Archive for July, 2008

Cake!

Tuesday, July 29th, 2008



Cake!

Originally uploaded by Kate O’

That is a hell of a big piece of cake.

links for 2008-07-29

Tuesday, July 29th, 2008

Six Easy Ways to Get Started in Behavioral Targeting

Monday, July 28th, 2008

I got email this morning from an editor at Circulation Management asking for clarification on some of the points from the presentation at the Circulation Management show in Chicago a few weeks ago, and since I was writing up some thoughts for her, I thought I’d put them here, too. Enjoy!

Behavioral Targeting: Six Easy Ways to Get Started

  1. Read your reports for meaningful segments

    Chances are, you’re already collecting data that, when analyzed and applied, could optimize customers’ experience as well as your revenues. Most analytics platforms can tell you about new vs. returning visitors, and can usually further break the latter group down into first-time buyers vs. repeat customers. Chances are also pretty good that each of these groups is behaving somewhat to very differently on your site, and if you don’t figure out what works best for each, you’re leaving money on the table.

    chart up and to right.png

  2. Traditional direct response tactics still work

    Behavioral targeting and marketing approaches are heavily borrowed from the domain of direct response. Meaningful segments, appealing offers, and consistent remarketing are all part of a well-rounded practice.

  3. Focus on your easy-to-segment audiences

    Sometimes you can spot a useful segment, but actually breaking it out for targeting purposes may be trickier than you expect. (Geotargeting falls into this category for many sites). Unless you’re a black belt behavioral marketer and there’s nowhere else to turn for optimization, you probably have lower-hanging opportunities to pursue. Think in terms of both providing the biggest returns and taking on the least daunting setup to find the hidden treasure on your site.

  4. Start wide and optimize campaigns

    It’s likely that you can realize substantial gains in your success metrics by thinking at a high level about audience characteristics, and then monitoring more granular groupings for meaningful patterns. Most of the groupings you follow in any given campaign won’t perform in a way that bears statistically significant differences to your control group, but the ones that stand out can always be segments in a future campaign.

  5. Match message with media and audience

    The beauty of online marketing is the wealth of data and control you can exercise over context. The content you display on your site and in your ad networks can be adjusted based on any number of factors. Look for opportunities to tighten your message and your call to action based on context.

  6. Test, test, test

    The key lesson in all of this is: it depends. It depends on your audience, it depends on your site, it depends on the time of day, the time of week, the time of year, and so on. The only way you’ll know what works for any given audience for any given situation is to test it. And test it, and test it again. Invest in a testing platform and process that provides you with the flexibility and the visibility to act quickly and learn quickly, and it will pay for itself many times over.

The freezer that wouldn’t.

Sunday, July 27th, 2008

Sometime between yesterday morning and this morning, our freezer had an identity crisis. It decided it was a refrigerator, and that it would act accordingly.

So this morning, we had goddess-knows-how-many pounds of thawed food to figure out what to do with. I cooked up all the fake breakfast sausage and had FIVE pieces (yum!) along with a once-frozen blueberry waffle and some conveniently pre-thawed berries. We transferred as much of the food as would fit into the real fridge, and are feverishly making meal plans for the next several days to use up as much of the food as possible.

Even with good planning, though, we’re going to lose some food. So if anyone in the vicinity of near-north Nashville would like some thawed veggie burgers, veggie bratwurst, or veggie ground “beef”, or some formerly-frozen fruit, come on over. We’ll be cooking and feasting all day.

I am a major pain in the neck

Saturday, July 26th, 2008

My neck and throat feel all puffy and swollen today, for some reason, even though they don’t really look any different. Still, I keep making jokes to Karsten about it, like asking while he drives if my neck is blocking his view of the road — stuff like that. He shakes his head and asks if it’s going to be another two months of neck jokes before my surgery. Magic 8 Ball says “you may rely on it.”

Now I’ve done it.

Thursday, July 24th, 2008

Well, I just scheduled my thyroidectomy. October 2nd, 8 AM. I have to be there by 6:30, apparently. The nurse told me it’s “at least” a three-hour procedure. But I guess I’ll be knocked out so I probably won’t care how long it takes, really.

Gulp.

links for 2008-07-22

Tuesday, July 22nd, 2008

Get a car off the road AND get a great workout? Sure!

Sunday, July 20th, 2008

My planned bike commute route, and first attemptI’ve only done one practice ride and I didn’t even make it all the way, but I think it’s still feasible enough to say it out loud: I may become a bike commuter.

Mind you, my commute route is 18.14 miles long (according to Google maps), over hilly middle Tennessee terrain (according to my legs). It’ll be one hell of a workout. But on the plus side: it’ll be one hell of a workout! I’ll never have to visit a gym again.

Except, of course, that part of the logistics involve visiting a gym every morning. Part of what makes this possible is that the Cool Springs YMCA is mere blocks from Magazines.com, so I can shower at the Y and coast downhill to work.

My next step is to try another test ride, this time with some of the gear I might use to commute. If I go through with this plan, I’ll need to invest in:

  • lights and reflectors to be safe on the ride back after work
  • panniers to carry change of clothes, laptop, and miscellaneous stuff
  • neon-bright bike wardrobe that protects against leg chafing — definitely an issue yesterday

Me at the farmers marketAnd yes, I probably want to buy a new bike. I love my fun and adorable cruiser for riding around town, but I gather that a road bike would make the long ride much easier and more efficient. But I want to be sure I’ll actually do this before I invest in a commuting bike.

Because there are several other considerations: I’d also want to try to adjust my schedule so that I leave the house as early as daylight will allow and leave the office while there’s still enough light left to avoid riding home in the dark, at least for now. If I do this through the winter it’ll be pretty tough to avoid riding in the dark, since it’s already pretty dark by 5 most days in December. Not to mention what it might be like to ride that far in the cold.

But December is a long ways away, and the conditions now are pretty much opposite: plenty of daylight, and too much heat for comfort.

Still, I’m excited. I really want to do this. If I could manage to do it five days a week, I’d be riding 180 miles, saving 175 lbs of CO2, burning 8,460 calories, and saving almost $40 in gas costs each and every week.

Any one of those numbers would be incredibly motivating, but all of them together? How could I not give this a go?

New bikes!

links for 2008-07-20

Sunday, July 20th, 2008

links for 2008-07-17

Thursday, July 17th, 2008
  • What a great idea! Somebody figured out a way to profit from Nashville’ lack of an IKEA. And according to Nashvillest, they donate 10% of profit to charity. How cool is that? (Though if it were me driving, I’d go to Cincinnati instead of Atlanta.)
    (tags: nashville ikea)

What makes a song demo work in Nashville?

Tuesday, July 15th, 2008

The Nashville Feed has a great entry today about the “science” of cutting a killer demo, but the write-up goes on to demonstrate that it’s really anything but science. Several anecdotes from hit songwriters and producers nail the dilemma: music professionals often claim to prefer a work tape, because they say they want to hear their own interpretations, but a good many of the so-called “golden ears” on Music Row don’t seem to be as objective as they might claim. From what we’ve observed (and I’m not just talking about our own pitching, but what we’ve been witness to in various pitch sessions), a slightly less commercial song wrapped up in a well-polished demo has a better chance of being noticed than a slightly more commercial song recorded at home with just a guitar and some less-than-stellar vocals.

Perhaps the best of both worlds might be to make a home recording, but use a great singer. That’s an approach we’ve thought about taking, but in the end, we always feel our songs are better represented by studio demos anyway.

Anyway, the entry goes on to include a bulleted list of “how to make your demos real contenders,” and based on Karsten’s and my experience, there’s some good wisdom there. For example:

Trust Your Musicians: “In Nashville the session musicians are the best in the world at getting demos done,” said Hambridge. “Songwriters are not usually producers, but good musicians spend so much time in the studio playing on all kinds of songs that they often know exactly what you’re going for. Listen to their ideas.”

That’s one thing I haven’t written about often enough here: how impressive the talent is in Nashville. The first time we took a demo into the studio, we were completely knocked out by how quickly the musicians picked up the melody and laid it down for the recording. The guys were milling around, chatting with each other while the scratch demo was playing on the studio speakers, apparently not paying any attention. Yet when they all sat down to play it through, they had it sounding nearly radio-ready on the first take.

Part of that, of course, is song structure. We intentionally write pop songs, and pop songs by definition have straightforward chord progressions, so it’s not like we typically give studio musicians much of a challenge. But the quality of musicianship is so high that they even replicate the turnarounds and licks without appearing to try.

There are more tips, and some good anecdotes at the Nashville Feed. Click on over there to read the rest.

And as a bonus, here’s some video from the “By Surprise” demo session we did back in ‘05:

links for 2008-07-14

Monday, July 14th, 2008

links for 2008-07-13

Sunday, July 13th, 2008

Quick, what does this remind you of?

Saturday, July 12th, 2008

Seen this?

searchmonkey.png

It’s Yahoo’s SearchMonkey program. Hmm. “Searchmonkey.” That’s kind of cute… and very familiar! Where have I heard that before?

Oh yeah! Here:

searchmonkey-me.png

I’m not bitter, though. They can have it. What with Yahoo’s current difficulties, it’ll probably do them about as much good as it did me.

Tastykake display at Zackie’s

Saturday, July 12th, 2008

Whenever we have veggie dogs at Zackie’s, this Tastykake display
taunts me.

Lily

Saturday, July 12th, 2008



Lily

Originally uploaded by Kate O’

These Asiatic lilies have been incredibly fussy since I planted them,
so I’m thrilled to see a flower turn up.

links for 2008-07-11

Friday, July 11th, 2008

It’s hard work being so cute

Thursday, July 10th, 2008



It’s hard work being so cute

Originally uploaded by Kate O’

Baxter makes us all look bad.

links for 2008-07-10

Thursday, July 10th, 2008

How was I to know when I got dressed this morning?

Wednesday, July 9th, 2008

This afternoon as my coworker Duane and I were meeting downtown with the ad agency working on our new logo, a storm started kicking up outside. It was just beginning to rain as we got up to leave, and the wind was fierce. I, of course, was wearing a billowy skirt that hit just above the knee. That is, when the wind isn’t gusting — in the wind, it hits just above the shoulder.

Yes, my friends, I walked out of the agency’s office pulling a double-Marilyn — trying to keep my skirt from flying up both in front and in back — and failing miserably. The assistant creative director was gallantly walking me and Duane to my car, trying to cover me with his umbrella and remain chivalrous and composed while I nearly laughed myself into hysterics trying to keep my skirt below my thighs.

I’ve been laughing about it all the rest of the afternoon. But as soon as I got home, I changed into safe, reliable pajama pants.

Oy.

Kiss and make up, kiss of death, or how about just vamping for the camera.

Tuesday, July 8th, 2008

You know all those articles I’ve been linking about Maghound? Well, in case it wasn’t obvious, it’s an initiative I’m keeping my eye on. Time Inc. is launching this online magazine service in late Q3, and oh by the way, Time Inc. happens to be an investor in an online magazine service called Magazines.com, too, so… I guess that’s a little weird, right?

Anyway, last week at this conference I was speaking at, I got chatting with Dave Ventresca, president of Maghound. We’d met once before and were having a nice enough conversation, and then… someone approached us with a camera.

Quick: what’s the best thing to do when someone wants to take what they think will be a caption-worthy photo?

Why, make it MORE caption-worthy, of course.

daveventresca-me-kiss.jpg

Your caption suggestions welcome here.

links for 2008-07-05

Saturday, July 5th, 2008

Smoky skyline

Friday, July 4th, 2008



Smoky skyline

Originally uploaded by Kate O’


Update from Amazon.com

Thursday, July 3rd, 2008

I got an email response from Amazon customer service:

Thank you for writing to us at Amazon.com.

I’m sorry for the trouble you had with your shopping cart.

I’ve reported the problem, and our technical team is working on taking care of it right now.

Often these errors are corrected after only a short time, so please try again after two or three days.

I understand that this might be causing you lot of inconvenience. Please understand that we are doing our best to resolve this problem, but technical glitches cannot be predicted and at times it is unmanageable.

Thanks for your patience while we fix this problem and thank you for shopping at Amazon.com.

[...]

Best regards,

Muzeeb
Amazon.com Customer Service

A wordle of my own

Thursday, July 3rd, 2008

I’ve seen some cool wordles, but it wasn’t until a friend posted one she created using a recent research paper that I got inspired to create one of my own. This wordle uses my “manifesto,” which was a 37-page, 6,889-word document outlining a proposed strategy for how we at Magazines.com interact with our customers to optimize lifetime value.

No surprise that “email” and “customers” are the prominent words for a visualization of a document describing, essentially, how best to communicate with our customers.