The e-consultancy interview

You can find the original here. Pithy, for sure:

. . .

1. Does it perplex you that many big brands still have reservations about the web?

Not at all. Big brands got that way by doing the things that worked
over and over. They’re not good at the new, and they’re horrible at
experimenting.

2. Should every business use the internet to communicate? What are the basics of an internet communications strategy?

You should only use the internet if you want your communications to
be FAST and you want to reach LARGE NUMBERS with no intermediaries. If
you can’t handle that, though, you shouldn’t try.

3. How can an enthusiastic marketing executive convince a senior board of Luddites to invest in digital?

What works is success. That’s how Google got so big. Once people
make money paying 10 cents a click, they beg to buy more at 15 cents a
click.

The best online efforts have worked because of this incremental approach.

4. You’ve written about permission marketing extensively, yet
intrusion is still a big part of the average internet session. Does
this frustrate you?

Not any more. Like everyone else, I ignore it.

What a waste.

5. Interruptive online ads are thought to damage brands, yet we
still see an awful lot of advertising clutter on the major publishing
sites. What would you say to these publishers and advertisers?

They’re not listening, so I can’t say much of anything.

If they were listening, I’d ask them to do one thing: measure.

6. About 7 years ago you suggested that banner ads would be
finished by 2000. Well, we’re still seeing them, but paid-search is now
king. Is there a place on the web for display advertising?

I was awfully close to being right, my friend. The value of online
banner ads is close to zero. The best display ads are contextual,
relevant and interesting. And not banner shaped.

7. Does online advertising have to be purely about response? What about the brand benefits?

There’s zero evidence that you can build a brand with interruptions online that don’t lead to action. Zero.

8. Something like one in four rich media ads are those horrible
floating ads, essentially pop-ups 2.0. Is it just me or is this totally
nuts, given the ever-increasing percentage of installed pop-up
blockers…?

Not sure how many people have them actually installed, and
ironically, most of these are bought by those that measure (spammers
measure too). If it works, people are likely to try it…

9. Do you have any insight on the value of a customer who responds
to an intrusive call-to-action such as a floating ad, as opposed to
something permission-based?

It depends what you’re selling. There are many businesses that depend on (and profit from) clueless consumers

10. I guess that the majority of online marketers still perceive
the web as an acquisition channel, rather than a customer relationship
channel. Would you agree?

I would agree that they perceive it that way, and of course, they’d be expensively and dangerously wrong

11. I think a big trend over the next few years will be a shifting
focus towards using the web channel to increase retention, repeat
business and referrals. Can you sum up the basic opportunities in this
area?

It’s like dating. Communication is good. Isolation is bad. No sense letting people simmer with bad feelings, right?

12. Right. So what about email? What’s the future looking like for email marketing?

Not good. RSS, I believe, is the next big thing

13. Yahoo has just added RSS feeds to Yahoo Mail, which will help
RSS reach the masses. Right now RSS usage isn’t into double figures,
but could this be a white knight for email marketers?

It is if they do it right. Abuse your RSS feed and you’re invisible (again).

14. What’s Squidoo all about?

Squidoo lets anyone build a simple, free web page that points to
blogs, online stores, maps and other information on a single topic—any
topic. Each page can contain insight, bullet points, links, products
and pictures, and each page earns royalties for its creator or for
charity.

Squidoo leverages the power of personal recommendation. The site
will eventually host millions of handmade ‘lenses’, each a focused,
useful guide to some area of expertise, some glimpse of the net.
Instead of aimlessly poking, a lens lets a user see the big picture—a
human being’s big picture, the overview you need to get the meaning of
the idea.

15. Can you explain more about ‘lenses’?

The heart of Squidoo is the lens. A lens can point the best hotels
in London. Or blogs with pictures and articles about Paris Hilton. Or
personal accounts about Hurricane Katrina.

A lens can expose a cross-section of the web, a more personal and
more humanly relevant take that no computer could ever create. A lens
is an easy-to-build page of links and referrals. Two lenses may be on
the same topic, but they are never the same — every lens is personal,
and every lens is built by a person, a Lensmaster.

16. Soothsayer alert: 5 predictions for 2006?

1. Inventory of adsense begins to catch up with demand

2. Thumbnail photos show up in adwords

3. Web pages get DRAMATICALLY better at teaching and interacting

4. Several large marketers cease to do TV

5. The Supreme Court bans email attachments

Seth was interviewed by Chris Lake, editor.

Nate Ritter lives in the Pacific Northwest (U.S.), popularized the #hashtag and creates web applications for a living. He also does miles and point hacking to enable cheap travel for his family. More here →

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