April 3, 1997 On-line Advertising/Promotion and Electronic Commerce

Transcript of the live chat session that took place Thursday, April 3, 1997, noon to 1 PM (US Eastern Time) These sessions are scheduled for noon-1 PM every Thursday.

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Since the chat itself happens at a rapid pace, it's often difficult to note interesting facts in particular URLs as they appear on-line. Here's a place to take a more leisurely look. I've rearranged some of the pieces to try to capture the various threads of discussion (which sometimes get lost in the rush of live chat).

Please send email with your follow-on questions and comments, and suggions for topics we should focus on in future sessions. So long as the volume of email responses is manageable, I'll post the most pertinent ones here for all to see.

Threads (reconstructed after the fact):

Today's Participants:


Richard Seltzer -- The scheduled chat is on Business on the WWW. If you are here for that discussion, please identify yourself.

We're here to share experiences about doing business on the Internet -- particularly the World Wide Web. What works? What doesn't work? Why? What are the trends that matter? How can you/should you adapt to the Internet culture and environment?

I work for the Internet Business Group at Digital Equipment in Marlboro, MA. In that capacity, I end up talking to people from large companies about how they can use the Web for business.

I also have my own personal Web page -- which is content rich and no frills -- which I do for practically nothing and draws a fair amount of traffic and attention.

Today, we want to continue to focus on on-line advertising/promotion and electronic
commerce. What are the best places and ways to to advertise? What are the best advertising strategies? What results can you expect? Is it worth it? Alternative ways to promote your site/business. Advantages and disadvantages of designing your site to run advertising.

They've made some helpful improvements to the setup/software here. You can now reset your refresh rate without logging out. And they have an introductory page, so I don't need to repeat myself about who we are and why we're here. Keep in mind that this works best if you select FRAMES. If you have any questions about the setup/software, please holler.

Please note that to shut off the automatic refresh, you just have to set the refresh rate at zero. Then click on New Messages whenever you want to see what's new.

Also, please note that when you click on "clear form" that not only erases your previous message from the form, it also resets your refresh rate to zero. (just noticed that).

Kaye Vivian sent a very helpful followup note after last week's session. It is posted with the transcript at It provides pointers to several articles that discuss trends in Internet advertising.

Bill Dunlap and Bob Fleischer --
If you are connected, let's try to get the conversation started. Did either of you have a chance to look at any of those articles pointed to in the transcript?

Welcome BobZ and Barbara and Alan Majer --
Glad folks are finally connecting. Please introduce yourselves.

Sudha Jamthe -- Hi Richard, How are you doing?

Richard Seltzer -- Hello, Sudha, Looks like we have about half a dozen folks connected; just need to prompt them to start talking. Today, we want to continue to focus on on-line vertising/promotion and electronic commerce. What are the best places and ways to to advertise? What are the best advertising strategies? What results can you expect? Is it worth it? Alternative ways to promote your site/business. Advantages and disadvantages of designing your site to run advertising.

Bob Fleischer -- I'm sorry to say that I haven't seen the articles, and sorrier to say that I have to leave the chat now.

Barbara Hartley Seltzer -- Rich, Hi! Sorry I'm late. I am a marketing specialist for Elcom Systems in Westwood. It is a full-circle electronic commerce company that develops and licenses electronic catalog software.

Alan Majer -- Hi, just getting used to the new interface here. Sorry I'm
a bit late.

Sudha Jamthe -- For Intro: I manage the web-net networking group and do
intranets at work in BGS Systems. In this process I research new Web services and ideas and connect people with opportunities.

Richard Seltzer -- Sudha -- What's BGS Systems? What do they do?

Sudha Jamthe -- BGS Systems is a software company with a niche product called BEST/1 for capacity planning and performance management. (

Ed Jaros -- Hello

Don Shegog -- hello

Richard Seltzer -- Welcome, Ed and Bob@Cottage et al. We're trying to focus on the role of promotion and advertising in making an electronic commerce site successful.

Richard Seltzer -- Last week there was a lot of talk about I just bought some books from them yesterday. They now have 2 and a half million books listed -- 1 and a half million in print and one million out of print/hard to find. It keeps getting better. Also, I was surprised to find out that Glenn Fleischer, who used to run the inet-marketing listserv, is now their Catalog Manager.

Alan Majer -- I missed last week's chat. I actually went over and checked out amazon books myself earlier in the week. It's easy to see why the site has caught peoples attention, it seemed very impressive

Barbara Hartley Seltzer -- I think one of the reasons is so popular is that every time someone gives a lecture on the Internet, they mention as a success story. The better it does, the more often it's mentioned and it becomes a public relations dream. doesn't even have to advertise anymore, every speaker on the Internet is promoting them.

Richard Seltzer -- Barbara -- Amen. is getting lots of free publicity because they are a front runner right now. But they are also doing lots right.
They make it community for readers, writers, publishers, etc.
I love their home page -- minimum of graphics, lots of info and suggestions for books to read and it's a long page. 

Banner Advertising

Barbara Hartley Seltzer -- Does Alta Vista still accept banner ads for certain keywords?

Richard Seltzer -- Barbara -- I'm not sure of the details of their ad pricing/offers.
It's all handled, I believe by DoubleClick. From the AltaVista site you can connect to there for info.

Barbara Hartley Seltzer -- Does anyone here use banner ads for advertising their company or do you just use the search engines/lists/forums approach?

Alan Majer -- Barbara - I've never tried banner advertising yet, but I did have some luck with listing a site I created with search engines. Getting the right keywords seemed
to be important and I had more success with some search engines than others.

Barbara Hartley Seltzer -- I've heard alot of mixed reviews about banner ads. I don't know if it works for the lesser known companies. In regard to search engines, it's frustrating. You pick your keywords and metatags, submit your URL and get near the top, but then when you check the other sites close to you in ranking, they don't have metatags or keywords, so it is hard to understand the system. Also, you have to keep on top of submissions because one week you may be near the top, then three weeks later, you're not.

Sudha Jamthe -- Barbara: I think Banner ads are effective if they are targeted ads. But, I wonder about how they measure the actual hits on the banner. Heard Microsoft is the biggest spender on banner ads. But they insist that they won't pay by ads viewed but by clicks or downloads from the ad-links. Is this a new trend? Will this take off?

Bob@CottageMicro.Com -- Has anyone noticed the totally unrelated links that show up in a search engine's results. This seems to be a forced banner type of advertising. How does pricing on those ads compare to regular banner advertising ? 

Local/Regional Marketing via the Web

BobZ -- Hello ALL ! I'm an independent consultant interested in providing local/regional marketing via the WWW. Does anyone have any comments or suggestions about using a "Global" resource to market and sell locally ? Thanks

Sudha Jamthe -- BobZ: About global reach, Bill Dunlap can help if he is here. He manages euro-markets site.

Ed Jaros -- Tom... Excellent question on how to market locally. I have many clients asking me the same question as they can't do business outside a certain geographic area.

Ed Jaros -- I hear that microsoft is setting up virtual neighborhoods that might help market locally.

Business-to-Business vs. Consumer E-Commerce

Tom Dadakis -- Hi Tom Dadakis here I have a question about e-commerce.
What does everyone thing will develop quickest & why? consumer ecommerce or business-to-business ecommerce

Richard Seltzer -- Tom -- I'd say the business opportunities are far greater for
business-to-business today. But most of that is hidden from view. All the high visibility sites are business-to-consumer.

Richard Seltzer -- Tom -- I believe that the reason business-to-business looks most promising today is that not everyone is on the Internet yet. It's a matter of the demographics of the users. It's also a question of logistics. If you only need to connect with a dozen or two known customers for business-to-business, that's a simple matter. But if you need to make your site visible to the entire world and attract large numbers of people to your site, that can be a very time-consuming and expensive proposition. That's where the question of promotion and advertising becomes very important. And it also becomes important to sort out the benefits and costs and set up your business so it can in fact become profitable.

Tom Dadakis -- Richard, I agree but there are instances which we are starting to hear about, such as extranets at Heineken and Chrysler

Richard Seltzer -- Tom -- What have you heard about Heineken and Chrysler?

Sudha Jamthe -- Richard: In connection with your comment about business-to-business marketing on the web, I hear about many private networks of businesses where they perform transactions securely eg. Litlenet. Does anyone know more about these? Do you think many such networks are going to grow?

Alan Majer -- Sudha - I heard about another network like that called Global Exchange. I know that a lot of people have been talking about them but I'm not sure how successful they have been so far, but they certainly have major plans for growth.

Richard Seltzer -- Sudha -- Digital has a telnet accessible store on the Internet set up for secure access by distributors and large customers and does about $300 million per year (over the Internet piece of it). They also have another secure Web site for communicating with partners. I suspect that many large companies are heading in the same direction. It's hard to estimate the size of that kind of business since it's hidden from public view and companies consider those numbers proprietary.

Tom Dadakis -- Heineken has a inventory site than has gotten some press lately. Also Chrysler is setting a parts ordering site for its dealer network. Anybody have anything else they have heard about.

Alan Majer -- Tom - the idea of business-to-business e-commerce seems like a natural one for many companies, but I'm not sure if it's for everyone just yet. One company I did some web site work for operates a retail and wholesale business for outdoor products. It would probably be useful for them to have a wholesale web site but they say there is little demand for it since very few of the people they supply to are actually using the Internet right now.... maybe it's still too early in certain industries.

Richard Seltzer -- Alan -- I agree that it is too early for some industries. It's just very difficult to determine which. I was hoping we could get more people connected today who have in fact been trying it. It's hard for me to sort out the hype from the reality, because every new site wants to claim that it's a booming success, in hopes that saying it will make it so.

Richard Seltzer -- One reason I believe that this topic is particular important right now -- every day I receive at least a dozen email press releases for new commercial sites. People are selling everything -- or trying to sell it. (Just got one on "implant dentistry"). And I simply don't believe that 1) the audience is there yet or 2) that these folks have a clue as to how to reach people who might be interested. I suspect that lots of these start ups will die in a few months.

Bob@CottageMicro.Com -- Tom - as far as consumers having PCs, I think we should all prepare for the onslaught of WEB-TV. Luck is the result of preparation.

Tom Dadakis -- Alan re: wholesaler for outdoor products I agree if their wholesale customers are not online. But this is my point on B-to-b ecommerce, incrimentally it is much easier for a business to go online than the majority of consumers because most businesses already have computers to some degree and may be locally networked. The majority of consumers do not yet have a computer and the $1-2000 to buy a computer to get online is a big hurdle. That is why I think B-to-B will develop well ahead of consumer ecommerce.

Alan Majer -- Richard - Although business-to-business might be too early for them their consumer market seems more than willing to use the net. They aren't actually selling
items on the web (I'm hoping to change that) but approximately one out of every three people who visits their site fills in a form to ask for their catalog. It looks very encouraging. 

Community Approach

Richard Seltzer -- I'm still a fan of the community approach to attracting and holding potential customers (as opposed to or in addition to on-line advertising). One site I recently looked at struck me as doing this very well -- "Writer's Haven" --
It's primarily a place for writers and readers of fiction to interact -- with chat and forums and postings of works in progress for comment, etc. And they also sell books. My kind of place.

Richard Seltzer -- I guess the main question is -- who is your audience? If it's a known set of people -- business-to-business or otherwise -- there's no need for general advertising. If it's a consumer crowd, then you have to do your homework to figure out how to get the attention of the right sub-set of people -- not just to drive the traffic up at your site, but to drive the right people there. Fewer is better if it's the right people.

Customers Requiring Suppliers to be on the Web

Tom Dadakis -- Richard, I am also hearing of instances where customers are requiring suppliers to become "web-compliant" which means ordering, pricing & billing can be done through the web, even some federal government agencies are doing the same. Anybody have any experience or knowledge of this yet?

Richard Seltzer -- Tom -- The trend you mention -- customers and the government insisting on Web-based access to info and ordering -- makes good sense, but I haven't heard of concrete instances of it yet in effect.

Ed Jaros -- I heard yesterday from a client that Wisconsin health care agencies will have to be on line in two years to eliminate paperwork.

Ed Jaros -- Richard - I am sure that on the last day of compliance the need for web designers like myself will skyrocket.

Tom Dadakis -- Ed re:health care. Oxford Healthcare is building an extensive data infrastructure to communicate with both their subscribers and health care providers (doctors), hospitals etc. through the web. Is that happening in wisconsin ?

Ed Jaros -- Tom: Yesterday was the first I heard of anything so I am still looking into it. I have done a site at which is a large hospital network in GB but all they are using it for is advertising at this point.

Sudha Jamthe -- Richard: Govt. insisting on web based ordering - We can renew our license or car registration at the RMV web site. Thats a new direction I like. 

Wilsonweb as source for marketing articles

Ed Jaros -- All. Here is one of the best sites I have found for internet marketing info. See This guy has a good clue on how to market sites.

Sudha Jamthe -- Thanks Ed. I checked the wilsonweb site. Its good. Their newsletter has an amazing collection of marketing articles.

Free Offers and Contests

Ed Jaros -- There is a company offering points towards your internet service and dial up. If you get so many points (by purchasing from approved vendors) you get your dial up and e-mail for free.

Alan Majer -- I find it really interesting that one of the advertising techniques many people say works best is to offer contests or free prizes... it apparently attracts traffic better than a lot of other means. I find this a bit surprising since from my own experience I have little faith in contest-like gimicks. Does this type of advertising attract a particular market segment or a broad cross-section of people? Are they an attractive group of consumers to have?

Ed Jaros -- Alan.. I would rather give info than prizes. At least then you know the ones at your site are generally interested. HITS alone mean little in relation to the overall success of your site. Take for instance :-/

Bob@CottageMicro.Com -- Alan - I have experience in just such a promo. It was a contest giving away a business wrth ~ 100k, cost $100 to enter, ran about 8months and was unsucessful in the responses from the internet. Even with Major print in newspapers and national TV coverage this just didn't fly. I believe the sucess or failure of giveaways or contests is the item offered wheter it's on the web or in traditional advertising.

Ed Jaros -- Idea... lotto or powerball on the internet

Barbara Hartley Seltzer-- In regard to offering prizes and contest, I don't think it really attracts your targeted market, but who know, maybe someone who goes to your site just to play might mention it to someone who needs your services.

Alan Majer -- bob - in your contest promotion, what kind of people were you tragetting and what kind of business was being given away?

Alan Majer -- bob - I wonder if the hindering factor for the promotion wasn't geography. After all, If I'm living in another city or even country I'm not going to want to move to where the contest business is. From that perspective it might be hard to attract people using the Internet.

Bob@CottageMicro.Com -- Alan the business was a retail store including inventory and 50k operating capital. The audience was anyone who want to start their own business. Methods used were of course traditional media, usenet for sale and search engine registrations. 


Richard Seltzer -- Let's not forget the role of a Web site in increasing traditional business. One of the sites that Kaye Vivian pointed at in her message in the last transcript was a coupon site that
looks interesting You fill out a profile of your interests etc. and then can print out negotiable coupons for use at stores like Toys R Us. Looks like a natural idea. And it doesn't have to be the store that offers such a service.

Alan Majer -- Richard - are these coupons for use over the Internet or in real life? Does anyone know of anyone implementing Internet loyalty systems on the Internet. It only seems natural that some large retailers might start offering "airmiles" or club points of some sort to generate consumer loyalty.

Richard Seltzer -- Alan --
Those coupons are for use in physical stores. Yes, it would make good sense to do things to build on-line loyalty or to incent people to look at particular pages. I believe that micropayments (systems like Millicent) are well suited for that. You give credits at some pages/sites for use in getting info etc. that you want at another. 

On-line Service

Richard Seltzer -- My personal inclination is toward finding creative ways to serve customers on the Web. This works for business-to-business as well as consumer. I think the payoff from that kind of activity (whether "customer service" or or other kinds of information-based services) is far more valuable than simply making it easy to do transactions on line. I'd like to move our focus in that direction next week. Does that make sense to you?

Tom Dadakis -- Richard:
re:you said'I think the payoff from that kind of activity (whether "customer service" or other kinds of information-based services)' Sun claims to have reduced the calls to their call center/help desk by 20% and saved several million dollars in staffing costs by having information available on their website. Anyone else working 'call center/help desk' functions on the web?

Richard Seltzer -- Tom -- At Internet World I ran into an outfit which offers on-line PC service info for about $3.95 per month. Looks like a good idea. But they are just in their infancy -- need lots more fix-it info. Heading in the right direction. ie. it can be the vendor that provide this service or a third party. (as with the coupons)

Tom Dadakis -- Richard re:tune-up I have to check them out.

Promoting by Email

Barbara Hartley Seltzer -- I've been reading that companies buy specialized lists to send their info to targeted audiences, but then it turns out the list isn't quite accurate, that some people on the list didn't authorize targeted e-mail. This makes it hard for new companies and they suffer from being called spammers.

Ed Jaros -- barbara... personally I hate unsolicited E-mail of any sort. unless it is someone I know.

Sudha Jamthe -- Richard: Most of these unsolicited emails are generated by some software and is very cold language. But once in a while some reach us by apologising for the email first. I especially find many coming from abroad offering translation service and the like. If we treat it like a billboard, they make us aware of some opportunity. We can just delete those mails if they don't seem interesting beyong the first line.

Alan Majer -- Sudha - there was a suggestion made recently in one of the news groups I subscribe to that electronic cash may provide one possible soluttion to reducing the annoyance of unsolicited e-mails. By including an electronic payment of $.25 or something in every unsolicited e-mail, people might be more willing to forgive the intrusion. What do people think of this idea?

Barbara Hartley Seltzer -- Alan, how would people go about cashing the electronic $.25?

Richard Seltzer -- Alan -- I still wouldn't want the intrusion, unless I had signed up for the service.

Sudha Jamthe -- Alan: Thats an interesting idea. But, I would'nt still like unsolicited bulk emails. It might turn-out costly to the bulk mailers too.

Ed Jaros -- Alan, I'll take the quarter but you know where that would lead... I'd hate paying for e-mail

Alan Majer -- barbara - they'd have to download some "wallet" software and cut and paste the payment into their wallet. Then they could spend the money at an Internet retailer. Still, there's not much you could buy with $.25, but once electronic cash becomes more widespread, you can imagine a scenario where you could transfer the money into your Internet bank account. 

Branding on the Internet

Tom Dadakis -- What do you think about 'Branding' on the web? Will it take place & how? As an example, several websites now have little niches in their site where you can buy books from amazon right on their site & not jump to amazon. they get a commision from amazon and the veiwer stays at their site.

Richard Seltzer -- tom -- Amazon's franchising scheme looks great. They are trying to include all publishers and all potential competitors within their umbrella. Great idea. But I don't see that as "branding".

Tom Dadakis -- Richard re:branding Hasn't Amazon established a brand? If it was Tom's bookstore, would all those site be signing but to sell books for amazon.

Sudha Jamthe Tom: Branding on the web is a whole topic by itself.
Richard: Can we include that in next week? Gotto go now. See you all next week. Bye

Richard Seltzer -- Tom -- Amazon provides a great and unique service. That's why people link to them, not because of their name. I guess it's just a matter of emphasis. Many large corporations think of brand as meaning the logo -- the visual symbol of the company -- what they keep throwing at your face in ads and on merchandise. I think of brand as what you think about a company. And you build that kind of brand without worrying about logos -- rather by delivering good service. That's what Amazon does.

Tom Dadakis -- Richard -- re:branding I see amazon as brand now just like altavista is now a brand 


Lu -- Does anyone have success in selling furniture on the net? 


Richard Seltzer -- All -- Its the end of the hour. I'll stick around for a while. (The room will remain open.) But please -- if you didn't include your email and URL when you signed on, please post it now so we can stay connected. Also please check for transcripts at and send me email at with suggestions regarding future topics and followup messages for this one (for posting with the transcripts.)

Alan Majer see you next week

Bob@CottageMicro.Com -- Bye - All. Enjoyed the conversation.

Barbara Hartley Seltzer -- Bye!

Ed Jaros --By all... see you in cyberspace.

Tom Dadakis -- got a go

Richard Seltzer -- Thanks to all. Hope to see you again next week. Please send email with suggested topics/interests 


Source of Info on Web Surveys and Statistics

From ed.jaros@websitepros.comMon Apr 7 09:13:08 1997

I got another one of these. Thought it to be of interest.

"Welcome to Nua Internet Surveys for March 1997 - a monthly newsletter :informing of important surveys and reports on the Internet brought to you :by Nua - Ireland's premier web development company.

"NUA: What's New -- A monthly newsletter, What's New is a free monthly newsletter highlighting the new additions, happenings and changes at Nua. It is available by :sending an email to <> with the word "subscribe" in the body of the message.

"New Thinking is a free, weekly, 500-word email column, whose objective is :to contribute to a practical philosophy for The Digital Age. It is :available by sending an email to <> with the word :"subscribe" in the body of the message.

"NUA CHOICE -- Information resource for the busy manager

Ed Jaros, Website Strategist,

Sterne on Customer Service

From: Jim Sterne <> Date: Sun, 06 Apr 1997 08:28:35 -0700

At 09:07 AM 4/5/97 -0500, Richard Seltzer wrote:

>Sorry you can't make this one. It's probable that there will be enough interest to carry the topic over to the next week as well (April 17). Any hope you'll be able to join us for that one?

I'm afraid I'll be in the air then.

>By the way, are there excerpts from your book Customer Service on the Internet available on-line that I could point folks to? And what's the best on-line way for people to order your book? (Wiley? or

A description of the book is at which has an Associates link to Amazon so I like to have people come through me ;-)

As far as adding anything to the transcript, I like to offer up: Eight Ways to Great Customer Service on the Internet which is at:

Thanks for asking!

Jim Sterne Target Marketing

Bidding for Internet Ad Space

From: Ed Jaros <> Date: Mon, 07 Apr 1997 08:17:24 -0500

Tought you'd be interested in following this:

** Ninety Web sites offer ads to high bidders

"Claiming it has more than 107 million ad impressions on the auction block, Adbot will hold what it describes as "the first open-outcry auction of Internet ad space" next Thursday. The advertising space brokerage began operations ten weeks ago. Adbot says 90 Web sites have agreed to offer banner space. All participating sites have agreed to open bidding at $5 per thousand ad impressions. Publishers selling space include Four11, USA.NET, REX, and Adbot president Jim Frith said the company's goal is "to allow the force of competitive bidding to determine the value of the ad space and to sell out all the available inventory." A complete list of participating sites is to be posted at Bids will be taken both on the Web and, in person, at the company's Chicago office."

Ed Jaros, Website Strategist,

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