Global Marker Alliance

I came to know about the Global Marker Alliance (www.savethemarkers.com) from Tod Hunter’s post titled “Beware The Militant Marker Activist“. I really do not know what to make of this.

Firstly, all the links at savethemarkers.com point to the Autodesk Labs Impression page. There is no so-called petition to sign because the “Sign the Petition Against Impression” link itself points to Autodesk. So obviously the whole point of the site is to drive traffic to Autodesk’s Impression page.

Secondly, Tod Hunter calls the GMA a group of whiners, whom Autodesk has tried to contact but are not responding. He claims to have evidence that the GMA is funded by a large marker manufacturers. I re-read the article to see if it was written in jest. I seems the Tod actually meant everything he wrote about the GMA.

Thirdly, the domain name savethemarkers.com is owned by Ozone Advertising which has their office at 1335 Columbus, 3rd Floor, San Francisco, CA 94133 and a web site at www.ozoneonline.com. Ozone Advertising is basically an online marketing company and Autodesk is on their client list. This is what they have to say about Autodesk.

“We have been working with Autodesk for over five years and have created campaigns that include registration sites, emails, banners, database and search engine marketing and more for all of their software products. After rigorous testing, we increased click-throughs on banner ads by over 1700% and emails by over 110%.”

Ah, now I understand how online marketing works these days. Autodesk hires a online marketing company which creates a phony group with the sole intention to bash Autodesk. Then Autodesk employee blogs about phoney group. Then other bloggers like me blog about Autodesk employee’s blog. Readers read our blogs and visit phone group’s web site. Readers click the links and finally reach the Autodesk Labs Impression page. And voila, we have traffic!!

I didn’t know that online marketing has stooped down to such levels.

Update (4-Feb-2007)

Ralph Grabowski tells me this is kind of online marketing is called “astroturf marketing”. I looked it up on the internet and found that people do not seem too happy about it, even if they know what it is. He also suggests that this kind of marketing is understood and may be accepted only in North America. I quite agree with him. If I did this kind of thing here in India, I would certainly be crucified for pulling a cheap publicity stunt.

According to SearchCRM.com: “Astroturfing is the artificial creation of a grassroots buzz for a product, service or political viewpoint. Astroturf marketing has a negative connotation, primarily because disreputable marketers have used deceptive tactics to build their buzz by taking advantage of the anonymity the Internet provides.”

Hey, I have a great idea for Autodesk’s “disreputable marketers” for their AutoCAD 2008 marketing campaign. Create an organization called Open Designers Alliance with a web site asking people to sign a petition to make Autodesk open the DWG format. Then send all the traffic to the Autodesk web site. I bet the Autodesk web server will crash due to overload.