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June 29, 2005

Australian Search Advertising numbers

[29 June 2005] An article in today's Age has market share numbers for Google, Overture and Sensis (they have 60%, 33% and 7% respectively). According to Frost & Sullivan, advertising on search engines is expected to total $130 Million this year. I might be imagining it, but it seems that since Andrew Day, the Sensis CEO, left last year, the heart seems to have gone out of Sensis' online offerings. The latest version of Sensis search seems pretty weak. For example, why does a yellow pages search from the sensis engine give a worse result then one using Yellow Pages directly?

Posted by Marius at 01:04 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

June 25, 2005

RSS to go mainstream

[25 June 2005] Today's news that Microsoft will build support for RSS into the next browser and its next operating system (Longhorn) is good from at least two perspectives. Making it easier to subscribe to a feed has to be the number one benefit. Today, that is still difficult and confusing for many people.

And while there are some rumblings about Microsoft being late to the RSS party, their support means that RSS has now gone definitely gone mainstream. That has to be good for everyone.

Comprehensive coverage of the news is on Alex Barnett's Blog

Posted by Marius at 12:58 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

June 19, 2005

Testpost from Bloggar

[19 June 2005] After testing Qumana the other day, I thought it was about time I had a look at w.bloggar. Here are my first impressions:
Bloggar is a standalone application, like Qumana, so you can create posts without being online. I had no trouble configuring it for Movable Type.

It presents as a straightforward editor and requires no knowledge of HTML. Unfortunately it isn't WYSIWYG as any formatting commands are simply translated into HTML and inserted in the text. Bloggar seems very complete and I hope to use it for my next few posts. I like its ability to edit previously uploaded items. I was curious to find out what the greyed-out "Template" item in the toolbar does. I had hoped to be able to teach Bloggar my Weblog layout by pointing it to a stylesheet. But we'll have to do some more digging to find out if that's possible, as my copy mysteriously had no help files.

Posted by Marius at 04:00 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

June 14, 2005

Poster children for the evolution

[14 June 2005] Weblogs allow people's personalities to come through. Jon Udell is ever the reasonable, thoughtful character (what's even better, he writes well). Dave Winer is the ever emotive, passionate character who occasionally (?) sets himself up for a bout of criticism.

The power of open communications, made possible by the web through weblogs, RSS and wikis, will continue to evolve and have an impact on many aspects of the media and marketing. Both patient, rational explanation and outspoken (occasionally wrong-footed) passion are parts of the evolution of new ideas. Jon's response to Dave's rant illustrates how web communications are evolving with wikipedia the perfect example.

Posted by Marius at 01:12 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

June 11, 2005

When you have a hammer...

When you have a hammer, everything looks like a nail. A recurring theme on the Pronet list/feed is the use of TypePad or Movable Type as a general purpose web building tool. And of course when a VC agrees, it must be true...

I'm as big a fan of Weblogs as anyone and this weblog is at the core part of the new site I'm building. But trying to do everything with weblogging software is madness. While my hammer might be Movable Type, my screwdriver is Mambo CMS and my drill is Jotspot. All are free or low cost and provide a wealth of features "out of the box". Yes, and I still use Dreamweaver to build the templates.

Blogging has de-mystified site creation and maintenance, it is putting the heat on traditional CMS vendors to differentiate themselves and RSS is revolutionizing the way we communicate and publish. But let's keep our feet on the ground, the writing environment of Weblogs is still dreadful and their content management is rudimentary at best.

While it might take a bit of time to learn how to use more than one tool, the result will be clear when the building is finished.

Posted by Marius at 11:18 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

June 03, 2005

My Booth is bigger than your Social Software

Ektron Logo
Over at Bill's place, he's musing about the size of booths (known as stands in our local lingo, Strine) at the AIIM show in Philadelphia. Oh, Oh, you're thinking, Marius is going to have another post about trade shows too, boring...

Well... yes and no. I still wanted to get a few things off my chest regarding CMS Vendors at CeBIT last week, but also look at some CMS competitors which don't appear at trade shows.

At CeBIT Sydney, I spent a few minutes on the stands of two companies selling Australian made Content Management Systems:

Komodo CMS logo
Komodo is a gorgeous looking CMS, the kind of CMS a designer would design. Their marketing materials and demonstrations focused on the process of design and features of the tools rather than the benefits to the customers (other than being able to easily update your site, just like the other 20,000 CMS's on the market). It looked like it was aimed at Web Designers rather than their customers.

Weblogics logo
On the other hand, Weblogics had a sparse stand and focussed on the features and benefits of their system. Their system is more your swiss army knife kind of CMS (ignoring for the moment that they call it a Knowledge Management System). Their selling point is all the things it does "right out of the box". It is clearly aimed at the business manager who is looking for a way to deliver lots of goodies with a minimum of deployment hassles.

Those systems reflect the perspective of their developers and the expectations of their customers, and they are as different as chalk and cheese. I suspect Weblogics found business managers interested in their product amongst the CeBIT crowd. I didn't see a lot of the Web Designers, which I would expect Komodo to appeal to, at the show. I still think both companies would have been better off investing in trade shows aligned with their target market.

But anyway, what about the "elephant in the room" at IT tradeshows, Open Source Software? That is a whole category of software which is largely unrepresented at shows like CeBit and AIIM. Bill's point about the size of a booth not necessarily reflecting the quality or benefits of a product extends to those without a marketing budget at all. I've recently been working with a variety of Open Source software, including a Content Management System.

Let's leave aside the usual pro and con discussions about open source software. Commercial vendors might well look closely at how communities form around Open Source projects, spawning enthusiastic supporters who spread the word. And it is interesting to see the emergence of grass roots commercial ventures around a product like Mambo, a CMS which (with over a million downloads)is gaining traction at the entry level market. I wouldn't want to suggest that Ektron, Weblogics and Komodo should entirely abandon live events like trade shows. But they might consider spending more energy in leveraging "Social Software" like weblogs, forums and mailing lists, which seem to be working well for those who have no marketing budget at all.

Posted by Marius at 01:49 PM | Comments (0)

June 01, 2005

Why would Telstra put its cash-cow on the block?

Sensis logo
We've seen much talk about a potential sell-off by Telstra of its directory business, Sensis. For those not familiar with the Australian scene, Telstra is 50% owned by the Government, which in turn is expected to put that half up for sale in the coming year. These paragraphs in yesterday's Herald-Sun are typical of the media coverage:

"Any spin-offs are a matter for the Telstra board, not the Government alone, and only on a basis that serves the interests of all shareholders. Sensis owns the Yellow Pages, White Pages, CitySearch, The Trading Post classified advertising newspaper and other directories."

"It is the jewel in the Telstra crown because its revenue is growing at double the rate of the telecommunications business. It should report revenue this financial year of about $1.5 billion and earnings before interest, tax and depreciation of $800 million to $850 million".

Sensis is a virtual monopoly business and its profits show that. Telstra has protected its white and yellow pages business with vigor. Its recent management correctly saw the threat posed by search engine marketing like Google's AdWords. They focused on innovating, acquiring classified media assets and creating online advertising offerings such as BidSmart. Google's stunning financial performance shows that the world thinks Search Engine marketing is effective.

To what extent will Google have an impact on a local directory businesses like Sensis? Will the Sensis Yellow Pages Maps have Google Map competition in Australia at some stage soon? Will Sensis remain just as profitable if it loses online? Some in Telstra might be thinking that Sensis is at the peak of its profitability.

Posted by Marius at 12:25 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack