FCC and Doraemon

fccdoraemon.JPGThis is old news but Terrie Lloyd, who’s always good a picking up tidbits for his excellent email newsletter “Terrie’s Take” highlights the striking resemblence of the new FCC mascot, “Broadband” to Doraemon, the cartoon every Japanese kid knows by sight. Turns out the publisher of Doaemon, Shougakkan, is going to take legal action but it’ll be interesting to see how a suit lodged by a private Japanese company works out against a US government organization.

It will be interesting to see if a Japanese copyright claim against a US government department will be received with as as much vigor as trade disputes in the opposite direction. Expect to see more about this on slow news days on NHK and other Japanese media…

BusinessWeek on Blogs

Commenting on the nascent growth of ad supported weblogs, BusinessWeek says that Madison Ave. is beginning to notice:

Don’t expect a repeat of the dot-com rush that inflated the Web bubble of the late 1990s. "This is a long game, with lots of ebbs and flows," says Henry Copeland, founder of media-buying firm BlogAds. Blogging isn’t about to lead to vast wealth anytime soon, says Copeland, but he does expect "more money to [flow to] more authors as smart advertisers bypass publishers and pay authors directly for their audiences." 

Marqui’s “Blogosphere Program”

Internetnews.com writes that Marqui is paying bloggers ($800/month) to mention their product:

We put no limits on what these paid bloggers can say about Marqui; we only require a badge on their site, a weekly mention of our product and a URL link in the body of their blog.  For their own integrity factor, if they want some sort of disclaimer on their blog, they’re more than welcome to acknowledge that we are paying them to blog with a frame, background, language, etc.

If bloggers paid by Marqui want to do more, whether offering criticism about our products and services or adding their personal endorsement, we welcome it. Criticism is helpful
in our development process and it is always better to be talked about than not.

This of course sparked a lively debate in the blogosphere to which they say:

Complete transparency (sic) is mandatory

The idea of paying bloggers is a controversial one, as it challenges some of the sacred cows of the journalistic publishing business. When we first started talking about this idea, an energetic exchange between people with traditional publishing backgrounds and bloggers erupted on the Web.

If Marqui can support these debates, helping the business community to better understand how to harness the power of the network — which is exactly what our products and services are designed to help them do successfully — we believe our sponsorships will pay huge dividends.

It will be interesting to see how the model will play out for them. It will certainly generate content around their URL and increase the Pagerank of their site over time, then it’s successful. After the hubbub around the ethics of this tactic dies down, they will hopefully get good product feedback this way as well. It’d be great if they provided a list of the 15 bloggers they have chosen as I’d like to read what they are saying about Marqui.

Another fun way to “game” the search engine rankings is what P&G Japan did with their trackback contest. They asked people to post stories about their run ins with tough stains and then trackback to their site for laundry detergent. I think they gave out prizes for every 100th trackback or something but the result was that many websites are now pointing to this page so that it’s become a top ranked page for those searching on tough stains and detergent – exactly what they were after!

Click Fraud

Write up in CNet on a dark secret known amongst the interactive advertising industry. There are a number of sites out there which artificially generate banner clicks from automated bots and use that to scam Google, Overture, and other ad syndication networks which serve up advertising and pay out commissions for clickthroughs.

This pay-for-performance gaming of the system has a counterpart in the music industry. In London, I heard cases where a record company would hire students to hit the record stores around town and buy up copies of an artist they would want to promote. The volume in sales would push that artist up on the charts and generate a hit. In the US this practice was applied to radio stations where a radio syndicate would be paid to play a hit song more regularly than other songs. This practice was called, "payola"

Another slant on this story on tainted metrics is the Mozilla plug-in Bug-Me-Not which "liberates" sites that require registration by providing a collective pool of user accounts that can be shared among its members. I always wondered why Factiva.com had customers in Afghanistan until I realized that this country was the first (and thus default) country on our registration drop down. Users listed from this country were probably just too lazy to pick their own.

With Bug-Me-Not shared IDs, it’s even easier to share such skewed profiles. I wonder how many Accountants from Afghanistan are part of the nytimes.com demographic?

ugoff.com

Boing Boing points to another mini-site put up by the Miami-based ad agency behind Subservient Chicken. These guys are re-writing the rules of Western advertising with their deconstructionalist, tongue-in-cheek dig at stereotypes and creative use of new and old media to position their clients’ products. I’ve been the bemused recipient of some of their other materials promoting the mini and Virgin Airlines.

Their New Employee Handbook which you can get to by clicking the “employment” link is both inspirational and a good read. It also is a shining example of how to set the right tone at a young, vibrant company looking to take on the world. From the guide:

We Ask that you Don’t

Throw sand.
Be selfish.
Disparage others.
Talk shit.
Duck responsibility.
Play the busy card.
Leave others hanging.
Make excuses.
Disappear.
Make promises you don’t keep.
Say it can’t be done.