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The Web: Is it Really about Money?

At the Summit, I heard Avinash Kaushik speak (or as Dylan says, How can you go to the Summit and not hear Eric Peterson and Avinash and Sam Decker?) And as usual, Avinash was wonderful, soon he will have groupies following him around. But I didn’t agree with one thing he said. I wish he were right – making more money for the company and more money for your boss is the road to success. Unfortunately, I feel like all anyone cares about is ego. (To be fair, he did touch on this.)

Customers say, “I don’t care what the right thing to do is, I want to do a better job of what my competitor is doing.” Or they say, at my last company we did it this way [five years ago, a million years in Internet time.] Or they say, my wife|husband doesn’t like it. It’s true, as Avi says, that the person with the largest income gets to decide, but my real issue here is, not only do they get to decide, but they too often decide based on what makes them feel important, not on what makes them and the company more money.

As a consultant, this is a hard place to be. (It is probably even harder as an employee!) I always feel ethically obligated to point out once to the customer that if we do it our way, they will make more money. Then when they say, “I don’t care,” I can say, “OK, we will do it your way.” But sometimes I wonder what they are paying for, doing it their way or achieving success.

I guess it is all in the definition of “success.”

Robbin Steif
LunaMetrics

ps I promise that I will do Regular Expressions Part VIII soon.

Robbin Steif

About Robbin Steif

Our owner and CEO, Robbin Steif, started LunaMetrics ten years ago. She is a graduate of Harvard College and the Harvard Business School, and has served on the Board of Directors for the Digital Analytics Association. Robbin is a recent winner of a BusinessWomen First award, as well as a Diamond Award for business leadership.

http://www.lunametrics.com/blog/2006/10/20/the-web-is-it-really-about-money/

3 Responses to “The Web: Is it Really about Money?”

René says:

Hi Robbin,

I think that you are both right, it’s just a matter of point of views and positions. Avinash’s perspective and yours are not identical. Avinash’s tip about the ‘bosses paycheck’ is targeted towards internal web analysts. What they need to do, in order to get more attention internally. Your perspective of ‘ego’ comes, IMHO, from the experiences you have as an external consultant. It is not the same to sell Web Analytics services and trying to get your boss’ approval internally within your organization.

Hope that this makes sense. I speak from my experience in selling Web Analytics services and helping our clients to get the funding from their bosses. The arguments to use are very different.

I don’t think also, IMHO, that the question ‘The Web: Is it Really about Money?’ is the right interpretation of what Avinash wanted to say. The web is about helping companies to reach their business objectives. And many companies are only driven by results (financial results), specially those that are public. So, it’s not that the web is about money. If the company objective is to make money, then their website should help them in that objective. And well, when you look at the top management of large companies they are very much concerned about their paycheck also, so if you can help your boss on that issue it seems clear to me that he won’t refuse and he will be grateful. Unfortunately, history has proven recently -Enron-, that some are really desperate and would do anything for money.

Getting back with the ego vs money issue and the concept of ‘success’. You’re right when you say that ego is a ‘driver’ in a decision making process. But I think that this is evolving as the world is changing and with all the changes the volatility of companies and jobs has increased. When you look at the marketing departments for example, they are under lot of pressure (at least here in Europe and I guess that the US is not much different from that point of view from what I read on WebTrends CMO report).

For example, in the past (and some still do but it won’t last) advertisers measured their success by comparing the number and prestige of prizes they had won in Cannes, New York, etc. (driven by the ego). this is changing towards efficiency measurement slowly but surely. In the future and for many companies already in the present success is measured against results and not corporative ego filling competitions.

In today’s world in which the measure is getting more and more important, results will be the key to secure one’s job, and we all know that Insights are key to take actions that will bring results. 
Look at all the new services that are launched online, most of them, if not all, come with some kind of reporting functionality (blogs, adwords, social networking, …). 
The entire planet is getting used to measure (I won’t say Analytics or Insights yet as there’s still room for improvement) and this will have consequences in the way we work and the way companies will evaluate and incentive their employees. Measurement is becoming something more and more common and with the evolution any company futures decisions will be driven mostly by analysis. With new technologies, we increase the chances of transforming the information flow in our world and reach perfect transparent information (or at least aim for it), that will hopefully get us to a perfect market system; as opposed to the asymmetric information world in which we have lived until now. this will come through Insights and will deliver even greater Insights.

Regarding the changes that are operated let me share a personal experience. This week we have won the prize of Best Case by The IAB in Belgium and we were selected by the audience also as best case out of the 3 best cases of the year (it has been really a fantastic week with eMetrics and this). They didn’t awarded the most ‘beautiful’ case, but the most efficient and measured! We managed to create from scratch a database of over 40.000 opt-in email addresses with all demographic information in 18 days (bear in mind that belgian population is 10M). It was a very basic campaign that delivered results. Now the Marketing Manager of Panos (our client) will be able to tell to his boss that their ‘web efficiency’ is among the best in the market, which is a compelling argument to get more funding. This is what online marketing is bringing to the traditional marketing: caring about results. And in this case among the results one important is the cost of acquisition of an email address which was very low (under 2 euros). You can find the english presentation in ppt in the IAB Belgium website.

Again, I think that you’re both right is just a matter of perspective. And yes the fact that we won the prize has lifted up a little bit my ego ;-)

Sorry to spam you with my thoughts ;-)

Cheers from Brussels,
René

Well, you are right, I didn’t do a good job of naming this post. You said so many interesting things here that I will mostly let everyone read your excellent comments while I reread your thoughts again. And here is René’s blog, so that everyone has yet more food for thought.

Congratulations on your award!

Robbin

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