12 step program for beating AA. What Microsoft’s Plan B Should Be: Building an Adsense/Adwords Competitor in Minimal Time
I have to say that I thought buying Yahoo was the wrong move. Yahoo didn’t have an Adsense/Adwords product that was successful, their use of Adwords in order to raise their Search Engine Earnings is a testament to that. So what should Microsoft do?
1. Convert the Microsoft owned Building on Pear Street in Mountain View to be the first headquarters for Microsoft’s new Ad Product.
It has to be in Silicon Valley, and it would be better if it were NOT on the over crowded SVC campus, and there isn’t time to build a new campus. MSFT has this building and it is a nice size and walking distance to Microsoft SVC, and Google. Which is important because every time Google has a Blogger Event, or an Ad Expo, there needs to be one at Microsoft as well. Microsoft Culture doesn’t always merge well so finding a new home near, but not on an existing campus give the Acquisitions a better chance of bringing their expertise rather than being molded in to Microsofties too quickly.
2. Acquire Adsdaq. Adsdaq is the best non-Google banner ad company out there. There are bigger ones, but Adsdaq has a simple intuitive UI, that makes sense, and with MSFT behind it could achieve the necessary volume to be a true success. I don’t believe entirely in the name your own price ad serving model, but it would be a benefit to MSFT early on because it would allow the expectation that you would get less than 100% fill rate, which would allow time to grow ad inventory to meet demand.
3. Acquire Compete. I don’t even like Compete, but there are a lot of people who trust it more than Alexa for traffic analysis, and that is an important component. Microsoft is going to need to build a better than Google Analytics tools quickly, and it seems like Compete has the biggest jump in this space.
4. Acquire ISayhello.com . Microsoft needs a deep understanding of not just keywords, but keyword relationships, the ability to mine data quickly and efficiently, and ISayHello.com brings that to the table. Until there is an Ad for every keyword on the planet Microsoft will need to be able to do contextual matches against categories, content types, and working out those relationships will also allow Microsoft to do something Google doesn’t. Let you easily decide if you want to run ads on Pages that distinctly say your product sucks. With out the ability to determine the actual meaning of the words on the page you could very well be spending money to advertise on sites that are bashing your product, already selling your product, both of these scenarios should be up to the ad buyer.
5. Don’t Force Dev, on a Microsoft Platform. It should get moved eventually, but time is critical, and many of the companies that are going to need to get bought won’t be running ASP and MSSQL. Encourage Flexibility, and work on building API’s to connect what is out there to Microsoft Platforms. This will do do things, Shorten time to product, and make creation of tools for sale to end users easier. There will be a time in the near future when people will be ready Microsoft Ad Server, for managing their inventory of In House ads, and their ads provided by third parties. Knowing how to talk to anything and everything will be part of building that.
6. Get Scoble Back. You don’t even have to hire him full time, but Scoble brings legitimacy to bloggers. Microsoft needs to be the exclusive ad provider for all of Scoble’s projects. While they are at it, they need to get Dave Winer, Om Malik, Fake Steve Jobs, and Perez Hilton. And for good measure the Technorati Top 100 by Authority and by Favorites.
7. Be an Omnimedia Company. Create products that don’t exist now, that allow for Microsoft to be a "One Stop Shop" for advertising. Cut a deal with Clearchannel, along with other radio stations, PBS and NPR. Yes PBS. Every time there is a "This show sponsored in part by" there is an opportunity to advertise. And the Cost is cheap, and the ads are simple so they are easy to build. Every small town newspaper on the planet, even if it is just to sell classifieds. A reseller program for Adam’s outdoor. You get the picture. The idea should be that every mom and pop shop should be able to go to one place and get any type of ad they need.
8. Build an MCSE equivalent for Advertising. By creating lots of local experts Microsoft can create a partner network to off load support and make the ad buying experience more personal than any of the existing products. Many Graphic Designers would be happy to create ads and manage them, many companies that handle media buys would like to be able to say they were a certified partner. This helps customers know who to trust.
9. Offer payment as products from Microsoft and Partners. A lot of "small fish" will take all year to get $100 from Google. So why not let the Game Blogger get a game at the Microsoft Employee price every so often. Halo 3 for $20, and Blue Dragon for $20 is a great incentive to the High School Kid who wants to get in to Blogging, but is going to take 3 years to get a check from Google.
10. Allow the use of Ad revenue to buy more Ads on the network. I hate having to take my Adsense dollars into my bank accounts so that I can put them back in Adwords. Save some money and just let me pull from one into the other.
11. Maintain Transparency. The most irksome thing about Google for ad buyers and ad sellers, is that you don’t know what commission Google is getting. So are you paying $1 for a click that cost 10 cents? Are you being paid a penny for a click that Google charge a quarter for? I’m confident Google moves the slider around based on the volume of your buy, and the volume of your sell. But it is hard to trust Google. You know you will get paid but it is hard to anticipate your income because the CPM’s seem to flux with where Google thinks it needs to get its earnings.
12. Remember the Little Guy. Google got to the size it is buy taking the big and the small. You can advertise with as little as a dollar, and you can get paid as little as $30 a year. Being a success means growing with your customers.