August 06, 2009

Mike Grehan Joins SEW, ClickZ and Search Engine Strategies (SES) - Interview

By Li Evans

Mike_grehan It's with a lot of smiling this morning that I get to be the first place that has an interview with Mike Grehan about his new position with Search Engine Watch, ClickZ and Seach Engine Strategies (SES). (official announcement)  Mike's taken on a whole new role leading some exciting changes for the next coming year as well as helping to shape the direction of the industry as one of the top minds on where not just search marketing is going, but the whole online marketing industry as a whole. 

So lets hop right to it...(this is a two part interview that continues on Take It In-House)

Tell us about your new role with Incisive Media, SES, SEW, ClickZ

Mike Grehan:  I’ll be carrying Matt McGowan’s suitcase while he’s traveling as well as acting as his bodyguard to keep him safe from his adoring fans at conferences…

And apart from that… Effectively I’m working with the content team to help shape us up for the future. These three powerhouse brands have been around for a while and have a great reputation. But as the industry changes, we must change with it. And not just react to changes but anticipate it and facilitate the online conversation.

Of course, I’ll be playing a much larger role with the conference on the speaking front, as well as regularly writing and blogging across all three brands. And then there’s the webcasts and the…

How has the search industry changed in the last three years?

Mike Grehan:I think the biggest changes revolve around less dependency on technical solutions in the way we had to provide for clients. Now it’s much more important to have a strong marketing strategy as well as some tech savvy.

How important has social media become?

Mike Grehan:  Interesting that so many people in search are drawn towards this, so called “social media” when it requires an entirely different skill set. People like yourself who have a PR and marketing background (as well as being an excellent coder :) ) are more likely to succeed. As to how important it has become, go and ask the 250 million people at Facebook, they’ll tell you :)

This interview continues on Take It In-House.

April 05, 2008

Microsoft to Yahoo - 3 Weeks and Counting....

By Li Evans

Microhoo Apparently the line has been drawn in the sand by Microsoft's Steve Balmer in a letter sent to Yahoo (YHOO) today.  That line is three weeks to see some kind of progress in Microsoft's (MSFT) bid to take over Yahoo!

"...If we have not concluded an agreement within the next three weeks, we will be compelled to take our case directly to your shareholders, including the initiation of a proxy contest to elect an alternative slate of directors for the Yahoo! board."

It seems that Balmer's become a bit impatient, feeling that they've gotten no where in the past two month's since hostile bid of $44.6 billion wasn't recieved with joyous shouts from the board of Yahoo!  But who can blame Yahoo! for dragging their feet.  Really now, would you want to see your search engine company swallowed whole by a mega-corporation who can't get their own search engine right?  A company who can't make an operating system that doesn't make people's face contort in all sorts of odd ways when they realize they have no choice but to "upgrade".  I know I'd be putting off having to deal with it.

Crazy_steve_ballmer I've had a few discussions with colleagues in the industry about the "impending" Micro-hoo merger.  Honestly - this whole subject makes me sad.  Microsoft has a really tough time getting anything right, and they constantly stumble when it comes to buying companies and incorporating them into the behemoth that is Microsoft.  Yahoo's done some awesome things in the social media space in the past 12 months, it makes things feel exciting for the future, however, I'm afraid that once Microsoft comes in it'll be bye bye social media.

Wish there was a different "suitor" for Yahoo!, then there wouldn't be this big black pit of despair feeling in my stomach when I think about Yahoo!

July 30, 2007

Microsoft & Digg Deal Spur Acquisition Rumors

By Li Evans

Digg Everyone's heard about Digg & MSN partnering for advertising syndication.  Over the past few days there's been a bunch of rumors running wild about an impending acquisition of Digg by Microsoft, Pete Cashmore over at Mashable thinks its bunk.  I tend to agree with him on that thought, and his thought on it creating a riot.

How ironic would it be, if Microsoft did buy Digg?  Isn't Microsoft the Evil of all Evils over at that social news site?  9 out of 10 Microsoft stories immediately get buried, unless its bad news for MS or a story about Ballmer throwing chairs.  What kind of sweet justice it would it be for marketers, should this happen?

I find this speculation interesting, as the possibility is definitely there.  Microsoft is not short on cash, and Digg did just dump Google for a 3 year deal with Microsoft's advertising network. There's definitely a little basis to the rumors and speculation going around this past week.

I especially like Evan Roberts, of MarketingShift, take on the speculation of a Digg acqusition of Microsoft:

"If MSN were to acquire it would introduce a whole new plethora of users to, pump much needed life into all the dead Digg sections, and continue bringing down servers worldwide (although being MSNugg doesn't have the same ring to it). I'd also assume that there would be a mini-revolt from all the Apple fanboys and Kevin Rose loving Digg purists who want the site to remain 'homegrown' but in the end we'd all win."

Really makes one stop and ponder those possibilities, doesn't it?

July 13, 2007

Facebook Acquisition Rumors Again, This Time its Microsoft

By Li Evans

Valleyfreude_2 A few months ago, well its actually more than 6 now (my how time flies), the buzz about the Web 2.0 industry was how Yahoo's Terry Semmel (CEO at the time) was about to score a big coup and snag up Facebook.  Those rumors fell flat as a pancake when Facebook flatly turned Yahoo! down.

Rumor also has it that Facebook's also snubbed off Microsoft overture's as well. 

Here we are over 6 months later and now we're hearing rumors of Microsoft courting / about to buy Facebook again, honestly, I do not buy it at all.  Sure it makes sense for Microsoft, and sure Facebook's advertising isn't doing so well (from the advertisers' perspective) but there are a lot of other signs that Facebook's CEO, Mark Zuckerberg is going to do to Steve Ballmer what he did to Terry Semmel.  If he does, there's likely to be a few more chairs flying across the room.

Here's why I just don't buy into the whole acquisition thing.  Zuckerberg has notoriously snubbed all of the big guys, from the Valleyfreude (yes, that's his sister Randi Jayne) video being produced (and now gone from Randi Jayne's site) to leaving Yahoo! with egg on their faces, they are bucking the establishment.  This is why their users love Facebook - rebel against "the system", if the creator of Facebook does it, its a "cool" place to be.

Facebook wants to go the IPO route, not be acquired, they are even advertising for a stock options administrator.  Although they did reply to Webware's questions with:

"Facebook grants stock options to its full-time employees," the company rep said in an e-mail. "The company is looking to hire a few hundred people this year and we need someone dedicated to administering the grant process."

I could end up with egg on my own face by saying this, but I just don't see a Microsoft acquisition of Facebook in the cards.  I see Mark Zuckerberg making a bigger fool of Steve Ballmer than he did of Terry Semmel.

How about you?  What do you think?

May 05, 2007

Yahoo! Is Much Better Without Microsoft

By Li Evans

Yahoopurple The whole furry of speculation that happened yesterday about Microsoft looking to merge with Yahoo! really got me to thinking.  I was happy reading Giga Om's article this morning about the talks being off, if they were even "truly" on to begin with.  Yahoo! is much better without Microsoft, however, the same can't be said for Microsoft.

Microsoft is struggling when it comes to search, and this is entirely their own doing.  If they can't make up their mind whether they Live Search or are the MSN Search or heck, are they Microsoft Search, why should the users make up their mind to utilize their services?  There's so much brand confusion with Microsoft when it comes to search.  How in the world can it ever grapple above third and stop its backslide of market share, if users can identify who Microsoft is when it comes to search?  That's what makes Yahoo! so appealing to Microsoft.

Yahoo! on the other hand, knows who it is, what it brand means and that it serves an entirely different type of user than most of it's competition - especially Google.  Yahoo! sets itself apart from Google, and Microsoft as the "comfortable alternative."  I even see this as intentionally subliminal on Yahoo!'s part.  From the Yahoo! toolbar to the integration of all it's features - from search to pictured & email, Yahoo! makes it easy.

There's nothing easy about Microsoft, nothing at all.  From its software reputation (lets face it, people love to hate Microsoft), to its inability to decide whether it really wants to promote Ms. Dewey (they put her back into the closet after the SES Keynote) or drop her, their clear lack of identity when it comes to search and continual PR blunders, Microsoft leaves a lot to be desired these days for companies they are courting.

If I were Yahoo! and DoubleClick I'd rebuff Microsoft, too.   Until Microsoft truly can understand and demonstrate to its audience that they know who they are in search, they'll never be able to earn the respect, create the desire, or gain back there market share. 

May 04, 2007

Microsoft Asks Yahoo To Enter Talks Again

By Li Evans

Apparently Microsoft's really reeling from DoubleClick's rebuff of their offer in favor of Google.  I just stumbled across an article, that Microsoft's asked Yahoo to enter into talks for merger/acquisition.

"While Microsoft (MSFT) and Yahoo! (YHOO) have held informal deal talks over the years, sources say the latest approach signals an urgency on Microsoft's part that has up until now been lacking"

Let the speculation now start running wild!

April 01, 2007

Microsoft to Buy Digg - April Fools?

By Li Evans

Alchemistmedia In what I think could very well be another total absolute April Fool's prank, Jessie's got a post out on her blog (The Alchemy of Search) about a draft press release that is going to be released tomorrow.  The press release indicates that Microsoft is going to buy Digg.

REDMOND, Wash. – April 2nd, 2007 – Microsoft Corporation (Nasdaq: MSFT) announced it has reached an agreement to acquire Digg, Inc. for an undisclosed sum.

The deal has been in the works for several weeks, according to Microsoft spokesman Mario Nette, who noted that, “Digg is a pioneer in crowd sourcing, the Web 2.0 way of discovering what is important to a new generation of technology-friendly consumers. The Digg community is our natural consumer base and this acquisition is a great opportunity to connect with them. Digg users are passionate about Microsoft products and we are anxious to engage them through this new channel.”    ...

Yeah, as bizarre as that sounds - I can only guess that this is a total April Fool's Day prank, especially since Diggrz hate Microsoft! 

January 21, 2007

Google Behind Microsoft With Advertising In Video Games

By Li Evans

Adscapelogo Believe it or not, there are a few places where Google is behind or isn't even "playing in the game", yet.  One of those markets is Video Game Advertising, both In-Game and Published Title Releases bought in the store.  In this space, Microsoft's Massive Incorporated is a major player along with Double Fusion and IGA Worldwide.  There is a lot of news being reported this weekend that Google is in talks to buy its way into this advertising and marketing space by acquiring Adscape Media, Inc.

Last year, Microsoft acquired Massive Incorporated for what was speculated at somewhere between $200 and $300 million, although dollar amounts were never disclosed publicly. I wrote about Microsoft stepping into In-Game advertising back in September, when EA Games and Microsoft announced their deal to provide live in-game advertising within EA's games that can be played through the XBox 360 and PC's.

Massiveincorporatedlogo I'm involved with a project outside of my day job that keeps me pretty active in news on the video gaming front (I know David Temple's going to ping me and say "When do you find the time?!").  So, from experience, I am familiar with the fact that Adscape Media, Inc. is a "new kid" on the block when it comes to this particular market.  There are other companies that have a lot better foothold in this particular area, but they probably aren't quite as open to Google's courting since they have a lot more publishing deals signed and established titles than Adscape Media does.

Massiveincorporatedpartners I checked out Adscape Media's site, (if you are a SEO - please stop twitching, the site's done entirely in flash) today to see if they had any new titles signed on or publishers added, but nothing was listed.  Usually these firms are really eager to boast the titles they have locked in like Double Fusion and IGA Worldwide do.  This is important in the world of game development.  Game publishers want to know that these advertising companies are experienced in this realm of advertising and want to be able to converse with other publishers about their experience, especially in the area of "creative control".  They don't want some company who's going to make their titles into a parking lot of ads.

This is also an area where your normal "mom and pop" advertisers are likely not going to be able to play as readily.  The major barriers I see are: understanding how it all works, price/budgets and what exactly is the model?  It certainly isn't PPC, so for Google, if they do "seal the deal" with Adscape Media, Inc. early this week, will it be more like the radio and print ads that they have in beta now?  I think it will likely take a road similar to that, but again, it will take a lot of eduction of the customer that is the advertiser.

Xbox_1 For Microsoft, acquiring Massive, Inc. made sense since they are the maker of the XBox.  However, for Google, this just seems like a much cheaper "YouTube like" purchase.  It is another way to quickly acquire the eyeballs that they are missing out on, and figure out how to monetize the acquisition in a "Google Way". 

Chrisgilbertadscapeceo If you would like to learn a little more about Adscape Media, (who by the way boasts over 100 years experience in the Video Gaming Market) check out Gamasutra's interview with Adscape Media's CEO Chris Gilbert.  He gives his thoughts on Microsoft's acquisition of Massive, Inc., what he believes is their competitive advantage, hurdles this particular industry faces and bit more.

January 08, 2007

MyBlogLog Acquired By Yahoo! or Not?

By Li Evans

MyblogloglogoUPDATED: just confirmed Yahoo! has bought MyBlogLog.

A few months ago the rumor mill was running full speed with acquisition claims of MyBlogLog (a favorite in the blogging world) had been acquired by Yahoo!    Those rumors turned out to be a bit ahead of their time.

Today, I was reading Marketing Shift via my reader and I came across their post about MyBlogLog being acquired for $12 million (link leads to their sitemap right now), by *drum rolls* - Yahoo!  (see below screen cut)


I clicked on the story and it seems to be pulled.  I did a check on the reference to the post and GigaOM had linked to it, but updated that the article had been pulled down.

So, now the rumors start again, until they are verified - it's all speculation.  It would be a smart move by Yahoo!, but whether it happens or not has yet to be confirmed.

December 11, 2006

Speculation: MetaCafe & Yahoo?

By Li Evans

Metacafelogo_1 This past Friday the buzz was a low humming about speculations of a MetaCafe acquisition.  At the time there was speculation of two possible suitors, Yahoo! and a conglomerate of networks.

Well the buzzing has returned, this time with just Yahoo! at the helm of the acquisition speculation.  TechCrunch earlier reported that the talks had pretty much stalled based on MetaCafe's recent traffic reports.  However, Liz Gannes at NewTeeVee is now reporting that isn't true and that talks are still ongoing - just not at the rapid pace that was once thought.

About those traffic reports - apparently there's conflicting data.  TechCrunch sites comScore numbers that reflect a drop in traffic.  NewTeeVee is citing both Alexa and Hitwise that reflect differently, showing a slight drop in October of this year and then a jump in November.  The graph they refer to is Hitwise's data, thankfully.  Most Search Marketers by now know just how unreliable Alexa data can be.

Yahoojumpcut_1_1 Yahoo!'s name seems to be the front runner now.  This would make complete sense, and a great addition to their stable of social networking.  I just ponder how this would work with their newest acquisition JumpCut?  Regardless the next couple of days should be interesting ones to see how this all develops.

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