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Dateline: 14 March 2000 Late Edition
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Thanks Vodafone!
First up -- my thanks to Vodafone this morning.

Once again, Telecom's incompetence and total unwillingness or inability to fix an exchange fault that has been recurring for several years has again left me without phone lines (even though I'm paying for three of the damned things) for over 17 hours.

Of course I will get no credit for losing 2.5 line-days worth of service (who else but a monopoly can charge for a service they don't deliver?) -- and no doubt they'll simply reset the exchange and ignore the problem that forces them to come out and do this on such a regular basis.

Fortunately, Vodafone's digital cellular network has provided faultless service this morning, enabling me to publish this edition of Aardvark without having to wait God-knows how long for Telecom to (yet again) get their dictionaries out and look up the meaning of the word "service".

I'll be honest -- Vodafone did provide me with a phone to use on those (not infrequent) occasions when my regular lines are out, so it could be argued that my comments might be swayed by their generosity -- however I think that regular Aardvark readers will be very much aware that I call a spade a spade -- regardless of where it came from :-)

So ... if you've been thinking of ditching that Telecom 025 mobile or getting your first cellphone, today would be a great day to do it. I must admit to having an 025 mobile -- but that was because there was no coverage from Vodafone in this part of the country. I see that has now changed so I'm tossing my Telecom analog and plan to pick up a Vodafone digital for my voice calls, why don't you do the same?

Blatant commercial plug
Do me a favour and at least visit the Vodafone website to check out their latest offerings by way of a "thank you" for their support of Aardvark.

The Ratings Game Hits Town
Now that Nielsens/NetRatings are tracking traffic on the NZ Web, look out for an increase in the number of "big bucks" websites that try and bribe you to visit them.

Watch out for the big guys trying to buy your traffic with competitions, special offers and all manner of other promotions and gimicks designed to help them rate more highly on the list of NZ's top websites.

As with television, ratings is likely to become a key value driver in establishing advertising rates -- but the silly thing is that it shouldn't be.

In the case of a TV or radio broadcaster then yes, ratings are important because it means that better rating stations or programmes will have a larger audience -- and if you're an advertiser that means more people see or hear your message.

On the Net it makes not one iota of difference how popular a site is -- and that's because Net advertising is usually sold on a performance basis, either by the "impression" or by the click-through. If you choose to advertise on a high-traffic site the only benefit is that your advertising dollars won't last quite as long. As long as you're paying only for each unique view or clickthrough, it won't make any difference.

In fact, it could be argued that if high-traffic sites want to charge more for their advertising then that represents poorer value -- because you end up paying more money to reach the same number of people.

For example, if I were selling skate boards on the Net (or via bricks and mortar), I wouldn't waste my money buying banners on XTRA's news pages -- but I would be very interested in running my ad on the personal websites created by keen Kiwi skateboarders. You know that visitors to those sites are far more likely to be candidates for your products -- and you're probably going to be able to advertise at a much lower rate on such sites.

I'm surprised that we still don't have an agency in NZ that's prepared to collect up all the advertising space that exists on the thousands of small, often very focused, NZ websites and offer it as a well targeted, low-cost vehicle for advertisers.

Yes, there have been several attempts -- but these have all failed because there simply weren't enough ad dollars around to keep them going and no venture capital to cover the lead-in period to profit. This will change however, and the player who gains a strong foothold now will be well positioned to make a killing when the ball really gets rolling.

Who's a starter?

As always, your comments are gladly received.

Free republication rights available on request


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