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  • dbinkowski 9:30 am on October 9, 2009 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Type A Mom   

    Truth in Advertising 

    Last week Two weeks ago I had the pleasure of attending, networking, connecting and speaking at the Type A Mom conference in Asheville, NC. Kelby Carr did an amazing job and I was proud to bring my clients to the conference to help support the blogging community.

    One of my panel sessions was called “Working with Companies”, moderated by the lovely and talented Lucretia Pruett Pruitt, aka GeekMommy. She and I spent quite a bit of time together discussing the industry and where it’s going, but I’ll save that for another post. The session was a split between a moderated discussion by the panel and an open Q&A with the 200-something attendees.

    For those who know me, you’ll know that I worked my way up the agency ranks by innovating and creating opportunities – not only for myself, but for strategic partners. My clients value my experience and advice as do the Associations I belong to and regularly speak at. If you could see the feedback I’ve received from students, colleagues and conference attendees you’d know that I aim to please and usually put on a show. If you’ve never seen me present, it’s something like this: I get up on stage, share practical advice without any BS and am happy to share everything my experiences have taught me. It’s as real and as honest as it can be, because I have been an attendee at conferences, sat through classes and been lectured to and thought “Can you just tell me what I need to know? (without the fluff)?”.

    This conference was no different. As the conference slogan asked, I “brought it”. And by “brought it”, I said things that some bloggers didn’t want to hear. While sitting on the panel I heard a lot of fluff and some “WHAAA?”s. One such “WHAAA?” was from a competing agency’s “social media” person: “Make it easier for me to do my job”. Another said: “You need to clean up your act”. The first is simply a plea from someone who doesn’t know how to sell. The second was a more aggressive stab at some of the more snarky behavior that takes place in the mom blogging community. I didn’t comment on how people should blog per se, but stayed true to the panel’s topic on how to work with companies. My advice was and is as follows:

    • How to approach agencies/companies/brands. Have an idea? Sell it. “How am I supposed to find out who works for what brands?”. Here’s a tip: Google it. Subscribe to a few free trade publications. It’s not hard to find this information once you check out a brand’s “About” section and hit up LinkedIn.
    • Don’t sign contracts that aren’t equitable. Some moms were quite vocal about receiving “Free cupcakes” in lieu of payment. Starting December 1st the FTC is going to make people disclose everything, even those free cupcakes. Update: One comment that was made at the conference was “we can’t afford lawyers”. They can be expensive so I totally understand, however reviewing basic contracts isn’t going to cost you an arm and a leg. In fact, for a 5-10 page contract my dad quoted me “$250 to review it”. Too much? Well, I remember him routinely handling traffic tickets for friends in high school in exchange for manual labor, e.g. sanding our deck or painting a room of our house. And this isn’t unusual. In fact, most lawyers will do work in exchange for work. Call around, I bet you’ll find one willing to work with you in exchange for some promotion online. If you’re not getting paid that much then I’d question why you’re even considering signing the thing.
    • You are a brand. As such, companies try to match themselves up with personalities (see: Celebrity spokespeople) that match their brand equity and values. That being said, shallow people make judgments — sometimes unfair ones — based on what they read about you online. I know a lot of moms curse. I do too. And I’m telling you that it’s OK. I don’t want you to change who you are or how you write. But understand that brands are looking at this stuff and if you aspire to work with certain brands they will put you under the magnifying glass.Personally, I dig deeper to find out more about people than what I might find on their blog or Twitter stream. I don’t pass judgment for a few things folks might say or do because that’s not my job – my job is to find talent and work with it to the best of my ability. Case in point, I’ve been working with several conference goers and speakers by hiring them, supporting their ad networks, collecting resumes for future work and giving them advice when asked via email and Twitter in order to truly support the blogging community. Not by having flame wars, not by ostracizing people, not by being a jerk, but by having meaningful dialogue with people to find ways to work together.
    • Understand your value. See above re: contracts, but your brand online is worth more than a few dollars. Most of the people I’ve spoken with since that conference, including some keynote-worthy speakers at other conferences, have no clue as to what they’re worth when it comes to negotiating with companies.

    One point I was unable to make during the conference due to time constraints is what brands talk about when it comes to metrics. Ahh! Not measurement! 😉

    Most bloggers rely on their Sitemeter or Google Analytics to self-report their stats. Some bloggers and webmasters complain that third parties like Quantcast report their stats as being too low. Again, I’m not passing judgment, just telling you how you’re being judged: No one believes your self-reported numbers. Here’s why:

    • Spiders and bots. Know how Google always seems to have your freshest posts indexed? That’s because it and other search and monitoring services crawl your site to index it or monitor it for specific keywords. If you see “Andiamo Systems” listed in your log files it’s a company called Techrigy. It’s someone monitoring you or specific content on your blog. Doesn’t count as a unique visitor, the same way Google’s spider doesn’t count.
    • Your friends. No one wants their web site to have 0 comments. It hurts. I means that all of the effort you poured into writing a post, regardless of actual merit or quality, may have been read but didn’t provide any “engagement“. Fortunately or unfortunately, a lot of bloggers play deceptive games with comments and links to game Google and advertisers to make it appear that they have a lot of comments, when in fact if you clicked each commenter’s name or did some homework you’d realize it’s a big circle of fake link love and comments. Having a blog post with 20+ comments, all of which are from other bloggers, doesn’t count. You’re giving advertisers a reason not to trust you right off the bat.
    • You. Everyone I know wants to know how their site and blog posts look when they go live. And they want to engage with their readers. Guess what? It doesn’t count. It’s like walking in and out of your own store over and over again. Sure, the security camera shows someone coming and going all day, but at the end of it you’re the same one unique visitor jacking up your numbers — which makes your monthly and unique post impression number totally false.
  • Overall if the blogging industry wants to mature it needs to grow up (literally) and catch up to the reporting and accountability that the “legitimate” sites that advertisers covet. You may have 18,000 visitors per month but how many are legitimate or actual readers and not your buddies? Very few, which is why sites like Quantcast are a breath of fresh air – they cut out the fat and BS to get right to the point. Sound familiar?

    I’d love to hear your take on this post in the comments.

  • dbinkowski 5:41 pm on December 13, 2008 Permalink | Reply  

    The Economy, Ethics, Blogs and Marketing 

    There’s a hot debate over on Twitter this morning today regarding the K-Mart/IZEA/Blogger campaign and the ethics of bloggers taking money to write posts. Marc Meyer’s Direct Marketing Observations blog has a good post documenting the discussion. I’m re-posting my response to the question here:

    It’s definitely a slippery slope. Does anyone *really* know the bloggers their reading? Probably not. Ultimately it’s up to the reader to make that call. Bloggers have to make a living, and readers should understand that, but as Chris is finding out it’s about expectations of the reader from the blogger.

    Ultimately Jeremiah is right – it does lessen the credibility of the blogger over time. Want evidence? Celebrity endorsements still mean something to some people but ultimately are met with skepticism. In this case the objective of the campaign was reach, and that was achieved. Will KMart see an uptick in sales as a result? It’s going to be impossible to tell because of the economy and benefit that bargainesque stores, including KMart, are seeing.

    As someone on the WOMMA Member Ethics Advisory Board, the bloggers disclosed that they were paid. I’m not sure what more you can ask of them.

    I want to know from you, as a marketer or blogger (or both): Is this the type of campaign you would engage in? Would you consider it ethical or unethical? Taking it a step further, does it diminish the credibility of the blogosphere and, as John Bell from Ogilvy theorizes, turn the blogosphere (and social media) into yet another media channel for the media buying agencies?

    digg_url = ‘http://digg.com/tech_news/The_Economy_Ethics_Blogs_and_Marketing’;

    • Tonja 7:29 pm on December 14, 2008 Permalink | Reply

      Paying bloggers to review isn’t the best idea. However, what is the answer? Advertising as it exists now is dead. Newspapers are dropping like flies, TV viewing is down and banner ads? Yeah, try to get the ROI on that one. Advertising needs to change it’s model, but I don’t know what that model will be. However, if bloggers don’t get some sort of payment (ads, etc.), they won’t keep publishing for free, at least not full time. Obviously I don’t have all of the answers but I feel like we’re headed towards a big change …

    • Jim Wagoner 4:09 am on January 23, 2009 Permalink | Reply

      This economic mess started with the housing market and likely won’t recover until the housing market recovers. Why can’t the banks/lenders drop mortgage rates to the 3.5% area, keeping them in line with the historical margin (1%) above the 10 year treasury? Maybe use some of the $350 billion+ bailout money to help subsidize it, if needed. Maybe get some useful help from the government.

      If homeowners could refinance their mortgages and save hundreds of dollars every month on their payments it would have a much greater affect on the economy then a one-time check for $500 (which really does nothing), and it wouldn’t cost us taxpayers anything. If people saw rates at 3.5% and knew they were only going to be there for a few months to a year, I believe we would see people stampeding to buy houses.

      The other thing that could/should be done regarding refinancing is figuring out a way to allow just about everyone to do it. No more Loan Modifications. Just let everyone get their payments to something they can afford and hopefully create extra income for most. Spending would pick up, saving many businesses, creating additional income and ultimately additional tax revenue.

      Why wouldn’t this work? What am I missing?

  • dbinkowski 1:34 am on October 27, 2008 Permalink | Reply  

    Loren Feldman on "Why you should blog" 

    Loren Feldman from 1938media has a great talk posted over on his site from Blog08 where he tells the crowd to keep blogging (creating content). If you want to understand why Wired was wrong when they declared blogging is dead and what all the rage is with services like Twitter, Facebook and Friendfeed (validation), watch this:

    Regular readers here know that racy language isn’t foreign to this blog, so if F bombs scare you from watching videos then please don’t check it out. Here’s some Yo Gabba Gabba for you instead. 😉

    • Shannon Nelson 2:06 am on November 13, 2008 Permalink | Reply

      Someone called me and said, “Did you know blogging is dead?” And I laughed. A lot.

    • Liza's Eyeview 5:08 pm on December 13, 2008 Permalink | Reply

      hmmm.. I might be “shocked” by some of the word used, but I like hearing why we should blog and why blog is here to stay because I like blogging 🙂

  • dbinkowski 1:34 am on October 27, 2008 Permalink | Reply  

    Loren Feldman on “Why you should blog” 

    Loren Feldman from 1938media has a great talk posted over on his site from Blog08 where he tells the crowd to keep blogging (creating content). If you want to understand why Wired was wrong when they declared blogging is dead and what all the rage is with services like Twitter, Facebook and Friendfeed (validation), watch this:

    Regular readers here know that racy language isn’t foreign to this blog, so if F bombs scare you from watching videos then please don’t check it out. Here’s some Yo Gabba Gabba for you instead. 😉

    • Shannon Nelson 2:06 am on November 13, 2008 Permalink | Reply

      Someone called me and said, “Did you know blogging is dead?” And I laughed. A lot.

    • Liza's Eyeview 5:08 pm on December 13, 2008 Permalink | Reply

      hmmm.. I might be “shocked” by some of the word used, but I like hearing why we should blog and why blog is here to stay because I like blogging 🙂

  • dbinkowski 5:17 am on December 20, 2007 Permalink | Reply  

    The AdAge Power150 Needs Serious Rethinking 

    Ok, ok. You’re probably on the Top 150 list that AdAge started publishing a few months ago. It’s supposedly a “who’s who” of Communications bloggers based on a ranking system — a metric, if you will. And like any other metric you have to ask “What are we trying to measure?” and then “What is the purpose is of measuring?”.

    Let’s answer the first question first:

    If it’s only to point out the top blogs based on a few manipulatable metrics like Google PageRank, Bloglines feed subscribers and, LMAO, Alexa rankings, then fine — the AdAge Power 150 is fine. Find the sites with the most “traffic”, used in quotes because, like I tell clients, “the beauty of the internet is that everything is measurable – agreeing on the measurement is also it’s biggest downfall”, then fine — it’s who gets the most traffic among those blogging about Communications.

    Author note: this next part was taken from my comment on Naked PR.

    When it comes to the second answer, things become a bit more perplexed:

    Realistically the “Power 150″ is somewhat of a joke because all of the metrics can be rigged and are only based on a limited number of metrics, all based on old school thinking — if the masses like it then it must be good, to which I say “Apply that logic to music — N’Sync, Milli Vanilli and Spice Girls. And you’ll have my answer to ‘what’s popular is good'”. 😛

    This is why, by the way, the “Top bloggers” in any given category hate PR people. And Ad people. And interactive people. You client needs to get that there’s more to the interwebs than Top Lists. Top Lists are created by humans, and as humans, we have faults. The range of what and which the “top bloggers” read, however, is much greater.

    Quick anecdote: Back in the day, when I worked as a webmonkey, I was told by our metrics guy that we should delete 1/3 of our site’s pages because they accounted for the least amount of traffic and wouldn’t be missed.

    My rebuttal was “But what was the goal?”, meaning if I invited 20 physicians to an event via a form on the site and all 20 responded, then I met my goal — 20 out of 20. Sure, it only means 20 unique visitors, but success was 100%.

    My blog has regular readers from the top PR, advertising and Fortune 50 companies because my goal isn’t to have the Average Joe subscribing. Sure, it’s nice, and I do appreciate the bump in traffic thanks to silly posts about Dave Chappelle, Rick Roll and other off beat topics, but realistically the majority of what I blog about is of no interest to them — because that’s not the goal of this blog.

    Me thinks the Power150 needs re-thinkin’.

    digg_url = ‘http://digg.com/tech_news/The_AdAge_Power150_Needs_Serious_Rethinking’;

  • dbinkowski 3:40 am on November 5, 2007 Permalink | Reply  

    Evolution and how it’s killed my RSS reader 

    Evolution. No, I’m not going to get all Kansas, err, pro-creationism on you here (Shout out to Amanda’s 9-0 Jayhawks, though) — I’m talking about the natural progression to a different stage… one that’s better, we’d all hope.

    I’ve been going through my Reader and dropping several blogs. It’s not because I’m negative and predicting the demise of the blogosphere as others have, it’s just that people are saying the same damn thing over and over again without any real development in their writing, theories or thought.

    Don’t get me wrong, evolving isn’t an easy thing to do. In fact, change is one of those things that, once people become comfortable, feels unnatural. Without getting too self promotional on y’all, I am going to say that I always push myself to change. Granted, my bullshit meter is much higher than others, but I still push for that level of discomfort that other shun. Speaking of which, did y’all enjoy the Twitter article in the Times this past week? Me either, especially since it didn’t bother mentioning financials and/or business models. But I digress…

    That being said, I’ve been following some people for a few years now, and while the ride has been great I’m just not getting the thought-provoking diatribe or insight that I really need at this point in my life or career. The evolution of my reading habits has changed, and as a writer/thinker you need to evolve or I’ll leave ya in the tar pits.

    digg_url = ‘http://digg.com/tech_news/Evolution_and_how_it_s_killed_my_RSS_reader’;

  • dbinkowski 6:14 pm on September 27, 2007 Permalink | Reply  

    Promoting small businesses with a blog 

    It was brought to my attention that the NY Times published an article a few weeks back about the benefits of small business blogging.

    They offer some great tips, so it’s definitely a worthwhile read. If you’re into the audio version you can listen to the podcast I did in April of 2006 on the same subject.

    digg_url = ‘http://digg.com/business_finance/Promoting_your_small_business_through_blogging’;

  • dbinkowski 1:55 pm on July 22, 2007 Permalink | Reply  

    Sony Electronics enters the blogosphere 

    From Josh Bernoff at Forrester, Sony has made it’s third second foray into the blogosphere with the “Sony Electronics Blog”, located at the dreadfully hard to remember URL of news.sel.sony.com/electronicsblog/. In my mind this blog is much needed and will hopefully address the customer service and quality problems that have plagued the brand in recent years.

    I’ve had my own bad experiences as well and, when considering brands for a recent purchase, eliminated them from the mix due to the aforementioned service issue. Buh-bye, Dave’s disposable income.

    That being said, the blog does have the potential of taking these problems head on. The brand is still strong among consumers, ranked #2 behind Coca-Cola according to a recent Harris Interactive poll, and our own PRWeek/MS&L poll shows they’re ranked #2 on the list of companies marketers want to work for. I remember reading a story about the coporate culture at Sony and how a certain maverick was able to break through and achieve success. Witness this passage:

    Sony venerates its mavericks, a culture inspired by late co-founder Masaru Ibuka, a puckish inventor who bet the franchise on long shots that turned into hits, such as the transistor radio and the Trinitron television.

    Hell, even I wanted to work there.

    Their Playstation blog is a hit, but realistically you’d have to screw it up pretty bad for it to not be successful. So far the Electronics blog is getting a good amount of comments (44 and 60 for their first two posts), I will be watching to see if they focus on topics other than corporate culture and products – that’s when the real fun with begin.

    digg_url = ‘http://digg.com/gaming_news/Sony_Electronics_enters_the_blogosphere’;

    • Mike Manuel 7:30 pm on July 22, 2007 Permalink | Reply

      “Their Playstation blog is a hit, but realistically you’d have to screw it up pretty bad for it to not be successful.”

      I wish that was really the case, David, my experience is that the gaming community is hyper-opinionated and extremely polorized, especially when it comes to Sony and Microsoft and because of that, it actually takes very little to screw things up – badly.

  • dbinkowski 2:56 am on July 11, 2007 Permalink | Reply  

    LMAO @ Jakob Nielsen 

    I’m going to make this short and sweet just to prove a point: Jakob Nielsen has lost it. You can stop reading now since you’re stupid and aren’t considering buying anything based on reading a blog.

    That’s basically the point of Jakob’s article – blogging isn’t worth a company’s time. I need to preface this before I begin, because…

    I completely respect his work and opinions; as a former designer I actually have lobbied against graphics and have followed his advice in favor of making sites more usable and informative. Furthermore, I have attended Edward Tufte’s talk on information architecture and admire his work as well.

    That being said, think there’s a balance between Twitter, and creating a 10 page diatribe and creating 100% Flash-based web sites. You have to know your audience, and there is no cookie cutter piece of advice ANYONE can give about blogging, because every situation, company and objective is different.

    Mr. Neilsen recently told a “consultant’s consultant” that he shouldn’t start a blog on his website. Realistically, if Jakob had his way we’d all be in 1996 with hyperlinks and plain text pages. Ok, that’s taking it a bit far, but not too far.

    So was this quote from his article:

    Blogs are also fine for websites that sell cheap products.

    Really? So GM (a client), Boeing, Sun and the like should scrap their blogs because their products are cheap? And they’re best served trying to connect to communities by publishing articles and white papers? Give me a break.

    The assumption that’s being made, and I admit that this post clearly isn’t proof of it, is that all blog posts are just brief comments on someone else’s thoughts. So you’re telling me there isn’t new thinking or things NOT published elsewhere on blogs? Hogwash.

    Here’s a gem as well:

    You must change the game and create content that’s so valuable that business users are willing to pay for it.

    Really? Users have to pay for your content? Isn’t it free on your site, though, Jakob? GM Chrysler, as the king of usability you must have looked at a log file or two to know that the most visited pages on corporate sites are the “Jobs” pages. Should users pay for this created content too?

    Jumping out of the 90’s and taking it a step further – if you’re a company with a bad reputation, wouldn’t a blog allow insight into the company’s psyche and let employees do the talking? Please show me that is worth less than an article published by the CEO or HR Director in the trade rag about how great it is to work there. All research points that traditional means are fading in the eyes of consumers, so stick with it? Really?

    You should also focus on material that lower-ranked content contributors can’t easily create in their spare time.

    See, I think you’re missing the point here, Jakob. It’s not about taking content or even being the only one thinking something – it’s about connecting and creating community around an idea, product, vision or, yes, blog. And the blog can entail all of the aforementioned things.

    He wraps up his post with this:

    Elite, expertise-driven sites are the exception to the rule. For these sites, you don’t care about 90% of users, because they want a lower level of quality than you provide and they’ll never pay for your services. People looking for the quick hit and free advice are not your customers. Let them eat cake; let them read Wikipedia.

    First of all, *oh snap* at the Wikipedia reference.

    Second, I want to ask you, lower level of quality reader, how are you liking this so far? Anything useful you can take to your boss or clients? Jakob, get off your soap box for five brief minutes and join the conversation. Although in this instance Jakob remains the expert by telling the rest of you, yes YOU, blog reader, that you’re stupid and don’t purchase based on a company’s social media actions. You’re just out to steal content and it’s really e-mail marketing and long articles that cause you to buy or try products — not word of mouth or connecting with a company or opinions that are reinforcing your purchasing decision.

    Well, enough of this “long” post… Time to make like Jakob and 23-skidoo out of here. I’m off to the corner malt shop for a Cherry-flavored Coke!

    digg_url = ‘http://digg.com/tech_news/Jakob_Nielsen_Blogging_is_a_waste_of_time’;

  • dbinkowski 8:51 pm on May 24, 2007 Permalink | Reply  


    I’m back in the States from Italia, well rested where among other things I bonded with my company’s global senior management team, watched AC Milan win the European Cup in futbol (that’s soccer for you Yanks), drank plenty of vino and am convinced I’m the tallest man in Italy (who would’ve thought it would be so hard to find a European size 51 shoe in the fashion capital of the world??). I’d love to share details about all of the aforementioned adventures, however jet lag and no sleep (6 AM return flight) are preventing a longer post. Needless to say I’m back after a much needed break. Gratzi, Italia!

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