Friday, May 29, 2009

Enabling inter-company communication

Imagine the situation... you want to find out what's happening in your own company (e.g. strategic moves, etc.) but because of communication / management / location issues, you don't always get to find out the official news. On top of this, you also want to find out what is 'really' happening, in a Twitter-like status feed that is only seen by those who work at your company.

Well, this is exactly what Yammer provides as is an instant way to tell your colleagues "what am I working on?"

Yammer ( addresses the issue of using your Twitter status for updates that are really only relevant to others in your company and offers a restricted area (and therefore hopefully a more open conversation).

Also, in a very Twitter-esque way, you can add hashtags (themes or subjects preceeded by the # symbol that you want to subsequently track, e.g. #takeover)

Here was their intial introduction at Techcrunch last year:

So, to answer the question "Is it any good?", my answer is a resounding "Yes". We at Ideal Interface have now been using it for a few weeks and are finding it a very useful way to share: thoughts, status updates, useful links and other info. It particularly suits our business as we are mainly out of the office (myslef on client sites most of the time and others working from their home offices, etc.)

Expect further updates on this useful business tool.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Growth predicted in Interactive Advertising

Despite all the doom and gloom of the current recession, Forrester Research are predicting that interactive marketing spending will hit $25.6 billion in 2009. This will be an increase on the 2008 total of $23.1 billion by 11%

Even better news that Shar VanBoskirk predicts:

We expect marketer spend on display media, search, email, mobile and social media to reach nearly $55 billion by 2014.
However, this growth witll not come without casualties, mainly from direct mail and print advertising.

The full article is here:

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Google relaxing trademarks now?

Ok, its not usual for me to keep on about a subject for too long (especially when there's so much out there to blog about), but following on from last weeks postings [Monday and Wednesday]about Google and trademarks, there have been further developments in this area....

Last week, it announced that will ease its restrictions on trademarked terms in adverts in Google. Now brands can both positively and negatively mention each other in their PPC activity. Some see this as an opportunity to communicate their exact product offerings, others just see it as Google trying to squeeze more revenue out of their search marketing service.

Either way this is yet another blow for those companies who are trying to prevent their competitors marketing to their customers on the popular search engine. Where previously some brands avoided the crowded (and potentially monopolistic) search engine, they now may not have any choice but to out-bid others to protect their own trademarks and revenue.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Is Google a Monopoly?

Surely any company that has a 70% - 90% share of any market could be seen as having a monopoly?

Well Google currently has the following shares of the search market in these countries:
However, I can't help feel that a lot of this hype about Google's monopoly has been based upon fear from its competition (e.g. Microsoft's multi-million pound lobbying of Washington to block the Google & Yahoo advertising partnership last October) or worry from those who have old business models.... newspapers please take a step forward. And talking about Microsoft, weren't they themsleves found guilty of all sorts of anti-competitive activity several years ago? It therefore makes it all the more hypocritical that they "wolf" now.

But even though Google may have power in the search market, it doesn't necessarily mean that this has corrupted them does it? Well according to Jon Leibowitz ,the new Chair of the Federal Trade Commission, when asked last week if he saw Google abusing its power, said:
"I certainly don't see Google as abusing its power right now, no. And also it's brought many benefits to consumers."

But nevertheless Google has gone on the defensive, readying itself with information such as this presentation to potentially defend itself against the Anti-Googlers.

One thing is for sure, there's a lot of jealous companies out there who would love even a fraction of Google's wealth... and they show no signs of letting up in the current market conditions.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Google PPC trademark and the Class Action Lawsuit

Sometimes I write about relevant things, usually a little time after they happen (this tends to be after I've either used it, read about it or listened to a podcast that mentions it), but rarely do I write about somehting and then the following day or so something significant happens... however, following on from my posting on Monday...

...there is an article in today's Register by online legal firm This gives details about a sales software company called Firepond who have sued Google in a Texan court, because the Google AdWords system apparently infringes their trade marks.
"Google has improperly infringed [Firepond's] 'Firepond' Marks by selling, for example, [its] trademark 'Firepond' to [its] competitors as a keyword so that when an Internet User searches for 'Firepond' on...Google's Internet search engine, the competitor's advertisement hyperlink will appear at the very top and/or on the right side of the first page of search results…thereby confusing Internet Users and diverting a percentage of such Users from [Firepond] and enjoying and benefitting from all the goodwill and 'buyer's momentum' associated with [its] valuable trademark,"

However, by hopefully teaming up with other companies who are also upset by this activity, Firepond hopes to create a Class Action which will prevent Google from profiting from competitive trademark keyword buying.

This will certainly be an interesting case to watch, especially I more companies join in.
Further information is available at

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

blog sentiment for retailers

There's no doubt that bloggers opinions count these days. But if you're a retailer, is the blogosphere a good or bad place for opinions?

If you believe the Mainstream Media (MSM), you'd be fooled into believing that bloggers only post about the negative things in life and seek to destroy reputations rather than say posisitve things. Well, research agency Carma has found the opposite!

In their report on whether Negativity does prevail in Consumer Generated Media, they found that..
the blogosphere was unfavorable in less than 28 percent of posts, while it was favorable in more than 41 percent of posts. Based on this data alone, it is not accurate to say that the blogosphere is pervasively negative. Perhaps the blogosphere is negative in other ways . . .

Or to put it in diagram form (from eMarketer):

If you're a retailer, are you monitoring blog postings or even tracking the collective sentiment of this influential group of commenters? Even if you start now... you may be suprised by what you find.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Google PPC & Trademarks

Since May 2008, Google UK has allowed companies to bid on other trademarks (although it claims it doesn't 'encourage' it). This was a reversing of their previous policy, where this was prevented by providing proof of your company trademark directly to them. This brought Google UK's policy into line with that of Google USA and Canada.

Now, this did start an intial flurry of Pay Per Click (PPC) advertising last Spring, with British companies suddenly fearing that their competitors would buy placements for their trademarks. However this paranoid has subsided somewhat, especially when Google stated that they would not allow trademarks to be displayed in the ad text.

But that's not the full story... 'Yes', you can bid on a competitors trademark term and 'no' you may not stick their trademark in the advert copy you display. But you can put the competitors name into your URL and display that at the bottom of your advert.

Therefore, the following PPC advert is NOT allowed:

competitor trademark
competitor trademark
competitor trademark

...but the following one IS:

Advert copy
More advert copy
Even more copy

Sunday, May 3, 2009

T-Mobile takes over Trafalgar Square

T-Mobile, in a reprisal of their famous Liverpool Street flash mob dancing advert, took over Trafalgar Square in the middle of London on Friday evening and the actual advert screened last night on UK TV.

Although this didn't perhaps have the impact of the previous one, it continues the "Life's for sharing" theme.

Friday, May 1, 2009

The Customer is now Social

Hasn't you customer grown up? Haven't they learnt to ask each other for opinion and to trust each other?


Never before have people started trusting each other and I'll once-again refer to the Universal Mccanns study on' When did we start trusting strangers?'
And as customers get more social, they need new ways of interacting with companies.
So, just like CRM, that gave companies a segmented view of their customer-base, VRM (Vendor Relationship Management) allows customers the tools for engaging with vendors.

Could companies be realising that their customers' view of them is not the same as their own? Surely not?