Archive for the ‘MicroHoo!’ Category

Advice to Client Regarding Social Media and Online Display Advertising

September 14, 2009

The following is my response to a request from a client regarding my opinion on social media and online display advertising.

There seems to have been an uptick in the number of recommendations suggesting businesses begin or increase their budgets for social media and online display advertising campaigns.

Dear Client,

The efficacy rhetoric of both social network and display advertising  is increasingly on the rise as Microsoft/Yahoo and Facebook/Twitter attempt to attract more display brand advertising dollars from traditional media who are losing the war for the consumer’s attention.

The social / display advertising camps wouldn’t have to be selling their merits – if their results did their speaking for them.

The reason the former don’t is because their product produces inferior results while the latter has yet to yield any results if any results at all.

These are some of the reasons why the Yahoo/Facebook/Twitter market cap / value is 1/8 Google’s $150 Billion.

However, as with everything else – there are exceptions.

I have had a small percentage of deals convert with display while others have not.

Testing is the only way to prove or disprove whether or not display advertising will work for a particular business.

Display ads can be geo-targeted but its not as precise because it relies on other publishers data and it can have placement, targeting and measurement issues.

The first thing to do is to test whether text ads convert in their display network first. If so, then try image / display ads.

Unless of course a testing supports and fulfills a brand’s impression objectives in target markets and isn’t held to the same level of results performance as search.

If a display advertising test meets its objectives, then launch trials with Yahoo / MSN publishing partners.

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Microsoft+Yahoo+Twitter = Microhooter! to the Rescue?

March 4, 2009

While thinking about commenting on another blog regarding all the blather about how this company or that company will kill Google and its lead in the search space, I believe I stumbled upon the perfect Google killer: Microhooter!

Combined or by reputation alone couldn’t Microsoft’s desktop monopoly, Yahoo’s display ad business and Twitter’s mass texting be enough to derail Google’s money making search engine?

Maybe in theory but not in practice.

No, not even Microhooter! will save the day.

The search audience is an army of one – one billion people online that is – an army which will continue to march where it can find and get the answers it needs when and where they are needed.

With or without a Microhooter, for the time being and for the foreseeable future that place will remain Google.

You can go back to work now.

MicroHoo Internet Yellow Pages Market Leader?

March 25, 2008

comScore has released its 2007 Internet Yellow Pages market share report showing YellowPages.com barely edging out SuperPages.com for the market leader position in the Internet Yellow Pages market.

The top eight Internet Yellow Pages (IYP) sites in the United States for 2007 and their market share were:

1. Yellowpages.com 20.2%

2. Superpages.com 20.0%

3. Yahoo Sites 17.9%

4. Google Sites 15.1%

5. Yellow Book Network 8.6%

6. Time Warner Network 6.1%

7. Microsoft Sites 4.8%

8. R. H. Donnelley 3.3%

Greg Sterling has also noted how YellowPages.com has entered into a new deal with Microsoft.

Something the comScore report didn’t point out is that by Microsoft acquiring Yahoo, Microhoo! will acquire a market leadership position in the Internet Yellow Pages market vaulting over both YellowPages.com and Superpages.com in one leap.

Provided the market share numbers don’t move much over the next several quarters, Microhoo will have a 22.7% share of the Internet Yellow Pages market.

By Microsoft switching to YellowPages.com, they are simply preparing to strengthen and flesh out their new market position in the Internet Yellow Pages market by further exploiting Yahoo’s existing relationship with AT&T and their ownership of Yellowpages.com

IBM + Yahoo! (IBMY!) An alternative to Microhoo?

February 25, 2008

Could Yahoo! find its White Knight in IBM?

IBM

Yahoo

Since it now seems highly unlikely a bolted together advertising partnership with Google, News Corp. or AOL will materialize and dissuade Microsoft from its proposed takeover of Yahoo!, shouldn’t Yahoo! be looking outside the search box for possible solutions?

An IBM+Yahoo! or IBMY! combination makes as much sense as a MicroHoo.

Short of something as crazy as Yahoo! partnering with IBM, Yahoo will soon be otherwise assimilated by Microsoft.

I am sure there are millions even billions of reasons why IBM shouldn’t even consider it, but there only has to be one “good enough” financial reason for Yahoo! to justify its seeking and getting either IBM’s defensive or offensive investment at this their defining and possibly Yahoo’s final moment in time.

I wonder which particular financial reason would be compelling enough for both IBM and Yahoo to seek each other’s company now – if there is any at all?

Mobile Search and Reverse Business Telephone Number Lookup, a Visual 411

February 8, 2008

As local information requests are being keyed in from mobile devices, 411 and driving directions are becoming more visually rich and available via search.

Case in point: The business telephone number reverse lookup.

How does Microsoft’s Live render a reverse lookup for Microsoft’s own telephone number? Microsoft delivers the correct result along with the five previously mentioned view options: Road, Aerial, Hybrid, Bird’s Eye and Traffic. The map view does however default to Chicago, IL even though Microsoft is located in Bellevue, WA.

I can find the Microsoft campus on the map after scrolling over a couple thousand miles. I ran several more queries with each defaulting to the same Chicago starting point. I am not logged into a Microsoft account so I wouldn’t think it was based on my computers cookies or IP address which by the way is still several hundred miles south.

Evidently, Microsoft, Yahoo and Google all seem to generate their map results based on your past location specific searches.

Microsoft’s reverse lookup offers: 1 Click Directions, Add to collection, Send to Email, Mobile and GPS and Reviews. The send to GPS requires MSN Direct compatible navigation systems.

Reverse Business Lookup– 425-882-8080 Microsoft

Microsoft 425-882-8080

Microsoft 425-882-8080

A reverse lookup for Yahoo’s telephone number in Yahoo produces two results both of which are Yahoo locations. The map provides the same functionality found in their standard searches: Get Directions, Save for later, Send to phone and Write a review. If a web address is associated with the location it will be displayed too.

Reverse Business Lookup– 408-349-3300 Yahoo

Yahoo 408-349-3300

Yahoo 408-349-3300

A search for Google’s telephone number yields the same five view options: Map, Street, Traffic, Satellite and Terrain Views as with the brand or business category search before. Additionally, Google provides a dialogue box with more options.

Searchers options are: Get directions, Search nearby, Street view, Save to My Maps, Send to phone and Edit. More information about the business and reviews are also one click away.

With “Search nearby” a searcher can locate additional businesses and services like finding Chinese takeout from their hotel.

Where Microsoft’s Bird’s Eye view appears to have bested Google’s satellite view, Google’s “street view” takes visualization to the next level.

With Google’s street view, Google provides eye level images of locations. It’s not available in every area yet. Coordination with volunteer picture geotagging projects may eventually speed the population of their street level image file.

Google’s new Edit feature lets anybody correct the location of a business. It also prompts business owners to “claim” their business in Google’s Local Business Center. These two options should eventually help them improve their data.

Reverse Business Lookup – 650-253-0000 Google

Google 650-253-0000

Google 650-253-0000

Google Street View

Google Street View

Edit Map Feature

Reverse Lookup Edit

By pushing more information out to users third screen (mobiles), Google, Microsoft and Yahoo regardless of their corporate status, have greater potential to attract ever-larger audiences and their keystrokes – a situation where all consumers ultimately win.

Microsoft and Yahoo vs. Google: The Battle for Audience and Keystrokes

February 7, 2008

The Redmond giant has sprung to its feet from its long and comfortable slumber.

Much like the browser business before it, Microsoft has realized it had better get into the search advertising business before its too late.

I think we all know who won the browser war. We also know how they did it.

Even with its proposed acquisition of Yahoo!, Microsoft may have already overslept and thus lost this battle.

On the surface this acquisition looks like a grab for a piece of the search advertising business.

However, just below the surface lie its real targets: the Internet audience and their keystrokes.

Internet Audience?

Keystrokes?

Both beachheads Microsoft has or has had control of nearly since their inception, keystrokes via the personal computer desktop and the Internet audience via browsers – not from birth but before the web’s infancy ended.

Like their importance to Microsoft’s franchise before, both have an equally and even greater importance going forward. Audience begets keystrokes and vice versa. However, It’s hard to control one if you don’t control the other.

Microsoft’s $44 billion offer to acquire Yahoo and its audience is an admission by Microsoft that if they aren’t able to augment their present audience now with an acquisition the size of Yahoo, they won’t ever be able to stem the audience gains being made by Google and their control of the largest and most valuable part of the internet audience – the search audience.

At this point, Microsoft’s not getting control of Yahoo’s audience is the single greatest risk facing their business – hence their offer price and the need to get the deal done. Maybe not today or tomorrow, but let unabated Microsoft faces continued losses in both audience and keystrokes.

Its not a market position Microsoft is familiar with or comfortable.

Why search is the most valuable audience on the Internet.

There are two types of audiences on the Internet. The old and familiar audience type, which is the one served and supported by display advertising.

Advertisers buy ads to reach an audience based on what content a publisher assembles to attract a particular audience. Ads are then priced and sold based on the desirability advertisers have in reaching that particular audience.

At any one time, a large percentage of the publisher’s audience is inactive – not interested in what the advertiser is selling.

Advertisers still have to pay to reach the publishers entire audience regardless of how many people may or may not be interested in the advertiser’s ads or products. Because display advertising is inefficient i.e., reaches more disinterested audience than audience of potential buyers – it sells for less and thus generates less income for publishers.

The other type of audience available to advertisers on the web is search advertising.

Unlike display advertising, search advertising reaches only an active audience – people who have explicitly requested advertisers information about their products or services – by their clicking on ads.

Search advertisers only incur costs to reach their audience when consumers click on their ads. Thus search advertising is significantly more efficient in delivering advertising messages to the exclusively active segment of the Internet audience – people who are actively searching for information.

By definition, search advertising only delivers advertisements to people actively seeking what the advertiser is advertising and selling. Because of this efficiency in targeting and delivery, search advertisers are able to reach more qualified prospects for less than through traditional media.

In turn, search advertising providers like Google are able to charge advertisers commensurate with the value the advertisers receive from reaching a efficiently targeted and active audience.

The result?

By my calculations, Google’s annualized gross revenue from advertising per visitor is roughly twice that of Yahoo’s and nearly four times Microsoft’s (gross advertising revenues divided by web property visits)

At a minimum, a search driven visit is worth at least twice – up to four times more than a non-search driven visit.

This is why Microsoft desperately needs Yahoo’s audience.

Although there are wide discrepancies over what percentage of search each company gets, Google receives between four to twenty times more search traffic than Microsoft and three to five times more search traffic than Yahoo, combined and assuming no market disruption – the two companies would still only generate one fourth to one half the search business of Google.

This acquisition also assumes Yahoo’s ad platform can continue to harvest one half the value Google does whether through Yahoo! or Microsoft’s search product without cultural distraction or interruption from the merger.

Even with their proposed clean room assembly, Microsoft’s acquisition of Yahoo! does not answer how they will make up difference (search volume + gross revenue per visitor).

By doubling their performance (revenue per visit) post merger to meet Google’s present level of performance, a MicroHoo search advertising business gross revenues per visitor would be half of Google’s.

In order for Microsoft to retain Yahoo’s audience, publishers and advertisers- the combined company will also need to produce:

Highly relevant search results for its audience, a functional ad platform for its advertisers, profitable ad distribution for its publishing partners and most importantly: a greater return on its advertisers’ investments.

Without which any new ad platform and search product may grab the attention of a larger audience and gain its keystrokes only to see it lost after they are unable to deliver what the internet audience has already come to expect, find and get from Google.

Of course, this also assumes Microsoft is somehow precluded from using its expanded platform and footprint to reroute ancillary chunks of audience to its new web properties acquired through the proposed acquisition along with their accompanying keystrokes.

In the absence thereof, there may be no stopping Google’s march.