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Google Is Going Postal In Sweden 93

Posted by timothy
from the cool-uniforms-there dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Google will start to collaborate with the Swedish Postal Service (Swedish original) to sell direct marketing to small businesses, both in the form of fliers (delivered by the Swedish Postal Service) and keyword advertising in Google Search. The area of distribution for the fliers is selected in Google Maps. Google will also will provide templates for the design of the fliers.The idea was concieved within the Swedish Postal Service."
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Google Is Going Postal In Sweden

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  • by Chrisq (894406) on Friday October 22, 2010 @05:04AM (#33983704)
    A google search could result in targeted marketing flyers through the door. Imagine all the slashdotters explaining to their mums why they are suddenly getting so many personally addressed letters from pornographic publishers.
  • by cappp (1822388) on Friday October 22, 2010 @05:11AM (#33983728)
    Completely opposite to what I expected. Seems the Postal Service is helping Google reach out to businesses to increase their use of keyword searches rather than Google helping a struggling Postal system - at least that's what the end of the article seems to suggest. Perhaps a testbed for a new business model?

    Direct mail is a familiar medium to small businesses. Buying the keywords you are less familiar with. – Many people are interested in an online presence, but there are only a few percent of Sweden's 500 000 small businesses that use keywords in their marketing, says Google's Country Manager Sweden Stina Honkamaa.

    • by tomhudson (43916) <barbara.hudson@ ... a - h u dson.com> on Friday October 22, 2010 @06:41AM (#33983956) Journal
      Even with "only a few percent" buying keywods, the on-line ad market is already saturated. More businesses buying google ads isn't going to increase the ads effectiveness - quite the contrary, it dilutes the product. The ONLY benefactor is google.

      Think of it in relation to another medium - TV - there are more ads now, in part because ads were split into segments as short as 15 seconds - so that allowed overall ad revenue to increase, while individual ads are now less effective.

      Or compare it to junk mail - I now get so much that it ALL goes straight into the recycling bin (though I *do* keep the plastic bags they come in to use when walking my dogs).

      Once any advertising medium carries more than a certain prcentage of ads, people resort to all sorts of tactics to become "ad-blind". With TV ad radio, it's channel-surfing. With junk mail, it's the recycling bin. With online ads, eye-tracking studies show people never even look at those parts of the page any more (and this doesn't count ad-block, etc).

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by cappp (1822388)
        I wondered about the same thing, but then I got thinking about language specific ads - Google pretty much has the English language ads business neatly sorted out. The only real way to expand is to access the smaller western markets where ads can make a decent payout and it's worth the hassle of translation and so on. Wiki claims there are 10 million Swedish speakers and, rather importantly, that Swedish is mutually intelligible [wikipedia.org] with both Norwegian (5mil) and Danish (6mil). That's another 21 million speakers
        • by xaxa (988988) on Friday October 22, 2010 @07:08AM (#33984044)

          Language specific ads are just a case of region specific ads.

          For example, if I search "parcel" using Google (which knows I'm in the UK) all the adverts are for British companies, showing prices in pounds. If I search "paket" on Google.se the adverts are all for Swedish companies.

          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by cappp (1822388)
            Huh, this I did not know. Surely you need someone to sit down and create your great list of synonyms and word links specific to each language? I had always assumed Google sold a word and then all those words "adjacent" to it - so looking for "parcel" would also bring up searches for related close terms like "brown paper", "string", "shipping", and so on. I'm guessing thats wrong?
            • by xaxa (988988)

              I assumed that a British company would buy a word -- probably an English word -- and ask that their ads only be shown to people in Britain. A Swedish company will buy a word -- probably Swedish -- and ask for the ads to be shown only in Sweden.

              After all, if the British user can't understand Swedish there's not much point going to a Swedish website. If the Swedish website is also in English, the owner can buy the English adword anyway.

              If you go to https://adwords.google.com/select/KeywordToolExternal?defaul [google.com]

      • I guess that for me, it's not just the increased number of ads that we see these days, it's the resulting decreased signal to noise ratio. I remember when I was younger, there seemed to be fewer commercials and they didn't seem to bother me as much. Now, by default I tune out any commercial, or use them to help me decide to not buy a product. There have been some improvements in TV anyway. For instance, car commercials were really dry (though I still wouldn't buy a car because of a commercial). Also, we now

        • by delinear (991444)

          I remember when I was younger, there seemed to be fewer commercials and they didn't seem to bother me as much.

          Leela: Didn't you have ads in the 21st century?"
          Fry: Well sure, but not in our dreams. Only on TV and radio, and in magazines, and movies, and at ball games... and on buses and milk cartons and t-shirts, and bananas and written on the sky. But not in dreams, no siree.

      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by Combatso (1793216)

        The ONLY benefactor is google.

        I don't think thats the word you looking for. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Benefactor [wikipedia.org]

        Perhaps beneficiary is what you meant to say. I don't usually call out spelling/grammatical errors, but the wrong word here changes the entire meaning of your statement... aside from that, I agree with you.

        • by tomhudson (43916)
          You're right - I was in a hurry this morning (the dogs were waiting for their morning walk before I head to the office)

          -- Barbie

  • by Jeeeb (1141117) on Friday October 22, 2010 @05:49AM (#33983822)
    I _HATE_ getting fliers jammed into my letter box. I feel almost as violated as when I get marketing calls. What gives them the right to use my property like that and disturb me in my home? Not only that it's a blatant waste of resources, and I have to go to the effort of putting them in the paper recycling.
    • by vegiVamp (518171) on Friday October 22, 2010 @06:04AM (#33983852) Homepage
      Have you tried simply putting up a "No flyers please" sticker ? Worked wonders for me. I now have about one box of trash paper every two months or something.

      The only ones who ignore it are delivery people who don't speak dutch (you may have heard something about Belgium's language struggles :-p ) and the occasional politician's zealots during election periods. Neither of those flyers elicits my further business, and I've made this clear to the originators on several occasions.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        Have you tried simply putting up a "No flyers please" sticker ?

        This works too well where I live: my girlfriend didn't receive her IKEA catalog, one "flier" that she wanted. So she took the sticker off our mailbox.

        People here who deliver fliers tend to be unemployed, trying to make a few Euros with honest grunt work. So I have a heart for them, and don't mind tossing the 139th pizza service flier into the recycling bin.

        However, if the postal service starts conniving with Google to deliver fliers here, the sticker will go up again.

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          in the US, you cannot opt-out of receiving physical junk-mail.

          I tried asking my local postman if he would even do me a favor and just NOT cram my inbox with paper ads and 'newspapers'. he said he'd love to oblige but he'd get in trouble since he's PAID to deliver that crap.

          that's the problem. the PO thinks they have been paid to do a service and they're not smart enough to realize that the receiver SHOULD be able to xoff (heh) the mail he does not ever read or want! clearly, there is mass mail and unicas

          • by Combatso (1793216)
            yah, becuase McDonalds coupons in the mailbox violate your rights? on an aside, I knew a guy who heated his garage solely with junk mail.. using a compactor and a airtight woodstove.. it was pretty slick.. it got to the point where friends and neuighbours would be dropping off boxes of junk mail for him. for a weekend mechanic / beer drinker like me.. thats cann add up to about 800 dollars in savings for a winter
            • by geekoid (135745)

              It's really wasteful. out of about 4 million tons, only half even gets open.

              As an aside, how does an airtight wood stove work? wouldn't it need air to burn? And what happens to all the wax, ink, and plastic gas?

              • by Combatso (1793216)
                its called an airtight stove, but its not air-tight.. it means once the fire is burning you can shut down the drafts and close the flu.. it forces the smoke to re-burn,.. this really limits the amount of chemicals coming out the stack as a result of incomplete burn.. its not as clean a burn as hardwood, but when compared to burning fresh new fossil fuels I think it works out well.. once in a while you need to run a really hot hardwood fire in it to clean out soot, which builds up a result of the wax smo
          • by stdarg (456557)

            it makes me sick seeing how much truly wasted paper comes into my mailbox. sick that there's not a thing I can do to stop it, either.

            other countries, yes. you can put a sticker on your mailbox. not in the united states of corporate america. peoples' rights always (now) come after those of corporations.

            I never understand all the outrage about email spam when there's absolutely nothing being done about the more environmentally harmful and more costly (to me, time wise) junk mail spam.

          • The postal worker doesn't have a choice here. He is legally required to deliver all your mail (think net neutrality), no matter what it contains. He just doesn't want to be a felon from working at a federal job. I don't think the corruption is with the postal worker here; it's just the advertising company. As for opting out, the advertisement model here is designed to be unavoidable, but you could always try this [dearbulkmailer.com] and see if they still send you junk mail...
            • by vegiVamp (518171)
              Junkmail isn't MY mail, it's recipient:*@*.
              I don't know a single ISP that accepts that for email. They wouldn't last half an hour.
          • by geekoid (135745)

            How about you get off your ass and do something? Start a group, organize, get it so we can put stickers on the box. Or better, an opt out system that forces the return of the piece of bulk mail to the sender at their cost.

            I know you won't, because being a whiny bitch is easier.

    • But then how will you know that you won the Spanish Lottery?
  • by lars_stefan_axelsson (236283) on Friday October 22, 2010 @05:51AM (#33983830) Homepage
    I never thought I'd see the day where they would encourage junk mail. As a Swede; my "Please no advertisements" sticker on the mailbox is generally respected (it has to be, by law). But the stuff that's directly addressed to me, i.e. that which is handed out by the Postal Service, is more difficult to get rid of. "Hooray no spam here!" indeed...
    • by nospam007 (722110) *

      "I never thought I'd see the day where they would encourage junk mail."

      It's the only thing that gets still sent with snail mail, it's more or less all the business that's left.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by migla (1099771)

      It's because it's not quite "the swedish postal service" any more. It's "Posten AB" ("AB" would be "Inc." in english?) now, albeit the majority of stock is owned by the state, I believe.

      In the good old socialist days the postal service didn't have to turn a profit. They could hire the "sick and the lame", you didn't have to be overworked, you could send a crystal bowl in wrapping paper without it braking and there used to be a department at one of the terminals where employees would investigate where any in

      • by dangitman (862676)

        I don't think they've privatized the postal service even in the US, the beacon of free-marketeers.

        Beacon, Lisa? Or bacon?

      • by bogjobber (880402)
        In the US the federal government is required by the constitution to provide postal service, so unless the constitution is amended the postal service will always be socialized.
      • by jgrahn (181062)

        I used to work for Posten AB for a while before being sacked for not showing up for work for a month or two. Once we were sent on a conference trip on a real slow boat to Helsinki town.

        Our boss held a pep-talk about efficiency and profitability. I asked if they'd shut down the postal service if we weren't profitable. The boss said "Of course not! The postal service is an institution!"

        Posten is an interesting case of a company committing suicide.

        And they're still at it. IIRC they made a decent profit last year. When asked what they would do with the money, they replied that they would use it to sack more people ...

    • by djonsson (542920)

      Actually, it's not required by Swedish law. There would be many free speech issues with such regulation. However, the companies realize that it's in their best interest not to ignore the wishes of the people they want to do business with, so they are generally respected. Some companies who deliver the flyers independently chose to ignore this, most notably real estate agents, pizza places with home delivery and political parties.

      Not delivering mail (junk or not) addressed to you would be illegal, though.

      • Actually, it's not required by Swedish law. There would be many free speech issues with such regulation.

        You may well be right there, I'm working from dim memory, I remember it as technically a form of trespassing (aka, "I've told you to sod off, so sod off!").

        I can't see where the free speech issues would come in though. You only have the right to free speech, not to force others to listen to you. If people got the idea to stand on my lawn and shout political slogans, they'd be out of there in no time flat.

  • Don't be evil? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by dangitman (862676) on Friday October 22, 2010 @05:59AM (#33983844)

    Encouraging the wasteful printing of advertising material and the associated wastage of fuel to deliver it, and annoy people in the process? That's not really a good thing to do. I thought the whole deal with the internet was that we didn't need to send send information on a physical medium.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by tomhudson (43916)
      Google's problem is that they need "fresh meat" to make up for all those businesses that used adwords, found they weren't effective, and dropped them.

      Twice a week I get a bundle of junk mail (fliers, etc) in a large plastic bag. Twice a week, it goes, unread, into the recycling bin (except for the plastic bags, which I use to "stoop and scoop"). There's TOO MUCH advertising for me to bother wasting my time reading it.

      It's the same with on-line advertising. There's TOO MUCH, so it all gets ignored.

      It'

      • by hvm2hvm (1208954)
        But the problem is also the handful of people that actually sign up for all the shit on the net. Everytime I log on facebook I spend a few minutes igoring the new applications that 2-3 of my "friends" have found. And it's always the same people. Those guys click on every shiny thing they see.
        • by delinear (991444)
          It's true - for all the people who claim their junk mail goes straight into the bin, it's still clearly an effective form of marketing (unless they really believe companies like pouring money down a big hole). Until people wise up and stop responding to snail mail marketing campaigns, that's not likely to change.
          • by geekoid (135745)

            It's more then that. a lot of companies use it because they think it works. There still sin't a reliable way to see if ti does work. Just like TV advertising. No one really knew how effective it was and if they were watched. Lo-and - bohold one of the bi-product we* learn from TiVO is that a lot of people never watch commercials. They use that time for other things. And the TV execs freaked out when their little secret got out. TV Advertising works about a tenth what people thought it did. The have learned,

      • by geekoid (135745)

        Yeah, those 100's of million of people can't find a way to send a message in facebook. The problem is that facebook is popular and you hate whatever is popular.
        .

        • A site that had been coded by someone else used graph.facebook.com for some data. The service was down today (again), and managed to bring down the site.

          So, a few minutes to code around it, and a proposal to permanently remove it and replace it with something better :-)

          Failbook makes me look good.

    • by Dhalka226 (559740)
      You have a point about the Internet supposedly replacing paper, but if you think delivering direct-mail advertisements is evil then I would suggest you look for some perspective.
      • by dangitman (862676)

        You have a point about the Internet supposedly replacing paper, but if you think delivering direct-mail advertisements is evil then I would suggest you look for some perspective.

        Firstly, I never actually outright declared it to be evil. Personally, I don't really believe in the concept of evil, but apparently Google does, or they never would have mentioned the word in their mission statement, so that kind of of sets off alarm bells in the first place.

        Secondly, it's not about the actual delivering of direct-mail advertising. It's about the encouragement thereof. It's also about value statements. The companies that mail junk advertising aren't claiming to be bastions of goodness. The

  • by vegiVamp (518171)
    I do hope this is opt-in. You know, don't be evil and all that.
  • by slasho81 (455509) on Friday October 22, 2010 @06:05AM (#33983862)
    What about do no evil? Junk mail is very evil.
    • do no evil never works for a US corp.

      the biggest con in recent times is google 'convincing' tech geeks that they are a Good Guy(tm).

      come on, people. haven't you learned to sort out the doublespeak yet?

      google is an advertising company. we used to hate those. many of us are not fooled by the eye candy and know google to be just another money-grubbing company in the valley, exploiting its youth-oriented workforce and annoying people left and right with all the advertising that goes on.

      I don't know about you

  • I was just this very moment thinking of sending flyers. Being able to select and order a campaign easily is worth much to me.

    Ill be sure to try this out as soon as its released.

  • "Great" (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Daerath (625570)
    Just what the world needs. More paper-based junkmail. Google is starting to look like Obama
  • In analogy with their gmail service, they will be allowed, per the license agreement, to open our packets and perform data mining. And this will of course improve our user experience.

  • by eyenot (102141)

    This is all part of Google's genius "let's get hated" national/international market strategy.

  • Google is trying to fatten up the long thin tail.

  • This is the beginning of the end of the unwanted junk mail, the trees are rejoicing!
  • by Snaller (147050)

    I thought you would mail them a search query and they would mail you a result back.

    That could revive the dying postal industry!

  • I find it hallarious that Google makes an April Fools Day joke about taking Gmail to paper back in 2007, and then actually gets into the buisness for real now! They even say in their fake advertisement that they fill finance the operation with unobtrusive advertisements. Google Mail [slashdot.org]
    • by Ancantus (1926920)
      Make that mail.google.com/mail/help/paper/more.html , for some reason my html attempt redirected it to slashdot instead. I also cant paste anything into the text field either.

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