aQuantive, stupid or smart purchase by Microsoft?

OK, you know Maryam and I are having a kid in September, right? A boy. Yippeee. But what happens when you decide to bring another life into the world? Well, beyond another 100,000 Flickr images (which is probably how many images this kid will have on Flickr, if Thomas Hawk has anything to say about it) what else happens?

Easy. A lot of money moves from my wallet to somewhere else. Now, I know how to use Google, right? Google monetizes the last click in a complex chain. But how am I, or Maryam, going to be influenced on our choices? Say, for instance, diapers? I just did a search for diapers on Google and found only one brand name I recognize: Huggies. How did that damn name get hammered into my brain? Advertising.

Which gets me back to why I’m writing this post: let’s say you’re a Diaper company who has a better product than Huggies. How will you get word out? Advertising.

But, who will decide where you advertise? Ad agencies, influentials, business leaders inside your company, executives, customer research types, who else?

Which gets me to Friday’s acquisition, by Microsoft, of aQuantive. To Kevin Kelleher at GigaOm that seems totally ridiculous. At first it did to me too, except I’ve been doing a bit more looking at who aQuantive employs: a whole lot of people who decide, or at minimum influence, where big companies will advertise.

At the Forbes Online retreat a couple of weekends back I heard over and over from various speakers that they expect a lot of advertising money (billions, they told me) will be moved in the next five years from TV and print to online.

Who will decide where the dollars be spent? A good portion of it will be by folks who are working at aQuantive right now.

Will they all of a sudden influence their clients to spend more money with Microsoft properties than Google or Yahoo ones?

Hey, what if Microsoft bought Facebook? Did Microsoft just cut off some of Google’s air supply? Maybe this is a traditional Microsoft/Ballmer move? The problem is it’ll only work if Microsoft has a legitimately good set of audiences to advertise to. My friends in the advertising business aren’t that stupid, they’ll do their homework and will move their money away from aQuantive if they start getting stupid advice.

But, what if Microsoft started buying things like Facebook, TechMeme, Automattic, Twitter, Technorati, LinkedIn, Federated Media? They have enough money to sweep all of these things up, even at today’s inflated prices. And don’t miss what Microsoft already has: some of the Internet’s biggest audiences. About 200 million people used Hotmail in the past 30 days, for instance.

The thing is, how will the advertising industry reach me? I’m not watching much TV anymore. I’m not reading things on dead trees much anymore. I’m online. My wallet is waiting to be emptied. Who’ll be the first one to tell me about a new kind of diaper? A new kind of camera? A new kind of crib? A new kind of clothing? A new way to child-proof my home? A new financial instrument so this kid can go to college? A new kind of food for children? Etc, etc, etc.

I’m not watching old-style ads anymore. So, where are these new style of ads?

Anyway, will aQuantive prove brilliant or stupid? Depends on the ads, I guess. What do you think?

Maker Faire: another winner

Yesterday I took Patrick to Maker Faire. I continue to love this experience. It’s the unconference done right. Yeah, Woz was on stage giving a speech. But that was not what this is about. It’s about making stuff. Gadgets. Felt monkeys. Punk rock hats. Electric skateboards. Art cars. Lego trains. T-shirts. Lazer’d wood logos. And much much much more.

What’s great is if you’re in India and can’t get to the faire there’s a ton of video and pictures coming your way. I talked with Phillip Torrone yesterday (one of the head guys at the Faire) and he told me they are working on bringing the Faire other places. Austin in October. But it’s clear that they want to take it to India and China and Japan and Europe.

I’ve put a few of the first reports on my link blog but the Maker Faire blog is linking to a lot of good stuff too. Thomas Hawk hasn’t put up his photos yet, but he took a bunch. He’s not alone, though. I saw probably 500 digital cameras and a ton of professional video equipment. A good place to start is on Flickr with a search for “Maker Faire 2007.”

In other news from my life: I’ve gotta go and participate in a discussion at the Berkeley CyberSalon. Then tonight I’m flying to Seattle for the Market to the Max conference (I’ll only be there for a few hours tomorrow, so probably can’t do impromptu meetups, sorry).