Monday, October 20, 2008

Google Search Network: See It & Weep, or A Renaissance of Accountability

About a week ago Google started, for the first time ever, to break out impression/click/cost data between Google and its Search Network, something many of us in the SEM community had been asking for for years.

Now that Google's providing this much asked-for visibility, advertisers are getting their first view into who exactly Google's search distribution partners are, as well as the conversion value of their traffic. Lo and behold, the results don't live up to Google's owned & operated search traffic. One poster from Webmasterworld said it best:

"Wow, just split stats on an account. Bye bye Search Network!"

A long, long time ago, in a world far, far away, Google didn't allow advertisers to view on or bid separately on Google Content; this led to a situation where most advertisers simply didn't participate in Google Content (at least until Google made it a default & hard to opt-out-of feature in the AdWords interface, but that's another story...). After pulling their hair out over this for 2+ years, Google finally had the good mind to break Content out separately for both reporting and bidding, and lo and behold - advertisers took up the channel. In the most recent quarter, Google's Content network accounted for a disproportionately large amount of the company's growth. Give people visibility and control and they'll bid to ROI, so it seems.

So now we're seeing this story repeat itself with Google's Search Network. Visibility is step one, but the ability to bid separately must not be far behind. With visibility, it'll be 'bye bye Search Network' for many, but once bidding separately on the Search Network is enabled, you'll see advertisers bid the Network to its own ROI characteristics, which should lead to a renaissance of accountability.

In the short term, though, I believe it'll be 'bye bye Search Network' for many, with some - but not all - of the savings being reinvested in Google O&O traffic.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Simplest Explanation Of Our Economic Crisis Yet

Once upon a time, in a village, a man appeared and announced to the
villagers that he would buy monkeys for $10 each.

The villagers, seeing that there were many monkeys around, went out to
the forest and started catching them. The man bought thousands at $10
and, as supply started to diminish, the villagers stopped their effort.
He further announced that he would now buy at $20 for a monkey.

This renewed the efforts of the villagers and they started catching
monkeys again. Soon the supply diminished even further and people
started going back to their farms. The offer increased to $25 each, and
the supply of monkeys became so small that it was an effort to even find
a monkey, let alone catch it!

The man now announced that he would buy monkeys at $50! However, since
he had to go to the city on some business, his assistant would now buy
on behalf of him.

In the absence of the man, the assistant told the villagers. "Look at
all these monkeys in the big cage that the man has collected.
I will sell them to you at $35, and when the man returns from the
city, you can sell them to him for $50 each."

The villagers rounded up
all their savings and bought all the monkeys.

They never saw the man nor his assistant again, only monkeys everywhere!

Now you have a better understanding of the global financial crisis.

Omniture's Platform: Coming To A City Near You

One of the most interesting developments in the Internet space is...

...something that hasn't happened.

Despite 10+ years of constant growth in online marketing and e-commerce, no overall platforms have emerged to serve the needs companies have in the key areas of web analytics, campaign management, conversion optimization and associated enterprise integration.

There are a number of reasons for this, IMO:

1) New territory tends to be exploited by specialists first;
2) VC firms see 1-2 years ahead, not 5-10;
3) vendor consolidation occurs primarily during economic down cycles

Today, however, we have an Internet landscape ripe for the emergence of a few key platform vendors. Most companies who are active in online marketing and e-commerce have more vendors than they can effectively manage; VC firms as of now are no longer the primary financier of new technologies; and if you haven't noticed, this qualifies as an economic down cycle to say the least.

If you have any interest at all in the multi-billion dollar market for online marketing solutions, and if finding a strategic partner for your online business optimization needs is of strategic importance to you, I'd like to invite you to attend a 3-hour seminar on the being hosted by Omniture next week in Dallas, Los Angeles and the SF Bay Area, and mid-November in Atlanta, Chicago and New York.

Details and registration page. Dates/Locations are:

Dallas - Tuesday 10/14
L.A. - Wednesday 10/15
SF - Thursday 10/16

Atlanta - Tuesday 11/18
NYC - Wednesday 11/19
Chicago - Thursday 11/20
[All seminars are 8:30-11:45am]

Most of the SEM, analytics, email, survey, A/B testing and other startup-funded, pre-IPO vendors you rely on today will not exist on the other side of the 5-10 year economic depression we are entering into. Please, then, come to see Omniture in a city near you and dare to believe that the online business optimization suite you need exists.

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