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Marketing Biz: DISQUS Challenges AdSense & Acquisio Buys ScienceOps; Microsoft Opts-Out Of Advertising
Microsoft is not so quietly deciding to opt-out of advertising, while DISQUS is stealthily building an alternative to AdSense. This week we also saw Square taking a big leap in mobile payments, learned out inept ICANN is and saw more drama unfold between Apple and Google. The future might also include FreeMonee and sponsored people. Confused? Read on.
Lynch argued that, when asked, most consumers prefer to browse in private rather than be tracked with cookies by the advertisers who want to target them. That may be true, but online advertising is only useful to advertisers—and the publishers who take in $35 billion in web ads annually—if they can target their ads properly. And for that, they need tracking.
Microsoft seems hell bent on shooting itself in both feet. The move to have tracking set to opt-out by default is misguided. Instead of looking at how people respond to targeted ads, Microsoft wants to listen to what people say about targeted ads.
The problem? People lie. Maybe they don’t intentionally but the truth is that while many claim not to want this level of targeting, they respond to it very positively in practice.
By accepting Pay with Square, Starbucks is giving millions of customers another way to enjoy a quick and seamless payment experience at approximately 7,000 Starbucks stores. The partnership will also accelerate the ability of small businesses to grow with Square’s innovative technology and a stronger and more widely available Square network.
The mobile payments space continues to heat up. What isn’t mentioned here is that Starbucks also invested in Square to the tune of $25 million dollars. This is an important move for Square since it will provide an introduction to a mainstream audience. In addition, consumers are more likely to try mobile payment services for smaller ticket items.
Upstart works a bit differently from other crowdfunding sites. Unlike with Kickstarter, backers can invest in people — “upstarts” — rather than in teams, projects, or ideas. Upstarts can use the funding for almost anything, and in return, they pay their backers on a monthly basis for 10 years, verified annually via tax returns. It’s a fixed fraction of income, and the max interest rate an upstart could pay is a 14.99 percent annual return.
The adage in venture capital circles is your invest in people and teams, not ideas and products. Upstart seems to take this philosophy to a new level. I’m not sure how I feel about it though. My gut tells me it’s a bad deal and borders on exploitation. And what’s next, competing people funds? Sponsored people? Will I have to wear NASCAR like logos?
“We’ve watched Acquisio take our initial investment, and mature into a consistently innovative company that continues to evolve and expand to serve the changing needs of the agencies and brands that rely on their software,” says Andre Gauthier, Tandem Expansion Managing Partner. “We believe Acquisio is a platform that will continue to grow it’s offering and answer the needs of the complex online advertising market.
Acquisio has built up a stable of clients and a product suite that should capture a large chunk of the marketing dollars that are moving online. The new funding seems targeted to meet this growing demand and to acquire additional companies in a quest to offer a best of breed offering for multi-channel marketing.
The paper has been looking to get rid of the struggling Web site, which produces high-volume, low-cost content, and has a deal in place to sell it to Answers.com.
The question-and-answers site has signed a letter of intent to buy About for $270 million, according to people familiar with the transaction.
It’s a bit sad to see that The New York times can’t do something with About.com. Whether you like About.com or not, they have a massive footprint on the Internet and within search results. It’s just more evidence that lumbering old school media can’t seem to adapt.
Now ICANN, bereft of a system to assign the order in which new domains will be activated, is asking the public what should be done. The request for community help “seeks input on requirements for an evaluation and delegation process consistent with previous root zone scaling discussions of smooth delegations, adding no more than 1,000 new gTLDs per year.”
Not only can they not add more than 1,000 gTLDs per year but they can’t add all of them at the same time. How did they not see this coming? This is simply gross incompetence. It leads me to believe that the only thing ICANN focused on was the ability to extract money from big brands. At this stage, we should put this genie back in the bottle.
As we continue to learn and improve how sites are using the Discovery box, we’re also excited to talk about the newest form of discovery: Promoted Discovery. In a nutshell, Promoted Discovery is a way for your site to increase engagement and make money. It works by recommending content, through the Discovery box, that your readers may find interesting. Promoted content recommendations, such as other blog posts, are personalized to your readers based on relevance and quality. You’ll earn money when any of these promoted recommendations are clicked on by your readers.
Buried in this post from DISQUS is the mention of Promoted Discovery. This is essentially a competing product to AdSense. I’m sure both Google and DISQUS would say it’s complementary but I think many are hungry for a true AdSense alternative. The other part of me thinks this is just the thing to push Google into acquiring DISQUS.
It’s not clear yet what caused this change — Apple may have grown tired of paying the Google license, or it may have simply wanted the iOS experience to be free of Google’s apps out of the box. However, the end result may end up being better for consumers. The iOS YouTube app has languished for years without seeing any major improvements — but now Google can iterate and update its own YouTube app as it sees fit.
Google and Apple aren’t getting along, that’s clear. Yet both seem to be putting on their best smiley faces in light of this change. The under-current here is that Google will make the YouTube app much better now that Apple doesn’t have their finger on it.
FreeMonee Gifts link directly to a consumer’s credit or debit card, delivering cash gifts that can be spent on any purchase at designated stores or restaurants. Unlike a coupon, the consumer is free to spend any amount they want—there are no conditions.
To deliver a no-strings-attached incentive to consumers, that is profitable for retailers, is extremely difficult. FreeMonee invested two years in developing a proprietary Gift Underwriting Engine that matches the right gift, to the right consumer, at the right amount. The results are response rates that are 10–50 times that of traditional promotions or coupons and profitable new sales for merchants.
To be honest this is the first time I’ve come across FreeMonee (what a brilliant name by the way). It’s an interesting concept aimed at disrupting the very traditional coupon space. What do you think, are they on to something?
The objective: to secure a role for Apple in the growing e-commerce market, putting the 400 million-plus users with credit cards on file with Apple’s iTunes Store to work shopping—with Apple getting a cut of the action.
Really? This seems like a bad combination in my book. Apple excels in closed systems not open ones. I’m not sure how this would work out.
As a marketer, I’m especially guilty of one bad habit – I save my best material for the future. When I have a really “great” idea, I add it to a list to write later, presumably because only content marketing will save us from the coming Zombie Apocalypse. Instead of wasting my best ideas, I pull something from the B list and try to get it to 88% assedness.
I don’t often include these types of productivity articles in Marketing Biz. However, I think this is one that marketers need to hear. Or maybe I just need to hear it.
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