So, I’ve Switched Blogging Platforms

May 19, 2008

Because Tumblr rocks; near perfection if I was able to customize URL’s.

Anywho, you can continue the journey at BrandingMe.Tumblr.com


Google’s On The Way Down?

April 3, 2008

A while back I wrote that Google should stay out of the content business and focus on organizing content instead (their stated goal), perhaps because they are spreading their talent too thin. This is worrying investors, considering the growing amount of employees they are hiring.

Recently, especially after the discovery that Google’s paid click volume is sliding, I figured I’d amend my previous statement and write that yes, the people at Google should focus on search, but they should also finish what they start. Satirist Daniel Lyons, on his Fake Steve blog, has a great (read: funny) list of things that have been started, but remain poorly executed.

Now Google is losing talent; people who really matter. It was announced that Douglas Merrill, Google’s Chief Information Officer, would be leaving. This follows other exits:

Salman Ullah, the respected mergers and acquisitions chief, left last October to set up in venture capital. The former head of Google Health, Adam Bosworth, is forming his own start-up. Last month, Sheryl Sandberg, vice-president for global sales and operations, left to become chief operating officer at privately-held Facebook, taking with her Ethan Beard, Google’s director of social media.  

And more:

Other former Google execs to take gigs at Facebook include YouTube’s CFO Gideon Yu and Google Checkout product head Benjamin Ling.  

So what’s up? Why is this internet giant bleeding out?

I think a small passage in an unrelated news story hit the nail on the head: 

‘The fundamental concern still is that they’re getting all their revenue out of paid search, and they’re fooling around with a lot of other things,’ said Kevin Landis, chief investment officer at Firsthand Capital Management in San Jose, California. The firm manages $600 million, including 23,413 Google shares. ‘They’re still a one-trick pony.’  

I used the “one-trick” pony comment a few days ago when describing my concerns about Google and search marketing to my boss (impression levels are going down across some of our accounts). I’m glad someone who’s paid a lot more than me feels the same way (yeah, it’s stuff like this that keeps the Branding Me blog going: validation… even if it is few and far between).

So my analysis: Google needs to come out with something new that can kick butt and take names (where’s Android, for instance?) because bleeding executives like this is writing on the wall.


You Know Interactive Advertising Is Still A New Field When…

April 1, 2008

… you find yourself explaining the definition of an “impression” to a co-worker or client.


Super-Bloggers

March 25, 2008

The New York Times takes a stab at instructions for how to become a blogging star.

Oh, for it to be as easy as following a few bullet points…


Winners of the FCC Airwaves Auction

March 20, 2008

I’ve been following the FCC auction for a while now (exhibit AB, and C), especially because it appeared Google may have been positioning itself for some new service that had yet to be disclosed. Well, I was wrong… Verizon Wireless is the big winner in the airwaves auction. So it looks like the analysts interviewed by Bloomberg were right (duh!): Google gets the open airwaves they wanted while not having to commit tons resources to branch out as a wireless service provider + search engine.

Yawn.

 

P.S. 

Dear United States Government:

Please enjoy your extra $19 billion; please don’t spend it all in one place.


More Difficulties Monetizing Web 2.0

February 7, 2008
A Branding Me First: I Was Right About Something!!!

It’s a bittersweet day for those of us who keep repeating over and over and over again that advertising on social networking sites is not effective. I think I have been spouting the same line since I started this blog: advertising, although it may create revenue, is not the most lucrative way to monetize Web 2.0.

Google’s stock tanked recently, falling 8.6%, which is the sharpest fall since it went public. As many of you already know, this is in large part due to the recent “bear hug” Microsoft gave Yahoo. But another key reason for the dive was the (semi)lack of revenue growth: although the net income rose 17% compared to a year earlier, that figure fell short of analyst expectations, and may represent the peak of continued growth.

So how come Google did not meet expectations? CFO George Reyes said, “We have found that social networking inventory is not monetizing as well as we would like.” Translation: we bought a helluva lot of advertising inventory for a helluva a lot of money, and it’s not performing. How bad is this problem? the reporter for the NY Times continues: “People involved in [the MySpace deal] said that Google never assumed that it would earn its $900 million back from that deal, but it appears to be losing even more than it had expected.”

Now, don’t get me wrong; I don’t think advertising is worth throwing out completely. I just want more creative business models for Web 2.0; there has to be other, more profitable ways to monetize these services.

Anyways, so much for me being a “naysayer” (the link back to me is in the last paragraph of this other blogger’s entry).

EDIT

Also check out AU Interactive’s rundown of a Facebook Social Ad experiment. 


Microsoft Bids On Yahoo

February 1, 2008
Trying to Compete with Google

In what Bloomberg states is “the biggest-ever technology takeover,” Microsoft made an unsolicited $44.6 billion bid for Yahoo. That figure marks a 62% premium of Yahoo’s stock price as of yesterday’s closing.

It seems this bid is the culmination of the roller-coaster ride Yahoo has been on the past month: first, according to one report, the Yahoo CFO Susan Decker stated, “We don’t think it’s reasonable to assume we’re going to gain a lot of share from Google [...]. It’s not our goal to be No. 1 in Internet search. We would be very happy to maintain our market share.” (as of September of 2007, Yahoo’s share of search traffic was approximately 19.5%, followed by MSN at 12%, compared to Google’s 54%). Second, Chairman and ex-CEO Terry Semel left the Yahoo board. He is credited it reviving the company and then “losing touch,” not being able to gain on Google’s dominance as quickly as others had hoped.

This hope was one of the reasons Yahoo ditched merger talks last year: “In a letter to Yahoo’s board, Mr. Ballmer wrote that the two companies discussed a possible merger, as well as other ways to work together, in late 2006 and 2007. Mr. Ballmer said that in February 2007, Yahoo decided to end the merger discussions because its board was confident in the company’s ‘upside.’” Now that that potential “upside” has fizzled out, it may be we’ll see this bid actually go through, especially since the search advertising market could possibly grow to $80 billion by 2010.

EDIT

Found a copy of the letter sent to Yahoo by Microsoft, and a great analysis of the possible merger on Forbes (the title? “A Messy Marriage”… gotta love it).


Digital Music Sales Grow

January 30, 2008
But Overall Sales Still Falter

Although music sales as a whole have declined, digital music sales grew to $2.9 billion in 2007 (compared to $2.1 billion in 2006), according to reports from The New York Times and The Economist (handy graphs in the latter link… especially if you fancy Beyonce). Once again, the fall in overall sales is being blamed on piracy. Understandable. I only hope a) we find better ways to curb this piracy other than DRM (or even worse, the Sony debacle of 2005) and b) this transforms music companies, which, for years, have basically served as mammoth loan sharks… with exorbitant overhead.

Interestingly, there appears to be a demographic divide between those who buy CD’s and those who download their music, according to a list of the top ten artists of 2007.


So Much For Consumer-Generated Ads

January 29, 2008

Subway is suing Quizno’s over a contest the latter company held, where users were encouraged to make commercials depicting Quiznos’ sandwiches as “superior” to Subway’s. A breakdown of the suit thus far can be read here. If you’ve been thinking of working in copyright and defamation law, now would be a good time to do so. Unfortunately, consumers may find themselves liable, not the advertisers or companies.

Wow.


No Complete WSJ.com Access

January 25, 2008
Wall Street Journal Won’t Be Free

Hopes of the Wall Street Journal getting rid of their online subscription revenue have been seriously dashed: speaking at the World Economic Forum, Rupert Murdoch reportedly stated, “‘The really specialized (material) giving the greatest insights, that will still be a subscription service.’” However, the New York Times pointed out that Murdoch has “has vacillated publicly” about staying fee-based; the article noted that in November, Murdoch said “‘We expect to make that free.’” So why the change? Although I highly doubt Murdoch and company based the decision on this information, a Bear Stearns analyst concluded that to free WSJ.com, the site would need 12x more traffic. On The Long Tail, Chris Anderson explicated why that conclusion is probably false. I mostly agree with him, since the analysis is “based on an estimated CPM of $6″; that price estimation strikes me as ludicrous, because I’m pretty sure old media schedules for my clients do not include a $6 CPM.

Oh well. I was hoping I could gain access to more articles, such as “A CDO Called Norma,” especially since the topic directly affects my work. Looks like I’ll just have to wait for that raise.


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