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  1. #1
    Affiliate Marketing Consultant Andy Rodriguez's Avatar
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    January 18th, 2005
    Sunny Miami
    Thursday, May 8, 2003
    Darwin Liked The Gator
    By Jim Meskauskas

    "The innovator has as his enemies those who did well under the old conditions." - Machiavelli

    A lot of folks out there are still very hard on the creature known as Gator. In spite of settling major lawsuits and inking long-term deals with respectable properties like Overture, many persons INSIDE the industry are still clamoring for Gator to be stuffed and mounted or turned into a nice wallet-and-belt set.

    You've heard all the arguments before: Gator sneaks onto desktops without users knowing it; it is a parasitic business; it steals intellectual property, and so on.

    What most of the proclamations made against Gator seem to lack, however, is much in the way of intellectual honesty. The words behind the fist shaking are really just banal platitudes forming arguments that boil down to "I don't like it 'cause I don't like it."

    Gator neither portends to nor in actuality commits the theft of intellectual property. It does not take specific content from another owner or developer or inventor and resell that specific content. Gator sells a pattern of behavior as identified by the motions of a specific machine (i.e. your computer) as it navigates cyberspace. That pattern of behavior may or may not include a specific content source (i.e., website).

    Whatever content sources that profile does include are being compensated for the creation of that content through either subscriptions to that content or endemic advertisers on that content. Gator, as an ad vehicle, does not siphon compensation away from that specific content source that said content source might otherwise have had access to. In fact, Gator, by being a stand-alone desktop application, is in essence INVENTING inventory that otherwise doesn't really exist.

    Is this parasitic? Well, maybe. But I think that the moniker of "parasite" which is often, if not always, intended as an unambiguous pejorative might be a bit disingenuous. It is also misleading, as the use suggests an unspoken otherness that implies "not a parasite" when talking about other advertising models.

    Basically, by calling Gator a parasite, it is implied that things not Gator are not parasites. This simply isn't true. Anything that subsists by virtue of its dependence on something else can be termed a parasite. Any organism living in, with, or on another organism in parasitism is a parasite. Something that exists in dependence on something else for existence or support without making a useful or adequate return to that organism can be called a parasite.

    Most of advertising's relationship with the human race is parasitic at its core. Sure, we can bandy about industry clich├ęs about how advertising gives the consumer information they might find useful, or that the commercial exchange between media outlets and the companies who want association with the content those outlets provide might be deemed symbiotic rather than parasitic. But in essence, all of these "organisms" have as their existential imperative to take as much as they can from those entities they are nearest and give them little or nothing in return. All ad vehicles give up as little as possible for as much money as they can get away with. Marketers try to get as much advertising as they can for as little money as they can get away with.

    Does striving for a state where all can be had for nothing really differ that much from actually existing in a state where all can be had for nothing so much so that we can make distinctions between actual parasites and wanna-be parasites with the kind of black-and-white moral certitude that the Gator discussion tends to muster?

    Is Gator parasitic when considered against the fact that the content which sets the parameters for a given behavioral profile does not receive anything in return for the fact of its existence from Gator? Yes, I suppose it is. But Gator's relationship with those who have it on their desktops, in essence, does not, in the same ways that all relevant advertising could be declared to "give back" to the audience it seeks to reach, thereby existing in a state of symbiosis rather than parasitism.

    The Gator model is successful, whether you like it or not. And, if we are going to use the metaphor of biological organisms to describe it, Gator is winning the Darwinian battle. It is providing the kind of value to its advertisers that some standard publishers evidently are not, leading to those advertisers going back to Gator again and again. And in evolution, other organisms begin to develop traits that lead to successful survival that are the same or similar to their competitors. No one ever mentions them, but is nearly identical to Gator in how it operates. Forbes, one of the most vocal admonishers of Gator, has launched a desktop application almost identical to Gators that will pop up news alerts to users, coaxing them away from whatever content they may be engaging and leading them back to Forbes to read the story; essentially, Forbes will be running their own ads on other sites without paying those sites.

    As a matter of evolution and survival, the Gator-like method of advertising will become part of online advertising's DNA. In fact, it has always been a part of online advertising's DNA. Relevant, well-targeted advertising has always been the promise. It is a philosophy of the old regime that has always taken for granted that this relevant, well-targeted advertising would remain anchored to the standard concept of necessary content affinity. The freedom of cyberspace is that an individual can engage a variety of worlds - in this case, content types - completely unfettered. Gator and those of their ilk is a natural extension of an evolution towards actualizing the promise of advertising on the web, and that promise is an unmooring of advertising messages from hopeful wishes borne on marriages to content and setting it free to instead find those individuals for whom that advertising will be most useful and when it will be most useful.

    Your opinions and comments are welcomed, blast away:

    Andy Rodriguez,
    Online Advertising / Affiliate Marketing Manager
    P: (305) 415-2313

    Parasite Free in 2003!

  2. #2
    2005 Linkshare Golden Link Award Winner  ecomcity's Avatar
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    January 18th, 2005
    St Clair Shores MI.
    Let me bust open the myth and lack of mystery of the online advertising community. The same community who in the early 90's lamblasted the internet as a viable advertising medium, because the were too stupid to figure out how to suck money from their clients on a free medium. Thanks to their lazy stupidity they brought us banner blindness as the advertising mindset forgot one ingrediant in the Ad campaigns ...the value the enduser found at the end of the click. In 3 years of polling the Ad clicker they equated the landing pages as next to worthless and refused to get trick by the advertisers and their lame Ad agencies.

    Next up comes the growth of spamm by guessed it...the same damn mass advertising mindset. No perceived value at the end of the click was also the ruination of e-mail marketers. Rape the advertiser's budget was the great EyeBall war game....still is with the new focused BHO Ad-nausium crew at the helm of Gator and WhenU. More devious compelling sales pitch emerges: ADVERTISE ON YOUR COMPETITORS web content at the point of sale. Basically a license to plaster your " this merchant sucks" sign on their door and offer your paid for alternative.

    I have never been challenged, since 2000, when saying the online Ad Industry and their offline cohorts would not effect gross merchant sales by 3% if they fired or laidoff 50% of their workers. Sure would have save billions from those drained Advertising budgets. Only saving grace was the performance of the non-branding merchants running affiliate programs like TigerDirect who grew sales due to affiliate Ads by 800%.

    Try increasing your online sales 800% for a fixed commission + network fee vs the expense of doing it with the BHO's Ad campaigns with the likes of Gator or WhenU. To match profit you'd have to double the sales increase because the Gators, eBates, WhenU's of this world charge 50% more for commissions -bandwidth and run of hijacked network fees.

    My advice Andy for you or any merchnat is the further you distance your normal advertising from your affiliate focused value-add campaigns the better your bottom line. Mixing the two is like mixing oil and water. One is a pure greed play and the other can be a tightly controlled expense for sales/customer acquisition.

    BHO's are the devious invention of the online Ad wanks who still are to dumb or lazy to require advertisers to put real value in a click from the shoppers viewpoint. Soon they will learn and start poping comparision shopping product displays rather than lame coupons and rebates as the cookie setting carrot.

    Mike & Charlie ...

    If they won't adopt and feed a bird ..flip them one! BBQ some Gator and remember to flush WhenU..

  3. #3
    ABW Ambassador phillyburbs's Avatar
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    January 18th, 2005
    in the PhillyBurbs!
    There will always be devious folks out there, from guys who promise to "seal" your driveway and use watered down black paint to Publisher's Clearinghouse sweepstakes to Gator to WhenU. Dumb and lazy (and in search of a quick buck regardless of ethics) are hardly confined to the online arena. Gator and the BHOs are simply the next generation, but will not be the last.
    Sad, but true.

    Karl Smith
    phillyBurbs - Your Internet Starts Here

  4. #4
    Domain Addict / Formerly known as elbowcreek Thomas A. Rice's Avatar
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    January 18th, 2005
    Last tmie I was in Florida, the diner served up fried gator balls. Darwin might like the gator, but momma evolution ain't done em any favors lately, lol.

    I drank what??! -Socrates

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