Search Engine - Information Sources for Marketers.

The world is awash with, some would say sinking under the weight of, online resources for every profession, craft and art one can conceive.

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 and

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.; BusinessNet (www. rva idyan/ resource.html); Business Marketing Forum (www.vic

.com/news/groups/ misc. business.html); Internet-Marketing Discussion List

(; 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.

and Strathclyde University’s Department of Marketing

( Index(b).html).

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! ( 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

that potential.

”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’ ( 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.




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 Tracks/

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.

CompuServe/MAID plc

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


UK Plus

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

site reviews.


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’.


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