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Mark Hughes – C3 Metrics and Attribution

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You led one of the most successful and disruptive launches in history. Half.com was sold for $300m within six months of being launched. Tell us a bit about how what you learned and how it relates to disruption?

Disruption happens when you have one of three things come to the surface and done really well: convenience, price, or style. When it came to Half.com, we were basically saying, “Hey, listen, rather than auction off your book, TV, or video game on eBay, why wait 5 or 7 days? Just sell it like you would in a retail store.”

You could buy it conveniently like you would on Amazon versus having the more cumbersome option. eBay didn’t have that functionality then. So Half.com hit on convenience and price. Items were half price or less, sometimes a bit more, but about half price. I don’t know that it really hit on any kind of style, but Half.com was stylistically easier than eBay. Half.com hit on convenience and price.

In general, when you talk about disruption, it’s usually about these three things. You’ve got to have much greater convenience, a much greater price advantage, or much better style

In general, when you talk about disruption, it’s usually about these three things. You’ve got to have much greater convenience, a much greater price advantage, or much better style. Stylistically, from a design standpoint, it was much better than what eBay had at the time (remember it didn’t own PayPal at the time). So we had two out of three of those from a product standpoint. Then you have consumers. Are they regular consumers, for example, a woman who lives in Iowa who plunks down her credit card on something? Or is your consumer more of a B2B consumer? It differs depending on the end user of the product or service. For us, it was Mrs. Smith the American consumer.

We knew we had a disruptive product. In fact, we had offers to sell the com- pany before we launched. It was also a crazy era. Anything with dot-com at the end of a word automatically got you a valuation. So the question was how do you get into the minds of the media and consumers and have them engage with and evangelize about a disruptive product?

A lot of products out there are disruptive. The tactics definitely vary. The motivations definitely vary depending on who the end consumer is. The barriers to entry were very low. “5 bucks for a book? Okay I’ll put my credit card down and try that. It’s cheaper than buying the book full price at 14 bucks.” So the barriers to entry were pretty low and we had to maximize the opportunity. The overnight success of a company or product does not usually happen in one night. It’s usually a result of either a lot of money behind it, or a lot of money plus a lot of hours behind it.


Mark Hughes – CEO and Founder of C3 Metrics, Best Selling Author of Buzzmarketing

Mark Hughes grew eBay’s Half.com from zero to 8 million online customers as its VP of Marketing in less than three years. Half.com was sold to eBay for over $300 million six months after launch.

He has spent $100 million online ad dollars, planting the seeds for C3 Metrics’ advertising effectiveness SaaS platform—helping Advertisers DSPs and Networks discover previously ignored revenue drivers and increase ROI with: attribution, patent pending viewable impressions technology in cross-domain iFrames, Viewable Conversions, and Upper Funnel Conversions. Hughes brings a wealth of creative and quantitative experience in consumer marketing from PepsiCo’s Pizza Hut Division; Pep Boys, the automotive aftermarket retailer; and American Mobile Satellite.

Hughes is the son of a Pulitzer Prize winning journalist, and Hughes’ own book, Buzzmarketing, is published in 15 languages. In its first year of release it was heralded by Fast Company as one of the Ten Best Business Reads of the Year and named by The Financial Times of London as one of the Best Business Books of the Year along with Freakonomics.

Mr. Hughes holds his MBA from Columbia Business School in Marketing and International Business.