January, 2008

January 31, 2008 | Ron Lee: Mobile Payments: Online Goldrush or Security Nightmare?

Reports this week illustrate the yin and yang of the exploding arena of mobile payments: one study suggests that mobile payments will grow to $22 billion by 2011, thanks to technology which will turn your mobile device into a virtual ATM in your pocket; yet other reports cite significant security issues as banks scurry to protect data and dollars as more customers use mobile devices to make payments.

January 31, 2008 | Jon Gilbertson: Reviving A Brand

“We will focus on what is most important; we are committed to customer experience” was the battle cry of Howard Schultz as he addressed investors on a conference call earlier this month as he once again took the reigns of mega coffee giant Starbucks. Starbucks has long been the poster child for great customer experiences and has in fact inspired a book written by Joseph A. Michelli titled The Starbucks Experience, in which he discusses 5 key principles for turning ordinary into extraordinary.

January 31, 2008 | Greg Ness: Branding And The Rise of I-to-I

Marketers and marketing firms are accustomed to categorizing the world of commerce into business-to-consumer (B-to-C or B2C) or business-to-business (B-to-B or B2B). All of this neatly assumes that the marketer is the sender of the brand message to a specific audience. It also assumes you can classify individuals into a giant segment of spenders called consumers.

This is old world, mass-media, marketer-in-control thinking. Today, a good portion of brand communication goes on at the individual-to-individual (I-to-I) level. Smart companies know this, but there still remains a substantial amount of marketing rooted in the antiquated command-and-control style.

January 31, 2008 | Dean Froslie: NFL Begins to Embrace Online News Coverage

The National Football League is known for its extreme restrictions on press access and video footage, but its Super Bowl media approach seems encouraging for online news organizations.

January 30, 2008 | Greg Ness: Trend: Why Buy Servers and Software?

It appears more companies are asking whether they should be hosting their own software and server solutions, and are instead looking at pay-as-you-use, web-based solutions. According to this article at TechCrunch, half of all IT spending is allocated to software and hardware purchases. That kind of money buys a lot of software services that can be accessed via the Web. It also eliminates some of the considerable costs and headaches that are associated with maintaining on-premise solutions. With many businesses concerned with the effects of a looming U.S. recession, there will be additional pressure for IT departments to find ways to provide essential services with less outlay. As a result, web-based solutions may be on the table.

January 28, 2008 | Greg Ness: Look What Happens After You Publish A Blog Post

imageHere’s an intriguing story and scrollable graphic from Wired on what happens after you hit “publish” on a blog post.

It’s eye-opening to realize what essentially takes place for free. Before the Web, just think of the money, power, connections, and time it took to make things like this happen in the publishing world.

January 27, 2008 | Greg Ness: Another Great TED Talk Featuring Bill Strickland

The presentations at TED are always thought-provoking. This 35-minute talk by Bill Strickland is another excellent example. Here is the synopsis from the presentation page (you can see the video in a larger size from the site):

“With subtle accompaniment by longtime friend Herbie Hancock, and a slide show that has opened the minds (and pocketbooks) of CEOs across the country, Bill Strickland tells a quiet and astonishing tale of redemption through arts, music and unlikely partnerships.”

Strickland’s unique delivery style contributes to a compelling message. Thanks to Garth at Presentation Zen for the point.

January 26, 2008 | Greg Ness: Three Ways A Poor Economy Can Create New Opportunities For Marketers

A new Gallup Poll this week reveals dismal consumer confidence in the U.S. economy. Approximately 78 percent of respondents gave the economy a poor or fair ranking, and only 22 percent ranked it good or better. The numbers have been getting steadily worse all month, and I’m sure Wall Street’s recent plunge has played a large part in the growing pessimism.

A CNN Money poll last week showed 48 percent of Americans are cutting back on their spending. Most people naturally assume a recession makes marketing’s job more difficult. In many cases that’s true, but economic downturns can also benefit resilient marketers. Here are three cases in point:

January 25, 2008 | Greg Ness: Helvetica: The Movie

[Update: as of this Sunday, January 27th, the free preview on Google Video was no longer available: More on that at the Helvetica Blog here. However, I would highly recommend purchasing the DVD (which I just did). The link above explains it was the #1 watched video on Google Video this Friday. It would be interesting to see what the unauthorized exposure creates in the way of DVD sales. I hope it turns out to be a profitable mistake for the creators.]

imageHelvetica is an interesting 1-hour, 22-minute film documentary about typefaces, visual culture, and graphic design. I wanted to see this last year when it came out, but never got around to seeing it or ordering the DVD. Now you can see the entire feature-length film on Google Video.

Here’s a link to a story about the documentary in the New York Times.

January 23, 2008 | Sarah VanNevel:

Looking for a website that helps educate while attempting to combat world hunger? imageYou’re in luck. is a charity website that allows users to play an interactive vocabulary game where each correct answer allows 20 grains of rice to be donated through the United Nations.

The site was created back in October by John Breen, a computer programmer from Ohio who got the idea for the site as he watched his son study for the SAT. Breen is also the creator of,, and, all sites devoted to charitable giving.

January 23, 2008 | Paul Bourdeaux: Software Maintenance.  How Far Have We Come in 15 years?

In 1993, the Software Engineering Institute at Carnegie Mellon University published a study named A Study in Software Maintenance.  As part of this study, one task was to examine the development processes and the software tools used within maintenance (life-cycle support) projects.  Three pervasive themes presented themselves in the findings: Tools, People, and Software Process.

This is the first in a three part blog to compare the findings of that 1993 paper with the general climate of software maintenance today.  The first area of findings that we will look at is the area of Tools.

January 21, 2008 | Greg Ness: Super Bowl XLII: Advertising at $100,000 per second

imageThe battle lines have been drawn for the Super Bowl XLII: the Patriots and the Giants. The only thing left between now and Feb 3rd is the build-up to football’s—and advertising’s—main event. Way back in October, AdAge reported that Super Bowl advertising was 90 percent sold out, so it looks like the Fox Network is already a winner. With advertising going anywhere from $2.7 - $3.0 million per 30-second spot, we are talking $100,000 a second for advertising time. Yowsa! Here is a rundown of which advertisers have purchased time in the Super Bowl and what they have planned for their considerable investment.

January 18, 2008 | Eric Ista: Cloverfield: Lost in Manhattan

Cloverfield,” a good old-fashioned monster-attacks-big-city movie that premiers today has already had a monster-sized presence on the web.

January 18, 2008 | Greg Ness: The Future of Newspapers: 66 Major Trends

The newspaper business is undergoing rapid change and a PowerPoint presentation from the World Association of Newspapers (WAN), underscores 66 major media-related trends that are having an impact on all media—including newspapers. Aaron Wall at WebProNews does a nice job of summarizing these trends into a few key categories.

January 16, 2008 | Dean Froslie: Presidential Candidate Sites Lack Search Engine Optimization Basics

As presidential candidates strengthen their online presence, it seems obvious their sites would be highly-optimized for search engines, filled with relevant content and primed for online marketing. According to Search Engine Watch, however, most candidate sites deserve failing marks for search engine optimization.

January 14, 2008 | Greg Ness: Forrester: Huge Room For Website Improvement

Forrester has reviewed over 1000 websites since 2002, and only 3 percent have passed their test. That means 97 percent failed! That leaves plenty of room for improvement. According to Forrester, the biggest culprits are a lack of proper scenario design, and poor or non-existing persona development. Without these two important tools, it’s easy for a website to get off on the wrong foot leading to frustrations for everybody—especially the user.

Forrester commented in one of their research reports that a well-planned and executed website redesign can have a huge payback with a positive ROI achieved over a short period of time.

January 11, 2008 | Greg Ness: Guy Kawasaki Video: Measurement and Metrics Will Drive Marketing Programs in 2008

imageAuthor, marketer, A-list blogger, venture capitalist, and entrepreneur Guy Kawasaki is interviewed by Jeremiah Owyang at Forrester. See the video on the Forrester Marketing Blog.

Guy says measurement and metrics will be big in 2008. He also talks about entrepreneurism and how he uses social media to drive business for his company, Truemors.

January 10, 2008 | Greg Ness: Entrepreneurship and The Curse of Knowledge

A recent article in the New York Times purported that as we acquire more knowledge, our creativity and our ability to innovate diminishes. The reason is the Curse of Knowledge: “The better we get at generating great ideas—new insights and novel solutions—in our field of expertise, the more unnatural it becomes for us to communicate those ideas clearly to others.” In addition, once someone acquires a certain amount of knowledge in a given area, the more difficult it becomes to see outside the box of the self-made constructs they’ve created to deepen their understanding.

It’s a powerful argument and it seems to be borne out if you look at many venture capitalists: they rarely invest in companies started by anyone past their 30s. VCs are looking for people with bold ideas that can be evangelized and clearly communicated to others. There’s more on this youth/knowledge/entrepreneurial thing here.

January 10, 2008 | Paul Bourdeaux: Shoeperstar Winner - A blog contest about… blogging

While this is a little off from my usual topic of Software Reliability and Maintainability, it was still too interesting not to blog about.  Big name internet marketers Ted Murphy of Izea and Jeremy Schoemaker of ShoeMoney are putting on a contest to determine the next Shoeperstar Winner.  To win, bloggers have to, well, blog about why they think they should be the Shoeperstar.  It presents a very interesting example of the power of viral marketing and SEO.  All of the blog entries will undoubtedly link back to both Izea and ShoeMoney, further bolstering there already impressive SEO rankings.

Former Sundogger and rising blogosphere star Max Pool of Code Squeeze has thrown his name into the ring with his entry, 10 Reasons Why I Am A Shoeperstar Contest Winner.

January 08, 2008 | Greg Ness: Widgets, Widgets Everywhere

Widgets, those mini-software applications, that you can download and embed on web pages, are on a tear, and most of them are coming from third-party developers. Some examples are applications such as iLike, Bunchball Games and Picnik. Forbes recently highlighted the explosive growth of widgets in this recent article. To illustrate this growth, Forbes cites the story of Facebook, which opened its platform to third party developers in May of 2007 and now has nearly 13,000 widgets available that have been downloaded 765 million times.

January 07, 2008 | Greg Ness: Social Networks, Email and Privacy

With all the buzz around more sophisticated social networks such as Facebook, MySpace, and LinkedIn, its easy to lose sight of the fact that if you believe in Metcalfe’s Law—a network’s value is proportional to the square of its users—venerable email is still the biggest social network of all. As Max Kalehoff points out at Online Spin, email is “the mother of all social networks” with 91 percent of people ages 18 to 64 utilizing the medium.

Even though many pundits would point out that younger generations eschew email in favor of IM, text messaging and other more personal networking means, Max argues that as this younger generation enters the work force, email, by the nature of its widespread adoption, is a de rigueur social network in the business world. He also adds almost all social networks still use a person’s email address as the main hub for identification and widespread communication needs. Email may be a more “stuffy” way to communicate than those who use today’s social networks prefer, but email has reached critical ubiquity, and at least it provides a firewall on most personal data.

Lately, concern has also arisen over how much power these social networking companies possess and who owns the personal data that resides on their servers and websites (see Scoble’s posts Disabled and Erased). Doc Searls also has an interesting take on the Scoble/Facebook issue over at the Linux Journal (Dependence vs. Independence). So does B.L. Ochman (Data Ownership and Portability) .

January 06, 2008 | Greg Ness: Doc Just Posted A SlideShare of The Cluetrain Manifesto

Doc Searls just posted a SlideShare presentation (embedded below) with the 95 Theses of the Cluetrain Manifesto (Doc was one of the authors). Every time I read their theses, I am amazed at how prescient they were in 1999 seeing what was ahead, and what now is, in many cases, fact.

January 06, 2008 | Greg Ness: UK Online Advertising Will Top TV Advertising in 2009

According to WPP’s media operation Group M, online advertising will overtake television advertising in the UK in 2009. They also predict this will happen in Sweden this year. The report makes no prediction on when, or if, Internet advertising might overtake television in the U.S.

Group M forecasts the following media growth globally in 2008:

January 05, 2008 | Greg Ness: New Google Presentations Feature

More information here.

January 04, 2008 | Greg Ness: High-Def DVD War Over? Warner Goes With Blu-ray.

imageI wanted to buy a high-definition DVD player this holiday season. I was getting tired of how long it was taking my cable provider and the various networks to make the switch to more HDTV programming, so I thought at least with a Blu-ray or an HD DVD player, I could get my pixels worth on our TV watching movies in an HD format.

At the store, I looked at the movies that are now available in high-def, but was disappointed to find there were many titles I wanted that were only available in one format or the other. Then I looked at the players. Yikes…I thought I heard the prices had come down, but both Blu-ray and HD DVD players were still in the $400 range. Sticker shock. Not wanting to plunk down $400 on the losing platform (not to mention the cost of the movies), I left the store disappointed without making a purchase.

January 03, 2008 | Lon Keller: Web 2.0 Defined

What do you look for in a Web 2.0 website?  Our first panel of 2008 gives their opinion of what it takes to be 2.0, and looks ahead to the future of Web 3.0.

Start your new year right with a fresh episode of Sundog: The Podcast!  Subscribe today!

January 02, 2008 | Jason Gibb: Better Benchmarks Mean a Faster Web

Last month the WebKit team, maintainers of the Web browser engine behind Safari and the iPhone, released a new set of JavaScript benchmarks called SunSpider. Unlike some other technical benchmarks, these provide a way to compare browser performance in more practical and meaningful ways.

January 02, 2008 | Greg Ness: 2008 A Breakout Year For SaaS

No matter whose IT predictions you look at for 2008, software as a service (SaaS) looms big. For those not familiar with this term, SaaS is software that customers do not pay to own. Rather, it is an on-demand system usually hosted through a third party and customers access the software’s applications via the Internet.

The SaaS model has seen tremendous growth in the last few years primarily because it is easier and costs less to implement than large enterprise systems that reside on a company’s own servers. Some fast-growing SaaS vendors include companies such as, RightNow, and NetSuite, but there are many companies charging hard to catch-up in this sector including software giants Microsoft and Oracle.

There are a number of stories that have surfaced in the last few months indicating SaaS has reached a crucial tipping point, and 2008 may be the year that it begins its breakout to become the norm for most companies:

January 01, 2008 | Greg Ness: 6 + 2 New Year’s Resolutions for CMOs

I was looking at some past posts, and came across this one I published on January 1, 2006. Wow, time flies, but what struck me was how appropriate these six marketing resolutions still remain for 2008. So here they are again in the hope they will help you make a substantial impact on your company’s marketing efforts. I’ve also added a seventh and eighth resolution given other changes over the last two years. In addition, there are some updated links that support these resolutions.

1. Measure everything you do. Your credibility is on the line. Management used to cut marketing and advertising a lot of slack. They used to buy the line that some things in marketing are difficult to measure, or that even if you could measure results, you would need long-term tracking studies to see how brand awareness scores had increased.

Management isn’t buying it any more and they shouldn’t. People in the marketing loop need to demonstrate what all those precious company resources are producing for the bottom line. Your job as a CMO is either contributing to profit or overhead: take your pick.

Marketing measurement is a relatively new science in the Internet age and one that requires a great deal of expertise, experience and deep resources to implement. An Excel spreadsheet may help, but it’s not the answer…especially if you have a complex sales cycle.

2. Replace reach with relevancy. In the mass media era (now long past its prime), advertising itself was expensive. You had to buy reach. You had to buy frequency. Guess what? People, by now, have had way too much practice avoiding or tuning out messages that aren’t relevant to them. At best, they’ll ignore your ads. At worst, you’ll annoy them.