Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Not exactly Fawlty Towers, by Even Aas-Eng

This blog is about the digital environment but I have taken the liberty this time to talk about something completely different. I think that we can call it marketing!

In November my wife and I went to Prague for a relaxing long weekend. As usually we had spent numerous hours online researching hotels and we ended up with hotel Icon. The Icon is a sleek, cool, boutique hotel just of the main street and their main selling point was that they had Hästen beds. A good selling strategy indeed!

The hotel was great, very cool rooms, great food and they served breakfast 24/7. Why anyone hasn’t done that before is beyond me!
But the most fantastic thing about the hotel was the service. The Icon is a small hotel and has a very intimate feel to it and it’s the absolutely amazing staff that provides this feeling. Service not only with a smile but with a genuine smile.

Ok, so we where very happy with our stay and we where absolutely sure that we would book again for our next trip to Prague. Then we where hit with some serious CRM!
Yesterday I received a letter from the Icon hotel. I thought they finally had found out that we had emptied out the mini-bar during our last night and here was the bill…
But no, the letter was no less than a happy birthday card from the Icon hotel (my birthday is today) and it was signed personally by all members of the staff.

So easy, yet so effective. The Icon went from being a great hotel to the greatest hotel in a split second.

I promised you some marketing and here it is. If you are going to Prague you most stay at the Icon hotel. It’s by far the best hotel in Prague and one of the best in Europe. You might think it’s expensive but you are wrong! A suite is about 200 EUR per night which is a bargain considering that you sleep in a 2x2 meter hästen bed and are pampered by the greatest hotel staff anywhere in the world.

Ok I maybe went a bit over the top there but its really a fantastic place, check it out at http://www.iconhotel.eu/en/welcome.php or look at the tripadvisor reviews here: http://www.tripadvisor.com/Hotel_Review-g274707-d646535-Reviews-The_Icon_Hotel-Prague_Bohemia.html

Just disregard the first review from some old stuck up Americans!

Merry Xmas!

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Facebooks flying start, by Even Aas-Eng

Things move fast in the online media world. So fast that the product facebook flyer pro that was launched a couple of weeks back is already gone and replaced by facebook social ads! But it’s still the same product so it doesn’t really matter. So my plan with this post was to dig a bit deeper into what effect facebooks latest move has on the online advertising world. I briefly touched this in my last post and I will go further into details in this one.

So what is facebook social ads? Well it’s a mix between a text and a simple display ad. Whats “social” about it? You can target your ad based on “social” parameters. When you create the ad you first pick the country you want to show it in. Then facebook tells you how many people that have a profile in that country (940.000 profiles in Norway) After that you start with your segmentation. You decide if you want to target females or males, you choose age, political views, education background, religious view and relationship status. If you like you can also target people based on interest and where they work. You can segment your campaign all the way down to 20 people.

So how will this work for a brand advertiser? Pretend that you are the Swiss watch maker IWC and that you have a few people in the Norwegian market that are potential clients of yours. You create your facebook ad by choosing the following:

Country: Norway
Gender: Male
Age: 30-65
Education: College Graduate, Major in Business
Political views: conservative
Relationship status: singles and people in relationships
Interest: investing, watches, wine
Workplace: ABG, Artic Securities, Orkla Finans, Glitnir, Enskilda

The point is that you can define your target group pretty precisely. And I am pretty sure that hypothetical campaign above would be quite successful. Now think about how much a company like IWC would be willing to pay for such segmentation… Obviously this is just an example and a profile like this probably doesn’t exist in Norway but it makes a point.
You can use the system for extremely targeted campaigns like my example but also for campaigns where reach is key. If you want to reach Norwegian females between 20-35 you have about 250.000 profiles at your disposal. So it’s a tool for large brand advertisers and small local businesses and it’s a tool for targeted niche campaigns and those who need volume. It covers both the head and the end of Mr Andersons long tail…

In my last post I mentioned something about facebook flyer being an adwords killer. It isn’t but it will be one of the only alternatives to Google’s adsense system that has huge reach and targeting possibilities. So it’s not a threat to Google but a great supplement for advertisers. If it where to be a threat they need other publisher than just their own site.

But interestingly enough facebooks ad move probably tells us a lot about what Microsoft and Google are launching pretty soon. Segmentation across communities, news sites, blogs, e-commerce sites and IM tools. This is why they bought Doubleclick and Aquantive. Imagine placing your ad within Google’s adsense network on the criteria from my example above. That makes contextual advertising look kinda bleak don’t you think?

So in conclusion; Hooray for facebook social ads and lets wait for Google and Microsoft

If you want to read more about facebook social ads and their polling tool! You should read this http://www.facebook.com/ads/

Monday, October 29, 2007

A little bit about everything, by Even Aas-Eng

The problem with writing a blog about online media is that there is so much stuff happening all the time. That means that if you haven’t posted anything in a while it gets difficult to decide what to write about. That’s where I am today! So I have decided to do things a little bit differently this time and provide a summary of interesting events that have taken place the last month.

First Microsoft finally makes a move and invests in facebook. From the outside it resembles Googles deal with myspace a couple of years back. They are paying to distribute display and search ads, they are buying themselves a ad network. Microsoft is buying 1,6% of facebook for 240 million dollars, this values the company to 15 billion in total. This means that the price for social media has had a rising curve the past years… Murdoch bought myspace in 2005 for 580 million dollars and Google bought youtube for 1,65 billion in 2006.

Let’s stick with facebook. There have been rumours for a while that they would launch an ad concept with social targeting possibilities. This month the facebook flyer appeared and yes there are interesting segmentation options. But even more interesting is how this product resembles the adwords model. It’s a long tail tool open for small and medium sized companies and perfect for small local campaigns. You buy based on CPM or CPC with your own credit card. So the concept could really be the first adwords competitor to appear in quite some time. Unfortunately though the people I have spoken with that have tried it says that its full of bugs.

Okay, back to Microsoft. Their new exec Brian Mcandrews (former head of aquantive) has stated the bleeding obvious; display ads will trump search in the years to come. This is off course already the case in many European markets where SEM is playing catch up and I am sure it will happen in the states to. Apparently this is suppose to solve Microsoft’s challenges in the advertising market, it doesn’t. They still has to get into search (buy yahoo!) and they are also trailing googles enormous inventory for display ads (adsense/site targeting, youtube, myspace deal) A good start I guess would be to buy more of facebook so that they can sell display ads in the US as well, this is not covered by the deal mentioned above.

And at last! The daily show with Jon Stewart will revamp its website and actually show their content there! Revolutionizing stuff, apparently advertiser will also be able to buy ads!!
Great news for all Jon Stewart fans and it’s great to see that Viacom is doing something for the users, not just suing youtube!

Friday, September 21, 2007

Finally we are getting somewhere, by Even Aas-Eng

Myspace has for the past six months been trying out their new ad platform customizing ads to their users based on their psychographic data. Myspace has an enormous amount of data about what their user do, what they don’t do, what they like, who their friends are, who’s their hero’s, what’s their previous responsiveness to ads and a lot of other things. All in all they are now offering advertisers a segmentation tool that we have not seen before.

Let’s walk around the mine field of privacy issues that surrounds this topic and talk about what this development means for the commercialisation of the web.

Three weeks ago I attended a seminar where Jack Myers spoke on the development of US online media prices. He told us that the average price per CPM had dropped significantly the last years. The reason for this being the abundance of online inventory (blogs,communities,chats,etc). The opportunity however is that with good targeting tools we should be able to segment that massive WWW and be able to show ads just to those people we want to reach. This will be positive for advertiser as their ROI will increase, it will benefit media companies as they will make more money on each user and it will benefit the agency scene as campaigns get more complicated and their competence is needed. It’s a win/win/win situation! Why this development has taken so long is beyond me.

We are really talking about a long tail tool here. Ad technology that incorporates user’s demographic and behavioural data will enable advertisers to utilize the long tail of websites. Media campaigns will turn extremely fragmented and complex but they will also be accurate and extremely effective. The technology enables us, human heads makes it a success.

Ad networks will be the big winners. Big pools of traffic gathered in Google adsense or at advertising.com will be split into countries, counties, cities, borrows, gender, age, income, education, professions, hobbies and sold to the highest bidder with a product that matches perfectly. Volume is key or volumes of niches are key, the ad networks have it. The person that I recently talked to in Norway that said she was sceptical to ad networks as a channel for advertising has tough times ahead!

Another winner will be communities. Think about all the info that you have added to your facebook profile. Your favourite music, movies, books, pictures, info about your travels, basically your entire life is there. What a potential advertising goldmine! Facebook is working on a similar product as Myspace and it’s my guess that it won’t take long before we can read about it in ad age.

Search is another interesting area. The logic behind search advertising is really what started this whole trend. Present ads that in some way match the search. Very easy to understand and very effective. Everyone that has Google toolbar have seen the search history box, interesting isn’t it? Don’t you think that your search log says quite a lot about who you are and what you do? Google hasn’t used this knowledge in their adwords technology yet (as far as I know!) but they will and when they do it will make search marketing even more effective.

This all looks a bit scary but it makes perfect business sense! The comforting bit for all users is that they will group us, they won’t come after us as individuals. At least not yet………

Monday, September 17, 2007

Have you seen the Iphone? By Even Aas-Eng

I am not a gadget freak and that is probably why I didn’t get to see the Iphone in action before I visited NYC a couple a weeks ago. On a rooftop terrace at a slick hotel a New Yorker was kind enough to give me a little tour. And I was impressed indeed. Lets look beyond the fact that the phone looks damn good and that it probably will become an even bigger fashion icon than its mp3 sister. Let’s also disregard all the small flaws and that it’s not customized to European conditions, they can and will fix that.

The real interesting thing about the Iphone is the internet. One of the most boring discussions we have in our industry is web for mobile. What will happen with WAP? Will we see the same growth in mobile advertising as we did with web advertising? You will never use your cell phone as you use your laptop. All these questions where buried when I saw the Iphone in action. Web and mobile will merge and this is the first real step. You can use the Iphone surfing the web, with its zoom in zoom out opportunities you can easily navigate any webpage. So do we need WAP pages and specialized mobile ad-networks, probably for a while but in the long run the web will prevail.

In October Google will integrate their mobile search ad-platform into adwords. They will use the same ads and run the same price model, as an advertiser you would have to opt in or out just as you do with adsense. It will be very interesting to follow the development of this revenue stream for Google (if they will share it!) with more and more Iphones or similar devices on the market I am sure that this will take off pretty quickly.

So the conclusion is: the Iphone is here, WAP is dead and long live the WEB!

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

The rise and fall of sloggi.com, by Even Aas-Eng

I guess most of you have heard about the sloggi campaign or visited the site. (probably a lot more than those who admit it)
This summer they launched a contest in order to find the world’s most beautiful bum! User where to take pictures of their own behind and post them on sloggi.com
Here the bums where categorized by gender and country and rated! And yes there are a lot of nice bums on sloggi.com

The concept seems to have taken completely off in eastern European countries and it has gotten a lot of press around the world. The Nordics was no exception where the site got a lot of negative press. And yesterday the (sad) news came; they are shutting down the competition and blocking all users from the Nordics. The campaign will continue in other markets.

So what do we have here, the most successful user generated content campaign the world has ever seen or a dodgy porn site? Its probably a mixture. Creating a UGC campaign is all about the users. If they don’t contribute you have failed. In this case they certainly did and in that matter the campaign is a smashing success. But nobody should be surprised that people submit pictures of their bums and that other people want to look at it. There are thousands of other online examples of that………..

But the question is if this is effective advertising for sloggi, personally I have no idea.

On a peculiar note I would like to raise a question to sloggi. Did you guys screen the photos? I am asking because I couldn’t find a bum on the site that didn’t look good!!

The screenshot below shows you the page views on sloggi.com (blue line), vg.no (norways largest site) and expedia in UK. As you can see, sloggi has surpassed expedias traffic…………

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Brilliant Obama! By Even Aas-Eng

It’s been a while since my last post here. My excuse is summer and that I have been very busy fly-fishing for salmon and getting married!

Know that I am back I would like to tell you a bit more about a subject that I have touched on before, Barack Obama. As you know he is running for president in the US and he apparently has a good web team helping him out. But I did not know how good they actually where!

During a flight to Russia this summer I came across an article in the economist on Obamas very successful donation campaign. Apparently he is miles ahead of Clinton and the others. That doesn’t interest me much but the way he got the money did. Apparently he got a lot of money from thousands and thousands of very small donations. How? He has set up an affiliate program for donations. Absolutely brilliant! Anyone can create an Obama site of their own and have people donate money on it. The minimum amount you have to donate is close to nothing, making the barrier for donation very little. And it doesn’t matter that people donate small amounts as long as Obama has a big distribution platform. The result speaks for its self, Obama is King of online donations.

So what do we have here if it’s not “long tail politics” or the Google of politics? Penny by penny, vote by vote.
It was funny reading the other candidates response to Obamas success, they didn’t have a clue!
The same could be said for the political parties in my own country. I would love to help you out as long as you are not a member of Fremskrittspartiet!

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

On the macro side of things, by Even Aas-Eng

The web is growing, everybody knows that. But what is the commercial online potential, how much money can google make? How big will ebay grow? How many people will use Skype in five years? And how many will be fooled into buying a book they certainly don’t need by amazons great cross sell functionality in eight years? I off course don’t know the answer to any of these questions but I know that the potential is huge and we haven’t seen anything yet.

As I once lived in India I am trying to keep up with the digital development in the country and I stumbled over an article last week that describes the potential that I mentioned above pretty good. Here are some quick facts:
- 9% internet penetration among urban Indians (total urban population 336 million)
- 83% broadband penetration of those connected
- No numbers available for rural India, we are taking about 800 million people!
- The internet population has grown about 30% year on year

In other words, we have a long way to go in India and let’s not even get started on China. I think that we will see an unprecedented growth in online usage among the growing Indian middleclass the next five years. So let’s assume that the total number of Indians connected in five years is 200 million and that we have the same number in China. Then we add some millions of new user from other developing economies and suddenly the global online world has grown by almost 100%

If Google keeps their market share they will generate around 60-80 billion USD in ad revenue (I am sure they wont keep it though), amazon will have doubled the number of book sales and so on.

So I think that if you happen to know a company that’s working on the global online arena as a media player or in the ad-technology field, buying stock is probably not the dumbest thing you can do!

Friday, May 25, 2007

Look to Norway! Or not.... By Even Aas-Eng

My very good friend and COO of Compraventa in Spain (Spains largest classified site) Pablo Martin commented on my earlier post about the ad potential in youtube. He said that CPM prices in Norway have gone totally haywire and that in all other markets the average price per CPM is substantially lower. And he is right indeed.

I suggest that the rest of the online media world should follow the Norwegian online market closely in the times ahead. Why? The last three/four years we have experienced a massive growth in the spending on online media. The growth has mostly been driven by spending on display ads on the big online newspapers and portals. Unlike other markets we have spend little money on SEM/SEO og affiliate marketing (to my despair)
Spending on search is still a mere 10-14% of the total. In some areas Norway is a very sophisticated market in others we are completely lost. Even though this is an interesting discussion in itself lets not focus on that now.

So we spend money on display ads in Norway and we spend a lot. Who are the advertiser, mostly distribution players like the travel industry and other e-commerce companies. They have spent more and more money on the same ads every year as the prices have increased. The total number of user has also risen but not enough to defend the steep rise in prices. The result for the advertiser has been a weaker ROI year by year. But they still spend because they are still in positive territory.

Now it looks like we are getting closer to a tipping point. Prices and the CAC are getting so high that advertisers are starting to think twice about spending their budgets online. There is still growth but I think we might see a halt very soon. So what happens then?

We might experience a drop in media prices or at least a flattening. The other scenario is continuous growth. How can that happen? The keyword is brand advertising. When/If the big brand advertiser starts throwing more money online they might replace the distribution companies as the number one source of income. Brand advertiser has more money, they are willing to spend more money and they don’t measure ROI the same way. This “shift” in advertisers could lead to further revenue growth for online media companies. What will the distribution players do? They will spend more with google, yahoo, tradedoubler, advertising.com and others.

This is why I think that other countries should look to Norway, they might learn something about the future of their business. Or not!

Thursday, April 19, 2007

It’s all about the ads, by Even Aas-Eng

So Google buys Doubleclick, nobody should be surprised really. The price is steep but again it will pay off for Google. Let’s take a few steps back and look at why.

About a month ago Steve Balmer of Microsoft held a lecture where he described Google as a "one trick Pony". I wasn’t there but I guess he was pointing at the fact that Google only has monetized one product, search ads.

Mr Balmer is right and wrong at the same time. Approximately 94% of Google’s revenues are generated by ad sales. Looking at it like that Google doesn’t have many tricks! But what we need to look at is where the ad revenue is coming from.

Most marketing people only associate Google with text ads in search engines. But the fact is that about 46% of their ad revenue is generated through the adsense system. Don’t know what adsense is? Read up here http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Adsense

Adsense is "long tail" in practise. The adsense system enables Google to commercialize the long tail of web sites and that’s a pretty long tail! Google’s network of niche publishers using the adsense technology consist of several million web sites. And the real beauty of it is that it keeps on growing as the web grows. That is one of the reasons that adsense revenue has risen so sharply the past couple of years. 70 million blogs today, 140 million in one year? Imagine what that would mean for Google’s ad revenue, and they practically have no competition.

Previous Google deals with companies like Myspace and the You tube buyout has all been about one single thing, buying ad inventory. They are buying places to display their adsense ads. As mentioned in an earlier post on this blog this is a traffic sensitive business model. As long as the traffic is high Google will reap the rewards anyway. The acquisition of Doubleclick though is of a different kind.

Adsense ads has up to recently been text ads. Those days are gone and we are now seeing more and more display and video ads. Who buys those ads? Companies looking for brand awareness and companies that wants to communicate with their target audience. These companies are big and most of them use international agencies like the one I work for. Most of these companies don’t live in a "customer acquisition cost" type of world. They have parameters like demography, geography, annual income, gender, that decide where they allocate their budget. All the soft values that distribution maniacs like my self forgot years ago! My point is that the correctly targeted banner ad is not dead, it has just been reborn!

Up to now the adsense system has been limited in many ways. You can’t use third party ad-serving systems, it’s been poor on segmentation and the creative’s has been very limited indeed. This will change with a Doubleclick integration. Doubleclicks customers are the ones that Google now tries to please. It’s no longer the long tail of small and medium size companies or the web-distribution giants that Google are targeting. It’s the big FMCG companies, the automakers, the telecom giants and so on. These companies need data, they need flexibility and they make decisions based on other values than Amazon or Expedia. Doubleclick will provide just that.

So the Doubleclick acquisition will go down very well in the agency world and with the companies we all want to play with. I am sorry Microsoft and Yahoo it was another smart move from Mountain View.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Google buys Doubleclick, by Even Aas-Eng

I will comment on this when I have time but if you are interested you can check out this FAQ that Google released regarding its acquisition.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Hello, My Name Is Gord, And I’ve Been Behaviorally Targeted, by Even Aas-Eng

Here is a great example of why it works and some interesting points on why we should be a bit careful. http://blogs.mediapost.com/search_insider/?p=507

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

What’s new? Demographic targeting. By Even Aas-Eng

MSN has for a while offered the option of buying demographic targeted ads. The segmentation is based on passport logins and windows live id. With the introduction of adcenter, Microsoft’s ad words competitor, demographic targeting has reached the search arena as well. And apparently with good results. According to searchenginewatch several clients has experienced a drastic decrease in cost per action using the new tool. And its good news for Microsoft, this is probably the first innovation within search that they launch before Google or yahoo.

So while Microsoft launches demographic search, Google goes the other way and launches demographic banner advertisement in their site targeting network. A interesting move that should suite the agency world well. The data used to perform the segmentation comes from comscore who has gathered demographic information about sites taking part in Google’s site targeting program. So offline segmentation goes online, why did it take so long?

You can read more about demo-targeting in adcenter here:

And Google demo-targeting here:

Monday, March 12, 2007

Why Google didn’t pay too much for Youtube. By Even Aas-Eng

Ever since the Google takeover last fall there has been a lot of talk about how you tube will make money and if Google bought the hype and nothing more. Almost all debates have centered around video ads and how to create a sustainable business model without interrupting the fragile feelings of the you tube community!

And yes, there are a lot of uncertainties and a lot of trouble with regards to copyright issues and how to monetize video ads, so lets just forget all that for a moment and look at some figures instead.

According to Google, you tube had 133 million users in February. According to Alexa a you tube user sees 12 pages on an average visit. That means that you tube has around 1,6 billion page views every month. That again means around 19 billion page views in a year. You tube are experiencing a substantial growth so lets assume that the yearly number of page views are 15% higher than that. That gives us a total number of 22 billion page views per year.

So, can you make any money on 22 billion page views? Obviously but the question is how much.

Before the Google buy out You tube was running Google text ads through their AdSense system. Rumor has it that they made 15million$ in 2006. Keep in mind that this was before the takeover and that Google also made money on these ads. Lets assume that the split was 50/50, that would mean that the total ad revenue in 2006 was 30 million $. But still the price of 1,65 billion $ was too high right? not necessarily...

You tube today have four times the number of users compared with 2006. Since the AdSense models only parameter is volume we can safely assume that the ad income will follow the increase in users. That gives us a total ad revenue of 120 million $ in 2007. And then the picture doesn't look that hazy anymore.

Okay, lets look even further into the crystal ball. Google started some time ago to run image ads trough the AdSense system. They are sold on a CPM basis through the normal bidding process. Just like search was a bargain in the early days so is CPM advertising on you tube at the moment. But that is changing as I wright this, the market is doing its job and adjusting prices every second.

In the Norwegian market a normal CPM price is about 25 $ and on some niche sites the price is substantially higher. Now lets assume that you tube are able to sell all their page views to one advertiser at the average Norwegian price of 25 $ per CPM. That would generate 550 million $ worth of ad revenue per year. There will be some cannibalization here towards text ads but lets say the the total ad revenue potential is somewhere in the range of 700-900 million per year. Then it looks like a rather good takeover, doesn't it?

This wont happen this year and not in 2008 either but they will get there. And this is before they have solved the video ads puzzle. The only threat's I see for you tube success is competing sites. Traffic is the only road to success in this business model and that's why you tube want take any chances on loosing users by fiddling with the actual videos.

Thursday, March 8, 2007

What is wrong with traditional media companies? By Even Aas-Eng

My plan is not to post personal outburst on this blog but this time I cant help myself.

On Tuesday there where champions league matches and I was watching Liverpool VS Barcelona. If you follow football you would know that a lot of action took place during the Valencia VS Inter match that was on at the same time. It wasn't football action but never the less interesting!

But I didn't see this as I was busy watching the other game. The next day I read about the fighting in the newspapers and I wanted to see the actual incident. Could I find it on any of the newspapers, NO because they don't own the rights to broadcast champions league football. That's annoying but understandable. So I went to you tube and searched for Valencia Inter but only got old matches between the two teams. Then the real quest started.

I watched the sports news at TV2 online but they didn't have any pictures because the show was sent before the game ended. I tried other newspapers in Sweden and UK, no live pictures there either. Then I went to TV3 web pages, the company that have the rights to send CL matches. What did I find there? Absolutely nothing! Well I did get a short look at what quit possible is the worst website ever made. http://www.tv3.no/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=9057&Itemid=954

Then I did get to see the incident at the TV2 daily news show on TV, but they only showed a short clip. The quest continued!

I tried some more news sites before I ended up at you tube again and searched for Valencia, Inter, Fighting, 2007 and found A LOT of clips of the incident.

So my point here is that five of Norway's largest media companies had their chance to provide me with what I was Looking for. I was willing to spend 10 min on their sites being exposed for all their commercials and maybe I would have been willing to pay to see their content. None of them took the chance and I ended up at you tube. Get a grip guys, you are digging your own grave.

Tuesday, March 6, 2007

And then second life was back again! By Even Aas-Eng

A week after my last post second life was back with a very funny story. The American presidential candidate John Edwards has jumped on the second life train and has built himself a little mansion there. The funny thing is that the whole place was vandalized this week, presumably by angry republicans with to much time on their hands.

Anyway, it tells us again how important it its to engage community users if you want anything to happen. But I don't think John was very happy with this engagement!!

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

What happened to Second life? By Even Aas-Eng

I don't think I opened a single adage newsletter in 2006 that didn't have a second life related article. Reuters, IBM, advertising agencies and embassies all set up shop there and the enormous media hype led to a hike in second life members from 1 million in October to 3 million in January 2007. After new year it hasn't been that much fuzz.

For those of you that don't know Second life you can read up here at Wiki:


So they have a lot of registered users but the fact is that only 25.000 people are logged in at once during peak hours. In other words, a fraction compared to other online based video games. Don't get me wrong, I think Second life is a very interesting phenomenon but its not taking over the world quite yet. And how many the active members take advantage of the Reuters in-game news service? Or how many clients have the Norwegian arm of Media.com won with their second life presence? Probably not that many.

One of the best articles on Second life that I saw last year was written by a columnist that had visited all real world companies virtual shops. The picture below is from W hotels virtual aloft suites concept.

As you can see the bar is not exactly crowded! The situation was the same with all the other companies. We can probably conclude that most second life ventures have been created for PR purposes and that if you want to succeed in the world of WEB2.0 you better do business on the users premises.

Personally I hope that the hype has calmed down for good and that Second Life can continue to develop its very interesting social networking/business concept. It will be very interested to see what 2007 brings. For all other companies pregnant with a Second life baby, don't do it if its just for PR, the hype is over anyway.

Even Aas-Eng

Monday, February 19, 2007

Trademark trouble, by Even Aas-Eng

Google is back in court, this time to defend their advertisers right to buy other trademark keywords. Or to defend how they generate some of their revenue (it depends on who's looking)
This trial has been going on since 2004 and are hopefully drawing towards the end.

I will start by coming clean, yes I have bought other companies trademarks. A lot of them! When I worked for a Norwegian airline we made a lot of money buying competitors trademarks. It was a fairly easy way to make a buck. A couple of months back one of our clients here at McCann raised a debate after buying Norwegian ski resorts, posting an ad for great skiing in Sweden.

But is this necessarily unethical? Google is not a catalog, when you search for a company or a brand you might end up on pages posting negative remarks about that company instead of the companies own site. Most people don't have a problem with that. And every time we go to a supermarket we have hundreds of competing brands on the same shelf. When you read a newspaper article about P&G there might be a Unilever ad on the same page and nobody cares. So from a theoretical point of view I would say that's its perfectly OK to have your ad appear when people search for other companies. After all its a free market, isn't it?

Well its not that simple either. Most people probably haven't made any conclusions about Google being a catalog or a search engine. They search and expect to get the correct answer. I am sure that many user still don't know that they are clicking on ads every time they visit one of those sponsored links. My point is that we as advertiser have a responsibility towards consumers to think this trough.

So my conclusion is that I haven't got one. What a useless blog post!

Even Aas-Eng

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Glocalize your business - look to the travel industry, by Even Aas-Eng

I first came across the term glocalization as a economic geography student. It basically means a creation of products or services that are intended for a global market but customized to suit the local business environment. In other words, its globalisation but its local!

When I started working with online marketing and business development I soon understood that the WEB is one big glocalization machine. But still very few was taking advantage of it. After all to many years this is about to change and the travel industry in particular are duly on their way.

Before WWW the travel industry worked like this: If you wanted to travel you went to your local travel agent and looked in their brochures. The items in the brochure where provided by middlemen who had taken the time to gather a lot of different hotels, airlines and car dealers in one system so that the travel agent could sell it to the customer. So you had three steps in the chain, the vendors, the aggregators and the sales agents. No wonder travel was expensive!

When the WEB took off people predicted radical changes for the travel industry and they where right but the changes that occurred really didn't change anything. What do I mean, well consumers went online to look for nice destinations and hotels and they even started to book online. So the old travel agency on your local corner went bust but instead travel agencies started appearing online. Smart people started expedia, ebookers, opodo and became a force to be recond with. So consumers went online and new travel agencies went online, but the business model was still exactly the same.

Today this is starting to change. Airlines, hotels and rental car companies want to increase their margins and they want direct customer contact. They want to drop the middleman. The solution is and has always been online. You can target your advertising by geography, by behaviour and by context in all mayor markets and you don't need an office in each country either. Your website is a shop with no cost for shelf space so low volumes is not a big issue. And you can easily make local adjustments.

In other words, companies can "glocalize"

So we can expect a lot more local versions of international hotel chains and airline sites in the time to come. And they will pay to drive traffic to those sites globally. And it makes perfect business sense. When someone in Norway searches for the four seasons hotel in NY why shouldn't they be there to handle that potential customer?
Another effect of this is that global advertising giants like Google will make even more money because hotels/airlines will spend more and the aggregators will do the same to protect their marked share. So good times ahead!

All this doesn't mean that online travel agents will disappear but the once that are not adding any value to their clients might face though times. And can other industries extract any learning from the changes taking place in the travel industry? Surely but this post is to long already, maybe next time.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Web 2.0 politics, by Even Aas-Eng

US Presidential candidate Barack Obama has launched a campaign where the users can create their own Barack Obama homepage. With blogs and social network features and everything. Very web 2.0 and probably not a bad idea. Having thousands of hardcore Obama fans writing their own Obama blogs, with Obama pictures and Obama propaganda should create a decent amount of google juice!
You can create your own Obama site here if you want to http://www.barackobama.com/

Monday, February 12, 2007

Kill the hype, by Even Aas-Eng

Chairman of IAC, Barry Diller is slashing the web2.0/community/UGC hype in an interview with ClickZ today. You can read it here http://www.clickz.com/showPage.html?page=3624896

I think this is great, finally a nuanced look in the rather extreme media coverage of web2.0 related stories lately.

Keep in mind though that IAC have an organic growth strategy for most of its companies like Expedia and Tripadvisor and that Mr Diller just might be a little upset about his competitors snatching up all the new cool kids on the block, like myspace and you tube

Thursday, February 8, 2007

TV commercials and search. By Even Aas-Eng

Superbowl is behind us and the lucky advertiser who paid a billion $ for a 30 sec ad spot are reping the rewards (hopefully for them)

The aftermath of superbowl has sparked a debate about who maximized their results by bying sponsored links in addition to their tv spots. Some did and some didnt. http://www.marketingvox.com/archives/2007/02/07/paid-search-backs-up-super-bowl-ad-efforts/

Its more interesting that this is no issue in the norwegian market at all. As far as I know not one of Norways bigger advertisers has done an integrated campaign on purpose. I can guarantee that every time you run a tv campaign people will search for your brand, your product or messages that you communicate through your commercial. Its a very easy job making sure that you are visible when they do.

In general we are not good enough in utilizing the potential in search engines. What people search after is a reflection of what goes on around us. Mayor news happenings, natural disasters, advertising, sport events, elections, all have an influence on consumers search behaviour. The picture below shows us the search trend for the keyword "Tsunami" no fruther explanation is needed

During last summers world cup in fotball I think two norwegian advertisers bought sponsored links related to the happening. The worlds focus was on this event for a month and yes people where searching. So there is a great potential for advertiser here but in order to gain they have to work with their search engine campaigns a little bit different than most do. You have to be hands on. When something happens that in any way is relevant to your brand or product you have to act by adding keywords to your campaign, changing ad texts or make other necessary changes. But you have to be quick, otherwise you miss the beat!

Good luck,


Wednesday, February 7, 2007

The power of digitalized WOM! By Even Aas-Eng

Well this is not something new. Everbody understands how easily a message can spread on web. Trough mail, IM, blogs and communities a message can move across the globe before you can even say word of mouth.

But how fast a message spreads has often a lot to do with general trends in our society not only the contend of the message.

The last couple of days we have experienced just that. As all over the world there is a lot of focus on global warming at the moment. That is probably why a worker at Naturvernforbundet ( an environmental NGO) decided to send out a mail to his friends with the decsription on how to cancel your paper phone book. The mail went out this monday, on tuesday I got it from a friend and today I have received no more than five mails.

It turns out that more than 7000 people have canceled their phone book in the last two days. Thats more than the total number of canceled phone books the last FIVE years!

In addition to influence the number of canceled phone books the mail has also sparked a media debate. The NGO worker who has turned up on radio and in newspapers, printed and online and his story has probably ended up in alot of blogs like this one. So twice the effect.

Before the email was send he wrote a letter to a printed newspaper but they didnt have space for him. Today he is on the front page instead. http://www.dn.no/forsiden/politikkSamfunn/article1017713.ece?WT.svl=article_image

Viral is one of those nice buzz words, but a lot of viral campaigns turn out not to be viral at all. Many creators of viral campaigns could learn a thing or two from this story.