The world is awash with, some would say sinking under the weight of,
online resources for every profession, craft and art one can conceive.
Marketing is no different, as Dell Computer’s product PR manager, Annette
Condon, comments: ”We use online resources for competitive tracking into
sites like Intel and Microsoft.”
Dell does an enormous amount of business on the net, and is considered one
of the most successful marketers of product sold over the net.
”We try to keep abreast of what’s happening in the market place,” says
Information Hyperlink web marketing manager Caroline Tosswill. ”We also
watch the web as far as design and content are concerned. We use it for
just about everything. All you need is three or four useful sites on the
web and you can link from there to any other sites.”
So after all the hype is over and done, what’s really out there? For
starters, there are newsgroups: discussion forums, open to all, nothing to
do to join other than tell your software to download to your machine all
messages in that newsgroup, read them for a few days to see if they suit
your needs and to get a feel for who’s who, then join in the
Two such groups are misc.business.marketing.moderated and alt.www.market
ing. Of those, the former appears to be an excellent forum for questions
and answers. The latter has a few good discussions, if you can wade
through all the rubbish (adverts for MLM schemes and scams). Then there
are email mailing lists.
Very similar to newsgroups, except you have to actually subscribe, by
sending a message to the list owner asking to join, or go to the list’s
web site and subscribe there.
There are many mailing lists that deal specifically or peripherally with
marketing, some of which include: Sales & Marketing Executives
International Forum (www. smei.org/forum.html); BusinessNet (www.
d.umn.edu/ rva idyan/ resource.html); Business Marketing Forum (www.vic
.com/news/groups/ misc. business.html); Internet-Marketing Discussion List
(www.i-m.com/); and Marketing Scientists’ Dialogue (www.MARKTG.CBS.
And then there are the web sites, owned by marketing companies,
associations, schools, magazines and others. But, as with so much on the
internet, most of these sites are located in the States and are
excruciatingly US-centric. But there are a few UK and European marketing
sites including the Marketing Institute of Ireland (MII) (www. mii.ie/)
and Strathclyde University’s Department of Marketing
The Strathclyde site mostly includes information about the school and its
courses. However, there are also such publications as Journal of Marketing
Management, edited by Michael J Baker, Marketing Intelligence and
Planning, edited by Michael J Thomas, and the Journal of Marketing
Communications, edited by Philip J Kitchen.
The MII site includes articles on ’current issues’ as well as information
about its graduate programme, a diary of coming events, seminars, etc, and
links to a variety of other related sites.
John Williams, marketing manager AT&T (UK) Ltd’s New Media and
Entertainment Division says he deals ”quite a bit with the net and
software communities, so I check out various web pages, etc. There are
some in the States that I use frequently. I generally use AltaVista
because it indexes down at page level,” he explains.
Search engines - AltaVista, Excite, Inference, HotBot, InfoSeek, etc - are
databases of web sites and their contents. No need to get into the
technical aspects of how they automatically catalogue all those millions
of pages, but suffice it to say they allow users to enter key words or
phrases and perform a search for those throughout their databases.
The resulting list of ’hits’ can be quite daunting. Receiving literally
tens of thousands of links is not unheard of in a search. To help ease
that situation, most, if not all, of them allow users to make use of
Boolean logic arguments. These are qualifiers - and, or, not, and near -
which allow users to tailor their queries more specifically .
For example, you might want to find all sites discussing how to develop a
top telemarketing script. Entering the word ”telemarketing” brought up
12,206 hits on AltaVista recently. Using the advanced query with Boolean
logic - ”telemarketing near script” - narrowed this to 734 hits. These
included such sites as: 1. ”ANARCHY RULES by Douglas P. Lathrop - Ch. 6”
of a novel; 2. ”Links - Junk Email & Net Abuse”; 3. ”Guiding Principles of
Pointed Communications” - a marketing communications consulting company;
4. ”NEIL - SALES TECHNIQUES Sales Techniques By Larry Borses”; 5.
”JUNKBUSTERS”; and,6. ”Australian Mailing Lists - millions of names on
hundreds of lists”.
Of the first six links, only three have any real potential in helping you
find winning telemarketing scripts. ”But, that’s 50 per cent,” you say.
But consider the other four on that page of ten links, which were also
non-starters, which brings the success rate down to 30 per cent.
The question then arises, how does one separate the junk from the good
stuff online? Firstly, with web searches, you can further restrict your
query. To do so you need to learn more about using the Boolean
The problem here is that each search engine site has a different
So, it’s best to pick a favourite search engine, learn its query language
well, and stick with it. Secondly, you can go to a directory site, rather
than a search site, for example, Yahoo! (www.yahoo.com) or UK Plus
And thirdly , you can learn which resources to trust concerning the
information they offer.
According to Williams, ”there are some information resources that are
respected in the real world and which I tend, therefore, to favour in the
online world. I’m not conscious of applying different standards in
cyberspace from than those I apply in the real world.” Condon agrees: ”I
think the variety of information on the net is often more up-to-date and
reliable. But I would treat it the same way as any other sources of
information, somewhat sceptically.”
Paul Waddington, marketing and communications director of Reuters, says,
”Reuters Business Briefing (RBB) is available as a web service or a
Windows application. It allows you to ask questions of a database to find
background information on a company.”
Users can also access 4,000 international publications (newspapers, trade
journals, news wires). All articles are indexed so users can get stories
about Corel, the company, rather than WordPerfect, the software, for
The service is also customisable so users can put together their own list
of businesses and topics they wish to track and the publications they wish
to track them in. RBB also incorporates share prices, company financial
data, etc. Waddington did a survey and report last year on the potential
for information overload. What he found, unsurprisingly, was that there is
”The paradox,” says Waddington,” is that people admit they have a problem
coping with it, but almost two out of three said they need more. We’re in
a phase where we’ve not yet learnt to filter it. We’re in an evolutionary
stage, we need to develop new methodologies to cope with it. Information
management will soon become as important as financial management.”
Meanwhile, at Infotrade, director Mark Lofthouse says that the company’s
Portfolio service will provide the information and news on all stock
market-listed companies. ”So if you wanted to look at BT - the history of
its share price, real time prices, acquisitions, other directors’
dealings, etc - you can pull all that.”
Asked about the reliability of its information, in that it’s a relatively
new company, Lofthouse added, ”We’re probably the only online service
regulated by the Securities and Futures Authority.”
Deborah Loth, executive creative director of Lowe Digital, explains,
”There’s a way for everyone around the information glut and that is to
rely on the traditional intelligent human agent.
”Take the difference between Yahoo! and AltaVista,” she adds. ”AV has a
certain comprehensiveness and you have to be very skilled researcher to
find the information you require. Whereas Yahoo!, with its human
researchers making sure information is correctly categorised, is often a
much more helpful resource.”
It’s the human interaction which makes a directory different from a search
engine, although to a great extent they do similar things, ie, find web
sites containing information in which the user is interested. Search
engines accomplish the goal in a totally automated manner.
Directories have people going to each site and cataloguing what they find.
Ralph Averbuch is producer of Yahoo! UK and Ireland, ”What’s different
about Yahoo!, as opposed to AltaVista, is we’re a directory with a
hierarchical structure. So when someone comes on to our site, they’re not
searching into every site on the web.”
For example, if a person uses the Yahoo! service to look up something
about a ’car’, a list of categories relevant to car will be provided.”We
then break that down into useable chunks. No Boolean logic needed,” adds
Yahoo! uses its categorisation to help define the search. ”That’s one of
the reasons for our market dominance,” says Averbuch. Typing in
’marketing’ at Yahoo! provides the user with about 150 categories. Users
then choose the relevant categories (UK, direct marketing, telemarketing,
Yahoo! now has a personalised news and information push service, ’My
Yahoo’ (www.my.yahoo.com). Push technology is the latest buzz word. It
refers to information which is automatically sent to the recipient, rather
than their having to go and search it out.
Marketing people can customise the service to provide them with
information they need from any of the Yahoo! services, such as all the
stock prices of all competitors, the PR and PA business wires. And they
can access the news ticker which can be running any time they’re online.
Information overload ”is always a potential problem”, Averbuch admits.
”What we’re always trying to do is categorise and sub-categorise down to
the most limited data set possible,” he says. ”We would hope that provides
a manageable amount of information. If you’re a UK or Irish user we also
filter through those sites that are UK- and Irish-based, giving them
priority; below that is a listing of all the others around the world.”
So now you’ve checked out some of the web sites and joined a couple of
discussion groups. What next? Well, if you’re like most marketing
professionals, you know the value of keeping abreast of the day’s news,
what the competition is doing, what new products or services have been
launched in your area of interest. There is a variety of services for this
In push technology, other than My Yahoo!, one of the main players in the
field is PointCast.
Colin Donald, editor of Flextech New Media, London recently set up an
account with PointCast. It’s very easy, he says: you choose what companies
you’re interested in through PointCast’s set-up, and then they send you
their press releases.
”You can track almost any US and a fair number of UK companies, too,” he
”There’s still a lot of stuff coming through that I don’t need. But with
PointCast I can scan through headlines and go to what I need. You just
have to be selective.”
Next month’s Search Engine will feature Revolution ’s definitive 1998
guide to marketing and new-media events. If your company is organising an
event relevant to new-media marketers, send your company name, address,
phone number, fax number and contact name to Revolution Editorial, 174
Hammersmith Rd, London W6 7JP.
Fax: 0171 413 4519.
CURBING INFORMATION OVERLOAD
Subsidiary of Mitsubishi Electric PC Division. Infotrade is ”the only
specialist provider of personal finance products online, direct to the
customer”. Many products are available across the internet, including
motor, travel, and building and contents insurance.
Reuters Business Briefing
Reuters claims it ”will seek to exploit new and existing technologies to
provide a customised enterprise-wide information service, tailored to
organisations’ specific requirements.” This includes such
industry-specific news as: Reuters Insurance Briefing, Reuters Advertising
and Media Briefing, Reuters Headline service and Reuters EU Briefing.
”By providing business information solutions that fit the exact needs of
organisations and individuals, Reuters hopes to play a significant role in
the resolution of information overload.”
Yahoo! UK and Ireland
Directory site, favoured by many for its ’human touch’ over search engines
such as AltaVista. The UK/Ireland-specific address provides categories
such as: Arts and Humanities (photography, theatre, and literature);
Business and Economy (companies, investments, classifieds, and taxes);
Computers and Internet (internet, www, software, and multimedia);
Reference (libraries, dictionaries, and phone numbers); and, Social
Science (anthropology, sociology, and economics).
NSNS/MouseTracks/ - Marketing Activities and Resources
This site includes not only an excellent list of internet mailing lists,
but also essays on web marketing. Among the topics covered is Syllabits, a
collection of course materials used in business instruction. This includes
syllabuses, lectures homework, and bibliographies. The site also contains
a newsgroup for marketers, and a comprehensive listing of marketing firms
specialising in internet marketing.
Sharrow & Associates’ Advertising and Marketing
Another very good site. It is a bit eccentric and anarchic, but this is
probably fine, when you consider that such a style tends to reflect the
overwhelming nature of the internet in general. This site presents what it
calls ”a schizophrenic assemblage of interesting and often useful stuff
presented by a remarkable yet otherwise modest organization.” Included
amongst those are: essays on organisational design for marketing
departments; what database marketing is and why it’s a good idea;
effective sales management; and the use of sex as an advertising ploy.
Don’t miss the parodies of ads (even if they are American).
MoneyWorld UK Home Page
An excellent UK-based site for news, features, its own personal finance
guides, and more.
This service will be available to CompuServe users, courtesy of MAID plc’s
business resources. It will use MAID’s ’Infosort’ indexing mechanism,
which, it says, enables users to ”set personal profiles and execute
advanced searches across a wide range of data, retrieving only the
information that is relevant to their needs. An ’alerting’ facility makes
users aware whenever news or share price movements occur for specified
The UK Plus service claims to be a ”one-stop solution to information
overload”, and states as its two main tasks, ”to list everything worth
listing for UK users of the world wide web, and to review everything worth
reviewing”. The service is based on a database containing thousands of
This Irish company states its focus as ”helping progressive organisations
adapt to the new environment created by the internet”. Some of the
resources it offers include ’What’s New’, its monthly newsletter, and ’New
Thinking’, a weekly email column ”whose objective is to contribute to a
practical philosophy for the Digital Age”. ’NUA Choice’ is an ”information
resource for the busy manager”.
This company is ”the online UK media news and information database”. Its
database services include ’Newsline’, with access to current news stories,
and its ’Press Database’, which covers ”over 3,500 titles organised by
category/type/ editorial content”. It also has an ’Internet Search’
facility and media net community, ’Media Village’.