Friday, 12 January 2007

I bought it on ... eBay

Search-term analysis brings with it sometimes words, which are hardly trendy, or at leats new. eBay is one of them. It is one of the most popular keywords, yet it is - in Internet years (which is apparently worse than dog years) - an old establishment. It celebrates now its 11th anniversary and keeps up swallowing other e-commerce services, like Skype, PayPal, Shopping.com, and the late purchase in Pierre and Mag's virtual shopping bag: StubHub, an online ticket sales (and resells service) for $310 Million. It also continues to work on users' security issues, given the common concerns in this area. Now you can buy (almost) everything on eBay, even Domain Names.

However, it is worth mentioning, that eBay caused a revolution in the way people start a business. People can now start a business, knowing the right trends, almost from nothing and from very little original capital, apart from a good know-how on how to advertise on eBay and work with this site. It is one of the best solutions for a home-based business and has helped to developed an industry of eBay related businesses: shipping companies and forwarding companies (PO Boxes for those not living an an area where the auction is available but really must have that manga book); people who'd sell on eBay for you, if you're not computer savvy or know how to sell; drop-shippers and other wholesalers, who now might sell to the average Joe, who hopes to break it on eBay, and many others (regarding the latter, may I just add a warning that there are many scams out there, and it takes hard work - and no e-book - to find the right drop-ship deal for you! I used to sit hours to research for clients on right drop-shippers and wholesellers. Not an easy task to find them in the crowd of scammers and spammers). You can also use eBay to make a joke (remember that Paris Hilton toilet paper from two weeks ago?), shock and provocate, and collect charity.

It is interesting to see (and learn) how eBay's system is based on trust. For a scientific analysis of this question, read, for example "Trust Among Strangers in Internet Transactions: Empirical Analysis of eBay’s Reputation System" by Paul Resnick and Richard Stockhausen (PDF. ). Another study on eBay that might be interesting to read is "Pennies from eBay:
the Determinants of Price in Online Auctions" by David Lucking-Reiley, Doug Bryan, Naghi Prasad and Daniel Reeves (PDF). Another interesting study's abstract says:

We conducted the first randomized controlled field experiment of an Internet reputation mechanism. A high-reputation, established eBay dealer sold matched pairs of lots—batches of vintage postcards—under his regular identity and under new seller identities (also operated by him). As predicted, the established identity fared better. The difference in buyers’ willingness-to-pay was 8.1% of the selling price. A subsidiary experiment followed the same format, but compared sales by relatively new sellers with and without negative feedback. Surprisingly, one or two negative feedbacks for our new sellers did not affect buyers’ willingness-to-pay.
(See: Paul Resnick1 Contact Information, Richard Zeckhauser2, John Swanson3 and Kate Lockwood4 "The value of reputation on eBay: A controlled experiment" Experimental Economics Volume 9, Number 2 / June, 2006).

However, it should be mentioned, that a recent study has also found that some users manage to manipulate their ratings, and that ratings shouldn't be your only index in knowing whether to trust a seller or not.

Other issues:

* How to beware of scams and counterfeit designer merchandise on eBay


* And while we're at it, another eBay problem is sites posing to be eBay, actually phishing for your credit card information. Read more about avoiding eBay identity theft here.

* How to contact eBay and Paypal support

* When to sell - When are the most users on eBay? (or in other words: when is it best for your auction to end?)

* What to sell on eBay? ( if you could buy stuff in other countries)

* How to price - What is the average price of items sold on eBay

* Where to market your art (also through eBay)

As a personal consequence, I decided to add eBay's "What's Hot" to my Zeitgeist Analysis.

Wednesday, 10 January 2007

Holiday Spirit

What's in trends this week? According to Lycos 50 (whom we have no reason to doubt), it is, after Saddam, the holidays, the new year.

Both the term "new year" and the term "Auld Lang Syne" (the "NYE song", "Should auld acquaintance be forgot/and never brought to mind ? / Should auld acquaintance be forgot, and auld lang syne ?") star on the top of their search results.

Other movers and shakers are Al Jazeera (due to Saddam's execution) and the regular assortment of celebrities.

Tuesday, 9 January 2007

60 Minutes

Yahoo Buzz claims that "60 Minutes" is on the rise in their search engine. This is interesting, and yet this might be an example why the reliance on search-engine querries is problematic.

60 Minutes is broadcasted on Yahoo! (cool!), and this might be the reason is gains search popularity there. Self-fulfilling search querry.

It could be also their claim that "Alexander Litvinenko planned to blackmail a Russian businessman living in London, says an acquaintance of the poisoned ex-spy. "
(Also see: "Ex-spy was involved in 'blackmail scheme'" )

Very good critique on this issue is available from La Russophobe: La Russophobe: TiVO Moment #1: Svetlichnaya on 60 Minutes last Sunday

In addition, it could be that their decision not to replace Ed Bradley has to do with these querries, although this is far-fetched.

60 Minues Links

* Homepage

* On the TV Museum

* The Australian Version - Homepage

* IMDB

* On TV.com

Monday, 8 January 2007

Further Thoughts about Paris and MySpace

I thought again about Lilly Allen’s remarks regarding Paris Hilton.

Allen confuses several issues here: the quality of “art” (whatever we might call as art), the art of successful marketing and the distinction between creative work and the medium in which it is created and promoted.

Allen views herself and MySpace as “good” and Paris and her marketing tactics as “evil”. So evil, that someone should kill those buying Paris Hilton records.

However, her argument is inherently wrong: if Allen’s music could stand on its own, the medium on which it first appeared – MySpace – is only part of the picture. The bigger part should be her “art” and not the way she marketed her art. If she includes herself and Arctic Monkeys at the same groups (of artists who managed to find fame through MySpace), it means that Allen actually attributes much to the medium; to the fact that before the age of Internet, no-one might have heard of her.

The medium is not MySpace, as much that MySpace enabled Allen’s success. The medium through which MySpace exists is the Internet and more importantly, user-generated content (web 2.0 and so on). And in the medium of user-generated content, Hilton manages to draw much more links (check out her Google trend with that of Allen, no place for comparison…).

This is in a way a lesson for those trying to succeed online: it is really important to create a buzz, to manage to use the qualities of the medium you’re using, whether you’re creating alternative music, or selling your image as the ultimate blonde.

Saturday, 6 January 2007

MySpace

MySpace is one of those trends to bite. One of the 2006 buzzwords, that would continue to dominate (though, in my opinion, not so dominantly) our cyberculture in 2007 as well. In fact, Wikipedia states:

According to Alexa Internet, it is currently the world's fourth most popular English-language website, the sixth most popular website in any language,[1] and the third most popular website in the United States, though it has topped the chart on various weeks[2] (note it is possible that other websites have a greater number of unique visitors)


It is attractive, first of all, because adults (and especially adults in the marketing business) would love to know what these 14-24s are up to, and here they have a chance to actually say: I know that. I understand it. I can use it for my own purposes. And it is so rebellious - it belongs to Foxy Rupert Murdoch!

And they do. The hoard MySpace and fill it with commercial pages, and with competitions (cooperating with the site, one should add). They use MySpace-like graphics and language. Some even try to ride directly on MySpace success: Pimp MySpace offers "pimping" (that's improving, Mr. Advertising agency) your MySpace pages; a similar service is offered by Skize (whose site looks a little more professional, that is, hurts the eyes a little less, that is - no MySpace site).

Other artists have used MySpace to advance their career, changing the way the media industry works. Lilly Allen (that nobody with the Paris Hilton remark, that's who) and Arctic Monkeys are two examples, but also established artists like the Taiwanese Coco Lee use it.

And journalists also make money of it, writing on how "dangerous" MySpace is. Parents, after all, are terrified of what teens do all day. In fact, most teens are responsible online and on MySpace. Parents should have known better: when kids are "bad", they are not bad because of MySpace. For example, high-school cheerleaders who posed nude on MySpace have previously

"telling teachers to shut up, using a cell phone in class even after being told not to, cheating on tests, skipping school,"


And it's not that adults behave more responsibly. In fact, somebody has used MySpace to steal the identity of an Australian judge. Doesn't seem like kids to me.

Friday, 5 January 2007

Britney Spears

Well, well, well. And you thought it was a serious blog...

People on the top of the search results seem to be usually less than serious, and are apparently there for notorioty: in the past post we had Paris Hilton, Saddam and James Brown. Of these three, only Pairs Hilton knows how to use her image in order to make profit, and she does it well. Brown and Saddam might only benefit a quite quirky campaign.

And Britney, unfortunately for her, belongs to that category. She managed somehow to turn her image and sales-potential into a disaster of bad taste. Her comeback album, it has been reported today, is being sropped; and she manages to get in the news for being drunk, acting weird or dating Matt Leinart. The only way one could "use" the interest in Britney for marketing, would be to use is cynically. Naturally, like many other celebrities of their day, Britney could change the course and use her notorioty to her own benefit. She was, after all, selling sex as a self-proclaimed virgin. Lying is nothing new to her.

By the way, this is not the only way Britney is different from Paris. Apparently, Paris "tricked Britney Spears into thinking she could never orgasm again" (reports eog).

A source revealed to the National Enquirer magazine: "Paris told Britney, 'Oh my God! Don't you know that lighting a cigarette the wrong way and inhaling stops the blood flow to your private parts, and doing it more than once means you may never experience orgasm again!' Britney was horrified and ran around for about ten minutes asking everyone if they had ever heard that and what she should do about it."


Some Good Britney Spears links
* official homepage
* Britney Spears.org - A Britney Fan Blog, reporting today about her getting a tattoo.
*
Britney.com

* Her IMDB page
* A tongue in the cheek site with Britney pics, but also with her "Guide to Semicondactor Physics"
* Britney Zone

Wednesday, 3 January 2007

James Brown

And back to celebrities, as if Saddam has never been executed. James Brown gained many search queries due to his (untimely) death last week. On Google Zeitgeist, Brown is first this week.

Death is, so say the cynics, a very good promotional tool. However, it is not so clear that Brown needed that. In his life, Brown filled the headlines with sensational lifestyle. His death made him, at least for a week, talk of the town, and people remember now his good music. The San Jose Mercury News, for example, writes that "James Brown may ultimately have been more influential than Elvis".

Interesting James Brown Links


And videos... :