28 November, 2008
The Big Give has announced a pound-for-pound matching offer which will launch on Monday.
Donations of up to £5,000 made via the website will be matched by the Big Give until a £1m donation by the Reed Foundation, runs out.
While original predictions from within the Big Give estimated it could take months for the fund to dry up, a spokeswoman told Professional Fundraising that some have suggested the full £1m could go within hours.
The matched funding offer will launch after 9:30am on Monday December 1.
27 November, 2008
Businesses are to invest more in social media in the coming year in an effort to boost customer engagement, using blogging, community sites and user-generated content, according to research.
The third annual Online Customer Engagement Report, produced by online publisher E-consultancy and digital agency cScape, examines the likely impact of a worsening economic environment on customer behaviour and psychology.
It says that the predicted rise in investment in social media comes as around 51% companies say that the economic crisis has caused them to place greater focus on customer engagement.
However, the research found that only 45% of companies have a defined customer engagement strategy in place.
Those that do are looking to invest in areas associated with Web 2.0 and social media in 2009 with 41% saying they are looking at user ratings and feedback; 37% looking at user-generated content and a similar number (36%) examining blogging.
Brand presence on social networks is also expected to attract significant sums of investment with 36% of firms prioritising this.
The use of Twitter and other micro-blogging tools is also on the increase with 7% of companies saying that they have improved their customer engagement through this channel.
There have been a number of high-profile examples of firms using Twitter to deal with customer enquiries, including 02 in the UK and Comcast in the US.
Linus Gregoriadis, head of research at E-consultancy, said: "More companies are viewing tactics such as blogging, user reviews and on-site video in the context of a broader customer engagement strategy and pulling only those levers which are most appropriate for their business model and customers."
The traditional email newsletter continues to play an important role and the research use of email is the tactic most likely to have driven a tangible improvement in customer engagement. Some 59% of respondents said that their organisations will increase their spending in this area during the coming year.
26 November, 2008
Tristan O'Carroll, mediaweek.co.uk
Facebook has won an $870m legal judgment against a Canadian man accused of sending millions of spam e-mails about drugs and sex to its members.
According to reports, Canadian Adam Guerbuez duped Facebook members into revealing their passwords to send out his messages.Facebook has hired lawyers in Canada to enforce the judgment, in a US court, against Guerbuez.
Sam O'Rourke, senior counsel at Facebook, said: "We want to make it clear that we are not just doing this for the PR value. "We would like to have the message out there to spammers that we are not going to sit by and let them have that activity on our sites that is illegal and annoying to our users."
Max Kelly, Facebook's director of security, said in a blog: "The bad guys behind those messages are always looking to find new ways to annoy people and Facebook's users have been among those targeted. We don't take this affront to our users lying down."
Does Facebook expect to quickly collect $873m and share the proceeds in some way with our users? Alas, no. It's unlikely that Geurbez and Atlantis Blue Capital could ever honour the judgment rendered against them (though we will certainly collect everything we can). But we are confident that this award represents a powerful deterrent to anyone and everyone who would seek to abuse Facebook and its users."
LinkedIn, the business-oriented social network, has launched a new search service.
The platform will offer members the ability to refine their searches for other members, using more than a dozen data fields, including "name", "company", and "school".
A new "In Common" feature will also help locate shared connections. Members can save searches and receive e-mail reminders when a search finds someone that meets the specified criteria
Esteban Kozak, senior product manager at LinkedIn, said the new platform is "redefining the way professionals go about finding talent, business partners, customers, or a former colleague".
The new platform also increases the amount of search space presented, by eliminating the need to switch tabs.Earlier this month, LinkedIn announced it was to make around 10% of its staff redundant.
According to reports, the company is axing 36 positions as a pre-emptive move ahead of the expected global economic downturn.The move caught observers by surprise. LinkedIn recently posted solid financial results and secured $22.7m (£14.3m) in new funding to help extend its global.
25 November, 2008
The British Heart Foundation has taken its fight against child obesity digital, with the launch of a new website allowing users to create an online version of themselves.
The Yoobot, developed by Grey London, is designed to encourage children to consider the long-term effects that food choices have on their bodies.In a Tamagotchi-style experience, visitors can paste their photo onto a Yoobot and then choose what to feed it and how much it excercises.?
The characters then age, so children can see the effects of their lifestyle and diet choices.Jon Williams, chief creative officer of Grey London said: "The medium of gaming is the perfect way to show kids who think they're immortal, that the choices they make now will catch up with them eventually. ?"The website will be accompanied by ten second teaser ads on children's channels Nickelodeon and Nick Replay, before longer ads are rolled out.
Help the Aged is promoting its ethical gift website in the run-up to Christmas with advertising, direct marketing and viral campaigns.
The website, Cows 'n' Things offers 'gifts' such as cataract operations, mosquito nets and cows, designed to be donated to needy people on behalf of the recipient.
It will be promoted through an online donor acquisition campaign incorporating display ads, affiliate activity and email, all created by direct-to-digital agency TDA. This campaign includes tailored creative executions.
Other agencies working on the brief including Latitude, which is running a pay-per-click campaign, and Kirkwall Media, which has developed a viral campaign.
The campaign aims to generate in excess of 1,400 donations via the gifts. Proceeds will be used to fund projects supporting older people overseas who are living in poverty.
Sam Hemming, donor acquisition manager for Cows 'n' Things, said: "This campaign works hard to achieve cut-through in the competitive charity gift market. Donors can find innovative gifts for their loved ones and help us in our mission to free older people from poverty, isolation and neglect."
24 November, 2008
Google is pulling the plug on its four-month old virtual world Lively at the end of the year, admitting the venture had failed to pay off.
Launched in July from Google Labs, Lively hoped to provide the search giant's answer to Linden Lab's popular creation Second Life.
But the real-time virtual world, complete with build-your-own avatars, chatrooms and three-dimensional graphics, failed to make a significant splash with the online community.
Alex Burmaster, communications director of Nieslen Online, noted: "Ever since its inception, the beta site has been too niche to be tracked by our research. This, in itself, probably suggests it has failed to connect with as many people as Google would have wished."
A Google spokesman said the idea behind Lively was to enable users to interact with their friends and express themselves online in new ways.
He added: "Google has always been supportive of this kind of experimentation because we believe it's the best way to create groundbreaking products that make a difference to people's lives. But we've also always accepted that when you take these kinds of risks not every bet is going to pay off.
"That's why, despite all the virtual high fives and creative rooms everyone has enjoyed in the last four and a half months, we've decided to shut Lively down at the end of the year. "
It has been a tough decision, but we want to ensure that we prioritise our resources and focus more on our core search, ads and apps business."
Lively.com will be discontinued at the end of December. Everyone involved with the project will be moved to other Google teams and no job losses are expected.
21 November, 2008
Give something really special this Christmas – that’s the festive message the Lymphoma Association are spreading ahead of their eBay auction.
The charity, which offers information and support to anyone affected by lymphoma – the UK’s sixth most common cancer, have some amazing once in a life time prizes including:
- Afternoon tea with Manolo Blahnik in a top London hotel
- A stunning black Lanvin dress from the Paris runway
- A once in a lifetime chance to play alongside golf legend Sergio Garcia in the
Dubai Desert Classic Pro Am, Dubai.
- One-to-one tuition with golf professional Adam Scott
- A TOUS necklace designed by Kylie Minogue for her ‘Life is Music’ collection
Julie Mercer, Head of Communications for the charity says: “Like all charities, we have seen a marked decrease in our funds over the last couple of months due to the credit crunch, so we are hoping that the public will dig deep for our exclusive prizes.”
You can bid on any of these items by visiting www.ebay.co.uk/charity between 2nd-11th December. For further information, call the communications team on 01296 619424 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
19 November, 2008
First, offer as many ways to pay as you can. Debit and credit cards are a must. If you can't offer direct debits, then offer standing orders. Add PayPal as an option and always include postal and telephone options for those who still won't pay online or have a problem with the form.
Try to include information about alternative ways to support the charity. It costs nothing to add a page explaining how people can support you through eBay auctions and Everyclick, but it makes the choice much wider. Other possible alternatives include in-memoriam services and affiliate schemes.
If you have any donors doing sponsored events, add a page explaining how they can use online tools. They may not have the confidence to do it alone.
Give people the chance to offer any kind of support you can think of, even if it isn't electronic. You should have pages about legacies, shares, gifts in kind, trusts, corporates and so on. The pages might say no more than who you are, who and what you welcome and how you deal with such types of donations - but, again, it offers choice.
Finally, never forget that volunteering is a way to give. Even if you don't use volunteers in the office, you can use them to run services such as eBay auctions and MySpace and Facebook pages.
Engaging with your supporters is critical to retaining their support. Offering them e-communications, easy ways to give, direct routes through the site and multiple options will make it easier for them and will increase your income.
Breakthrough Breast Cancer will launch its 2009 Fashion Targets Breast Cancer campaign with a new online retail platform supported by integrated marketing activity.
The charity is close to appointing an agency to the brief to produce the dedicated website and creative campaign, which will run for two months from April.
The agency will drive online sales of fashion items designed and sold by retailers including Marks & Spencer, Topshop, Laura Ashley and River Island.
The campaign has previously generated income from sales of bespoke retailer products and Fashion Targets T-shirts.
The British Heart Foundation (BHF) is targeting teenagers with a new online campaign in a bid to create awareness of health issues common in youngsters.
The charity has appointed Positive Digital to target a web-based audience whilst providing easy navigation around user generated content, platform mechanics and hosted forums. An online currency, ‘yHeart tokens’, will be issued based on site interactions such as forum posts, competition entries and submitted stories. Registered users can then accumulate tokens and exchange them through the yHeart store for a range of prizes, including t-shirts, USB keys and MP3 players.
This incentive aims to encourage the user to make a return visit but also increases the amount of time spent browsing the website, maximising the benefits of the campaign and raising awareness of the issues the British Heart Foundation is highlighting.
Positive Digital associate director Garrett Dearey comments: “Vital to success was speaking to the audience in a manner that was not perceived in any way as patronising. By benchmarking progress against the views of a 30-strong teen focus group throughout the design and build process, this was made possible. It was made clear that rewards were key to return users, as such we placed ‘air-miles’ style incentivised activity at the heart of the proposition.”
18 November, 2008
Leonard Cheshire Disability's Creature Discomforts 'amazing' campaign pushed boundaries and boosted awareness for the charity.
For an innovative campaign that reached the target audience and got its message across
Sue Fidler, charity IT consultant
Ian Leggett, director, People & Planet
Dean Russell, head of digital marketing, Precedent Communications
Chris Stalker, freelance consultant
Help the Aged
Leonard Cheshire Disability’s Creature Discomforts campaign
Prostate Cancer Research Foundation’s Give a Few Bob campaign
Teenage Cancer Trust
War on Want
Winner: Leonard Cheshire Disability: Creature Discomforts
Leonard Cheshire Disability’s Creature Discomforts campaign aimed to change attitudes towards disability. With a website, posters and television, newspaper and magazine adverts, it used a fresh spin on Aardman Animations’ well-known Creature Comforts films and put the real words of disabled people into the mouths of disabled animals made of plasticine.
The campaign, which was conducted in two bursts of activity either side of Christmas, garnered a lot of press interest, and a partnership approach with media owners meant its budget stretched twice as far as it would otherwise have done.
Research found 51 per cent of adults recalled the campaign and its messages, and a third of people admitted they needed to learn more about disability and were willing to do so. Awareness of Leonard Cheshire
Disability increased by 4 per cent.
One judge, Sue Fidler, described the campaign as amazing: It used humour and the familiar Aardman cartoons we all love to deliver a punchy message. It showed how a small team can deliver a fully integrated, high-profile campaign that pushed the boundaries of a traditional charity and challenged the way we react to disability.
Another judge, Dean Russell, said the campaign was strong in innovation, delivery and results.
Highly commended: Prostate Cancer Research Foundation
The Prostate Cancer Research Foundation’s Give a Few Bob campaign used computer-generated imagery to bring comedian Bob Monkhouse ‘back from the dead’ to warn men about the disease that killed him. A budget of less than £50,000 yielded £3m of media value and saw the number of regular givers to the foundation rise by 580 per cent. Dean Russell commended the mixture of humour and computer wizardry: It showed how humour can have more of an impact on attitudes than shock tactics
For the best new or re-launched website
Sue Fidler, charity IT consultant
Ian Leggett, director, People and Planet
Dean Russell, head of digital marketing, Precedent Communications
Chris Stalker, freelance consultant
Leonard Cheshire Disability
School Governors’ One-Stop Shop
Winner: Leonard Cheshire Disability
Leonard Cheshire Disability’s Creature Discomforts website was at the heart of the charity’s wider communications campaign to increase awareness.
The site had a different domain name from the charity’s main site and was used to reinforce the messages of the poster and TV campaigns. Creaturediscomforts.org also served as a place where people could view the messages again.
The highly accessible site was built within six weeks, in consultation with the charity’s advertising agency and Aardman Animations, the film company of Wallace & Gromit fame, which created the characters and the commercials. The site uses the Aardman characters at every opportunity, featuring them on screensavers offer-ed as prizes in a quiz on disability issues, and in e-cards that users could send to friends to alert them to the site.
Within two months of the launch of the Creature Discomforts campaign last November, the site had been visited by more than 70,000 people. Frequent new content meant 28,000 people visited creaturediscomforts.org more than once, and 4,500 signed up to Leonard Cheshire Disability’s campaigns network, tripling its membership.
Dean Russell, one of the judges, commended the site on its clear design: “The attention to detail and appropriate use of multimedia means the site never feels overloaded with unnecessary gimmicks, leaving the website’s message to remain clear. Overall, the judges felt the Creature Discomforts website experience was fun, engaging, highly imaginative and very effective.”
Highly commended: Crimestoppers Trust
The judges also highly commended the Crimestoppers Trust’s ShadowCS site, which used an innovative Flash design to bring the charity’s anti-crime message to a teenage audience.
Shadowcs.co.uk was customisable, colourful and used little text. It has had nearly 20,000 unique visitors and more than a million hits from all over the world. The judges were impressed by its original design and its ability to get into the minds of young people.
The National Union of Students mobilised its members with a Facebook campaign to pressurise HSBC to drop controversial bank charges, and it worked.
For the most innovative use of digital media, such as CDs, text messaging, podcasts, email and Web 2.0, including social networking sites and wikis
Sue Fidler, charity IT consultant
Ian Leggett, director, People and Planet
Dean Russell, head of digital marketing, Precedent Communications
Chris Stalker, freelance consultant
Beat (Eating Disorders Association)
Leonard Cheshire Disability
National Union of Students’ HSBC campaign
Winner: National Union of Students’ HSBC campaign
The National Union of Students, a non-profit membership organisation, launched its HSBC campaign when the bank introduced interest charges of nearly 10 per cent on graduate overdrafts for anyone graduating from 2007 onwards.
The NUS estimated the move would cost students £20m in the first year and might prompt other banks to follow suit. The charges were introduced without notice during the summer, when students were away from their universities. The NUS decided to run the campaign on the social networking site Facebook, which is popular among students and permits an instant response.
The site was used to gather case studies and to build support for a planned demonstration outside HSBC’s headquarters. The NUS also offered a toolkit recommending different forms of action that activists could take. Considerable press interest in the campaign’s novel use of Facebook also boosted support.
Despite having no budget beyond the staff time involved in setting up the Facebook page, the campaign gathered 5,000 supporters within two months. HSBC wrote to the NUS to say it had decided to drop the charges and to refund any interest it had already charged. It admitted the campaign had been the reason for its change of heart and offered to give £300,000 to the NUS to carry out research into student life to use as evidence in future campaigns.The victory was covered extensively in the national media.
Ian Leggett, one of the judges, said the campaign was an outstanding example of using the power of digital media to achieve a defined campaign objective. He said: The NUS brought about a major change in corporate policy with a fine understanding of its constituency, with few resources and with stunning effect. It was an entry that proves you don’t have to spend a fortune to win a campaign, provided it is well designed and sufficiently targeted.
Complaints about direct mail made up a third of all complaints received by the Fundraising Standards Board (FRSB) last year, its new report shows.
In its first ever-annual report, the self-regulatory scheme calculated that of the 8,434 complaints reported to FRSB members, 31 per cent concerned direct mail.
All members of the FRSB, the body for self-regulation of fundraising in the UK, are required to submit an annual return reporting the number and nature of complaints they have received over the last year.
Over 20 per cent of consumers complained to FRSB members about protection issues, while 21.7 per cent complained about telephone fundraising.
The FRSB only dealt with four escalated ‘stage two’ complaints between February 2007 and February 2008, which included a complaint about the frequency of pen packs sent out by Cancer Research UK. However following the full adjudication board, the charity was cleared of any wrongdoing.
The report also reveals confusion amongst charities about what constitutes a warm donor in relation to the telephone preference service.
FRSB chief executive Jon Scourse says: “In the first year, every scheme of this type has to start somewhere. Our primary purpose is to drive up standards. I don’t think we should be measured by the volume of complaints we handle. I think the good news is the vast majority of the complaints are handled by the charities themselves.”
The FRSB has 826 members, representing 33 per cent of all voluntary giving in the UK.
17 November, 2008
Over 20 per cent of consumers are less likely to respond to social email marketing linked to video, microsites and social networking sites, a new study shows.
Only 12 per cent of consumers would be more likely to click through to messages linked to video, microsites and social networking sites such as Facebook and YouTube, while 22 per cent claim the content would make them less likely to respond.
The 2008 E-mail Attitudes Survey from e-Dialog reveals over a third of consumers would be more likely to respond to an offer sent via email if it offered genuine customer reviews.
The survey results indicate that email campaigns using multimedia and social media content need to be planned and approached in a highly targeted way by brands. Almost a fifth of 18-24 year olds favour email marketing messages linking to content of this nature compared to just nine per cent of 45 to 54 year olds.
e-Dialog’s UK managing director Simone Barratt comments: “The results of the Attitudes Survey clearly support our view that you cannot take a blanket approach to the integration of traditional and emerging media. We currently work on some very successful social media campaigns with clients, using tactics such as email triggers that direct customers to appropriate MySpace or Facebook pages and widgets but, as exciting and innovative as this work is, it can never be a one-size-fits-all approach. The old principles of targeting and personalisation still hold true and, despite the industry hype, at the end of 2008 this type of content is simply not appropriate for everyone.”
14 November, 2008
A new social network for sufferers of acute and chronic medical conditions has been launched by independent research agency Healthcare Landscape.
The online community, called icarecafe, allows disease sufferers a chance to discuss healthcare and medical issues with a global audience in complete confidence.
Healthcare Landscape said the website also opens access to certain research techniques such as research blogs and interactive media.
Adam Gac, strategy director at Healthcare Landscape, said: "Icarecafe differs from other social networks because it takes a holistic approach to the patient experience.
"It allows learning and sharing not just with people who suffer from one specific ailment or illness but also from family members and carers."
Initially icarecafe has been financed through the profits of Healthcare Landscape, but revenues are now being generated from healthcare agencies, using banner and skyscraper advertisements, and page sponsorships.
Healthcare Landscape also operates The Patients Voice, a forum where patients participate in a wide variety of medical market research projects.
Google is to try out its Ad Words system on YouTube in a bid to achieve significant revenues for the site it bought in a $1.65bn deal in October 2006.
The YouTube Sponsored Video will allow people posting videos on YouTube to promote them in a sponsored videos section. The poster can then bid on keywords, just as in the Google AdWord system, paying on a cost-per-click basis.
The system is open to anyone who wants to promote their videos, and will be an "easy, effective, democratic and affordable way" of doing so, YouTube wrote on its blog.
There will be no minimum spending requirement and a daily budget can be set.
Many people may think of YouTube as a medium for watching music clips and amusing cat videos However according to ComScore figures it received more search queries than any other website after Google and Yahoo! in September, and so analysts say monetising the search function makes good sense.
With more ad agencies trying to get exposure for their work outside the usual realm of the 30-second break on network television, it could become a popular method of spreading ads without relying on the power of viral marketing.
13 November, 2008
Google to predict flu outbreaks through search data
Google is using data collected from people searching for flu-related websites in the US to estimate where there might be big outbreaks of influenza.
Google said in its blog that it had come up with the idea because of the success of using its search terms to predict trends or the outcomes of elections and so forth.
The company, whose motto is 'Do no evil', already has an interest in public health issues because of its charitable arm Google.org, which aims to predict and prevent disease.
A team found that certain search queries tended to be very common during the flu season and compared the data against that provided by the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). It revealed a correlation between the frequency of searches and the number of people experiencing flu-like symptoms.
The blog says that the CDC does a great job of tracking flu but that traditional surveillance can take between one and two weeks.
"By making our flu estimates available each day, Google Flu Trends may provide an early-warning system for outbreaks of influenza," software engineers Jeremy Ginsberg and Matt Mohebbi said in the blog.
"Our up-to-date influenza estimates may enable public health officials and health professionals to better respond to seasonal epidemics and - though we hope never to find out - pandemics."
The blog adds that the system is still very experimental, but that it hopes to see correlations between its data and that provided by the CDC in the coming year.
The 1918 outbreak of influenza is estimated to have killed more than 20m people across the world.
12 November, 2008
A human rights NGO that had its website attacked by hackers has warned other groups to protect themselves.
Websites affiliated to the Burma Campaign were targeted this month by a network of 'zombie' computers - machines controlled by hackers without the knowledge of the owners - which flooded the group's servers with requests and shut down partner websites.
The attacks came days before the Home Office announced a new £7m police unit to tackle cyber-crime.
Johnny Chatterton, campaigns officer at the Burma Campaign, advised groups to ensure that the companies hosting their sites kept log files. Some companies charged as much as £5,000 per month for protection whereas others offered it for free, he said.
11 November, 2008
Celina Ribeiro Professional Fundraising
Virgin Money is launching an online fundraising site which will be the official online giving engine of the London Marathon, potentially sidelining Justgiving.
The financial arm of the Virgin empire, Virgin Money has launched Virgin Money Giving, a website which will enable individuals to raise money for charities registered on the website for the London Marathon and other events and causes. Virgin Money Giving will begin operation next spring to coincide with the 2009 Flora London Marathon, the last of the year of the event before Virgin Money takes up its five-year sponsorship of the marathon in 2010.
Justgiving, meanwhile, has worked with the London Marathon since 2002, raising £62.5m for charities supported by runners. The arrival of Virgin Money Giving could potentially dint the former’s hold on the lucrative fundraising event. However, Justgiving has officially welcomed the entry of a would-be competitor. Managing director at Justgiving Anne-Marie Huby said: “We believe that anything that gives charities more choice in their online fundraising is a great thing, so we welcome Virgin to the sector.”
Huby told Professional Fundraising that Justgiving has had a strong relationship with the marathon. “I am forever grateful for the support we received from the London Marathon, and David Bedford in particular, at a time when online fundraising was in its infancy. Our partnership brought our service to a wide audience, and helped build our user base to what it is today - over 6.3 million [users] and growing,” she said.
At the announcement of its sponsorship of the London Marathon in March this year, a deal which cost Virgin Money a reported £17m, founder Sir Richard Branson declared that he intended the partnership will boost the amount raised by the marathon to £50m per year.
Sir Richard said that the new online portal will be key to reaching that target. “When we announced the sponsorship of the Virgin London Marathon I said our aim was to help runners smash one quarter of a billion pounds in five years. Virgin Money Giving is going to be the key engine behind that.”
However, Sir Richard said that Virgin Money chief executive Jayne-Anne Gadhia suggested that the scheme be expanded. “So Virgin Money Giving will be rolled out beyond the Virgin London Marathon to become the website for fundraising in the UK,” he said.
While promising to offer “significantly lower” fees than alternative websites, Virgin Money Giving will not release its full fee structure until the site goes live next year. It has, however, indicated that it will charge fees only to cover costs and will only take a percentage commission on the value of the donation itself, rather than on the value of the donation plus gift aid, as is the case with Justgiving which charges 5 per cent on total value.
Next year is set to be a competitive year for such sites, with Justgiving also preparing to launch a new platform, which, said Huby, “will bring fundraising to the next level in the UK and financially”.
Virgin Money Giving is a not-for-profit entity, operating separately from Virgin Money.
10 November, 2008
Web analytics technology and services are expected to grow by 12 per cent to £78m by the end of 2008, in an effort the beat the credit crunch, new research reveals.
A study by E-consultancy reveals Web analytic vendors will generate £40m of revenue, while £38m will be split between client-side investment and third-party agency and consultancy services.
Vendors are increasingly coming under pressure to provide added value to existing analytics solutions, in a bid to compete with Google and Yahoo!’s free analytic tools.
The study also shows the economic downturn is driving companies to adopt more of a strategic approach to Web analytics as businesses become more focused on spending as efficiently as possible.
E-consultancy’s head of research Linus Gregoriadis says: “The profile of Web analytics continues to grow as it becomes more integral to business decision-making and organisational strategy. The credit crunch is putting the spotlight on analytics as organisations work harder to understand where they are getting the best return on investment and where real value is being added.”
06 November, 2008
In an extraordinary volte-face, Yahoo! CEO Jerry Yang has said a deal with Microsoft is still an option after Google walked away from its advertising deal with the struggling web firm, which faced strong opposition from US anti-trust regulators.
Google and Yahoo! abandoned their advertising deal after the US Department of Justice informed the companies that it would file an antitrust lawsuit to block the agreement if it was implemented.
In a statement, the department said that together with the number one and two search companies it would account for 90% or more of the market share and the deal would likely hurt competition.
Speaking at a conference after the search deal had been axed, Yang said that he would be willing to sell his company to Microsoft.
Yang had come under criticism for blocking Microsoft's bid to purchase his company a year ago, and looked to Google to avoid having its search business eaten up by Microsoft in May.
However, Yang said he remains open-minded about a deal with Microsoft having bitterly opposed the software giant's initial takeover bid.
Yang is still also reported to be talking with Time Warner to unload Yahoo!'s AOL business.
Although Yahoo!'s stock price is far from the $31 (£19) per share price Microsoft offered last year, its stock rose 4.27% to $13.92 (£8.72) after Google adbandoned the agreement yesterday.
In a statement Yahoo!, said: "Yahoo! continues to believe in the benefits of the agreement and is disappointed that Google has elected to withdraw from the agreement rather than defend it in court."
Earlier this week, the two companies announced that they were making a last-ditch attempt to win approval for their proposed search advertising deal by cutting its length from 10 years to two.
The revisions also put a 25% cap on the percentage of Yahoo! search revenue that can be generated from Google and would allow Google advertisers to opt out of appearing on Yahoo!
In a blog post, Google senior vice president, David Drummond, said: "We're of course disappointed that this deal won't be moving ahead. But we're not going to let the prospect of a lengthy legal battle distract us from our core mission.
"That would be like trying to drive down the road of innovation with the parking break on."
Google and Yahoo! originally sought a deal in June but delayed implementation to allow the Justice Department review antitrust regulations.
The agreement was also fiercely decried by advertising bodies around the globe including the World Association of Newspapers and National Association of Advertisers.
05 November, 2008
A significant proportion of young people would like to donate to charity via SMS, but the majority say that current fees are so high they are put off, according to a new study.
More than one-third of people in the 25-34 age bracket, and just under a third aged between 16 and 24, reported that they would be likely to give to charity via SMS.
However, nfpSynergy, which conducted the survey, found that only 5 per cent of all respondents had used SMS to donate to charity in the previous month. And 58 per cent said the charges discouraged them from using SMS as a giving mechanism.
More than 1,000 respondents from a cross-section of society were questioned for the survey.
Joe Saxton, driver of ideas at nfpSynergy, said SMS was integral to "getting young people involved in the charitable giving process". Saxton is leading the Institute of Fundraising's push to understand the barriers to more widespread use of SMS in the sector, which is also supported by Charities Aid Foundation.
Saxton said the research would be used to lobby mobile phone companies to lower their charges.
"The prices they charge effectively stop there being a vibrant use of SMS by the charity community," said Saxton. "If the charges were lowered, more people would use it and that would more than make up for any loss in revenue per call."
About to start lobbying
But, Saxton told Charity News Alert, the campaign team has yet to put the case for reducing fees to the mobile phone operators.
"We haven't even tried to start the dialogue yet with the mobile operators. We are just on the cusp of trying to start that dialogue," he said. Before doing so, the coalition is looking to investigate current practices and challenges and develop a "theoretical model" for use of lower fees.
The coalition is now researching the use of SMS by 11 to 25-year-olds in light of the fact that young people are the most common users of the technology. It has also issued a call for charities to participate in an online survey which will help gauge the present situation and work to identify any innovative organisations which can be used as case studies to present as a way forward for SMS donations.
"I would like to think that in five years from now, we see text messaging as an integral way in how we communicate with younger people in particular. We are also looking at how we make text donations ‘gift-aidable'... We want to find out if anyone's found out ways around that," Saxton said.
The deadline for charities to respond to the survey closes on December 5.
The past few years have seen the rise and rise of social networking sites on the internet. Many charities have leapt into this new sea of opportunity - or at least paddled in the shallows. Nearly everyone has at least thought about whether they should have a Facebook page.
Most social networking sites now allow charities to create some form of group that the public can join. The 'owner' of the group can then email its members through the site, add applications for members to download to their profiles and ask them to promote their 'activism' to their friends.
Some sites also offer the option for supporters to donate to the charity through the groups they join. There is no evidence yet that these 'donate' mechanisms have been successful in the UK, although there appear to have been some huge winners in the US.
One thing to watch is what you get from these donations. Do you get the donors' names and addresses? Is there data protection opt-in? Are you giving donors a Gift Aid option, or do you just get the money?
If you do not have a donation option on your website - or you don't have a site - then using a social networking site might be better than nothing. But if you offer the opportunity to donate through your own site, it could be better to add a link on your group page to the 'donate' page on your main site. That way you can get supporters' details, offer opt-in and Gift Aid, and control any follow-up thank-you messages. Cash in hand may seem attractive, but it is names that allow you to build relationships.
If these new networks are the only way you can reach a younger audience, they deserve a close look. But it is important to balance the ease with which the donor can give against the benefits of data capture and building relationships.
03 November, 2008
Google has made two changes to its AdWords programme, which will affect the way ads are placed on its search results page.
The two changes are to Google's existing Quality Score and Ad Rank systems.
Every ad that goes through Google has its own quality score, which is calculated through a complex formula based on a number of factors -- the most important being how many times the ad gets clicked.
The higher the quality score, the better the chance that the ad will appear near to the top of the Google search results page, within the first few pages.
This traditionally meant that ads that had been clicked more times would appear closer to the top of the page, even though they were more likely to be clicked simply because of that position.
Google now measures the click-through rate of an ad while taking account of its position at the time it was clicked, which should increase overall quality scores.
The second change affects the way ads are shown in the yellow region above search results.
To appear above the search results, ads must meet a certain quality score and have the highest ad rank, or page position, because of the likelihood of being clicked.
In the past, if the ad with the highest ad rank did not have a high enough quality score, then no ad would appear above the search results.
Google has now changed the settings so that if an ad in position one does not have a high enough quality score but the ad in position two does, it is possible for ad number two to jump over ad number one and appear above the search results.
This means that more ads will appear on top of Google's search results.
In October, Google changed its stance on prohibiting gambling websites from advertising through its AdWords programme.
Google's third quarter results showed that profits had risen 25% from the same time last year to £780m.