Google Adwords launches content marketing B-to-B effort aimed at advertising community

While the Google Adwords marketing team did not label it “content marketing” in announcing it, their new advertising industry news aggregation service called “Ad News” is a great example of what content marketing is all about: Marketing directly to your customer, by-passing any third-party media, by providing content that is compelling and engaging and that helps them do their jobs, or that serves their passions.

Take note marketers of consumer and business products and services.

Take note business-to-business publishers and media companies — especially those of you in the advertising and marketing space.

Learn from this whatever you want, but take note.

As for me, I’m impressed — because developing ideas like this for clients is what Hammock Inc. does every day, so I’m pre-conditioned not to be impressed by anything done by others.

I’m impressed because it’s such a simple idea that is a hack (in the positive usage of that term) of an existing product. I love simple ideas that use APIs and open source approaches, and don’t require lots of developers.

I’m also impressed, because I can look at it and immediately see how it could be replicated in other verticals or topic-areas rather easily.

And I especially like the subtle yet action-oriented promotional approach Google is taking in this effort aimed at developing a service for its primary customer base: Advertisers and marketers.

There are only three simple links at the bottom of the navigation field, subtly placed without any “sponsored by” designation: One to the Official Google Blog’s “Ad News” category. One to the Inside AdWords Blog’s “New Features & Announcement Blog.” And one to a list of links contained in a feed of “Google advertising innovations.”

Notice how, when you click on any of those, an action button appears that suggests: “Add the Ad Innovations feed to you Google Reader.” What you are doing there is subscribing to a feed of advertising messages that you will never consider advertising. Why? Because if something informs and educates you in a way you believe helps you do your job better or stay informed on a topic of interest, you’ll never consider it advertising. That is called “the thing formerly known as advertising” my some (including me).

Helping companies achieve something like this is goal of people who do what I do.

And I’m impressed.

This chart doesn’t fit into the current narrative

Friday Afternoon Pondering: Minonline.com is the source of the chart above that ranks the top performing publications (as measured by the number of pages of advertising) during the past quarter in the business-to-business vertical of marketing. … I can guess the theories: (A) Media companies are advertising aggressively because they have so much unsold inventory, (B) media companies are launching new properties and thus are buying more ads to promote them, (C) media companies are aggressively pushing the message that advertising in a recession is the mark of a savvy marketer, (D) none of the above, (E) all of the above.



Friday Afternoon Pondering: Minonline.com is the source of the chart above that ranks the top performing publications (as measured by the number of pages of advertising) during the past quarter in the business-to-business vertical of marketing. Minonline.com distributed a link to the chart as a teaser for its subscription-based service in which on Monday, I presume, the chart will be interpreted. At the link above, it merely states: “Crain’s Advertising Age shows its strength as the #1 publication on top of the advertising pages list for the 1st quarter. A less likely occupant is ST Media Group’s Signs of the Times with a first-quarter 2008, year-on-year 10% increase in ad pages and a nearly 40% increase for March 2008.”

Note: This is not the Signs of the Times magazine referred to, rather this publication about the sign industry is.

I’m not sure I trust the B2B media pundits to interpret this chart, however. I think it is a job for the guys at the Freakonomics Blog. How can advertising for advertising be so dramatically up in a quarter when advertising is supposed to be down — especially advertising in, of all media,B2B print publications.

I can guess the theories: (A) Media companies are advertising aggressively because they have so much unsold inventory, (B) media companies are launching new properties and thus are buying more ads to promote them, (C) media companies are aggressively pushing the message that advertising in a recession is the mark of a savvy marketer, (D) none of the above, (E) all of the above.

I’m guessing (doing anything else would require actual research and thought on my part) D & E are both correct answers. But again, I think it will take a skeptical economist to figure this out, not some analyst focusing on a narrow band of data related to the number of advertising pages sold.

I’m confused. Is it the dawn of a new mass medium? Or death?

Earlier this week , Russell Beattie, in announcing he’s pulling the plug on his year-old startup, Mowser , that provides web publishers the ability to easily publish a light-weight versions of websites for mobile device web browser, declared, “I think anyone currently developing sites using XHTML-MP markup, no Javascript, geared towards cellular connections and two inch screens are simply wasting their time, and I’m tired of wasting my time, and went on to say: “The argument up to now has been simply that there are roughly 3 billion phones out there, and that when these phones get on the Internet, their vast numbers will outweigh PCs and tilt the market towards mobile as the primary web device. … Let’s face it, you really aren’t going to spend any real time or effort browsing the web on your mobile phone unless you’re using Opera Mini, or have a smart phone with a decent browser – as any other option is a waste of time, effort and money.

Earlier this week, Russell Beattie, in announcing he’s pulling the plug on his year-old startup, Mowser, that provides publishers the ability to easily publish light-weight versions of websites for mobile device web browsers, declared, “I think anyone currently developing sites using XHTML-MP markup, no Javascript, geared towards cellular connections and two inch screens are simply wasting their time, and I’m tired of wasting my time.

He went on to say:

“The argument up to now has been simply that there are roughly 3 billion phones out there, and that when these phones get on the Internet, their vast numbers will outweigh PCs and tilt the market towards mobile as the primary web device. The problem is that these billions of users haven’t gotten on the Internet, and they won’t until the experience is better and access to the web is barrier-free – and that means better devices and “full browsers”. Let’s face it, you really aren’t going to spend any real time or effort browsing the web on your mobile phone unless you’re using Opera Mini, or have a smart phone with a decent browser – as any other option is a waste of time, effort and money. Users recognize this, and have made it very clear they won’t be using the “Mobile Web” as a substitute for better browsers, rather they’ll just stay away completely.

Today, Colin Crawford, Interactive EVP of the business-to-business media giant IDG, called Mobile devices the “dawn of a new mass medium,” and declared, “As mobile usage continues to surge, IDG will be at the forefront – guiding users through the choices of hardware, software and services, developing content and services for our mobile audiences and working closely with marketers to find the most appropriate ways to engage with mobile users and to measure the impact of that engagement. It’s going to be a very exciting journey.

He went on to say:

“According to the International Tellecommunications Union there are over 3.3 billion mobile phone subscribers (2.6 billion unique users) – that’s not far off 50% of the world’s population. The mobile industry is already significantly larger than the internet with its 1.3 billion users and it continues to grow rapidly. There were 1.14 billion units shipped in 2007, according to IDC, and that number is expected to increase by 8.7% to 1.24 billion units in 2008.”

I quote. You decide.

PaidContent vs. TechCrunch? Why the “vs.”?

Why is there a “vs.” between the names of the two companies in this headline? PaidContent vs. TechCrunch: Two Visions of Blogging’s Future.

Remind me in what way the two companies compete? Advertising? Readers? Their vision? Huh? They don’t even cover the same industries or markets — so in what way do they compete again?

I can think of several business-to-business media companies that PaidContent.org competes with and out-performs, but TechCrunch is not on that list. I can think of several business-to-business media companies that TechCrunch competes with and out-performs, but PaidContent.org is not on that list.

The only quote in the post that makes any sense to me is this one from Rafat:

“If CNet is the only target you can aspire to be, that is selling yourself really short.”

I agree. I think Rafat should be targeting Crain or Reed Business and Michael should be targeting IDG. Those billion-dollar companies can all trace their lineage directly to founders who were the bloggers of their day — men sitting around kitchen tables putting out dinky publications in nascent industries.

Using Flickr to archive Internet ephemera

Earlier tonight, I was curious how different business news websites were covering the breaking story of the JPMorgan Chase acquisition of Bear Stearns. As there are now plenty of heavily-staffed business news websites that represent traditional magazine and newspaper companies, I thought it would be interesting to compare how quickly they each jumped on the story on a late Sunday afternoon. I used the Firefox Add-on Screengrab! (thanks, Jon Henshaw) to record the front page of five business news websites and then posted them in a set on Flickr.

What did I discover from my two-minute exercise? Well, at around 8:15 p.m. EST, the Wall Street Journal and New York Times both had staff-written breaking stories — indeed, multiple breaking stories. And while Fortune.com and Portfolio.com had Bear Stearns stories in the lead position, they were not about the breaking situation, rather that story was relegated to “headlines” from wire services. Forbes.com didn’t even have a link to a wire story. (My apologies to my friends at BusinessWeek.com for not including them, but, I got distracted by NCAA tourney bids.)

Here are links to each screengrab on Flickr:

WSJ.com – 8:18 p.m. EST
NYTimes.com (business) – 8:18 p.m. EST
Fortune.com – 8:17 p.m. EST
Forbes.com – 8:15 p.m. EST
Portfolio.com – 8:16 p.m. EST

This exercise also reminded me once more of one of the reasons I’m a fan of the reverse-chronological, perma-linked and time-stamped nature of blogging. As Scott Karp noted the other day, other approaches treat online content (and by content, I mean photos, video, articles, maps, etc.) with traditional editorial approaches and story-telling conventions. But by transporting the conventions of print online, traditional media sites provide no way in which to “follow” the timeline of a developing story. At least with print, historians can easily go back later and revive a day-by-day time-line of coverage of an event. Try that with a typical online news site.

There is a TV news archives at Vanderbilt University that has captured the ephemera of broadcast news since the 1960s. Is there such a thing for the Internet? (Later clarification: Is there such an organization that uses such a model of the TV New Archives that attempts to capture the day-by-day changes that occur on major news websites?) I know that the San Francisco-based Internet Archive, in a rather broad-sweeping way, is, it says, “working to prevent ‘born-digital’ materials from disappearing into the past.” However, when historians in the future try to dissect, for example, the 2008 Presidential Election, will the Internet Archives be able to help them?

Perhaps, but I think a more helpful source may be Flickr. For example, look at Patrick Ruffini’s Flickr set of day-by-day candidate websites. Or, click through Dave Winer’s photo-stream and you’ll be able to get a sense of what the campaign pundits were discussing on a daily basis for most of the past three months.

Until I noticed what Dave and Patrick are doing, I never really thought of Flickr as being a personal “Internet Archive.” However, now I do. And thanks to them, I plan to do more “snap-shots sets” on my Flickr account.

Sidenote: The blogosphere is chattering today about “video and Flickr” and how, when it is added as a feature, it won’t be able to compete with the dominant YouTube. Here’s a way it will compete: People like me will use it to archive in collections and sets the video that goes along with the photos already in those sets.