The Marketplace Playbook

Good take on marketplaces and take rates:

tl;dr Marketplaces extract value when they generate demand. The low rake plus bidded auction model is the playbook modern marketplaces should follow.

The difficulty with a high rake model is that you introduce a selection bias. Good suppliers that can sell well independently don’t need to participate in the market and cannibalize organic sales. This bias results in a poor consumer experience with only bad suppliers. You can see this effect in markets like Groupon, where participation is a signal for supplier quality in itself.

via The Marketplace Playbook – Correlated Causation.

Merkle Has a Hole Burning in Its Pocket for Acquisitions

That’s a lot of dough:

Merkle may be much smaller than its competitors, but the firm is preparing for a growth spurt. The privately held marketing data-services company has set aside $1 billion for acquisitions over the next five years and plans two of those purchases in the next three to four months.

via Merkle Has a Hole Burning in Its Pocket for Acquisitions | Data-Driven Marketing – Advertising Age.

Epsilon Hints at Changes to Conversant [Valueclick] Business

During yesterday’s earnings call with investors, Mr. Heffernan stressed the focus will be on tailoring Conversant’s platform for targeted display in desktop, mobile and tablets. “The ability to deliver this precision ad business across devices, [is] driven by the insights gleaned from offline and online first-party data. That is the model that is Alliance’s model. That’s the model that’s going to be Conversant’s model more and more going forward.”

via Epsilon Hints at Changes to Conversant Business | Data-Driven Marketing – Advertising Age.

Chrome allows push notifications directly from websites and makes it easy to add regularly-visited high-quality sites to home screen

Small feature on the outside, but potentially game changing on the inside:

One of the web’s superpowers is its low friction: a new site is always only a single tap away, allowing users to easily navigate through a rich diversity of experiences. The mobile web provides a great discovery experience for users and unparalleled reach for developers.

Unfortunately, once users discover an experience they love, it is hard for them to build a meaningful relationship since websites lack the engaging capabilities developers have come to expect from mobile such as push notifications and home screen icons. As a result, developers have needed to decide between the engagement potential of a native app and the reach potential of a mobile website.

Chrome 42 addresses this dilemma by allowing users to engage more deeply with the mobile web experiences that are important to them, by both opting in to receive push notifications directly from websites and easily adding regularly-visited high-quality sites to their home screen.

via Chromium Blog: Reaching and re-engaging users on the mobile web.

There’s a bunch of different ways you can cut this:

How Google is advancing the appification of the web.  How it’s another feature to be spammed and abused.  How it’s more anti-privacy than before.

We need to take the good with the bad and right now, we need more work like this to move the ball forward in the open mobile ecosystem.




Snapchat’s valuation is based on a single flawed assumption

Important points in bold:

Facebook has similarly gotten this right. I launch Facebook a couple of times a day seeking minor entertainment from the tiny bouts of bored that fill the day. Facebook shows me ads for 4.5 – 5 star rated mobile strategy games and news about super hero TV shows & movies because I play Clash of Clans and click on all content from religiously. As with Google, my needs as a consumer are in perfect harmony with the goals of their advertisers.

Where Facebook cranks things up to 11 is that they have figured out how to make more money from mobile users than from desktop users. This is pretty much unheard of in the digital world where the meme is that offline dollars became digital dimes on the desktop web and pennies on mobile. When it comes to mobile ad revenue Facebook is bordering on a mythical creature.

As a post-script, one other impressive point about Facebook is how malleable their product is from an ads perspective. At one point in time, the Facebook feed was all about social games and they made a large chunk of their money from getting 30% of Zynga’s transactions on their platform. Over the past year it’s all mobile app install ads but they’ve already started the long game to switch to stealing ad dollars from TV & YouTube.

A few years ago, I remember reading about Facebook plan to have auto playing video ads fro articles like Facebook Autoplay Ads Won’t Be As Bad As You Think (But Everyone Will Still Hate Them) and thinking that this would be a very jarring experience in their product. However over the past year or so, the news feed has been pumping a heavy diet of auto playing videos from my friends to the extent that I’m now used to auto playing videos in the news feed and honestly can’t distinguish auto playing video ads from auto playing viral videos posted by my friends at first glance. This is the holy grail that Snapchat needs to achieve to be worthy of using Facebook as a benchmark for its valuation but unfortunately they do not have a canvas as malleable as the Facebook news feed or even the Twitter time line.

via Snapchat’s valuation is based on a single flawed assumption – Dare Obasanjo’s weblog.

How Uber surge pricing really works

This is not that surprising– capacity is somewhat fixed in the shortrun and can really change in the longrun.  We learned this is econ101:

it appears that rather than getting more drivers on the road in the short-term, Uber’s surge pricing instead depletes drivers in adjacent areas. A price hike in one area means drivers move there, but away from another, leaving it underserved. If someone in the newly underserved area now needs a car they wait longer, or perhaps a surge price has to come into effect to get a car over there. At the end of the day the Uber system appears to be more about re-allocation of existing supply. And this raises interesting questions about which neighborhoods end up with worse service quality — those crosstown from a stadium or bars? Higher prices and better service for some means worse service quality for others.

via How Uber surge pricing really works – The Washington Post.

Google Replaces A Site’s URL In Search Results & Uses Its Site Name & Breadcrumb Path

This is no doubt a nod to mobile usability.  Webpages and URLs are deemed non-native to app oriented experiences.  I wouldn’t be surprised if these changes eventually jumped over to desktop in the near future.

Google announced they’ve begun replacing the URL within the search result snippet area with a site name and breadcrumb path. This only impacts the mobile search results but may roll out wider over time.

Google said that starting today they have updated their “algorithms that display URLs in the search results to better reflect the names of websites, using the real-world name of the site instead of the domain name, and the URL structure of the sites in a breadcrumbs-like format.” Google has actually been testing this for a few years now, it was not uncommon for searchers to see these tests over the past few years.

via Google Replaces A Site’s URL In Search Results & Uses Its Site Name & Breadcrumb Path.

NYT on headline write: And what matters more than a story’s “searchable” factor is how “shareable” it is on social media, particularly on Facebook

And what matters more than a story’s “searchable” factor is how “shareable” it is on social media, particularly on Facebook. So headlines need to serve that purpose, too. A headline that works in print when paired with a photograph and placed in the context of a particular section of the paper may be a lot less successful when encountered on Facebook or read on a smartphone. So copy editors are writing different versions of headlines for different platforms, increasing their workload.

via Hey, Google! Check Out This Column on Headlines –

Europe v Google: Nothing to stand on | The Economist

The Economist’s point of view on Europe’s regulatory measures against Google (background- Europe files antitrust charges against Google):

…rather than trying to rein in American firms, European politicians should focus on fixing what is holding back the old world’s most promising platforms: the lack of a common digital market. Today only 15% of consumers shop online across borders within the EU. To set up Europe-wide operations, an e-commerce firm has to jump through numerous bureaucratic hoops, from tax rules to labour laws, in each country.

If Europe wants to be America’s equal in the creation of new technological platforms, it needs to recognise the importance of scale. America, with its large and open domestic market, has it. Europe does not.

via Europe v Google: Nothing to stand on | The Economist.