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It’s Not GoogleBuy, Let Alone GoogleMoney June 29, 2006

Posted by David Card in Commerce.
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Google Checkout is about 2/3 of a wallet service, circa 2001. The pitch to users: you don’t have to fill in your credit card and mailing info for every merchant, you can trust Google with your information. To merchants: if you buy Google paid search, you don’t have to pay transaction costs for Checkout.

Key points:

– This isn’t a complete alternative payments system (not a PayPal killer), nor micropayments, nor a shopping cart, nor identity management. In fact, it’s a little hard to say what it is at release. I think consumers will puzzle over figuring it out. It’ll get bigger, no doubt, over time. But make no mistake, there’s no prepay/debit mechanism yet. And Google isn’t doing batch payments or aggregating things the way real micropayments companies have to. It’s not doing real merchant ratings, either.

– Google paid search marketers who use Checkout will get a little icon (badge) in their paid ads, not in their organic search results.

– Rates for merchants are 2% plus 20 cents/transaction, contrary to previous printed reports. Compared to PayPal, no particular bargain.

– When they briefed me, Google didn’t mention Froogle or Base. What’s up with that?

Is this aimed at smaller merchants? Maybe, but how hard is it to accept credit card payments? Is this really for digital content vendors? For bloggers who want to charge less than a dollar? For shady digital content companies (i.e., porn)? Big deal.

Will users trust Google more than some merchants? Absolutely. Will Checkout deliver portable identity or shopping carts or payment systems across merchants? No. Not yet. Will it kill PayPal. Absolutely not.

I still think a real, live Google “currency” that integrates Adwords as well as $$, will be huge. This ain’t it. At least not yet.

I’m only posting this now, because Charlene already did, and I can’t sleep. Otherwise, I’d have waited till the PR crossed the wires. And I’m no retail nor payments analyst, so take me with a huge grain of salt. Call the real experts.

Liking the Slate Redesign – A Lot June 28, 2006

Posted by David Card in Media.
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Slate‘s ten years old. It’s always been one of my favorite web zines. I even paid for it once. Its redesign pretty much rocks.

– I don’t like widescreen, but I’m in the minority. The bigger fonts look great on my widescreen Mac at home.
– Pull out menus work much more effectively, and they work on Macs and on Firefox. Death to ActiveX.
– Still a good mix of promotion (via graphics, typefaces, and clever headlines, as we all learned back in the day) and calendarized posts. “Briefing” up high is brilliant.
– Slate does “most blogged” right — take that, NY Times — and actually links to Technorati so you can see the related posts.

Minor quibbles:

– Inside, on article pages, it’s still all editorial promotions and virtually no contextual relevance. Boo, hiss. I’m for a mix.
– Search still stinks.
– Pretty minimal acknowledgement of the modern “Website, deconstruct thyself” mantra. (See Fig 10.) Get on it, guys.

I miss the old logo. But my mousepad’s eBay collector’s value just went up.

Now That’s a Franchise…cont’d June 28, 2006

Posted by David Card in Media.
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Oh, I hope not. RSS or bookmark The Leaky Cauldron. Now. MyGoogle lets you do so.

On the Other (ESPN.com) Hand June 28, 2006

Posted by David Card in Media.
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Michael Davies is the best US-based writer on the World Cup. Period. He’s a producer, not a futbol analyst. He’s a Brit. He was rooting for the poor Yanks. He’s very funny and charming. He’d never have a chance in print or on teevee. God bless the interWeb.

Career-Limiting Move Number LII June 28, 2006

Posted by David Card in Media.
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Okay. This is a little risky. I’ve been pretty darn low-value-add on my last few posts. That is, minimal analysis (and marketing value), and maximum snark. But I can’t resist. I have to continue. Fire me.

This is what happens when MSM (ESPN) hires a fanboy blogger (Bill Simmons) and makes him an online star. I often like Simmons’ Sportsguy columns, though his schtick is getting pretty tired. (And he got fired as a comedy writer from — gasp — the Jimmy Kimmel show. That must be some kind of a record.)

Simmons himself admits that he writes as a fan, not as a sports “journalist.” And goodness knows, there may be enough GenXer sports fans out there to justify his existence. But this does not.

This is what happens when you let fanboys pretend to be art critics. Or pop culture critics, for that matter:

    Here’s the famous scene described in my recent Nomar/Pedro column (the one with Phil Collins’ “In The Air Tonight”). Two great things about this one: First, it still holds up — even now — and “Vice” is about as dated as it gets. Second, up until that point, there had never been anything on TV even remotely resembling that scene. Remember, this was the same era when A) they were still freezing people’s faces mid-laugh during the opening credits of any sitcom; and B) nobody realized that you could use music to accentuate dramatic TV scenes. So this was like watching Bill Russell block someone’s running hook shot in the mid-’50s for the first time.

Watch it. I like Michael Mann. He’s turned into a good director. This Miami Vice scene indeed was fresh at the time. But anyone who thinks this is still cool is, umm, misguided. For pete’s sake, it’s PHIL COLLINS! And saying this is cool is begging questions about one’s, umm, manhood. Boy, Don Johnson was pretty back then. In Simmons-speak, Simmons thinking this is cool rates fairly high on the Unintentional Comedy Scale.

And yes, this Journey vid captures the music scene in the 80s. At least the scene for the hopelessly clueless sports fanboy nerds who weren’t actually listening to anything good in the 80s. Yeah, I’m sensitive.

On the other hand: for Sawx fans everywhere, these are definitely great vids.

And yeah, ESPN’s not so dumb. I spent a half hour on this. And am linking to it. Not that they need the traffic.

Too-Easy Target June 27, 2006

Posted by David Card in Marketing.
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Editors-in-chief who confuse logarithm with algorithm ought to be extra-cautious when commenting on digital marketing.

    So, alas, advertisers are once more discovering there are no silver bullets. One thing that’s always been true, though, is that good advertising is created by people working together to understand the elusive consumer, and all the fancy logarithms in the world won’t change that equation.

Texting Hipster Millennials Use Crest June 27, 2006

Posted by David Card in Marketing.
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According to ClickZ, Procter & Gamble’s Crest is adding text messaging to its program. Crest has often been an early adpoter of digital marketing techniques. You can post the results of your Irresistibility IQ test on your MySpace page. But do you leave your cell phone on during a date? Cool kids will be sure to leave it in silent mode. But be sure to bring it along — it’s so lame to write down somebody’s number on paper.

I’m less impressed by the P&G spokesperson confusing Gen Y with 18-34 year olds. (That’s some serious old-school thinking confusion.) Yeah, this cohort branding thing is an inexact science. And former colleague Gary Stein seems to be almost as puzzled as I am by Magid Associates’ finding that GenYers — or is it Millennials? — soak up 20 hours of media in seven hours. That sounds like more multitasking than is humanly possible to me. Or ADD.

Apparently, It Doesn’t Take Much to Be a Wall Street Analyst These Days June 26, 2006

Posted by David Card in Media.
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As it often does, I Want Media makes my day. According to a Forbes.com story it linked:

    Microsoft should acquire Yahoo! in order to fend off Google and solidify the software giant’s Internet presence, according to a Friday report by Merrill Lynch.

    “The possible acquisition of Yahoo would be a strategic positive in our view,” said Justin Post, a Merrill Lynch analyst and author of the report.

Well…yeah. But why not just buy Google instead?

    A good second option, however, could be eBay, he added.

Golly, just a second option? I guess that’s why they get paid the big bucks.

Slow News So Far Today June 26, 2006

Posted by David Card in Media.
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Yikes, who edits the Times business section over lazy summer weekends? Two appalling, un-funny, potentially offensive headlines this morning:
The 40-Year-Old Virgin Executive
Hey, Gay Spender, Marketers Spending Time With You

Perspective June 25, 2006

Posted by David Card in Media.
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Excellent perspective piece by Richard Siklos in the Sunday Times. Most big media companies would be lucky to get 5% of their revenues from the online, and almost none of them has a business that’s worth half a billion in yearly revenues.

    For now, though, the question of who among the media companies has this Internet thing figured out remains open. But at this time of upheaval and gloom about media’s prospects, it is funny to think about how much money there is still to be made in the good old offline world.

Here’s my spin:

– It’s not an open question. None of them “has this Internet thing figured out,” as evidenced by their revenues.

– AOL, for all its flaws, is a bigger business for Time Warner than its magazine business is, and more profitable. Time Warner dominates magazines, like no other media company dominates its category (twice the share of number two).

– In Q1, Google had $2.25B in sales, AOL $2B, Yahoo $1.6B, and MSN $600 million. That’s quarterly, not yearly revenues.

Meet New Media, it’s not the same as old Media. Not in this case, anyway.