Speaking of a lack of ethics.......

I was indeed aware of the fact search engines used paid advertisements. However, I was not quite aware of the extent to which they did so, nor the tricks used in accomplishing this feat.

But I don't see anything wrong with having sponsors show up, provided their sponsorship in being advertisers which may be relevant to the search results, but not included therein, is made clear to all. It's really a matter of disclosure.

Casey (Tominack) made a great point this week in differentiating between paid inclusion and paid placement. The latter is what I see no issue with at all, and entails disclosure, with paid "results" being placed apart from actual relevant search results. Inclusion is really a matter of trickery, placing both paid results and relevant search results into combined form, even with (or usually with) paid sponsors being placed at the top of "search results" (have to break out the quotations here, for calling that a result of a genuine and honest search), often in descending order from the sponsor paying the most to the one paying the least.

But, how are search engines to make money, if they don't offer some form of paid advertisement at all? They aren't publicly-funded ventures or something, where taxpayers might have some expectations of not being marketed to. And even if they were, I still wouldn't necessarily oppose some paid placement (not inclusion) to mitigate costs. If it could fund itself, like the post office does (sort of.... in theory), without being inappropriate with a deluge of advertising, I'd give it a trial run.

But these are private entities, and they must make money somehow to stay in business and keep allowing us access to these very useful services. I can't really think of too many other evolutions in internet usage that have been more beneficial or practical than a search engine. There probably isn't a day I'm online that I don't use them, either.

I think I'm more than happy to help "pay" for those by being counted for advertising purposes by using them, and occasionally clicking on a paid link.

I'm just not happy to be duped into doing so. That's why i switched to, and stuck with a company like Google a long time ago. They're a pretty decent company all around, but I'm not under the illusion that they're not gaming me in some way......... I remain skeptical. But until I know better, I'll take the devil I know, rather than the one I don't.


To Professor Ramos, and anyone else who just happened by at anytime,

Must We Be So Ethical?

If only we all were.......

But, that's not the case. And it can weigh on you even further, when you see those eschewing such considerations rising faster to the top - particularly if you're mired in the mud, unable to secure mobility (or is that quicksand?).

A long-term strategy needs affixed to any matter. And long-term ethical considerations are of paramount importance - in some industries more than others.

This week's lesson began with an interesting commentary on "advertorials," which seem to get overlooked a lot in these types of discussions. The quotation given expounded on the phenomenon thusly:

"Not too many years ago, news was news, ads were ads, and the two met only where the news hole ended and the ad stack began. Our journalism school professors and newsroom mentors preached the importance of separating news and ads. They told us that our credibility was on the line, that advertising should never influence or mix with news, that readers had to be able to distinguish between unbiased information and paid content...Then came advertorials."

- Scott Angus, editor of The Janesville (WI) Gazette & president of the Wisconsin Associated Press editors group

Yes..... and then came advertorials. You see these in magazines frequently, and, it can be difficult to discern them from regular features. Magazines, of course, should stick to basic journalistic integrity in print, but even more distressing is seeing this trend in daily newspapers, which really should be the torch-bearers for following journalistic ethical standards. The ones I've noticed aren't quite as bad as the ones I typically see in magazines, whose deception is top-rank, but the fact that they're creeping into newspapers in the first place, in any form, is disturbing enough.

I know at the newspaper I work for, mixing marketing overtures and news content is regarded carefully. Sometimes companies will send notices or releases which are overly glowing and full of fluff regarding their operations, serving basically as free advertising spots in the guise of informing the community of something or other "newsworthy." We watch for it and take it out, in part or sometimes in whole.

Really, it often just depends on the editor. Nowadays, though, more practical considerations, such as financial concerns squeezing the life out of daily rags across the country, may come more into play, unfortunately.

We must remember that, though we're marketers, we're in the journalism school for a reason, and we should be mindful to be bound by journalistic standards of ethics and integrity.

It would serve us all well.

Ramos, J. (2008). "Lesson 9:Walking the Line: Ethics in New Media IMC." IMC 619. West
. Retr'd Dec. 20, 2008.


I ran across this cartoon the right, and thought it appropriate to the lesson here........ Not as worded, mind you. But, what I changed it to slightly in mind.

Check it out and, in doing so, replace the "Vietnam" in the the center with "web site." (that's very clever, isn't it? I thought so anyway). Change "Asia" to "the web" (again in keeping with the 'clever' theme), and then alter "getting out" to "getting around," and you're set (I think).

Sorry to make you use your imagination. But I just thought, with a little maneuvering, this cartoon has even greater possibility in being updated for the modern era.

Some of the more interesting discussions points and comments I ran across from the class following this week's posts:

Brian Whelan discussed an interface style guide. He had the following input from his article: "The article discusses the importance of creating concrete guidelines that protect a company’s brand, through the creation of a style guide that covers":

• Site Layout and Composition
• Typography
• Types of images used
• The site’s color palette
• Overall brand guidelines
• Programming languages

This is very much an IMC type of consideration.

Maureen Ater's article dealt with writing content that works. Many times, this kind of thing is overlooked and too little effort and attention are given it. But for some (including myself), there's nothing that can sink a site quicker than poorly written and thought-out content. It's almost as if either someone is not writing for their audience, aiming too far above them, or sometimes, a little below them. (That's not to say anything about poorly formulated thoughts, misspellings, syntax problems and errors in grammar, etc.).

The suggestions she found pretty well mirrored the way I've learned to do things at the newspaper: Use jargon when appropriate (sometimes it's unavoidable, but it's not always necessary, and you have to remember the audience you're writing for); avoid the use of vague words (which is a huge pet peeve of mine, mainly in life, when people don't consider information from *your* perspective); and be direct and simple. Trim the fat, leave the meat.

Very, very simple. Very straightforward. Very much commonsense solutions and considerations, as I mentioned in the last posting.



That's what I got out of week 8's lesson, in part, which was explained to us pretty well, but became jargon-laden if I tried to go outside of it and explore further the concepts (as happened with the article I analyzed).

Nevertheless, there were many important considerations therein. And, really, they were really just common sense, practical solutions for making web sites the best they can be.

The AST Scale (attitude toward the site, which should be "ats," shouldn't it?) was interesting. They it as follows:

  • Entertainment (i.e., Fun, Exciting, Cool, Imaginative, Entertaining, Flashy)
  • Informativeness (i.e., Informative, Intelligent, Knowledgeable, Resourceful, Useful, Helpful)
  • Organization (i.e., not Messy, Cumbersome, Confusing or Irritating)

Good enough. But I had a different idea to expand upon the concept, changing the 'I' from "Informativeness" to "Interactivity," and adding a 'U' to cover the informativeness part (either "Understanding" or "Usefulness," take your pick). Now we just need an 'A.' Unfortunately, I couldn't think of one. But I do think the concept of interactivity with a site is important to the attitude formed regarding it.

Informing us that first impressions matter is another common sensical consideration. However, I did not realize that users often made conclusions about a site within "as little as 50 milliseconds." (Ramos, Lesson 8). That's a lot of pressure for web sites to perform, with that kind of instantaneous judgment.

We're told in life that first impressions always matter, and they do, whether they're fair or not. You may have the best web site in the world, but if you can't gain someone's attention immediately, they may have no purpose in sticking around (or so they think). Happens that sometimes people don't get to know you beyond their initial impression of meeting you in some capacity either. It's just the way it is, so people just kind of have to anticipate and plan for it.

Simplicity is really undervalued these days. So is navigability. Basically what these boil down to when it comes to web sites is not overburdening a view unnecessarily, and making things as straightforward and unfrustrating (think I made up a word there) as possible.

It doesn't mean you can't make your site flashy and "complicated," including myriad links, pages, animations and so forth. You just have to make it fall within the grasp of your intended audience.

Ramos, J. (2008). "Lesson 8: Creative considerations in
emerging media." IMC 619. West Virginia University.
Retr'd Dec. 12, 2008.

The Minority Report

Marketing to minorities:

Pandering, or pragmatic?

How 'bout we just call it pragmatic pandering and be done with it........ since that's basically what it is.

"Pandering" is not just a description of the activities of giant bears in China. No...... however, it does kind of have some negative connotations in certain contexts, this being one of them. But it's not necessarily negative, per se. In fact, when I stated it was indeed pandering, I intended it as "pandering" in the general form marketing takes, no different from aiming efforts at the youth, financially well-off, or female demographics (among others).

Companies have simply noted a market segment they believe can be targeted. Business as usual really.

I don't see anything wrong with it in general, and I often find it kind of ignorant when people assume these efforts are something akin to "politically correct" movements for entities to ingratiate themselves with the diversity crowd.

The fact is, though, these minority target audiences are really no different than targeting other audiences; if segmenting Asians is wrong, then so is doing the same for men aged 25-39. There are reasons these things are done, and it's really all about the bottom line. That's really the primary consideration.

If companies were really interested in merely looking good and appearances in general, instead of targeting the larger market segments they believe they can effectively reach and win over, there would be a lot more categories of groups you would be seeing as well. But typically, most sites, if they even had any special sections for minorities, mainly had either Hispanic sections (and that's for language considerations basically), or ones for blacks. I didn't happen to notice any for Asians.

If anyone is still laboring under the idea that companies just do this kind of thing for appearances and good pr, instead of what's central to their business interests, I challenge you to go find me a national company's web site with a special section for American Indians.

The only one I could think of, let alone find (marginally anyway), is from the Santa Fe Natural Tobacco Company's Natural American Spirit Tobacco.

And really, that's regarding what they do to give back to native people and organizations. Why do they do it? Well...... aside from (mis)appropriating tobacco from native people and profiting from it in the first place, they also go heavy on the native imagery, to profit from that as well. I would imagine that doing a little good work behind the scenes for the affected population might go a long way in deflecting any criticisms.

Just something to think about.

"Youth" and New Media

I put that in quotations, because....... what is "youth" anyway? I don't mean philosophically (I'm past that). I mean, where's the actual cutoff? Does it have to necessarily be at the magical age of 18 or, can it extend a little ways beyond that?

I'm leaning more toward the latter, at least for purposes of defining it for a media-based discussion.

A lot of those outside of that typical 18-under demographic nonetheless grew up similarly, if not from before age ten then certainly after it. The lesson tells us, for instance, that:

"About a quarter (26%) of the time young people are using one medium, they’re doing something else media-related at the same time (e.g., listening to music while using the computer, watching TV while reading a magazine)." (Ramos, Lesson 7)

Really, I think this is most prominent in the younger demographics, because these two generations really are the first to have experienced having so many options at their disposal. I know personally, even though I'm a good bit outside the 8-18-year-old range referenced in our lesson, I'm very rarely just using one medium at home. I usually always have the tv on along with the internet, and maybe some music here and there. I find as well that at places such as work, I usually have to have at least one option available. If something isn't, things just seem a little too "quiet."

Having none just seems, i don't know...... Amish. And I think I just need to pacify my attention deficit issues.........

Today's youth certainly is "growing up wired." But it's also the 20- and 30-somethings, and I can see it creeping upward into the rest of the populace as well. Not sure it's entirely a good thing (maybe you don't need wireless access for your laptop on your camping trip, ok?), but it's the new reality.

Ramos, J. (2008). "Lesson 7: The Young and the REST but not LESS: Targeting Youth and Multicultural Audiences with Emerging Media." IMC 619. West Virginia University.
Dec. 10, 2008.


BMW....... films?


For the discussion, I ended up watching one of BMW Films' "The Hire" series, starring Clive Owen as the hired driver (of a Beemer, of course) in each.

What I watched initially was a Guy Ritchie/Madonna film, entitled "Star." In it, Madonna really outdid herself, with the worst acting job of her career. But, this "overacting" (or maybe "underacting," depending on your perspective) did seem to have a purpose by the end of the film, which really redeemed the entire 10-minute or so presentation. It was pretty funny in the end, which I wasn't expecting.

I haven't watched the entire series, but every time I finish one, it's something I say I gotta do. However, I did watch another one, called "Ambush."

This film (seemingly the shortest of the series, at 6 minutes) featured "the driver" and a passenger, traveling along a road at night, and immediately "ambushed" by some masked criminals in a van that pulled up beside them. Giving the driver the frequency for their hand-held radios, he instructed him to slow down at the end of a count of 10 seconds, as they wanted the $2 million in diamonds his passenger had.

The passenger then informed the driver that he'd swallowed them, and they'd kill him to get at them. So, the driver decides to be a humanitarian and risk his life getting away from those in the van, and a Hollyw00d-worthy chase ensues.

I won't ruin this film by giving away the end, other than to say that it ends the same as the other - only, just being kind of funny. You actually want to see the passenger kind of get it in the end.

But this is a wholly watchable series, and I'll stick to doing as I keep telling myself I should and watch the whole thing sometime.

Well done BMW, well done.

(Make sure to check the video bar on the side for the clip.)