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Author: John Gaffney


Have participated in the digital world from boom to bust and back again as sports marketing director of Yahoo!, senior editor at Revolution US, contributing editor at Business 2.0 and editor-in-chief of Mediapost. Also have considerable experience in developing customer strategy as executive editor for 1to1 Media and senior analyst for Retail Touchpoints.  

Nokia exec looks to emerging markets

nokiaFrom an American and continental perspective it's easy to think that "we are the world" when it comes to mobile phone usage and marketing. Jeremy Wright, Nokia's global director of brand solutions, looked to reset that misconception during a presentation at Digiday's mobile event on Thursday. Seems there's more to mobile than Facebook, iFarts and text messages for emerging markets.

With more than four billion mobile phones on the market, Nokia has also positioned itself as a content provider and mobile network infrastructure owner. Wright sees different attitudes developing among the global perception of devices and advertising.

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Fortune 500 flunks organic search efforts

fortune 500The world's biggest companies are failing at more than their profit performance these days. A new report from SEO measurement company Conductor finds that organic search results from the Fortune 500 would hardly rate a good MBA project. In fact, the report says "as a whole, the group is still doing a very poor job of ensuring that their ‘money’ keywords are represented in natural search." It found that only 20.82 percent of Fortune 500 keywords rank within the top 100 search results, as measured during the fourth quarter of 2008.

The lesson Fortune 500 companies are learning is that paid search buys exactly that: paid results. The Fortune 500 as a group spent approximately $51 million per day on 88,792 keywords with relatively little to show on organic results, according to the report. And many of those keywords were consolidated in a few industry verticals and in a handful of companies.

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Email continues to struggle with relevance

Frustrated womanRelevance. It is the key to success for email marketing, but still it continues to be a sore spot. Two separate but synchronous email studies shed new light on relevance, and the lack of it, in email marketing. One addresses the desires of the hyperconnected 18-24 year old generation. The other recognizes said relevance problem and identifies some solutions for online retailers.

The Gen Y study comes from the Participatory Marketing Network and Pace University's Interactive and Direct Marketing Lab. It shows that the majority of Gen Y consumers welcome direct brand interactions through email, but they want more ability to control, organize and manage the interactions. Only 28 percent of those surveyed believe the email they get from companies is relevant. But they are eager to see “innovative services” that increase that relevance. Specifically, 62 percent would communicate directly with retailers about their favorite products in exchange for getting preferential pricing. 44 percent would subscribe to an email service that collected and summarized multiple offers of interest to them. And in direct opposition to the Nielsen social media report issued on Tuesday, which painted a bleak picture for advertising within social networks, 32 percent would share promotional email offers with members inside a social network.


Forrester redefines rules of customer engagement

Forrester logoCustomer engagement has been re-introduced into the internet marketing discussion, this time via an excellent report from Forrester Research. 

Exactly what "engagement" means has been a murky proposition since it was introduced into the internet marketing lexicon in 2005. But Forrester has put forth a clear and concise take on it. It says: "customer engagement is the level of involvement, interaction, intimacy, and influence that an individual has with a brand over time."

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Search trade group cuts revenue forecast

Even search engines get the blues. In a report that has not been officially released yet, the Search Engine Marketing Professional Organization, (SEMPO), says North American search marketing spending will increase only 9 percent to $14.7 billion in 2009 from $13.5 billion a year ago. Estimates made in early 2008 projected that the industry would grow at more than twice that rate this year, from $15.7 billion in 2008 to $18.8 billion in 2009. The new SEMPO forecasts call for the industry to reach $19.8 billion in 2011, down from a previous estimate of $25.2 billion for that year.

What happened? The simple answer is the economy, which Google CEO Eric Schmidt called "pretty dire" last week. But the report raises some very important issues that cannot be explained away by a simple economic downturn. Among them:

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Four pounds of pork does not a guru make

baconThe Bacon Explosion. Besides the two pounds of bacon surrounding two pounds of sausage and the addition of whatever seasoning you want to add, there were more ingredients than met the grill for this recent viral media success story. However, using it as a mold to replicate other one-off events will not work.

The story behind The Bacon Explosion is more intriguing than its pork fat phenomenon. It has intrigued marketing automation firm Marketbright enough to recuit the co-founder of BBQ Addicts, the ecommerce company behind it, to star in a webinar about social media creation and tracking. The, um, sandwich recipe and associated video have been a blogging and You Tube phenomenon since late January. YouTube logged more than 500,000 page views of the Explosion being cooked and consumed. The company that is responsible for its creation is BBQ Addicts, which has measured 1.5 million page views. But appearing in a teaching role begs the question, how much more detail than excessive amounts of pork fat and frat boy bravado could there have been?


Upfront could affect online sales

iconsThe television marketplace known as "The Upfront" will start heating up  by the end of March, and although internet inventory isn't on the table, expect it to be in the back room.

Far from the celeb and buffet-filled galas they used to be, the upfront is expected to be a pressure-packed process this year. Internet media companies have to be concerned that as they are trying to hold the line on CPMs, a media conglomerate trying to sell its slate of 30 second spots just might throw that pricing under the bus. The internet divisions are trying to establish new rates for online video and hold the line on display, but their TV divisions are facing a year in which rate increases will be impossible. Rate cuts for TV are on the table.


Ford leads with interactive effort

fusion hybridAgainst all odds, and against all business logic, the early signs look like Ford Motors might be turning around. Unlike GM and Chrysler it has turned away government bailout money, seeking instead to get its house in order through more efficient operations. And unlike GM and Chrysler it internet effort is meshing with its product line and positioning.

The auto maker has taken at least some market share gains every month for the past year. And although it is prone to the same disastrous numbers that have led to those trips to Capitol Hill and concessions from its unions, some of its numbers are looking up. Ad Age reports that in the first two months of the year, the number of qualified buyers who planned to buy a Ford jumped 16% from 2008. Qualified buyers who intended to buy GM fell 12% and Chrysler 33%.


Social media explodes past email

social mediaThis social networking thing is gonna be big, man. Really big. Bigger than email.

A confirmation of the absolute "big bang" expansion theory of social networks came from Nielsen Online today. Its "Global Faces and Networked Places" report shows that by the end of 2008, 66.8 percent of internet users across the globe accessed “member communities” last year, compared to 65.1 percent for email.

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Barnes & Noble makes a move, finally

B&NIt would be easy to feel a bit sorry for Barnes & Noble. It is the biggest brick and mortar bookseller in North America, fighting the good fight for literacy against a tide of economic disaster. It has been laid waste by the internet and in particular, Amazon, one of the most innovative companies ever. Competing against Amazon in the 90s was kind of like playing Michael Jordan in his rookie season. You just didn't know how good he was until you lost to him. Then, after the B&N business model was hit hard, the printed page is being attacked by eBooks.

But this here is business, young man, and it's no time for the faint of heart. No longer is B&N employing the  the "if you can't beat 'em don't join 'em" strategy. It has finally, and admirably, made a move that doesn't involve closing stores. Late last week it purchased Fictionwise, an eBook retailer that is rumored to be developing a Kindle-competitor, hand-held eBook reader.


Razorfish digital marketing study goes beyond the hype

clark kokichDigital marketing will get a few disruptions in the near future, according to this version of Razorfish's Digital Outlook Report.

While most of the press attention has gone to the agency's bullish outlook on social media (surprise, surprise), the warm fuzzies stopped there. Consider the following predictions from Razorfish analysts and executives:


Ecommerce missing from retail reporting

red button
The monthly ritual that encapsulates the failing retail results of everyone but WalMart were released yesterday. Retailers from  Abercrombie & Fitch to Zumiez got whacked in February, which is no surprise. But one thing is sorely missing from many retail reports:  the importance of online sales.

The metric known as same-store sales defines success or failure in the retail industry. They're measured year-over-year and are subject to random events and economic conditions more than they are attributable to good leadership or good strategy. But online sales rarely, if ever, take the lead in the conversation. Ecommerce for many retailers is just as indicative of their overall performance as same store sales.