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Is there a new Internet business model in town?

Yesterday I discussed how The New York Times is looking to subscriptions or some form of paid content once again to help it weather not only a tough economy, but a dire financial situation brought about by declining print revenue.

Paid content can be a great business model but it's not always easy to pull off, especially when you've been giving your content away for free. After all, why would someone start paying for something you were giving them at no cost just a week ago?

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Offline retailers lack search presence

retail search presence studyA three year project, The Retail Search Presence Study, finds (not altogether surprisingly) that online retailers are winning over their traditional counterparts when it comes to visibility on the Big Three search engines.

The study, conducted by Internet-Engine, entailed visiting and categorizing over 6,000 web pages found via search during the holiday shopping season. Online retailers easily dominated returned results on all the engines, with over 30 percent of the listings. Bricks-and-mortar retailer results appeared in a mere 12 percent of searches.

Given consumers are performing over 10 billions searches each month, and that 24 percent of all offline purchases are influenced by the Internet (Forrester Research), the study's findings point to a serious gap in offline retailers'  commitment to and investment in Web marketing -- particularly at a time in which online shopping is growing at the expense of Main Street and big box retailers.

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Should more charities be making use of Twitter?

Dog's TrustA Twitter account is free to set up, and keeping it updated doesn't need to take too much time and effort, so some charities are now making to use the site for fundraising and increasing awareness of their causes.

In the UK, I have found Twitter accounts for Oxfam, War Child, Greenpeace, though there may be others. One charity making excellent use of Twitter for promoting its cause is Dog's Trust.

I've been asking Alex Goldstein, the charity's social media and community editor, about Dog's Trust's use of Twitter and her tips for other charities....

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Right to reply: Webloyalty / ShopperDiscounts

Webloyalty / Shopper Discounts right to reply; image thanks to altemark via FlickrEarlier this week on this blog Graham Charlton discussed whether or not retailers should promote third party shopper discount schemes at the end of the checkout process. 

The way this usually works is that you buy something, and after having your order confirmed are invited to accept a ‘£10 off your next purchase’ or similar. The schemes are operated not by the retailers, but by a partner.

Graham bought some train tickets via TheTrainline.com and stumbled across one of these offers at the end of the checkout. He found it confusing, and he’s not alone… many consumers have also complained (‘I was duped’, ‘I’m another victim’, etc).

Naturally the discount scheme operator, Webloyalty, is not thrilled with our coverage, and marketing director Gill Hynes has written in to complain. 

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Measurementcamp and the risk of social media silos

siloWhen I read the word 'Silo' I recall the massive industrial grain storage silos that used to scare me as a child.

Having grown up on a UK TV diet of Doctor Who, Blake 7 and The Tripods, anything that looked vaguely like an enemy spaceship became the subject of irrational fear and bad dreams.

These days I fear silos of a different nature.....

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Reevoo improves its iPhone site

I looked at price comparison websites on mobile yesterday, and found many of these sites were not up to scratch,  have not released versions for smartphones, or in many cases have not even developed mobile sites.

Of the five mobile shopping comparison sites I looked at, Reevoo's was one of the best, and has now improved its mobile offering by adding pricing information from retailers. 

Reevoo iPhone site

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MSN gets into celebrity news with Wonderwall

Microsoft's track record online isn't so great. Despite spending billions on its MSN unit over the years, Microsoft is still struggling to become a true 'destination' for internet surfers. That's not entirely surprising given the fact that, at its core, Microsoft has always been better 'technology' company than anything else.

So Microsoft turned to Hollywood's BermanBraun Interactive to build a new content site in one of the most popular, and competitive, content verticals: celebrity news.

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Bobbie Johnson is sick of ‘social media’, and who can blame him?

The Guardian’s Bobbie Johnson has penned a savage missive lambasting Mashable for overhyping the ‘social media bubble’.

Turns out that Bobbie is sick of hearing about ‘social media’, and I can understand why. It is a catch-all term that is losing a lot of meaning. And it's a term that many people are using with increasing frequency, as highlighted by Google Trends:

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Zappos introduces visual browsing feature

I've just noticed (via Twitter) an excellent new feature on Zappos.com, which provides a different way to browse through the retailer's ranges of shoes, watches and handbags.

Called Explore Zappos, it allows users to browse through the site by looking at a large number of items at once, and seems especially well suited to products like shoes and other fashion items.

Explore Zappos visual search

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Should e-commerce sites be offering rewards schemes?

I've been booking some train tickets through thetrainline.com, and aside from the steep £2.50 charge for using a credit card, I was disappointed to find myself on a pop-up page offering me a cashback voucher and other rewards. 

The offer comes from a company called Webloyalty under the name of Shoppersdiscounts, which has come in for flak before from customers who feel they have been duped, so should thetrainline and other e-commerce sites risk their reputations by using such schemes?

Shopperdiscount offer on thetrainline

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Please stop it with the APIs

As more and more web-based companies look for new ways to distribute their service and enable third parties to help them build out their services, the availability of APIs seems to grow larger every day.

It's now possible to develop applications for social networks like Facebook and MySpace, for retailers like Best Buy and just about everything in between.

Offering an API seems to be the internet equivalent of wearing the latest high-street fashion. And it needs to stop.

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New York Times Editor: content does not want to be free

Facing the worst financial situation in its history and being challenged to produce more revenue from its increasingly important digital ventures, The New York Times is revisiting a tried and true business model: charging people for content.

Despite the fact that NYT abandoned its TimesSelect subscription service in September 2007, New York Times Editor Bill Keller told the audience at a Q&A panel that "The lesson of that experiment, however, was not that readers won’t pay for content...Really good information, often extracted from reluctant sources, truth-tested, organized and explained — that stuff wants to be paid for."

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