S P O N S O R S
Find out more
Hall Of Fame8 Corners of ECommerce
industry is on
the verge of
into a thousand
fragments due to
the knowledge explosion
and the proliferation
of new technologies.
There are no
more grand theories
that hold sway
over the entire
It's better to
All material on this
Click OK to receive our occasional Newsletter
Don't Stuff Envelopes - Read Junk eMail...
This new twist on an old theme involves a system that rewards consumers for receiving, reading and responding to targeted e-mail promotions.
Rather like the Pink Stamps of yore, "members" can redeem the credits they earn for "prizes" - like CDs or frequent flier miles.
"Rew@rds" are provided by 30 "premier" brands, including The Gap, Foot Locker, Barnes & Noble, MCI, Pizza Hut, United Airlines Mileage Plus, Tower Records, Speigel and others.
The first e-mail promotion allows selected members to earn 1,000 Rew@rds credits plus the opportunity to join Meridian 59, The 3DO Company's online gaming service, with no sign up fee, a $14.95 value.
To demonstrate that they've read the message, consumers must include the "MagicWord," a highlighted term found in BonusMail messages, in the subject field of their return message.
Intellipost said BonusMail will not sell or exchange the consumer's personal information (name, e-mail address and mailing address) to anyone without their express permission.
It would appear that the creativity of Web marketers is at an all-time low. Or perhaps we haven't hit rock bottom yet.
Stick around long enough and your ISP will be paying you to log on.
Disgustedly... --John Blower
Slow, Slow, Quick, Quick, Slow...
It can be frustrating to attempt to access a site, which, on previous visits, loaded quickly and efficiently, only to find sluggish performance.
Obviously, there's a "traffic jam" somewhere - but where? And is there anything you can do about it?
The route data takes over the Internet from the site you are accessing to your PC can be likened to water. It follows the path of least resistance. But pinpointing the source of a data blockage in the myriad of routes the data could take seems almost impossible.
No more. NetMedic from Vital Signs does exactly that. The NetMedic "dashboard" includes a pane which displays your personal path from your PC to your modem or Intranet, to your ISP and the Intranet, all the way to the Web site you have requested. When the Web site responds, you see the Web pages as they return to your PC.
Specific sources of performance problems are highlighted in yellow or red.
Net.Medic tells you how well your ISP is performing: call completions, average call connection rates, service failures which prevent accessing Web sites, total connection time, and data sent and received. Now you can check if you should subscribe to a premium service or switch to a different ISP.
The Vital Signs site is attractive and easy to navigate. There are a series of preview screens which seem to give a good indication of how the product performs.
NetMedic costs a shade under $40. You can testdrive for thirty days, but only of you are on a Windows 95/NT platform. --John Blower
Not Rocket Science...
According to a report in a recent issue of the Internet Advertising Report, "Berkeley, CA-based CyberGold Inc. said that a recent advertising test on Time Warner's Pathfinder Network shows that its incentive program for viewing advertising produced up to 13 times more click-through responses than conventional Web banner ads".
In essence, the company ran three variations of the same ad in the same places. Ad #1 was a straightforward banner ad. Ad #2 promised the viewer $1 if s/he clicked through. Ad #3 promised the viewer $5.
CyberGold reported - somewhat breathlessly - that the $5 promise garnered about six times the clickthrough of the regular banner, while the $1 ad captured four times as many clickthroughs.
We presume that CyberGold paid some pretty hefty bucks to some consultants to organize the test, collate and analyze the results, and report this absolutely astonishing result back to them.
We tried a similar experiment when we were children, putting quarters on the floor in a mall. We noticed that, once someone had spotted the first one, they became intent in their observation of the floor.
There's no doubt that the Web requires a new model for the advertising and promotion of goods and services. After all, it isn't broadcasting, so the shotgun approach is not appropriate for this medium.
We do wonder, however, if the staging of tests to demonstrate that people will click on a mouse to earn a dollar (or five) really advances our understanding of the New Medium to any great degree.
Or, indeed, helps us in any way formulate a workable model for Webvertising. --John Blower
If our access logs are anything to go by, then WebTV is becoming more popular (and doubtless will become more so now that You-Know-Who has bought it...).
So should you build its restrictions into your design criteria?
Well, first consider whether or not your audience is within the WebTV universe.
WebTV's target demographic is a price-sensitive mass audience which seems to be skeptical of new technology.
So, if you're producing subscription-based or advertiser-supported content, you'll need to evaluate whether the profile of a typical WebTV user matches your target audience.
However, if you do decide the WebTV audience is for you, there are some design issues you'll want to keep in mind.
WebTV displays color differently - it's a TV, not a monitor. You need to be sensitive to issues such as black text on white backgrounds.
While this looks great on a PC, it's difficult to read on a television, where light-colored text on dark backgrounds works best.
Graphics with text smaller than about 12 points may be difficult to read, and jiggling can occur with very thin lines and high-contrast non-antialiased borders.
WebTV places pages in a 544-pixel wide by 378-pixel high display area (roughly the equivalent of an 11-inch monitor). Since scrolling is an alien concept to most who aren't computer users, the WebTV designers chose to replace scrollbars with a videogame-like bump-and-scroll, using a remote control.
Although you can maneuver through a page vertically, you can't move horizontally beyond the window, so you need to keep your design under the 544-pixel width limit.
Though WebTV doesn't support frames, it does support its own *sidebar* tag, which allows you to place what amounts to a non scrolling vertical frame alongside your content. Since *sidebar* isn't backward-compatible with browsers that don't recognize the tag, you'll need to create a separate WebTV version of a page in order to take advantage of this extension.
Is it worth it? Probably not at the moment, but... --John Blower
If, as a site operator, you are accustomed to collecting information about site visitors through the issuing of cookies, you may well begin to see a decline in the amount of data you collect.
A software company is offering a free utility that it claims can keep your surfing habits and other personal information private.
The utility, which is available - free - from Luckman Interactive, prevents cookies from being read or planted, according to the company.
Mac users, unfortunately, are out of luck (once again)..
Other products allow privacy-conscious surfers to clean up cookies--digital tags that Web sites plant on a user's hard drive to track visits. In addition, the next versions of both Netscape's Communicator and Microsoft's Internet Explorer will allow a surfer to set preferences to reject cookies before they are planted. But some Web sites won't allow access without setting a cookie.
Luckman's utility claims to trick Web servers into thinking that they're planting cookies when they're not. It also fools Web sites that want to find cookies already on a surfer's hard drive into accessing an empty folder, according to Marco Papa, Luckman's chief technology officer. In other words, it would be like having a child stick his or her hand into an empty cookie jar as opposed to the full jar, which is hidden safely away in the top cupboard.
We have covered the issue of cookies extensively in this column, and it is apparent that there are two sharply-divided opinions over whether they are acceptable or not.
This useful little tool appears to give the Web user a considerable measure of control over whether or not cookies are an integral part of the surfing experience.
Perhaps someone could let us know if it actually works... --John Blower
Take a look at the Archives. We've indexed all the past issues with topic pointers.
All material on this site is © 1995, 1996 by IBN (The Internet Business Network), Mill Valley, CA 94941