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The advertising
industry is on
the verge of
being shattered
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
Michael Strangelove

Advertising is
one of the minor
arts, so don't
be intimidated
by it. Try
not to lose
your sense of
Keep it fun.
Robert Bly

is more
it seems.
John Gall

The System
is its own
John Gall

It's better to
do a few things
really well than
than to do
a lot of things
If you can't
make the necessary
commitments of
time and energy
to your
scale back
your plan.
John Sumser


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February 26, 1998

Phew! At Last...

Canny Mac users will probably already have found a nifty little application which filters out banner ads.

Surfing with the app makes us somewhat nostalgic for the old days of the Web, before banner ads became ubiquitous. And, in many cases, poorly conceived, creatively-bereft and intrusive.

Now the rest of the world can join in the unfettered pleasure allowed only to one cohort, courtesy of the wonderful folks who brought us Cybersitter, the filtering software which filters out - well, tons of interesting and useful stuff as well as smut.

Solid Oak Software recently announced the release of an enhanced version of Cybersitter "in response to consumer demand", according to VP Marc Kante.

Apparently, Solid Oak developed the newest incarnation of CYBERsitter so that surfers can free up modems crippled by the heavy graphics (and subsequent L-O-N-G download times) of some banner ads.

Is this A Good Thing?

Well, it depends on your standpoint. We have no beef with banner ads per se. But we do feel that the apparent need for products such as Solid Oak's merely points up the paucity of creativity at the creative end of banners.

In another sense, the whole issue draws attention to the apparent haze of oblivion in which many site and banner designers seem to be enveloped. Whilst the creatives may have a super fast processor, a 21" monitor and a T1 connection, us lesser mortals have to make do with a 28.8, a slower processor and a 14" monitor.

Solid Oak's constituency lies amongst those of us who are tired of the World Wide Wait, and who yearn for a Kinder, Gentler Net...

--John Blower

February 25, 1998

To Mall or Not to Mall...

The notion of an "Internet Mall" has always seemed a little perverse to us. The Web, after all, is not the "real world", so the idea that users will decide to purchase a CD (for example), whilst looking for information on vacations flies in the face of our belief that sophisticated users use the Web to obtain very specific information.

Our beliefs have been bolstered by a report by Paul Marshall.

Here are the salient points:

Businesses that have sites on malls were surveyed and asked to rate their experiences. Five of the questions used a scale of 0 to 10. A rating from 0-3 means they are very dissatisfied, 4-7 is somewhat satisfied, and 8 and up are very satisfied.

84% of the respondents are very unsatisfied with the leads or sales they have received from their site, and less than 2% are very satisfied. The average rating was 1.4. More than half of the respondents, 55%, have not received any business from their site. Most of the 43% who have received business have received only a few orders.

Further, 89% of the respondents said that they are not getting the results that they expected. Again, less than 2% are receiving the results that they expected. The average response was 1.1 out of 10.

Another area of dissatisfaction includes mistakes made by the mall owners that are never corrected. Here's a particularly striking example:

One site was listed in the mall's directory as a "Clam Substation Specialist." The business was a research company; they were a "Claim Substantiation Specialist." This error was never corrected and remained on the mall for at least 1 year.

Somehow, we're not surprised by these results.

"To Mall or Not to Mall"? A resounding NOT.

--John Blower

February 24, 1998

"Domains Plan May Result in Net Chaos"

...screamed Jon Swartz, San Francisco Chronicle Staff Writer in the Business Section of the Chronicle of Saturday, January 31, 1998.

Quelle surprise!!!!

The proposal, concocted by the wonderfully-named Ira Magaziner, envisions the creation of a further five TLD's (Top Level Domains), namely:

  • .web for Web-related sites
  • .arts for sites dealing with the arts;
  • .store for online vendors
  • .firm for online companies
  • and .nom for personal sites

This proposal has, of course, been kicking around for ages, and is something upon which we have commented in previous editions of this column.

Now, however, it looks as if this absurd, wrong-headed proposal might actually take flight.

The objective, according to Magaziner, is "that more domain names should be added".

Fat chance.

Take, for example, "" (puh-leeze!!!). We are a ".com" as we are a commercial entity. Come September - when the new domains are planned to arrive - we would be mighty silly if we didn't snap up "interbiznet.web" (we are, after all, "web related"), "" (we are a vendor of services) and "interbiznet.firm" (as an online company).

And the mighty brains who inhabit this organization are certain to come up with plausible reasons as to why we should also be entitled to ".arts" and ".nom"...

Of course, we aren't the only people who have this notion.

Which begs the question as to how this proposal will increase the number of domains.

All it will do is create a marketing nightmare for existing online organizations, and line the pockets of lawyers who specialize in trademark disputes. And even those who don't.

URL's are a consumers' bad dream as it is - awkward, clumsy, difficult to remember. Here was a golden opportunity to reform the whole system.

And Obersturmfuhrer Magaziner blew it.

--John Blower

February 23, 1998

Cunning Stunts

Most people find Web sites through the top search engines. Or do they?

Georgia Tech's GVU surveys indicate otherwise. They show that links from other Web pages are the most popular way people find new sites. Which means that you need lots of "other web pages" to link to your site as well.

But how to get those links?

In the "old days", it was usually enough to write a flattering, imploring eMail to a site operator and organize some sort of reciprocal link arrangement. No problem, old chap - part of the Internet Culture.

No more. Sending such a mail to a well-trafficked site will probably be ignored.

Why? Well, a site with a relatively high level of traffic (like this one, for example), attracts around fifty link requests a week. We could employ our intern, Monika, to do nothing more than download pages, change 'em, check 'em and bung 'em back up.

No way. Not at around thirty minutes a link.

The first thing to do is to find out who links to you. Use the "" command in AltaVista or HotBot. You may be pleasantly surprised. Or bitterly disappointed...

Now do the same with a competing and equally (or more) successful company. You'll probably notice quite a difference.

Your mission - should you choose to accept it - is to persuade those sites that link to your competition to link to you instead.

Look at who they are. If a popular non-profit links to your competition, and you have your own server, they may be persuaded to swap links by the offer of free server space, for example.

Bear in mind that changing links takes time. If you offer a quid pro quo, your request is more likely to be taken seriously.

Alternatively, check out ClickTrade...

--John Blower

--John Blower

LinkExchange Member

Take a look at the Archives. We've indexed all the past issues with topic pointers.

Check out the Archives....160 Weeks of Back issues including:

Feb 23, 1998
  • The Times
  • Meta Small
  • Correction
  • Flabbergasted
Feb 16, 1998
  • Nobody Told Them
  • The 5 Cs
  • One Seek
  • Take No Prisoners
Feb 09, 1998
  • Martha Stewart
  • Tenagra Awards
  • Interactive Email
  • Zero 1
  • Media-ocrity
Feb 02, 1998
  • Link Info
  • Recruiting Design
  • Were They Thinking?
Jan 26, 1998
  • What's In It 4 Me
  • Global Reach
  • Deadly Sites
  • Accomodating Design
Jan 19, 1998
  • It's Local
  • Dodgy Data
  • Elementary?
  • Novices
Jan 12, 1998
  • Communities
  • Is It Worth It?
  • Luncheon Meat
  • Web Rings
  • Marketing With Titles
Jan 05, 1998
  • Holiday Greetings
  • Website Garage
  • AArgh!
  • Year End Forecasts
Dec 21, 1997
  • Surveys
  • Communications Arts
  • Daily Brief
  • Click Trade
Dec 14, 1997
  • Whose Eyeballs?
  • NPR
  • Cool Tools
  • Hamsters?
Dec 07, 1997
  • Color Of Money
  • Resources
  • Search Engine Tuneup
  • Nice Makeover
  • European Design
Nov 30, 1997
  • Site Design
  • Statistics
  • Semi Free
  • Thanksgiving
  • Visitors
Nov 23, 1997
  • Easy Shopping
  • Great Content Wins
  • "Skinny" Graphics
  • Site Design
  • Net Mailer
Complete Indexed Archives(36 months of marketing and design) Complete Indexed Archives(36 months of marketing and design)

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All material on this site is © 1995, 1996 by IBN (The Internet Business Network), Mill Valley, CA 94941