Friday, June 1, 2007

Google Gears - Can you say offline?!

This is really cool stuff. Announced earlier this week. I expect we will see some really cool apps come out over the next few weeks that leverage it. Already trying it out on my Google Reader. Next - Gmail!

As per usual with Google, this is all part of a bigger mission...

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

The secrets of Market-Driven Leaders - good reading

Things have been crazy busy lately, on west coast now. I will start posting soon again - couple of things on my mind.

In the meantime - read this e-book - going to be part of a book due next year. Great reading from Pragmatic Marketing:

Must read for any PM.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Google's New CPA Test

This is big news if you ask me:

If I compare CPC (Cost-Per-Click) and CPA (Cost-Per-Action), it is equivalent to me hiring a sales person and paying them for each cold call they make (CPC) vs. paying them for deals they close (CPA). Certainly the average amount I would pay them for each cold call is way less than when they close a deal, but the ultimate is closing that deal...and I will absolutely pay them tons more for that.

What Google is doing here with the CPA test is very interesting. Closing the feedback loop, and having their customers only to pay when a certain action occurs is super smart. I have yet to see what all the 'actions' are that they will support. Needless to say, I see a Google Checkout angle here in the future. If someone clicks on my ad (using Adwords or Adsense), and then purchases from me using Google Checkout, then I'll pay a percentage of the sale for the 'action' and not be charged clicks (this is conjecture - I am not sure how it will all work in the end - but some form of solution such as this just makes a whole lot of sense). As a online retailer/merchant, I could pay $10 for 10 clicks, or I could pay $10 for a $150 sale.

Question is...where will the intersection point lie in terms of when the ROI of CPA meets the ROI of CPC? Will Google provide some form of hybrid CPC/CPA pricing model? It is going to be interesting to watch this all pan out. This is just an AdSense-based test now, but I can't wait to see where it all goes. And how people like Yahoo - who just moved heaven and earth to try catch Google with their Project Panama - respond...

Will this be a long term deal for Google. Yes. Why?

It just makes sense to do this. It is a much better value prop for their Customers, and as we know...he/she who relentlessly focuses on their Customer's success wins in the end. And I am sure Google will find a way to make this just as successful from a monetization perspective as their CPC model in the long term.

This also certainly will make the affiliate providers such as ValueClick and Commission Junction sit up straight in bed at night.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Good Article by Pragmatic Marketing

Steve Johnson of Pragmatic Marketing recently put together a great article on where Product Management belongs in the organization. Closely relates to my post below on why we need to see more VPs of Product Management.

Good reading. Check it out at

Wednesday, February 21, 2007


This should be interesting - check out Founded by the guys who did Kazaa and Skype. And as we know they sold Skype to eBay for about a gazillion dollars. Will it compete with Google Video/GooTube? Founders have a good track record and they certainly have the cash.

They just signed a content deal with Viacom...Interesting.

Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Great Blog on Usability

If you are serious about product usability (c'mon you all have Usability Experts/PMs on staff don't you? :-), this is a great great blog - one of the best out there on the topic of usability and how to make your users love you.

Kathy Sierra just has a habit of getting it right all the time, why can't I do that?! Make sure to subscribe.

Friday, January 26, 2007

The Fountain of Innovation Youth

Sooo...I was out at a product management networking event recently here in North Carolina. We were talking about agile release methodologies, yada yada yada, how many feature requests we as PMs will typically get out of focus groups etc etc. I am going to make the assumption you know what focus groups are. To briefly summarize - they are those cool events where you bring Customers together to comment on the latest and greatest features in your next release before you ship it, the goal being to have their real-world input validate your product direction as early in the development cycle as possible. I love focus groups by the way, they rock. More on focus groups in a separate post.

Back to my networking event - someone asked the question: "well if you are listening all the time to what these customers are asking for and prioritizing/implementing purely based on that feedback, then who is responsible for innovation in your product?!". Interesting question.

The question may seem simple. The answer is pretty simple too actually.

Answer: your Customer certainly aint responsible for your product innovation! They are responsible for telling you their pains. They are responsible for telling you "wouldn't it be great if it did x when I hit y". They are responsible for running their business, and innovation within THEIR business model. They are NOT responsible for YOUR innovation, YOU as a PM are.

For example - I'll hazard a guess here and say that Customers themselves were not responsible for cool inventions such as the iPod. All that users probably said to Apple (this is all pure conjecture for the attorneys out there - disclaimer/tm yada yada) is: "I want to have a device that makes it easy for me to listen to my tunes." Apple did the rest in terms of delivering a truly innovative product - and the rest is history - until someone innovates better than Apple of course :-). Don't expect innovation from your Customers, it is not their business to give that to you either. They have enough on their hands running their business and their lives, and is not fair to ask them to do your job and theirs. This holds true even if the "business" challenge for the night is the 16 year old who has to update her myspace profile before the major cheerleading event on the next day! :-)

Net it is your job as a PM to drive innovation. It is your job as a PM to optimize, streamline, and improve your Customer's existence through product innovation. Expect this from Customers and you will be sorely disappointed.

Taking a step back, if we look at the categories of product innovation, they come in two basic forms:

  1. Those where PMs translate customer requests and pains into greater things. As I mentioned before, customers will eagerly tell you their pains and "wouldn't it be great ifs". These are feature requests - sometimes they are camouflaged in bug reports. These are not REQUIREMENTS though. Requirements are the inputs you deliver to your Development team. And importantly, they should be groups of what appear to be related (or sometimes unrelated) feature requests synthesised into a single requirement. For example, Customer A may ask for this feature: "wouldn't it be great if I hit this button and it did X." Customer B may ask for this feature: "wouldn't it be great if I hit this link, it did Y and then did X". Different feature requests, but similar potential need - there could be an innovative requirement hidden in here that differs from what the two customers requested, but solves both their problems. Very important to understand this - feature requests are not requirements - requirements are derived from feature requests, and may not represent exactly what the Customer requested, but still addresses the problem they had, and maybe goes beyond that...
  2. Raw great ideas. These are those ideas that come up with little Customer input, but again are driven through some vision derived off an indirect market pain. These are often the greatest innovative features. Google's PageRank is an example. There weren't any Customers asking for this were there? Yet the founders of Google thought of a cool idea, thew something out there, and innovated and iterated rapidly. And the rest is history. You should not be afraid to pursue these. My only word of advice is keep it simple, keep it pure - get your concept out there quickly, start iterating, and let the market tell you if it is a money or poopoo idea sooner rather than later.

I have one final point on the topic - PM should not solely be responsible for product innovation within a company. Innovation can come in many forms - maybe you have a scenario where one of your engineers comes up with a way to dramatically enhance the architecture of your product in a way that opens your product up to new business (APIs etc) - that is an example of innovation, although everyone does it today (you get my point though). Engineers are often the most creative people in the company, and we don't leverage that creativity in many many cases (more on this in a separate post). The way to effectively harness a strong engineer's creativity, and direct that towards the product, is to do things like getting engineers on Customer visits with you. That way they see the PAIN themselves, they feel what the Customer is feeling - and innovation ideas they have will be so much more grounded. Net - PM should not be the bottleneck for product innovation - empower the rest of your organization through Customer familiarity and real-world experience to participate in the innovation game too. Do this, and you and your TEAM will do great things.

Comments, thoughts welcome.