Welcome to my blog where I write about all things Internet, but primarily focused around online advertising!
An introduction is probably in order here.
Who Am I?
My name is Phil Greenwood and I'm a Product Manager for Microsoft Advertising. For those of you familiar with MS you know that the title Product Manager can vary pretty widely from person to person in concerns to what you actually do. So, if you looked at my day to day activities my real title would probably be something akin to Platform Manager.
What do I do for MS?
My day to day reponsibilities include dev team management, feature request triage, release planning, working with other Product Managers on various projects, and insuring we are able to realistically execute on our plans. So, of all of that what do I actually enjoy doing? In reality, most of what I do fits me pretty well, but I think most of all I enjoy coming up with new ideas and floating them to my co-workers. There is nothing more exciting then the early stages of an idea when the possibilities are endless and the opportunities are yours to capture or lose.
What did I do before MS?
It's probably easiest to break this into stages similar to how my kid's books on dinosaurs do it (Jurassic era, are you tired yet era, go to bed please era, etc).
The Bubble Era
Prior to 1999 I had a wine import business and am still a huge fan of a good Super Tuscan. But the import and distribution business itself was a bit frustrating (highly regulated and not exactly competitive) so I tried to use technology to help me increase my market share. I taught myself how to code (in retrospect I can only imagine how scary my first ASP code was). But, the result of that effort was a v1 of a web based B2B system for the beverage industry. I shopped the system around at a few trade shows and went on to raise funds from angel investors and got the business off the ground. Our second client wound up being the third largest wholesaler of wine and spirits in the state. Everything was 72 and sunny for awhile.
Post Bubble Era
Then the bubble burst. After the tech bubble burst we were having a hard time finding additional funding and I started to take a hard look at our business model. I had to make the decision that the company would die before our business would be close to profitable and made the decision to go in a pretty radically different direction.
We started a new website where people could collect money for whatever they wanted (the impetus was a bachelor party for my old college roommate). This website went on to collect funds for a few hundred different nonprofits and millions in capital campaigns but our margins were pretty slim and after 6 months or so we had not yet achieved the scale required to bolster us to profitability. Luckily, I found a buyer, or so I thought.
Close but No Cigar
In July 2001 I was contacted by a large Manhattan based Financial Services company and we met multiple times in the ensuing months about an acquisition of the fundraising website. As we were putting the deal together time dragged on and 9/11 occurred. The potential acquirer decided that until they knew more about what was going on with the economy they would not be making any acquisitions. Bad news all around. To make matters worse, post 9/11 seemingly all of the online donations were going to 9/11 based charities which made sense but certainly compounded our cash flow problems on the fundraising website. You see we mostly serviced animal shelters (another post on how brand name affects your clientele shortly). So, we sold the house to keep the business alive and make payroll -- not fun.
Rebuilding the dream
I found myself again needing a higher margin, bigger dollar business. So, I went on to develop a new app which was actually based around a VoiceXML (IVR) system for the catalog industry (think e-Commerce but over the phone with speech recognition). That went well for me after we landed a couple of the largest catalogs in the country. So, I was back on my feet.
Around 2006, while promoting the IVR business via search advertising I happened to notice that I was sometimes making more from the ads on my website then I was paying for the traffic I was driving via my search ads. I also figured out that I could do this in other verticals with fairly little effort. And, so, I went on to become a search arbitrageur and built a decent business around that. Arbitrage would go on to get a pretty large black eye, but personally, I would be a hyprocite to condemn it. I will say that If done in a manner that does not make for a bad user experience then I think it's a legitimate way to make money but I digress. From this point on I grew a call center lead generation cum search arbitrage business into a decent living while maintaining the IVR business.
When one of the major search engines decided to change their algorithms it blew up a lot of that arbitrage business. It was an easy come, easy go type thing but I hated when it went.
In 2007, not too long after starting my own online advertising business I was recruited by Microsoft Advertising with an offer I couldn't refuse and so I packed up the family and made the move to Seattle where my adventure in online advertising continues.
So, what will this blog be about?
Mostly news, tidbits, ramblings, and rants about the online advertising business.
Thanks for visiting!