Transcript of Frankel's Free Clinic December 28, 1998

RobFrankel (12/28/98 9:03 AM): Greetings all...

Muhammad (12/28/98 9:04 AM): Morning Rob

Benjamin Fitts (12/28/98 9:04 AM): Good Morning Rob.

Dave - LovePoetry (12/28/98 9:04 AM): Hi, Rob

Shore (12/28/98 9:04 AM): Hello Rob

RobFrankel (12/28/98 9:04 AM): So what's the topic for our last 1998 session?

David Beroff (12/28/98 9:05 AM): How about categorization... I asked b4, but didn't get any takers...

David Beroff (12/28/98 9:05 AM): The idea is that I want to have my Members self-categorize their sites...

RobFrankel (12/28/98 9:05 AM): Go for it David...

David Beroff (12/28/98 9:06 AM): Ira and I have discussed several approaches, but I thought what would be absolutely most useful...

David Beroff (12/28/98 9:06 AM): would be to have the (potential) advertisers tell me what psychographics *they* would like to see...

David Beroff (12/28/98 9:07 AM): and to use these as proposed categories for our Members.

David Beroff (12/28/98 9:08 AM): I like the LinkExchange three-tiered hierarchy, but obviously, I can't use it wholesale (for copyright infringement reasons).

David Beroff (12/28/98 9:08 AM): The NewHoo directory is another good arrangement

RobFrankel (12/28/98 9:08 AM): That's a two-sided coin. On the one hand, you get perfectly matched categories on both sides. On the other, you better make sure they correlate to action.

Dave - LovePoetry (12/28/98 9:09 AM): What are the Three Tiers?

RobFrankel (12/28/98 9:09 AM): The problem comes in when your advertisers THINK they know what they want.

David Beroff (12/28/98 9:09 AM): "correlate to action"?

David Beroff (12/28/98 9:09 AM): LinkExchange has broadcasting, midcasting, narrowcasting ... simply three levels of a categorization hierarchy.

RobFrankel (12/28/98 9:10 AM): One might think that "teens with bikes" buy more candy, but what if that's exactly what they deliver and they're wrong? Guess who takes the hit for not delivering buyers?

RobFrankel (12/28/98 9:10 AM): And LE has made more than one mistake. Anything other than narrow-casting is a big mistake here...

RobFrankel (12/28/98 9:11 AM): So it all comes down to offering a service at your end, where you guide both sides to reasonable expectations and consistent definitions.

David Beroff (12/28/98 9:11 AM): Well, one could use that same argument for the entire industry; the entire concept of advertising. :-) At some point, both publishers and advertisers need to take some rational approach, rather than simply guessing.

Dave - LovePoetry (12/28/98 9:12 AM): Is "narrowcasting" the same as "highly targeted"

scottm (12/28/98 9:12 AM): Entered the room.

David Beroff (12/28/98 9:12 AM): Well, for LE, they might narrow-cast down to as tight as teens-with-bikes.

RobFrankel (12/28/98 9:12 AM): That's true, which is why so many of those goofs rely on demographics.

David Beroff (12/28/98 9:12 AM): D - LP: yes

RobFrankel (12/28/98 9:13 AM): In may last column for ZD, I went over that whole issue of "Psycho's versus Demo's"

David Beroff (12/28/98 9:13 AM): Is it all that goofy, Rob? I mean, it *does* seem to work, with specialty (print) magazines and their audience & advertisers.

RobFrankel (12/28/98 9:13 AM): Oops. That's "my LAST column"...on the Archive page at the site.

David Beroff (12/28/98 9:14 AM): yes, I believe I saw that article.

Benjamin Fitts (12/28/98 9:14 AM): but they don't have a tracking mechanism like you do

RobFrankel (12/28/98 9:14 AM): Well, it is when that's all you rely on. And that's the problem. Demo's are the dump where everyone goes when they are too lazy to do real work or don't want to get fired.

David Beroff (12/28/98 9:14 AM): tracking?

Benjamin Fitts (12/28/98 9:15 AM): So you have to bear more responsibility if your audience doesn't buy the product

RobFrankel (12/28/98 9:15 AM): Absolutely, David, if you've promised an advertiser better results with a more responsive audience.

RobFrankel (12/28/98 9:16 AM): Now, that having been said, you should NEVER promise more sales, because that's something out of your control. If you deliver bodies, but your advertiser can't sell, that's not your problem.

David Beroff (12/28/98 9:16 AM): I see, Rob. Since I don't offer a teens-with-bikes site, I need to place *some* sort of identification on each site so that I know which ad to display when site X's visitor presses "submit". (I run , for those who have just joined us.)

scottm (12/28/98 9:17 AM): Remember too that some WANT to be murky.. They sell more that way.. It's just BAD for the advertiser!

Shore (12/28/98 9:17 AM): Glad you said "can't promise" Rob, I was afraid I'd been missing something.

David Beroff (12/28/98 9:17 AM): Agreed, Rob, on both points. I *do* track click-through, but (unless the advertiser's site provides for it), I can't track actual sales.

RobFrankel (12/28/98 9:18 AM): And I think it's a fine tool. As long as you control their definitions of terms and guide their expectations, it can be a very useful service. Adds value.

Muhammad (12/28/98 9:18 AM): I don't completely buy into that theory. On hand you are selling a product,(advertising space) but the advertisers is responsible for the ad banners, buttons, copy, and selling their own product or service. It is not your purpose, to sell their product.

Dave - LovePoetry (12/28/98 9:18 AM): I don't understand this "promised an advertiser". Don't I tell him what I have to offer (Demo.) and isn't it up to him as to what ad to run and how much he is willing to pay. Isn't his call and his responsibility?

Muhammad (12/28/98 9:18 AM): If you sell advertising space, your purpose is to get the right people in front of the advertising. What happens from there is not your problem.

David Beroff (12/28/98 9:18 AM): Well, Benjamin, I don't *have* to bear that responsibility, but ultimately, if I want a repeat (advertising) customer, I need to ensure that all sides remain happy.

RobFrankel (12/28/98 9:18 AM): I can't tell you the number of dopes I've known -- for whom I've generated on and offline traffic -- who couldn't close the sale.

RobFrankel (12/28/98 9:19 AM): True, David, and working with that advertiser -- at no charge -- is what gets that advertiser coming back.

Muhammad (12/28/98 9:19 AM): If you concentrate on getting the right people in front of advertising and getting them to click, and buy. You might as well be working in the advertisers marketing department.

David Beroff (12/28/98 9:20 AM): Right; I think we are all saying the same thing: that a publisher's responsibility (technically) ends when the visitor has been delivered to the advertiser's site.

Dave - LovePoetry (12/28/98 9:20 AM): Is the site responsible for a inability to close a sale?

RobFrankel (12/28/98 9:20 AM): Plus, David, you want to keep your eye on the ball. The better you treat/educate that advertiser, the more likely your reputation will grow based on that brand aspect of your operation.

Muhammad (12/28/98 9:21 AM): Tell me about it, I have a client who I got a top 5 ranking on several search engines. They get 10-20 leads a day more than enough for them to survive. But they are struggling because they can't close a sale.

David Beroff (12/28/98 9:21 AM): Yes, Rob; some of the people I have been working with have been surprised that I am willing to delve further into their campaign, but I figure it is better for both of us, so I do it, even though it doesn't generate any direct fees.

RobFrankel (12/28/98 9:21 AM): Yes, Doggett. I once did a complete overhaul for a guy which drove mega-traffic to him. But he refused to change his site structure. So it was like inviting everyone to a party where the front door was locked.

Muhammad (12/28/98 9:21 AM): Just silly things like not responding to info requests in a timely manner.

scottm (12/28/98 9:22 AM): And (not unlike Muhammad) I have a customer that hasn't even bothered to register with the search engines.. And blames my servers for not logging his "thousands of visitors"...

Muhammad (12/28/98 9:22 AM): I think the publishers job ends when the right people see the ad. You can do more but you are just doing the advertisers job.

Benjamin Fitts (12/28/98 9:22 AM): Speaking of closing a sale, and targeting products...

Dave - LovePoetry (12/28/98 9:22 AM): I sense a message there.

Benjamin Fitts (12/28/98 9:23 AM): Rob do you have any recommendations for software to track user behavior on my site and target them with appropriate products and advertisements based on similar users activity?

RobFrankel (12/28/98 9:23 AM): Go ahead, Benjamin..

Shore (12/28/98 9:23 AM): You can give educated opinions though about what you think will work...and explain it as such. Once you deliver the customer to the site it is somewhat out of your hands. But you have then done what you said.

David Beroff (12/28/98 9:23 AM): Muhammad, perhaps I am "doing their job", but I want to have that advertiser survive, and thrive, and continue to pay me each month. :-)

Benjamin Fitts (12/28/98 9:25 AM): I can guess at what I think a user will want to purchase, but I want to take that even further by using some sort of "filtering" or "targeting" software (hmm wrong words. I can't think of what the buzz word is right now)

RobFrankel (12/28/98 9:25 AM): Benjamin, there are a number of them. But their names aren't coming to me. Write me an e-mail about it and I'm try to send the names.

David Beroff (12/28/98 9:25 AM): Benjamin, you might want to start with (and possibly customize it)

Muhammad (12/28/98 9:25 AM): Good Point, but there are so many companies on the web that are bad at closing sales. That you may be opening yourself up to a lot of extra work, that isn't worth the ad dollars.

RobFrankel (12/28/98 9:26 AM): I think what you want to do is build a profile using keywords and actions, derived from your site's search feature, if you have one.

David Beroff (12/28/98 9:26 AM): Several of my associates like Darryl's scripts, and from what I've seen, he writes good stuff.

Dave - LovePoetry (12/28/98 9:26 AM): Are you saying that if you have an advertiser who is getting traffic from you, you should refuse additional advertising from him because he is not making enough money for your web site advertising

RobFrankel (12/28/98 9:27 AM): Yeah, the only stuff I have is pro-level stuff.

Shore (12/28/98 9:27 AM): If you've positioned yourself as a consultant then the next obvious discussion would be something like, "We've delivered X number of customers to your site, but you say none are buying. Perhaps we should discuss what is happening once the customer gets to your site."

David Beroff (12/28/98 9:28 AM): Well, I need to tread those waters carefully, Shore, since it seems that my best-paying and most-stable advertisers are large enough that they'd prefer that I just remain a publisher; they already have their high-priced "consultants".

RobFrankel (12/28/98 9:30 AM): Benjamin, guys like WebAnswers at have something akin to what you're looking for, but they're more involved...

Muhammad (12/28/98 9:30 AM): sometimes the client just believes all he has to do is sit back and the $ will roll in. This clients office is down the street from me, I talk to him all the time. I always tell him to respond quicker, I'm meeting with him today to discuss a list of changes in his operation. But you can't make some people do the right thing.

Muhammad (12/28/98 9:30 AM): Some people come with their own ideas and will not deviate from them.

Shore (12/28/98 9:30 AM): So you are trying to re-work your end to cater to their high-priced consultants? :-)

Benjamin Fitts (12/28/98 9:30 AM): I will take a look at it immediately.

RobFrankel (12/28/98 9:31 AM): Well, the trick to any successful business is setting expectations. If people are clear about what they're supposed to get, they don't expect miracles. But that's your job to clarify stuff.

RobFrankel (12/28/98 9:31 AM): And you have to set those expectations at the BEGINNING of the relationship....

David Beroff (12/28/98 9:32 AM): Well, Shore, not re-work, but I am certainly willing to accommodate them; thus my initial question about categorization.

Shore (12/28/98 9:32 AM): If they are expecting instant sales and you cannot control whether or not that happens, it is not a win-win situation.

scottm (12/28/98 9:32 AM): David... We have people that do nothing but work with customers "experts" and help their "experts" look good... Brings a lot of referral business, and keeps the advertiser happy.

RobFrankel (12/28/98 9:32 AM): Just remember that any standard you give them, David, is the standard by which they will measure. So make sure you can deliver.

David Beroff (12/28/98 9:33 AM): Agreed, Rob, but as Muhammad said, some people are not willing to be flexible enough to separate their business from their ego.

Jacob (12/28/98 9:33 AM): Entered the room.

RobFrankel (12/28/98 9:34 AM): There's nothing you can do about ego, except plan around it

Jacob (12/28/98 9:34 AM): Hello everyone

David Beroff (12/28/98 9:34 AM): I am trying to take my own advice; I am starting to increase our staff, and to give each new team-member enough room and flexibility that they can define their own job, rather than try to meet the owner's expectations precisely... it's not easy.

Dave - LovePoetry (12/28/98 9:34 AM): I'm a Content Provider. I'm up to my armpits in Content alligators. I can't take the time to be worried about the advertisers. Isn't that the problem of the Broker?

Shore (12/28/98 9:35 AM): What do you mean "content alligators?"

Muhammad (12/28/98 9:35 AM): I'm a conservative person by nature, so I always give people realistic expectations. However if people have their own expectations, and ego, and the fact that this particular client has kids older than me. Kinda works against me, but I am delivering the visitors he needs to wake and convert them into customers

David Beroff (12/28/98 9:35 AM): Dave - LP: But that "worry" *is* your "problem": they are your income!

RobFrankel (12/28/98 9:36 AM): Under promise and over deliver.

Muhammad (12/28/98 9:36 AM): That's a good one rob.

RobFrankel (12/28/98 9:36 AM): no, Dave D. The broker is there to sell ad space, take his commission and move one. He has no interest in what happens between you and your advertisers.

David Beroff (12/28/98 9:37 AM): I am absolutely in favor of brokers/agents/intermediaries (and I put my $ where my mouth is), but I find that many brokers are too swamped to concentrate on any one particular site.

RobFrankel (12/28/98 9:37 AM): And that's the problem with ad brokers. A huge myth that spawned my newsletter last week. incidentally, that column got reprinted a lot, from what I can tell...

scottm (12/28/98 9:38 AM): Gotta go... Have a happy New Year All!

Shore (12/28/98 9:38 AM): If the broker loses future commissions then perhaps they should be interested.

David Beroff (12/28/98 9:38 AM): Thus, I am not sitting here waiting for the brokers to bring in the business; if it happens, fine.

Shore (12/28/98 9:39 AM): Makes no sense to constantly seek out new advertisers and re-invent a sale.

RobFrankel (12/28/98 9:39 AM): The problem is that one account means little to any broker. And as long as people buy into the "web is just online TV" myth, it will continue.

David Beroff (12/28/98 9:39 AM): In theory, Shore, that would be true. But for some reason, once the thrill of an initial sale wears off, it seems to be human nature to want to move on. I don't quite understand it.

Shore (12/28/98 9:40 AM): It could be a habit formed from when people really weren't buying a lot online...the broker had to go on to the next guy anyway.

RobFrankel (12/28/98 9:41 AM): Well, consider that the internet is fueled by so much hype -- mainly novelty and betting on the future -- that people fall victim to the latest Wall Street rage. hey, anyone remember PointCast? That was supposed to be mega hit! What a dog...

David Beroff (12/28/98 9:41 AM): ties-in somewhat with Mohammed's concern about people not following up... I am just as guilty as the next overwhelmed-nethead, but I try to stay on top of things; it is cheaper to continue an existing relationship than to foster a new one.

Muhammad (12/28/98 9:42 AM): the way I see it, I have to keep working with the advertiser and the publisher to make sure both are happy. Otherwise, no commission in the future.

RobFrankel (12/28/98 9:42 AM): I mean, how long do you suppose Amazon stock will sail so high? Until people get real about the business aspects of the web. And that's part of your job, too. Part of setting their expectations.

RobFrankel (12/28/98 9:43 AM): If people really invested in business, Amazon stock would be at $4 per share

David Beroff (12/28/98 9:43 AM): o, I c, Muhammad; u r 1 of these intermediaries, huh? Maybe we should catch a lunch together sometime... :-)

David Beroff (12/28/98 9:44 AM): extending that concept even further, Rob: I think that the hype is what fuels a lot of IPO's in the *first* place. Sure, I would *love* to go public, but I'm not all that sure I would feel comfortable in taking the high-expectations-related money.

Muhammad (12/28/98 9:45 AM): David B - Sounds Good drop me a line and lets talk. (

Dave - LovePoetry (12/28/98 9:45 AM): Rob, isn't that what everyone does all the time. You don't buy a car from a MFG who is going out of business. You buy cars and Stock betting on the future

David Beroff (12/28/98 9:46 AM): Dave - LP: The difference is that you can (to some degree) predict future return of a car based on prior performance (other owners).

RobFrankel (12/28/98 9:46 AM): You bet on the future when you have a tangible business reason to do so. Not on some talking head from Wall Street who hasn't the slightest idea why the stock is doing what it's doing.

Shore (12/28/98 9:47 AM): It is much less of a bet than it used to be. I had quite a few very happy customers this shopping season.

Dave - LovePoetry (12/28/98 9:47 AM): You buy Amazon at $100 because it looks like it will be sustainable at $200 in the future

David Beroff (12/28/98 9:48 AM): (I was speaking in general, other owners of *other* cars from the same manufacturer. I just realized that that statement could have implied, "other owners of the *same* car" :-)

Muhammad (12/28/98 9:48 AM): Amazon looks to be quite successful in the next couple of years so the stock is worth money. Just not $300+

RobFrankel (12/28/98 9:49 AM): I don't. But I did buy AOL because it has something non-hypable: a 12 million user base.

RobFrankel (12/28/98 9:50 AM): Amazon won't even come close to being profitable for another five years. And if you look closely, you'll see its margin are creeping in the WRONG direction. Not to mention lack of competition that will change, too.

Muhammad (12/28/98 9:50 AM): Buying Netscape and a deal with sun and Dell computers doesn't hurt either.

Benjamin Fitts (12/28/98 9:50 AM): 13 million now Rob ;)

David Beroff (12/28/98 9:50 AM): Right, so u feel that AOL has a certain tangible value based on those users. But not that it will continue zooming upwards; obviously, at *some* point, one hits market saturation.

Benjamin Fitts (12/28/98 9:51 AM): I'm already switching from affiliates to Barnes and Noble.

RobFrankel (12/28/98 9:51 AM): But Amazon? Forget it. If you have no kids and no family, you can take your paycheck to Vegas, too. Don't forget, Netscape was one of the 10 most successful IPO's of all time and look at them now, whimpering like dogs.

Muhammad (12/28/98 9:51 AM): Another good point Rob, Barnes & Nobles can supplement it's online business with it's offline one.

David Beroff (12/28/98 9:52 AM): NINE MINUTE WARNING :-)

Dave - LovePoetry (12/28/98 9:52 AM): I gave B&N 1,000,000 impressions and got $1.50

RobFrankel (12/28/98 9:52 AM): AOL, IMO, will be the great portal that educates new users to the web. I believe their user base will stabilize, but their ease of use will bring more newbies into the market.

Muhammad (12/28/98 9:52 AM): Then again, with things like affiliate programs you have to credit Amazon with some innovation. The problem is can they stop losing money on every sale and become profitable in the next 3-5 years

RobFrankel (12/28/98 9:52 AM): No, EIGHT MINUTE WARNING

Shore (12/28/98 9:52 AM): If I can deviate for just a moment...does anyone here know how these retailers "get" their product? I am dealing with a manufacturer who doesn't know how his items got listed in CD Now, Music Boulevard, E-Toys and others....

Benjamin Fitts (12/28/98 9:53 AM): Well Dave, I do a bit better ;)

Benjamin Fitts (12/28/98 9:53 AM): But I think it is my market. B&N has more titles in my market than Amazon does

David Beroff (12/28/98 9:53 AM): Dave, we gotta talk. I can't get you huge CPMs, but $1.50... my CPM calculator doesn't even go that low. :-)

RobFrankel (12/28/98 9:54 AM): Yeah, I have someone way high up that I think might be interested in David's site, too.

David Beroff (12/28/98 9:54 AM): Shore: and s/he is complaining? :-)

RobFrankel (12/28/98 9:54 AM): But I think I can get them to pay a flat monthly fee.

Dave - LovePoetry (12/28/98 9:55 AM): contact me at

Shore (12/28/98 9:55 AM): No but he had given me online distribution rights. And says the sales are will they *get* his product if no agreement has been made...and how will he get paid?

RobFrankel (12/28/98 9:56 AM): Shore, they probably have been selected from other industry lists, or most likely, through an industry broker/rep.

Dave - LovePoetry (12/28/98 9:56 AM): Rob, I'm quivering with antici.........pation

RobFrankel (12/28/98 9:56 AM): Most manufacturers have no idea how their stuff actually gets to retail.

RobFrankel (12/28/98 9:57 AM): Dave? A rocky horror fan?

Dave - LovePoetry (12/28/98 9:57 AM): It's just a step to the right

RobFrankel (12/28/98 9:57 AM): TWO MINUTES

RobFrankel (12/28/98 9:58 AM): Well, what a segue into stepping into another time warp...again. In 1999, I will introduce a whole new operation for FrankelBees that will make it a lot easier for us all to do business.

Benjamin Fitts (12/28/98 9:59 AM): Thanks Rob.

Shore (12/28/98 9:59 AM): You're going to make us wait???

David Beroff (12/28/98 9:59 AM): Does anyone have Louise, the soap lady's email address? Her InterNIC contact data is wrong, and she was agreeing to host with me the last we were chatting on this site.. :-(

RobFrankel (12/28/98 9:59 AM): Well, thanks to everyone who is helping the community grow.

Dave - LovePoetry (12/28/98 10:00 AM): Thanks a lot for the session this morning, Rob

David Beroff (12/28/98 10:00 AM): Shore, he's been dropping clues. :-)

RobFrankel (12/28/98 10:00 AM): Dave, have you gone to That's her site.

David Beroff (12/28/98 10:01 AM): Yes; her contact forms aren't effective, either. :-(

RobFrankel (12/28/98 10:01 AM): I'm SO friggn' mysterious....Alright, see everyone next week and online! Have a great and safe new year!

RobFrankel (12/28/98 10:01 AM): I know her address is in one of these archives....

David Beroff (12/28/98 10:01 AM): oh, well; I'm sure she will return to this chat some week. See y'all, everyone. Thanks everybody!

RobFrankel (12/28/98 10:01 AM): Gotta split.

Shore (12/28/98 10:02 AM): Bye Rob

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