Supermarket 2.0

It’s shopping the ultra-modern way: Tags! UGC! Wish lists! Feeds! Wiki!

Hat tip to Brand Infection.

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Ask Tries Advertising Again

Ask logoI saw a couple of new adverts for Ask.com on the eye of hell Tuesday night. I’m pretty sure this makes five different campaigns in the past 18 months or so. We had…

  • One that took place in a café full of animalistic searchers, and that one Ask user who evolves, plus one with some scientist types being described as “animals in pants” by an ape. These, I’m sure, were massive hits with the intelligent design crowd.
  • The series with Apostolos Gerasoulis himself (founder of Teoma) pointing out what a “pimped out” search engine Ask is.
  • Two or three spots involving people talking about “the algorithm” and yucking it up over their friends who just didn’t get it.
  • Those god-awful singing and dancing “I got what I was looking for” ads, featuring searches for [Kato Kaelin] and [chicks with swords].

Apostolos Gerasoulis and a kidAnd now we get a couple of new ones. In these, the only sounds are a few musical notes at the end and the sound of a user clicking (must be using IE, so how smart a searcher can it be?) as s/he shows us the beauty, the splendor, the majesty, and the usability of Ask’s GUI. One of them shows how a search for San Francisco offers lots of options, such as different media — images, maps, images from news stories, or the Wikipedia entry on the city, direct information — the time and weather in SF, or the opportunity to narrow or expand the search.

In the other, we get to learn about how we can make our searches more pleasant by choosing wallpaper (they refer to it as a “skin”) from a dropdown list:

  • AskX – the Web 2.0-ish interface they introduced a few months ago
  • Azul – a bench, ostensibly in London in front of a blue backdrop
  • Cartas – a mail slot on a red door
  • Flower
  • Golden – wheat
  • Pink stripes
  • Polka dots
  • Rotunda – Sorry, I don’t know what building’s rotunda it is
  • Timber Brume – A forest in a bit of fog, which is apparently what a brume is
  • Western Sky – at sunset, of course, and
  • Default – that boring interface we all hate so very much.

The thing is, the “skin” only appears to skin ask.com. Run a search, and it’s gone until you go back to the home page. So… big deal.

Are these ads going to help Ask? Maybe the one involving how useful the engine is might bring them up from a distant fourth to a close fourth, but the skin ad really doesn’t strike me as a reason for anyone to switch.

I guess I’d like it if Google had a bit more competition. All three of the other supposedly big four are on the eye of hell, trying to get the public to give them a try. Big old Goggly Gogol has yet to stoop to advertising on the tube, and I’m still waiting for the day when Paris Hilton looks out at me from the dreaded eye and says, “iGoogle. Do you Google? Wanna Google with me?

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The Kind of Smallish List of Sort of Search Marketing Blogs

smallish list of sort of search marketing blogsWe search marketing types are big on business blogging. We recommend blogging to clients (“it’s like having an open conversation with your targeted audience!”), we blog about our work, we blog about our tests and theories, we blog about our colleagues’ work, and we blog about our colleagues’ blogs.

It was Lee Odden of TopRank® Online Marketing who recognized this and created the ever-growing Big List of Search Marketing Blogs. It’s big, alright. As of this writing, it contains over 400 listings. No, I didn’t count. Feel free if you’re in a skeptical mood.

Naturally, when a list gets to be this big, people are going to start editing it down to more specialized, niche-oriented lists. Today I came across Peter da Vanzo’s Big List Of Link Building Blogs. If they don’t already exist, I’m sure we’ll soon see Big Lists of keyword research, analytics, search satire, search rumors, contextual advertising, and affiliate marketing blogs, and eventually we’ll have somebody throw together a Big List of Big Lists of Specialized Search Marketing Blogs. That somebody will not be me.

All of this got me to thinking. What about those blogs by people in the search biz that aren’t necessarily about search, but might have the occasional search-related post, like… well, like this one, for example. Who’s going to list those blogs? Qwerty is, that’s who.

I’ll be relying on you, dear reader, to send me suggestions, as I can only think of a few off the top of my head, and I’m hoping this list, while somewhat smallish, will at least be complete. You can suggest via the comment form or send them in an email to gladstein[at]gmail[dot]com.

And so, without further ado, it gives me great pride to present…

The Kind of Smallish List of Sort of Search Marketing Blogs

  • All About Content – Sure, the title tag says “SEO Blog,” but Melanie Phung blogs about plenty of other stuff, such as Stewie (no, not the feetsball-headed cartoon character). Besides, she isn’t on Lee’s list and she was the first to volunteer to be listed here.
  • Daggle – The personal blog of Danny Sullivan. The “About Daggle” page says, “What’s Daggle? It’s my personal blog, where I’m writing about things other than search. If you’re after what I have to say on the subject of search, then you want Search Engine Land. Daggle’s about other things in my life,” but there’s stuff in there about Scoble, Facebook, AdSense and such.
  • qwerty’s qoncepts – Duh.
  • Vanessa Fox. Nude. – The ex-Googler and current Zillow-er has plenty to say about search, but her expertise on the subject of Buffy may just eclipse her knowledge of the online.

OK, this is where you come in. Give me more. More, I say.

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Viva Commerce! (#12)

Dear Universal Technical Institute,

Universal Technical InstituteThat name of yours is quite a mouthful — Universal Technical Institute. Ten syllables in those three words. Of course, if the institute really is universal (on top of being technical), it must be a pretty big place. But that’s neither here nor there… well, again, if it’s universal, then I suppose it really is both here and there. But I digress.

Considering the length of the name and the cost of time on the eye of hell, I can understand why you’d feel the need to come up with an abbreviated version. I wonder, however, if you considered possibilities like “UniTech,” “UTech,” “UT” or “Universal” before you decided to go with UTI, which in case you didn’t know, already has a pretty common usage for something other than technical institutes, universal or otherwise.

One other question: do your vending machines serve cranberry juice?

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The Casual Sex Vote

I was reading an article about Barack Obama on Yahoo News earlier today, and I noticed an image link containing the text, “Courting the Gay Vote.” I clicked through, and it was a slide show with sound of a group of people at a bar in West Hollywood watching and commenting on the / “debate” I wrote about earlier this week.

Yahoo News: Courting the Gay VoteThere were probably about a dozen images in the slide show, mostly of the crowd, serious-looking individuals, and happy couples. One image stood out as an exception however, and it just happens to be the image that was chosen for that link I clicked to get there. That’s it to the right.

Do you think that picture says “we’re serious about the upcoming election”? I don’t think so. These two may be an established couple. They may be married. But what that image says to me is something to the effect of “Don’t tell me your name. Just tell me you’re not a top.”

It’s like introducing a report about the annual NAACP convention with a picture of tap dancers eating watermelon. Yahoo.

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Rachel Maddow is Wrong. Imagine That.

Rachel MaddowI think Rachel Maddow is just great. She’s wicked smart, funny, fearless, decidedly lefty and kind of cute. Yeah, yeah, I know I’m not exactly her type. I didn’t mean it that way.

I don’t listen to her radio show, but it’s nothing personal. I just despise talk radio. I find it about as interesting as a weather report. But when she comes on the eye of hell, I just love watching her run rings around anyone who dares disagree with her.

Today, however, I find myself in the odd position of disagreeing with Maddow. Luckily, she’s not here to slap me down, so I’ll just go ahead and give my own opinion. So there.

I found the video below at Crooks and Liars.

Now, come on, Rachel. You’re not being fair. First of all, there’s nothing wrong with naming the group “Human Rights Campaign.” Just look at the title tag of their home page and you’ll see that they’re not ashamed of who they represent:

Human Rights Campaign – Working for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Equal Rights

It’s long enough that if you look it up at Google, it gets cut off right before “Transgender”. So what were their options when they were thinking about naming the organization? Gay Rights Campaign? Would Rachel have been ok with that, or would she prefer Gay and Lesbian Rights Campaign? Or maybe even Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Rights Campaign? That’s a hefty name. And what happens when those terms go out of style? Are they going to be stuck with an anachronistic name, like the NAACP? Do you think the members of that esteemed group refer to each other as “colored”?

Besides, the Human Rights Campaign is, in fact, a human rights campaign. So what if they happen to specialize in campaigning for the rights of a particular subset of all humans?

Maddow suggests that if someone happened to stumble across this debate (which was more like a series of interviews than a debate) sponsored by a group called “Human Rights Campaign” they would have no idea it had anything to do with gay people. But it was on Logo, the GLBT channel. I think that might clue people in, don’t you?

OK, I don’t have an argument with her about Melissa Etheridge, except that she is a very outspoken member of the community, and I don’t think Ellen Degeneris would have kept things on a serious level. But Margaret Carlson? First of all, it’s not fair to call her Fred Thompson’s ex. As far as I know, that was just a rumor. And who cares who she dates? She’s worked for the New Republic, Time, and she now writes for Bloomberg and the Huffington Post. I agree it would have been great if Maddow had moderated (Maddowrated?), but nobody can deny that she has a particular agenda, and that would have seriously changed the nature of the discussion, from GLBT issues to serious liberalism with a dash of GLBT issues, and I guess that’s not what they were looking for. They didn’t have Andrew Sullivan either, although I suppose the two of them might have achieved something akin to a balance between them.

Anyway. Rachel, if you’re out there (I know what a big fan of me you are), cut these folks some slack. They’re breaking new ground — maybe not in precisely the way you’d like them to, but it’s a good thing.

Oh, and by the way — I only saw the clips that were shown on other stations. My cable system requires me to spend a king’s ransom to get Logo, and as I’m both a breeder and a cheapskate, that ain’t gonna happen.

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