Archive for the ‘Review’ tag
In May of this year, Yahoo agreed to sell half of its stake in Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba for about $7 billion. At the time, Yahoo’s chief financial officer Tim Morse planned to return the cash to shareholders — a feel-good quick hit, perhaps, but hardly something that would revive the company.
But new CEO Marissa Mayer, who is already bringing a new product focus to the company, may have different plans.
In an 8-K filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission that Business Insider noticed today, Yahoo states that it is re-evaluating those plans as Mayer restructures the company and looks for acquisitions.
Here are the relevant excerpts from the filing, titled “New Chief Executive Officer and Review of Business Strategy:”
Ms. Mayer is engaging in a review of the Company’s business strategy to enhance long term shareholder value.
As part of that review, Ms. Mayer intends to review with the Board of Directors, among other things, the Company’s growth and acquisition strategy, the restructuring plan we began implementing in the second quarter of 2012, and the Company’s cash position and planned capital allocation strategy.
This review process may lead to a reevaluation of, or changes to, our current plans, including our restructuring plan, our share repurchase program, and our previously announced plans for returning to shareholders substantially all of the after tax cash proceeds of the initial share repurchase under the Share Repurchase and Preference Share Sale Agreement we entered into on May 20, 2012 with Alibaba Group Holding Limited.
Judiciously spent, $7 billion might be the ticket to help the once-proud internet giant regain some of its former glory. That may only be seven Instagrams, but there are plenty of other startups available for significantly less money. Super-angel Dave McClure has already suggested buying properties around fashion, shopping, and women.
The only problem?
Yahoo is not great at creating lasting value from acquisitions. Talk to Flickr or Delicious. Or Broadcast.com.
One thing I will say: If anyone can figure it out, Mayer can.
Image credit: Gl0ck/ShutterStock
According to a recent Harvard Business Review article, 53% of marketing executives plan to outsource their marketing to partners.
Now before going further I should point out that any survey of corporate marketing executives is bound to miss one question I believe is critical: Should a company outsource not only its marketing execution but also the role of the chief marketer. And of course I’m biased in favor of outsourcing; especially for smaller companies who can benefit from access to top tier marketing talent but don’t have room in the budget to make the right hire (the wrong hire is worse than no hire at all); or are operating in a complex, competitive environment and need to differentiate big time if they want to win big time.
This said, a few months ago a company called Mavenlink published a helpful infographic that aims to ease executives’ decision about hiring vs outsourcing for marketing excellence. I like the way the decision-tree highlights a number of key characteristics that naturally support the choice to outsource. Limited budget? Complexity inside and outside the organization? Urgency and the need for speed? Lack of internal resources (or desire) to manage the team? The need for deep specialization (e.g., expertise in digital, social, mobile or just about any specialized form of communications)? All point toward outsourcing as the smart choice.
Check out the graphic. Think through the choices. Hope it helps you weigh the pros and cons of outsourcing the marketing function at your organization.
I’d love to hear your thoughts (leave a comment).
Yelp announced its latest quarterly earnings today, but rather than the financials, these are the numbers that caught my eye:
- Cumulative reviews grew 54% year over year to more than 30 million
- Average monthly unique visitors grew 52% year over year to more than 78 million
Both of those numbers are about double what they were 18 months ago, at the end of 2010. At that time, Yelp announced that it had about 15 million reviews and monthly traffic of about 41 million uniques.
Wowza. Closed out 2010 with +41M unique visitors & +15M reviews in Dec! Feeling good things for 2011! http://yfrog.com/hsjn3xj
— Yelp (@Yelp) January 5, 2011
I still generally believe that overall review counts are meaningless, but I do think this bears watching in light of Google’s risky switch to the Zagat ratings/reviews system. I’m curious to see how that will play out, and if the switch will hurt Google in the long run, while helping competitors like Yelp that are sticking with the familiar 5-star system.
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Yelp’s Traffic & Review Count Have Doubled in the Past 18 Months
- Mobile Research – dscout
Potentially useful research service: dScout reveals how users experience products, services and everyday life.
- HELP ME BE FCKNG CREATIVE
Get advice, click to refresh, be more creative – voila!
- Squishable requesting product feedback
Great use of Facebook informal polling to get product feedback
- Review/recipe: Samuel Adams B’Austin Ale – 99 Bottles – Inside the world of craft beer – Boston.com
Good recap of Sam Adams campaign where they crowdsourced input for new beer: In case you missed it, the Boston Beer Co. launched the Samuel Adams Crowd Craft Project in January, inviting Sam’s Twitter, Facebook, and Google+ friends to offer up their preferences to help create a new beer. Users were asked to make their choices about the beer’s malt profile, hops selection, yeast type, and so forth. Back then, I sort of mocked the idea, saying it had “mediocrity written all over it.” Turns out I couldn’t have been more wrong.
- BBC News – Your Olympic athlete body match
- Time to Kill the Agency ‘Lunch and Learn’ | DigitalNext: A Blog on Emerging Media and Technology – Advertising Age
From acquisitions to product changes, employee departures to new revenue generators, Facebook moves faster than just about any company in tech. In just three months since its IPO, it’s produced a staggering amount on news.
5/18: Facebook’s Acquisition of Karma Brings Mobile Commerce, App Monetization Prowess - Karma could help Facebook suggest real-world gifts to buy for your friends
5/19: Day After IPO, Mark Zuckerberg Marries Longtime Girlfriend Priscilla Chan - As Facebook’s CEO grows up and starts a family, he may mature into thinking more about Facebook as a business.
5/24: Facebook Acq-Hires Part Of Design Firm Bolt | Peters To Beef Up User Research Team - This could improve Facebook’s design and keep it from shocking users with hated product changes.
5/24: FB Launches Facebook Camera – An Instagram-Style Photo Filtering, Sharing, Viewing iOS App - The standalone could drive uploads of photos, one of Facebook’s biggest engagement drivers.
5/29: Facebook Faces Extended US Review of Instagram Deal [Reuters] - The deal is still pending review, though that doesn’t mean the acquisition is less likely to go through.
5/31: Facebook Finally Cracks Down On Auto-Sharing Spam With “10-Second Rule” - A wise move that preserved the user experience but could hurt some social app growth.
6/1: Facebook Forced By Privacy Activist To Put Policy Changes Up For Worldwide Vote - This shows Facebook still has thorns in its side, though an inclusive vote allowed Facebook to implement changes.
6/4: Facebook Explores Giving Kids Access [WSJ] - Opening access to kids under age 13 could boost user counts and attract a new class of advertisers.
6/4: Salesforce Lines Up Against Oracle On Social Push; Buys Buddy Media For $689M - Even if soggy IPOs will discourage social tech companies to go public, there are still big exits to be had.
6/5: App Devs, Grab Your Credit Cards: You Can Now Buy Mobile-Only Ads On Facebook - Facebook courts advertisers by letting them choose to show ads only on mobile.
6/7: Facebook’s New App Center Is Here: The Details - Facebook launches its own social version of the App Store for helping users discover web and mobile apps.
6/7: Facebook’s Mobile Power: 83M People And 134M Clicks To iOS Apps In May, Plus Top Leaderboard Spots: This proves Facebook is a powerful ally for both iOS and Android.
6/11: Apple Gives Facebook Deep Integration Into iOS 6 and OS X Mountain Lion With Siri, Sharing, App Store, API - This shows signs of a growing Facebook – Apple alliance.
6/11: Facebook Picks Up The Mobile Development Team From Pieceable - Pieceable allowed users to preview mobile apps from the desktop and could bolster Facebook’s App Center
6/13: Facebook Exchange: A New Way For Advertisers To Target Specific Users With Real-Time Bid Ads - Retargeted ads on Facebook could bring in loads of direct advertising spend.
6/15: Facebook CTO Bret Taylor Leaving To Do His Own Thing - Though some considered Taylor to be a figurehead, it shows some talent may be slipping away to startup land.
6/18: Facebook Scoops Up Face.com For $55-60M To Bolster Its Facial Recognition Tech - This could bring facial recognition to Facebook mobile, and power a facial recognition API
6/18: Here’s How A Facebook Hyper-Local Mobile Ad Product Would Target You - An unconfirmed rumor, but this could pull in huge spend by helping local businesses target people in sight.
6/18: Report: Over 24% Of The Web’s Top 10,000 Sites Now Use Facebook’s Official Widgets - The social network has conquered a quarter of the web, which could seed a rollout of an ad network.
6/19: They Work! Facebook Mobile Ads Are Clicked 13X More, Earn 11X More Money Than Its Desktop Ads - Proof Facebook may have a bright future in mobile advertising and monetization after all.
6/20: After Facebook’s IPO Flub, Value Of Tech Startups Falls Back To Earth [The Verge] - Between poor public performance of Facebook, Zynga, and others, late stage valuations may get more logical.
6/21: Problems For Monetization: Lawsuit Forces Facebook To Let You Opt Out Of Sponsored Story Ads - You’ll only be able to opt out of being used in ads one story at a time, though, so not crippling.
6/22: Facebook Ads and Sponsored Stories Are Now Running On Zynga.com, Previewing A FB Ad Network - If expanded to more sites, the ad network could become a huge money maker.
6/23: Why Facebook Is Folding On Credits And Doubling Down On Payments - Facebook abandons its own virtual currency, switching to local currencies for payments and adding subscriptions.
6/25: Facebook Hides Your Personal Email Addresses, Leaving Only @Facebook.com Visible On Profile - Facebook promotes its email/messaging system, and hides Gmail addresses in a blow to Google.
6/25: Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook’s Long-Time COO, Becomes First Woman On Its Board Of Directors - This demonstrates how Facebook prefers promoting leaders from within.
6/27: Facebook Plans To Speed Up Its iPhone App [NYTimes] - Facebook is planning a major back-end update to quicken its notoriously slow iPhone app.
6/27: Facebook Now Lets You “Like” and “Follow” Someone In Any App, Get Their Updates In News Feed - All part of Facebook’s plan to become the only news feed you need, and monetize attention with ads.
7/6: Yahoo and Facebook Confirm Deal To Cross-License Their Patent Portfolios, Sell Ads Together - With Yahoo CEO Scott Thompson gone, the two bury the hatchet and embark on big partnership.
7/11: Facebook Groups Start Showing Exactly Who Saw Each Post - If this moves to the news feed, it could make Facebook communication more lifelike, but some users could find it creepy.
7/11: Facebook Finally Redesigns Events, Adds Calendar and List Views - It’s one of Facebook’s most unique and powerful features, but hadn’t gotten a big update in years.
7/12: The Facebook Tweak That Killed A Billion-Dollar Industry [CNN Money] - The switch to the Timeline design for Pages reduced traffic to some Page apps by up to 90%.
7/16: Facebook’s Latest Acqui-Hire: Spool, The “Instapaper On Steroids” - Along with its acquihire of Acrylic, Spool could help Facebook build an internal “read it later” service.
7/18: Facebook Earns 58% More Per Ad Than Last Year - Demand for Facebook ads keeps rising, allowing it to make more money without adding more users.
7/19: Facebook Begins Testing Sponsored Results, Its First Search Typeahead Ads - A new ad format that could compete with Google Sponsored Search Results.
7/20: Facebook Acqui-Hires Mac and iOS Developer Acrylic Software - Acrylic was the one-man team who built personalized content saving apps Pulp and Wallet
7/20: Nasdaq to Release Compensation Plan for Investors Hurt by Facebook IPO Mess [Fox Business] - The IPO was a mess and NASDAQ was partly to blame.
7/24: Facebook Open Graph Leader Director Of Product Management Carl Sjogreen Leaves - This signals some Facebook leaders are exiting after the IPI. Sjogreen’s planning to launch a new startup.
7/24: Facebook Opens First International Engineering Office In London - The office will let it grab top engineering talent from Europe without introducing a language barrier between teams.
7/25: Zynga Explains “Challenging” Q2: Facebook Platform Changes - Facebook aiding discovery of new apps over the most popular ones led to revenue decreases, causing its stock price to plummet.
Meetings suck. They’re time for people to avoid doing actual work, stare blankly at each other, throw in generic comments to look like they’re paying attention, and if you’re lucky, maybe come out with some wicked notebook doodles.
Is that how people perceive your marketing meetings? I hope not, because they don’t actually have to be that way.
You could turn it into something that’s actually useful by — you guessed it — creating compelling content! (Oh my gosh, inbound marketing concepts work in real life, too!) Because the thing is, as your team grows, it really is important for everyone to get in a room together and talk about what they’ve been working on in their corner of the world. So to ensure those marketing meetings aren’t blocks of time your team dreads, take these tips for how to make marketing team meetings truly useful for your employees.
Components of Every Successful Marketing Team Meeting
Whether your marketing team meeting is a weekly event or a monthly one, this section will explain the content that should be there every single time. We also recommend creating a slide deck for each meeting that you project for the entire team to see so you can all follow along with each agenda item.
Set an Agenda
Speaking of agendas, set one. You should have a dedicated agenda slide for every meeting laying out three things:
- What will be discussed in today’s meeting
- Who will be leading each discussion
- How much time is allotted for each discussion
Take a look at one of our recent marketing team meeting agenda slides, for example:
Breaking out who is talking, the topic they’re covering, and how much time they have to discuss it will help prevent the meeting from getting derailed and prevent people from delving into unproductive conversations that are best had at another time and place.
Review Important Metrics
Next, do a quick review of your most important marketing metrics. These shouldn’t be niche metrics, like email unsubscribe rate, social media reach, or blog subscriber growth; save those for your monthly meetings where you review month-over-month progress. These should be the metrics your marketing team is measured on. In other words, at the end of the month, what metrics will tell you whether the marketing team succeeded?
While every business will likely review something different depending on their business model, here are some ideas for you:
- Leads waterfall
- Sales waterfall
- Volume of marketing qualified leads (MQLs)
- Paid vs. organic leads breakdown
- Website traffic
The point of reviewing your team’s important metrics is that they’re what you’re measured on as an overall marketing team. And if you don’t all know how you’re faring as the month progresses, individual contributors can’t do anything to step up and help your team’s numbers improve.
A Bit of Education
Marketing meetings should be a healthy mix of state-of-the-union content, and educational content. Each week, have a couple team members present briefly about interesting projects they’ve been working on. This serves two purposes: it lets people know what their team members do all day; plus, they get to learn something new!
Think about it … wouldn’t it be interesting for a blogger to learn a little bit about a PPC experiment? Or for a social media intern to learn about the results of the latest email A/B test? Sharing lessons from projects helps everyone expand their knowledge base, sidestep landmines if a project backfired, and implement effective new techniques that they never knew worked. Boom, everyone leaves your weekly meeting a smarter, better marketer!
A little bit of recognition is a good thing. Set aside a couple of minutes — come on, you can’t find 5 minutes? — to showcase some of the amazing things team members or the department as a whole have accomplished. This could be anything from press coverage, speaking engagements, engaging with power players on social media, a smash hit blog post, an email that received unprecedented click-through rates … you get the point. It’s easy to harp on where you’re falling behind, but a little cheerleading can help rally your team and remind them just how successful they can be when they put their mind to it.
Everyone should have the opportunity to solicit help from team members during your marketing team meetings. The larger your team gets, the easier it is to work in silos — but everyone has their own little super powers that sometimes go unnoticed. If there is a platform during every meeting for employees to share (if they need it) something they need a little help with, you may find others pipe up with a simple solution or resource that solves the problem.
There should also be a few minutes built into each presentation for a little feedback. If someone is presenting on the progress of an ongoing project, part of “soliciting help” may be getting feedback on what steps to take next. Is this project still worth pursuing? How should we measure the success of this project? Does anyone have a solution to a major roadblock?
So while there should be a few minutes at the end of each meeting dedicated solely to giving employees the floor to solicit help, time for feedback should be built into presentations if the presenter needs it.
Components to Add to Your Monthly Marketing Team Meeting
Monthly marketing team meetings might be slightly different than weekly team meetings, because many marketing departments run on monthly cycles. That means in addition to everything from the previous section, at the beginning of each month you have last month’s numbers to review and the current month’s goals to discuss. Here are a few things you should consider adding to the agenda during your monthly marketing meeting:
Review Last Month’s Numbers
You know those marketing metrics you decided to measure and review in the first section? The ones that noted your team’s progress throughout the month? Now’s the time to see whether you hit your goals or not! If you hit your goals, do two things: celebrate, and explain exactly why you hit those goals. That second one is critical. Someone should explain what marketing activities strongly contributed to you hitting, say, your leads goal. That way you can repeat those activities this month!
The Nitty Gritty Retrospective
Your monthly meeting should also contain a review of the projects each employee (or if you’re a larger marketing department, each team) worked on last month, plus the results they’ve seen. This is good for a few reasons. First, it keeps everyone accountable knowing that each month they need to stand up in front of their colleagues and explain just what they do all day. Second, everyone gets to learn from what everyone else worked on and become generally better marketers. Third, it helps everyone identify how individual teams are faring, and what projects they’re doing to improve their own metrics.
For example, if you have a social media team, this is their opportunity to report on the success of every single social network they manage. How is their reach faring? How much traffic are those networks sending to your site? How many leads are being generated? Why are some networks more successful than others? Because your weekly meetings focus on more high-level, team-based metrics, a monthly meeting is a good opportunity to do a deep dive into the channels and metrics that enable the entire team to meet its goals.
How You’ll Meet This Month’s Goals
After the retrospective, each employee or team should also present on their individual goals for the month, and how exactly they will meet those goals. This is not the time to be generic. Teams should explain, point by point, everything they’ll be doing during the month to meet the metrics they’re measured by. For example, let’s say the email marketing team is responsible for driving more reconversions this month. What exactly will they do to, well, do that? Well, that slide might have some initiatives like A/B test email copy with and without a P.S., an offers analysis to determine which offers convert at the highest rate, list segmentation experiments, tailoring lead generation offers to align more closely with personas to improve CTR … the list could, and should, go on.
This is also a critical time in your meeting for feedback. Build in time during every presentation — at least 5 minutes, more if you find you need it after a few meetings — for each team to solicit feedback on their proposed projects. This will help individual teams from getting derailed on projects that might not help them meet their goals, or perhaps other members of the marketing team have fantastic ideas that the teams hadn’t even thought of yet!
Tips for Making Everyone Love You
Now that you know the content to include in your marketing team meetings, let’s discuss a few ways to make those meetings run smoothly. These are the types of things that, despite useful content, can make or break the usefulness of any marketing meeting:
- Keep it on time. That means you start on time, you end on time, and individual presentations do not go over their budgeted time. I know it’s hard, especially when there’s a good discussion going on, but have a timekeeper who lets presenters know when they’re coming up to the end of their allotted time. If you’re vigilant about this, people will start to self-edit their presentation, and meeting-goers will self-censor their comments, only contributing what truly needs to be said.
- Don’t allow computers. Said the internet marketing company. Seriously though, only the meeting coordinator should have a computer to pull up the agenda and presentations. If others bring their laptops, you’ll find people can’t help but check their emails, get little bits of work done, and chat online, no matter how riveting the presentations are.
- Give me a break. Your weekly meeting may only be 30 or 60 minutes, but your monthly meeting could take a lot longer. In that case, build in time for people to get up, stretch their legs, go to the bathroom, get coffee, whatever. You’ll start losing people’s attention otherwise.
- End every meeting with action items. Whatever you talked about during your meeting should be revisited briefly at the end of the meeting, preferably by the meeting coordinator. If you spend 20 minutes talking about how to solve your lead shortage problem at the beginning of your 90-minute meeting, there’s a good chance some of the to-dos and initiatives trickled out of people’s minds. Make sure there’s someone taking notes throughout the meeting, and allot 5 minutes at the end of every meeting to review what people should start doing once they walk out of that meeting room.
How do you keep your marketing meetings useful, instead of a waste of time? What do you think should be excluded from marketing meetings?
Image credit: Charles Williams
With the launch of OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion on Wednesday, review embargoes were lifted, and tech pundits heaped praise on the value offered by Apple in its $19.99 operating system upgrade.
If you’ve been following my weekend watch reviews, you’ll note that I tend to like bigger watches. But even this monster – the Graham Oversize GMT – is too big for me.
Graham is a British manufacturer of haute horology. Named after famed clockmaker George Graham, the company manufactures mostly in Switzerland and uses a combination of bespoke movements as well as some modified ETA pieces. The Chronofighter is a bit different and a bit more interesting.
What are you looking at here? First, this is one of Graham’s flagship watches. It contains an automatic caliber G1733, Graham’s first in-house movement with a big date at twelve o’clock and a large GMT hand. It also has a chronograph with a unique pusher/crown arrangement to stop and start measurements and a plunger-like pusher.
That big trigger stops and starts the chronograph and it also protects the crown. The case is 47mm in diameter and the watch is quite thick, with a signed, solid case back. It is ostensibly water resistant to 100 meters.
On the wrist, especially with a leather strap, the watch is surprisingly light. However, the trigger on the side is definitely an acquired taste and tends to dig into the flesh if you’re on the slightly slimmer side. While I wouldn’t count myself as svelte, I felt it was a bit too big.
But what fun it is to wear. Graham is a polarizing watch company that jumped into the big watch trend with both size 14s. The piece is bold and very eye-catching and the British pedigree and essential “tool-ness” of the watch makes it an interesting find. You can pick these up for about $11,000 brand new but the collectors markets often surfaces them for about $8,000, which isn’t bad for a hand-manufactured watch the size of a bundt cake.
Of all the big watches I’ve reviewed, this watch is the most difficult to recommend outright. I’m more inclined to encourage folks to visit the dealer and try this thing on to see for themselves how it fits and I worry that it is big for big’s sake – a concept watchmakers throughout the previous decades were falling over each other to promote.
Graham has a unique new vision and although they’ve been attacked by some purists as being garish I would say that they are instead bold. The Chronofighter is a huge watch for folks who like huge watches and, for the money, I haven’t seen anything beat it in terms of visibility, utility, and sheer cheek.
Google recently launched the Google Analytics mobile app for Android users on June 29, 2012. Being an Internet marketing professional, I was pretty curious about what the app had to offer. In this post, I have tried to provide a preliminary review of the app and the various traffic reports that it offers. For the [...]
Michelle McCudden is a Client Engagement Director on the Client Strategy & Innovation team at Social Media Group. Follow @mmccudden1
What do Burning Man, fantasy football, and Saturday Night Live’s Digital Shorts have in common? On the surface, probably not that much. But they’re all examples from anthropologist Grant McCracken’s latest book, Culturematic.
As McCracken describes it, a Culturematic is a “little machine for making culture” intended to “test the world, discover meaning, and unleash value.” It’s something that’s easier to describe through examples, rather than by definition, and as such McCracken spends most of Culturematic describing and analyzing examples. When Saturday Night Live allowed Lonely Island to create a series of digital shorts, it was an experiment. It was a test, of new formats, of integrating comedy, celebrity, music video and new ways of reaching the traditional SNL audience, online vs. on TV.
Burning Man and fantasy football are also presented as examples of Culturematics, but with slightly different roots. With no corporate backer at their onset, their creators came to them organically—doing something for personal enjoyment that caught the attention of like-minded others and soon took off as a phenomenon.
One of McCracken’s goals for the text was “to make innovation a little more practical and a lot less fashionable.” The Culturematics he presents certainly still seem fashionable, but practicality is a harder road to sow. Many of the Culturematics seem to have worked through corporate support (Lonely Island and Lorne Michaels) or through blind luck and momentum (fantasy football and Burning Man).
Working in the digital culture industry, Culturematic is certainly inspirational. If nothing else, it’s an excellent compendium of cultural artifacts that have touched the zeitgeist in the last few years.