Live from Shop.org: Blogs Overhyped, Says Dyson

Las Vegas–Blogs get way too much press and should be used only by companies under the right circumstances, said Esther Dyson, editor-at-large of CNET Networks, during her opening keynote presentation here Tuesday.

“Blogs are just one more way to put things up on the Web … just a set of words, sometimes with links,” said Dyson during the presentation, which was a question-and-answer session conducted by Shop.org chairperson Elaine Rubin.

There are an estimated 20 million blogs, or online diaries, she said. As the blogosphere grows, companies are increasingly trying to figure out ways to take advantage of them. But not every company should try blogging. “If you’ve got somebody with a sense of humor … put it up there,” Dyson said. “If no one volunteers, don’t assign it. If you have to assign it, forget it.”

On the growing controversy surrounding the cookies marketers use to recognize repeat visitors to their sites, Dyson recommended transparency. “On the one hand, they’re pretty harmless; on the other, you have people who think they’re the devil,” she said. “It’s not your fault, but it’s your problem.” She said retailers should tell customers how and why they use cookies and why they are a benefit. “Disclosure is the key. The problem is making the disclosure interesting and not scary,” Dyson said.

Asked for overall advice for retailers contemplating adopting new technology, Dyson said: “Don’t leave hold of your common sense. Think about what you’re doing and how the technology can enhance it. Don’t think about technology first.”

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