Sunday

eBay is Bringing back a very Cool Tool

I clicked over to the eBay announcements page last week and found a new post announcing a new eBay advertising program: "Over the next few months, we'll be introducing a new program call eBay AdCommerce."

Hmmm, deja vu? Perhaps the person making the announcement hasn't been with eBay very long. eBay used to have some very useful and powerful marketing programs for the sellers: co-op advertising and a program curiously similar to this one, the eBay AdMarketplace (Keywords on eBay).

Not only curiously similar. It seemed exactly the same. It was the eBay version of Google's AdWords. The new program is positioned as "a pay-per-click advertising solution that will allow eBay sellers to advertise their listings and eBay Stores via a text ad on eBay search result pages."

They also say that the program will “allow eBay sellers to promote their stores and listings via enhanced text integrations on eBay search result pages. The ads can be targeted by keyword or category, and eBay buyers who click on these ads will be taken directly to sellers’ listings or stores on eBay.”

This is the program eBay abandoned in 2006. Savvy sellers used this program (as do millions of site on the web use Google pay-per-click) to promote their listings and businesses right on the eBay site - where they are selling.

As a seller, I used the program very successfully from 2003 and couldn't understand why eBay dropped the program. At the time, eBay said that “The eBay Keywords program has been used by a very small percentage of eBay members since its launch in 2003.” It was a small percentage (guess) of successful sellers.

Why they're touting it as something new is a puzzle, except we all know about the popularity of repackaging an old idea as a new one. It is the lipstick on a pig syndrome? Whatever, it's a valuable program. Successful sellers will stay on top of the launch, click here for eBay's official info.

Dolly Parton sings 9-5 from her seat

Saturday night I attended (with a charming escort) the World Premiere for the new 9-5. The new musical is based on the 1980 movie with all new music written by Dolly Parton. It's doing a premiere run at Los Angeles' Ahmanson Theater through October 19 before going to the Marquis Theatre on Broadway. (Previews on March 24, 2009, with opening night set for April 23).

Being opening night, Dolly Parton was there, along with her friends from the film cast Jane Fonda, Dabney Coleman, Lily Tomlin and the writer of 9 to 5, Patricia Resnick. In the crowd was Jason Alexander, Lance Bass, David Hyde Pierce, Doris Roberts, Gabriel Byrne, Tracey Ullman, Julie Hagerty - and I sat near Jai Rodriguez (from Queer Eye for the Straight Guy). I'm sure there were many other celebrities, but I was really there to concentrate on the show.

During the first act, there was a major technical glitch in the complex (and amazing) moving sets. It was very sad and the curtain fell with an apology from the house announcing they would restart in a few moments. The house lights came up and an unmistakable voice piped up from a seat in the audience."If they can't perform the show, I'll do some of it from right here." It was Dolly herself. She was handed a microphone and she told the audience about the origins of the musical; as well as introducing her '9 to 5' film co-stars. Parton then lead the audience in the title song '9 to 5.' Her voice sounded just as good live from her seat as it does from her albums. She's amazingly talented. The crowd went wild - but wait - there was more. The delay wasn't done and neither was Dolly. She asked if the audience would like for her to sing another song; 'I Will Always Love You.' (Duh - yeah?)

She was about to sing again when they signaled all was well and the show could go on. Before she sat down, she said, "Maybe I'll wait, in case things get screwed up again and I have to fill more time", causing the audience to go wild once more.

The musical features Allison Janney (West Wing), Megan Hilty (Broadway's Glinda from Wicked), Stephanie J. Block (Elphaba in Wicked) and Marc Kudisch. Ok, we knew everyone in the cast was talented, but who knew that Allison Janney could belt out such an amazing solo? The show is light hearted and engaging. I'm sure it will be entertaining new audiences for a long time to come.

From what I read, Dolly is 62 years old. She is still beautiful, charming and effervescent. If that's what 62 years old can look like - bring it on!

After the play, we went to the well attended cast party - good food, rocking 80's music and cocktails. A sponsor for the evening was p.i.n.k. vodka. I'm afraid I didn't try it and stuck to my Cabernet. I wasn't too sure about vodka infused with caffeine and guarana...

Friday

Get Wireless n and g in a single network

It's so frustrating that my new laptop has n wifi and all my other computers don't. N wireless is the fastest and newest flavor of WiFi networking. It features MIMO (multiple input, multiple output) technology and can send data at 10 times faster that the old 802.11g. Sadly, me and most of the rest of the world have an older router that is in the g compatible format. Plus, we have legacy (nice word for a coupla year old) computers that can’t take advantage of the latest technologies without shelling out beaucoup bucks for hardware upgrades. During my radio show last week I learned that Netgear has a new upgrade kit that attaches to an existing router - it broadcasts an additional n signal to those computers in your home that can accept it. Older computers will still be able to access wi-fi from your old router, at the speed they are comfortable with. I say that’s progress. It’s nice to know we don’t have to change everything to be able to use the latest technology. Call in to the Computer and Technology show with any questions you have for me on Saturday between noon and 2 pm PST at 877-474-3302

Saturday

Value in the Conversation

I'm taking a quiet weekend and working on my keynote for Online Market World. OK, I am breaking away for some fine dining, but I am thinking.. and researching.

I listened to a talk by Jason Calacanis on the web. It hit me like a ray of sunshine. What a pleasure it is to hear from someone who knows, I mean really knows, about the pollution on the web. His new search site, Mahalo.com works incredibly well. It works the way the internet is supposed to work. Check it out. It's honest, it's real.

I've had the opportunity to sell out to affiliate marketers many times and turned them down. I've made my living telling the truth: there's no get rich quick. I teach my readers that the way to riches is hard work. Hard work pays off in the end, and hard work gives you the chance for the dream. That's his message too.

What the web needs is more quality content and a lot less sites that scrape news with the sole goal of making dollars from misleading readers.

Wednesday

Starbucks Vivano Rescue!

Last I was bagging on Starbucks for the lack of Black & White cookies on the west coast. Today, Starbucks saved my morning. I was presenting a morning keynote at a conference at 8:15 am - and I was running late on an empty stomach. I get to the speaker's room and - inexplicably - no coffee.

I remember seeing a Starbucks two casinos away (I'm in Las Vegas). Hot footing it, I run to Starbucks (high heels clacking on the marble floors). Vivano! they had the Vivano! Just what I needed: a little protein, a banana, fat free milk and a shot of espresso for punch.

As I wait for my shot of nutrition, I see a sign promoting Oatmeal. "Perfect" Oatmeal, the sign proclaims. Somebody got that right, a great idea for winter mornings on the run. Yummy, stick to your ribs oatmeal with a non fat vanilla latte (with protein powder of course). I took a photo of the sign which seemed to indicate the oatmeal was 'fresh brewed' ... hmmmm, I doubt it.

P.S. In Las Vegas? No black and white cookies at the Starbucks either.

Tuesday

Traveling, Starbucks & Black and White cookies

Another airport, another flight. I may be in the minority, but I love airports, I love the sound of a jet engine firing up and I love to fly. There's a hum of anticipation in an airport. Yea, people are often cranky and grouchy, but they are all looking forward to their destination... a better place? There's hope in that. Put me on a plane and I know adventure is at hand. But, I digress. My subject is Starbucks and how its wound its way into every segment of my life.

On a hot day, I turn to Starbucks for iced coffee or tea. When I'm running late and forget to eat, I can always count on a fat free banana chocolate (one squirt only, please) Vivano. When I'm dragging? It's a grande Americano.

When I'm traveling, I can always find a Starbucks, even in Hong Kong. It's a safe place. The food is passable but uniform... except... on the East Coast they have my favorite cookies. Black and White cookies. Never sold on the west coast. Why, Starbucks, why? Don't they care about those
of us west of the Mississippi? What would the big deal be to have those cookies in Los Angeles? They look at me funny at JFK airport when I buy the entire stock, and bring them back to Los Angeles to freeze. I'm out of Black and White cookies and eagerly awaiting my upcoming
trip to New York so I can refill.