INTERNET Browsers by Nature (761 words)
Might I Suggest ...
Perhaps people are getting sick of computerized shopping suggestions. Most would agree that banner ads aren't quite cutting it, but there might be a way to allow for real people to once again make those infinitely specific and truly intimate suggestions that people can't help but at least think about. San Francisco-based Merchandising Avenue performs what's called contextual marketing, a process by which content-rich sites like the online version of the San Diego Union Tribune, women's portal shenetworks.com or humor site zthing.com serve up links to merchandise that (gasp) actually has something to do with the content on the site. Let's say someone is reading an article about Tiger Woods. Well, the site will show clubs or books about the golfer.
"It benefits three people involved," says CEO, Phil Trubey. "The reader sees an offer that an expert merchandiser has taken the time to find for them. It benefits the 100 e-merchants we partner with, and it benefits the content sites because it delivers a contextual shopping experience and they earn part of the commission."
A Turn of the Page
What if you could learn something from every single person who visits your Web site? Dev Bhatia, CEO of Hotsocket, says you can. This online direct marketing company builds the entire transactional system for an online company and tests and retests endless variations of color schemes, layouts, links and content. Creative changes to campaign pages are made on the fly for Poetry.com, a content-heavy site with a community feel that draws in wordsmiths by the ton.
From the initial click on a banner ad through to the sign-up form on the Poetry.com Web site, Hotsocket serves the pages and tests multiple variations of color, text and offer. Unfortunately there is no perfect formula yet, but Poetry.com learned a few things—like the fact that people respond differently on weekdays and weekends. Text-heavy pages were bringing in more subscriptions on weekends while high-end graphics were drawing better response during the week. The reason: Most people have a better Internet connection at work than at home.