Saturday, December 02, 2006

Big mouth and €60m

It bolds well for the industry that a marketeer such as bigmouthmedia can get a deal of this magnitude.

I have to say that we at Weboptimiser Media Ltd have been offered a number of deals in the past few years, all of which have come to nothing. Nothing that is other than I have learnt a lot about the business and the type of deals that are possible. I could say that we walked away, we could say that the terms were not up to scratch. In the end, it seemed that the numbers offered just did not make sense, so I hope it works out for Steve and his team.

There have been several 'high profile' industry deals over the years that I can think of, Webgravity reportedly for £1m a few years back, a ppc company for £1m, Iprospect in the US for a tidy sum to a UK firm and so on, these deals are not new. Webgravity has been trying to find its way ever since, the PPC company was a client based turnover deal and I understand that there were some tremours there. I have not heard much about Iprospect since they did their deal and I cannot predict which way bigmouth will go, other than the word which is just one letter away - ego.

So good luck to Steve and his team. Like us they have had their troubles over the years and it is good to see that good outcomes are possible. There is a distinct trend of mergers and acquisitions within this industry and the future looks exciting for those that can get traction in the market. My opinion is that traction in the market is difficult to achieve. Not least of which is because Google and Yahoo have done such a fine job in convincing, allowing, co-ordinating... clients to go direct, through the cloning and suggestion of optimisation techniques.

Ultimately cloning or adopting or creating new optimisation techniques is better for the client and that is the best possible outcome for the industry in the long run. There will always be some clients who will require the services of thrid parties and the best third parties are those that focus on the creation of genuine added value - and this as well as brains takes cash and client momentum. I am certain that this is something that Weboptimiser Media Ltd has, and I can definately see it in one or two of our competitors too, but not in any of the companies that have completed deals recently. That may be their secret. Lets see.

They are of course all welcome to join the IAB UK or Europe and join us on any of the Search Task Force calls.

I am appointed chair of IAB UK Search Task Force

Wow. I am very pleased that I was confirmed Chair of the IAB UK Search Task Force.

I hope to carry on promoting the efficacy of search and it is interesting to look at search from yet another perspective, that of the UK and in some ways the challenge is to communicate with the big TV spenders that online is the way to go. This should be a relatively straightforward task and we have already narrowed it down to just three, maybe four initiatives.

So, thanksfor all those that voted and elected me as Chair and I hope that I can make a difference to the future of the UKs search industry.

The IABEurope search task force continues to grow

I am pleased to discover that I have increased membership substantially, there are nearly three times the number of members to the IABEurope search task force now, I am very pleased. More importantly the membership is starting to reflect the industry and has given me te opportunity to have a dialogue with some of my competitors which otherwise I probably never would have.

So in a sense and perhaps for my own selfish reasons the IAB is proving to be a great place for me and truly allowing the 'trade' to talk. It is a revelation to me that the channel exists. It provides a level playing field where you know that everyone else is capable of presenting an opinion and making sense of what is being said. In this way I feel that genuine progress is possible for the industry - as some would say it is all part of growing up.

However, the industry is still a child. The child is about 10 years old, and that is about how long I have been working in it. Our child has grown rapidly and in some ways recklessly. It is young and it has a lot of money to spend. It is interesting to think back on all the products, strategies and business models that have come about, I cannot profess to know them all, but I have seen many. What is more interesting is how the 'panacea' products never have been, how the 'too good to believe' services have withered and died and how, even as early as 5 the industry was talking about ethical optimisation. Although that was always a stance of my company, Weboptimiser Media Ltd.

Nowadays we are busier than ever, we have a few more things in play, about 8 projects in mobile, a range of coded seo services that range from content management systems to network management, very fast microsite creation and competitive analysis services, we work in email, display, affiliate marketing... all of which add up to a broad range of clients and a broad range of services.

The IAB Europe search task force is about to deliver on its first remit item with its first set of case studies and I am pleased to see that I am not the only provider of those as I have seen a further 8 case studies come through from Latitude. It is possible if every member country of IAB Europe posted just two case studies, then we could get the dizzy heights of 54 case studies. That would be far out. Just think what would happen if all the search marketing companies around the world pooled their case studies how big the repository would be and how convincing to people that the industry is genuine and accessible.

Friday, October 06, 2006

Chair of Search Task Force

“Unlocking the power of search can transform your customer acquisition strategy”, David White, newly appointed joint leader of the IAB Europe Search Marketing Taskforce.

Welcome to the European Search Marketing Taskforce

Welcome to the new taskforce leader
The IAB Search Marketing Taskforce will now be led by David White, CEO of Weboptimiser Media Ltd (UK). An expert in the search industry with staff collectively able to draw on hundreds of man years of experience in search. David takes over from IAB Chief Executive Danny Meadows-Klue and builds on the projects developed earlier in the year.

What’s on the agenda?
The key objectives of the IAB Europe Search Marketing Taskforce are to:
• Communicate the effectiveness of Search engine marketing
• Coordinate European feedback and views into the global ‘measuring the click’ guidelines the IAB is developing
• Creating a website to champion the best in search engine advertising
• Work on new techniques to quantify the market including improving the industry’s knowledge on search spend in each country

How does the taskforce work?
The group meets monthly by conference call and more regularly by email. Individual members can champion their own projects and collectively the taskforce leaders focus the group’s activity around key issues. As well as Google, Miva and Yahoo, national search engines take part and search marketing stakeholders from all sides of the industry are welcome to join.

What’s in it for Weboptimiser clients?
Weboptimiser leads the initiative to ensure our voice and regular communication with the major search engines on all issues concerning search. Through me you have the opportunity to pose specific questions to the task force. You can actively participate in growing the industry by joining the IAB and the Search Task Force or simply supply case studies.

Friday, May 26, 2006

The voyage

I have been quiet on the blog front for quite a while. I have been very busy. Business has exploded, growth is a strong upward curve and we are moving to more central, larger offices to facilitate further expansion.

I am taking a quick break in Miami and am glad to get away. I find that I have my thinking head on - when it should be my drinking head! I definately will be by the pool taking it easy in the sun shortly. It is the Memorial Weekend for US verterans and there is a hip hop festival with 350,000 people right outside the front door of my hotel! Help I am stuck. I have been warned to stay away from the hookers - they don't want my money, they make more by stealing my identity nowadays...

Just before Christmas 2005. I started a process of examinging what we do at Weboptimiser, with a mission to automate and systemise, so that we can outsource, increase volume and ensure stable quality.

For some this means that we rely less on our engineers and are considering the unholy automation of SEO. I think that this is an inevitable process of life. I.e. when we do something good, we want to do it better. We eventually get the time to analyse what we do and like Henry Ford, break things down into 'manufactoring' chunks. Some of what an SEO and PPC does are easily systematised.

I have discovered several things.
It was the right thing to do.
It has improved quality.
It now means we can do more
It has overal benefits to everyone - staff, sales and clients

We are building in extra intelligence into the process, in order to differentiate what we do and to make our work better and more meaningful. Our engineers are spending more time doing more interesting work, the more repetitive but essential stuff is now done for them, so I think that their overal lives are better, as well as the client output.

I have shared data files of our discoveries with the team, so they can see that we really do have the ability that I talk about. So if they need to discuss in a client situation they know what is possible and they have a very real idea about what we can do for sure. Again this should make thier lives more comfortable and help us set expectation levels accordingly.

It is not until you travel down a road that you can see the choices ahead. In other words, I am doing what I am doing for my own reasons, rightly or wrongly, others may look at it and realise from the information that I share that they could do something else (an epiphany!) to benefit the client - seo and ppc.

I am not for one moment pretending that I am the only one doing this. My message is join in, we are still at the beginning of a digital world that still needs to be explored. And so we are exploring and plan to continue, some of our exploration will lead to dead ends, others to rich new seams. I do so because we have found out so much already -as outlined in our white papers and case studies.

We have found out how users behave online, we have seen how certain trades behave online - we have identified the pain of being online too. We continue to discover. By forcing the march of discovery we continue to pioneer. We know what puts people to the top of search and conversely what ruins thier chances.

Although the road I am taking is clear to me. 3G SEM or sem taking into account competitive analysis - is something we have regularly undertaken, but not necessarily systematically and not necessarily knowingly or automatically. By making competitive analysis systematical and automatic, then our advice to clients becomes consistenly better - ensuring ongoing satisfaction and helping our recommendations to be more forcibly enforced - or undertaken by clients, strengthened by uniform competitive information.

There is a lot of validation out there to support competitive analysis, another realisation that I have had. I.e. Certain sites are more influential than others. For instance I cannot only get a PR for a site, I can also get an Alexa ranking and whilst these are not gospel as they are proprietory to Amazon and Google, they do form the basis of some quality measurement. We can see how many pages and backlinks are listed in Google, Yahoo, MSN and many other search engines these all provide numerical, statistical information that is there to see, for free.

Like SEO we have on site and off site factors - and this makes for a lot of data. So I conclude that competitive interpretation is going to be a factor of statistical analysis - a computation. In fact as I have discovered, a series of computations involving thousands of variables as complex as any algorythm and indeed an algorythm in itself.

Fortunately my real world sales and marketing knowledge coupled with my real world knowledge of search and web sites puts me in an excellent position to be make sense of it all - and only time will tell, although in my own humble opinion, I think I have done reasonably well to date.

The journey is there to be travelled. I am a traveller and lookign forward to the next set of choices, the next junction at the end of this particular road.

Watch this space as I plan to announce a deliverable that everyone can have shortly, for free.