Archive for November, 2006
We’d better all start leading whiter than white lives if we want to get jobs and credit in the future. VentureBeat today reports on a new Chinese “people search” company called Ucloo that aims to build a comprehensive online database of personal profiles – including the person’s name, birthday, contact information, education, work background, pictures, online activity, reputation and court records. And it’s not the only such company out there. A US company, Spock, is doing much the same thing and says it already has 100 million profiles (compare that to LinkedIn‘s nine million user-created profiles). Zoominfo, focused on information about business execs, has been around for a while and claims 33 million profiles.
The argument in favor of these people search engines is that they are only collating information that is already out there if you googled hard enough. True, but the information is not being used for the purpose for which is was originally supplied. I’m the type of person who doesn’t sign up for customer loyalty programs because I don’t think the supermarket needs to know about my shopping habits – so you can imagine how I feel about this phenomenon. I see a booming future for companies like Reputation Defenders…
On the eve of the first tranche of Windows Vista’s official launch, Microsoft is on the front cover of BusinessWeek in a piece entitled “The soul of a new Microsoft.” The article seeks to profile Microsoft’s new guard of executives, and particularly J Allard, vice president of design and development for its Entertainment and Devices unit. Allard is being positioned as the man who is shaking things up at the software monolith – a la Jonathan Ive of Apple, perhaps – and seems at pains to demonstrate his unMicrosoftiness.
According to BusinessWeek: “Everything with Allard is about velocity. He drives a Ferrari 360 and Porsche 911. He bombs down ski runs during the summer on a mountain bike at speeds topping 30 miles an hour.” This man is so out there that he dares to dispense with capital letters when typing emails. Sounds like every Silicon Valley executive I’ve ever met. It also sounds like Microsoft’s interpretation of a cool kid – just like Zune is Microsoft’s interpretation of the iPod and XBox is Microsoft’s version of the PlayStation.
And that, for me, is the problem with Microsoft. There is no doubting the company’s smarts and business prowess, but it lacks originality. It was there at the right time and right place to provide the operating system for the IBM PC – although I think I’m right in saying that Microsoft didn’t even write DOS. It then went on to commercialize word processing software and the graphical user interface (invented at Xerox PARC I believe and refined by Apple.) Late to recognize the importance of the Internet, it is now spending billions to develop what Google already has. For once, I would really like to see Microsoft come up with a new concept – something truly original.
One of the readers’ comments on BusinessWeek says: “The only thing Microsoft is good at these days is spending PR$ to get puff pieces like this in print.” Marketing has always been one of the company’s fortes for sure. So isn’t it interesting that, on the eve of the long-awaited launch, Microsoft is trying to focus our attention beyond Vista?
I just got back from Ad:Tech New York, the show for interactive advertising and technology (one of the reasons I haven’t blogged in a while.) It strikes me that online advertising in all its forms – affiliate marketing, lead generation, search engine marketing etc – is still viewed by many as the redheaded stepchild of the advertising world. It’s certainly not as glamorous as other parts of the industry and the abuse of pay per click advertising has been widely publicized. Nevertheless, it is big business and is rapidly shaking off its early shady image.
13,000 people crammed into the three exhibition halls and conference at Ad:Tech New York. According to Marketing Sherpa, affiliate marketing alone generates $6.5 billion in revenue in the U.S. and drives 10% of all traffic to ecommerce sites. These days, affiliate marketing has mostly moved to a pay per result model and is increasingly viewed as a great way for companies to go global without a physical presence in every country around the world. Looking to the future, the talk at Ad:Tech was about consumer-generated media, video and mobile. For warts-and-all coverage of the show, check out its official blog. Other good sources include ClickZ, adotas, Revenue magazine and Shawn Collins’ Affiliate Tip blog.
Right now, online advertising still represents a mere 4-6% of overall ad budgets, but it’s a pretty safe bet that this figure will rise significantly in the near future.