New Category: WebSites

With this post, I'm going to launch a new category for Dondequiera. This new category will be called Websites and the content of the posts will be reviews of web sites pertinent to Puerto Rico. I'm going to be looking at websites that I find as I research information for the blog and give a refreshingly honest and new perspective to how I and many other people, I'm sure, interact and relate to the site. Seen from another perspective we can consider these reviews as a case study analysis of web site design, usability, search engine optimization and search engine marketing.

While I promise not to dog every site I come across, I will not pull any punches no matter who is the subject of the review. At the same time, I hope that this honest feedback will give web site designers and advertising agencies some valuable information about what they are doing right and wrong. So which site will I use to start this new category? Now that I'm thinking about it, I should probably start with, so just to be fair. I'll do us next, I promise. It's just that I was all set to blog about some event this morning and ran across a site that I think really needs to be reviewed. So while the adrenaline is flowing, I hope you'll indulge me in ranting first, then eating my own dog food second when I look at (as we warmly refer to it internally).

So here's the deal, I'm researching this event that Coors
Light is announcing everyplace called "Style", a fashion forward music event through the eyes of vanguard designer Eddie Guerrero. I'm like, that sounds pretty cool, but me being the fashion idiot I am, I say who is Eddie Guerrero? Here's the clincher and the reason for my rant, the advertisements say "Info at". Cool, I can get the down-low on this event at the site and figure out what to write. When I get to the website, after entering that I was born on January 1st, 1800, I enter the site. (I think that by law the alcoholic beverage web sites have to ensure that the person entering the web page is old enough to drink.) What a huge CYA policy, I mean does this really prove anything?

So I cruised through all of the links and tried to find more information about this event. I found a few links, but in the end I didn't find one piece of information more about the event than what was in the original advertisement. I think that really, really sucks. First I feel tricked to have wasted my time when I gained nothing for my effort. Marketers, please don't waste my time! Second, what a lost opportunity. I took action to go to your web page and you spit in my face. You could have really seized this opportunity and gave me more than I expected. The sk
y was the limit: paper dolls with Eddie Guerrero fashions, photos, videos, wallpapers, learn how to be a fashion designer, and on and on. CoorslightPR, You gave me squat and I'm mad at you for it.

History Repeats or Why does this site look so familiar?

It's probably worth noting that if you visit the Coors Light PR web page, it was recently redesigned and launched. According to the Director of Marketing of
Coors Brewing for Puerto Rico and the Caribbean, Juan Casillas, "el relanzamiento de nuestro ya existente portal cibernético queremos ofrecerle al consumidor alternativas innovadoras para que se mantengan informados de todo lo que sucede con la marca”. First question, after insulting my intelligence as described above, why should I care about your brand, no seriously, the dilemma I have is does the public in general care about what's going on with the brand Coors Light? For me brand is something that seeps in while people consume content, entertain themselves, or get informed. Brand is something that, typically, only brand managers care about. For the rest of us, it's does this product make me feel good about myself? Yes, Ok cool I'll buy it. Does this product make me kick-ass, Ok here's my credit card.

It's rather obvious that all of the alcoholic beverage companies here in Puerto Rico believe that their target audience is 18 to 34. I'll have to take that at face value, without a doubt I know that's when I did my heaviest drinking. ;-) So to a certain extent, I guess it follows that the content, image, and aesthetic are going to be similar. However, since Medalla Light won the first ever Web Awards in the 2007 SME Puerto Rico Internet Forum 2007: Webolution, I have a strange feeling that more and more of the alcoholic beverage web sites are going to resemble that of Medalla Light.

Adobe Flash

You're going to get sick hearing this one, but until everybody learns it, repeat with me "Just say no to Flash", I'm going to continue to hammer on this point. People, people, people we have to stop the madness. Stop making Adobe Flash-based web sites. I won't deny that web designers can make some very pretty eye-candy web sites, but there are more ways available to achieve many of the same flashy effects. There are ways to make Flash work and do all the things that a good web site should, however, unfortunately very few people take the necessary time to learn how to create effective rich user interfaces with Flash.

You're probably wondering, what's so evil about Flash? Well besides making it easy for web designers to make very annoying designs with buttons that make noise every time you
pass the mouse over them and cramming too much crap together on the same page, in a word: search results. Well technically that's two, however the point is that if a Flash web site is not done to meet the highest standards of search engine optimization, the web site is invisible to a search engine. You think I'm just ranting? Then let's hit the search engines and see how the Coors Light Puerto Rico web site does....

Searching for "coors light PR" - Ok since the search string matches exactly their domain, it's pretty hard not to be #1.

"coors light Puerto Rico" - Well isn't that interesting! They aren't #1 any more they are 8th, they barely made the first page of results.

"coors light PR style" - What we now see, when trying to search for content that appears within the Coors Light PR web site, is that anything contained within the Flash movie is invisible to Google. This is typical of a Flash movie where the "content" is contained within the movie (a binary proprietary file format), and is not integrated with the Flash at the point of viewing (which would be a combination of the binary format along with text). In general, if content links are not available to Google in the form of text, it cannot see those links. And remember, no links = no indexing = invisibility in Google. Here are a few other search terms I tried, but all with the same result: "coors light PR imagenes" and "coors light PR video pod

Viralability versus ownership

Speaking of video podcasts, the search for
"coors light PR video podcasts" is really a huge lost opportunity, because they believe that the videos will really connect with the company's target market. And they are right, they will connect with the young drunken demographic in Puerto Rico, but by being hidden within their website, with no inbound links how will anybody find them?

One of the keynote speakers of the 6th annual convention of the Sales and Marketing Executive Association,
Andy Sernovitz, author of the book "Word of Mouth Marketing, How Smart Companies Get People Talking" recommends "Making it easy for consumers to spread the message faster and farther". So with that goal in mind, here's the million dollar question: "What has Coors Light done to spread the message"?

"Build it and they will come....", no I'm not quoting from "Field of Dreams", I'm quoting the mantra that has always been the honey that attracts marketers to the web. In essence, marketers believe that if they build a good web site the traffic will come. While this might have been true back in 1998, it has stopped being true since search engines emerged as the most popular way to find web sites. And it now has been completely erased from the face of the web with the popularity of sites like YouTube and Flickr combined with blogging.

Marketers stuck with the "Field of Dreams" marketing approach also believe that you must tightly control your content, less it become copied and shared around the web. And rightfully so, because they spend a lot of money (the marketers) developing that content, so they don't want to lose it. So they put that content in a Flash movie where it can't be copied, can't be linked to, and can't be shared. So what they end up with is spending a lot of money on content and then putting it within a castle tower with no way to access or learn about the availability of the content. Hmm, isn't that kind of the opposite of what they had in mind when they built their web site and developed the content?

Oh and by the way, it's only a podcast if you can actually subscribe to the "channel" that produces the content. According to Wikipedia podcast is: "a digital media file, or a series of such files, that is distributed over the Internet using syndication feeds for playback on portable media players and personal computers." If I can't subscribe to a feed, then it's not a podcast it's merely streaming media. I think that Coors Light calling their videos "video podcasts" is the lowest of lows in marketing. Trying to capture the buzz of a buzz-word, without actually understanding what the term means, degrades the message marketers will try to broadcast, especially to those consumers that do understand what the term means.

Suggestions for Coors Light

The first one should be obvious, get rid of Flash or get it right so that your content gets indexed. You're spending good money and probably aren't reaching as much of your target market as you desire. Second, become interested in search engine optimization and search engine marketing. They are both extremely cost effective ways to spread your message.

Finally, you have some great content. I really enjoyed seeing some footage of the recent Daddy Yankee concert. The video montage is well done and gives a good feel for what the concert was like. While some 40,000 people were lucky enough to attend the concerts, that leaves hundreds of thousands of people who might want to see what they missed. Keeping the video locked up within the domain is a waste. So first, create a YouTube channel and publish the Daddy Yankee video and all of your other videos. Let your content go! If you want to spread your message further, setup a RSS feed so that subscribers can download the videos to their iPods or Computers. To facilitate that you might even want to establish the feed on the iTunes Music Store.

The same goes for all of the photographs you have in your gallery. Setup a Flickr account and start sharing the photographs. If you're clever you'll make sure that every picture includes the Coors Light logo in the image so that when people start plugging the images into slide shows and MySpace pages, you've multiplied the exposure of your message and brand for merely the cost of a Flickr account.

Oh, and remember, say it with me "Just say no to Flash!"