Saturday, May 26, 2007

How Google Makes More Money on Your Content

Recently, Google announced universal search where it would be integrating video, news, image and other results into Google search results. In and of itself it's a good user-centric idea because very few people actually click the tabs to other sections. Something like 95+% of all Google traffic is still Google Web Search.

However, now Google has found a way to make more money on its ads while retaining you on its site. Try the search for "zelda spoof" produced by our friends at EffinFunny. There, you will see on result 3 the EffinFunny clip.

Now click on "Watch Video"... That's right on the same Google results page, you will see the video through the YouTube player.

That's triple advantage Google:

1. Google's search ads are still displayed on the right side, click there and more cash flows to Google.
2. YouTube gets promoted - not bad for a Google property
3. Google gets to increase it's stats for "time on site" a metric that influences how much advertisers play.

Now when Google integrates DoubleClick, they can also display branded banner ads as most ads for video content is less context-driven and more brand driven. They will also be pressured to prioritize content on their site over others. Google is already engaging in cross-selling by showing the Google Checkout icon next to users of their Checkout service drawing your eye to the result.

Most importantly, even if the originators of the content - in this case EffinFunny - would have less of an opportunity to monetize their content. They can look more like a portal disrupting their implied partnership with site, "You make money when they click. We make money on ads next to your listing."

Hopefully, Google is smart about this and finds ways of sharing revenues and not prioritizing YouTube over others. But as you get bigger and more MBA driven, that does not necessarily happen. It's not a medica concentration monopoly case yet, but 5 years from now, it may be...

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Tesla Motors - Pure Marketing Insight

There's a lot of hype about Tesla Motors. The new wave electric car looks fantastic and is backed by Elon Musk (founder of PayPal and Zip2), Sergei Brin and Larry Page and a bunch of Silicon Valley venture capital firms. This is looking like the 1 electric car that will be successful. Why? Because it is designed to leverage fundamental technologies like lithium ion batteries, lightweight aluminum components, highly reliable electronics, and electric motors to build a beautiful sports car that already has a waiting list amongst the rich and famous.

That's what most would make you believe. What it's really about is that the founders Martin Eberhard and Marc Tarpenning saw the market for this using the Silicon Valley technology lifecycle mindset. Build a product that people really want. Essentially, they knew the difference between niche marketing and mass marketing. In the past, people would try to build an electric car for the masses to satisfy regulators. GM's failed EV1 electric car is a perfect example of an underpowered, overpriced, low capacity vehicle that people did not really want unless they were willing to make lots of sacrifices. Instead Tesla's founders decided to give people what they really want - a fast car that looks fantastic and has the kind of range that fits the class of car that the target buyer would want. They used the strength of the electric motor to build a better car. It's classic "Innovator's Dilemma:" build an exclusive sports cars on a Lotus platform that can go from 0-60 in 4 seconds with over 200 miles range on a charge. Oh and as a bonus, you get low operating cost of 2 cents a mile and a car that would need low maintenance as with an electric motor there's only one moving part - the rotor. No fan belts, radiators, spark plugs, valves or muffler this was a simpler machine.

Moreover, they saw the marketing advantage that comes from building something a head turner that is exclusive to the wealthy few. With so many conscious about climate change and reducing dependence on foreign oil, this is an easy purchase to feel good about.

Tesla can march down the cost and learning curve of integrating these technologies. They can learn more about how these come together before the pressures of volume and a mass audience. Theyh can learn about what feature as most important to actual buyers.

Tesla has used a Silicon Valley approach to building the product by outsourcing the components from many suppliers and having the car produced by Lotus. That's right, this car company has less than 80 people - that's amazing.

They've done a brilliant marketing job by making this a competition to get on the waiting list. Typically, you don't want to be the first one to deal with the inevitable first production kinks. Now people are fighting for their place. Tesla's site is high end with a great product configurator. They marketed themselves well by getting reviews from a wide array of reviewers early in the process to build buzz. Their blog has an excellent variety of posts from the CEO on down. Obviously, people are reading it as there is a long line of comments for each post.

Telsa has turned the traditional negative trade-off notion of the electric vehicle on its head. Electric is the trade-on.

I can't wait for the 4 passenger version!

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Can't Deny This About Bonds

Tonight Barry Bonds hit his 9th home run of the season and is now only 12 away from Aaron's record. Whether he once took steroids or not, no one can deny he is one of the greatest home run hitters of all time. With all the scrutiny and drug testing, he is hitting .345 at the age of 42 and on a ridiculous home run pace of 60.

Everyone thought that with his last 2 injury-ridden unproductive seasons that it was the effect of the new drug testing program. When the steroids are gone, the production would fall. Well, that has not been the case. Bonds is better than ever.

Say whatever you want, he's a great player. I plan to go to a few this year.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Simple Governmental Rules to Reduce Emissions and Decrease Foreign Oil Dependence

As many of you know, I'm a fan of the free market and less regulation, but given the need to reduce dependence on foreign oil and limit global warming emissions, there are 4 inexpensive items that the DOT and the EPA could adopt for vehicle owners. Each on their own would have significant impact, but on a network wide basis could have a substantial impact on reducing oil consumption and costs to American consumers:

1. E85 everywhere: If each vehicle by model year 2010 could be mandated to be E85 certified, it could allow the US to have greater flexibility against future increases in oil prices. The cost is relatively minor as it's about adjusting fuel lines and gaskets - less than $150 in parts. It would also provide a market for fuel stations to provide ethanol-based pumps to stations around the country. In Brazil, they have created an incredible market for sugar, benefiting their own farmers and countrymen rather than those from unstable oil-rich countries.

2. Tire Pressure Sensor: This would do 2 things, reduce potential accidents and improve gas mileage. Having an accurate tire pressure sensor system could could have an incremental yet significant cumulative effect on gasoline consumption. A few percentage points reduction that change the supply demand picture dramatically. How much does a sensor cost? Very little in mass production.

3. Laser Guided Cruise Control: Cruise control is a nifty little feature when the reads are uncongested. However, anytime there's a little bit of traffic, it uses utility. Laser guided systems slow down to match the speed of the car in front of you. It slows down faster than a human would, making it especially useful in when there's a slowdown. There are studies that have been run that show that if 20% of cars were using this feature, it would reduce traffic congestion dramatically as fewer cars would jam the brakes and cause the typical cascade effect. In many cases, it could eliminate certain areas of congestion altogether. This would have 3 impacts - 1. Increase gas mileage as there would be less idling, 2. Increased productivity as less time would be spent on the roads and 3. Longer road life as it effectively would increase capacity.

4. Electronic Toll Sensor: As inefficient as tolls are from an economics point of view, they are reality. If every car had a toll sensor that would automatically debit a driver's account, it would cut toll congestion dramatically and speed travel throughout the country. We should pick a standard and make it nationwide.

All four items presented about are relatively inexpensive, especially if mandated in volume. It could have dramatic impacts on fuel consumption, leverage with oil producing countries and our quality of life. A 10% increase in fuel efficiency could dramatically impact prices especially during scarcity. Before we change the world with hybrids and hydrogen, why not implement these changes now.