Editorial: Psssst! Hey, Buddy

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Over here. I've got an idea for a new Internet company. What's that? I'm a little late? No way. Do you have any idea how cheap used office furniture and computer equipment is right now?


Just listen to the company name. It's called InformationWantsToBeFree.com. It'll be every self-defeating, clichéd Internet marketing philosophy, all rolled into one Web site.


Totally ad supported. Wouldn't do to have a site called InformationWantsToBeFree.com and then charge for it, now would it?


And don't tell me the online ad market's too soft.


Just come over here and look at this. I've got it all mapped out on this sheet of paper.


See? Right here's the home page. It will be called One-to-One Central. This is the place where we serve only the right offers to the right people at the right time.


How do we do it? Well, first, every time they log on, they'll fill out a questionnaire. You know ... name, sex, age, ZIP code, weight, that sort of thing. But, get this, we'll also ask them how they're feeling. Then our dynamic servo wiz-bang banner generator will check the weather in their ZIP code - weather affects shopping behavior, you know - and create an offer on the fly just for them.


Imagine it: Offers tailored to your interests, mood and the weather! "Feeling blue because you live in Buffalo, it's snowing again and you're fat? Well, no sense changing now. Click Here and someone on a bicycle from DeliverThingsWithNoMargins.com will be right over with half a pint of Ben & Jerry's!"


Also, our tech guys - the answer's always in technology and never in marketing fundamentals, you know - have developed what they call a collaborative sifting neural spider bot. Right before we make the offer on behalf of our advertiser, the bot will scour the Web to make sure no one offers the product cheaper. If some retailer does, our technology automatically will lower the price to beat the competitor's offer - even if it means losing money!


Hey, pal, don't laugh. Consumers are in control on the Internet, you know. And your competition is just a click away.


What about privacy, you ask?


Boy, have we got that handled.


First, we don't collect or keep any of the purchase-history information that traditional direct marketers have relied on. After site visitors fill out the home page questionnaire, we assign random, hypothetical buying histories to them. We call it hysteria-no-more profiling.


Oh, and we don't share our profiles with anyone.


And you know how some companies have been appointing chief privacy officers? Well, we're going to have a whole privacy division, complete with little privacy bureaus all over the country. It'll be headed by a privacy czar, and the bureaus will be headed by little privacy czarlets. Check out these uniforms.


And we're not going to rely on just one revenue stream. That would be crazy.


We're going to have an e-mail newsletter. And get this. It'll be compiled on a triple-opt-in-every-single-day basis. That's right. Triple ... Opt ... In ... Every ... Single ... Day.


That's where consumers must opt in to every single e-mail before we send it to them. Then we send them a confirmation message to which they must respond in order to receive the message. Then we send them one last confirmation e-mail with "Really?" in the subject line.


That way, self-abusive anti-spam zealots can't forge-subscribe themselves to multiple e-mail newsletters.


We're going to sell the space on a CPMHW basis - that's Cost Per Thousand Hypersensitive Weenies basis. I figure the rate card will be $1,000/CPMHW, but I'll let 'em talk me down to $500.


What's that you're asking? What part of consumers' lives will this site make easier without trying to radically change their behavior? Gee, I hadn't thought about that.


Editor's note: I'm fat and from Buffalo, so hold the letters, please.


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