Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Dave McClure's Metrics Preso: A Great Read

I came across this guy's presentation and just had to pass it along. I know that for me, I've tended to be a bit myopic given my focus on SEM, and so it's always good for me to see someone like Dave McClure give a much more general presentation on how to think about overall online marketing strategy.

Also, is it me or is SlideShare a really, really cool app?

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

AKQA/SearchRev: revenues & profits still matter

I just read that AKQA acquired SearchRev, that most fearsome of SEM competitors for...


...less than $10M.

[CZ note added Oct 26th: apparetly the acquisition price was somewhat higher, but no one knows and I still maintain that <$50M acquisition price means there's little or no technology, despite my ex-Netscape colleague's claims to the contrary. Proof, please!]

What? Only $10M? How can that be? SearchRev claimed to have developed groundbreaking technology that tests every possible variable in a search campaign. Wasn't that the ideal way to optimize a search campaign?

At $10M many of you are probably saying "No, that can't have been a good way to optimize campaigns, or they would have sold for far, far more."

The reality is that you're right - $10M means they didn't actually build anything, which is what I've been saying all along. Their real business timeline:

1)While working at Yahoo, the founders realized Yahoo didn't know how to manage its search campaigns (call that Semel-itis).

2)Founders sign a couple Y! business units to their fledgling startup and THEN realize they need a solution (guys, you got it backwards).

3)To build a solution, they realize they need $$. Hence they spend approximately 5 minutes thinking up a technology spin, hence 'test every variable'. That approach, incidentally, is analogous to 4th graders adding up 24 17 times for lack of knowing how to do multiplication.

4)Once VC money's in hand, they start selling to other advertisers, making promises to marketers who know little and expect much.

***Still no solution***

5)12-18 months in, they start to realize the only business they're winning is with their pants around their ankles, and the desperate fire sale begins.

6)Enter wise AKQA who buys at the right moment = The Breaking Point.

This, folks, is what you get when dumb VC money is too plentiful and an industry has too much demand for suppliers.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Dad, when are you going to be the boss?

After my early post-college illustrious career as a Floral Conveyance Specialist, I was Assistant to the Telemarketing Representative at one firm, then did telesales at another company before getting my big break at Netscape, which at the time was ~225 people. I worked there for 4 years and when I left the company was ~2000 people.

Since then I've been getting involved in startups at earlier and earlier stages, culminating most recently with Efficient Frontier, where I joined as employee #3 (Beefcake & Trish came before me). EF's since become the most sophisticated and successful SEM in the world, and yet my 8-year-old son Luca keeps asking me:

"Dad, when are YOU going to be the boss?!?"

Having lived in Silicon Valley most of his life, most of his friends' dads either started their own company, run their own company or sold their own company, and have private jets, trampolines, Maserati's, McMansions on flat ground (or dysfunctional marriages) to show for it.

My son, though, is no idiot. He knows that being The Man in Silicon Valley means starting your own company and so for the past 18 months he's been asking me when I'm going to start my own company.

I'm finally taking his advice. Last Friday was my last day at Efficient Frontier, and now I'm working on a couple ideas I have for startups, one of which I hope to settle on and turn into a business.

I'll keep writing on Searchquant from time to time, but neither of my startup ideas is in the search space, so I may start to digress into other areas in the coming months.

Son, I'm the Boss now!

You'll Know Aquantive's part of MSFT when...

...they start saying things that hurt Google.

Aquantive put out research today in which they say that branded keywords are superfluous to SEM campaigns, as most consumers will find the merchants' sites anyways.

What's funny is that while their research clearly says much of the 50%+ of PPC budgets going to brand terms should be cut, Aquantive ends up saying they advise their clients not to drastically lower their branded PPC spend.

I don't get it. Is the data right, or the advice? It's gotta be one or the other. I also don't get why during the course of the previous 5 years Aquantive never had anything this potentially damaging to Google or the search industry to say. Frankly, either they were quiet for too long or have been assimiliated; good for them for taking the $$ & running, but something smells fishy.

Given that Atlas Search (the bid management tool Aquantive aquired but doesn't really use themselves) never was able to optimize on Google (nor Y! Panama or AdCenter), I'd take this data with more than a grain of salt. Frankly, I'm much more inclined to take great data from the likes of Jonathan Mendez and Avinash Kaushik than what is likely politically motivated research from Microsoft.

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