Thursday, March 31, 2005

Should Captain Morgan Walk The Plank?

My friend Guy sent me this link to Captain Morgan Rum’s blog. I don’t know the brand (I don’t think they sell in Europe) but it looks like an easy sell for an ad agency: the brand has character, speaks its mind and a blog would be the perfect setting to “create a community of interest around the brand values to generate positive WOM”.

What amused me most is not the blog per say, it’s pretty dull but the
string of conversations about this blog complaining how lame it is.

I think it is less bad that the
Mazda experiment as at least it allows for comments, and there are regular postings. Although there are some speculations on how such new blog got so many comments so quickly. Gus thinks that Captain Morgan should thank the agency’s “assistants, interns, secretaries, college students, elance or maybe just one guy/gal with a strong pot of coffee and a really wild imagination.” I would agree with that.

Noah Brier comments that it’s not a blog as it has no RSS feed. It’s an interesting point. I read this survey from Blogads who polled over 30,000 bloggers and found that 72% of respondents never read blogs through RSS.

The lack of RSS didn’t bother me too much but I was irritated by three things:

- The Captain do not reply to comments on his blog. This is hardly surprising. Ad agencies are so used to shout loud about products that they became death and as such can’t hear what customers say anymore. I would think that DM and PR agencies do a better job at sustaining dialogs.
- To post a comment, you have to register and provide too many details. It’s like opening the floodgate to a tide of unwanted junk mails. The incentive to provide my home address needs to be stronger than a post on a blog.
- When you post a comment, you get a nice message saying: “Comment Posted! Since I'm busy with the Blog AND maintaining a full-time party schedule, your posting might not show up right away. So, cut me some slack and have a little patience... - The Captain”. That’s a nice way to say: wait until our moderator wakes up and he will see whether your comments are flattering enough to be included”. That’s lame.

So should Captain Morgan walk the plank? If you take it as a commercial blog and therefore have very low expectations, it is not too bad in its category. But ultimately time will decide. When the ad agency’s interns will cease to be incentivised to keep it alive, it will be up to the good decent Internet people to judge. The ones who don’t bother giving up their home address so they can have a discussion with a bottle of rum.

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Who Blogs? Bloggers Demographic Survey

A really interesting suvey from BlogAds who polled over 30,000 bloggers. Quite a few surprises:

  • 75% of bloggers are male, over 30 years old.
  • 43% have household revenue of over US$90,000.
  • Only 4.7% of bloggers are under 20 years old…. That shoots down a marketing myth: “blogs, oh yeah… I heard about that… we’ll definitely look into it for our youth offer…”
  • 1 out of 4 respondents claim to dedicate 20% of “media time » to blogs.
  • Finally, only 27.6% of respondents use RSS… most will read blogs as they do websites.

Saturday, March 26, 2005

More politicians write blogs to bypass mainstream media

Great although not very deep article on how politicians use blogs to reach their current/future constituents. Blogs convey a feeling of intimacy (like reading someone's diary) and politicians know that they can leverage blogs better than traditional websites or newspapers when it comes to make their views and opinions more likeable.

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

IBM, Spam and Spammers

IBM is set to unveil a service Tuesday that will send unwanted e-mails back to the spammers who send them. It is reminiscent of the Lycos Europe initiative, albeit the latter was more of a PR stunt than a serious attempt to address the problem. As usual, the arguments against such approach are the added load to the network. The service is said to return the spam directly back to the computer, not just the e-mail account, that sent it. I guess that would have been handy to Mark Mumma, a web designer/hosting provider who is beeing sued by after he asked them to stop spamming him... read his account of the story here.

EuroDisney Blog University Postponed

The New Communications Forum scheduled for the 5th/6th of April at Eurodisney has been postponed.

No reasons why on the official website. I was interested to attend and maybe contribute to the forum but unfortunately my email and phone calls to the organisers were left unanswered... could it be a communication problem?

Thursday, March 17, 2005

Yahoo jumps on the blogwagon

Yahoo is launching its blogging offer: Yahoo 360 on March 29 by invitation only. The service is expected to integrate existing products such as instant messenger and groups. Users will have the option to restrict viewership of their blogs.

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Blog, un’opportunità o una minaccia?

I just came back from a conference on blogging organised by our Italian colleagues of Digital PR in Milan. The event was well attended which shows that blogging is definitely top of mind for communication professional across Europe.

Program was as follow:

  1. Alberto Mari, the author of “Blog e Wiki” spoke about blogs, how they work and how they differ from websites or newsgroups.
  2. Vincenzo De Tommaso from Digital PR gave us an overview of blogging in the Italian market.
  3. I presented on corporate blogs, starting from why blogs are so successful to how corporations could use them. I will upload a copy of the presentation soon so stay tuned…
  4. Luca De Biase, a journalist and lecturer at the University of Padova talked about blogs impact in the media landscape.

Or at least, this is what I understood :-)

During the event, I also had the pleasure to meet with Paolo Valdemarin from evectors. They sell RSS feeds solutions, notably to the BBC.

There is a
blog on the event but it is only available in Italian. See comments from one attendee (there is an automatic English translation available).

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Apple 1, Bloggers 0.

Apple has won its legal fight to make three bloggers reveal who told them about unreleased products. Full story on EFF website.

Thursday, March 10, 2005

How do people read search engine results?

A joint study conducted by search marketing firms Enquiro and eye tracking firm Eyetools examined the eye movements of web surfers viewing Google search result pages.

They found that the first 3 listings get 100% attention, sites ranked 6th gets 50% attention while sites ranked 8th get only 30% attention. Anything below that is almost ignored.

The sponsored links ranked 1st and 2nd get 50% and 40% attention respectively while anything after 4th is almost not seen by the user.

A screenshot of viewing patterns can be seen here.

Monday, March 07, 2005


Morever and Kanoodle recently launched FeedDirect RSS Ads. The service insert contextual ads into RSS feeds (like Google AdSense) and feed owners get paid by clicks. More details about the service here.

Friday, March 04, 2005

Bloggers are not journalists (at least in the US)

The preliminary ruling of the Apple Vs. Bloggers states that bloggers should not have the same protection afforded to journalists under US law. See BBC article and CNet article.

Is Blogging Good For The Brain?

Drs. Fernette and Brock Eide, physicians with a national referral practice for children with learning difficulties look at how blogging promotes creative, analogical and analytical thinking.

I feel a lot better now.

Chicken or Egg?

Neville Hobson commented on my posting on content & network following Blogging Planet’s launch (and gave me a great tip on how to set-up trackbacks on blogger with haloscan on the way).

My argument is that while it is difficult to have popular content without a network, it is even more difficult to build and sustain a network without popular content. I refer to “content” as articles, services, links or ongoing conversations. This extensive definition as opposed to articles alone could be the reason why our opinions appear to differ.

Blogging Planet uses the term “ecosystem” when referring to bloggers network. It is absolutely spot-on. One of the reason bloggers form networks is because they can extract value from their interactions. Members of such ecosystem play different roles and feed on each others. Some produce content, some comment upon others, some aggregate and relay information. The ecosystem works because they all contribute and benefit from it (traffic, recognition, dissemination of ideas, etc…).

I, like many others list NevOn in my blogroll because I think Neville writes thought provoking articles and because his blog often reference materials I like to read, thus saving me the hassle to find them elsewhere. On top of this, the comments I make on his articles allow me to get noticed, thus growing my own network and benefiting from the traffic to his blog. If the quality or frequency of NevOn’s articles were to drop, or if he suddenly shifted his focus to 15th century Norwegian poetry, I, like other members of his network could have less incentive to link to his blog as the interaction value will diminish. By loosing content he would loose his network too.

I therefore think that a content strategy is central to help reach the influencers and relays you need to build a network designed to fulfil your communication objectives. Content is what fuel your network and allows it to live and grow.

It’s an interesting academic discussion anyway: what comes first? Content or Network?

Thursday, March 03, 2005

Harvard Business Review on Blogs

The February edition of the Harvard Business Review endorses business blogs in its list of 2005 breakthrough with an article from technology marketing guru Mohanbir Sawhney.

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

7 Rules for Highly Effective PR Blogs

The Blog Herald has a useful and insightful article on how PROs should deal with bloggers. I would add that bloggers are very marketing aware (I dare to say cynics) so it's best to be very open about your motives and not to expect them to react the same way your journalists do. They do not have an editorial line to follow or advertisers to pamper. That’s why their opinions are so popular!

Blogging Planet: show me the content!

Elizabeth Albrycht, co-producer of the New Communications Forum, Christophe Ducamp – Founder of Elanceur, Guillaume du Gardier, founder of the CEO Bloggers Club and Neville Hobson, a communication practitioner who blogs daily at NevOn have launched Blogging Planet.

Blogging Planet offers consulting and training for corporations interested in using blogs, wiki or podcast to support their communication.

While I love their concept of "ecosystem", I was stuck by the following comment: “it is the medium -- the network you build -- that matters, not the message -- the content.”

While they may purposely downplay the value of network over content to emphasize their point, I would argue that good content is still key to create a good network.

Making corporations aware of the ecosystem surrounding them is an excellent thing and many executives will be fascinated to see how messages are relayed and amplified in the blogosphere. The question is what role these corporations want to play in this ecosystem? It obviously depends on their communication needs but most companies are looking to benefit from the thought leadership deriving from authoring or aggregating content.

Increased links to a company websites or blogs will certainly increase search engine ranking but why should someone link to a website at the first place if there is no interesting content there to be found?