Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Cult Of Gracie Radio: The Marketing Whore Edition

Both Callie Simms & I will be back on Cult of Gracie Radio tonight, from 9-10 PM (Central), discussing mainstream & mature marketing from more of a 'how to' aspect. Tonight's agenda includes the following discussion:

* SEO: application tips (how) & definitions of purpose (why)

* The purpose behind & use of blogs (when to use, what they are for; when blogging doesn't make sense)

* Content: What is, and isn't, content with a purpose, and the issue of "giving it away for free". (somewhat related to both of the above)

* Ethics & 'feelings' about blogging & online user IDs. (When using a pen name feels icky, but is necessary; are there situations to 'out' yourself?)

(Of course, I'm sure we'll still have plenty of lively debate as we defend our reasoning!)

You can join the conversation by calling 646.200.3136

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Wednesday, October 8, 2008

The Technorati Family Feud: Survey Says!

Technorati released its State of the Blogosphere for 2008. Being a survey of 1000 bloggers, a rather small sample, it poses more questions than 'facts' for me.

Let's start with gender.

The survey says more males are blogging.

And more men describe their blogs as professional, "about your industry and profession but not in an official capacity for your company"; while more women describe their blogs as personal, "about topics of personal interest not associated with your work."

As this matter of definition is purely subjective, I can't help but wonder about each gender's own bias here.

I did not see any information regarding the gender split in corporate blogging.

While women are more likely to seek to monetize their blogs, it seems they invest 50% less money in their blogs and make 50% less money in return.

Global Bloggers by Gender

Demographics Female
Personal Blog 83% 76%
Professional Blog 38% 50%
Median Annual Investment $30 $60
Median Annual Revenue $100 $200
% Blogs with advertising 53% 54%
Sell Through a Blog ad Network* 16% 7%
Have Affiliate ads* 41% 32%
Have Contextual ads* 61% 73%
That ROI is something to think of when keeping things on-the-cheap ~ and far more informative than most of what is discussed in Slate's coverage of this Technorati survey, Blogging for Dollars: How do bloggers make money?. (That article is really a more theoretical conversation on popularity ~ which does affect ad revenues, but we'll get back to that later.)

However, women also stated they had benefited in other ways from blogging, with 9% more saying they had converted business leads from their blog.

Interestingly, women are said to have participated in more traditional blog networking (blogrolls, linking to other blogs, etc.) than men ~ including producing more content for other blogs. No number was given, but it makes me wonder about this in terms of blog investment...

Writing may be "free", but the sweat equity isn't noted in the discussion & in fact seems to have little payoff in terms of annual revenue. However, this sort of promotional writing could account for the conversion of business leads. I'd love more information on that area.

As far as topics go, Technorati calls them "diverse."
Blogging topics are diverse

Both personal and professional topics are equally popular. Forty percent of bloggers consider their blogging topics outside of these categories. “Other” blog topics include: 2008 election, alternative energy, art, beauty, blogging, comics, communication, cooking/food, crafts, design, environment, internet/Web 2.0, Jamaica, and media/journalism.

Three-quarters of bloggers cover three or more topics. The average number of topics blogged about is five.

There were some global differences. Music is more popular and politics is less popular in Asia, while personal, lifestyle, and religious topics are less popular in Europe.

You probably see what I see ~ an absence of "sex" as a topic.

It appears that Technorati did not include "sex" (or "adult" or "mature") as a topic in their survey; I'd gather that with those choices many sex bloggers would identify their blogs as "Personal/Lifestyle" blogs ~ or use the "other" category.

"Sex" is still not listed as a response in the "other" category. I have no idea if Technorati opted not to include "sex bloggers", if they edited/censored such responses when they published their findings, or if there were too few "sex" responses to qualify for a mention. Those surveyed may consider their blogging part of another category. For example, sex workers may state "business", authors "books", and sex positive feminists who discuss sex regularly might classify their blogs as "political" or "media/journalism" just as others who are not sex positive might (may also include "religion" as well).

Or perhaps survey respondents with sex blogs who noticed the "sex" option missing felt stating "sex" would mean they'd be excluded from the survey data.

The omitted options for "sex" and the lack of stated identification as "a sex blogger" does make me question the survey responses. As sexuality is just part of a human being's existence, I wouldn't throw the survey out completely; just keep the omissions in mind when reading & digesting.

Which poses more questions...

For instance, as the most popular sex bloggers are, collectively, female (no doubt due to photos, descriptions of personal actions etc., which draw many male readers), what does the possibility of censoring/ignoring sex bloggers mean for the simple "more men are blogging" data? Does this account for the "more females have personal blogs" finding?

I don't know; I'm still mulling it all over.

In terms of privacy, only 1/3 stated a concern for their privacy; I believe this would likely be much higher among sex bloggers.:
The majority of bloggers openly expose their identities on their blogs and recognize the positive impact that blogging has on their personal and professional lives. More than half are now better known in their industry and one in five have been on TV or the radio because of their blog. Blogging has brought many unique opportunities to these bloggers that would not have been available in the pre-blog era.
And, I find the connection between "openly exposing identities" and "better known" murky. I'm certainly better known in both my personal and professional life; but the name on my birth certificate, my legal name, is neither Gracie Passette nor The Marketing Whore.

Of those concerned about exposing their identities on their blogs, 36% said "other" ~ which included, "I've chosen to blog as a character." Maybe those with pen names, online identities, whathaveyou, answered the privacy/popularity questions from the point of view of being a character?

Now onto popularity...
Technorati 100, Next 500, and Next 5000 comparisons

We analyzed the Technorati index data to see whether higher-authority bloggers behaved differently from other bloggers.

Posting by Technorati Authority
Group Average Authority Avg Days Posting
(June 2008)
Avg Monthly Posts
(June 2008)
Top 100 6,084 23 310
Next 500 1,551 20 125
Next 5000 439 13 25

Blogs with higher authority are typically updated more frequently than blogs with lower authority. The Technorati Top 100 blogs had more than twice as many postings in June 2008 as the next 500, and more than 12 times as many postings as the next 5000.

What's missing from the discussion here are contextual issues such as monetization &/or business conversions and intent of the blog. Without knowing those variables, how can we call a blog successful?

There sure seems to be a connection between a blog's popularity and ad dollars, but this begs several questions...

1) If a Technorati Top 100 blogger is posting 10 or more times a day, with all the research & writing that implies, are the ad sales fair compensation for the number of hours a blogger works?

2) Are readers satisfied with such a saturation of posts? Lots of eyeballs do not automatically grant things such as loyalty & trust, nor translate into company endorsements & branding.

3) Are advertisers happy with their conversion &/or branding at these sites? Customer & potential customer impressions of the company /product/service are more important than number of ad impressions.

If all three are not satisfied the old "blog bubble" (at least as far as a business model) bursts.

For more anecdotal & theoretical conversations about this, I again refer you to Slate's piece.

Other tips included in Technorati's survey results: Technorati Top 100 bloggers are twice as likely to use tags in their posts, and they use the "news" tag more than two times as much as the next 500, and 19 times as much as the next 5000. (And, of course, their list of top tags for June does not include anything sexual.)

As for the results regarding branding in the blogosphere, there's a lot of chatter about how important bloggers think blogs and other bloggers are. I'm not saying I disagree with these findings, just that business might want to keep in mind that people within the group often are rather high on the group; your results may vary.

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Wednesday, March 26, 2008

"You give a group of romance writers a couple of drinks and they'll admit it is pornography"

Roxanne Rhoads tells us how Erotica was insulted in Writer's Digest (NWS):
Mr. Vaughn interviewed a romance agent for information about the romance genre, a Steven Axelrod who supposedly has been a romance agent for over 30 years. (Obviously not a very good one if he knows nothing of the hot, hot, hot market of erotica). Axelrod is quoted as saying "You give a group of romance writers a couple of drinks and they'll admit it is pornography," he says. "It's hard to see it as true romance, and it has a very limited audience- they can't seem to grow it. Very few good storytellers seem to be staking their careers there."

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Friday, February 29, 2008

High-Five Fridays #7

High-Five Fridays
1) A Dress A Day shows you there IS such a thing as bad publicity, which is so right-on regarding poor email releases & contact that many of you who have been so horridly pitched will find yourself saying, "OMG, yes!"

That link was found at 2) bits and bobbins, where she re-caps the "don't"s for you.

3) While we're at it, check out Pop Tart's rants about bad companies ~ are you guilty of these things?

4) Mark Glaser on the ever-blurring distinctions between bloggers and journalists.

5) This Month In SEO brings you more than SEO ~ readers here know I personally ponder everything but SEO and there's plenty to ponder in this post.

PS I'm still down-for-the-count with a cold; hence my silence here (and elsewhere). I only note this here for those who wondered ~ and literally 'here' at the bottom because I hate posts which start off that way and 'click away' asap. *wink*

Want to give your own high-fives? Find out how to give your High-Five Fridays here!

The purpose of this meme is to give high-fives to 5 people, posts, blogs and/or websites you've admired during the week. I will link to everyone who participates and leaves a link to their 5 high-fives on Friday. Trackbacks, pings, linky widgets, comment links accepted!

Visiting fellow High-Fivers is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your High-Fives in others comments (please note if NWS).

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Friday, February 8, 2008

High-Five Fridays #4

High-Five Fridays

#1 Sex Tourism / Sex Travel -- Adventures of an Average Joe (NWS):
I've been a dedicated sex tourist since 2003. In other words, I love fucking foreign hookers, especially in Brazil. Not that I like paying for sex. But the working girls I've met have blown me away. It's a long way from my conservative roots as a yeshiva boy and later an advocate for tougher anti-crime laws. I'd always considered the idea of paying for sex repellent. At least until my first trip to Rio de Janeiro. It turned my world upside down.
(Via Violet Blue (NWS).)

#2 It's stupid and I'm not having it: Sara voices what I've heard from several of you, that declaring your blog 'adult' in blogger (as mentioned here) is horrible.

#3 MSNBC's Chelsea comment angers Clinton: Don't use the phrase "pimped out" regarding anyone's daughter. (Via Spin Thicket.)

#4 PR's Glass Ceiling: "Because approximately 90 percent male leadership seems just wrong." Amen.

#5 Marketing Lessons from School Lunch -- which reminds me a bit of my pudding cups. Maybe I'm just hungry. (Also via Spin Thicket.)

Want to give your own high-fives? Find out how to give your High-Five Fridays here!

The purpose of this meme is to give high-fives to 5 people, posts, blogs and/or websites you've admired during the week. I will link to everyone who participates and leaves a link to their 5 high-fives on Friday. Trackbacks, pings, linky widgets, comment links accepted!

Visiting fellow High-Fivers is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your High-Fives in others comments (please note if NWS).

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Wednesday, February 6, 2008

A Midsleeper's Wet Dream Becomes Marketing Nightmare

'Everyone' is talking about Woolworths pulling the Lolita bed; The Marketing Whore is someone, so she'll talk about it too.

The Lolita Midsleeper beds were designed for six-year-old girls and this unfortunate name ('Lolita', not 'Midsleeper' which I find dreadful ~ but I'm not British, so what do I know) has resulted in upsetting parents.

The main complaint seems to be that the name 'Lolita' on a bed implies that the youth which sleeps upon it is of little virtue ~ or will be perceived as such by others. This due to, in case you didn't know, "Lolita", the 1955 novel by Vladimir Nabokov, in which the narrator becomes sexually obsessed and then sexually involved with his 12-year-old stepdaughter when she seduces him. The icing on the cake is Lolita is not a virgin at that time either.

While the beds of ill repute were shown on the Woolworths' site, they were not an actual Woolworths product; this apparently caused part of the confusion in the handling of the complaints, as one of the upset parents received the following reply from Woolworths:
- they say they will 'pass my letter onto the buying dept' but also state
"Our aim is to attract a broad customer base of all ages and we make every effort to stock items, which appeal to the whole family. However, we also have to respond to customer demands and follow current trends. "
That one customer service kid hadn't heard of the book, or the two films, is a bit surprising... But it only gets worse as eventually that complaint, or another like it, was passed along and higher-ups confessed:
"What seems to have happened is the staff who run the website had never heard of Lolita, and to be honest no one else here had either," a spokesman told newspapers.

"We had to look it up on (online encyclopaedia) Wikipedia. But we certainly know who she is now."
It seems to me that someone should have known... I mean eBay and plenty of other sites actually forbid the word 'Lolita' from appearing in listings & profiles (at least for specific categories) and also police word combinations and content, just in case it would appear that you are trying to market to and profit from pedophiles.

Anyway, the product's been pulled and the world is safe from tramp-making beds.

The bad news is that selling Bratz dolls and thongs to little girls is just fine. As a culture we've decided that marketing to and profiting from turning girls (and boys) into sexually active preteens is fine and dandy. Not only do parents buy into it, they actually buy this stuff.

I just don't get that.

The good news is that there finally is a marketing horror story to put in textbooks ~ even if it's not based on literal translation.

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Monday, December 3, 2007

Sexy Performing Arts, Anyone?

The Nonprofit Finance Fund has announced a grant of more than $15 million from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation to launch a national initiative called Leading for the Future: Innovative Support for Artistic Excellence.

The initiative will support up to ten leading dance, jazz, theater, and presenting organizations with grants of $800,000 to $1.8 million, plus technical and advisory assistance, in support of new programmatic, financial, and operational approaches designed to enhance their effectiveness, adapt to complex trends affecting the performing arts, and demonstrate what works to the broader performing arts field.

The largest performing arts grant in DDCF history is part of the foundation's new strategy in arts programming. While the foundation will maintain its commitment to contemporary dance, jazz, and presenting, as well as its national scope and strategy of awarding large, multiyear grants, it hopes to increase the flexibility of how its funds are used and will focus on bold new strategies and a holistic approach to how arts organizations operate.

"We hope that the approach of the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation will inspire others in the field," said NFF president Clara Miller. "Since the focus here is on innovation and experimentation at the 'enterprise level' of the arts, we hope we'll learn — and demonstrate — something valuable to all. DDCF's flexible use of funds, its approach of partnering with organizations pursuing new financial and operating approaches, and its focus on the role of transformational capital makes this initiative a truly important breakthrough."

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Monday, November 12, 2007

Can I Get An Amen?

Editorial: Porn prosecution is a waste of time:
Some citizens of Staunton may not like an adult video store. But it is a legal business.

Staunton Prosecutor Raymond Robertson is wasting time and taxpayers' money pursuing obscenity charges against an adult video store.

Obscenity cases are notoriously difficult to prosecute. Landmark court cases have made the definition of obscenity exceptionally -- and appropriately -- narrow.

To be considered criminally obscene, material must meet several tests, including a lack of any "serious literary, artistic, political or scientific value."

In addition, it must be found to violate contemporary community standards.

The best approach, then, to the opening of After Hours Video in Staunton would have been to leave it alone. If it manages to stay in business, then it obviously isn't violating community standards.
Let me repeat this gem: "If it manages to stay in business, then it obviously isn't violating community standards."

As Steven Colbert would say, let the free market speak.

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Beware Branding Marks

The New Deal: Band as Brand:
Though [Paramore's] success is in large part due to smart pop songwriting and a fashion-forward frontwoman, music executives and talent managers also cite Paramore as a promising example of a rising new model for developing talent, one in which artists share not just revenue from their album sales but concert, merchandise and other earnings with their label in exchange for more comprehensive career support.

If the concept takes hold, it will alter not only the way music companies make money but the way new talent is groomed, and perhaps even the kind of acts that are offered contracts in the first place.

Commonly known as “multiple rights” or “360” deals, the new pacts emerged in an early iteration with the deal that Robbie Williams, the British pop singer signed with EMI in 2002. They are now used by all the major record labels and even a few independents.
While I post this as a bit of marketing news, I also can't help but wonder what this really means for the word 'artist'. Music is an industry, a business, and certainly celeb status helps push product (both their own product, music, and the products of others), I wonder what this means for those of us who want music. Real music, not 'a brand'.

It wasn't that long ago that 'world music' had appeal for some of these very reasons ~ we wanted music for music's sake, not some commercialized glut.

Admittedly, the panache of posh persons has always been a regular in the marketing and making of damn near anything and everything; but this open move towards acts signing these 360 deals seems to be counter-productive to the current age of transparency... Now we the consumers know what companies, acts and performers are the least artistic. For it's not about the music, getting it out there, but some sort of success measuring stick which must include marketability beyond the main product. In other words, bands are not to be signed unless they are great cash-cows ~ selling more than CDs to music lovers, but shoes, shampoo and heaven knows what else.

In the case of established artists, like Madonna, this is not so shocking. But what of the new artists? Who won't be signed because they either have no track record of being able to push other (non-musical) products at us or are viewed as not being able to reach such commercial status. Shouldn't recording artists be judged solely for their ability to sell records?

In an age of cynical consumers, such transparency could bite the hand that pretends to feed. I know when I see its be-jeweled fingers pushing, I'll certainly be suspicious.

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Monday, October 15, 2007

Q & A The Marketing Whore Way

Like a Magic 8-Ball!

Q: Can anyone be surprised that the adult entertainment industry, historically proven to take on any all technological advancements, would appear in/at a document posting service?

A: Apparently so.

Q: Does spam really work?

A: What would you say?. (PS: Thanks, Sara, for the link!)

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Thursday, September 6, 2007

ACLU Scores Victory In New York

According to Yahoo! News & the AP:
U.S. District Judge Victor Marrero said the government orders must be subject to meaningful judicial review and that the recently rewritten Patriot Act "offends the fundamental constitutional principles of checks and balances and separation of powers."
For those of us who still give a damn about our inalienable rights this is a reason to say, "Hip Hip Whore-Ay!"

More at Reuters.

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Monday, August 27, 2007

SEO Talk That's Fun & Educational

You know I'm not much for SEO (I don't think it's spam, I just believe in content more than key words etc.), but darn if Danny Sullivan of Search Engine Land doesn't capture my attention. Who wouldn't love a post (The Promise & Reality Of Mixing The Social Graph With Search Engines) which kicks off thus:
I'm having a bad day. Aside from my desktop crashing, we get another spate of "let's blame SEO" to start my morning off. Robert Scoble uses that theme as a launching pad for a series of videos on how Facebook potentially could be a killer search engine -- regardless of the fact he seems to have no clue that "social graph" or social networking mixing has been tried and abandoned with search. Having watched his videos, which have sparked much discussion, I'll do some debunking, some educating for those who want more history of what's been done in the area, plus I'll swing around to that New York Times article today that ascribes super-ranking powers to SEO. Plus, I'll use the F-word along the way. I said it was a bad day.
Educational and enjoyable ~ grab a cup of whatever it is you drink, and read.

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Tuesday, August 21, 2007

If I Had A Million Dollars

Fleshbot says:
Teh internets are buzzing today with news about Zivity, a porny social networking site that's been likened to everything from MySpace to Playboy to Digg to Suicide Girls. If you're a regular reader of this site, you might be saying "Why is that news?" There must be half a dozen or more sites out there that have already tried to build a smuty website around the basic principles of Web 2.0—user-generated content, web-socializing, and community voting. So what makes this one special? It might have something to do with the $1 million it managed to sweet talk away from some high-powered Silicon Valley venture capitalists.
Just another thing to note in the the Web Poo Point Doh (remember, that's copyrighted!) hype.

If I had a million dollars, to spend or invest, that would not be my choice. I would even consider buying y'all each a green dress (but not a real green dress, that's cruel).

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Monday, August 20, 2007

Tips From The DC Madam

I can't believe I forgot to post Radical Vixen's Interview With Deborah Jeane Palfrey, AKA The DC Madam!

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Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Still Right After All These Years: Content Is King

Nearly half of Internet users' time online is now spent with content, emarket report says:
Internet users now spend nearly half of their online time visiting content, according to the Online Publishers Association's "Internet Activity Index," conducted by Nielsen//NetRatings.

Time spent with content is up 37% over 2003 levels, the OPA claimed. The Index measures time spent with e-commerce, communications, content and search.

"The index indicates that, over the past four years, the primary role of the Internet has shifted from communications to content," OPA president Pam Horan said in a statement. "[The Internet now handles] traditionally offline activities, such as getting news, finding entertainment information or checking the weather."

Which means that content isn't only king, but vital.

The article continues to say:
The association also noted that search is better than before. This lets consumers find what they are looking for more quickly. That reduces time spent on search and increases the amount of time devoted to other activities.

So although the number of searches overall has boomed, the percentage of time spent on searching is still minimal.

If content is consuming so much of Internet users' time, where does that leave search? For those marketing a retail e-commerce site, search still matters.

The American Marketing Association's "Mplanet" survey ranked the online resource consumers were most likely to use first for product information during last year's holiday season in different retail categories. Search engines (43%) and direct visits to company Web sites (29%) were the sources consumers turned to first for product information, regardless of product category.

Newer types of consumer-generated content, such as online social networks, blogs and chat rooms, were less important as a primary source for finding product information.

While I daresay that search function has improved, I still maintain that unique and decent content is the best way to be found in search results.

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Thursday, August 2, 2007

House panel approves legal shield for bloggers

ZDNet reports:

A congressional panel on Wednesday voted, against the Bush administration's wishes, to shield journalists including advertising-supported bloggers from having to reveal their confidential sources in many situations.

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Thursday, July 19, 2007

Selling Sex, Even Where It's Not Legal

Naturally, Copywrite Ink's post. Selling Sex: Nevada Brothels, caught my eye.
What is Coyote Publishing et. al. v. Heller? It is a lawsuit filed by Allen Lichtenstein, general counsel to the American Civil Liberties Union of Nevada on behalf of several newspapers, that sought to void two state statutes that prohibited brothel advertising in counties where prostitution is illegal.

...this new ruling, which I have yet to form an opinion about, seems to suggest legal businesses have a right to advertise even where their products or services are illegal.

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Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Lee Still Awaiting Trial

Gordon Lee, of Gordon Lee's comic shop in Georgia, is scheduled to finally see trial this August.

Lee was busted during Halloween week 2004 for inadvertently passing out at copy of Alternative Comics #2 to a minor. It was one copy out of thousands the shop distributed as part of the town's trick-or-treat event.

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Monday, June 18, 2007

Things To Know: Views & News

Flickr responds and flickr explains moderated settings and boobies are updates to the ongoing saga of flickr "considered harmful" posts by Violet Blue. (It's nearly a damn soap opera, so I may have missed a few posts ~ but she's linked updates and whatnot, so you can try to keep up and follow along at her blog.)

Driving Traffic to a Blog by (which does allow adult/sex blogs in its directory, so check 'em out if you're a woman with a blog) is worth reading. As a side dish, see their post on Womens Interest in Porn.

The English Courtesan has posted a bit of info on Taking Payment As A Courtesan Or Escort. Even if you're not an escort (nor based in the UK), this is worth a read as she discusses things like privacy along with her thoughts on specific payment processor options.

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Monday, June 11, 2007

Dude, What's Up With Joyscape?

Like virtually everyone who has a link to Joyscape on their blog or website, I've been getting lots of hits from those who are wondering why the site seems to be gone. Quite a few bloggers emailed me to say so, and to ask if I knew what was up with their being down. (Now, I don't know anyone at/with Joyscape, but I'm flattered y'all think I know absolutely everyone everywhere. *wink*)

In reality, the site is not gone. Don't get me wrong, it's got some issues as most of the pages are "connection refused" but you can still search images and movies, as is still functioning. (Just not a damn bit of help for the blogs and bloggers.)

So, searchers, now you know. Well, you now know all that I know anyway.

If you want a giggle, check out a non-adult blogger's response to her traffic from those searching for info on Joyscape's problems: Welcome Joyscape Surfers. Now go home. (And while you're there, check out her blog, Blue Gal, as she's actually quite interesting to read.)

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Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Virtual Marketing, Real Money, And Moral Outrage

Playboy announces it will enter the virtual world of Second Life, and of course folks are talking about it.

I found this post from Susan Getgood over at Marketing Roadmaps the most interesting:
The porn industry is an early adopter of new technologies. First to video, first to the Web. And now among the first to virtual worlds. In part of course, because it keeps getting kicked out. Pushed out of movie theaters onto video. Filtered out on the Web by products like Cyber Patrol.. But also because it is pretty good at following the money. If the commercial pornographers are there -- if they think the audience will turn up -- virtual worlds absolutely have the potential to deliver returns for more conventional marketers. In fact, I'd bet on it.
I know next to nothing about gaming, including Second Life (me-guesses that since I deal so much with real people everyday, I have no desire to deal with pretend ones in my down-time), but I'm with Susan and the others who agree it's something to watch.

On the other hand, once Playboy moves in, be prepared for some to try to evict them. Even if Second Life is a virtual adult play land, we all know how tolerant adults in the real world are. (And since gaming is huge with kids, tweens and teens, if there's even a whiff of children being exposed, watch out.)

One imagines that as the virtual Playboy Mansion moves in and real profits go up, moral outrage (virtual or not) will ensue.

But then too, watching the adult industry make money, then be told to leave, is always an interesting battle. (I must find it interesting, or, alas, take to my bed with consumption.)

And isn't it strange that the largest outcry comes only when the industry proves profits... Profits mainstream wants, but didn't have the balls & ovaries to make, so they use moral outrage to limit competition for dollars and real estate as they try to follow the model the adult companies used.

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Monday, May 14, 2007

Clothing Number One In Retail Sales Online? Really?

Apparel sales moved into the top spot online, overtaking computers (but excluding travel) for the first time in 2006, according to a report from the National Retail Federation:
According to the first part of The State of Retailing Online 2007, the tenth annual study conducted by Forrester Research, Inc. (Nasdaq: FORR) of 170 retailers, Americans last year spent more online on clothing than they did on computers for the first time in history. The report found the apparel, accessories and footwear category reached $18.3 billion in 2006 and is expected to hit $22.1 billion in 2007. This year, 10 percent of all clothing sales are expected to occur online.
No mention of adult retail sales... You know, porn movies, sex toys... I doubt very much that lingerie, costumes and the like counted as apparel, or pornos counted as DVDs either. Maybe they are...

And then what? The sex toys are then mixed in with travel? I know my vibe takes me places, baby.

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Thursday, May 3, 2007

Links To News You Can Use (And Resources Too)

I would be remiss if I did not quickly mention the following:

The lovely Viviane warns us of a Potential Security Problem with Google Mail.

For folks wishing they could add feed from other blogs to their blogs (and websites) here's a free service: RSS Include. Currently you must create one for each feed you wish to use as they do not (yet?) offer a way to put multiple feeds into one display, but it's still a wonderful tool. (Blogger's new features includes such a tool ~ which does not include images as this tools does ~ but blogs not hosted by blogger cannot use those tools.)

For those of you with marketing blogs, Carnival of Capitalists is looking for hosts.

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Monday, April 23, 2007

Surprise! Women Undeniable Majority Of Internet Users

According to eMarketer, women outnumber men online, and it's likely to stay that way:
Not only do females make up the majority of Internet users, but more of the female population goes online. This year, an estimated 66.2% of US females ages 3 and older will use the Internet at least once a month, compared with 64.2% of males, according to eMarketer. By 2011, 72.1% of females are expected to go online, vs. 69.3% of males.
According to their report:
Amid all the excitement online video is causing, marketers must keep one fact in mind: Of the estimated 97 million females online in the US, only 66% of them actually watch videos online, compared with 78% of males who do.
One thing they are quick to note is that women are not less savvy than men when it comes to Internet technology. And they believe that Web 2.0 (aka social networking) will only increase female use.

Why this continual surprise that women are using the Internet? Women outnumber men, so we should outnumber men on the Internet, yes?

But then in more in-depth news coverage of the eMarketer report, both in Reuters and in Sydney Morning Herald, eMarketer's senior analyst, Debra Aho Williamson, makes broader gender claims which seem to make this report more 'surprising.'

I was reminded the early days of the Internet, when many feared that women would never adopt it ~ or at least not in the way males had. This was easily a decade ago, and we're still talking about it? Sheesh. We've gone from ugly Geocities pages to ugly MySpace pages, from FrontPage to blogging, and from static html to all sorts of scripts and toys, so maybe we're still slow to understand what's important here.

They were partly right; women do use the Internet differently.

During those days, ecommerce was a large 'threat' to the way of WWW life ~ it was a perversion of what they held sacred. Sort of like the good old boys business club where they greedily yell "mine, Mine, MINE", only instead of old white men, the Internet had really young boys (most of whom were white too) and these kids and twenty-somethings thought it was all theirs and they didn't want to change.

But ecommerce came along and women were strong adopters of online shopping. No mere coincidence in my mind.

While men surfed for consumer reports, reviews and price comparisons, they still purchased locally in person. Women on the other hand, loved the time savings of shopping and purchasing online. They could sit at home in their jammies, after the kids were asleep, and complete so many shopping errands... This of course led to mommies and others to making the Internet a tool for simplification of their lives. Email, ecards, maps and other tools proved the pc was more than just a toy. But of course, more time online meant they would find other joys of the Internet.

While Williamson doesn't say anything which completely contradicts gender roles, there is still this aura of surprise.

Women are huge consumers, including of technology. Women are humans first, so we will be drawn to many of the same activities and uses of the Internet and technology. But our roles are different, so we may be drawn more to somethings more than others.

Women tend to be more social in terms of talking not just 'hanging out' so we likely will participate more in chats, forums, discussions and blogging than men who will just forward a video or a link to a website. Women and men may be interested in many of the same things, but women will want to talk about why they are interested in something whereas men typically think forwarding a clip or link is self-explanatory ~ it's all that needs to be said.

So why this continual surprise over the differences in gender usage? It's not like women stop being human when confronted with new things. Nor do our 'real world' gender differences cease to exist online.

(Those who think women are so different would likely buy this bridge I have for sale... It's in Brooklyn and if you charged a toll you could really rake it in! I also can also put you in touch with a man in Africa who has millions of dollars to deposit in your bank account ~ just email me your bank account and routing information. Since women are so different from men these offers from a woman must be true!)

But then again, the gaming industry long underestimated the number of women ~ including older women (30s-40s) ~ who were active gamers spending lots of cash & entire weekends playing games. Fundamentally, both the teenage boys and the more mature women played games for the same reason: to escape & to compete, but marketers still seem to be struggling to use this knowledge in both the creation of games and the presentation of games.

So why would should I expect pundits to recognize that women are a strong segment of this market, powerful users of this technology?

I guess maybe it will take more 'surprising' numbers in 'surprising' studies to convince them all.

...Meanwhile, if anyone is interested in that bridge, contact me.

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Friday, April 20, 2007

What Kind Of Blogger Are You?

Via Spin Thicket:

The 25 Basic Styles of Blogging... And When To Use Each One

This is a nifty slide-show showing the types of blog posts (Event Blogging, Survey Blogging, Brand, Link etc.), how difficult they are, the buzz or linking probability rating, and a suggested maximum number of times a week you can use each type of post. Your mileage may vary, of course, but the definitions and (suggested) limitations sound sane to me.

It's food for thought as your type of posts, in a general way, determine what sort of blogger you are and what sort of blog you have.

Sarah sent me this link to a Yahoo! news story:

Bloggers rail against imposing civility online

The title is very misleading ~ acting as if bloggers are insisting upon being rude, mean and down-right illegal when all the bloggers are saying is, "No," to a "Blogging Code of Conduct."
Bloggers are always free to remove what they see as inappropriate contributions to forums on their websites, said Technorati founder David Sifry. Technorati specializes in tracking and indexing blogs.

People interested in spewing caustic comments can feature them on their own websites and then leave links on those of other bloggers, Sifry said.

"One of the core principles that the Internet is built on is the principle of free speech," Sifry told AFP. "If you really are a jerk, I don't have to read what you say."

Ethical issues in the "blogosphere" mirror those raised by the relentless trend of users providing raw content to websites ranging from video-sharing superstar YouTube to news gathering organization NowPublic.

"I'm not sure a code of conduct is the answer," NowPublic co-founder Mike Tippett told AFP. "It makes about as much sense as me wearing a badge to have a conversation. It won't make a difference."

People don't need to sign pacts of civility to use telephones or send letters, Tippett noted.

"I think the wisdom of the crowds, societal mores, and the expectations of civility will generally solve the problem," Tippett said. "The Internet is just an extension of our everyday lives."
What's rather crazy is that this move to badges and codes of conduct has been brought to the forefront by the Kathy Sierra situation. Threats of death and physical harm are illegal and so we have a code of conduct for that. Asking people to censor themselves more with this media than any other is rather chaffing ~ and impractical. Who is going to be the mean police and define the line? 'Nice' is as relative as 'mean' is. While I certainly don't enjoy, nor do I recommend, rude blogs or talk, we already have police to enforce laws and behaviors which cross lines; I don't want (additional) thought police.

Like Tippett said, "Presumably, we are all bound by the social norms of our communities. Violate them and you are locked up."

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Thursday, April 19, 2007

Drive Traffic With The Top-Down... Or?

An MIT study reveals why we get so easily distracted and how regular focus differs from alarming focus (even to the point of differing brain waves pulsations at different frequencies):
Scientists have always recognized two different ways that the brain processes information coming from the outside world. Willful focus (as occurs when you gaze at a piece of art) produces what are called "top-down" signals, while automatic focus (like when a wailing siren snaps you to attention) produces "bottom-up" signals.
These two types of brain signals, "top-down" and "bottom-up," suggest an interesting question I pose to you: Would you rather get your market's attention in a willful focused manner ("top-down") or in an automatic or alarming means ("bottom-up")?

In a world where humans are bombarded with so many messages, activating the "bottom-up" signals may seem to have merit. After all, we hope that by quickly grabbing their attention, by standing out in the crowd, we can grab the customer.

Then again, one imagines a willful focus will result in less buyers-remorse and a happier, longer lasting relationship.

Before you decide, read this article on the psychology of decision making in speed-dating.

Then, please do share your thoughts!

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Thursday, April 12, 2007

Why Do The Villagers Have Torches?

This is what I posted over at Spin Thicket:
Imus has been an idiot -er, "shock jock" for years. I agree what he said was wrong, but he's been doing it for years... This bothers me from a free speech pov. It's one thing if they make a biz decision based on consumers and advertisers, but this new 'n' word outrage is rather insane and approaches mob mentality. The villagers have torches and someone must pay for all the idiots and ignorance. Meanwhile far more vile pundits exist just fine. When you take the facts, that Imus has been a wave maker, a shock jock, for years ~ making good money which he does decent things with ~ you get a 40 yr history which doesn't seem to be reflected in all this decision, the media play & supposed public outrage.
I'd appreciate your input...

I don't want to hear how wrong Imus was, or how idiotic his statements were -- not the specific ones of this incident, nor the worse ones of his 40 year long history -- because I agree he's been an idiot milking his outrageous slurs for years. But look at this from a business point of view.

He's been making you money for years, in no small part due to his shock-jock style which consists of rude, ignorant, racist, bigoted remarks. Over the 40 years he's incited phone calls, comments, letters regarding how offensive he is and your response is that he is protected by the First Amendment and if folks don't like it, they can select another channel or program. What makes this, right now, so different?

Say you employ Imus or broadcast his show; what would you do?

And if you say, "Fire him," you must defend why you'd do so now and not years ago.

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Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Are You Wired For Transparency?

Wired Magazine's recent issue, Get Naked and Rule the World is making the rounds ~ as much for Jenna Fisher ("Pam" from The Office) and her provocative photo as for its coverage of the matter of corporate transparency.

The issue's feature content is:

Smart companies are sharing secrets with rivals, blogging about products in their pipeline, even admitting to their failures. The name of this new game is RADICAL TRANSPARENCY, and it's sweeping boardrooms across the nation. Even those Office drones at Dunder Mifflin get it. So strip down and learn how to have it all by baring it all.

Which is to say it's all about what the boys of Naked Conversations have been saying: business being open and honest and talking with employees, customers, and partners.

Ironically, the feature on the 'transparent' and no-longer-evil Microsoft sort of well, backfired...

A dossier "which summarizes Microsoft execs' efforts to plant the story, and gives tips on how to handle the magazine's reporter, Fred Vogelstein, makes for astonishing reading. But it's more embarrassing for the Conde Nast magazine than it is for Microsoft: the author appears to have promised Microsoft that he'd show them the article well before publication, which is against the policy of most magazines."

(Here's Vogelstein's reply.)

It seems the emperors are too afraid to really be naked; many just want the 'new clothes' so they can look naked. But you either are naked or your not. (Naked Suits just don't work.)

Talking about being transparent has lots of folks in a tizzy lately. To be sure, as the authors of Naked Conversations point out in their book, blogging and transparency aren't for everyone. And there are risks to consider.

Among the concerns are the matters of the competition scooping you and the embarrassing boo-boos being out there because all this open and honest talk is instantly published.

For example, the new (Beta) Assignment Zero, a Pro-Am collaboration among NewAssignment.Net, Wired, and those who "choose to participate" is "is an attempt to bring journalists together with people in the public who can help cover a story."

The investigation takes place in the open, not behind newsroom walls. Participation is voluntary; contributors are welcome from across the Web. The people getting, telling and vetting the story are a mix of professional journalists and members of the public -- also known as citizen journalists. This is a model I describe as "pro-am."

The "ams" are simply people getting together on their own time to contribute to a project in journalism that for their own reasons they support. The "pros" are journalists guiding and editing the story, setting standards, overseeing fact-checking, and publishing a final version.

An interesting concept, they are already wondering about their transparency issues:

I wonder if this thing isn't *too* transparent... I don't think it's appropriate for people to see our sausage being made, so to speak; much of what's posted is written unprofessionally or stolen wholesale from other site... What does transparency mean to you? What are we trying to accomplish?

The replies are interesting; especially those on the "degrees of transparency." You can't be partially naked ~ at least not for long. *wink*

Don't get me wrong, I'm a fan of transparency, but in the world of news ~ where 'scoop' is even more meaningful than at an ice cream shop ~ this is a big test of the issues.

On a related matter...

In With a business model like this, who needs enemies? the idea of 'open' takes a slightly different turn when thoughts turn to Open Access Vs Closed Access publications. (For those in the adult business, consider this paid subscriber membership vs. free sites.) Just how can publications pay those bills? Is giving it away a model that can support costs?

If the argument for transparency is one of human warmth, accessibility and being liked, then open source or 'see for free' is a very legit question.

So, can you afford to be transparent? Before you get naked, remember to look at it from all sides ~ even the unflattering angles. Because that's how they'll be looking at you.

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Friday, March 30, 2007

Stop Cyberbulling Day

Today is Stop Cyberbullying Day.

Prompted, I'm sure by Kathy Sierra's problems, which is the topic of a huge percentage of blog posts this week and has been listed in the top three searches at Technorati all week.

Along with stopping any bad behaviors you have yourself, this is a good day to spend some time thinking about the issues, your rights and role. Cyberbullying isn't just the problem of The Attacked and The Attackers but has implications for bloggers and others in the community, such as linking behaviors etc.

You know that I'll suggest treating your blog, forums etc as police states, but there is more to consider. Nordette Adams has covered many aspects of the issue regarding Sierra's situation, including the fall-out. It's in Adams' blog post at Confessions of a Jersey Goddess that you'll see most of the issues you need to consider.

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Thursday, March 29, 2007

I'm Right, As Usual

People who use the Internet to read the news have a greater attention span than print readers, according to a U.S. study that refutes the idea that Web surfers jump around and don't read much.

Proof that what I say is true: the Internet is not the death of reading. Now we simply await a study which proves all my other points (about newspapers ~ and everything else too) is true. *wink*

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Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Why Pen Names Are Useful

In case you missed it, the full story on Kathy Sierra: "Death threats against bloggers are NOT 'protected speech'".

I, and others, have written on the use of pen names when blogging, but it bears repeating.

For those who think safety isn't an issue, read about Kathy's situation and ask yourself if it isn't time to consider pen names differently. Even if you appear at conferences and make other public appearances, a pen name can make it more difficult for someone to reach you. Even if just extra minutes, it's a head start, right?

Ditto on a work address, even if only a P.O. Box at the UPS store.

I should also add that I do not feel death threats, to bloggers or anyone, fall under the 1st Amendment rights. No one should feel the need to protect themselves with a a fake name, but then no one should fear walking down the street, or feel afraid in their own home; but that's the world we live in for now.

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Stop The Press! Newspaper's Are Not DOA

Pronouncing newspapers as 'dead' is, I think, a bit premature.

With all due respect to Scoble and others who are wise in their detractions of the old print media ~ detractions which are given top priority placement, unlike like newspaper retractions which are buried and virtually meaningless ~ I'm not convinced newspapers (or any 'old' media) is doomed to go the way of dinosaurs and Dodo birds.

Extinction is based upon the inability to adapt, and while newspapers sure have been slow to learn, I am not convinced they are incapable of adapting. Slow is often synonymous with corporate giants; their learning curve steepened and hampered by conformity to what they know, what they've always done. But this does not make newspapers nor the people that run them and work for them doomed to follow some well-worn path right off a cliff. They still posses the instinct for survival, even if they aren't sure about the 'how to' part yet.

The detractions have become assumptions that newspaper behavior is set in stone; that what actions they take (or do not take) are immovable, genetic factors ~ in this case limitations. But behaviors are not givens like 'cold-blooded' or 'height.' Behaviors are not irrefutable biological imperatives, but are learned ~ and unlearned. And newspapers are organizations, not organisms, and so are made of many beings which can unlearn, learn and move the individual business (as well as the industry) off the beaten path which heads off the cliff. It takes just one person with the right ideas (either in the right place or access to the right ~ or left ~ ear of the CEO) to save them. Their ways are not set in stone; neither are their futures.

Newspapers themselves are a far cry from stone tablets, even if they lack some of the fluidity of our digital age. What newspapers must do is what many business and individuals must do in this age of changes ~ not all of which are prompted by technology itself but rather by the humans (and their desires) which not only create but use the technology ~ they must change.

Newspapers may seem like a funny thing to write about in a marketing or PR blog, but the Fourth Estate is a large part of the work we (should) do. And it works nicely within concepts and issues which I'll be getting to soon (so bear with me ~ or better yet, don't passively read but get involved in the discussion) which are about our cultural shift in desires. Americans, generally believed to be bereft of any 'Culture' with a capital 'C' still have a general culture; and we as the collective culture are demanding some fundamental changes in the way things are done.

This is not a new thing. We have a long history of change and rebellion. Not just from the old crown of England, but along the way we've demanded, cultivated and changed many of our own ways, behaviors and institutions. Where it was once fine for a man to beat his women, we began to slowly change laws ~ first things like "no man shall beat his wife with anything thicker than his finger," and then onto better (if not always enforced) laws saying no beatings at all. It's still a work in progress. But we said, 'no more,' and we changed.

Now newspapers and other media must change.

The problem with newspapers isn't that they are outdated simply by being printed; they are not offering the readers that which we want to consume. As I said in the interview with Nicki Arnold, there is a great tactile and human response to reclining in chairs or on couches to read from paper. It's not the digital delivery vs the delivery boy; not 'instant' blogger vs it-takes-time paper. It's not that they must change because of technology, but because of the way we've used technology to reflect & voice our desires for change. We've used technology to change our culture.

So it's not simply about how newspapers publish but it's about what they publish; it's the content of their publications which has the outdated problems.

Here are some changes newspapers must make which have nothing to do with how or where they are published (technology) but have to do with culture (what consumers want).

#1 Let me enjoy reading. Do away with the stupid, antiquated inverted pyramid. Stop making me read more only to find out less. And stop writing for grade school readers ~ unless you run a grade school publication or are targeting those who have had little education. And don't you dare give me the 'facts' regarding the average reading level in this country ~ those people aren't likely to buy and read anything anyway. Aim at your damn target market! (Hint: It has something to do with 'readers'.)

#2 Make me care. Do away with the out-of-date and inaccurate thinking that 'journalist = impartial'. History shows us that some of the first and best journalists were those with the biggest biases. What made them work, what made them popular, was the fact that they were passionate. They cared enough to rant and rave and they were honest and open about their bias. Think this is crazy? Look at the popularity of FOX news and blogging in general.

This whole issue reminds me of that Lou Grant episode where Lou and female reporter Billie clash about "women's reporting." Lou tells Billie how 'in the old days' female reporters came in, removed their gloves and sat down to type stories to make people cry. Billie responds with a "Is that what you're afraid I'll do?" And Lou responds, "No, I'm afraid that's not what you're going to do." I'm paraphrasing (butchering), but that scene's principle is etched in my mind all these years because Lou's ideals in print would be a paper I'd want to read.

In other words, journalists should evoke some response in their writings. I personally tire of and am saddened by reading about drive by shootings and when done, I don't give a damn. At the end of that piece I should be crying. Crying for the people shot, their families, and the communities which live in such conditions. And yes, crying at the fact that the these cars full of humans have lost hope and humanity to the degree that they feel this is an option ~ that they think they should do this.

We as readers are not (completely) desensitized by violence or the frequency of such acts, but by the means in which we are told these things. The current name of journalism is as void of emotion as it can be. This makes for publications void of any meaning. If you read it and think, "Who cares?" why would you buy it?

#3 Give me the facts but... Facts do not really exist, not completely on their own anyway. Facts and statistics need interpretation, which involves the human mind. Humans have biases, impressions, reactions ~ these color facts and should be mentioned. Facts do not exist in a vacuum, so stop trying to present them as such. But then again, do not ignore facts, stats, data ~ including those either from, or interpreted by, 'the other side.' It not just a 'tactic' to appear 'fair,' but by presenting those who disagree you show some passion and concern regarding the topic or issue. You can debate the 'other,' or simply present it; but don't be lazy and ignore it. Others who care about the topic are going to know these other points of view and if you don't point to it your credibility diminishes two-fold: 1, you must not care enough and 2, you are lazy in your research.

#4 Tell me what's important. Everyone is bitching about the amount of press given to Anna Nicole vs. real issues like the war. I doubt this was any different when Marilyn Monroe died ~ 'we' love our celebrities. We all know WWII wasn't given much press ~ in part because no one wanted to know anything so 'we' wouldn't have to do anything about it. Newspapers and the media have a long tradition of selecting what they think the people want. Being one of the few sources of the news, they tried to please (pander) to everyone.

One thing we do know with this digital news delivery is that we can get the news we seek somewhere. Newspapers were once the only, then the main, source of news. It made sense to be a generalist of sorts. But now we clearly see the need for niche newspapers and publications. Pick a side, celebs or the war, and serve it. If you stand for something, be it the economy or entertainment, educate me about it. Tell me what's new, tell me what I should care about and why.

#5 Stand (up) corrected. When you make a mistake, say so loudly. (Note: I said 'when,' not 'if,' because you will make a mistake or have an error of some sort.) Don't whisper it in the hushed mumbles of an ashamed child (buried at the bottom of page 27 amid lord knows what), but rather put it on the first page, if not above the fold. This goes for everything ~ a significant typo (in figures or one which changes the context or meaning), crediting your source inappropriately (or heave forbid, not at all!), misquoting or other inaccurate statement, or just being plain old wrong in your presentation. Let me know that you know you were wrong and I'll respect you for it.

None of these things depends upon technology nor is because of technology but rather is based upon cultural shifts. These are cultural shifts which technology has been used to spurred forward, but print can do them all. And do them well.

If newspapers and other media learn to adopt these principals, to adapt, then they will not die-off and become extinct. Those which learn new behaviors will find themselves handsomely rewarded with paying readers who will curl up on the sofa, read at the breakfast table, and pour through in bed on Sunday mornings (not just for the crossword puzzles either). All it takes for you to get these readers is to focus on your consumers and their wishes. Just like any other business.

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Slow Times, Cool Sales

What can you do to drive business during slow periods? Well, for one, look at where you can boost sales:

A brothel in Germany hopes to capitalize on the growing number of retirees by offering them a 50 percent discount for sex in the afternoon.

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Friday, March 23, 2007

Adult Business News

Canadian prostitutes launched a constitutional challenge to overturn criminal laws governing the sex trade, arguing existing restrictions put their lives at risk.

In the UK, lap dancers are to pay VAT (taxes for those dancers who earn more than £64,000 a year).

And another article on the blocked Child Online Protection Act, this one from CNET News has more coverage of history too. (Can you tell I'm excited about this? Thanks to Slip of a Girl and her reader, Bill, for the link.)

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Thursday, March 22, 2007

Child Online Protection Act Struck Down

A judge, Senior U.S. District Judge Lowell Reed Jr, has struck down the Child Online Protection Act.

Citing it's vagueness and First Amendment unconstitutionality, Reed said:
"Perhaps we do the minors of this country harm if First Amendment protections, which they will with age inherit fully, are chipped away in the name of their protection."
He also (accurately in my opinion) stated that a greater threat are child predators who directly affect the welfare of children's lives as opposed to the 'possibility' of seeing explicit sexuality and that parents have the responsibility to control their computer and their children rather than putting the government in charge of controlling freedom of expression & businesses.

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Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Blogger Research Is 'In'

Remember when I told you I spoke with UCSB student, Nicki Arnold, regarding Bloggers V. Journalists? Well Nicki's done with her research and emailed me to say so.

I asked her what she found out and here's what she had to say:
Well, it seems, to me, that "regular folk" are starting to accept blogs (at least certain ones) as fact and as credible sources of information. This is evident in the fact that they're starting to grow in popularity, mostly, and bloggers are becoming more of an authority figure. But, like you said, the big officials are still unwilling to accept bloggers as journalists and don't want to give them the same rights (I cited the Wolf incident in San Francisco and France's new law that bans non-professional journalists from filming violent acts).

Really, though, I feel like even those findings will be irrelevant in less than a year. The whole issue is changing monthly. It was hard for me to stop researching and turn in the paper when I had to because it felt unfinished that way :-)
Nicki's has published some of her notes at her blog, Bloggers vs. Reporters: Research, including notes from the interview with yours truly.

As always, I'm interested in your thoughts on the matter, so why not share them? *wink*

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Thursday, March 15, 2007

Anti-Porn News

You likely have heard about the firing of seven U.S. Attorneys from their districts around the country, but did you know that at least two of those firings were apparently due to their unwillingness to assist in the hunt (shoot to kill) of pornography?
"Two others, Paul K. Charlton in Arizona and Daniel K. Bogden in Nevada, were faulted as being 'unwilling to take good cases we have presented to them,' according to another e-mail message to Mr. Sampson, referring to pornography prosecutions."
For more on this, read News Analysis: More Evidence Of The Federal Anti-Porn Conspiracy.

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Monday, March 12, 2007

Carnival of Capitalists

I made the cut in the recent Carnival of Capitalists, hosted this week by Small Business Trends. While I'm always thrilled to make anyone's lists, I am especially tickled when I make mainstream lists. I know I shouldn't pander, and I certainly don't want to dismiss adult business as less-than, but it's nice to know the mainstream folks are reading too. We all have so much to learn from one another, but rarely do we mix.

I do urge you all to read this week's list, but I had to single out a few of my favorites:

8 Common Mistakes Recruiters Make is must reading for anyone that networks. I know what you're thinking ~ "I not recruiting or hiring anyone; I'm not in HR" ~ but you are networking. (At least I hope you are!) When networking you are representing your company. I don't care if your company or brand is 'just you,' a rag-tag team of volunteers, or a billion employees, if you are networking you are 'it' to those you meet. Not just potential consumers/buyers, but editors, columnists, models, reviewers, etc. When you speak to them, it's rather like a job interview experience. If this list of things could be said about you in one fashion or another, take a moment and think about it. (Memo to self: Work on number eight; those anthology submissions need to be addressed!)

Friday is Quadruple Witching Day is an intriguing list of what big economic indicators, like the Consumer Price Index, will be published this week. I'm not always a numbers gal, but between the numbers interesting stories await you ~ if you read and think. So look at what's coming up and then read and think. *wink*

Here are a few basic things which I suspect many of you will not go read ~ but honestly, are you above the basics? I make it a point every now and then to remind myself of what I am doing and why. So remind yourself about what your competition really is and how trust matters.

My favorite piece this week is Handicapping the Carr-Benkler Wager. It's a rather convoluted title, I'll admit, but this is an excellent look at "Gift Economy" and 'peer production,' i.e. YouTube videos, Digg and other Web 2.0 media.

The article's title comes from the "Carr-Benkler wager": a bet on whether, by 2011, such sites will be driven primarily by volunteers or by professionals." An interesting discussion, but there's more here...

There is a fascinating look at the issues of self-esteem and self-actualization and their effects on specialization ~ with lots of fodder for thinking marketers. When technology makes your head spin, when you think you can't compete because you aren't some software inventor, when you wonder if you can compete without the gizmos, gadgets and advertising that big budgets bring, remember this:
The proponents of the new technology say "We are dealing with new and unprecedented things!", to which Carr's basic reply is "The things may be new, but the people dealing with them have dealt with other new things repeatedly in the past, with very predictable behaviors." Technology changes quickly, but our brains do not. We are running the same 'wetware' as our ancient ancestors. Certain behavior patterns have been noted consistently for thousands of years.
You knew I'd love that bit, right? *wink* But 'tis true, I swear. When faced with uncertainty about technology, just remember that you have the same brains and behaviors as most of your potential clients and customers. You are still able to think like them in most regards.

For more on the carnival, and to find past weeks' selections, see the official site: Carnival of Capitalists. (I've also added it to the sidebar.)

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Sunday, March 11, 2007

Social Media Marketing Reading

Some required reading regarding social networks ~ keep in mind, if you have an adult site or blog, your content may not be welcome (and you'd likely be missing your target audience anyway).

Of How to Leverage Web 2.0 & Social Media Sites to Market Your Brand & Control Your Message, I have to say their comments about MySpace, Yahoo! 360 & Technorati accurately reflect my experiences and so I'm taking what they have to say about the others to heart.

In How Many Friends Does Your Book Have? there is a more hopeful or promising picture of MySpace ~ for authors anyway. I can't deny the stories told, but my experiences are more in line with what SEOmoz has to say (above).

Over at Spin Thicket (one of my addictions), they have a whole category dedicated to what they call Social Disease Media. Funny, sad-but-true, and just the facts, this section is good reading for those interested in Web 2.0/Social Networking.

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Friday, March 9, 2007

What Are Your Rights As A Blogger Or Webmaster?

We had a server snafu early yesterday morning, so I am a bit off schedule right now. While I have nothing to do with the tech aspects of running my sites (other than alerting the techie to problems, noting fixes and making demands for new toys or tweaks to the sites), it's amazing how much this problem affected other areas of my life.

You can joke about being an Internet addict, and I may in fact be one, but when you work on the Internet and you can't access everything per usual, you tend to go nuts. And the fact that I can't bother a man knee-deep in whatever it is techies get knee-deep in while he's cleaning up messy server issues to go and tweak the design of a new site I'm working on, well my whole itinerary for the day was shot.

The bottom line: today's intended post must be delayed. But I will tell you what it was about, so that you may anticipate what's to come...

I'm starting a new blog project, this time with a group of contributors with whom I have never worked before. (Don't worry, you'll get a name and a link soon enough.) Since it's new, it brings up key points for blogging and marketing which I know many of you are interested in ~ like link exchanges, design, theme, organization of participating authors, niche etc. So rest assured we'll be getting to all that. It will sort of be like a 'making of' ~ not step-by-step, but at least point-by-point. (I hope.)

Meanwhile, while awaiting a few tweaks from the techie, feel free to:

* Send in your questions

* Read the following pieces regarding bloggers' rights, copyright issues and ethics:

Blogger chased away Disney advertisers and The Mouse retaliates by paying a law firm to intimidate him and his ISP. What are you prepared for?

It's my blog and I'll bitch if I want to. What would you do?

(And if you have not already subscribed to the Marketing Whore Newsletter, what on earth are you waiting for? You've already missed great subscriber only offers!)

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Wednesday, March 7, 2007

Required Reading

In Confessors and Confessions Slip of a Girl ponders blogs ~ or more accurately, the phenom between blogger and reader. A must read.

The 2007 AVN Adult Entertainment Expo/GAYVN Expo broke all previous trade attendance records, garnering a 5% increase over 2006 trade attendance. (Despite the conservative agenda, sex is still big business!)

Tips on Building a Review Site, which includes this bit: "A Review Site is not a build-it-and-forget it kind of page. You're undoubtedly going to create your Review Site as a marketing venue but you'll be selling yourself as well as your sponsors." (Sound familiar?)

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Monday, February 26, 2007

Where Can You Sell? Where Can You Buy?

Like Gracie, I've had my share of bad dealings with eBay.

As a buyer, I hate that I can't find what I am looking for because I need to hunt for the secret passageway to the back alley which is the 'mature audiences' area and that my secret knock has a time limit which puts be back outside the back alley again and again. I'm looking for vintage men's magazines, pinups, antique erotic works, sex books (both new and historical titles) etc. -- it really shouldn't be like buying moonshine in during prohibition.

As a seller, I detest a greedy eBay which is all too happy take my money in the form of seller fees which are equal to those items which are not hidden in a back alley. (I pay the same fees yet have less exposure?! Sheesh.) And I have been driven to drink with the yanking of listings which are "against policy" even if not so stated. (I was the lister of the books Gracie wrote about here.)

In response to the above, we sell our items in our own stores. But as a collector of old sex history, it was awfully darn nice to have one large source for so many goodies. While many sites have tried to be the 'new adult marketplace', most folded due to the usual problem of not enough traffic (missing buyers and sellers both). So when I heard about Rummage Monkey, a new entry in the race for online marketplace supremacy with both 'wine & spirits' and 'adult novelties' categories clearly visible, I was interested.

Interested enough to interview Jeff Scanlon and Gary Legastee of Rummage Monkey.

One thing I couldn't really discuss over at Collectors' Quest was the dirty subject of naughty collectibles and the general sexual repression that is eBay...

Thankfully, I knew Gracie would let me air the dirty laundry out here. *wink*

After ranting about the various troubles with eBay's marketplace platform and polices for 'adult items' I asked both men what their plans were regarding all sorts of adult items. Gary and Jeff both explained that in order to be a member at Rummage Monkey you need to be 18; once you login as a member you'll be able to see the adult listings (and wine etc.) if you so wish. Both men assured me that they were committed to allowing for the sale of mature items. They understood that people want these items, and like alcohol, they aren't going to prohibit such items but keep Rummage Monkey open to legal buyers of these legal items.

"We don't think anyone not wanting these items is going to find them -- they'll have to search for them or browse a category as they would any other item. While adult items likely won't be featured on the home page, anyone who wants to find them will be able to do so."

"Are you going to bury the items in a maze of hidden alleyways and secret knocks? Lock us out when we are still logged in? You won't hide the link to the adult section?" I asked.

"Rummage Monkey makes money when items are sold, so making these items hard to find and therefore hard to sell, isn't in our best interests, is it?" Jeff grinned.

"Listen, Jeff," I said, "Did you know that vintage Playboy magazines can be sold in the non-protected areas of eBay, but other vintage men's magazines, even those with less skin shown, are not? Ah, the myriad of rules, is confusing and confounding. I completely understand and respect the business model -- I get that it's eBay's site, so they can do what they want; you can do what you want with your site. But I need to know how seriously you are committed to a marketplace which supports these items."

"I bet there are plenty of newer magazines & media which eBay offers which show much more than vintage Playboys," Jeff chuckled.

"I smell a money rat: Playboy's a known giant, a rich vein to mine. So eBay grants the money giant prominent placement and denies the others. There must be some rationale behind it... Will there be splits like that, weird little censoring rules based on who knows what? Is it Big Boys win; to hell with the rest?"

"The only thing we're really worried about are the images -- No explicit images, no matter who made it or who is selling it. As for the big boys, no. We're Foreign Exchange Sales Brokers working with many middle and small business owners so we see Rummage Monkey as an affordable marketplace for our clients and others like them."

"What about the issue of bdsm materials? Many of the banned or problematic items at eBay (and payment processor PayPal) are not 'adult' in the legal sense -- for example, they pulled a BDSM book which requires no brown wrap, isn't kept behind the counter -- anyone can purchase it from their local book store or online at Amazon. Would you allow this book to be sold at Rummage Monkey?"

"Sure," Jeff said.

"Where would it be listed? In 'Books' or in the 'Adult' category only?"

"'Books', I'd imagine... Isn't that where you'd look for it?" he replied.

Cheeky monkey.

"So, the bottom line: How committed are you to those of us who buy & sell these sort of items?"

"I can't promise you that if we have a seller blowing out thousands of flatscreen TVs and they come to us saying they're pulling from our site because of a bdsm book in the book's category that I won't pay attention... From a business point of view, that wouldn't make sense either. Depending upon the situation, we'll have to listen to the marketplace."

"So what would happen?"

"I'd probably move those items to the 'adult' category."

"So, bdsm items wouldn't be pulled?"

"No. Not unless it had inappropriate, explicit, images."

"I know you're a new site, and that much of this is new to you... And, again, I understand the business model. I understand that things may change... And I don't want to beat a dead horse here, but to be absolutely clear... Say that this seller of flatscreens says moving bdsm to 'adult' isn't good enough. Say he says that he wants no bdsm merchandise on the site... What's your response then?"

"Oh, no, we wouldn't pull it completely. Those legally selling and buying bdsm items should have a place to sell too. We'd be open to moving the items to 'adult' but not banishing them."

They convinced me that they're rather serious about offering a marketplace which is open to mature interests.


If you're an author peddling your erotica and don't want to bother with setting up your own shopping cart, a seller of sex toys looking for additional venues, or some other sort of adult etailer, I'd give Rummage Monkey a look-see yourself and see if it's an option for you. (If you've got vintage risque and adult collectibles, be sure to give me a shout out! lol)

Another note for you marketing folks out there: Rummage Monkey also will manage your Google Adwords accounts for you. If your mind boggles at how to analyze and therefore improve your current campaigns; if keywords, writing, formatting and the like are alien territory and you're unsure just what you're doing; Rummage Monkey has people and software they'll put to good use for you. According to Gary, for the accounts they manage they've increased hits by 3-5%. And if you have Rummage Monkey managing your Adwords account, you get a free store -- no monthly store fees, no final value fees. Contact Gary and Jeff regarding this service.

As noted in the other interview, Rummage Monkey has clear and easy contact information listed, so don't be shy & ask your questions. They also have a Rummage Monkey Blog.

by Deanna Dahlsad

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