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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
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As we know, Web usage is expanding at an astonishing rate. Alta Vista claims to index 80 million pages, and some estimates put the rate of expansion at 40,000 new pages per day. Novice users are flocking Webwards in ever-increasing numbers, bringing with them new values and patterns of behavior. Sophisticated Web users generally seem to settle into a pattern of repeated visits to a handful of sites, where text is read and digested. This is not to say that old hands don't visit new sites, simply that the novelty of following links tends to diminish over time. Unsophisticated Web usage, on the other hand, is characterized by inordinate - almost indiscriminate - surfing. "Content" is scanned for links, and the novice surfer scoots off to the next site. It's almost as if there's a kind of competition to see how many pages can be racked up in a given period. We wonder when we'll reach the point where the combination of more and more pages and more and more new users will result in site content becoming no more than wallpaper for frenzied surfers. After all, we're certain that, like us, you have unsubscribed from a mailing list or two, simply because of information overload. Indeed, lists have collapsed from a surfeit of content. Of course, as new users familiarize themselves with the New Medium, they fall into repeated visits to a handful of sites. The key, in this frenzied environment, is compelling content which is frequently refreshed. Which is easier said than done - but who wants to end up as wallpaper? --John Blower
Most users of search engines/navigational sites are more than satisfied with their favorite provider, according to a survey by NPD Online Research.
NPD polled a total of more than 22,000 visitors to Alta Vista, Excite, Infoseek, Lycos, WebCrawler and Yahoo! in a survey sponsored by the six search engines.
Respondent ratings of very good/excellent ranged from 78% to 92% among the six sites whose visitors were surveyed; excellent ratings ranged from 30% to 48% among the sites.
The survey also showed users were virtually unanimous on what makes a site a winner. More than 90% of respondents from each of the search engines said the following features were very important:
Speed of loading and response
Reliability and accuracy of results
Organized and up-to-date information
Marketers for new or established search engines may be surprised to learn that contests may not be the best use of their resources.
Participants in the NPD survey ranked contests among the least important features attracting them to a particular search engine; only 24% to 34% of respondents felt that it was important or very important to have contests on a site.
Other lower priority features among the users surveyed were that the site look good (44% to 60% said it was important or very important) and that the site be fun to use (43% to 68%).
Respondents to the NPD survey showed that once they've selected a search engine, they're most likely to stay there -- at least for a while -- even if their search is unsuccessful. Between 66 and 80% of those surveyed try the same search engine using different words or tools to reach their intended destination, while 16 to 25% repeat the same search, but do so using a different search engine.
Many of those surveyed (52 to 78%) said they had the search engine on which they were intercepted for the NPD survey bookmarked. Many users indicated some loyalty to the search engine from which they completed the survey. At the search engine with the most loyal Web users, 76% of visitors said they used that search engine most often.
However, there was a fair amount of cross usage among some of the six search engines as well as use of other search engines such as Search.com, Looksmart, Hotbot, Dejanews, Magellan and others.
Dollars for Data
The notion that the Web is laden with "free information" is a widely held misconception.
"Content-providers", for example, (who used to be known as "writers") do not, contrary to popular opinion starve in garrets for the sake of offering their work to the world.
Nope. Someone pays them. And, ultimately, that "someone" is the vast conglomeration of individuals and entities that make up the economy.
As this realization dawns and begins to be acknowledged, a few brave souls are attempting to charge for information up-front.
A few weeks ago, the Northern Light search engine was launched. As well as organizing its findings into "folders", it featured a Special Collection of documents culled from traditional sources and available on payment of a nominal sum.
This service was billed as free until September 11, but we note that the free trial has been extended until October 15.
For ourselves, we felt that the documents in the Special Collection needed far better summaries in order to tempt bucks from our corporate pocket.
Now along comesIdeaMarket. IdeaMarket is a spin-of fromidealab!, which is backed by such luminaries as founder and chairman Bill Gross, Steven Spielberg, Michael Douglas, Compaq Computer founder Ben Rosen, and the Silicon Valley venture capital firm, Foundation Capital.
The idea behind IdeaMarket is disarmingly simple. Solicit "Expert Reports" on business topics from recognized authorities and charge users to download them. Current experts include Terri Lonier, America's top expert on Small Business and SOHO issues, and Jamin Patrick, a leading business incubator executive.
The pitch is that having business tips assembled in one place will save you time and money in searching for them on an exponentially expanding Web.
Authors, incidentally, are paid a 50% royalty on their work, which should encourage a high standard of contribution. But will it work? The idea of shelling out cold cash for data is not a popular one amongst current Web users.
But, with an increasing number of novices unschooled in the old Internet ethics of sharing and giving, both these brave new business ventures may just make it.--John Blower
We've recommended ClickZ many times in the past as an excellent source of opinion by respected Web pioneers, as well as a resource center.
If you don't do so already, we further recommend a subscription to the ClickZ Newsletter.
The current edition features a Q&A with Glenn Fleishman, whose many accomplishments include establishing and moderating the Internet Marketing Discussion List, a forum for discussion of marketing to and on the Internet.
Glenn makes some interesting points about web advertising, opining that interstitials and pop-up windows, while interesting ideas, are not all that different from other techniques.
The point he makes - and one with which we are inclined to agree - is that the major blockage to effective Web advertising is simple creativity. Most "creative" work on the Web is drawn from other media, notably print and TV, and, as such, suffers in the transition.
Few new techniques have arisen, although we did come across an interesting concept from InterPerks called IncentiveWare.
IncentiveWare consists of a library of small software utilities that companies can private label and provide to their customers and employees as free gifts.
For example, a company specializing in golf equipment may offer a "droplet" of golf tips, emblazoned with the company logo which pops up when the tips are opened, complete with a link to the company's site.
This is a novel concept. It fits into our idea of net sensibilities by offering something, yet making the transactional nature of the relationship transparent ("I'll give you some information, you visit my site").
Which is another point Fleishman raises, that of swapping information for information, an aspect of Web commerce that marketers have done a particularly bad job of communicating to users.
We agree with him, and urge you to subscribe to the ClickZ Newsletter. --John Blower
You know the feeling.
You find a super site which you intend to explore further, you get distracted and lose it.
And, of course, you didn't bookmark it.
Here's Web Quick from Europa Software, variously described as "a utility you actually need".
Web Quick "remembers" up to the last 1500 sites you have visited and saves them as links. Essentially, it becomes a short-term bookmark folder. You can also convert the saved links to bookmarks.
The major advantage is to prevent bookmark directory clutter - after all, how many bookmarks do you use on a regular basis?
Web Quick also gives you shortcuts to all the major search engines and directories, publications ( for example the New York Times and Wall Street Journal), computing sites (like C|Net) and a number of "Yellow Page" directories.
The utility costs a shade under $30, but you can download a trial version from the Europa Software site.
Check it out! --John Blower
Take a look at the Archives. We've indexed all the past issues with topic pointers.
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