May 212009

Last year I co-authored a book called “Understanding Digital Marketing“. It’s basically a foundation for businesses and marketers on how to harness the internet to sell your products and services and reach out to customers, which of course has very little to do with this column… or does it?

Researching the book meant I had to delve deep into the world of the online marketer, and increasingly the mainstream marketing masses who are adopting electronic marketing strategies to reach an increasingly “wired” customer base. And guess which segment of today’s society is among the most connected? That’s right… our children — especially as they enter their teens!

It’s frightening how much spending power teenagers seem to have these days, and with a ready, peer influenced market spending lots of time online, you can bet that marketers are reaching out across cyberspace and reaching into your wallet through your children.

Marketing to young people is nothing new of course… companies, especially larger brands with massive advertising budgets and seemingly limitless resources, have been targeting children for years. Television adverts for toys, games, fast food, snacks and confectionery do an excellent job of appealing to a younger audience, applying indirect pressure on parents to spend, spend, spend.

But there are a few important differences for parents to consider as mainstream marketing leaps the digital divide and brands start to engage with our children online.

  • What are they looking at?: When children are sitting in front of the television, listening to the radio or reading a particular magazine parents are generally aware of the kind of advertising they are being exposed to, but do you really know where your children like to “hang out” online, and whether the sort of targeted advertising they’re being influenced by is appropriate?
  • How much information are they sharing? Unlike traditional channels like TV, Radio and Print, online marketing is a two-way-street. This is not a broadcast medium, it’s a specifically targeted conversation crafted with the marketers’ goal in mind. How much information is your child sharing with the brands they engage with online?
  • Low barriers to entry mean more brands: compared to traditional media online marketing opportunities are still relatively cheap, and because young people are volunteering more information online campaigns can often be focussed to reach a much narrower and more responsive audience. It means more businesses can afford to engage online, which means teens are likely to encounter a far broader range of advertising than they typically do in other media.
  • No geographical boundaries: the internet transcends geography — so depending on where they go online, children can be exposed to advertising and marketing messages from around the globe — advertising that isn’t necessarily governed by the rules and conventions that parents take for granted in their own country.
  • It’s not just the computer: it’s very easy for parents to assume the computer is the hub of their child’s interaction with the online world, but increasingly mobile devices (like phones, MP3 players and organisers) can hook up wirelessly to the internet. Home games consoles too are often connected… and the in-game advertising your children see when they play the latest games are often streamed in real time from the internet in response to actions taken in the game.

There’s nothing inherently sinister about marketing to children online — in fact, if it’s done responsibly more targeted, measurable, open and accountable marketing can be a good thing. As parents we need to be aware of changes in our children’s use of media, of the way businesses are using digital channels to reach out to them, and the potential impact it can have. Ultimately it’s our job to shield them from harm — in the real world, and the virtual one.

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Aug 062008

image Just a quick post this one.

Got an e-mail this morning from our publishers Kogan Page with a link to our new Digital Marketing book on their website.

I’m more excited than I thought I would be. Somehow seeing the book up on their website makes it all seem very real, and I just wanted to share it with everyone.

We’ll be launching a new website over the coming months to support, develop and build on the book. We’re hoping to build a dynamic and constantly evolving, community driven digital marketing resource. It should be quite an adventure… will keep you posted here and over on Digital Marketing Success.

Jun 172008

This week’s Career Moves is a bit interwebby, so I’ve posted it over on Digital Marketing Success instead of here.

It’s the first in a series of articles I’m doing for the Evening Echo on using the internet for market research when setting up/growing a small business.

Jun 032008

My wife is mad about Prince – and she’s been so supportive and understanding while I’ve been immersed in this Digital Marketing book project, that on the spur of the moment I decided to see if I could snag a couple of tickets for his upcoming concert in Croke Park.

Off I went to to search for Prince Ireland. The first entry in the results page that was for Prince concert tickets was this one, from a crowd in the Netherlands called All of the right bells and whistles were there… verified by Verisign, SSL secure server, etc. – but the cheapest tickets on offer were for €265, which seemed a bit on the steep side.


This was going to be more expensive than I’d anticipated… or was it?

I went to, which of course is where I should have gone in the first place, and bought two tickets for €66.50 each (and before I’m labelled a cheapskate let me just say that I looked for the the €89 category, but it had sold out, and the higher priced tickets seemed a bit on the extravagant side – so we’ll be a little way from the action, but hey, we’re there for the music, right?). Total cost for two tickets including Ticketmaster’s do f**k all fee handling fee (who are they trying to kid on an automated website with e-mail ticket delivery?) €145.70. Or about €120 cheaper than one ticket from Sorted.


What this really illustrates is that you need to be careful what you search for on Google, and shop around before you buy. Searching for Prince Ireland returned a few results for books from, followed by the rip-off site. Had I searched for Prince Tickets instead, two of the first three organic results returned would have been for

So buyer beware – and remember that Google’s results are only as good as the queries you throw at it.

Apr 092008

At the Search Marketing World conference last week I picked up a scratch-card entry to a competition from a new Irish search engine company called

image Apparently this local search engine will help me to find web sites, companies, goods and services in my local area. I haven’t had chance to play with it yet, but it certainly sounds interesting.

I didn’t win on the scratch card, but if you click on the link above or the one below to go have a look at the site for yourself I’ll be with a chance to win their monthly draw for a , so why not take a look, and while you’re there sign up yourself to be in with a chance to win.

It’s an obvious link bait strategy, but hey, last time I entered one of these things I won!

Just had a quick look, and the jury’s out. The results pages are a bit sparsely populated, and I’m not convinced by the user interface… but you decide for yourself.

Mar 242008

“Working it” column published in the Career Moves section of The Evening Echo on 24/03/2008

I’ve published this week’s Working It column — a review of the Internet Marketing seminar “Getting Results in Online Marketing” by Praxis Now — to my Digital Marketing blog, because the subject matter fits.

Mar 202008

I can’t believe it… I won!

The Glengarrif Lodge competition that sparked all sorts of interest and debate amongst Irish bloggers about what does and doesn’t constitute legitimate SEO linkbait is over.

And I won!

I got a phone call late this afternoon from Alan Callender, who owns the lodge, to say that mine was the winning entry.

So the family and I are heading for Glengarrif on the 11th of April. It looks fantastic… I can’t wait!

Mar 122008

I’ve just posted a piece about “Reality Mining” on my digital marketing blog. From a marketing perspective it opens up all sorts of options. From a consumer and privacy point of view, I don’t know….

I’m not really comfortable with the concept that my phone will be better than my friends and family at diagnosing depression.

How about the fact that using data from your mobile analysts will be able to predict exactly who you’re going to meet, and even on which day of the week you’re going to meet them.


Feb 272008

Published in the WOW! supplement of the Evening Echo 27/02/2008

A beautiful, innocent young girl looks out from my computer screen. For a long moment she gazes, smiling enigmatically as a soft breeze tugs at her strawberry-blond hair. It’s serene, peaceful. And then it begins.

Image after rapid-fire image of the “perfect” body flash onto the screen. Promotions pushing products that promise to make women slimmer, lighter, younger, sexier. Called “Onslaught”, this is Dove’s latest online video in their “Campaign for Real Beauty”, which the company claims is all about restoring women’s self esteem in a world that bombards them with a body-image that’s impossible for a real woman to obtain.

Continue reading »

Feb 202008

Wow! Just saw a post about this great competition on Tom Raferty’s Social Media blog (sorry Tom, but I don’t think your appeal for people not to enter is going to work).

This has to be one of the most compelling pieces of “link bait” I’ve seen in a while, and a great way to generate buzz in the local blogosphere. Who, within striking distance of this superb looking accommodation, wouldn’t want to enter this competition?

Glengarrif Lodge

Glengarriff Lodge — a former hunting lodge of the Earls of Bantry

I’ll have to post this as an example on my Digital Marketing blog… which is woefully in need of more attention than it’s getting. Funny, but researching and writing the book it sits alongside (due for publication by Kogan Page later this year) seems to be taking up all of my time!

I wonder if posting the competition to another blog means I get two bites at the cherry?

All you have to do is link to their homepage using Luxury Self Catering as your anchor text, and, in the same post, link to the site of a friend who might also be interested in the competition.

For more information take a look at the Luxury Self Catering Weekend Give-Away Competition Page on the Glengarriff Lodge website.

Now all I have to do is think of a friend who’d be interested in the competition and link to their site. Now, let me see… friends with websites I can link to…. Hmm… that’s trickier than it should be… OK, how about Marc Holden over at Firehorse Imaging.

Good luck with the competition… as long as you don’t win, of course! I’ve decided that’s my prerogative.

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