Can I count the ways

 I see from the fact that it is still everywhere that Ask.com is not taking a great deal of notice of the massive amount of negative feedback to its truly awful information revolution campaign. Well, aside from the fact it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense, I’d think it’s important we dig down into the detail of this whole sworded episode which must have left google quaking in their boots:

  1. It’s not accessible (iframe on home page)
  2. It’s not even accessible to engines (Ask hasn’t indexed the first sentence on the main page)
    Ask indexing  “welcome people of courage”

    Although funnily enough, Google can see it – if not ranking it very highly!

    Google ranking “welcome, person of courage”

  3. It’s got that whole “fixed height” thing that people from traditional media make digital agencies do becuase they think “people won’t scroll”. Ironic if the client’s a search engine.
  4. Loads of nonsense text on the home page
  5. Dropped navigation on “Why ask” page
  6. The sign-up page is white text on a yellow background – completely unusable (am I the only person who’s signed up? – I had to use my decoder ring)Information revolution sign up
  7. No t-shirt (due to high demand, I’ll bet)No t-shirts due to high demand
  8. Flogs and fake video blogs – full on, invented human beings with obnoxious invented marketing nonsense in them (Sell a couple more t-shirts and buy a copy of Cluetrain chaps).Flog posting
  9. Some fairly obvious fake comments.
  10. Same title on every page (tut tut) and system generated page names !!! ?
  11. Really annoying interface errors (scroll bars in the middle of pages, non-standard search buttons, incorrect ident top left)
  12. The word “revolutionistas”
  13. Spelling Google with a lower case “g”
  14. Ask doesn’t even qualify as the “other search engine”. That’s Yahoo or Windows Live. Ask.com is the “unused search engine”.
  15. This is supposed to sound like the way “real people speak”

“What could possibly make a sociology graduate, a computer engineering dropout, a silent expert of monkey peer groups and a genius handyman come together? Sheer determination & a shared passion to evolve the way people search, and a common love of jammy dodgers.”

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to go and take my medicine. 

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In the money

Carlsberg £10 note “litter”

The Carlsberg ad campaign has always been extremely entertaining and memorable. It’s what Russell Davies describes as generous or rich, as opposed to simply being the “big” idea of which ad men are so fond. In 2004, this was successfully adapted to a very nice “french disqualified” viral email idea (if you know me you’ll know how much it hurts to say the ‘v’ word). The latest incarnation, spotted on Flickr by Leo Ryan at RMM is a sort of piece of viral activity started offline which travel online. A bit like the Microsoft Vanishing Point game but a lot more subtle and with not all the discussion activity necessarily online, Carlsberg appear to be hoping the £10 will do more than just go into someone’s pocket – it will make it into public discourse. I’d love to know what happens, and clearly it’s all inlne with the rest of the advertising.

Yet, while the advertising idea here is big, rich, deep, generous, memorable, famous and all that, does it motivate you to buy the product?

One follow up on Flickr says a great deal

If it only cost them fifty grand (which is a snip for advertising) then potentially the five thousand people who discover one of these on a friday night will tell all their mates. Still wouldn’t make me drink Carlsberg though…

Having said that. Perhaps it only cost them £10 and they got lucky!

Summer madness

I know it’s not summer yet. But it’s going to come soon and it’s going to be full of crazy people. And the crazy people are going to work in marketing agencies and they’re going to be trying to reinvent the interweb. Here are some early starters:

Thompson ad 

Firstly some klutz at JWT clearly doesn’t know that Google Earth is a product name and not a generic. Rather more importantly is this candidate for most patronising and inelegant phrase I’ve heard for a long time: ‘read what people like you made of it’.

The site itself has some nice features and UI bits and pieces, as well as a (not bad) custom virtual earth. I can only assume they’re still working on the content. When you roll over the continental United States you get one clickable link which opens up to say: “Holidays in the USA will offer you the warmest of welcomes, the biggest of portions and lifetime of memories”.

Thompson Earth

Well I don’t know about you but I feel like I’ve been there before I even got on the plane. I might explore more with some user generated content. Although Thompson would like to make it very clear that any resemblence to trusting their customers is purely accidental:

THompson Flickr

Well they can’t be too careful what people like us might upload.

The ad was in good company. The newly updated information revolution ad was right next to it. Remember boys and girls, Google is too powerful so you should use Ask.com. That’s the same ask.com that only exists now because it ran Google ads for the last five years.

Ask - the other search engine.

PPC earth tremor – 50 evenings mildly disrupted

Earthquake - residential damage

Tonight was the promisingly named “PPC Earthquake” for Chinwag(#3). Each of these events has had an unusual noun appended to it (I suspect for searchability and Flickr tagging purposes), but this little bit of hyperbole was the most impressive and misleading to date. Unless they meant it would involve mindless destruction of my evening.

Putting aside the poor staging – constantly interupted by technical failures and squeeking doors – and the rude audience members carrying on conversations during the proceedings, our host for the evening Mike Butcher ranged between bored and aggressive as the pannelists (with the exception of Nigel Leggatt from Microsoft) said not very much at all about anything.

Considering the amount of general press and blog attention for the new Yahoo platform, the discussion tonight was fairly redundant as we cycled to the conclusion that the big three would scrap it out, unless…. er…. someone else came along to challenge them.

Mobile search might be interesting, but everyone agreed not quite yet. At one point someone in the audience said “shouldn’t we be more user-centred”, meaning – I think – why are the main engines not providing better user experiences (incidentally a point I would dispute, they’re all pretty bloody good from all the tests I’ve seen). But the point did have relevance tonight. Get someone to oil the door, fix the lights and apply electric shocks to the pannelists when they’re saying nothing. That would have been more centred around tonights poor ‘users’.

For what it’s worth, I think Chinwag, should either declare itself an industry event (i.e. about the structure of the industry and industry politics, and pick some really contentious industry debates – who’s best placed to do search, an open debate on advertiser funding etc.), or broaden the debates to cover something actually new, something outside the audience’s comfort zone.

I suspect their current mild ambivalence to matters of interest is caused by the need for a sponsor, although senior people from big mouth media (tonight’s sponsor) were noticably absent from the event. This is a particular shame since 10 minutes of Steve might have made all the difference.

Attentioneering, attention selling

Economist March 2007

It’s easy to become so engrossed in the genius of blogs like Antony‘s, adliterate or Russell Davies‘ that you start thinking that the mainstream press can’t contribute to the debate about the changing consumer (the change in the media power relationship).

But there’s a great article in this week’s Economist about exactly that. And it’s a very interesting take on it.

Starting with the premise that what Google is really doing is selling information about user’s preferences and interests in a very niche way, the article “They want their share”, looks at start ups which are looking to allow users to perform this swap themselves. The idea being that consumers will store their preferences (browsing history, search history, emails) and swap them for money at the point at which advertiser’s can speak to them. There’s even the (faintly ridiculous) suggestion that consumers would opt in to bulk email (aka SPAM) on a paid for basis.

I’ve heard similar predictions from Ross Sleight and other’s under the heading “attenioneering” being what brands will need to think about as media ownership fragments.

Some of this stuff seems pie in the sky but the underlying point is pretty exciting:

  • If it can be enabled, why shouldn’t consumers be paid for opening themselves up to advertising.
  • By being elegant and very clever, Google has managed to do a smash and grab on people’s private date without anyone noticing.