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 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

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

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.

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.

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.