Sunday, February 26, 2006

The Truth about your life in sales - 10 tips for Sales

If my friend Doug Weaver had a blog, it would be at the top of my RSS Reader reading list. It’s rare when I chat with Doug that I don’t pick up some nugget of wisdom. His longer thoughts are great too and you can get them by signing up to his “The Drift” newsletter. Doug’s focus is sales development for online advertising and marketing organizations and his client list has some of the strongest sales organizations which is no coincidence. In a recent newsletter, he has 10 tips that are well worth reading. Though his focus is online ad sales, most of these are broadly applicable especially since we’re all in Sales regardless of our titles if we’re working with young businesses trying to gain market traction.

The Truth about your life in sales.

  1. The opposite of yes isn’t no. The opposite of yes is anything except yes. Buyers just don’t say no. To quote Guy Kawasaki, “there’s just no upside to communicating a negative decision.” If you haven’t heard yes; if you haven’t gotten true commitment – and you’re always sure when you do – then you’ve been turned down and you’ve got more work to do. Save hope for things like Middle East peace. It has no place in your forecasting.
  1. Fast is good, but good is better. All your digital appliances and constant connectivity are conspiring to make you look stupid. Just because you can respond instantly to every collection of bits that hit your e-mail or crackberry doesn’t mean you should. Some of the smartest things I ever said are things I never said. A minute or one extra reading can make all the difference in the outcome of a deal, the survival of a relationship, your career.
  1. Stop asking “great questions” and start being interested. A sales meeting isn’t the invasion of Normandy. Stop overthinking and overplanning the conversation. Human beings want to be heard and understood. They want to be appreciated and to feel interesting and wise. The very best salespeople are those who bring a warm curiosity to the meeting. They delight in learning and they listen to understand.
  1. Wherever you are, be there. Sales is a great job, but it can be pretty consuming. When you’re doing it, give it your all. But when you’re not supposed to be doing it – like, say, when you’re with your kids or visiting your aging parents – then let it alone. You don’t lose the spouse and kids because you travel or work long hours; you lose them because even when you’re there you’re not really there. We look back at the 1960s and bemoan a generation of executives who lived at work. Are we the generation who never unplugged?
  1. Clients aren’t monogamous. They don’t even get married. If you’re waiting for a moment when you’ll achieve permanence in a customer relationship, you’re baying at the moon. Your life is going to be more like the one Adam Sandler experienced in “50 First Dates.” Assume you’ve got to keep proving yourself and making them fall in love with you all over again, every single day.
  1. If you’re not different, you’re done. Never forget that every customer has seen hundreds of predictable salespeople and thousands of lame PowerPoint slides before you walk in the door. If you can be only one thing, for God’s sake be unique. Think about the things that a “salesperson” would ordinarily do at a given moment… and then do just the opposite. If you’re not unique, it won’t matter how good you are because you’ll never really be heard anyway.
  1. Trajectory is more important than mass. All those statistics you’ve collected about the size of your audience and your share of the market don’t mean much. Nobody wants to know how much the car weighs; they want to know where it’s going. This is where real vision and leadership matter in a sales organization. If you can’t tell a good story about where your company is going, ask your leadership. If they don’t know, then you’ve got bigger problems than your next sale.
  1. Achievement is terrific, but joy is lasting. Sure, make your numbers. But don’t think that numerical success alone will sustain you. Look at the ten most “successful” people you know and you’ll find that they’re all constantly finding little sources of joy. A great business friendship. A terrific meeting. Mentoring somebody. When your kids grow up they may not know or remember much about the details of your career. But they’ll remember whether you loved your work or not.
  1. Stop fixing your weaknesses. Bad management is like bad education. It’s all about bringing up that “C” on the report card. If you hate getting up in front of a room of 20 people and think you suck at it, you probably do. Build on your strengths instead. Help your manager understand the things that you’re really good at and ask her to help you plan your success based on them. That’s what great managers do. And don’t you deserve a great manager?
  1. There is no number ten. When you’ve said enough, stop. Quit while you’re ahead.

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Friday, February 24, 2006

Citizens of the Year - my parents

One of the joys of being a parent is having moments when you are proud of your kids. Most of the time we don’t have as much visibility in the other generational direction – i.e., knowing enough about what your parents are doing to be proud of them (beyond how they raised you). I’m very fortunate to have parents that are as good as it gets from how they raised us to how they contribute to their community. I could go on and on about that but the one area I will focus on is their role as community leaders/volunteers. Their local community (Edmonds, Washington just north of Seattle) recognized them as their Citizens of the Year. Their example has influenced many people including myself to spend significant time working with non-profits which has been very fulfilling. It turns out that a lot of the skills, experience and contacts that are useful for business are very beneficial to non-profits. Some of the organizations that I’ve helped out with include Social Venture Partners (winner of Fast Company’s Social Innovators Award), United Way of King County (the most innovative, successful and awarded United Way in the country) and Climate Solutions (an economic development organization focused on addressing climate change through the development of clean/smart energy businesses). The old cliché “you get more out than you put in” has certainly applied for me. If you haven’t done so, I’d find the non-profits in your area of passion and find out how you can help them. You won’t regret it.

Here’s the article on my parents from the Edmonds Beacon


The Beacon

Vern Chase. Barbara Chase. Or if you will, Vern and Barbara Chase.

Individually or collectively, Vern and Barbara Chase are who you go to if you want something done.

And for their unstinting efforts to make Edmonds a better place, Vern and Barbara have been named 2006 Citizen(s) Of The Year.

The 13th annual contest, sponsored by the Sno-King Kiwanis Club of Edmonds and Edmonds Senior Kiwanis in conjunction with the Edmonds Beacon, culminated with the introduction of the winners at Thursday’s chamber of commerce meeting.

“Surprised? I’ll say we’re surprised,” says Barbara Chase, 70. “There are a lot of really wonderful people in Edmonds who are very responsive to any project that benefits our community.”

Vern Chase, 72, a mainstay of the Rotary Club of Edmonds, is particularly proud of his organization’s achievements on behalf of the YWCA Pathways For Women. Trinity House at the Pathways shelter came about through a working partnership between Edmonds Rotary and travel icon Rick Steves.

“We’re just a small Rotary but we manage big deeds,” Vern says.

So do he and Barbara. The selection committee, composed of members of the sponsoring Kiwanis clubs, faced a formidable task when 34 nominations rolled in.

In the end it came down to Vern Chase, a retired port marketing executive, and Barbara Chase, retired now after 19 years in the demanding role of special education teacher.

Did somebody say retired? A mere figure of speech.

Barbara is deeply involved in local clubs and projects: Floretum Garden Club (she became a Master Gardener in 2003 and helps conduct clinics at the Edmonds Summer Market each summer); Edmonds Library board and Cascade Community Singers; Edmonds In Bloom (she recruits judges for the annual contest from the Master Gardeners), the Holy Rosary Church speech program (she’s a judge) … and counting.

“I think it’s important for groups to work together on different projects,” she says.

Vern, meanwhile, serves on the board and executive committee of the YMCA, and supports the YWCA through his work for Pathways For Women. He is past president of Edmonds Rotary, a member of the chamber of commerce’s Economic Development Committee … and counting.

Vern and Barbara also share some missions. They played important roles with the Washington Tea Party, an ad hoc group that helped rebuff a proposed King County sewage treatment plant in Edmonds.

“Aside from sheer time and effort,” says their nominator for Citizen Of The Year, “Vern and Barbara have marvelous leadership skills.”

And here’s the kicker:

The Chases have lived in Edmonds a mere six years. As Portland residents, they reconnoitered the Puget Sound area on various trips. Then they moved here and, in Barbara’s words, “jumped right in.”

“It’s Vern’s fault,” she says of their total immersion in local causes. “He’s extremely organized. It helps us get a lot done.”

Not that they wouldn’t have things to keep them busy domestically – three kids and six grandkids make for a full plate under any circumstances.

No matter. They already have their next project in mind: more and better walking paths in Edmonds.

Think it’s a longshot?

Then you don’t know Vern and Barbara Chase …

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Advisory Capital: Alternative to Venture Capital

Stowe Boyd has articulated an alternative or complement to venture capital that essentially describes Altus Alliance’s business model. We see a gap between what angel investors and venture capitalists offer in the market. To date, we’ve referred to ourselves as “venture consultants” as do others such as Jeff Clavier. We let people know that we go the “sweat equity” route vs. writing checks as VC’s do. He suggests calling what we collectively do “Advisory Consultants” and even proposes an Advisory Capital Code of Ethics heavy on disclosure, openness, and transparency. One challenge I see is that there are lots of wannabees and in-between-jobs consultants claiming to do what we do who might be willing to sign up for the Code of Ethics but don’t deliver on the items laid out in Stowe’s post. From a startups standpoint, at least with VCs, they’ve had to raise capital and had some degree of vetting done by their limiteds. We’d need to go beyond a code of ethics to separate the wheat from the chaff – something akin to an eBay reputation rating though having enough scale would be tough. In absence of that, we let our track record be the foundation for our reputation though our success-based business model is what ends up being most compelling. He wraps up his post suggesting there may be a blending of advisory and investment capital whereby smaller amounts of capital would be invested. We are well down the road on developing a framework along these lines. If you are interested in providing us feedback on what we’ve developed, let me know as we’re in the process of vetting it with entrepreneurs.

Here’s another (Jeff Jarvis’) take:

As VCs find themselves unable to throw big buckets o’ money at ever-smaller, nimbler, quicker startups, it becomes impossible for them to manage their real assets: time, distraction, and knowledge. I think that this provides opportunities for strategic investors who have more than money to offer and also for smart, independent people (such as bloggers, Boyd suggests) who can offer advice, connections, and questions. The challenge is to make this more than a show advisory board but a real relationship and a longer-term commitment for both than old-style consulting (thanks to payoffs in long-term equity). I’ve started down that path with a few companies myself.

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Monday, February 20, 2006

Web 2.0 and the Enterprise panel recap

There’s been relatively little discussion on Web 2.0 and the Enterprise which is why I wrote What does Vinod Khosla know about Web 2.0 that others don't? that addressed this topic. Jeff Clavier moderated a panel “Web 2.0 and the Enterprise” with three noted bloggers Jeff Nolan, Charlene Li and Ross Mayfield. Zoli Erdos blogged the event so it has the greatest amount of detail.

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Friday, February 17, 2006

Mistakes and missed opportunities: Conference speaking opportunities - 6 Tips for Vendor presenters

Save This Article for the Next Time You Give a Presentation

Unfortunately, I’ve seen countless mistakes and missed opportunities made by vendors who are given the privilege of presenting at a conference. I consider speaking opportunities to fall under the PR umbrella. I’m a strong believer in the value of PR (not advertising) for young businesses especially those selling to other businesses. PR is much more than issuing press releases despite what you observe. Some of the more effective PR tactics include blogging, speaker placement, bylined articles as well as traditional tactics of press releases, media tours, video/audio news releases, etc. The first mistake startups make is not focusing on getting speaking engagements. Just about every market niche has numerous speaking opportunities that can not only help raise awareness of a company but have ancillary benefits such as employee recruiting and creating a perception of industry leadership that will lead to future speaking opportunities, being quoted in the press, etc. Unfortunately, a good strategy poorly executed can have a negative impact. I recently attended the iMedia Brand Summit and saw both best and worst practices in action. Here are some of the best/worst practices I observed:

1. Avoid a sales pitch. One of my favorite book titles is Clues for the Clueless. I’m blown away how many clueless company execs make the mistake of turning their presentation into a pitch. Potential buyers can obviously hear a sales pitch anytime so they don’t take time away from their busy schedules to come to an event (and pay in many cases) to hear sales pitches. They are many, many ways to avoid the sales pitch by demonstrating an understanding of their challenges, the direction of a technology/market, etc. without having to get into pitching their own product. The byproduct is scorched earth for companies that do get it as they face resistance from conference organizers who’ve been burned. Most conference organizers are happy to provide feedback in advance of a conference. One thing I’ve observed is some companies think they aren’t pitching when they really are. One way this happens is the exec delegates the presentation/speech development to an underling who wants to make the exec happy by including glowing praise of their own company so the presentation is geared towards the exec rather than the audience. An exec should take ownership when they get the opportunity to present in front of dozens or even hundreds of people and ensure they aren’t just making a pitch.

2. Know your audience (duh). This includes knowing the knowledge level of the audience so you don’t patronize them or go over their head. When using examples or sharing stories, what is appropriate for one audience may offend another. If you are trying to sell yourself to a person/company, offending/insulting them isn’t the path to success. That said, humor is a great way of keeping the audience’s attention. For example, a conservative company like P&G exploring a new ad medium might find case studies with salacious images or raw language disconcerting. Unless that represents what the medium is all about, there are usually other examples that can show impact without causing them concern.

3. Put yourself in the audience’s shoes. What obstacles will they have to carry your ideas back to their organizations? If you turn them into believers, make them effective advocates by giving them tools they can carry forward. Making it explicit is even better (e.g., 3 things to tell your CMO).

4. Make the conference organizer’s life easy. Pulling off a conference well is a major accomplishment. The organizers have a ton of details to keep track of. Constantly having to badger a speaker to meet deadlines is a pain. Voltaire has one of my favorite quotes – “Common sense isn’t all that common”. Why would a conference organizer want to invite someone back that has been a pain in the rear to deal with? There are a few people who are worth the grief but don’t flatter yourself to think you are one of them unless your name is Steve Jobs.

5. Make it easy to for the sneezers (influential people who spread “ideas” such as new products, services or theories - Seth Godin’s Unleashing the Ideavirus book goes into great depth on this) and Connectors, Mavens, and Salesmen that Malcolm Gladwell discussed in The Tipping Point to share your insights/leadership to multiply the impact. Most conferences post presentations given at the conference. I’ve never understood why a company that will give a public presentation (typically blogged and videotaped these days) won’t share their presentation after the fact particularly when there are ways to write-protect files. If the company’s viability is threatened by a presentation that is shared, I’d question their ability to survive in general. That’s not much of a competitive barrier. A simple thing like listing your email address at the end asking for feedback and letting them know you will send them the presentation is effective.

6. Build up and Follow-through. A company can do a lot to raise the visibility of an execs presentation before and after the event. Too often, they think of it as a discrete event as opposed to something they can get great leverage out of. This includes highlighting the speech to customers and prospects in ongoing communications, timing the writing of bylined articles around the event, and being aggressive about gathering feedback on the presentation so that they can be better the next time around. It’s also nice to thank the conference organizers for the opportunity.

Naturally, there are other important things such as being coached on giving public presentations but the list above gives you a good start.

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Thursday, February 16, 2006

Most popular posts from the last year

Behind the scenes at the Torino Olympics

One of my clients has a local site (a potential lab of Web 2.o services) that launched blogs in the Fall. They have been well received (even stirring up some controversy in the local elections in November). One of the locals in Sun Valley happens to be one of the top 1-2 experts in the World for the Ice Dancing discipline of Figure Skating (my wife is a figure skating fanatic so I know a scary amount about skating for someone who doesn't skate). He is blogging from Torino. His first post is up with more on the way. These pics are a sample of his behind the scenes reports on the blog. One is of the NBC Today Show set while the other is a Dutch skating fanatic (note the skate on his helmet). My wife and I are admitted Olympics junkies -- it's just about the only TV we watch and are even renting a DVR for the Olympics further confirming my belief that traditional 30-second spots are dead.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

How do I evaluate companies we invest in? 6 M's

Like a traditional VC, Altus has to make decisions on what companies it decides to invest its time in. Investment capital is VC’s finite asset while time is our finite asset. I’m often asked “how do you decide what companies you work with?” I thought I’d share my rationale with the readers of this blog. It’s a mnemonic – 6 M’s – that I’ve summarized below.

  1. Market – Is the market opportunity the company is pursuing big enough to support several companies?
  2. Momentum – Does the market and company have momentum in terms of the market growing, the company gaining traction either in product development or better yet market adoption?
  3. Model – Does the company have a compelling business model to capitalize on the opportunity?
  4. Moat – Is the company’s strategy defensible as any interesting market opportunity is going to see many competitors?
  5. Management – This is a huge. I believe in betting on the jockey (vs. the horse). This doesn’t mean the company’s management has to have had several exits. In fact, there’s a long list of 1st time entrepreneurs with massive successes (Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Sergey Brin, Rich Barton…). Quite frankly, we add the most value to 1st time entrepreneurs since we’ve been through many of the challenges a 1st time entrepreneur will face and as long as they are coachable, they will benefit from our experience. One of the other critical things for me is my own policy of refusing to work with jerks/egomaniacs. Though I will miss opportunities (e.g., I would have passed on Larry Ellison), I simply don’t want/need the grief of working with that type of person and more often than not, they are going to have a tough time keeping a top team around them. As successful as Oracle has been, I wonder how much more successful they would have been had they been able to retain senior execs as well as Microsoft.
  6. Money – Since we typically start working with a company post-angel and pre-institutional funding, they need to have enough runway to be able to get the plane off the ground. If they are constantly chasing their funding tail, it’s hard to build much of a company.

We always enjoy chatting with leaders of companies that have a strong handle on the 6 M’s yet have some gaps to fill that sync with our focus (i.e., helping a company gain market traction via business development, sales and marketing).

Zillow - Feature, Product or Company?

One of the things that I evaluate when looking at investing time with a company is whether I perceive it to be a feature, product or company. For example, Apple’s iLife is a product made up of several features such as the Speech Enhancer in Garage Band which is a feature. When the totality of a company’s IP consists of a feature is going to have different growth/revenue/exit potential than a company that has a core product with other products in the pipeline. Thus the winning strategy is going to be quite different from one company to another.

In the case of Zillow, there was a lot of hype about the company due to the caliber of its founders (e.g., Rich Barton). Anyone who has had the kind of success Rich has had, has a free pass when it comes to raising money the next go-round. The old adage is bet on the jockey not the horse (side note: interesting to see that it works better in venture capital than horse racing). It will be interesting to see what Zillow does with the $32 million they raised as you’d have to think they’d do much more than a simple home value estimator. Why? As readers of this blog know, I worked on HomeAdvisor Technologies Inc. (HTI) that was to be the next business to spin out of Microsoft after Expedia (unlike Expedia we missed the window to have the public markets fund it to profitability when the market crashed). One of the more popular features of the consumer site was a home value estimator. By virtue of HTI’s loan platform business (later sold to Freddie Mac), we had a relationship with Freddie Mac (as well as Chase and GMAC-RFC which were investors in HTI) so we had access to great data that Zillow is having to acquire. The estimates were accurate enough that in many cases Freddie Mac only required a “drive by appraisal” (i.e., the lender would just have someone drive by the house to ensure there weren’t any glaring issues) for its lending requirements. In other words, it was at least as accurate as what Zillow is doing now.

The advantage Zillow has today vs. what HTI had are significant so they may be able to turn this feature into a company.

  1. The Internet ad market is much more developed so there are better ways to monetize this sort of feature.
  2. HTI was still a part of Microsoft so it was greatly hampered in what it could do (thus one of the major reasons Rich was able to argue why Expedia should be spun out – that’s a whole other topic on how big/established companies have a tough time expanding their reach into new vertical markets).
  3. Consumers have continued to rapidly change their behavior in the last 5 years and are more open to self-directed web services and a la carte home buying/selling services.

That said, I’ll remain dubious of their prospects until I see more. Finding out what your house is worth isn’t a sticky feature (consumers typically buy a new home every 7 years) so it requires a great monetization machine such as what HouseValues has done. My prediction is that traditional advertising alone won’t sustain their model. Rather, they will have to find a way to take a cut of the commission (35% of the commission has been typical of a referral fee that organizations like Cendant Mobility receive from agents/brokers). From that standpoint, Zillow is better off if the commission rate stays high. The other item tech industry people shouldn’t forget is that a real estate purchase is a far more emotional purchase than something like airplane tickets and is particularly daunting for new home buyers. It’s typically the largest purchase they’ll ever make so working with a Realtor is a form of insurance (i.e., it’s only worth it when things go wrong which isn’t rare). I like John Cook’s analogy of Paul Bunyan and Zillow that compares the efficacy of a human-derived value vs. a machine-derived value though Realtors are really doing both since they have lots of data they draw upon combined with their on-the-ground expertise. For more on consumer reaction, you can get Zillow’s spin on their blog written by Lloyd Frink (another high caliber ex Microsoft and Expedia leader).


Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Interview with PodShow CEO Ron Bloom

Update: The presentation referenced below just happened. As promised, I tagged articles, data, best practices and podcasts I reviewed in preparation for the discussion with Ron Bloom. We didn't end up having much time for questions so I will post the questions/answers we didn't get to when Ron responds to those questions. If you have any you'd like asked, please comment below. Ron indicated his team is in the middle of a launch so it may be a few weeks before we see responses.

Every February, iMedia puts on what many people feel is the go-to event for decision makers in the online advertising world. They consistently have top notch speakers in a venue that lends itself to casual interaction between all facets of the online ad industry (brand marketers, publishers, ad agencies, ad networks, technology suppliers, research firms, etc.). I was honored to be asked by Rebecca Weeks to give an update on podcasting and interview Ron Bloom. Ron is one of the most prominent names in the business side of the podcasting phenomena as he co-founded PodShow (he's their CEO) with Adam Curry who has been one of the key players in the podcasting arena. Together they raised $9M lead by the top tier venture -- Kleiner Perkins -- so big things are expected of them.

In the spirit of the blogosphere, I'd like to get your input on what questions you'd like me to ask Ron. After the event, iMedia always posts the presentations as well as a recap of the speech so you'll have a chance to see the recap plus I'll share my perspective. Prior to the event, I'll be tagging ( various articles and interviews that I feel are relevant to the discussion with Ron. These include some past interviews with Ron. My goal is to cover some new ground.

I'd like to reach out not only to key commentators who discuss podcasting such as Charlene Li, Fred Wilson, Joseph Jaffe (podcaster & podcasting commentator), Robert Scoble, Seth Godin and Steve Rubel but also the many folks that I know at ad agencies, brands, the ANA, technology companies, etc. Ron Bloom is certainly one of the key players shaping the business side of podcasting. What questions do you have for him that haven’t been answered? The audience will be marketers so naturally the bent will be towards to implications of podcasting for marketers. Here are a few initial thoughts of what’s on my mind. What’s on yours? Please add your comments or post your thoughts on your own blog with a trackback.

  • Having introduced new ad types into the mix, I know that research/metrics is always important to getting broad scale adoption so I’ll ask him about what’s been done and what the remaining gaps are and how they’ll be filled.
  • Who, in the marketing community, is doing the best job of utilizing the medium and its strengths since too often marketers just want to bring over what worked in some other medium and assume it will work.
  • On a related note, what are some best practices of advertising in and around podcasts? We know that the bane of radio advertisers is radio presets. What would make someone listening to a podcast not just skip through a traditional sounding audio ad?
  • If blogs are any indication, the so-called Long Tail will have as big an effect on podcasting. How far down the tail will PodShow go and why? How much will the “big boys” drive initial adoption of podcasting vs. the podcasts on the Long Tail?
  • PodShow has launched what they are calling the PodSafe Music Network (PSN) to address rights issues preventing more music from entering the podcasting arena. Should marketers care about PSN? Why?
  • If I’m a marketer with $5M to spend on podvertising, can I do it efficiently and measure results in a way that’s integrated with the rest of my ad buys?

I’ll add more over time and eventually filter these down to which topics bubble up to be of greatest interest.

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Outing advertising vermin ("advermin")

Dictionary definition of Vermin:
  1. Various small animals or insects, such as rats or cockroaches, that are destructive, annoying, or injurious to health.
    1. A person considered loathsome or highly offensive.
    2. Such people considered as a group.
My definition of "Advertising Vermin" -- aka advermin: Various small ad servers and cockroach like advertisers who circumvent pop-up blockers to offensively interfere with a Internet user's experience thereby demeaning the Internet as a legitimate advertising medium in the eyes of consumers. Ex: tribalfusion,

I have always detested companies that use pop-ups/unders and vowed to never do business with them but it's gotten worse. Vermin like TribalFusion and Zedo not only serve pop-ups, they have found a way to circumvent pop-up blockers running on both Firefox and IE from a variety of companies such as Google and Microsoft. I believe in the "New Media Deal" ideas put forth by Matt Blumberg. By no means am I anti-advertising. Quite the contrary as I've been a big supporter.

I hope others can help my little battle to make the vermin who serve and pay for these ads suffer in the market. I've created a tag "advermin" where I'm tagging any company that serves or runs ads. Sexual predators have been thwarted by various registries that let people know about them. Perhaps this tag/registry will thwart the Internet Advertising Predators who are damaging the landscape for legitimate advertisers. If you have the experience I've had, tag the perpetrator with the advermin tag. I've started the registry with the following:
  • Pop-up Servers: TribalFusion, Zedo, Casalemedia, Fastclick
  • Advertisers: Classmates, (promoting Chilis Restaurant, Ruby Tuesday & Red Lobster coupons and a Visa Gift Card -- if I was a brand steward for any of those, I'd get them to stop as the ads look like they are coming from those companies),,
As fate would have it, I've been a paying customer of the first advertisers I've listed so it's not an idle threat to take my business elsewhere. While the readership of my blog is modest, I know plenty of thought/opinion-leaders like Joseph Jaffe, Fred Wilson, Brad Feld, Jeff Clavier, Seth Godin, Michael Arrington, Matt McAlister, Matt Heinz, Jeff Jarvis, Steve Rubel and others desire to have a healthy Internet-based advertising market and don't want to waters polluted by vermin. They can certainly amplify the message. I also wonder where Bob Liodice of the Association of National Advertisers feels about this trend.