Archive for April, 2006

Google relaunches Sketchup

Last month I wrote about Google buying @Last software, the makers of 3d modeling application Sketchup. Google relaunched Sketchup today, and the best news is that it is now FREE. There's a pro version for $495, but I'm not sure yet what the difference is.

Google seems to be positioning the application as a tool to enhance Google Earth. You can create your own 3d models and upload them to their searchable 3D warehouse. Interestingly, Google hasn't branded the 3D warehouse as such, but is using just a standard Google logo, there's not even a "beta" indicator. Even Froogle is still in beta!

I really like how Google has implemented the use of tags for the objects available on the 3D warehouse search engine. I haven't uploaded an object, but I assume the uploader chooses tags when uploading. Leave it to the Internet though, someone already created an object called "sex house" and tagged it with obscene tags. And no, I wasn't searching for "sex", I searched for "White House"  🙂

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Eye Tracking with Heat Maps

I love these things. Marketing Sherpa released a study (pdf link) today with a WalMart.com heat map. What's a heat map you say? The detailed technology is beyond me, but users wear special goggles or glasses while viewing a web page and a computer records where their eyes focus and what they click on.

Users on the Internet usually follow the same patterns of either a triangle or "F" pattern. What that means is that most of the content on the right side of the page and content below the fold might as well not even exist. Less is more.

WalMart.com heat map from Marketing Sherpa:
Wal Mart Heat Map

Google Search Page heat map from Did-It.com. Yes, they have a goofy and annoying home page, but that's another topic:
Google heat map

Take a look at the Ecommerce Benchmark Guide 2006 (pdf link) from Marketing Sherpa, it looks like a great deal of valuable information.

Also of particular interest is that "fewer than 50% of merchants we surveyed said they track loyalty, lifetime value, or retention costs." If we all know that it's cheaper to retain a customer than to acquire a customer, then why is the ecom industry so far behind in using the proven segmentation models that catalog marketers have used for decades? More than likely, small to mid sized Ecommerce companies lack the statistical or catalog industry background to implement even the simplest database segmentation methodology. The ecom industry is currently focused on analytics, conversion rates and multivariate testing, and I only hope that evolves into customer segmentation and retention, at least for the companies I work for and not the competition.

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Google launches new Calendar

I had recently switched from the 30boxes.com calendar to Kiko but hesitated to put too much into Kiko's calendar because I wanted to see what Google was going to produce.

Just when I got used to Kiko…WHAM! Google launches their new calendar. So far it looks simple to use; drag and drop, quick add, reminders via SMS, etc. It also has the ability to share calendars with others. From what I hear, if I have access to more than one calendar, Google Calendar will layer all shared calendars on the same view. If an email is received in your Gmail account that references a date/time, Gmail will ask if you want to add it to your calendar.

So far the only real dissapointment is the lack of an RSS feed. Okay, I found the feed. It seems there is more than one "settings" option, one for all calendars and one on the calendar level. The feeds are on the calendar level.

I exported my Outlook calendar and then imported into Google, it seems that when Google imports your calendar it imports using the Pacific Time Zone, so all of my times are off by 2 hours. You may want to keep an eye on this post to see if there is a resolution prior to importing anything.

www.google.com/calendar

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Word Of Mouth and Pinko Marketing vs. Tradition

I'm sure Jack Trout, Forbes.com columnist and Ad Executive, is a brilliant Ad Executive, but he gets paid to sell his advertising services to a company that in turn, want to sell their products or services to consumers. To an ad exec like Jack, the last thing he wants to see is traditional marketing values erode within the digital economy. To rephrase, the values are not eroding, but the channels used to deliver them are.

An incredibly arrogant statement Jack makes is "If I go to all this trouble developing a positioning strategy for my product, I want to see that message delivered."  Marketing should not be about delivering what you create. It should be about listening to what your consumers want and doing all you can to help them develop their own favorable brand impression. Some companies accomplish this through the quality of their product, others through superior customer service, and best case, both.

As an ad exec, it is Jack's job to sell a product no matter how lame it is. If Jack's job was to promote the King Kong movie he references in the article, of course he doesn't want Word of Mouth to control the brand as it was described as "Too long, too loud and overdone." His job is to paint a pretty brand portrait, no matter how inaccurate, of the product and sell it as the "miracle cure."

More importantly, for the companies that manufacture those products or services, if you or your agency is scared of Word of Mouth, then you shouldn't be spending your $ on agencies or advertising, you should be spending it on improving your product or service. If done right, Word of Mouth wil deliver ROI substantially higher than the ad agency you hired to churn spin.

To help companies with inferior products, there will always be a place, and a need, for ad execs like Jack. How else could a company like Folger's Coffee dominate the retail ground roast coffee market? It surely wasn't built on taste.

For the rest of you that create a truly great product that doesn't need insincere spin, Tara Hunt has created a great Marketing Map in the spirit of Pinko Marketing that shows the difference between Traditional Advertising and "get out of the way marketing"

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