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It is better
to not be on
the web than
to be on and
not know why

John Sumser

is more
it seems.
John Gall


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Brand Basics II
(December 17, 2002) - 
Websites convert traffic into results. They compete for attention (or mindshare) with each other. On the web, the competition is every other website that wants the time, attention, and money of your traffic. A website without traffic (and a traffic development budget and plan) is like a pile of unread brochures in a stationary closet. 

Like the fabled porridge in Goldilocks, there are three levels of traffic: too little, too much, and just right. More is not always good for everybody. Less is almost always bad. Finding out what "just right" actually means takes experimentation and commitment. If you are talking with a peer in our industry, who desn't have a grasp of their traffic (and we're specifically including HR professionals in this notion), you are talking with someone whose credentials are suspect.

In the employment business, having a website with the right amount of traffic is everything. 

We think that there are essentially five kinds of web operations in our industry:

  • Guides: publications and associations that point traffic to relevant places,
  • Vendors: like ATS providers and outsourcing shops that offer end users the tools and services required to process traffic and its accompanying data,
  • Commodity Providers and Brokers: like the largest job boards that buy traffic in bulk and resell it to end users,
  • Niche Providers and Brokers: like staffing firms and niche job boards that focus on acquiring a precise demographic in their traffic, and 
  • End Users: like Corporate Recruiting Shops that acquire traffic for further in-house processing.

Each category has a relatively easy to define set of traffic requirements. You can evaluate the relative health of each by understanding their traffic. Although each category contains a variety of models for converting traffic into results, they are meaningless without the right volume of traffic. This is true today and will be increasingly true as Gen Y assumes its ascendancy in the market. (See last week's articles).

Traffic is the brand. Traffic is credibility. Success is a function of how well the traffic is processed for its next use.

Here's an example:

Take a look at Manpower's traffic rankings. Now look at Adecco's. Then compare the two. (enter Manpower.com at the bottom of the graph in the blank labled "Compare Sites). A very cursory look at the financials suggests that Adecco is about twice the size of Manpower in revenue terms. A look at the traffic suggests that Manpower has a very sustainable cost advantage as well as a leg up in the next generation of business.

The staffing industry, in general, has been decimated by the ever-increasing array of job boards. These days, staffing firms are either resellers of data acquired from a large job board, experienced refiners of data from smaller job boards, or traffic managers and consumers on their own. To the extent that they develop their own traffic and have meaningful independence in this regard, they are viable over the next 5 years. To the extent that they rely on others for their supply, they are middlemen, who will ultimately be disintermediated.

- John Sumser

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Materials written by John Sumser © TwoColorHat. All Rights Reserved.
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