Who Profits From Your Content When You're Dead?

Jules Kivell brings up a good point about digital legacies: what happens to your online persona when you die?

Digital Ghosts Remain When Folks Pass Away

Do *you* know all of your on-line accounts? Your Linked-In, Flickr, eBay, iTunes, online banking, PayPal and Facebook accounts can keep going for a *long* time. Would a loved one be able to housekeep for you? Do you have a file saved with all your on-line accounts and passwords?

One solution to this would be to maintain a password list in a safe deposit box so a family member could manage your online life once you pass.

This made me wonder what happens to the revenue you’re generating from the grave. In a world where millions of bloggers have ads from AdSense or affiliate links on their site, it seems safe to assume that your content will continue to attract visitors and ad revenue after you’ve passed away.

Where does that revenue go? Are people passing along their AdSense and Amazon affiliate accounts in their wills? Will ad networks allow for the inheritance of publisher accounts?

I imagine, without proper planning, Google may find itself generating income from ads running on dormant sites with no one to share revenue with.

Does anyone have any experience dealing with this issue?

Is Figlio’s Sex Worker Billboard Offensive?

As regular Deets readers know, I have a thing for offensive billboard advertisements. Here’s the latest case in Minneapolis.

Apparently, there is a new billboard for Filgio’s in downtown that’s bugging some folks. I haven’t had a chance to check it out myself, so if someone happens to have (or could snap) a photo link to it in the comments or email it in.

Jenny from the GWSS 3390: Feminist Media Making blog offers a description and opinion of the billboard:

GWSS 3390: Feminist Media Making: Watching Myself Watch and Read

I am plagued by the “Working the corner” billboard near my apartment. The billboard is of transvesite man (dressing as a woman) with lettering that says “Working the Corner since (1980something)”, it’s for Figlio restaurant, attempting to make a pun out of their location at Lake Street and Hennepin Ave in Uptown. Instead of a clever pun, they end up with a truly offensive billboard that I see almost every day on my way home. To me, it suggests that transvestites are always sex workers, and that the sex trade is funny.

DBR at the Who can Say? blog says he has also noticed the Figlio billboard and has his own take:

Working the corner

The billboard tells us that Figlio is a hip place, I guess, for only hip people. If you don’t like the billboard, then you aren’t part of their exclusive clientèle. I don’t see how aging hookers are supposed to get you in the mood for mediocre pasta in a noisy restaurant, but I guess I’m missing the point.

Let’s see it.

Intrusive Advertising Builds Negative Brand Awareness

Comcast Ad on the StarTribune

I have a hard time understanding how it helps a brand to force intrusive web advertising that takes over one’s browser upon prospective customers.

In the above case, I am a current Comcast customer, but I find myself wishing that I didn’t give money to a company that forces me to hunt for a close button on their ads.

Do businesses benefit from advertising where viewer’s first reaction is “this sucks” followed by “where’s the close button?”

If this type of advertising could consistently be disabled with a click of the “esc” key, I might find it tolerable, but having to seek out the “Close X” button is infuriating.

Target Snubs Offended Parent Who Blogs

Preface: I swear that I’ll stop writing about stupid things that Target does as soon as they stop doing stupid things. Perhaps I hold Target to a higher standard than other companies? At this point, I think it’s the misalignment between Target’s positioning as the do-gooder, family-friendly, cooler alternative to Wal-Mart that leads to issues when they misstep.

They also seem to be hyper-sensitive about their brand. They decide what’s cool. You buy it. No questions asked. They don’t seem ready to engage their customers unless you call paying kids to say nice things about Target engaging. While their brand is clearly phenomenal, things like this chip away at their mystique in a world where everyone – not just mainstream media – is a publisher.

On with the show:

Paul Schmelzer has a report over on Minnesota Monitor about a mother, Amy Jussel, who’s offended by a billboard put up by Target in Times Square. She happens to have a blog and asked Target to comment for her blog on why they chose to run this particular advertisement. However, they’ve chosen to snub her.

Here’s the billboard in question:

Target Billboard in Times Square

Here is her concern, as she posted on her site, Shaping Youth – a forum for media & marketing’s influence on kids:

Taking Aim at Target: Think That V is a CoinkyDink?

This ad may not be QUITE as blatant as some of the other spread-eagle ambient billboards we’ve featured or as viral as the onslaught of Axe videos making the rounds, but it’s subliminal to the point of guffaw.

That sounds like a reasonable judgment of a company that positions itself as family friendly.

As Paul summarized, Target told Ms. Jussel, a blogging media analyst, that they wouldn’t talk to her because she didn’t represent Target’s core audience. (Check the comments on Shaping Youth for more deets.) How strange is that?

Maybe Target doesn’t really understand the issue? I mean, why would a mother take offense at a billboard with a bullseye on a woman’s crotch?

Perhaps switching genders will help explain the issue. Here are two shots Target is welcome to use in future billboards, gratis:

Ed In Target Ad

Ed In Target Ad

Now I’m starting to understand why Ms. Jussel was offended. Heck, I’m offended when I look at myself spread out over the bullseye.

Update: Target considers changing blogger engagement policy?

Forbes Really Likes Auto-Advancing Slideshows

Who is Forbes’ target market for the lists they create online in slide show formats?

Last night, I noticed a headline on Yahoo’s homepage about a list of richest sports team owners. I thought it would be fun to click through to see where the Minnesota Twin’s Carl Pohlad ranked so I clicked through to what turned out to be a Forbes story delivered as a slide show.

I found Pohlad on the list behind a few soccer tycoons:

Forbes Sports Billionaires

Flash forward to today.

I noticed this morning that I forgot to close the slide show on Forbes.com.

This is what my browser history looks like:

Forbes Slideshow History

Either I didn’t sleep last night, or Forbes decided I wanted to watch another slide show, and another, and another. If I was interested in watching slides of sports billionaires occasionally reload on my screen, surely I’d want to keep the action going with the Middle East’s 40 Largest Public Companies and the World’s Most Eligible Royals.

I hope for Forbes’ advertiser’s sake that they’re paying for their ads on a cost per click basis rather than impressions, since I’m sure I’m not the only person who’s sleeping through their ad impressions.

Tracking Impressions on Media Sites

The NY Times has an article looking at the challenges faced by publishers and advertisers trying to determine web site traffic for advertising purposes.

As it stands today, many large ad buyers are relying on services like Nielsen to determine traffic numbers at large media sites. However, the numbers provided by one 3rd party service to the next can vary tremendously:

How Many Site Hits? Depends Who’s Counting

Other big media companies — including Time Warner, The Financial Times and The New York Times — are equally frustrated that their counts of Web visitors keep coming in vastly higher than those of the tracking companies. There are many reasons for the differences (such as how people who use the Web at home and at the office are counted), but the upshot is the same: the growth of online advertising is being stunted, industry executives say, because nobody can get the basic visitor counts straight.

Here are a few thoughts:

1. Media companies should provide better access to their site data so ad buyers can look at actual traffic numbers rather than relying on 3rd party surveys.

2. Media companies should use 3rd party tracking tools such as Google Analytics that can be shared with advertisers. While you may not wish to share ALL of the information available within Analytics with ad partners, the traffic information is valuable.

3. Ad buyers should learn how to understand the data generated by 3rd party stats companies, and understand the strengths and weaknesses of each system.

4. If ad buyers don’t have confidence in a site’s traffic numbers, buy pay per click rather than time or impression based ads.

Handvertising = Ads on Hands

I’ve heard of advertising on bananas before. That’s cool and all. But this is way over the top.

Handvertising Jack Daniels

I think the idea here is to sell custom hand stamps to bars so you’ll walk around all night with an ad for a good DUI attorney or bail bond service.

The example above was Photoshopped. I doubt it would look nearly that good when stamped, or on my non exactly handle-modeling hands.

Google's in the Advertising Syndication Driver's Seat

Back when Overture was an independent company (2002-ish), and before that went by the name Goto.com, the company lived and died based on syndication partnerships. AOL was one of their huge deals. Since they were basically the only game in town, I’m sure they were able to sign some impressive contracts that worked well for AOL and extremely well for Overture.

Then Google launched their ad system and relatively quickly caught up while offering some new twists on pay per click such as wild card bidding on phrases and broad matches that allowed them to sell more inventory with less work on the part of advertisers. More money moving from advertiser’s hands into Google’s and Google’s syndication partner’s hands made negotiations much more competitive for Overture, I’m sure.

Google eventually took the AOL contract from Overture. Google couldn’t close an ad deal with Yahoo since Yahoo decided instead to gobble up Overture and very slowly work to catch up to Google technology-wise.

Since then, Google has become much less dependent on syndication partners for revenue. For example, Ask.com, as reported by Marketing Pilgrim, only accounts for 1/15 the revenue that Google generates on its own sites. While that’s still significant, who’s in the driver’s seat here? What are Ask’s options? Switch to Yahoo? Build their own platform? Take what Google gives them?

There aren’t many Ask.com’s around. What about the rest of us?

Google has figured out how to diversify their syndication partners to an extraordinarily fractured group of sites, including thousands – if not millions- of bloggers that have no negotiating power. For example, if you use AdSense on your site, do you even know what the revenue share of your relationship with Google is? If you found out that it didn’t seem fair, could you do anything about it?

GOOG closed at $625 yesterday with a market cap of $195 billion.

Online Advertising Sucks Because the Ads Suck

Jordan McCollum from Marketing Pilgrim breaks down the results of two recent online advertising studies that showed web visitors becoming more blind to online advertisements.

An eye-tracking study by usability guru, Jakob Nielsen included this image reinforcing how hard it is to get people to even notice ads:

Banner Blindness Tests

McCollum’s conclusion based on the studies:

The bottom line: don’t go for the flashy and annoying ads—make them look like content. For your biggest ad purchases, work with webmasters to integrate your ads into their design—use their site’s colors and fonts, tinker with placement, etc. It just might pay off.

The studies appear to look at this from a publisher’s angle. If you’re getting paid on a per click basis, how do you make the ads stand out next to your site’s content in order to generate click revenue? There are some things that can be done to trick users, such as the tip McCollum provides above. However, that’s not an ideal solution.

An IDEAL solution is one where the viewers find the ads relevant and valuable. And two things are preventing this today:

1. Marginal ad targeting technology

2. Low-quality ads.

High quality ads are ads that build an emotional attachment between the viewer and the advertiser’s company, product, or service. They’re ads that intrigue (rather than annoy) a reader. They’re ads that are as interesting (or more interesting) than the content they’re served next to.

With this in mind, I’m blaming advertisers for not building better advertisements. They’re hurting their own return and the return of publishers serving marginal ads. It’s time to turn it up a notch with truly compelling online advertising that turns readers on.

Follow Customers, Not Technology

Bruce Nussbaum made a great point in a post about big ad agencies steering big businesses toward technically interesting sites that may be a bit too far ahead of the customers to warrant serious marketing efforts today. Things like Second Life and (in my opinion to a lesser degree) Facebook are certainly new opportunities for advertising, but are probably a bit ahead of the curve.

Are Big Ad Agencies So Clueless That Corporations Should Avoid Them?

Bottom line here is that many big ad agencies are making a huge mistake. They are pushing their corporate clients to chase technology, not their consumers. And if there is anything we know about the world we live in today, you must be one with your customers because your customers demand to be participants in your product/service/experience/brand. For example, sending big b2b companies who sell to 45-year-old men and women to FaceBook or Second Life is just nutty.

I think this happens because new techie initiatives are sexy and sex sells.

And let’s face it: no agency has ever won an award for training people on how to read and participate in other people’s blogs. Where the customers are.