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Real Geek Becomes Internet Rock Star

36 year old geek Jonathan Coulton got sick of coding, he wanted to sing instead. He was a typical geek – no doubt working in a dark cube decorated with action figures and empty pop cans.

His diet was full of caffeine and junk food. He didn’t shave (which hasn’t changed). Then he decided to follow his dream of being a rock star – albeit on his own terms.

Now he makes a living from his very plain blog, selling music and performing. More than he did programming. Notice his branding is true geek – it’s authentic and despite doing little actual marketing it’s working.

I’m afraid as I write this that it could start a revolt and we need programmers! The saving grace is most would never actually appear before a group of people, let alone a team meeting.

Obama Steps Up Online Advertising on Campaign

Barack Obama set a record in January by raising the highest amount of any candidate in a primary race. Online advertising may have contributed to his astonishing success. He raised $36.8 million last month compared to Hillary Rodham Clinton’s $19.7 million. Obama beat his staff’s projections of $32 million.

Unfortunately the reports I read don’t break down how the funds came through except to distinguish between individual and corporate donations. However, there is some data about candidate’s focus on raising money through display advertising.

Since January 2007, presidential candidates launched 277 million display ad impressions. And like in the primaries, Obama has taken the lead here. According to research by Nielsen Online AdRelevance, Barack Obama ran over 70 million display ads in January. Contrast that with John McCain’s 19 million display ad views.

Why You Should Ignore Most Link Requests

We all get these emails: the link requests. Even if you’re all for paid links, you have to admit that most of the the generic link request emails floating around are a pretty poor investment—permanent links on interior pages with a low, one-time payment. I’ve gotten offers as low as $10 or $20. Rather than reply with “No, thanks, I’ll just keep my eyes open for loose change,” I usually ignore them.

Darren Rowse of ProBlogger gets his fair share of these proposals. He actually takes the time to reply that he’s not interested. Today (tomorrow, actually, but it’s just that whole international date line thing) he posted not just the initial email but a long conversation from a would-be link seller. Over the course of more than two weeks, the seller insistently emails Darren more than ten times. Darren’s consistent reply: “Sorry, not interested.” From the exchange (these are the 9th and 10th emails in the conversation):

Newspapers Herd Together for Protection Against Google

Have you ever watched a herd of buffalo or deer?

Ever seen hundreds of small fish school together and move in one fluid movement?

As you may already know, they do that in order to protect themselves from a single large predator. It often works, as the predator will mistakenly believe the prey is too large to consume, or get’s blocked out by a massive wall of bodies.

There’s a new herd on the traditional media landscape.

Four large newspaper companies–The Tribune Company, Gannett Company, Hearst Corporation, and The New York Times Company–have decided there’s safety in numbers and so have joined forces. Between them they’re creating quadrantONE and each will allocate a portion of its online advertising space to the new company.

As the NYT reports:

Why Branding Campaigns Can’t Rely on the 6% that Click Display Ads

Starcom, Tacoda and comScore’s “Natural Born Clickers” study suggests that advertisers looking to increase their brand awareness should dump click-through rates as a measure of success.

The study found that, when it comes to display advertising, 50% of the clicks come from just 6% of the total US online population. And while these 25-44 year olds spend four times the amount online compared to non-clickers, they earn less than $40k a year.

What does this mean for advertisers who buy display ads for branding purposes? Don’t focus on the click!

Further preliminary Starcom data suggests no correlation between display ad clicks and brand metrics, and show no connection between measured attitude towards a brand and the number of times an ad for that brand was clicked. The research presentation suggests that when digital campaigns have a branding objective, optimizing for high click rates does not necessarily improve campaign performance.

Online Marketers See High ROI from SEO

While paid search is still the top tactic for internet marketers, more competition and higher costs has dampened enthusiasm. However, SEO (search engine optimization) is more popular with marketers because of its lower cost and high returns.

“SEO continues to increase in popularity. Its low costs and high returns make it a leader among more than half (57%) of the marketers surveyed. Those numbers were 45% in 2006 and 33% in 2005.”

That’s according to MarketingSherpa’s 5th Annual ad:tech Survey. The survey received 421 responses from top internet marketers. These marketers decide how to spend large marketing budgets for well-known brands.

MarketingSherpa asked what worked in the past 12 months and how they plan to budget for the next year.

Here are some additional findings:

AOL Up for Grabs

Despite continuing to acquire other companies, including Goowy and Buy.At marketing network, it looks like AOL is seriously losing steam. Time Warner CEO Jeff Bewkes announced today that the company would be undergoing major restructuring.

Bewkes said that they’ve already begun to split AOL into two divisions, one focused on advertising (presumably still called Platform A, as announced in September). The other, which I think will retain the AOL brand and subscribers, will be spun off and possibly sold.

CNNMoney mentions some of the reasons that Time Warner is shedding the company it acquired eight years ago:

The company saw a 32% plunge in revenue at AOL, as it lost 29% of the subscribers it had a year earlier. Operating income at the unit tumbled 70% due to the sale of its Internet access business in Great Britain and France.