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Archive for December, 2009


Right Media closes DMX: Not helping premium

Monday, December 7th, 2009

Was DMX a tool for non-premium advertisers?  I didn’t think so.  Someone help me out here.

I thought DMX was a tool for non-brand name inventory.  Specifically, I thought DMX was a daisy chain management system that competed with Pubmatic and Rubicon and was getting beat badly.  Positioning this as enabling premium advertising in the exchange seems like an exaggeration and a way to put a positive marketing spin on the orderly shutdown of a niche product without hope at Yahoo.

Someone tell me I am wrong?

AOL: Pulling inventory from

Friday, December 4th, 2009

fReport from Alley Insider that AOL is planning to pull ad inventory from

Not being on the inside for more than a month now, I thought several things when I read this:

  1. Everyone has seen how Tim is working to cut ad volume on AOL, focusing on ads with positive yield (e.g. get rid of worthless photo galleries and tons of ads below the fold).  This is super smart and if the point is simply that, with less ads, less are flowing downstream to for remnant monetization, then yay, Tim.
  2. Will this decrease’s reach?  It would be a bitter pill if was no longer the biggest ad network.
  3. The talk of improved eCPM and yield in the comments is interesting.  Has decreasing volume to really increased the sell-through rates of AOL inventory?  If so, is this simply a sales management problem and that is how they are addressing it?  Seems a little counter-intuitive, but it is possible.  Now, this makes a lot more sense if #1 is true and there are simply less worthless ad space on AOL.  (LIKELY)
  4. As Yahoo has refocused on putting their Class 2 inventory into places like Right Media, it is interesting to see AOL consider going the other way.  Furthermore, it is ironic to note that the original investment thesis behind AOLs acquisition of those many years ago was that if they owned their own remnant monetization engine, it would be smart because they could keep their margin.  Deciding that AOL inventory should not be remnant monetized now is funny.  Particularly when many people acknowledge that AOLs acquisition of was the best acquistion ever by AOL.
  5. AOL inventory was great differentiation for the network.  Although maybe that was what devalued AOL inventory.

Net-net, I like what Tim is doing, although I am sure if Alley Insider is correct (UNLIKELY), then it sucks for my buddies at’ers that lurk here, comment away!

(As always, I want to note that this is not disparaging AOL, I love this.  Simply making industry observations.)

AOL: License to Job Hunt

Thursday, December 3rd, 2009

aol_logoSilicon Alley Insider did a post that was filled with lots of comments about whether offering a voluntary package is a good idea or not.  Do the best people leave?  Do the worst people go?

I thought I would throw out two cents on this:

Economically speaking, any AOL employee that did not spend the last 2 weeks job hunting is not optimizing their income.  If you are able to get a job somewhere else very quickly, then you can bank a fair amount of income by taking the package, knowing that you have a job lined up.

So if you assume every employee has spent the last few weeks furiously job-hunting, that is probably not good for AOL.

That argues that it is smart of AOL to minimize the window.  Given that people only had three weeks, could people really have lined up interviews, conducted interviews and gotten offers?  I suspect it is hard.  So lots of people now have to decide what to do but they haven’t yet gotten positions.  That will probably encourage even the superstars to stay if they have an iota of risk aversity to them.  The good news for superstars is they were probably more likely to line up offers quickly because they have a network of people that want to keep them.

Poor performers have to make tough decisions.  This is not about whether you are in the bottom third because some departments will cut deeper than others and few people know in advance whether that is their department.  If you are in a team of 5, the bottom three might go!    So if you are not the top couple of people in your department, you seriously have to consider prophalactically taking the package.  Yet, your average person considers themselves above average, so in all likelihood, few people will.

Should more people take the package than the number that will?  It seems likely to work out that way.  Unfortunate because it would be better if everyone volunteered.

AOL: Doing the right things, is it enough?

Wednesday, December 2nd, 2009

goldfishI wanted to go on the record with my love of Tim’s decisions to go for big, big cuts.  As a start-up, bootstrappy guy, I am a believer that people need to run profitable businesses and the only areas where things shouldn’t be profitable are where the business is growing so fast that investing ahead of demand is critical or where a company is entering a new business.

I think the objective of a decision to make cuts is to cut the business to profitability.  Excluding AOL Access’ profits, there are clearly lots of areas losing money, so making these cuts is a great decision.

Despite this, I thought it was really eye-opening when Clickety Clack noted that bringing costs in line with revenue does not drive top-line growth.  Without a growth strategy, they are simply IAC.  Great point by one of my favorite blogs.  I actually think they have ideas for how to invest the access profits.  Will it work?  Don’t know.

(P.S. None of this is based on insider knowledge or is intended to disparage my former employer, it is simply an observation.  I no longer have any insider knowledge and frankly, I don’t think I have had any insider knowledge since Jeff took over!)

Love the fish, incidentally.  Everyone has heard my “naming and branding is over-rated”, but why not, I say.

Twitter Will Never Be As Big As Facebook

Tuesday, December 1st, 2009

I have talked before about the difference between Twitter and Facebook.  Recently, I said that Twitter was momentarily slumping, but it was just momentary.  I got some push back on that.  Is Twitter suffering more seriously?  Don’t know, but you heard my take.  Let me add this caveat: Twitter, assuming there are no huge changes, will never be as big as Facebook.  Because Twitter is for sharing information with the world and Facebook is for interacting with friends, Facebook has an inherent virality that Twitter does not have in their current model.  Facebook has your friends nagging you to join.  Twitter is where you are missing out on what Ashton Kutcher is doing.  Facebook is where you are missing out on what your friends are doing.  Ashton will never nag you.

While Twitter is a new and different kind of communication from Facebook, the mechanism that they use is not as viral as Facebook because it is about looser linkages of interest than linkages of a specific “knowing each other” relationship.  That is ok.  It just means that it will be a little smaller.  The kind of meaningful data for targeting that they are gathering is great.  Not Facebook great (every aspect of your life), but great just the same.

How many people need to talk to complete strangers?