Sunday, April 06, 2008

AMP!s to Eleven, Stat!

With Ballmer sending the type of love letters that most soon-to-be-betrotheds would rather do without, Yahoo's now in a tight spot: if they take the current Microsoft offer that's on the table, they'll sign over control of their company for a price that a couple years ago they would have scoffed at, but if they don't take it, well then they're looking at a potential proxy battle for control of the company, one that's likely to hurt Yahoo shareholder value while the game plays itself out.

No wonder, then, that Yahoo's talking up a new ad buying platform today & which won't actually ship until Q3, much like they talked up Panama at least 3 full quarters before it was operational. Last time around investors took Yahoo at their word and waited relatively patiently; this time around, it'll be interesting to see how the world reacts.

Sue Decker wrote about AMP! (formerly Project Apex) on Y!'s corporate blog tonight, and included a demo video that's pretty damn powerful if you ask me.

The title of her blog post - 'This One Goes To Eleven' - is eerily reminiscent of a 7/31/07 Searchquant blog post discussing Google's Campaign Optimizer titled 'These Go To Eleven'. Decker's title is clearly a thinly-veiled reference to the Spinal Tap amplifier sketch, but that's an odd reference for Project Apex given that Yahoo's life as an independent company pretty much depends on it - recall that while the amps in Spinal Tap *did* go to eleven, they weren't actually any louder, were they?

I do think AMP! could put Yahoo back on track, but I guess we'll just have to wait and see whether it's the amp itself, or merely the dial, that goes to eleven; for the sake of continued good Silicon Valley mojo, I'm hoping it's the former...

Friday, April 04, 2008

Going Green, or Moving On To My Next SEM Challenge

Back in 1999, after having spent 4 years at Netscape in Europe and NYC, I entered the world of SEM when I joined RealNames, an early competitor to Overture(now YSM). RealNames was the firm that first convinced Google to carry sponsored links in its previously organic-only search results. Seeing how powerful of a sales pitch keyword advertising was got me hooked on paid search - after all, the Holy Grail for any good salesperson is a product or service that sells itself.

More recently, I spent 4 years running Sales & Interational for Efficient Frontier, a firm that came out of nowhere to establish itself as the dominant SEM firm among Google, Yahoo and MSN's top 500 advertiser base. Efficient Frontier has a fabulous team (from founder Anil 'Dr K' Kamath, to current CEO James Beriker, and most importantly a Client Services, Sales and Engineering team composed of truly superb individuals who have worked extremely hard to get & keep the SEM pole position, all while driving the kind of lift that makes customers (and their investors on the public markets) happy.

Now, I'm embarking on a new challenge, namely that of leading SEM Sales for Omniture, the 800-pound gorilla in the web analytics space. For those of you unfamiliar with Omniture (NASDAQ: OMTR; $1.65B market cap), they are the worldwide leader in web analytics, a sector that is primed for strong growth over the next 5 years. Who *doesn't* need to get a better understanding of their websites and how to better convert organic and campaign-driven traffic sources? (ANSWER: no one).

With the acquisition of Offermatica & Touch Clarity in 2007, Omniture added a robust testing & targeting solution that will be increasingly valuable to the SiteCatalyst user base, whose analytics deployment serve as the basis for the testing (Offermatica) and targeting (TouchClarity) that they'll need to dive deep into in order to increase conversion rates, improve revenue attribution and overall stay ahead of less sophisticated competitors.

Yet unbeknownst to many, Omniture's been working at building a self-service keyword management platform for over 2 years, and recently surprised many in the SEM world when they announced SearchCenter v3.0 at their Omniture Summit in March and the type of SEM momentum many SEM-only firms have lost - $500M in spend under management and 50% of the AdAge Top 50 Interactive Agencies as customers.

With SearchCenter v3.0, Omniture has built an SEM solution that is going to give the rest of the market a run for its money. Tight integration with SiteCatalyst, incredibly flexible portfolio and rules-based management, and unified multi-SE management are just the tip of the iceberg. By coupling analytics, testing & targeting and SEM campaign management tools with a robust set of launch-related, training, transitional, and ongoing SEM services, Omniture will help more agencies & advertisers succeed in search than anyone in the business - and hopefully become the largest SaaS company in the world in the process.

These are exciting times, and I look forward to continuing to post SEM-related observations here, and to working with many of you.

Go Green!

Google Analytics Alternative