Everything I Know about Marketing I learned from Google

SIMply Search and Social

June 22, 2012 by Aaron Goldman

Last week, I pulled out all the analogies in the book (hey, there’s another one!) to describe search and social marketing at the SIM Partners SIMposium at the (too legit) Wit Hotel in Chicago.

Below is my presentation and below that is my (too legit) rap…


Bringing the Heat in Chi-town

July 26, 2011 by Aaron Goldman

Below is the presentation I gave today at the Online Marketing Sumit (OMS) in Chicago.

In it, I use my patent-pending “Heat-o-Meter” to describe the hotness of various companies, channels, and trends in digital marketing, including:

Companies: Facebook, Groupon, Apple, Google, LinkedIn,  Twitter, Microsoft, Yahoo

Channels: Social, Mobile, Local, Video, Search, Display

Trends: Automation, Integration, Attribution

The deck has 70 slides packed with stats and the last section has some Kenshoo case studies for context on how advertisers are capitalizing on these hot trends. So warm up your fingers are start clicking!

As is becoming habit, I rapped the Q&A portion but only had time for one topic. No video has surfaced (yet) so here’s an audio clip from Brent Payne aka the Bald SEO.


Why Facebook Needs More SMB Apps

March 3, 2011 by Aaron Goldman

I haven’t been using Google Apps much since I joined Kenshoo but I was a power-user with Connectual.

Today I logged in to my Google Apps account on a whim to see if anything had changed a lo and behold, I was greeted with the message below.

This got my thinking about how valuable an asset it is to Google to have over 3 million businesses using Google products to power their internal operations. And why Facebook needs more small/medium business (SMB) apps if it wants to continue growing it’s share of the digital advertising pie — which is already growing quite nicely, mind you, with 1 in 5 online display ad dollars going to Facebook this year per eMarketer.

By working its way into the SMB infrastructure, Google makes itself indispensable to businesses. And with that level of penetration, cross-selling advertising products becomes much easier. Just check this box to send traffic to your domain!

I was talking to a friend the other day who works for Facebook and joking with him about why Facebook doesn’t use its own messaging system for internal corporate communication. Then the light bulb went off. Why not create an messaging app for SMBs? They gave everyone a Facebook email address. Why not let people use Facebook to manage messages to their own domains? And do it for free to trump Google App’s $50 a year.

Of course, creating business products like this would require a ton of new development around security and other protocols that are critical to servicing SMBs but, in the long run, this would really pay out for Facebook by getting businesses more active on the platform beyond managing pages. And once they’re more active on the platform, getting SMBs to fork over some ad dollars would become a much easier proposition.

Penetrating SMBs is the key to Facebook doing better than 1 in 5 display ad dollars and closer to the nearly 1 in 2 total online ad dollars that Google gets today per eMarketer. Now that would give Facebook investors something to really like!


How LivingSocial Bought 1 Million New Subscribers: Analyzing the Economics of Today’s Amazon Gift Card Deal

January 19, 2011 by Aaron Goldman

It’s 8:05pm est and today’s deal on LivingSocial just passed 1 million sales. In case you’ve been living under a rock, the deal was a $20 Amazon gift card for $10. And in case you’ve been living under a really big rock, LivingSocial is a Groupon-esque deal-of-the-day company.

Like a million other deal-seekers, I bought mine but what caught my eye was this disclaimer…

Unlike the deals I’m used to seeing from Groupon and the like, the brand promoted in this deal (Amazon) was apparently not involved. From what I can gather, LivingSocial just bought a bunch of Amazon gift cards through an affiliate and sold them for half the value. Maybe there was some sort of discount for bulk purchase, but it’s possible LivingSocial paid as much as $10 million to acquire 1 million new customers.

To be sure, not all of these people who bought this deal are first-time LivingSocial customers but the last reported subscriber-count for LivingSocial was 10 million, so this promotion could have bumped LivingSocial’s list by over 10%.

Add in all the great PR LivingSocial has received from this deal and this could rank as one of the best awareness and acquisition campaigns any company has run in a long time. Forgetting about the free media impressions and just looking at the sales metrics, LivingSocial’s cost per acquisition here was $10. That’s $10 for a customer that has now given permission to LivingSocial to send a deal of the day every day until he or she unsubscribes. (I wonder if LivingSocial’s unsubscribe experience is as memorable as Groupon’s per chapter 19 of the book?)

It’s difficult to quantify lifetime value of a new customer for LivingSocial, unless you work at LivingSocial, but it’s easy to surmise that the figure is above $10. If LivingSocial’s deal terms and margins are similar to Groupon’s, we’re looking at 50% of the spread between what customers pay and merchant’s value. It’s likely LivingSocial will make back that $10 acquisition cost and then some the very next time a subscriber makes a purchase.

And who knows what the impact all this PR and the 1 million subscriber adds will have on LivingSocial’s valuation but one can easily see  it climbing much higher than an incremental $10 million as a result of today’s deal.

Now, I could be very wrong about all this. Amazon could have sanctioned this deal. After all, it is an investor in LivingSocial. And/or Amazon could have sold the gift cards to LivingSocial at a bigger discount or done some back-end revenue-share  making the acquisition costs for LivingSocial much lower or potentially even driving this deal into stand-alone profitability. It would make sense for Amazon. I’m sure many of the one million buyers will never end up using the gift card and, those that do, may spend much more than $20 with their purchase. Not to mention all the branding and PR mentions that Amazon has gotten out of this deal.

Regardless of how the deal went down, this seems to be a true win-win for LivingSocial and Amazon. And it’s a testament to the power of the deal-a-day business. Surely, LivingSocial and Groupon are more than “just coupon websites.” And it’s easy to see why these companies matter and why Google is so eager to get into this business.

It’s now 9:29pm est and another 80,000 sales have been made. And there’s still another 10 1/2 hours left in the promotion.

Update Jan. 20: So much for lifetime value. LivingSocial just sent out the instructions for redeeming the gift card at 12:04am est, officially not making good on its promise yesterday to notify me “tomorrow” with that information. Apparently, I’m not the only one who was eagerly awaiting my gift card as the LivingSocial site seems to have crashed completely. Not a good first experience. Might need to update the title of this post to “How LivingSocial Lost 1 Million New Subscribers.”


What Will Search Look Like 5 Years From Now?

October 16, 2010 by Aaron Goldman

That’s what MediaPost’s Laurie Sullivan asked me in prepping her column, “Search Reaches Turning Point With Social Integration.”

This was my response.

In 5 years, search will be an incredibly personal experience.

When we want information, entertainment, or commerce, we’ll use apps that know our preferences and return not just the results we want but the actions we want to take.

To deliver on this promise, the search engines of the future will tap APIs from virtually every content publisher, brand manufacturer, and retailer to deliver immediately actionable opportunities.

And, to make the experience more relevant, “likes” will be weighted more heavily than “links” in the search engine algorithms. And location will be automatically factored in.

This thread is covered extensively in Chapter 21: Future-Proofing and Siri is profiled as the “search-and-act” engine or “app-sisstant” of the future.

As for Google’s role in this brave new world… as discussed in the book, the Big G can either become a search-and-act engine itself and/or the underlying platform upon which these engines are built. Think API-burner.

It’s interesting to see Bing taking steps towards this new expression of relevancy though its recent deal with Facebook to incorporate “likes” into its search algorithm. I explored the potential for a search engine that pivoted on the social graph in a blog post from 2008 titled, “The Perfect Search Engine.”

And, more recently, I looked at “Link vs. Like and the Future of Web Ranking.”

It’s hard to say whether 5 years is the right window for all this heady stuff to come to fruition but if we look at how far search has come in the past 5, I wouldn’t bet against it/us.


AOL Gets Googlier

September 3, 2010 by Aaron Goldman

MediaPost Online Media Daily

Here’s the POV I shared with Laurie Sullivan at MediaPost for her coverage of the AOL-Google news – AOL’s Mobile And Video Push Powers Google Search Deal.

I’m not surprised that AOL renewed its deal with Google. With Tim Armstrong and Jeff Levick both being ex-Googlers, there’s no doubt they had the insider knowledge required to get the best possible terms, not to mention figure out the best possible way for the 2 companies to collaborate.

It’s interesting to see that the deal covers more than just Google distributing search ads to AOL. It has AOL providing content to Google. In my book, I talk about how AOL has rebranded as a new economy content company. They’ve done a good job positioning themselves to capitalize on the type of content that’s easier to monetize — not news, weather, and sports but travel, entertainment, and health. I see AOL succeeding with content where newspapers are failing. And it’s ironic because Google succeeded in online advertising where AOL failed.


Can you spell SEM CPA?

September 2, 2010 by Aaron Goldman

MediaPost Online Media Daily

Shared a few sound-bytes with Laurie Sullivan at MediaPost for her article, “Search Engine CPA Patent Goes Up For Sale.”

Here’s the POV I provided…

Well, I’m no intellectual property expert but I wonder if this concept is even patentable [Clarification: meant to say, "I wonder if this patent is even enforceable."] It’s not like Bill Gross was able to patent CPC on search engines.

That said, the closest thing we’ve seen to CPA search results to date was Microsoft’s failed experiment with Cashback. The idea was advertisers would essentially pay a CPA for actual conversions and a portion of that fee would be passed along as incentive to the searcher. Microsoft never got the advertiser adoption it needed to scale Cashback and, without a lot of offers, it wasn’t able to provide a great user experience.

One of the biggest challenges in a pure CPA search model would be getting advertisers comfortable with implementing new tracking code on their websites to allow the search engine(s) to track actions. Fortune 500 companies and leading internet retailers are already leery of letting the fox into the henhouse.


Facebook gets Googley with Places

August 25, 2010 by Aaron Goldman

The Quick and the Dead

Through some investigative reporting, Laurie Sullivan of MediaPost, uncovered a few flaws in the new Facebook Places feature — namely, the ability to check-in from as far as 800 meters away from a location as well as check other people in with you.

When Laurie asked me for my perspective,  I said I applauded Facebook for launching Places before it had all the kinks worked out. In my column, “Everything I Need to Know About Product Development I Learned From Google,” I share the Googley Lesson, “It Doesn’t Have to be Perfect.”

Indeed, Facebook had to launch a location-based check-in feature asap to combat the growth of Foursquare. With Twitter, Facebook waited too long to change its status update call-to-action, “What are you doing?” to “What’s on your mind.” In the process, Twitter reached significant and sustainable scale.

Facebook won’t make that mistake again and, to be sure, the flaws with Places are relatively minor and (will be) easily corrected.

Here’s Laurie’s full report with my POV baked in: “ What Will Vicarious Facebook Check-Ins Get Advertisers?

Image Source: Cyber-Cinema.com

McGraw Hill Professional Amazon
Amazon Canada Amazon United Kingdom