Monday, September 28, 2009

Friday, April 17, 2009

Additional MOI Posting: Google amazes

As I was doing regular research last night for a final paper, being a college student, of course I started my research with a general search from Google's homepage. Now I and Google alike are not that old, but anyone can see how much Google has developed since it first began. On the homepage Google has started advertising its own browser, Chrome, to download.

After the Google Ad word presentation the other day I started thinking about how complex this whole process is. Other search engines simply do not compare to Google. It is to the point that when you open Internet Explorer or Mozilla Firefox now (maybe Chrome soon) if there is not an automatic Google search bar then it completely throws off your plans. In my opinion Yahoo and plain other search engines just don't cut it. We have grown accustom to the way in which Google searches and displays our information so now any less in inadequate.

My recent interest, however, started with a simple letter, D. By typing one letter into Google's search bar words and phrases come up for you....just in case those include whatever you were searching for that might have started with D. Dictionary, dillards, Disney channel, dell, delta, Disney, dominos, dictionary Webster, direct tv, and David's bridal all come up in the first drop down of possible search options.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Dell: Pricing Strategies

I just bought a new laptop computer from Dell. Definitely no more of this whole required Mac thing. Park was/is pretty ridiculous for requiring their students to purchase the MacBook Pro laptops. Of course the computers are nice and shiny and incredibly useful for those computer whizzes and TVR kids, but not IMC. All my scholarship and summer job money after high school went straight into a computer that I did not know how to use, and obviously didn’t last very long, even with only using it for internet and word. Either way, I was finally able to buy the Dell computer I wanted 3 years ago, that is also new and shiny, and a lot cheaper and fits my needs perfectly fine. My point is that when I was forced to buy the Mac (for my freshman fear of the unknown) I did not get to choose what came with it. Sure I had those options, but it was wiping me clean as it was so I had to get the basics of everything. With my own hard-earned money (again) I was able to really look at what I wanted in my Dell computer and order it with confidence that it was what I wanted and needed, for the price I was willing to pay.

Looking back at my own process through the Dell purchasing system I can easily see two different pricing strategies that work very successfully for Dell. Depending on the product and the consumer Dell is able to profit from using both fixed and dynamic pricing strategies.

Looking at the fixed pricing strategies it is obvious that Dell uses markup pricing, bundling pricing and strong promotional pricing (the end result of which is being typed on right now). Dell has a wide variety of products that are sold from the company itself and now also through distributing companies like BestBuy. Dell produces and sells a number of different products like laptop computers, desktop computers, printers, and scanners. The products they sell all have many variations and different qualities which allows Dell to price their products accordingly and reach as many consumers as possible. There is even a new laptop that is directly competing with Apple’s Macbook Pro through style and price. The new Dell, the Adamo, is shown in silver or black and starts at $1,999. Dell is obviously targeting those Apple customers who still want a Windows system. Most importantly, Dell does not actually produce each individual part that they use to build their computers. Dell has to first purchase parts from other companies like Intel and Microsoft in order to build the computers that their customers want to purchase. Dell uses a Markup strategy so that they do not lose money when buying the parts. Sure, it might be cheaper for an individual to buy all the parts themselves and put the computer together with no markup prices, but there are only a select few of us out there that can do that. Kodos to them, but the rest of the world wants their computers built and delivered to their doorsteps ready to turn on and use.

Depending on the product being purchased Dell is also able to offer bundling pricing. I don’t think Dell will cut the cost if one order included 5 computers or something similar but Dell does offer bundling prices within their services like computer support, insurance and in-home care, shipping and handling, and some smaller add-on products like games, Microsoft Office, and virus protection software.

Promotional pricing is Dell’s biggest advantage. On any given day Dell is putting on at least one promotion, if not more. I have seen Dell television commercials, product magazines, newspaper inserts, print advertisments, and countless internet ads. Dell is constantly is the consumer’s mind when it comes to purchasing a new computer. I purchased my own laptop because of Dell’s March Madness promotion. I was looking for a new computer anyway but I was taking my time to do a fair share of research before my purchase. The March Madness promotion went on for ten days and had a select individual promotion for each day. The daily promotions only lasted for that one day, so this promotion added the effect of scarcity into the equation. In addition to scarcity, only that day’s promotion could be seen so the consumer had to take a chance with not knowing what the other daily promotions would be. I actually ordered my own computer on the very last day of promotions. All of these promotional deals have a close end-date or “limited time offer.” The good thing about Dell is that even if one attractive promotion passes, there is a good chance a similar one will start again in a few weeks. Dell prices their computers as one of the lowest brands in the industry. The prices are configured depending on the parts that are included in each individual computer. There are regular computers offered but consumers are also able to customize their own which of course is now an expected part of web 2.0. Consumers can also choose to spend more to upgrade their hard drives, battery life, virus protection software, warranties and much more. In addition, consumers can end up spending hundreds more by the luring sidebar full of mice, printers, speakers, webcams, and other products that they can add on. $20 doesn’t seem like so much when you know you are already going to be paying over $700, and that is a fact that Dell has taken advantage of very well.

Thursday, March 19, 2009 will have part in my future is a pure play model and has influenced other .com businesses like Monster and local employment sites. Careerbuilder is the U.S.'s largest online job site and puts over 1.6 million jobs in front of poised job seekers all over the world. The vision and mission statement reads "We are changing the way companies around the world recruit their most important asset: their people. Our mission is to be the global leader in online recruitment advertising by being an employee-driven, customer-focused organization that provides the best rate of return to our stakeholders." Careerbuilder was founded in 1995 at NetStart Inc. In 2002 they became the industry leader.

Although Careerbuilder now has sales offices in physical form around the country, I am using Careerbuilder as a pure play example because they began as one. Their main business is

still conducted online. I think this is a good example of growth for such a business. A company can start off small with no physical existence and grow to be the industry leader and world influencer. Gannett Co., Inc, Tribune Company, The McClatchy Company and Microsoft Corp all have a share in the ownership of It also partners with 150 newspapers and leading portals such as American Online and MSN. Careerbuilder and its subsidiaries operate in the U.S., Europe, Canada, and Asia.

Careerbuilder uses both the Affiliate Model and the Advertising Model to generate revenue. One the Careerbuilder site there is actually a section describing their Affiliate Program. Careerbuilder integrates their job search tool and links with other sites in exchange for earnings in commission for the traffic those sites drive to Career According to Careerbuilder there are 3 ways members of the affiliate program can earn revenue. 1.Applications to Job Postings- job seekers can apply to as many jobs as they like, and members are paid for the total applications received. Applying to jobs is free for the job seeker. 2. Job Postings-3. Consumer Products- Products like CB Resume, Resume Direct, and Sure Check help aid the job seeker in their job search process. And members get a commission for each sale as well. Working with so many partners Careerbuilder must also integrate specific banner exchange, pay per click, or revenue sharing aspects as well. Members are compensated for every online job posting that is purchased and posted on through the online form.

Careerbuilder also uses the advertising model with its partners and other companies. Careerbuilder draws in revenue through advertising by convincing other companies to advertise on the site. In the advertising section of Careerbuilder's website it states "we deliver a very 'Internet-Involved' audience with a high propensity to shop, buy and dig for information online, exactly the kind of web users you would want to reach with your advertising message.

Our continuously growing network includes over 1,000 partners, and 138 newspapers and 40 television stations. Our web partners include major publishers like MSN, AOL, USA Today and Google as well as diversity websites such as Equality Magazines and MSN Latino. Because of the wide-ranging nature of our partner sites, CareerBuilder users have considerably diverse profiles and are highly Internet savvy." This is obviously drawing in customers to advertise with Careerbuilder and has profited them well. Careerbuilder has done its own research and provides the demographics and user behavior of its site visitors for advertisers to view. Advertisers get options to advertise depending on specific demographics, geography, categories, and key words. Careerbuilder offers creative placements in banner, skyscraper, leaderboard, rectangle, text link, and email styles. It doesn't sound like a bad deal to me!

Careerbuilder has done a significant amount of research and the results definitely show. In order to evaluate the success of their business Careerbuilder should be measuring its performance by the number of people that actually get jobs because of Careerbuilder. This can be measured in a number of different ways, and a few different aspects can be measured at the same time. Careerbuilder needs to look at the number of qualified people posting resumes, the number and type of jobs they are applying to, the number and types of jobs available, the time period this takes place, the duration of time it takes before a job is offered and taken, etc. I'm sure Careerbuilder has these statistics already but I cannot find the results on the website.

Either way, during my search through the Careerbuilder site I have found some very interesting jobs myself. I will be graduating next December and I now know that I will come back to this site to look for my own jobs. I like the way it is set up with different search options. With the whole economy talk and job loses and blah blah blah, it doesn't seem the same on the website. There are tons of jobs that have been posted in the last day or two, even in a smaller area like Ithaca. I think this will be a very valuable tool for me in the future.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Case #2: Ethical and Legal Issues

When most people think of the rapper, Lil Wayne, they don’t get a picture of clean-cut, proper, mature performer in their heads. This case against Lil Wayne does not help his image.
This case has a mix of legal and ethical issues along with remix and copyright problems. The one example in class, involving Kanye West, unfortunately was not enough for the music industry.

In 1965, The Rolling Stones released their song “Play With Fire.” Over forty years later, Lil Wayne tried to incorporate the melody and lyrics from the Rolling Stones’ song into his own song titled, “Playing With Fire.” The Rolling Stones are contracted with Abkco Music Inc., which have executives who were originally prepared to grant the request to use “Play With Fire” as part of Lil Wayne’s song. Late the Abkco Music Inc. executives changed their minds when they learned of the lyrics to the Lil Wayne song. In the case the lyrics were called “explicit, sexist and offensive.” Abkco Music Inc. of course did not feel that those lyrics would match appropriately to the original music o
f the Rolling Stones.

The real issue started once Abkco executives learned that the song has been recorded and released with no contractual agreement anyway. They found out about the release through reading reviews. Abkco Music then sued Lil Wayne, his producer, record label and music publishers because of the copied song. The copyright suit was filed in U.S. District Court in Manhattan. By the time the actual lawsuit had been filed Lil Wayne’s album “Tha Carter III” had sold almost two million copies in the U.S., according to Nielsen Soundscan. The single itself sold another 42,000 digital copies through download services like iTunes. Topping that off, the album was the best-selling album of 2008, with 2.8 million units sold domestically. These statistics don’t even touch the number of copies of the song that were shared and spread illegally. Lil Wayne was forced to permanently remove the song from the “Tha Carter III” album both on the physical and digital sources, as well as all of the single download options.

According to music industry lawyers, in most cases like this, the winning plaintiff would be awarded royalties and damages. So far, however, neither side of the case has released any information about financial compensations in the settlement. The settlement was announced by Abkco, Lil Wayne’s record label, Universal Music Group, and the two publishers of “Playing With Fire,” EMI Group Ltd. and Warner Music Group Corp. Interestingly, both Lil Wayne’s and the Rolling Stone’s recordings are distributed by labels owned by Vivendi SA’s Universal Music Group.

Usually the winning plaintiff wants a financial compensation from the lawsuit, but in this case it was instead demanded that the song be removed from the market. “It’s not common, because usually they want the money, but it’s a remedy that’s available,” said Donald S. Passman, a lawyer and author of “All You Need to Know About the Music Business.” In response, Abkco President Jody Klein said, “The lawsuit was not about money. It was about protecting the written works of our songwriters.”

The link to the related article located in the ProQuest database:

It is incredibly unfortunate that issues like this occur in the entertainment industry, or any industry at all for that matter. Especially in this case, where it is very obvious that there was no signed agreement and that Lil Wayne and/or producers, writers, etc, released the song on purpose with the intent to get away with it.

I also respect the label’s decision to force the song to be removed from the album and digital purchasing systems but I also think that the Rolling Stone’s and their Abkco Music label should have been reimbursed with a fair share of the sales.

So although the two songs were technically different because of the lyrics, and most likely a slight variation in the music, it is extremely important to go about these types of agreements correctly. Copyright also addresses issues of expression, which shows in this case how the Rolling Stones label did not want to be associated with Lil Wayne’s sense of expression through his music. Through the 1976 Copyright Act the owner of the copyright, “Play With Fire,” has exclusive rights with reproduction, preparing derivative works, performing the work publicly, and distributing the work. More importantly, copyright becomes property of the author as soon as the work is finished. Copyright covers literary works, musical works, dramatic works, motion pictures and other audio-visual works, pictorial, graphic and sculptural works, sound recordings, and architectural works. Maybe Lil Wayne should have studied up on copyright before he we
nt ahead and recorded and released his song. If he had he would have known that work is still copyrighted even if the work doesn’t have a © symbol, if there is no monetary charge, if it is on the internet, or if the copyright is not defended, thankfully in this case the copyright was defended. There is fair use of copyright material for certain reasons like criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, and research, none of which had anything to do Lil Wayne’s release.

Hopefully even these two examples will be enough for the music industry to shape it up. Otherwise there will be even more unsatisfied consumers out there.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Nike v. Puma

While creating personal shoe designs on each of the Nike and Puma sites I was able to fully understand the consumer experience. I created accounts for both websites in order to save my work and go back to it later.

I enjoyed the NikeID site more because it seemed to me to be more relevant and directly related to the shoe-buying experience. The Nike designs were more appealing to my personal style and interest so it kept me more focused. I did experience a few technical difficulties, however, when I was unable to save my first two shoe designs. From the consumer standpoint this situation was extremely frustrating because I had to start the design over two times until I finally decided to give up and wait for another day. So although I like the visual design and set up of the Nike website more, the Puma site was actually easier to use. I also thought Nike stood out because you can also take part in the creation and design of certain clothing and sport items as well.

Nike’s website headline for the shoe design section read, “Dominate in colors all your own.” I felt that this fit well with Nike’s image of top sporting equipment and appeal. This also tied in with the option of picking the specific shoe design based on specific sports teams’ colors. This was not an option I took advantage of but I know many people who would fully appreciate it. NikeID also offers an in-person studio where customers can make appointments to try on the shoes in-house. This is also a very creative idea, especially for those customers who are willing to pay top dollar for their sneakers. This NikeID Studio is connected to big names like Ludacris.

The website itself was full of audio and visuals that catch attention but can also drive you a little crazy after awhile. There were a lot of pop-up description boxes and flash animation.

One positive part of the experience was the option to start with a blank shoe design or look at other original designs that were submitted by customers like yourself. You can also design any type of shoe you want, not just one or two different styles.

The Puma Mongolian Shoe BBQ website was a much more unusual experience for me than past online shopping has been. I did not like the concept/idea of relating shoe design with cooking. Logically it makes sense, I guess, but when I am looking at shoes, I do not also want to be thinking about ingredients that I will be putting in my mouth. Puma’s website opened with the heading, “Grab your chef hat and preheat your creativity.” It’s an original idea, but it just threw me off a little. The whole look of the website, from the opening photos to the commentary really did not make is seem like a shoe supplier. If I didn’t already know what Puma was when I saw the homepage, I would probably think it was the website of a restaurant. In support of the website, at least I can say Puma kept the concept constant throughout.

Puma’s actual shoe design process was easier in most ways. Unfortunately there were only three styles to choose from. And although the process of creating and saving the design was easier, I was less satisfied with the graphics, colors, angles of view, and event the lay out of options. When a color selection was made it looked a lot different on the shoe in the picture than actually in the color sample. The shoe design was also split up into three sections. This option added more available combinations but in some ways provided too much to do and not all the colors matched.

The Nike shoe design also allowed for the customer to click directly on the section of the shoe they wanted to change. That was useful because most consumers don’t particularly care what the company has decided to name each individual part of the shoe, they just want to get their job done in the easiest and most enjoyable way possible. The Puma site, however, did not provide that option. Instead there was a list on the side that held the names of each part along with the colors you could choose for it. It took some guessing and clicking around, but eventually it worked out.

The two companies had slightly different approaches to their customized athletic shoe websites but the overall ideas were the same. It is hard to differentiate a service like that because for the most part the same options will be offered. Even if a competitor was offering a characteristic that you didn’t, it probably would not take long for the opposite company to offer their own variation of the same thing.

I did enjoy the Nike experience more, even with the technical problems. My own personal taste has everything to do with that decision. Companies must really look at their target audience and main customers in order to create the right website environment and experience, otherwise a lot can be lost.

New stuff starting from here..

Hey everyone! I originally made this blog for my Audience Research class as a sophomore at Ithaca College, and guess what!? Another class is requiring a blog…so I’m going to use the same one!