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Subject: Re: UKNM: Underwriting phone bill
From: Duncan Clubb
Date: Fri, 30 Jul 1999 11:36:42 +0100

Clay Shirky wrote:

> > Er, are you serious?
> I do this for a living. How much more serious can you get?

Wasn't meant to be flippant - the idea sounds good, but I do not understand
how it could be done.

> > You can't actually measure how long anyone looks at a page - you can
> > only measure the time spent between various clicks within your site.
> Right, which is why its good for a shopping site: state tracking +
> submit click = time on site.

But this is too easy to spoof - if I knew that my discount was going to be
based on the amount of time I spent (and I was that sort of person) I would
use the site in a very slow way - it is very easy to fool a server into
thinking that I had taken say 10 minutes to get to a particular page, when I
actually spent 1 minute spread over a 10 minute period.

> > Using this scheme would encourage people to open up several
> > browsers, go to several stores, and spend forever going from page to
> > page, dropping the line every now and again.
> No. My scheme is per store, not via the ISP, and the discount only
> appears if you buy something.

I think the only thing wrong here is trying to match discounts to time spent
browsing - I really believe that it would be impossible to implement. Surely
the only way to "refund" customers is to give them discount levels based on
previous purchases - there is some reflection of time spent, it can't be
spoofed and it equates to a form of proper loyalty reward.

> > Besides, almost everything available on the net is
> > cheaper anyway - there's your discount!
> I have bad news for you - the truth is not what counts. The customers
> perception of the truth is what counts, and with metered calls, the
> customers perception is that time on site is costing them money, even
> if the truth is that comparison shopping will more than save that
> money back. You can try to convince yourself that this shouldn't
> matter, but it *does* matter - metered calls mitigate against the
> feeling of comfort needed to drive ecommerce.

I agree, but we also need to take into account that it is not possible to
automatically tell what method of connection a particular user is going
through, and how they pay for it.

> > Also, why this hangup with UK v. US - the trade off in both
> > locations is free ISP or free calls - you can't have both.
> Right, but unmetered calls + free ISP is better for shopping (and
> therefore ecommerce) than metered calls + free ISP. I am trying to
> think of ways to let UK ecommerce companies benefit from the same
> structural advantages that US companies enjoy.

Again, I agree. And I've now read your latest missive on this subject (having
had the compose window open too long) and your new idea about just giving the
equivalent of an hour's calls back as a discount, regardless of circumstance,
is spot on. It does not answer my questions above, (the technical issues),
but gives the consumer the perception that we want them to have - good stuff!


> -clay

Duncan Clubb

e-mail: duncan [dot] clubbatoffworld [dot] net Offworld Industries,
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  Re: UKNM: Underwriting phone bill, Clay Shirky

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