Right idea, right time, right follow through – those are the keys

A year before Adsense, Ericson and I invented it – was called, “AdRevenue.” When Adsense launched, same product, we knew that the second teir JavaScript delivered CPC ads were not going to be able to compete. Right idea, right time, wrong follow through. This was the kind of idea that had Goto, Overture, Yahoo Search Marketing (the final brand for their PPC) had implemented before the Google launch, history would be different.

The smarter thing to do in 2003 would have been to pitch Yahoo on this as backfill for their display ads. Now, they’ve signed up with Google to run Adsense on their properties. Ironic, eh? Some ideas are so big you have to have big follow through in an equally big way. Raise money, build out a board of directors with the kind of deep relationships and connections that are mandatory to get the right eyeballs on the strategic implications of what you’re doing.

How do you determine at what scale the idea operates at?

Prioritization is the only way to go. Niche ad networks have been working well before and after Adsense, in many flavors. Several of these are lifestyle businesses that provide a small advertising sales team a healthy income and publishers a healthy paycheck as well. With some of the ideas I have worked on, the scale was so out of whack with our ability to execute, we’d have been infinitely better off without the pie in the sky part. Focus, prioritize on smaller markets, then move up-stream. Classic disruption strategy at work in this sense which has played out in many industries, online and off.

Steve Johnston of the History of Innovation had this idea of the adjacent possible with inventions. One invention enables others, because that new innovation becomes one part of the foundation for others. It’s easy to see the parallel in this concept and, “API Culture,” in Silicon Valley.