You are currently browsing the archives for December, 2007.

Vance Packard's “Hidden Persuaders” At Fifty

Vance Packard’s 1957 classic critique of advertising, “The Hidden Persuaders,” is being republished with an introduction by Mark Crispin Miller — just time for election season. From the NY Times Book Review:

“What’s surprising is the degree to which we’ve all become sophisticates, engaging in our own Packard-like critiques of consumer culture without changing our habits. We know we buy irrationally; we just don’t care. We imagine that the ‘manipulators’ at J. Walter Thompson or BBDO play only on the fears and hopes of desperate consumers who aren’t as ‘conscious’ as we are (in which case it’s hard not to admire the ingenuity of the advertisers), while we ourselves are smart enough to decide when to give in. On the last page of ‘The Hidden Persuaders,’ Packard had to acknowledge the paradox: ‘When irrational acts are committed knowingly they become a sort of delicious luxury.’ We seem to enjoy both knowing that ads are hustling us and choosing to be hustled.”

Hidden Persuaders

Pioneer Woman Revealed on CNN

Not that Ree was hiding out before, but here’s a closer look at the story behind Confessions of a Pioneer Woman and The Pioneer Woman Cooks, courtesy of CNN:

Jeff Standen's Take On FM's Self-Service Media-Buying Tool

Jeff Standen of Thoughts for Biz-minded Techies reviews his experience buying ads via FM’s self-service media planning tool (and FeedBurner’s), after disappointing experiences with campaigns on ad networks and Google. Glad the FM experience was a good one, Jeff!

“In the past we’ve advertised with iNET Interactive (on and and used Google’s AdWords. Both of those options brought in fresh clicks, but both also delivered a majority of their traffic with an incredibly high bounce rate (people leaving after a single page) and a very short time spent looking through our site (usually mere seconds). With our natural search results doing so well on Google we eventually abandoned AdWords….

“Both Federated Media and FeedBurner offer self-serve, web-based advertising portals. You can log in, select your audience, upload your creatives, schedule the campaigns and pay through PayPal in a matter of minutes.

“On Federated Media’s network we selected an initial audience of: 43Folders, TechCruch, Mashable and VentureBeat readers. Mashable was a long-shot, since it’s practically an anti-productivity site, but we felt a kinship with the spirit of mashing web applications. We mixed textual and leaderboard (728×90) graphical banners…..”

“In the end, we decided to make TechCrunch, 43Folders and the Venture Capital network at FeedBurner the backbone of our new paid advertising campaigns. We’re anxious to continue exploring the various sites and channels provided by both networks.

“I don’t really have anything bad to say about our experience with either. I found myself wishing FeedBurner would summarize clicks by the individual sites in each channel (it’s pretty obvious why they don’t). You can still infer the sources through Google Analytics. My only trivial complaint with Federated Media was their ad inventory has sold out on popular sites between our campaigns. I doubt people want to see even more ads on blogs, so the real answer is for both networks to continue growing and encompassing more blogs with topics we feel an affinity with.”

Digg, Newsvine, Reddit Drive “Search Equity” As Well As Traffic

Randy Schwartz, Carat Interactive’s search director, pointed me to a Forbes story today I missed back on October 17, Digg This Headline, For Google’s Sake. Social media sites and blogs that are read by other blog publishers, it argues, can help push brands toward the top of natural search engine results.


“‘Social media’ sites like Digg, and let users submit and rank news headlines and other links to sites around the Web. Sites voted to the top of these news aggregators receive tens of thousands of visitors. But the online marketing professionals gathered at New York’s Search Marketing Expo this week were interested in tapping into a different feature of these sites: their growing power to affect Google and Yahoo!’s search results….

“More important than that traffic, however, was the list’s role as ‘linkbait.’ ….Because Google ranks a Web site’s relevance based on the number of other sites linking to it, LifeInsure [a site with content picked up by Digg] now ranks fourth in Google’s results when the search giant’s millions of users search for ‘life insurance.’ Suddenly, the company had free advertising that put its name right next to huge brands like Metlife and Prudential….

“In fact, every headline that reaches Digg’s home page receives an average of 129 links, according to search marketer Neil Patel, and each of those links can push an online business’ traffic closer to the coveted top spots in Google or Yahoo!’s results. Digg is by far the greatest source of links and traffic among social media sites: A popular story on the site gets as many as 100,000 unique visitors. Sites like StumbleUpon, Reddit, Newsvine and Propeller can each add between 5,000 and 10,000 more.”

Boing Boing TV Adds BBtv Vlogs

Boing Boing is expanding its online TV franchise by adding vlogs to the mix. The first installment features Joel Johnson, the editor of Boing Boing Gadgets.

BBtv vlogs

New Metric For Website Performance: Deaths Per Day

TechCrunch reports on the fast ramp of, an online multi-player fighting game that competes with World of Warcraft (only Duels is asynchronous, meaning players can duel each other without both being online at the same time). The site is approaching the one-million mark against a metric you don’t see cited that often: Daily deaths. I wonder if that has a shot at becoming the industry standard? Image

Marc Andreessen On Writers' Strike And Rise of Net TV

Josh Quittner’s latest Techland column at Fortune picks up on Marc Andreessen’s theory that the writers’ strike “is killing an entire season of TV shows. And quite possibly the next season as well. Which will drive even more people to the net, especially kids” to get their video entertainment.

Marc Andreessen

I agree (and Josh quotes me in the piece, too):

Edwards says that, while the near-term effect of the writers’ strike is hard to parse, he believes that in the coming months and years, Net TV will pay off — mainly because advertising dollars will increasingly flow there. “Premium online video has always sold well,” he says. “Big brand advertisers for years haven’t been able to find enough video inventory that they consider ‘quality.’ I do think stumbling TV ratings (both from the Tivo effect and from the writers’ strike) will drive more video ad dollars online — it literally has to. Ratings that drop fast mean networks are giving advertisers part of their money back, and digital will benefit.”

At the time of the interview, I thought that last line was a tad hyperbolic. Usually under-performing networks “make good” to advertisers with a bunch of free spots, rather than actually giving money back. And then I saw this, NBC plans to give money back. Tough times in TV.

Rubel Applauds Conversational Marketing By JCPenney and Sony

In his 2008 Digital Trends Part I piece at Micro Persuasion, Edelman PR exec Steve Rubel calls out JCPenney’s sponsorship of FM’s Fall Shopping Guide and Sony’s integrated content center at Digg, the HDNA Stories We Digg section as leading examples of a major movement in digital marketing:

“the biggest story is that marketers are becoming a lot more confident online. They are starting to plow a significant portion of their budgets into digital media. As they do, they are investing in creating their own content. These properties leverage the same distribution channels that we, as individual publishers, use – most notably informal word of mouth networks, structured social networks and search engines.”

Sony HDNA Center on Digg

Blogs Are The New Trade Press

That’s the headline for Greg Jarboe’s column today at Search Engine Watch. I worked with Greg at Ziff-Davis in the mid 1990s and was at CMP before that, so it’s sad to see the group tombstone for the trade magazines that have gone under in recent years.

Trade Press Tombstone

The good news is that the readers

of those magazines did not suffer the same plight. They’ve just gone online and, in most cases, filled their informational needs with leading business blogs for their industry.

“According to Compete, 382,749 people visited Search Engine Watch in November 2007; 342,970 visited Search Engine Land; 278,014 visited WebProNews; 139,914 visited Marketing Pilgrim; 77,085 visited Search Engine Roundtable; and 32,398 visited Search Newz.

“This puts them in the same ballpark as the circulation of print publications: 440,000 for InformationWeek; 400,100 for eWeek; 58,979 for Advertising Age; and 23,152 for AdWeek.

“More to the point, the number of visitors to the online publications and group blogs covering the search industry is in the same ballpark as the number of visitors to the websites of trade publications in the technology or advertising industries.

“According to Compete, 424,773 people visited in November 2007; 331,060 visited; 213,900 visited; and 101,140 visited”

Online Video Ad Prices From $25 CPM to $45 CPM

The WebVideoReport lists open rates for various online video opportunities (via PaidContent). Open rates means the publicly published ad prices, subject to a variety of discounts in most cases. The WSJ is at the high end, at $90 CPMs for a 15-second pre-roll coupled with a 300×250 banner — effectively $45 CPMs for the pre-roll placements and the 300×250 impressions. The community video sites like Metacafe and My Space aren’t doing bad either, with pre-roll CPMs between $25-35.

Metacafe Front Door