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Microsoft Deal Strategy from 2009-2012: Yahoo, Nokia, Skype, Nook.

This is the front page of Tuesday May 1st's Wall Street Journal. It's a well done graphic overlaying Microsoft's big-dollar entrances into "markets where it lags behind rivals": - Search: Yahoo (2009): Microsoft's billion-dollar+ deal to power search and ads.

- Mobile OS: Nokia (2011): billion-dollar+ deal to push Windows Mobile OS

- Social / Video: Skype (2011): $8.5B acquisition

- Mobile / Tablets: Nook (2012): $605m investment to bolster tablet strategy

It's an expensive but necessary (?) avenue into three massive verticals that, as WSJ notes, Microsoft is far behind in: search, social, and mobile (OS + hardware). It is marks about one of these big, billion-dollar bets a year (four deals over the 2009-2012 period).

Price aside (Skype in particular feels very expensive unless deeper integrations in Office & on XBox emerge quickly), the Nook deal is is the one that strategically feels odd. Windows 7 users love the product - but the Nook is so far behind iPad and Kindle, that it feels as though Microsoft is better served entering the tablet market elsewhere OR focusing primarily on phones and then paying-up when the 3rd place tablet-provider has greater share. Of course that's my take from a very, very distant seat.

Quora Opens to Google, SEO is Rocking

A little over a year ago, I wrote about Facebook's new vanity URLs and the immediate SEO boost that ensued. Quora recently opened up their content to Google... and it appears as though it too is the beginning of an SEO boom. It makes sense considering how deep, rich and unique Quora's content is - which to Google is a goldmine. Furthermore, the questions and answers format has always been relevant to search engine queries. Two great examples are Ask Jeeves (now which was built with this in mind and Yahoo Answers, which for years has ranked terrificly in Google.

SEO has emerged from a talent (usually buried within the organization) to a business. Folks like Demand Media have turned it from art to science - and for folks like Quora, it can be an important lever for traffic acquisition, findibility, etc. Ultimately, it boils down to the lasting value of the your site's content - and Quora (and others) are in a great position for that because of its community and the dynamic nature of site (content evolves over time - it is not a static, one-time piece).

Here is a simple example of just using my own name as a query. Within a week Quora has emerged on the first page... which is impressive:

Facebook: 2.8 Billion Visits, 21.9 Visits / Unique in February

January marked the month where Facebook passed Google in visits and Yahoo in Uniques. Today, Compete released their February 2010 numbers and the trends continued:

1. Google remains the largest by reach (with 141m uniques) and Facebook has gained some distance ahead of Yahoo. All three sites dipped consistently (4.3-4.9%) from January.

Google: 141.3m uniques Facebook 127.9m uniques Yahoo: 125.4m uniques

2. Facebook is the largest in terms of visits - really pulling away from Google (2.8b vs. 2.5b). Again,all three sites declined - but while Facebook's decline was 2.5%, Google and Yahoo dipped 9.2 and 12.7% respectively... which is turn created separation between Facebook and the others.

Facebook: 2.8b visits Google: 2.5b visits yahoo: 2.2b visits

3. Google and Yahoo each see 17.8 visits per unique. Facebook sees 21.9... a substantial difference.

4. It is also interesting that Google's top "referral" and "destination" site was Facebook (Yahoo was #2 and YouTube #3).

January 2010: Facebook Passes Google in Visits; Yahoo in Uniques

According to Compete, January marked the month where Facebook passed Google in visits and Yahoo in Uniques... both are major accomplishments. Even if Compete's data is not directly tracked - this is important directionally. In December, Facebook inched above Google in visits (2.71b vs. 2.69b) - but January marks an actual gap: 2.87b to 2.78b. The other impressive feat is that Facebook's growth rate maintains its (almost-linear) strength. Google's visits continues to grow, but it is clearly slower; their uniques have seen growth over the last couple months, but May - November was relatively flat. Meanwhile, Yahoo visits are flat and uniques are declining. It is also worth noting that Facebook is the top referral site of Google... meaning that many of Google's visits lead directly to Facebook visits (as is the in-and-out model of search). Google is the second largest referral site from Facebook - Yahoo is the largest.

Facebook vs. Google: Visits

Facebook vs. Google vs. Yahoo: Visits

Closeup of Visits: Facebook Passes Google

Facebook vs. Google vs. Yahoo: Uniques

Facebook Drives 19% of Huffington Post's Traffic

When I last covered Perez Hilton, it was when he hit 14,000,000 pageviews in a single day - a remarkable feat considering big brands like Huffington Post had topped out at 7,700,000. An interesting outcome of the article came from Hitwise: Heather Hopkins noted that Facebook was Perez Hilton's #1 traffic referral (8.7% vs Google's 7.6%).

So I dug into Huffington Post's numbers to see what another major media site's traffic sources looked like. First off, HuffPo does about 200 million monthly pageviews and reaches about 13 million viewers:

Also worth noting: Huffington Post is nearly two years old. That may seem trivial, but it means that they have had plenty of time to build a good reputation with Google (and other search engines) and links across the web (blogs, media, etc)... and with two years of content, that suggests that SEO traffic should be higher for Huffington Post than the normal publisher.

Yet, according to Compete's "referring analytics", Huffington Post derives 18.6% of its traffic from Facebook. Wow: "referring analytics": #1. Facebook 18.59% #2. Google 11.6% #3. Yahoo 5.16% #4. Digg 4.43% #5. NYTimes 2.5%

Huffington Post gets nearly 1/3rd of their traffic from two sources: one is algorithmic and one is social. And the fact that so much of their traffic comes from Facebook suggests that Huffington Post:

- creates great, viral content... interesting enough that its readers actively share it - benefits from breaking news (probably before major papers can) and/or controversial content

Apple, iPod Touch Shake Up Yahoo Games Homepage

A few months ago, Nintendo and YouTube literally shook up the digital ad world with their Experiece the Wii ad/video. It's awesome. 4,500,000 video views aren't too shabby either. Today, Apple did something similar by running their iPod Touch ad on Yahoo Games front-door. It's the same ad that has been running on television for quite some time... but it behaves much like the Wii video: changing the rest of Yahoo's page as the iPod shifts, tilts, and so forth.

I love these ads - far more entertaining and interactive than traditional banner units. Again - the Wii video was viewed 4.5 million times and was discussed, shared and analyzed on countless blogs / sources.

The real questions are: - how difficult is it to produce these sorts of units and integrate them into the publisher's site? - consequently, how scalable does this become? - and what sorts of CPM lifts do they provide. If Yahoo typically fetches $5 CPMs for that size unit, is this $10? $20? $50?

iPod Touch Yahoo Ad iPod Touch Yahoo Ad iPod Touch Yahoo Ad

More at MacRumors - including the video

5+ Keyword Search Queries Account for 19% of All Searches

Jeremy Liew recently wrote (and his must-read blog) that 54% of searches queries have three or more keywords. That got me thinking about a report I pulled together in late 2006 about similar statistics. So I placed them aside Jeremy's data (which comes from MarketingSherpa) and the results are very interesting. First, the data comes from different sources - so it's difficult to measure very specifically...

- 1-3 word queries accounted for 69.5% of searches in '06 and it fell to 68% - The real difference is in 5+ queries: now 19% of searches and 14% in '06 - Conversely, one word queries now account for 22% of searches

Here is my reasoning for the growth in one word queries and the fact that they represent close a quarter of all searches: - we are increasingly dependent on Google as a starting point and on the browser for navigation - this is proved by brand names consistently being the top searches: "eBay", "Yahoo", "Google" - I think about how I browse the internet now - it's entirely through the browsers search box... and others simply type "Yahoo" into to start their session...

2006 2008 1 word 13.5% 21.9% 2 word 28.8% 24.4% 3 word 27.2% 21.6% 4 word 16.4% 14.5% 5 word 8.0% 8.4% 6 word 3.7% 4.5% 7 word 1.6% 2.4% 8+ word 1.1% 3.7%

Search Query Growth

beRecruited and STACK Media Reaching Targeted, Large Audiences

July's Comscore numbers for sports networks were released recently and STACK Media made it's first appearance on the chart with 3.5 million uniques in July and importantly is the #1 platform for "active young men (12-24)".

Why is this important? Because beRecruited is part of the STACK network and played a critical role in these numbers and demographic targeting (the 12-24 year old audience is clearly our sweet spot). From Circulation Management:

Key to that traffic spike is a content partnership with three properties: sports retailer, (Footlocker owns East Bay) and, an online recruiting tool for high school athletes. “We focused on executing against a distributed media strategy where we take our content and distribute it to partner sites. In exchange for distribution of the content we’re also selling all of the advertising inventory on those sites. The tagline ‘Content is king, but distribution brings the bling’ is definitely a motto here,” says Palazzo.

But before STACK could effectively enter into distribution partnerships, the company had to prove the worth of its content. “Our content is the glue that is making these partnerships function because it’s unique in the sports space. It’s not news coverage, it’s sports lifestyle and performance. They’re the who’s who and we’re the how-to. That differentiates us and gives us the ability to create these types of partnerships,” says Palazzo.

Despite the initial focus on the high school athlete, the company has found that sports training, especially when it’s presented by professional athletes, is appealing to a broader audience of 12-to-24 year olds. “We’re focused on a new market. Our competitors now are, Yahoo Sports, and AOL Sports and Fox Sports—people that are in the top five that blue chip marketers are using. We may not have 20 million uniques, but the uniques we have are definitely [the marketer’s] target.”

1. Yahoo Sports - 21,851,000 uniques 2. ESPN - 18,101,000 uniqueS 3. Fox Sports - 14,644,000 uniques 4. - 12,778,000 uniques 5. AOL Sports - 11,631,000 unique s (doubled in a year - 6,858,000 in July 2007) 6. NFL Internet Group - 7,482,000 uniques 7. CBS Sports - 5,923,000 uniques 8. Sports Illustrated Sites - 4,656,000 uniques 9. WWE - 4,206,000 uniques 10. STACK Media - 3,580,000 uniques


STACK Media today announced its ranking as the #1 online property to reach the coveted active young male demographic--as measured by comScore Media Metrix. With over 3.5 million unique visitors in the U.S. during July 2008, STACK Media jumped ahead of and to land as #10 on the prestigious comScore list of Top Sports Web Properties. In addition to mass reach, STACK Media now offers display and video brand advertisers the greatest efficiency against the highly desirable but elusive category of active young (12-to-24-year-old) males online.

Comparing Yahoo Buzz and Digg After Hitting Buzz's Homepage

In March, I wrote that Yahoo Buzz could pose a threat to Digg because of their ability to drive more traffic - and I assumed that Digg's product would be markedly better.

Now four days after Yahoo Buzz officially opened up to all publishers, I will take a bolder stance: I'm finding Yahoo Buzz more effective as a reader / consumer and as a publisher. And I'm surprised.

My major critique of Digg has been that it has struggled to extend it's community and product outside of technology. And that's where Yahoo Buzz excels: the content is diverse... across categories and sources. I expect this will continue as Yahoo's community (the largest on the web) will power / demand diversity.

InGameNow's Blog made it to the Yahoo Buzz homepage yesterday and it delivered big, steady traffic. Whereas Digg sends massive traffic instantly (and it tends to somewhat worthless traffic) - Yahoo's sends very consistent traffic that, from this single experience, seems to be more active and engaged. Two things are yet to be seen though:

1) how Yahoo's algorithm matures and whether it creates a community of power users (such as those that rule Digg) 2) whether Buzz's current traffic / activity will change dramatically as it gains popularity

For now though... and based on my first few days with Yahoo Buzz... I'd rather hit Buzz's homepage than Digg's.

The official email from Yahoo Buzz on August 19th:


Thank you for your patience as we fine-tuned Yahoo! Buzz. You can now showcase your stories to the largest audience on the Internet.

Visit our Publisher page to pick up a button for your site and see tips on ways to get more votes.

Do not forget, your story may be featured on Good luck and welcome aboard.


Yahoo! Buzz Team