit of cash for doing it? One other plus is you're not editorially tied to actually liking what you're writing about.
Another positive for the service is, unlike some other similar services out there, with ReviewMe you disclose the fact you're blogging for cash. Hence the disclaimer at the front of this post. If need be, your hardcore readers can always skip the posts they see prefaced with a disclaimer - but once again, if it's in your circle of interest, they'll want to give it a look.
The site itself is very slick, it's taken a good beating with the Web 2.0 Design Handbook, but the logo is a touch Pre-School for my liking given the rest of the design. The sign-up process is quick and easy - I'd like to see a lot more FAQs about the place, it feels a bit barren at present. I'd also like to see more about the level of your blog before being accepted - I submitted my first blog only to be told it was not up to scratch. I started again with my other blogs that I knew were better thought of in certain circles, they were accepted fine. I'd like to see something like, 'if it's below a Pigeon Rank of five, forget it' - rather than spend a few minutes filling in the form and thinking up tags to no avail. Ok, I say no avail, they do save the details for when it hits those levels, which is something.
Setting up was nice and easy, it took less than 10 minutes to go from registering to being ready to blog here - and I even get my own RSS feed for potential jobs. I almost feel like a professional writer.
Ok, so at the moment it's all new and there's nothing out there to get reviewing, but as the buzz grows and people see the potential, it'll be interesting to see how the job's to pick from grow. It's still very early days yet - but it's looking promising so far.
My main gripe would be the revenue split between us and them. 50/50 seems a bit rich to me, especially as it feels like I'm the one doing the creative work. I'd like to see something more along the lines of 70/30 in favour of the creator. Given the slickness of the site and potential opportunities so far - we'll see how that pans out and if it remains worth taking part. Otherwise, there's a lot to commend them on.
Wednesday, November 08, 2006
Following on from the Million Dollar Homepage style of alchemical web marketing, and the millions of MDHP clones - a new paradigm is being set. Not only is it being set, it's already got an army of copycats replicating it's initial success.
This new model has taken elements of the MDHP and mixed them with elements of Pyramid scheme economics and auction fever. Proudly announcing itself as Advertising 2.0, and clad in Web 2.0 design clichés (at least there's no beta on the title) - mmmzr.com was the first of these new look advertising sites - I spotted it a few weeks back on Digital Point. Despite getting off to a great start and enticing lots of advertisers, the original has hit some problems. Their PayPal account has been frozen and questions about the legality and methodology of the scheme abound.
This hasn't deterred a whole range of unimaginative and non-inventive webmasters from chomping at the bit and launching a slew of copycat sites and schemes. You can hear the fingers tapping and the marketing winding into place as they launch more unimaginative scud to sit up for a few days with few (if any real) takers. Sigh... The magic's gone already people, leave it be. You won't replicate it on the same model, you need a new one, get thinking, not copying.
The name hasn't quite solidified yet, it's not Pixel Advertising, as the last wave was, or even Pixel Advertising 2.0. Some are calling it Advertising 2.0, others Cash Columns and more just Mmmzresque buffoonery (the last one's mine). Marketing man Seth Goodin has given it the thumbs up and George Favvas has explored the economics of it. Expect to see a lot of this until an arrest or something legal happens because of Ponzi scheme fears. Then, listen in joy to the synchronized sound of several hundred hapless copycat webmasters soiling their underwear and deleting their sites.
Tuesday, November 07, 2006
The theory is simple, write an article especially targeted to either enrage or specifically focus on the interests of Digg.com's specific demographic. This is a newish take on Digg spamming, which has been around a long time already. In the early days of Digg it was cited as one of the factors that made Digg work, although it's not so welcome now.
When spamming Digg the focus of the target article is less specific than with Digg baiting. With Digg spam, the articles you're spamming are about what ever your website is about. There are a number of ways of getting your story up the ranks, from buying Diggs to asking everyone you know to Digg you. Contrast the classic spam with the newer trend in Digg baiting - in this instance you focus your articles specifically on Digg users and their highly defined interests, tastes, political leanings and behaviours.
If you succeed in getting a high profile Digging, the payout is the same either way, and it's not financial. It's notoriously difficult to monetise Digg traffic, but the benefits of being Dugg are more SEO focused - mainly a large amount of fresh new back links. There is the added branding benefit of exposure to your site from interested bloggers and other commentators who've spotted your story. In a way, many Digg spammers are missing the point, expecting financial reward for their effort, the payout is much more subtle than dollars in the bank.
To illustrate Digg baiting, here's a selection of some of my favourites of recent months. Back in October, SEO Blackhat's 10 Steps To Guarantee You Make The Digg Front Page gave a great insight into the leanings of the Digg crowd.
Taking that a step further, Graywolf, the master of social networking media manipulation recently posted a guide to Creating The Ultimate Digg Post. Not content with one Digg bait, he's trying for a two pronged attack. He followed the guide up with an article that points out the Secret Army of Digg Trolls in a follow-up post.
Whilst not actively attempting any Digg baits via his blog - the ever outspoken David Naylor, co-host of the ever listenable Strike Point can be often heard laying into the army of 'clueless diggers' on the show. He's even gone as far as challenging his own staff to attempt to get an article on to the Digg front page, to highlight the trouble with making it on Digg. It makes for entertaining listening. I'm sure if he followed the ongoing trend and made Digg bait via his blog, it would be fun to watch.
Like David Naylor, Shandy King's also been on the receiving end of Digger's flames for stuff that Diggers should know better about. It seems hell hath no fury like a
nerd Digger scourned.
Ok, so you're already thinking this article is a Digg bait, but if my usual experience with the place is anything to go by that won't happen, nor am I bothered (I'd be too worried my server would fall over) - I'm highlighting this so you can be on the look out for entertaining Digg baits yourself. At the moment it's still fresh, so enjoy it while you can - it won't be long before Digg baiting is as tired a merry-go-round as link baiting is. But if you're looking for an easy way to quickly gain back links for your new site, it could be just the ticket.