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Google

Google Doodle

This morning Google sent an email to AdWords users announcing some changes to their policy. The update specifically targets the abuse of duplicate site links on Google ads, which Google says they’ll be taking a more proactive role enforcing. Sitelinks are additional display URLs that you can append to a specific ad to provide more click-through options to your web visitors. Sitelinks have been a success – they improve user experience, click-through rates, and consequently revenues for Google.

Sitelinks must be unique, meaning each one should redirect users to a different landing page with unique content. Apparently Google has noticed an increase in sitelinks “created with the same landing page or the same content“.

It’s a bit nonsensical to me as to why someone would intentionally use duplicate sitelinks – unless of course it’s by mistake. Ah, the importance of good SEO!

If you’re not familiar with sitelinks, the image below shows an example of sitelinks for the query “apple”.

Google Sitelinks. Credit: Blindfiveyearold.com

Google Sitelinks. Image Credit: Blindfiveyearold.com

Below is the full email notification I received from Google this morning.

Dear AdWords Customer,

 We’re making a policy enforcement change that could affect the performance of any AdWords campaign that uses sitelinks. If you use sitelinks now, or plan to use sitelinks in the future, please continue reading to understand the changes and suggested steps you can take to avoid any negative impact to your campaigns.

WHAT ARE SITELINKS

Sitelinks make your ads more valuable by showing additional direct links to specific web pages that you want to promote. Users get to specific destinations on your web site more quickly. And, on average, you’ll see a higher clickthrough rate for your ads. That makes sitelinks a great way to improve your campaign performance. To see images or learn more about sitelinks, please see this AdWords Help Center article (http://support.google.com/adwords/bin/answer.py?answer=2375416).

EXISTING SITELINKS POLICY

To ensure that users have a good experience with ad sitelinks, our existing policy requires each sitelink in a campaign to link to a different landing page URL with unique content on the landing page. That means a user can expect a meaningfully different landing page experience for each sitelink.

ENFORCEMENT CHANGE

Recently, we’ve noticed an increase in the number of sitelinks created with the same landing pages or the same content. So in the coming month, we will begin more proactive enforcement of our existing policy. Initially, we’ll focus on new and recently changed sitelinks. As your ads are being served, our systems will verify that your sitelinks meet the policy standards. Sitelinks that don’t meet the standards will be restricted from appearing.

IMPACT ON PERFORMANCE

Having fewer eligible sitelinks could keep your ad from showing in the larger 2-line and 3-line formats, where more eligible sitelinks are required. Remember, larger formats are more visible and typically have higher average clickthrough rates (CTR). And if you don’t have enough eligible sitelinks in your campaign, then your ads may not display sitelinks at all.

FUTURE ENFORCEMENT

We realize that manually checking and fixing duplicates for your existing sitelinks and landing pages might take some time and coordination. So we’re delaying more proactive enforcement with existing sitelinks for a few months. But don’t wait until the last minute. And remember, any sitelink that you add or change will be subject to proactive enforcement right away.

SUGGESTIONS WITH EXISTING SITELINKS

To increase the chances of having more sitelinks shown with your ads, we recommend having 6-10 unique sitelinks in each of your campaigns. 

If you already have campaigns with sitelinks, we’d suggest reviewing each campaign to verify that it has 6-10 unique sitelinks. You’d probably want to start with the campaigns that show sitelinks most often. Usually, this would be a campaign with keywords like your business name and its best-known products and services.

Here’s how you can work through this using the AdWords interface.

1. Log into the AdWords interface and click on the “Ad Extensions” tab.

2. Select “Sitelinks Extensions” from the drop down menu.

3. Sort your sitelink extensions by impressions or clicks by clicking on the column header.

4. Click on each sitelink in the top campaign and follow it through to its landing page (there’s no charge for these clicks).

5. Fix any duplicates you find in each campaign by hovering over the extension area and clicking the pencil icon.

QUESTIONS?

For more information about sitelinks policy, please visit the AdWords Help Center (http://support.google.com/adwordspolicy/bin/answer.py?answer=1054210).

You can also contact AdWords support with questions about this policy change or anything else related to AdWords (http://support.google.com/adwords/bin/answer.py?answer=8206).

 Thanks for your help keeping ad sitelinks unique and valuable for end users. We wish you continued success with AdWords.

Sincerely,

The Google AdWords Team

(C) 2012 Google Inc. 1600 Amphitheatre Parkway, Mountain View, CA 94043

Business Cards

Business Cards

I’ve made a conscious effort this year to expand the QUALITY of my professional and personal network. As any introvert aspiring to be a good networker, things tend to be a bit more mechanical on my side of things but I am working on an automation formula!

Anyways, I’ve noticed something very interesting in the networking events I’ve attended – it seems we’ve entered the era of Business Card Personalization.  As the name suggests, Business Card Personalization refers to the application of Personalization (a concept very popular these days in the digital world due to Web Personalization) to networking – in layman’s terms carrying multiple business cards and targeting the recipients of the card based on how closely they fit your information or skillset on each card.

Using myself as an example, I have 3 business cards (soon to downgrade to 2). Each business card has it’s own brand and depicts a somewhat unique side of my professional aptitude. For the record, business cards should be for business purposes – for personal relationships please exchange cell phone numbers. As you’d already guessed, which business card I hand depends greatly on the person I’m handing it to. If I’m at an entrepreneur or startup networking event, I usually give out my Miigle business card, if I am approached by a potential client I hand out my consulting card, and if I’m acting on behalf of my employer I hand out its branded card.

Why am I writing about this? Well, let’s start with my own reasoning. I decide to carry 3 cards because I have and usually pursue different interests at various points in time and thought it’d be too confusing to 1) fit all that information on one card and 2) have to answer the question “So what do you do?” with multiple titles on a card. Given I already have a very hard time answering the question “Where are you from?”, I figured I’d save myself some time there. But I’ve got to ask. Am I doing it right?

Surely, people before us (i.e. our parents and grand-parents) had multiple interests? Yes! However, those interests did not always translate (intentionally or unintentionally) to being an additional source of income as they do today. It’s actually quite amazing if you think about it. There is no prior period in time when people have embraced and felt so comfortable about creating favorable financial conditions for themselves through their different interests and skills! #Entrepreneurship

To be fair, is that not why business cards were created? i.e. Remember me. I’d like to make money from or through you [one day].

So I ask, is this the death of the single business card?

p.s. Perhaps I could keep it simple and just get one business card with the title “Hustler“? I have a feeling there’s someone out there who’d be more deserving. Peace.

The Law of Diffusion of Innovation, first studied by French sociologist Gabriel Tarde and popularized by Professor Everett Rogers in his 1962 book Diffusion of Innovationsstates that 2.5% of the population are Innovators, 13.5% are Early Adopters, 34% are Early Majority, 34% are Late Majority, 16% are Laggards.

Which one best fits you? Be honest.

Personally, I tend to fall in between the two extremes depending on the subject matter.

 

Chart: The Law of Diffusion of Innovation

Chart: The Law of Diffusion of Innovation

Globalization

Globalization

Last August, McKinsey Quarterly published a great article entitled Winning the $30 trillion decathlon: Going for gold in emerging markets in which they predicted that “by 2025, annual consumption in emerging markets will reach $30 TRILLION USD – the biggest growth opportunity in the history of capitalism.” Just like I did on my post The Technological Revolution: How the Internet is creating a new kind of poverty, they turn to the Industrial Revolution as the benchmark of their argument – why? because that’s the only period in time worthy of comparison. This topic is extremely fascinating to me – after all I decided to focus my MBA on Global Business which I believe is one of the most important degrees today – no, that’s not just me trying to justify the cost.

However, a concern I’ve had is that the current level of investments global companies are making towards emerging markets does not seem to match the opportunity. McKinsey seems to agree. According to their report, leading companies in the developed world earn just 17% of total revenues from emerging markets, even though these markets represent 36% of global GDP. By 2025, only 13 years from now, consumption in emerging markets will account to nearly half of the global total.

I firmly believe that successfully tapping into these emerging markets will require a change in the Western management organizational hierarchy. Every company in the Fortune 1000 and Global 3000 rank should immediately create a new position of Chief Globalization Officer (CGO) along with a Globalization Business Unit because doing this right will require a fully committed team to analyze, evaluate, test, and optimize these companies corporate objectives in their respective markets.

In a highly competitive market, 13 years is a lot of time to fall behind, never catch up, and die.

May the race begin.

Boss talking to employee

Boss talking to employee

How many times have you read a job description that included the word “entrepreneur” or any of its derivatives such as “The right candidate should be entrepreneurial, self-starter, blah blah blah…”? My guess would be at least 90% of the time? If you are truly an entrepreneur (meaning actively working on a project outside of your commitments towards an organization that employs you full-time) you might get excited and think “Well, this company seems like a great environment for me” … and more often than not you’d be wrong. This is a phenomenon I’ve noticed for a few years now — sorry it’s taken me this long to write about it.

The truth of the matter is that there’s a certain amount of hypocrisy many companies show towards entrepreneurs. They want the skill sets and drive you’ve developed but only want it for their own benefits. What does this mean? I’ve had many people tell me, including recruiters, that you should not mention your side projects to employers before, during, or after job interviews. Even after you’ve secured the job you must thread carefully depending on your audience. To all of you, I rhetorically ask: WHY?!?

Don’t get me wrong, I understand that companies invest a lot of money and resources to developing their employees and therefore must have systems in place to mitigate the risk of turnovers, which is a process that begins during the recruiting stages, rightly so. The point I’m trying to make is that they can’t and shouldn’t have the best of both world. Last time I checked, the legally accepted hours for a full-time position is 40 hours/week (many people go well above that especially if you’re salaried) and therefore employees should feel comfortable to pursue other interests or ventures beyond their job descriptions. I will go a step further and say employers should not only allow but vehemently encourage their employees to create or join startup projects.

Here are a few reasons why:

1. It is well documented that companies that truly foster an entrepreneurial culture tend to be more innovative and have higher employee morale. Google’s 20% factor – a rule that allows Google employees to spend 20% of their time working on projects that interest them – is a perfect example of this. Checked Google’s stock price over the past few years?

2. It is a great way to think outside of the box. Many of the ideas I’ve successfully implemented or that have failed (just being honest) at companies where I’ve worked did not originate from my cubicle. Many of times they were results of late nights and weekends projects that had nothing to do with my job function. Surely, I am not the only one.

3. The world is changing – get used to it. Advancements in technology and lower productivity costs partly due to globalization over the past decades have lowered many of the barriers that imped entrepreneurship. It’s become relatively easier for people to find the resources they need to turn their ideas into entrepreneurial ventures. Employers will have to get used to the growing trend of their employees starting or joining startups as “curricular” activities.

4. It could be a great investment opportunity for the company (or your boss). Don’t believe me? Ask Marc Benioff, the CEO of Salesforce.com and his former boss at Oracle, Larry Ellison. Mr. Ellison did not only support Mr. Benioff when he began working on Salesforce.com (even though it was a direct competitor of Oracle’s Siebel CRM) but he was one of its first investors. Salesforce.com is a billion-dollar company and Mr. Ellison’s investment in SFDC has surely contributed to his fortune.

My argument is not that companies must employ entrepreneurs, it is their choice. However, the word “entrepreneur” on a company job description should not be limited to “former” entrepreneurs but include active ones as well.

Marissa Mayer

Marissa Mayer

I have a vivid memory of my early teens; it is one of me about 11 years old, looking at a wooden plaque on the wall reading “Mieux vaut une hutte on l’on rit, qu’un chateau on l’on pleure” (French to English translation: It’s better to live in a hut where people laugh than a castle where people cry). Why do I remember it so vividly? Because rather than reading it and thinking “Well, yeah that makes sense “, I actually stood there for about 5 minutes trying to understand the message in between the lines. I replaced the metaphor of the “hut” and “castle” with real life situations. Little did I know that I was teaching myself one of the most important lessons in Management.

I am a BIG FAN of Corporate Culture. I personally think it is the most important element of an organization and when done right it can:

1. Save a company a lot of money

2. Attract and retain the most brilliant talents

3. Exponentially improve productivity

4. Build strong customer loyalty

So why wouldn’t EVERY business be investing heaven and earth on this? Because quite frankly many companies are ran by idiots.

I therefore find it refreshing and I’m quite happy that Marissa Mayer, Yahoo’s new CEO, is proving not to be one them. I have never worked for Yahoo nor am I one of their stockholders. Come to think of it, I can’t remember the last time I went on Yahoo’s website. What’s prompted me to write this post is that since Marissa Mayer joined Yahoo, there’ve been articles after articles on the different steps she’s taken as CEO – and nearly every single one of them has been to revive and redefine Yahoo’s image not vis-a-vis of shareholders but of the employees. Mrs. Mayer is addressing and tackling Yahoo’s biggest problem – employee motivation. Many of her actions might seem trivial, such as her plan to give Yahoo employees an iPhone 5  but I think goes a very long way. The main question is: Will it work or is it too late? Only time will tell but there’s no doubt she’s in the right direction.

Jim Goodnight, the CEO of North Carolina based SAS Institute – the world’s leading business analytics software vendor, is another great example of a leader who understands the value of Corporate Culture. A couple of years ago I watched a 60 minute episode featuring SAS where Mr. Goodnight was shown standing at the gate of the company’s headquarters at the end of the day waiving his employees goodbye. When asked why he did that, Mr. Goodnight confidently replied, “95% of my assets drive out the front gate every evening and it’s my job to bring them back.” What is equally as impressive is that SAS is a multibillion dollar organization but still privately owned and Mr. Goodnight has expressed no interest in taking his company public, despite multiple pleas from Wall Street to which he said, “it’s pressure from Wall Street to please shareholders by delivering rising quarterly earnings that has poisoned the corporate well” – and he couldn’t be more right!

My plea to all of you, future managers and CEOs, is not to underestimate the power of corporate culture and refuse to settle for mediocrity in your management approach. It is possible to create a strong and positive corporate culture within your organizations and be successful.

Your employees are your most important assets and it’s your job to bring them back. There’s nothing wrong treating your people good.

For additional inspiration watch 60 Minutes’ “The World’s Best Employer” featuring SAS and Jim Goodnight – Part1 and Part 2

Seth Godin's The Dip

Seth Godin’s The Dip

It must be an existential problem, doesn’t it? I mean, not quite as existential as which came first, the chicken or the egg, but knowing when to quit or if quitting is ever an option is a situation we’ve all wrestled with. Earlier this week, a good friend of mine, Steven Plaat, handed me a book by Seth Godin entitled The Dip. I’d only red the cover and already loved it!

I am a fan of critical thinking – I mean CRITICAL thinking – I appreciate luck but I don’t believe in it. I think we are way too intelligent as humans to leave it all (or even part of it) up to invisible “people”. Reading The Dip was a great reminder of who I am and who I want to be as a person.

I’m writing below my favorite lines of the book. It’s taken some time but I did it for us – so go ahead read them and hopefully they add value in your life or spark a new fire in your ambitions.

Sometimes we get discouraged and turn to inspirational writing, like stuff from Vince Lombardi: “Quitters never win and winners never quit.” Bad advice. Winners quit all the time. They just quit the right stuff at the right time.

Quit the wrong stuff. Stick with the right stuff. Have the guts to do one or the other.

You really can’t try to do everything, especially if you intend to be the best in the world.

Zipf’s law – (Source: Wikipedia) an empirical law formulated using mathematical statistics, refers to the fact that many types of data studied in the physical and social sciences can be approximated with a Zipfian distribution, one of a family of related discrete power law probability distributions. The law is named after the American linguist George Kingsley Zipf (1902–1950), who first proposed it (Zipf 1935, 1949), though the French stenographer Jean-Baptiste Estoup (1868-1950) appears to have noticed the regularity before Zipf.[1]

Only talented people fret about mediocrity.

Just about everything you learned in school about life is wrong, but the wrongest thing might very well be this: Being well rounded is the secret to success.

The Dip is the long slog between starting and mastery.

Successful people don’t just ride out the Dip […] they push harder, changing the rules as they go.

Stick with the Dips that are likely to pan out, and quit the Cul-de-Sacs to focus your resources.

If it doesn’t cost you your life, it isn’t a quest.

it is easier to be mediocre than it is to confront reality and quit.

If you can’t make it through the Dip, don’t start.

Seven Reasons You Might Fail to Become the Best in the World

You run out of time (and quit).

You run out of money (and quit).

You get scared (and quit).

You’re not serious about it (and quit).

You lose interest or enthusiasm or settle for being mediocre (and quit).

You focus on the short term instead of the long (and quit when the short term gets too hard).

Quitting at the right time is difficult. Most of us don’t have the guts to quit. Worse, when faced with the Dip, sometimes we don’t quit. Instead, we get mediocre.

The next time you catch yourself being average when feel like quitting, realize you have only two good choices: Quit or be exceptional. Average is for losers.

The opposite of quitting isn’t “waiting around.” No, the opposite of quitting is rededication. The opposite of quitting is an invigorated new strategy designed to break the problem apart.

Short-term pain has more impact on most people than long-term benefits do, which is why it’s so important for you to amplify the long-term benefits of not quitting.

The smartest people are realistic about not imagining light (at the end of the tunnel) when there isn’t any.

If you’re not going to get to #1, you might as well quit now.

The time to look for a new job is when you don’t need one. The time to switch jobs is before it feels comfortable.

Quitting is not the same as failing.

Coping is a lousy alternative to quitting.

Quitting as a short-term strategy is a bad idea. Quitting as a long-term strategy is an excellent idea.

“We knew that Google was going to get better every single day as we worked on it, and we knew that sooner or later, everyone was going to try it. So our feeling was that the later you tried it, the better it was for us because we’d make a better impression with better technology. So we were never in a big hurry to get you to use it today. Tomorrow would be better.” – Sergey Brin (Prior to reading this, I’d made the exact same point to many of my friends about my startup Miigle. I’m quite pleased to see it’s a strategy that’s been successfully employed in the past.)

It’s almost impossible to overinvest in becoming the market leader.

FINAL THOUGHTS

The Dip is a great book and a short read. I highly recommend it to anyone of you faced in a “To Quit or Not Quit – That is the question” situation or perhaps someone you know could use the help.

Now go out there and conquer the DIP!

Remember: “You’re astonishing. How dare you waste it.”

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