The Pricing Challenges in eCommerce

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Finding the right price for your product or service could be the difference between making a profit or not making a profit. It could also be the difference between surviving as a company and not surviving as a company or small business.

In this economic crunch, since 2008, it has been challenging to identify that sure-fire way of continuing to make a profit, and part of that lies in the way that products and services are priced. This is especially true when it comes to internet pricing in the eCommerce online world.


Difference Between Online Shopping and Traditional Shopping

There is a difference between online shopping and traditional shopping, with a trip to the store.

Picture this: You are shopping in a store and you notice something that you really want to buy. Are you going to write down the price, walk out of the store (leaving your cart or shopping basket), drive to another store or two to check prices, and then come back and buy it? That is unlikely. Granted, it would not be unusual for you to pull out your smart phone and check amazon or other sites to see if they have a better price, so that you can order it when you get home. I am guilty of doing that myself on many occassions. But, internet aside, if you are in a hurry, it is unlikely that any of us would spend the time or gas money to drive all over town for something that only costs about $10 to start out with, and we would find ourselves making that impulse buy, even if we could have saved a buck elsewhere.

When it comes to online, it is too easy to compare prices and price shop and actually choose a different site even for minimal savings, with the thinking that it all adds up eventually. Hey, add free shipping in there and a store may have a new loyal customer.

Pricing has always been important and something that is studied in colleges and universities, but it is becoming that much more important in the age of the internet.

How To Price

In anticipation for this article, I spent time researching. I was also inspired by a recent review that I did (more on that, below). The whole concept of pricing can get complicated (online or offline). Do you like math? Check out this flash presentation, covering concepts of pricing, from Havard.

I actually love math, so that was not a deterrent, personally. However, no matter how much one loves math, it is easy to run out of time. I mean, I could get lost in some fun math equation and never really get around to finding the right price for my product. And, if I have thousands of products, that is going to take a lot of time that I don’t have. I want some sort of tool that does the analysis for me and then spits out (like a calculator), the price that is right for my products or services.

There is definitely a science to pricing. There is a great article on entreprenur DOT com (with simple formulas) for calculating the price and how that impacts the entrepreneur.

There are many applications and services out there that will do the work for you, so you don’t have to do it. So, this week I reviewed the service provided by Wiser. Their product is called WisePricer. Before I reviewed it, for myself, I guess I didn’t realize that there were applications or services that were so *complete* to their approach to pricing. I was so used to the manual, Harvard approach.

Using WisePricer as an example, I was able to see the value in real-time analytics on pricing, and how this could become essential, especially to an eCommerce site. Their service uses a proprietary dynamic pricing engine to facilitate the analysis. In this case, WisePricer analyzes your pricing, as well as the competitor’s pricing to identify that sweet spot. Also, if you offer your products to others for resale, this service will help to identify the pricing that the distributors are using on your product.

Why Should I Care?

Ok, good point. If you are not out to make a profit, or you are insulated from the need to price your products or services in a way that benefits you financially, then this topic doesn’t apply. If you are a manufacturer and using online tools and sites to sell that product (eCommerce), then this pricing approach (whether it is through a service, application, or the manual Harvard method) is a need, if you want to survive. If you are somewhere in-between, it is nice to understand pricing. Even if you only have one product or service, you still want to price it in a way that you make money, but not inflate your price to a point where people walk away 99% of the time and you make no money at all.

The post The Pricing Challenges in eCommerce appeared first on Internet Marketing Ninjas Blog.

October 11th 2014 Marketing

Shopkick Unable to Shake Text Spam Complaint — Huricks v. Shopkick

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Screen Shot 2014-10-07 at 8.54.54 AMShopkick is a rewards-based app that shoppers use on their phone while they are in-store shopping. I’m not precisely sure how it works (you get points for trying on items or walking in certain parts of the store?) but it did not seem to have crowd-buying component to it. Apparently, Shopkick allowed its users to send text messages giving their friends “points” on Shopkick and encouraging them to try the app. It’s unclear if the users must individually send such messages, or if the messages are sent out to all contacts en masse.

A recipient brought claims under the TCPA. The court initially dismissed the complaint because it failed to allege use of an automatic telephone dialing system. The amended complaint withstands a renewed motion to dismiss. The court says that plaintiffs face inherent difficulties in figuring out whether defendant uses an ATDS (plaintiff has no idea what equipment defendant may be using). Here, the allegations (uploading numbers from a contact list and sending out messages en masse) raise a possible inference that such equipment is being used. Courts have taken different approaches to this issue, with some saying that anything could be an ATDS, and with others vaguely saying that something that sends out messages in some orchestrated fashion would likely have ATDS capacity. In any event, the court denies the motion on the ATDS issue.

Shopkick also brought a motion to disqualify both plaintiffs and plaintiffs’ counsel. An earlier motion to disqualify raised the issue that the person who sent the text message and the recipient would be at odds, because Shopkick could point the finger at the end user who initiated transmission of the message, but the court’s most recent order does not mention defendant making this argument. Ultimately, the court says that adequacy of representation is more appropriately raised down the road (at the class certification stage).


It cannot be said often enough that text-based marketing is a bad idea. Don’t do it! This case illustrates how easy it is for plaintiffs to allege the elements of a TCPA violation. The message is unwanted (by definition, to a potential plaintiff, it always is). All that is left is that defendant used an auto dialer, and this case indicates that the pleading standard is a pretty low bar.

It’s unclear if this is a “refer a friend” case or if Shopkick “commandeered” the contacts, as plaintiffs allege. To the extent it’s the former, it does raise an interesting issue of whether Shopkick should be held liable for its users’ conduct of initiating messages. The answer should be no. Interestingly, Shopkick’s initial motion to disqualify raised the issue that users may have divergent interests, but I don’t think anyone seriously thinks Shopkick would try to really throw its users under the bus (i.e., seek indemnification from users).

Perhaps Shopkick thought it would be able to argue that the messages were not truly marketing messages, since they were just individual encouragement by users encouraging others to sign up? Courts have not accepted this argument. Compare the messages here with the messages in cases such as Voxernet or more recently in WhisperText (dismissing claims but granting leave to amend). At least in those cases there’s an argument to be made that the messages are sent to alert the recipient of the app so the sender and recipient can communicate via the app.

I’m somewhat sympathetic to plaintiffs here, assuming their version of the facts is accurate. However, the lawsuit is representative of a broader trend. Cases (including Satterfield v. Simon & Schuster) set a low bar for what it takes to plead a text spam complaint. (Perhaps Congress was sloppy in its initial drafting or the statute is outmoded.) A predictable torrent of lawsuits followed. There are a few cases pending winding their way through appeals and proceedings in front of the FCC that could inject some much needed common sense into text spam litigation, but my sense is that it will need a legislative fix.

Case citation: Huricks v. Shopkick, C-14-2464 MMC (N.D. Cal. Oct. 1, 2014)

Related posts:

TCPA Claim Against Taco Bell Fails For Lack of Agency

TCPA Claim Over Yahoo!’s IM to SMS Messaging Survives Summary Judgment

Confirmatory Opt-out Text Message Not Actionable Under the TCPA — Ryabyshchuck v. Citibank

Franchisor Isn’t Liable Under the TCPA for Franchisees’ Text Message Campaign – Thomas v. Taco Bell

Confirmatory Opt-Out Text Message Doesn’t Violate TCPA – Ibey v. Taco Bell

Group Text Services Grapple with TCPA Class Actions

Court Rejects Constitutional Challenge to TCPA Based on Vagueness in “Prior Express Consent” Exception — Kramer v. Autobytel, Inc.

Ghostwritten Attorney Newsletter is an “Ad” for TCPA Junk Fax Law Purposes–Holtzman v. Turza

Another Court Finds that TCPA Applies to Text Messages — Lozano v. Twentieth Century Fox Film Corp.

Court Finds that SMS Spam Messages are Subject to the TCPA and Rejects First Amendment Defense — Abbas v. Selling Source, LLC

Ninth Circuit Revives TCPA Claim–Satterfield v. Simon & Schuster

Cellphone Spam Violates TCPA–Joffe v. Acacia Mortgage

Path May Be Liable for Text-Spamming Users’ Contact Lists

Yahoo! Scores Significant Win in Email-to-SMS Lawsuit

Spam Arrest’s Sender Agreement Fails Because Email Marketer’s Employees Lacked Authority–Spam Arrest v. Replacements (Forbes Cross-Post)

Telephone Consumer Protection Act Case Update – Summer 2013 Edition

Telephone Consumer Protection Act Case Update – February 2013 Edition

California Supreme Court: Retail Privacy Statute Doesn’t Apply to Download Transactions – Apple v Superior Court (Krescent)

Court: Customer Consents to Receive Texts by Providing Phone Number to Pharmacy – Pinkard v. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc.

Q3 2012 Quick Links, Part 3 (Advertising, Privacy, Consumer Protection)

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October 9th 2014 Marketing, spam

Attention Brands: This Is How You Get Millennials to Like You

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How can a brand get that coveted millennial nod? It's all about talking to them in their own language. 

"Ever since youth culture became a defined concept, marketers have been using the unique values of youth as an ‘in’ to young consumers,” according to a study from Havas. But in the 1950s and ‘60s, that essentially meant being against authority and the establishment. But that, the study says, is no longer true of the younger generation. Millennials “have less of an interest in rebellion and revolution” and tend more toward problem-solving, the study notes.

They also have a different relationship with their products and the brands that create them, said Norty Cohen, founder and CEO of agency Moosylvania. “This is a group that will adopt brands,” he said. “If you can create a friendship with these consumers, you really take it to the next level. They will go to great lengths to support you.”

In its study, Hashtag Nation, Havas notes that this loyalty aspect is very good news for marketers: “Today’s youth are significantly more apt than their elders to recognize—and value—the role brands play in their lives.” But this can be a tricky relationship to maintain, the study notes, as 40 percent of respondents ages 16-24 complain that brands don’t take them seriously enough.

“Brands also need to recognize that they’re now dealing with a generation of consumers who are much savvier than their parents were at that age,” the study concluded. “Young people have an innate understanding of marketing and of their value as consumers. And they’re significantly more likely than older generations to believe they have the capacity to help a brand succeed or fail. And why would they think that? Virtually every day they see some evidence of the power of ordinary people to effect change, whether it’s using Twitter to foment a rebellion in the Middle East or using social media to compel a company to behave better.”

In its 2015 study, Moosylvania benchmarked qualitatively what brand characteristics mean the most to millennials.

Initially, Moosylvania's Cohen said, marketing “was all based on sort of this militaristic approach: Here is your target, blitz them with media. And now what we’re finding is they don’t want to be blitzed.  … The tonality has to be in the zone of what’s on this page making people look good, keeping them entertained,” he said. “It’s all about this friendship piece.”

And how can marketers move into the friend zone? “There’s a lot of personal interaction with this demo. They’re going to look at any kind of social endorsement. TV still has a place, as do magazines.” And, he said, millennials love experiences, whether they’re in-store or app-based or video or experiential.

Innovation in this space is helping some new names into Moosylvania’s top 50 millennial brands for 2015. Macy’s was one of them. “Macy’s is doing all sorts of predictive analytics,” Cohen said, adding that Ralph Lauren is doing same. He added that their marketing is “very personalized and about making you look better, making you feel better.”

The Yahoo/DigitasLBi/Razorfish/Tumblr study included a list of tips for content marketers trying to reach this dream demo:

  1. Set the mood. Give them a repository for a particular emotion, or bond over a universal human experience.
  2. Help them escape by giving them a glimpse of the good life, inspiring them, and “reinforcing the millennial values of embracing life and finding happiness along the off-roaded path to adulthood.”
  3. Fuel creativity and play with absurdist mash-ups, artistic installations and carefully curated memes that are the tight fit for a brand’s attributes.
  4. Spotlight pop culture, especially using nostalgia nods, superfandom and celebrity musings.
  5. Help them succeed with how-tos, lifehacks and any content experience that makes them feel smarter.
  6. Help them discover things and see topics in a new light, which “taps into millennials’ desire for discovery.”  

Infographic: Carlos Monteiro

October 6th 2014 Marketing, Technology

Who Will Succeed the Millennials? Let’s Call Them the Post Generation

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As someone who’s spent the past decade-plus studying and explaining millennials, I’m not about to abandon them just as they enter their peak earning and spending years.

Illustration: Lindsey Balbierz

But let’s face it: These millennials are getting a little long in the tooth. Doesn’t Ashton Kutcher have a walker by now?

I’m exaggerating, of course. But consider this: The youngest millennials are roughly driving age now, and the oldest are virtual dinosaurs in their mid-30s, presiding over their own young families and wondering why their knees and backs are starting to hurt in the morning.

So who’s the next youth cohort we should be gearing up for? The next army of accidental trendsetters, secretly scheming to challenge conventions and forge a new world order? I’m glad you asked. Allow me to introduce you: I call them the post generation—those young Americans born since 2000. In my estimation, it’s a group that will be defined by how it navigates and integrates the seismic social, cultural, economic and technological shifts that occurred just before they hit the hot lights of adolescence. In fact, unlike previous generations, it’s my belief that what came before their formative years will likely be more important than what occurs during them.

Think about it. The post generation, who are roughly 14 and under today, is inheriting a world that is post Obama. Post Facebook and social media. Post mobile computing and smartphones. Post 9/11. Post Columbine and Sandy Hook. Post “don’t ask/don’t tell” and same-sex marriage rights. Post legal marijuana. Post local and insular. And, quite obviously, post millennial.

Meanwhile, they’re also a group that invests untold time and energy “posting” their brave new experiences across an ever-expanding social ecosystem. Aha! Dual resonance! Hence the name post generation, my personal entry into the naming sweepstakes that occurs every two decades.

Where do these cohort names come from, not to mention from whom? The answer is all over, and everyone. Noted generational theorist Neil Howe came up with millennials, his shorthand for the crop of kids born between roughly 1980 and 2000. Alas, his previous attempt at naming a generation was less lucky, as he’d dubbed their predecessors the “13th gen.” This odd appellation didn’t stick, as journalists seized on “generation X” instead, itself a phrase the novelist Doug Coupland had borrowed from Hungarian war photographer Robert Capa, who coined it in the early ’50s.

The generational naming derby is open to all, and the post generation is just my placeholder. Howe calls them “homelanders.” The Futures Company inexplicably calls them the “EN.gens,” in a bid to create the most ridiculous new moniker since the band NSync. And lazy people are simply calling them Gen Z, because who can be bothered to think any further than the next available letter? (What’s next, Gen AA?)

Regardless of what you call them, this next generation’s defaults will be diversity, networked communication, globalism, personalization and choice, as well as equal rights and freedom that encompass not only race and gender, but extend to sexual orientation and even recreational drug use. It’s clear that what once were progressive causes will now serve as the status quo for the post generation.

Presented with more permutations of choice than any generation in history, one has to wonder how post will navigate the always rocky terrain between adolescence and adulthood. Where millennials seemingly embraced the road map of their parents—while waiting longer to move out, marry and procreate than any previous generation—the post generation may well adopt the questioning, slacker ethos of their Gen X parents, perhaps even questioning foundational institutions like college, marriage and even, gasp, capitalism. (They’re also continuing the erosion of organized religion, as 27 percent fewer 12- to 15-year-olds cite religion as one of the most important parts of their lives versus a decade before, according to the syndicated TRU Youth Monitor.)

And as conscience continues to creep into commerce through brands like Toms Shoes and Warby Parker, one wonders if profit is the next sacred cow to draw massive youth scrutiny. As marketers, we’d best keep our eyes on the post generation, starting now.

Scott Hess (@scotthess) is svp, human intelligence at Spark.

October 6th 2014 Marketing, Technology

How Two Millennials With a Talent for Writing Apps Founded Their Own Multimillion Dollar Agency

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Who Co-founders and co-CEOs Mark McDonald (l.) and Josiah Humphrey
What App development company
Where Headquarters in Melbourne, Australia

Mark McDonald and Josiah Humphrey were barely teenagers when they went into business together selling SEO services, deepening their voices over the phone to sound older and more authoritative. It was the beginning of a beautiful millennial partnership. Three years ago, the duo—then 19 and 20, respectively—created Appster, a development company that has created apps for Jägermeister and Coca-Cola and now has a staff of more than 100 people in three countries. “We want to be a development hub for the greatest ideas in the world,” Humphrey said. For startup client Bluedot Innovation, Appster created a geo-location payment platform accurate up to five meters from the source. Nine months later, Bluedot is valued at $7.5 million. And Appster itself is projected to hit $100 million in annual revenue in the next four years—not bad for a couple of twentysomethings.

October 6th 2014 Marketing, Technology

Every Company Is An Experience Company

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The post Every Company Is An Experience Company appeared first on John Battelle's Search Blog.


Illustration by Craig Swanson and idea by James Cennamo

Some years ago while attempting to explain the thinking behind my then-startup Federated Media, I wrote that all brands are publishers (it was over on the FM blog, which the new owners apparently have taken down – a summary of my thinking can be found here). I’d been speechifying on this theme for years, since well before FM or even the Industry Standard – after all, great brands always created great content (think TV ads or the spreads in early editions of Wired), we just didn’t call it that until our recent obsession with “native advertising” and “content marketing,” an obsession I certainly helped stoke during my FM years.

Today, there is an entire industry committed to helping brands become publishers, and the idea that brands need to “join the conversation” and “think like media companies” is pretty widely held. But I think the metaphor of brands as media creators has some uneasy limitations. We are all wary of what might be called contextual dissonance - when we consume media, we want to do so in proper context. I’ve seen a lot of branded content that feels contextually dissonant to me – easily shareable stories distributed through Outbrain, Buzzfeed, and Sharethrough, for example, or highly shareable videos distributed through YouTube and Facebook.

So why is this content dissonant? I’m thinking out loud here, but it has to do with our expectations. When a significant percentage of the content that gets pushed into my social streams is branded content, I’m likely to presume that my content streams have a commercial agenda. But when I’m in content consumption mode, I’m not usually in a commercial mode.  To be clear, I’m not hopping on the “brands are trying to trick us into their corporate agendas” bandwagon, I think there’s something more fundamental at work here. There are plenty of times during any given day when I *am* in commercial context - wandering through a mall, researching purchases online, running errands in my car – but when I’m consuming content, I’m usually not in commercial context. Hence the disassociation. When clearly commercial content is offered during a time when I’m not in commercial mode, it just feels off.

I think this largely has to do with a lack of signaling in media formats these days. Much has been made of how native advertising takes on the look and feel of the content around it, and most of the complaint has to do with how that corporate speech is somehow disingenuous, sly, or deceitful. But I don’t think that’s the issue. What we have here is a problem of context, plain and simple.

Any company with money can get smart content creators to create, well, smart content, content that has as good a chance as any to be part of a conversation. In essence, branded content is something of a commodity these days – just like a 30 second spot of a display ad is a commodity. We’re just not accustomed to commercial content in the context of our social reading habits. In time, as formats and signaling get better, we will be. As that occurs, “content marketing” becomes table stakes – essential, but not what will set a brand apart.

Reflecting on my earlier work on brands as media companies, I realize that the word “media” was really a placeholder for “experience.” It’s not that every company should be a media company per se – but rather, that every company must become an experience company. Media is one kind of experience – but for many companies, the right kind of experience is not media, at least if we understand “media” to mean content.

But let’s start with a successful experience that is media – American Express’ Open Forum. If I as a consumer chose to engage with Open Forum, I do so in the clear context that it’s an American Express property, a service created by the brand. There’s no potential for deceit – the context is understood. This is a platform owned and operated by Amex, and I’ll engage with it knowing that fact. Over the years Amex has earned a solid reputation for creating valuable content and advice on that platform – it has built a media experience that has low contextual dissonance.

But not every experience is a media experience, unless you interpret the word “media” in a far more catholic sense. If you begin to imagine every possible touchpoint that a customer might have with your brand as a highly interactive media experience – mediated by the equivalent of a software- and rules-driven UX – well now we’re talking about something far larger.

To illustrate what I mean I think back to my original “Gap Scenario” from nearly five years ago. I imagined what it might be like to visit a retail outlet like Gap a few years from now. I paint a picture where the experience that any given shopper might have in a Gap store (or any other retail outlet) is distinct and seamless, because Gap has woven together a tapestry of data, technology platforms, and delivery channels that turns a pedestrian trip to the mall into a pleasurable experience that makes me feel like the company understands and values me. I’m a forty-something Dad, I don’t want to spend more than 45 seconds in Gap if I don’t have to. My daughter, on the other hand, may want to wander around and engage with the retail clerks for 45 minutes or more. Different people, different experiences. It’s Gap’s job to understand these experience flows and design around them. That takes programmatic platforms, online CRM, well-trained retail clerks, new approaches to information flows, and a lot of partners.

I believe that every brand needs to get good at experience design and delivery. Those that are great at it tend to grow by exponential word of mouth – think of Google, Facebook, Uber, Airbnb, or Earnest (a new lending company). When marketing becomes experience design, brands win.

There’s far more to say about this, including my thesis that “information first” companies win at experience-based marketing. All fodder for far more posts. For now, I think I’ll retire the maxim “all companies are media companies” and replace it with “every company is an experience company.” Feels more on key.

The post Every Company Is An Experience Company appeared first on John Battelle's Search Blog.

September 29th 2014 Marketing

Trademark Owners Just Can’t Win Keyword Advertising Cases–EarthCam v. OxBlue

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I have repeatedly observed that trademark owners routinely lose their lawsuits against advertisers who buy their trademarks as advertising keywords. (This is in addition to the futility of bringing trademark lawsuits against search engines, which almost no one does any more). I can’t recall the last time that I saw a trademark owner win a keyword advertising lawsuit; since the Network Automation case, those wins have been scarce.

Today’s case involves two companies in the security camera business. EarthCam initiated a wide-ranging trade secret, CFAA and copyright lawsuit against OxBlue. OxBlue scorch-earthed its response to EarthCam with a panoply of counterclaims. As an outside observer, it’s always fun to see competitors locked in a death match in court. As one of the litigants, not so much.

Let’s focus on OxBlue’s trademark counterclaim. For a few months in 2010, an EarthCam subsidiary, Work Zone Cam, purchased “oxblue” as part of its keyword advertising campaign. OxBlue’s trademark infringement claim goes nowhere:

OxBlue has not addressed any of these factors, let alone presented any evidence of a likelihood of confusion based on these factors. There is no evidence of the labeling and appearance of Work Zone Cam’s advertisements and the surrounding context of the screen displaying the search results. Nor is there any evidence in the record on how often customers were lured to the Work Zone Cam’s website when they searched for OxBlue on the Internet. See 1–800 Contacts, 722 F.3d at 1244 (holding that there was no likelihood of “initial interest confusion” because an expert report showed that customers clicked on the defendant’s advertisement only 1.5% of the time that an advertisement was generated by an infringing keyword search term). No evidence has been presented that would allow the Court to properly evaluate OxBlue’s trademark infringement claim. OxBlue’s trademark infringement claim based on “initial interest confusion” is required to be dismissed because OxBlue failed to address or present evidence on any of the factors relevant to whether there is a likelihood of confusion.

The associated false designation of origin claim fails along with it.

Photo credit: failure will lead to success // ShutterStock

Photo credit: failure will lead to success // ShutterStock

Here’s some of the several possible contributing factors to this ruling:

* the court granted both defendants’ summary judgment motions, so it’s possible the judge got tired of the competitive sniping in court and the trademark claim got caught in the downdraft.
* the judge was obviously unimpressed with OxBlue’s advocacy of the trademark claim. Would more spirited advocacy have done better?
* the court doesn’t dwell on it, but the court does note OxBlue’s lack of clean hands, an all-too-common situation in keyword ad cases. In 2003, OxBlue had purchased “EarthCam” as part of its keyword advertising campaign.
* trademark owners routinely struggle to find any credible evidence of consumer confusion from keyword advertising. Here, the court generously gave OxBlue the benefit of assuming the initial interest confusion doctrine was viable. OxBlue still couldn’t clear that seemingly low bar. Then again, as I’ve indicated before, the initial interest confusion doctrine is effectively dead. It’s been years since the doctrine actually helped a plaintiff win a case; and to the extent other courts follow the 1-800 Contacts v. ruling, we may never see another successful initial interest confusion-keyword advertising case again.

I’m going to give OxBlue the benefit of the doubt and assume it would not have initiated this trademark claim, but instead pursued the trademark counterclaim only as part of a “f’em” response to EarthCam’s initiation of combat. Even so, it was a waste of money.

Case citation: EarthCam, Inc. v. OxBlue Corp., 2014 WL 4702200 (N.D. Georgia Sept. 22, 2014).

Some of my Tertium Quid blog posts on keyword advertising legal issues:

* Want To Know Amazon’s Confidential Settlement Terms For A Keyword Advertising Lawsuit? Merry Christmas!

* Florida Allows Competitive Keyword Advertising By Lawyers

* More Evidence That Competitive Keyword Advertising Benefits Trademark Owners

* Suing Over Keyword Advertising Is A Bad Business Decision For Trademark Owners

* Florida Proposes to Ban Competitive Keyword Advertising by Lawyers

* More Confirmation That Google Has Won the AdWords Trademark Battles Worldwide

* Google’s Search Suggestions Don’t Violate Wisconsin Publicity Rights Law

* Amazon’s Merchandising of Its Search Results Doesn’t Violate Trademark Law

* Buying Keyword Ads on People’s Names Doesn’t Violate Their Publicity Rights

* With Its Australian Court Victory, Google Moves Closer to Legitimizing Keyword Advertising Globally

* Yet Another Ruling That Competitive Keyword Ad Lawsuits Are Stupid–Louisiana Pacific v. James Hardie

* Another Google AdWords Advertiser Defeats Trademark Infringement Lawsuit

* With Rosetta Stone Settlement, Google Gets Closer to Legitimizing Billions of AdWords Revenue

* Google Defeats Trademark Challenge to Its AdWords Service

* Newly Released Consumer Survey Indicates that Legal Concerns About Competitive Keyword Advertising Are Overblown

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September 29th 2014 Marketing

Why You Need a Landing Page and How To Get One

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Landing Pages are a great marketing tool to deliver your sales message in a concise and to-the-point manner. When you want to convert your visitor to a paying customer (or newsletter subscriber, etc.), a landing page is the way to do it. After all, you don’t want them to get lost clicking on different places on your site and miss your opportunity. You really want those conversions.

Landing Pages do not replace web sites. They are a tool in your toolbox – a marketing tool to help drive the traffic to a point where they can convert.

There are statistics that support the value of landing pages, like the infographic here, by ion interactive.  Do take some time to see the results that have been collected from surveys and research.  They definitely give support to the use of landing pages.

Proof That Landing Pages Work [Infographic] from ion interactive


Landing Page for ‘About Me’ or ‘Social Page.’

Now that we have the “why” covered, let’s look at some other uses for landing pages beyond sales conversions and newsletter sign-ups.  Another use for them is an “About Me” page or a “Social Engagement Page.”  Check out this article from Ann Smarty on creating cool Twitter Welcome Pages. The same process that you would use to create your landing page for your sales opportunity can be used to create the pages that Ann uses as examples.

Create your own social engagement page with a landing page process.

Tools and Tips To Help You Create Your Page

It is true that you could hand-code your own landing page, but that could also take a lot of time.  You could copy someone else’s landing page, but that is not exactly on the side of good ethics, for a straight out exact copy.  If you are brilliant enough to be able to create the landing page with little to no effort, you should go into business offering that service to the world and making some cash on the side.

For the rest of us, we need some help and some tools.

  • Marketing Message
    It helps if you know what you want to say.  Have an idea of your marketing message.  Check out what other people are doing and create your own mini-interview of yourself.  If you haven’t already, come up with your 15 second elevator pitch, your slogan, and your mission/campaign objective.  It helps if you have that all laid out before you start to create your page. It is not a necessity, as you can also start with a template and learn as you go. There is no law against creating a bigger and better landing page later, as you learn more about the process.


  • Template Based Software
    One of the key advantages to using a tool is that you often have templates that are built-in.  If you are using a reputable company, they have likely tested the templates and are offering those templates that have been proven to have some success in conversions, etc.  The templates are also likely designed by professional designers. is an example of a site that offers landing pages. They also has a plethora of marketing tools at your fingertips and is free to try.  Both tools walk you through the process of setting up your landing page (including templates) and providing ideas for your own page.

  • Integration Software (optional)
    Some tools (template based software) also offer integration options through software like WordPress plugins.  An example is GetResponse’s WP plugin that also integrates with WooCommerce.


  • Stock Photos and Editing

    If you want to use different photos than what is available in the template(s), but do not plan to use photos that you have taken personally, you may want to use a site like to obtain stock photos for a reasonable price.  Sites like give you two advantages 1) professional looking photos; 2) licensing to help you avoid getting sued for use of non-licensed images (peace of mind).

    If you want to add some snazzy effects and text to your images, you can use a tool like to spice up your images.  Canva also offers the opportunity to use their image templates for layout, etc. of the graphic.  Many of their images are free (quit a few!), but they also have some that cost around a $1 a piece, if you want an all-in-one solution of images and image editing software.

    The tool that you use, like, is likely to have all the cool buttons and graphics built-in in the template, but these stock photo sites offer an additional layer of customization so that your landing page looks unique.

So, now you just need to go out and create it! Tools like offer the ability to sign-up for free, so you can “play” while you learn how to create that landing page.

Proud of your landing page creation? Do share it with us! Feel free to tell us about it in the comments or tweet us, even me personally @SocialWebCafe Love to hear about your successes.

The post Why You Need a Landing Page and How To Get One appeared first on Internet Marketing Ninjas Blog.

September 27th 2014 Marketing

Marketing Software Company Radius Secures $55M in Funding

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Marketing software company Radius announced a new round of funding worth $54.7 million. The company, started by former Facebook engineer Darian Shirazi, takes a "big data" approach to marketing, and uses data science to hone targeted messages for the right consumer groups.

"We believe that the current data and analytics that sits between business transactions is inaccurate, underdeveloped and in need of disruption," Shirazi said in a blog post.

The San Francisco company uses public, government and partner sources to track more than 50 billion data points on 20 million businesses. This information goes into the Radius Index, which helps clients refine their strategies, including scaling a campaign to a national platform, increasing sales, or seeing which customer segments are the most profitable. Radius specifically focuses on b-to-b marketers, and its clients include Adobe Systems, American Express, PayPal, Capital One and Gannett. 

The new round of funding will increase Radius's 50-person team and expand on its mission to improve data science in marketing. The funding comes from a wide range of groups and individuals, including Founders Fund, Glynn Capital Management, Formation 8, Yuan Capital, former Morgan Stanley CEO John Mack, ex-Microsoft head of corporate strategy Charles Songhurst, actor and entrepreneur Jared Leto, BlueRun Ventures, Dave Morin, Kevin Colleran, and Western Technology Investments.

September 24th 2014 Marketing, Technology

A Story about the End of Storytelling: The Short Story

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It’s been a big month of storytelling about the end of storytelling. I previously shared my presentation about the end of storytelling (complete with dozens of illustrations), and a related version then ran in Ad Age. The Ad Age story’s a bit different, with a focus on how Coca-Cola’s Share a Coke campaign with the cans with names on them exemplifies what marketing should be like in the post-storytelling era.

Let me know what you think. I will probably have some new stories to share that don’t keep beating this drum, but there should be more chapters to come.

The Beginning of the End of Storytelling

Once upon a time, an industry became obsessed with storytelling. Everywhere these industry people went, they said storytelling was the most important thing they all had to do. Then a mean dragon of a columnist said storytelling was evil, and the industry people slew him so they could go back to enjoying their jobs. The end.

Or consider a different version of this story.

Once upon a time, an industry became obsessed with storytelling. But it gradually came around to the idea that no one listening to those stories could remember anything about them, so the industry people found a more meaningful way to connect with their audiences. And they all lived happily ever after. The end.

These stories are mutually exclusive. One will be fiction and the other nonfiction. In this unofficial edition of the “Choose Your Own Adventure” series, which path do you want to take? That path can have profound consequences for all of our jobs.

How many conferences have you been to about storytelling? How many articles have you read on how marketers can tell better stories? Given the obsession we have with storytelling, it seems like few people appreciate the dark side of it. I didn’t appreciate the drawbacks myself until a conversation with my wife shifted my worldview. Here’s the story of what happened.

One day, my wife and I were venting about a few insufferable people we know. They didn’t seem to take an interest in us or anyone but themselves. Exasperated, my wife lamented, “All they do is tell stories!”

It was one of those lines I’ll never forget. Given that our industry is all about storytelling, I’m used to storytellers being the heroes. Yet here she was revealing the negative aspect of the craft. Stories are often used as crutches that cast light on some trait or moment, rather than opening up a path to understand people more deeply. It’s the story that gets in the way of the relationship. Tell the story with its beginning, middle and end, and your work is done.

To make matters worse, do you think people really get brands’ stories? Think of a brand you love: Apple, Tide, Gucci, Hyundai, or any brand that you identify with. Do you know what its story is? I just paid way too much money to get the new iPhone, but I can’t tell you Apple’s story.



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I asked my wife about this, too. Cara loves Diet Coke, so I asked her, “What’s Coke’s story?” The next thing I knew, I was living in a real-world version of the “carousel” moment from “Mad Men.” She started telling me about when Coke came out with cans with red tabs, and all her friends used to collect them. And then she told me about the games she played with her friends in sleepaway camp, where they’d break off tabs from Coke cans as a way to reveal which boys they liked. Thanks to this brand, I was learning more about the person in my life I have been the closest to for nearly a decade.

Interestingly, Coca-Cola is currently running one of the most radical campaigns that pushes back against storytelling and addresses the future of marketing. The “Share a Coke” campaign with names and relationship descriptors on cans and bottle labels empowers people to create their own stories. I see these moments happen all the time with colleagues and friends, where the brand is the catalyst for the stories they are making about themselves.

One small but striking moment I witnessed was when my teammate Kate wound up with a bottle labeled “Adam,” and she saved the bottle for my colleague Adam, who was all too happy to have it. Before the campaign, they wouldn’t have even valued the empty bottle for the recycling refund. Instead, what would have been a piece of trash wound up strengthening their relationship in some small way. And that story of Kate saving the empty bottle for Adam is a story all three of us remember. Perhaps you will remember it, too.

The future of storytelling isn’t about telling anyone anything. It’s about storymaking, where the brand facilitates and taps into the stories people are creating and sharing with each other. Storytelling is the epitome of the old one-way, broadcast mindset that so many of us in marketing are trying to leave behind. Storymaking, by contrast, is far more fulfilling, and exactly what will matter to the people all of our brands are trying to reach.


September 23rd 2014 Marketing