The Isle of Man Enterprise Development Scheme

I attended a presentation yesterday organised by the JCC, where a government representative outlined the workings of the Isle of Man Enterprise Development Scheme that was recently approved by Tynwald. I don’t have the slides to share, but in the meantime, I’d like to share some of the tweets that I pushed out at the talk was presented to us. Should help give a flavour of what the Scheme is all about:

That was what I got, I’ll keep trying to get my hands on the slides and will share them here if @JohnGarland15 passes me a copy 🙂

Tailoring the experience for your customers

I came across a great example of a website looking to provide the best experience possible to their customers yesterday. As some of you might know, the media here in the British Isles was buzzing with news that the Royal Couple was expecting a baby at any moment. Twitter and other social channels were, of course, aflame with comments, speculation, well wishes, and of course the usual grumps complaining about how happy everyone else was about it.

The Guardian, a leftish UK newspaper, usually at the leading edge of innovation, came up with an interesting device to allow readers to opt in or out of the hubbub surrounding the baby’s birth. Check out the screenshots below:



You’ll notice the link in the top right hand corner that lets users select between the alternative news filters on the front page.

What do you think? I thought that was pretty suave!

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Thoughts about new gTLDs

Yesterday I was asked for a comment about the new gTLDs by one of our local radio stations, Manx Radio. If you’re asking what a gTLD is, well, it’s an acronym for “generic top level domain”. We’re all used to our websites having names ending in .net, .org, .com etc and this is a new initiative to open up this name space allowing people to apply for any generic name they like. There have been around 2000 names applied for, ranging from .art all the way down to .zulu, with a whole host of words in between (including ones with non-Latin character sets). If you’re interested you can see the whole list on ICANN’s website.

The radio presenter I spoke to (Jason Roberts) was asking why there hadn’t been any applications for names relating to the Isle of Man. Anyone could have applied for .manx or .isleofman or .iom, but there hadn’t been any applications for them.What was the reason behind this?

I guess the main reason would be cost. Each application had to be accompanied by a payment of $185,000. The new names also incurred a yearly cost starting from $25,000 per annum, and you’d have to add cost of the infrastructure needed to handle domain name hosting and reselling on top of that. Domain names nowadays generally sell for under $10.00, so recouping the cost of that investment would entail selling many thousands of domain names. I’m sure there is an appetite for Manx TLDs, but I don’t think it’s that big. The other factor to consider is that there already is a uniquely Manx TLD, the .im TLD, so anyone buying a brand new TLD would have an uphill struggle to generate much return on their investment.

What’s funny is how after the interview thoughts kept percolating through my brain and there was a lot more I could had added to what was actually recorded. My main thought is that these new naming conventions will bring around a paradigm shift around how we use domain names. For example, the company I work for is called Intelligence, and has a domain name which is This domain name immediately gives you a hint as to where the company is located (in the Isle of Man), and the name of the company. There’s a certain amount of certainty that if I’m visiting that website, then I know who it’s about. But there’s nothing stopping someone buying a similar name and trying to pose as the real company; in fact it’s a commonly used technique called “domain squatting”.

Domain squatting  is defined as the unscrupulous purchase of a domain name with the intention of profiting from the goodwill or trademark belonging to someone else. Domain squatters usually try to resell the domain name for an exorbitant amount, or use it to generate income by pretending to be the company behind the name. As you can imagine, this causes problems for the company or brand being represented; both for their customers and for themselves. It’s not uncommon for brands to go out and trying and buy similar domain names, even misspellings, to stop cyber squatters from grabbing them. Up to this point, .com, .net and .org have been the most common TLDs and it’s been relatively easy to secure them all. Once the new TLDs are available, this won’t really be possible any more, creating no lack of uncertainty both for brands and for customers. I’m expecting regulation around the use of domain names to get stricter as cybersquatters do their best to take advantage of the new names.

Another thought I had is that these new TLDs will have an impact on the way we navigate around the world. For example, if I want to go to McDonalds website I can pretty much guarantee that if I type “” I will find myself at their website. This will change in the future as there will no longer be any uniformity around how websites will be named. I suppose this means that using Search Engines will become more central to our browsing habits, as we will have to rely on indirect mechanisms for navigation rather than describing the site we want to go to.

Right, what I’ve just said above does sound a little negative, but I’m a sincere believer that Change is always a source of opportunity, and this change is no different. Opening up the name space provides room for competition, opportunities for innovation and a move away from the status quo. As our methods of navigating the web change, new mechanisms will evolve and make our knowledge acquisition more streamlined. This can only be a good thing although is does constitute a threat to organisations who base their profitability or authority on mechanisms which are slowly becoming obsolete. The one thing I can say is that things will get interesting. The first batch of new TLDs will be coming online in March 2013, so watch this space!

Izea gets leaner and meaner

IZEA Blogger Advisory Board Dinner
Image by Wendy Piersall via Flickr

I came across a post on Izea’s blog talking about their latest release to their PayPerPost platform. Here’s what Ted (IZEA’s CEO) said:

When SocialSpark launched we adjusted its margins to create a model that would be profitable for the company. The model works and provides a clear path for the future. Meanwhile, PPP has been canceling out what we’ve gained in contribution from SocialSpark. Today we are adjusting the margins in PPP to match that of SocialSpark. Both systems will now have a 50/50 split between IZEA and the blogger, recognizing the value each of us brings to the table.

It’s also interesting to see that they also announced that they will be closing the doors on Zookoda, a service designed for bloggers to send out daily, weekly or monthly summary of your latest blog posts directly into their visitors inbox citing the fact that it wasn’t economically viable to keep it running. This has sparked a spate of comments from regular users who frankly will be left out in the cold. Izea (who were called PayPerPost back then) acquired Zookoda in April 07 citing they were “confident Zookoda’s capabilities will be of great help to our family of PayPerPost bloggers.” There is no doubt the service is a great help to bloggers but there may have been a shift in Izea’s outlook and priorities.

I suspect that these moves are a sign that Izea’s honeymoon period is over and time has come to focus on their key deliverables. I’ve always maintained that there was too much focus on bloggers and not enough on advertisers and this probably is a move to address that failing. It is a shame about Zookoda however, as Izea seem to be treating this as a cost centre rather than an asset that can produce positive contribution by strengthening their blogger base.

On those lines, it’s interesting to see Izea handle online campaigns for Ford, Kmart and Sears, particularly with Chris Brogan doing a sponsored post for Kmart and the subsequent flash fire that generated. The one thing I can say, is that whether you’re selling baby shower gifts or balloons over the internet, user-generated content is here to stay and it’s only getting more prevalent.

Microsoft tries the “Tesco strategy”

It seems like everyone and his dog has some sort of loyalty scheme nowadays. You can collect points when you shop in your local supermarket, when you take a trip in a plane and now, even when you Microsoft‘s Live Search. It’s a scheme called SearchPerks and is designed to allow web surfers to collect tickets (“points”) that they can redeem for various prizes. This technique worked for Tesco, so why shouldn’t it work for Microsoft?

Well, the bottom line is that Microsoft’s search engines consistently returns worse results than Google. Don’t believe me? Try it for a few days. You’ll find yourself switching back to Google when you REALLY need to find something. The problem that Microsoft faces is not one of getting people to try their product, the problem is that their search technology is inferior to Google, and at the end of the day, that’s all punters care around. You may attract a small segment of bargain hunters with this strategy, but as soon as you remove the incentive, you will lose them to other schemes like Homepage Friends, who pay hard cash if you search through them (using Yahoo! incidentally)

What do others think? Well, nobody really seems really convinced, with some parties actually finding the attempt hilarious. Begging people to use your products is no way to increase their confidence and it’s practically impossible to “earn” anything of value.

Once again, the search engine war is all about relevance, and until Microsoft get that into their head, they’re just going to keep pumping money into it for nothing. What a waste!

Analyze your backlinks

Chain links with hole

My mate Carlo just sent me a link to a website you can use to analyze your backlinks. Analyze Backlinks, as the site is so aptly called, let you specify a URL, and comes back with a list of pages that reference the URL.

Using it is simple, just pop the URL in the text box specified, select the options you want, click Begin and just sit back comfortably in your massage chair (if you have one that is). Within a few instants it will come back with up to 1000 URLs that point at your page. I would have preferred getting some sort of indication as to the quality of the links, but it’s a good way to start.

What are you waiting for, Analyze your Backlinks now.

Internet address of a website over keys

That crazy little thing called … PR

I’ve just posted this to a messageboard I frequent, and it made enough sense for me to want to echo it here. It’s about Google PageRank and the recent fluctuations site owners (especially blog owners) are seeing recently. Just to add context, there are some comments labelled [] to explain things to readers who weren’t following the thread to know. Here goes:

I had 2 blogs that got smacked [PR suddenly dropped to 0]. I cleaned one up and applied for reconsideration. (You know, keep one as a control and all that).

Well .. the one what I applied for reconsideration is still 0 … the other has gone up to a 2 !!

Sometimes I wonder if the blogs that got smacked HAVE got smacked because of paid advertising. The two blogs of mine that got smacked (compared to the ones that didn’t) suffered from a disproportion of outgoing links over incoming links and had thematic inconsistency issues [That’s dealing with topics that are unrelated, like family affairs, followed by drug treatment centers, followed by a post about gadgets, followed by food]. Also, post regularity was much lower haphazard than the blogs that weren’t hit. (3-4 posts on one day, none on other days)

Personally I’m not convinced that this is solely because of paid posted OR that it’s an automated process looking for “markers” on blogs.

The one thing that I do suspect is that Google has realised that it’s algorithm needed tweaking. The nature of blogs gives them an artificially inflated PR score compared to other CMS/Static websites (lots of cross-linking, lots of regular new content, rapid establishment of backlinks/site graphs). I personally think that they have adjusted this (albeit too aggressively initially) and what we’re seeing is more readjustment …

But hey .. who know?

Would love to know your thoughts ..