Archive for the ‘Online Marketing’ Category

Death of the VAR in a SaaS World

August 20, 2008

In general, offline channels have not played a big role in SaaS GTM strategies. The early focus of business and infrastructure SaaS solutions has been on SMBs. SaaS delivery makes it economical to serve SMBs, and online channels make it economical to reach SMBs. As SaaS grows up though (see our earlier post), what role will offline sales channels, in particular VARs, be able to play?

We are very skeptical that VARs will be able to thrive and prosper in their current business model as SaaS adoption continues to gather momentum. The reason is that the TCO model that is promised by SaaS drastically reduces the revenue pool accessible to channel partners. (As we point out in our earlier post, the TCO model still needs to be proven in the long run.) In a June 2007 article, the McKinsey Quarterly compared the total cost of ownership (TCO) for a 200-seat CRM license as on-premise ($2.3m) vs. SaaS ($1.6m). More interesting though than the headline 28% reduction in TCO is the fact that the non-software revenue pool accessible to channel partners shrinks by 90%. Specifically, in this midmarket example, the $1.1m that is spend in the on-premise model for implementation, deployment and ongoing operations shrinks to a meager $106k in the SaaS world.

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Why Selling Search To Microsoft Would Damage Yahoo’s Core Display Ad Business

July 7, 2008

I was really intrigued by David Kirkpatrick’s last story on Microsoft and Yahoo in Fortune Magazine.
His key insight was about search market share creating a more liquid marketplace for advertisers.   Search market share drives up the demand for and value of keywords.  That’s why Google’s search ad revenue share is even greater than its search query market share.

But there’s one other thing that Microsoft doesn’t mention when it talks about purchasing just “search”: there really is synergy between search ads and display ads, which is where Yahoo gets the majority of its revenues.  It’s very hard to measure the value of display ads because they don’t surface when a user does something that shows their immediate intent (e.g. search for a lawnmower) – that’s why they can only charge for eyeballs/impressions while search engines can charge for clicks on keywords.

But everyone knows that those display ads create brand equity or other awareness that search ads ultimately get to monetize.  So all the major online vendors (MSFT, Yahoo, GOOG) who happen to have both major display ad networks (Google’s I think was built on Doubleclick) and search engines are planning to track what display ads users look at over time.  Then they will be able to correlate that with later search queries and search ad click-throughs.  In other words, they are finally going to start attributing more value to the display ads, which have never really been measurable.  But Microsoft has a plenty big display ad network so they just want to carve the search business from Yahoo.  And Yahoo is under such pressure to do a deal that they’re willing to sacrifice the future synergy of their search and display ad businesses.  Without search, they won’t be able to offer advertisers the same measurement capabilities as Microsoft and Google.  Their display ad pricing and revenues will suffer as a result.

They have been unable to articulate this synergy, or any other part of their strategy for that matter. It’s ironic, but they probably would be able to leverage that synergy with the Google search deal.  They also seem to be turning their internal platform for their properties into an Internet scale Web developer platform.  But they can’t even convince their top talent to give them some breathing room.  It’s game over.

Marketing Strategies for a Recession

June 16, 2008

It is not uncommon for large enterprises to spend $300m or more per year just on marketing (e.g., $10bn in sales, 3% marketing budget). The bulk of that money is typically spent on lead generation (i.e., driving interest in the company’s products and services), vs. high level awareness. Is that money well spent? Three facts suggest not:

  • Our own interviews with 100+ Sales & Marketing executives confirm that 85-90% of leads generated by Marketing are never followed up by Sales
  • The average tenure of US enterprise CMOs is 18-24 months. CMOs are the C-level function with the highest turnover
  • Third party studies (e.g., www.cmocouncil.org) regularly point to marketing performance optimization as a top 3 marketing pain point

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