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Why I left Yahoo to join Solohealth

17 Jul

If I had a dollar for every time I’ve been asked in the past 3 weeks why I’m leaving Yahoo or where are you going, I’d be a little wealthier. That being said, figured the easiest and fastest way to address this is to add it to the blog.

First, if you came here to read about the skewering and downfall of Yahoo you can stop reading. That is not what this is. Yahoo provided me with opportunities and education that I’m not sure I could have gotten elsewhere. I’ve met some of the most intelligent people in the digital space over that time and established friendships that will last forever. I’m not naming names because honestly it would take too long. Sure, Yahoo has it challenges but a lot of companies are envious of the position Yahoo is in. This was about the opportunity that presented itself.

I’ve been working in digital media sales since 1998, and because of this my phone rings quite often from recruiters. I’ve had people reach out for opportunities big and small. Major social sites, gaming sites, content creation and others have expressed interest. I decided that when/if I moved I wanted go to a real small startup that provided me an opportunity to grow, be challenged and utilize all my interests.

Solohealth fit that criteria, plus a few others.

The things I was seeking in the next company were as follows:

  1.  Is the product uniquely differentiated
  2. Can it cause disruption in the market
  3. Is it focused

So for those wondering what Solohealth is, I will do my best to sum it up after 1 week.

“We help businesses engage consumers with precision targeted media and content integration, through various health assessments that occur inside retailers stores.” (Yes, it needs work, but that is where I’m at) Consumers are literally logging onto the web at stores like Wal-Mart, Publix, Sam’s Club, CVS and others I can’t mention, and doing health assessments on areas like BMI, Blood Pressure, Vision, Pain Management and others.

Anyone that knows me understands my unique interest in working with CPG manufacturers. I’ve always said half the battle is getting the consumer into the store; the other half is to get them to buy. Well we’ve eliminated the first barrier and depending on the studies you read 65-75% of all purchase decisions happen inside the store.

This solution can help so many businesses ranging from OTC, Pharma, CPG and even companies like Subway and McDonald’s which operate restaurants in Wal-Mart as well as I’m sure a 100 other categories I haven’t thought of yet.

The other thing that appealed to me was our ability to actually work with businesses to integrate content and questions right within the assessments. I can go on and on about the opportunities but that is for another post.

I’ve enjoyed the startups I’ve been part of before, going all the way back to Citysearch in 1998 or when we opened the WebMD office in Chicago. My passion for product development, sales, true measurement at retail, building a team from the ground up has all come together in this role.

I don’t doubt challenges are ahead, I’ve seen a few, but the team at Solohealth is amazing. When you can sit down with the VP of Product and give some feedback and he takes the feedback and starts to think how to implement quickly is an awesome experience. The team is all working, with passion, towards the same goals. They’ve accomplished so much the past 6 months and I can’t wait to help keep the pedal down as we grow quickly. I’ve got a team to build across the country and a lot of people asking to be part of the national rollout.

My tweeting has slowed and my FB surfing will be cut back, but I can’t wait to look back in 2-3 years and see how far we’ve come and think about where we started.

I couldn’t do any of this without everything I’ve learned from my first days at Citysearch to the last 6 years at Yahoo. It was hard to leave Yahoo, it was a part of me, and always will be, but I’m excited to be part of something special at Solohealth.

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Imbalance Creates Opportunity – It’s the Year of Mobile and…..

30 Mar

Yesterday I had the opportunity to join eMarketer for a discussion around “Digital Ad Trends: What’s Behind the Spending Boom.”  David Hallerman provided great insight and some good discussion followed.

It should come as no surprise that the growth is happening around video, mobile and social at a much higher rate than display ads.  A couple interesting things did come to light during these conversations that I thought I’d share

1. 64.4% of all mobile dollars are consolidated between iAds, Google and Millenial Media

2. In 2002 72% of all digital dollars were spent with the top 10 ad selling companies, the number in 2011 was 72%

3. In 2011 banner advertising made up 62.2% of online investment, in 2016 banner advertising will make up 47.7% of the market

So as a marketer, publisher or entrepreneur imbalance creates opportunity. 

From a marketer standpoint advertisers should be looking at ways to own the mobile marketplace, put an early stake in the ground and be a leader.  I realize this is a blanket statement, and obviously each advertiser must look at the goals they have and identify the best way to do this.

The other thing advertisers need to be thinking about is how to engage audience in new ways.  The early days of the internet we all touted how online was the most measurable media, I think many of us are regretting that to some extent.   Digital does offer other unique opportunities.  Look at opportunities that a company like Solve Media is providing, where you can engage audiences in new meaningful ways.  Even here at Yahoo we have evolved to where advertisers can now contribute to content, to give you scale you can’t get from your own site. Imagine taking your content from the 1-10 million users you reach on your site to the 174 million consumers Yahoo reaches ever month.

As a publisher you have to be thinking about how to grow mobile audience and drive share.  The fact that 3 publishers own the space tells me we have a lot of growing up to do here.  It shocks me that publishers haven’t been investing here.  I mean how many years have we been saying that this is the year of mobile.

Having been in online advertising 14 years I’ve seen tremendous change on how consumers engage with content and how advertisers leverage that engagement to reach potential customers. The pace of change will not slow, thank goodness, embrace the change, find opportunity in change, and use data to drive these decisions. These simple things will provide success.

In the coming weeks I will touch on some of the additional things that we discussed in the meeting.  Such as:

–          Programmed media vs. sponsorships and other media

–          Are we all in the media business today?  The evolution of content creation and advertising

–          Social, what is it to those of who are not in the media industry

–          What major disruptions could slow the growth mentioned above – Cost of Data?

Should I Build An App For My Brand?

27 Sep

We live in an App happy world.   The android market announced they have reached 80,000 apps and the iPhone app store claims to have over 250,000 apps according to Mobile Business Briefing .

http://www.mobilebusinessbriefing.com/apps/article/android-market-hits-80-000-apps

Windows marketplace is actively trying to grow and blackberry seems to making a better effort to create a more robust marketplace having finally reached 10,000 apps.  So should your brand have an app?

First, when did this app world explode?  The other day I was telling my dad about this app I downloaded.  My father, who has been in sales for the majority of his life, asked what I what I was applying to, as if I was looking for work at McDonald’s.

For those of you that have been active in downloading apps, basically at this point if you can’t find an app that does what you need you probably haven’t looked hard enough.  In fact people are now complaining that there is too much junk in the app stores.

So before you run out and build an app think about this.  It’s estimated that the average app gets downloaded 22,222 times, based on 225,000 apps with 5 billion downloads as of August this year.

On top of that the average app gets used less than 20 times before they are abandoned according to Pinch Media.  Here is a great blog from Josh Clark on how to create sustainable apps.

http://mashable.com/2010/07/20/iphone-app-development-lifespan/

Think about you as a user.  I probably have 15 apps and use 3-4, Slacker Radio all the time, and a few other social and infotainment sites.

The question I pose to the brand managers that ask the question of creating an App is, “What consumer need will your app provide a solution to?”  The typical responses are centered on health and wellness, cooking and recipes.  For anyone that trolls the app landscape like me you know that the amount of apps that are out there for these types of things are numerous.    So the questions you have to ask yourself are as follows:

1.       Can you make a better app

2.       Can you create a unique differentiator

3.       Are you committed to evolving and marketing your app

If you can say yes to the 3 things above then it is definitely worth investigating.  Consumer behavior can be changed just think about your surfing behavior.  I’ve gone from Mapquest to Google Maps, Pandora to Slacker Radio and so on and so on.  They all created a product that I felt was better than the one I was using.

I’d also challenge your brand to think outside the constrained walls of your business.  What if your brand created a great social gaming experience with product integration?  It doesn’t have to mimic your website.  Keep in mind your app has to be built for each marketplace.

The estimated cost of building an app is roughly $50K and can range from $25K to over $100K.  You have to commit to investing more in the marketing then you are in the app.  It’s not a build it and they will come world for apps, the exception to the rules are the ones we all read about.  For every 1 of those another 100 that struggle to build a base audience.

Can Apps be a great way to drive a good ROI?  Absolutely.  Many challenges exist but with a well thought out strategy and a commitment to market you can create a compelling app that can drive ROI.  Like everything else you need to have a plan and a vision going into the discussions with key marketing objectives clearly defined.

So what are your favorite Apps?

Here are some of mine you may have never heard of:

Slacker Radio

ESPN Radio (Streams radio from your local town, wherever you are)

Tweetdeck

Taxi Magic

Dragon-Dictation

Gate Guru

Special thanks to Brian Kilmer for helping with some of the data and insight on this blog @btkilmer

@btkilmer shared this with me.  Great article on best branded apps

http://www.openforum.com/idea-hub/topics/technology/article/13-branded-apps-that-got-it-right-sarah-kessler

How the Heck Do I use “Check-In” as a Marketing Tool?

17 Aug

If you aren’t actively engaged in the “Check-In” craze you‘ve at least heard about sites like Foursquare, Gowalla, Loopt and Twitter Check-in.  The news today is that most likely to be announced this week the Facebook Check-In.

Read Techcrunch article by MG Siegler for more information on the Facebook announcement.

http://techcrunch.com/2010/05/09/facebook-places-check-in/

So let me caveat, that while I still don’t know why I “Check In” to places, I still find myself doing this all the time.  Currently I’m the mayor of 7 places and looking to regain a few titles I’ve recently lost.  Al O. you are going down at Panera on Clybourn.

So as part of my job I concentrate the majority of my time thinking about how to help CPG manufacturers grow their business.  So last week it finally hit me how they should be using this tool.  All you CPG marketers feel free to steal the idea.

Subway, Starbucks and McDonald’s have been extremely active on advertising on Foursquare.  Rightfully so, based on this article by Kunur Patel in Adage  http://adage.com/digital/article?article_id=145413

So anyone who is in CPG and works in advertising understands that the best ROI typically comes from in store advertising.  That might be shelf talkers, in store radio and all the other things that the grocery chains have to offer.

Now think about this if you “Check In” to your grocery store I can’t think of a better place to reach consumers.  Now you, the advertiser, will not know if they buy your category, but either did the person who saw your ad on the floor of your local grocery store.

I realize one grocery store isn’t going to give the scale needed to move a large level of product, but if you aggregated Supervalu, Kroger, Safeway, Walmart, Target, CVS, Walgreens and all the other places you offer your product this adds up to a large amount of users.

You could offer up a coupon to these consumers or maybe you have a current promotion that will help drive case movement.  I’m not going to dig into creative execution but I will say that the opportunity has real power and would love to see someone execute and share the results.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on the idea or if you think you have a way for CPG advertisers to use the new “Check In” to move product feel free to share.

Thanks for reading

Dan Bonert is a Strategic Account Director who has worked in the digital space with CPG companies for the past 12 years with companies like WebMD, USATODAY, Citysearch and currently at Yahoo.  His CPG background is rooted in his early childhood when he worked at his local supermarket where he was first exposed to marketing side of the CPG business.  Follow Dan @ http://www.twitter.com/dbonert