Thursday, June 28, 2007

Presidential FX Market Impact

Oh, no! My first political post! Politics and blogs can be a tiresome combination, so I will keep this one to economics:

Stock markets may not be good economic criteria to assess Presidential performance, but I have heard of a couple little things called Fiscal Policy and Monetary Policy which have a reasonably direct tie to sitting Presidents, and may even affect foreign exchange rates :). Here's a solid 'manage by the numbers' indicator for the current crowd, USD vs. EUR, last 5 years:

Good thing I haven't given them my money to manage - oh, wait, damn! I would have been better off in frigging Indian Rupees.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

A Good FX Trading Flash Ad

If you're going to buy banners you might as well plump for, at minimum, mildly memorable creative. When I first saw this ad, the bull nostrils made me look twice:

And no, unfortunately, I don't get paid for running this ad :(

NDAs: US vs. Europe

I have been getting NDA'ed by a lot of people lately, which has a) allowed me to learn about a lot of cool stuff, and b) is a little tiresome. Well, no doubt the day will come when I don't sign NDAs.

So far in my experience, European NDAs need not always be quite as 'legal' as US NDAs, and can even (gasp!) be drawn up by non-lawyers. This is because it is far less common Europe for misunderstandings to end up with lawyers picking through the agreements clause-by-clause than in the US.

Dave noted that, in his experience, other types of European contracts can be more verbose than their US counterparts, so my observation just applies to NDAs.

While on the topic of legals, I wanted to include a link from Josh Kopelman pointing to the NVCA 'open source' venture financing documents - great resource.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Free Judys Book Landing Page Mockup

I woke up this morning and mocked up a Judy's Book landing page variation just for fun. Basically fewer competing calls to action, and more focus on the strongest (and highest priority elements). Pretty sure this new page would convert better - Sorry about the low-res - it's the product of single-digit minutes using OpenOffice. Art History degree at work!

New Page Idea:

Current Live Page:

Friday, June 22, 2007

The Uncov I Have Been Waiting For

I have been reading Uncov for a little while now. For some reason, I have the idea that it is fairly new, and might be related to Gawker, but I am way too lazy to check even simple things like that. I have enjoyed the humor since Day 1, because, apparently, I have a sense of humor (thanks Rahul!).

But I have never felt compelled to mention Uncov here - until now. Today's review of Simple Spark was so funny, so pitch perfect - I could not help but link to it.

And Uncov guys - if you have not come across Ridiculous Infomercial Review yet, well, you really need to! My personal favorite reviews include Tom Vu, Cal Pines, and the crowning achievement that is Santo Gold

Oh, We Know About Internet Startups!

I stopped in to Fox's Gem Shop today - far and away Seattle's best jeweler - regarding the care and feeding of my wristwatch.

The owners, old friends who I hadn't seen in years, asked what I was up to these days. "Internet Startups" I said. "Oh, we know about Internet startups here!" Chai responded.

I think that neatly sums it up - the fundamental motivation is velocity of money flowing into pocket, and anyone who tells you different isn't being completely straight.

Copenhagen Photos

Here are a few touristy photos from Copenhagen - and it really started to pour rain that one afternoon so we had no choice but to retreat back to the hotel room with a bottle of wine.

This album is powered by BubbleShare - Add to my blog

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Nokia E60 and Euro SMS Spam

A rapid and unlikely series of events have conspired to make me the proud new operator of a Nokia E60, tri-band, wi-fi, et cetera, et cetera mobile phone. More importantly, in only a few short days, I have been floored by the velocity of SMS ads/spam in the European market. In one 2 day period this week, I got 6 spam messages pushing, as far as I could make out since I have roughly zero Danish, things like sports-betting and dating. Fortunately, this basically does not exist in the U.S. – yet. Unhappily, early returns show that there is going to be a lot of money made in selling and brokering SMS ads in the U.S. market as well. While SMS ads clearly offer real value to ad buyers, just like online ads, selling and brokering is definitely the right side of coin to be on, so to speak.

Usually, it is rock-solid business strategy to take a successful product or business model from the U.S. and copy it in another country, but as we have fallen behind many other countries on things like wireless and broadband as tiresomely reported just about everywhere, there are many new opportunities to do just the reverse.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Uncommon Initiative

I spent some time with a very impressive entrepreneur today. Within the last 5 years, he started a company in the email space, sold it to a larger company, became the CTO of the combined entity, took risk off the table personally and kept substantial upside potential at the same time, then helped sell the combined company on to Microsoft.

He is now starting a new company with fundamental technology that solves a large problem, but is aiming at a more modest and carefully-scaled initial application. This is certainly a well-planned strategy.

I was particularly impressed by the way in which, with his first company, he had identified and addressed a specific niche opportunity and executed successfully during a period that was counter-cyclical in terms of large Internet trends (e.g. video startup mania).

This one will be exciting to follow. I would tell you more, but then I would have to kill you :)

I will say that this entrepreneur discovered and reached out to me through LinkedIn and which in and of itself demonstrates uncommon initiative in my experience.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Fun With Web Metrics - Brier Dudley

I have been enjoying Andrew Chen's series on 'Fun with Web Metrics' so I appreciated Brier Dudley's love letter to iLike:

"Since May 25, iLike grew from 1 million to 6 million users. For comparison, RealNetworks' Rhapsody had 5.4 million unique visitors last month, according to comScore Media Metrix."

Whatever it is that 'Users' encapsulates, all time signups with a substantial proportion of effectively inactive accounts, or similar, 'Users' is different than 'Unique Visitors', which itself is not at all a good measure of a subscription-based, all-you-can-eat music service.

Let's see, additionally, Rhapsody owns the relationship with their users, Facebook owns the relationship with iLike users. Oh yeah - I almost forgot - pretty sure people pay actual real money every month for Rhapsody. My point here is how the comparison numbers lack, lets say, parallelism , as applied to web metrics.

Brier is totally on the mark in that iLike is totally killing it - and I know that this is largely due to 1 particularly brilliant, Seattle-based developer, and 1 particularly brilliant, Seattle-based designer - you know who you are!

Thursday, June 14, 2007

My Favorite Landing Page Article

This landing page article/case study is fantastisk. All of the value is in the visuals: the original landing page example on page 3, and the optimized page examples on pages 5 and 6. I guess you can read the text also, if you want.

In the world of marketing consultant whitepapers, this one's a winner.

Disclaimer: Usefulness of whitepaper may not necessarily reflect usefulness of marketing consultant

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Go Internet Friends!

I spent most of today at the LundKenner and Hellogroup office - Will do the same tomorrow. Lots of exciting things going on there.

These connections are entirely due to my own nascent talent at blog-baiting and making friends online :) Go Internet friends!

Monday, June 11, 2007

Adsense Of The Day 11 June 2007

Companies really like online advertising because you can track and measure important things like ROI, and such, so much more easily than say, television ads. Imagine you are a public company, okay fine, an OTC listing, you start ramping up that ROI - investors catch on, and your share price rockets up. Sounds like a good plan, right? What if you cut out some of those intermediate steps? Sounds even better, right?

Just like sending your own email stock tip spam, without the silly CAN-SPAM stuff.

Too Much Geo-Location!

So it was relatively easy to switch back to from since I am in Denmark at the moment - but frigging blogger - different story, it's non-obvious how to switch blogger back from Danish to English. Fortunately, they did a half-assed localization so I can read some of it. I am getting a lot of this type of thing:

Saturday, June 9, 2007

Optimization - The Portable Three Fifths

On Thursday, I spent a while talking to a friend who does nothing but multivariate testing and website optimization. He told me that it is not uncommon to capture fully 3/5 of the final conversion improvement for a client in the first cut - before any tests are run (which then get you the rest of the way).

There are two factors driving this: Firstly, most companies full conversion funnels are just plain terrible - even many established SEM driven lead-gen businesses. The money used to be so easy that efficiency was just not critical. The problems are bubbling up now because competing PPC bids are getting higher and competing strategies are getting more sophisticated. Secondly, newsflash, a lot of best practices in landing pages and conversion are, in fact portable. I found this 3/5, 2/5 back-of-the-envelope split quite interesting, although it clearly has limited applicability to other less-experienced practitioners.

I am in Copenhagen all this week, so I owe you, my public :) some photos, et cetera - expect it!

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Unexpected Rewards - Online Communities

David Beisel wrote a very robust post a few days ago about administering a somewhat randomized, or 'unexpected' rewards system within an online (or offline) community. You can read the original post here.

From experience, I can extend his reasoning even further and say that in a 'micro-reward' incentive system - i.e. you're not paying anyone enough to modify their lifestyle - the more structured you make it, the more surely everyone will try to, ahem, optimize to the system. When the reward comes unexpectedly, people can only be grateful.

I totally agree with David on this one.

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Google Insider Stock Sales

I know it's all very reasonable and prudent for Google officers and directors to sell down their holdings and diversify - but the rate at which they are selling definitely stood out to me: if I am reading this table from Yahoo Finance correctly, they have liquidated fully 35% in the last 6 months:

Alex cleverly points out in the comments that 3M shares is many fewer than it seems either Larry or Sergey hold individually. Are Yahoo and Thomson really such poor sources of financial information - and if so, how much money changes hands everyday based on this information? My best guess is that the remainder of insider holdings are in the form of as yet unexercised options or that the supervoting shares are excluded from this accounting.

Monday, June 4, 2007

Program Managers: Buy-side Or Sell-side?

Rahul’s been posting some PM philosophy lately which caused me to go back and revisit the extensive history of the classic Microsoft PM role as told by Joel Spolsky.
One of the critical themes from Joelonsoftware, which had retreated to the back of my mind, is that the PM is a seller, not a buyer – it’s the PM’s responsibility to sell developers and designers on a spec. NOT the other way around where devs, designers, and others need to sell the PM on why the spec. should be different. It’s pretty easy to get this backwards whilst ‘herding cats’ – but there are certainly productivity consequences when the people actually writing the code view it as YOUR plan, rather than THEIR plan.

I had to throw 'whilst' in there - it's a great word :)

Sunday, June 3, 2007

Subtle Ad Brilliance At NYT

A while back, Bluehatseo had a funny post about placing an adsense block directly underneath a 'set as homepage' popup for capturing incremental ad revenue from people too clever to click 'okay' on the popup.
I generally read long articles on in printable view so I don't have to keep clicking through and loading more ads - but this morning I let it be and round about page 7, I noticed something funny: after reaching the natural end of one page and clicking 'next page', I found my cursor directly over a very small ad at the top of the next page near the 'article tools'. I had noticed this ad placement for a while, and until now have been baffled by it's sheer unobtrusiveness. Ah Ha!

Friday, June 1, 2007

Facebook Ad Ratchet

Everyone has been talking about the Facebook API lately - but when I logged in today - something else, uh, jumped right out at me: A big ratchet up in advertising compared to anything I have seen before - I will gloss over the obviously prominent placement and just say this: I measured the areas, and the 2 ads take up precisely 37% of the entire page above the fold.