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Posts Tagged ‘iTV’

09/22/10
Adam Glantz

News of the Day


VideoEgg to Buy Six Apart, Rebrand as Say Media

Ad network VideoEgg will acquire Six Apart, owner of the MovableType and TypePad publishing platforms as well as a sizable social media ad network, and rebrand as Say Media. The combined company will boast 345 million monthly global unique users.

For VideoEgg, the new company name will emphasize its focus on social media and will dissociate it from the video ad space in the minds of media buyers.

“It pigeonholed us,” said VideoEgg President Troy Young. “People thought we were a streaming media network, which we weren’t. And VideoEgg, while a spirited name, didn’t feel like the mature media company we wanted to be.”

Six Apart CEO Chris Alden will step down when the transaction is completed in approximately 60 days, but most of the firm’s other senior management will transition to roles at Say Media. Say Media’s total headcount after the sale will be over 200, and its base of operations will be in San Francisco. Financial terms were not disclosed.

The main driver of the acquisition was scale in social media. Six Apart’s ad network reached approximately 90 million U.S. unique users on thousands of sites in April, according to comScore. In May the company unveiled an ad product, TypePad Conversations, that uses sponsored questions to help brands leverage that audience in meaningful ways.

Read More: ClickZ

Digital Ad Agencies Attract Interest of Would-Be Buyers

The deal-making in online advertising continues, as talks over the sale of two ad firms heat up.

Private-equity firm General Atlantic LLC has held preliminary talks with several companies over a possible sale of AKQA Inc., one of the U.S.’s largest digital ad shops, according to people familiar with the matter.

Meanwhile, New Jersey-based Rosetta LLC, another large digital ad firm, is in talks to buy Level Studios, a 15-year-old interactive marketing firm, according to a person familiar with the matter. Terms of the deal could not be determined.

General Atlantic, which took a majority stake in AKQA in 2007, hired Morgan Stanley to explore a possible sale after it received an unsolicited bid for the San Francisco-based agency, according to one of the people familiar with the matter. One company Morgan Stanley has approached is Dentsu Inc., Japan’s largest ad company, the people familiar with the matter said.

Dentsu hasn’t made a formal bid for AKQA but has made an “expression of interest” and suggested AKQA is valued at about $500 million, one of these people said. Two people familiar with the matter say that General Atlantic is seeking at least $600 million for AKQA.

AKQA, which has more than 800 employees, has long been an attractive acquisition target because of its ability to attract big brand advertisers, including Coca-Cola Co., Microsoft Corp. and Unilever PLC. A person familiar with the matter says early financials on AKQA shows the firm had about $120 million in revenue last year and is expected to have $150 million in revenue this year.

Tom Bedecarre, AKQA’s chief executive, has long wanted to take AKQA public. Mr. Bedecarre declined to comment.

A U.K. blog reported Dentsu’s interest in AKQA. A spokeswoman for Morgan Stanley declined to comment.

Dentsu has been on an aggressive buying spree, snapping up ad firms such as McGarry Bowen in New York, as it seeks to become less-dependent on its homeland for revenue.

Chris Kuenne, chief executive of Rosetta declined to comment on talks to buy Level Studios, except to say, “We are always looking at possible acquisitions.” Executives at Level couldn’t immediately be reached for comment. Level Studios, which is based in San Luis Obispo, Calif., has worked on half of marketers such as Hewlett-Packard Co. and Research in Motion Ltd.

Digital ad firms—which help companies pitch their products on the Internet and through mobile devices—are of particular interest to ad and media companies as online ad spending continues to grow and other mediums struggle. ZenithOptimedia, a media-buying firm owned by Publicis Groupe SA, predicts global online ad spending will rise 13% next year to $61 billion while global ad outlays in newspapers is expected to decline about 3% next year to $95 billion.

The pace of deal-making on Madison Avenue is accelerating as the recession begins to lift, ad executives say. Indeed, earlier this year newspaper and magazine publisher Hearst Corp. acquired iCrossing, a digital ad firm that specializes in search ads.

Read More: WSJ.com (Full Article Here)

Shaping Ads for Web-Connected TV

Technology companies racing to deliver video to the living room over the Web are exploring the idea of offering ads on their services, seeking to capture some of the billions of ad dollars that flow to television.

A few companies, including TiVo Inc. and Microsoft Corp., have released ad products tied to broadband-video services designed to be accessed on television sets, not computers. They include ads that can take a viewer to a movie trailer on YouTube when the viewer pauses a TiVo-recorded TV program, as well as ads that can be accessed by clicking a tile on the navigation menu of Xbox Live, the online gaming and video service for Microsoft’s Xbox game console.

Other efforts are also afoot. Google Inc. has been meeting with some of Madison Avenue’s biggest media-buying firms, exploring ways to sell ads through its Google TV software due out this fall. Sony Corp. and other hardware makers are launching TVs and set-top boxes equipped with the software, which allows users to search and watch Internet programming.

The Internet giant has told ad executives that it eventually plans to sell ads that appear in search results when consumers search for what they want to watch, some of those ad executives say. But those spots won’t interrupt the ad stream that appears during a program.

The company has told media-buying executives that it doesn’t plan to put ads on its service for at least a year. A Google spokeswoman says the company has been approached by advertisers about Google TV, but it is “solely focused on launching a quality experience for users, and does not have any specific plans for advertising” at this time.

Sony, meanwhile, is considering selling video ads that play before premium programming that consumers can access through its Internet-connected TVs, Blu-ray players and PlayStation 3 video consoles, says one person familiar with the matter. The person says these ads could be available in coming months. Sony declined to comment.

At the same time, traditional online-ad companies like Yahoo Inc. are adapting their Internet-ad technology to display ads that run alongside Web video displayed on TV screens.

This isn’t the first time that tech companies have sought a foothold in the TV-ad market. In recent years, Google and Microsoft launched television-ad services seeking to sell commercials targeted to specific kinds of consumers and measure those ads’ performance based on data from set-top boxes. But analysts say those businesses have remained modest, in terms of revenue, constrained by the type and amount of inventory TV networks and satellite companies have given them to sell.

A Google spokeswoman its TV-ad business has grown “significantly.”

This time around, tech companies are looking for new ad possibilities created by delivering video directly to TV sets over the Web. The software for doing so offers them new screen real estate for showing ads and the ability to target ads based on what viewers watch and the Internet services they access. Analysts say such ads could chip away at the market for conventional commercials over time.

TV ads are a massive business. Last year, TV accounted for nearly 36% of the $148.3 billion U.S. advertising market, according to ZenithOptimedia, a media-buying firm owned by Publicis Groupe. The firm predicts the U.S. TV-ad market will grow 3.8% to $55.8 billion in 2010.

Cable and satellite companies, too, have been testing new technology to target ads more precisely, along with new ad formats that let consumers respond to an ad through their remotes.

TiVo Chief Executive Tom Rogers says that since cable operators use differing set-top-box technology, the cable industry doesn’t have the ability to sell targeted ads on a mass scale, leaving an opening for tech companies. Cable and TV networks haven’t moved fast enough to promote new formats, he says. “The old models, with the amount of commercial avoidance, just aren’t going to hold up.”

This summer, PepsiCo‘s Mountain Dew brand launched its first campaign with Xbox Live. Unlike traditional TV commercials, the ads, which prompted Xbox users to vote for a new flavor of the soft drink, allowed users to engage with it when they were interested, Brett O’Brien, director of marketing for Mountain Dew.

But many advertisers remain skeptical. For one thing, it isn’t clear which ad formats will work best on broadband-connected TVs, says Tracey Scheppach, senior vice president and video-innovations director at Publicis’s Starcom MediaVest Group.

Tech companies not only have to win over advertisers, but also those who create video programming. While a growing number of TV and movie studios are offering content through new Internet-video services designed to be accessed directly from TVs, many are doing so on a paid basis. That approach is less likely to upset partners like cable operators who pay networks to carry their programming.

“In order For there to be a viable alternative model for distribution, a majority of media companies are going to have to be in a place where they can stomach the shift from subscription to advertising,” says Scott Ferris, general manager of Microsoft’s TV media advertising business group. He says that in the short term he thinks ads on broadband-video services will be confined largely to inside software applications on the services.

But, Mr. Ferris adds that, over time, a broadband-based video services target at TVs will gain national scale and “an advertising model will creep in there.”

Read More: WSJ.com (Entire Article Here)

09/21/10
Adam Glantz

News of the Day


Google TV: Can Google Prosper Where Apple Failed?

The (Insert Name) TV. Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL) gave it a try not that long ago, and now Google’s (NASDAQ: GOOG) giving it its own go. I must say that Google seems to have put forward a robust, well-rounded attempt to conquer what has thus far been the most important, yet failed endeavor for the Y2K and beyond tech industry: to seamlessly integrate the computer/web-browsing experience with traditional tv and movie media. Microsoft (MSFT) tried with its purchase of WebTV long before Apple gave it its own shot not too long ago and next to bat is Google. Everyone seems to have an inherent bias that considering the prior failures, so too is Google set for the same fate. Yet something feels very different this time around. All in all, Google TV is a huge development for someone like myself–an active investor with a penchant for cutting edge technology–and something that I believe bodes well for future growth of media content distribution.

My Personal Experience with TV in the Living Room

As a user, I was pretty disappointed with the AppleTV from day 1. When first released, it had neither a database of content to buy nor access to YouTube and the device altogether lacked any Internet browsing capabilities. There were some cool features: for the first time I was easily able to bring my personal picture and video collection to my TV and I now had a way to easily play my digital music through the living room surround-sound system without going analog. These were nice perks, but far short of what I was really looking for in an integrated media center.

The AppleTV eventually stopped working (yep it broke…) and I’m still not sure as to exactly why, but rather than fixing it, I decided to pickup a Playstation 3 instead–a video game console with built-in browsing capabilities, and most importantly, a BluRay DVD player. This was a significant step for me. I am not really a video game enthusiast (although I do like Rock Band) and never in my life had I owned a gaming console (outside of the Nintendo (NTDOY.PK) Gameboy my parents reluctantly caved on letting me share with my sister as a young ‘un), but I made the jump. I did this not to play video games, but rather to bring to my living room the Sony (SNE) online entertainment store, Internet access to sites like Hulu, and the Netflix (NFLX) online library. I now have my own on-demand system. Yet it all feels largely incomplete. The browser is far from seamless in its capabilities and the scalability and customization are greatly lacking. I need more.

Read More: SeekingAlpha.com

Real-Time Automation Changing The Media Planner Role

Martin Lawson of media agency Maxus Global – which is under WPP’s groupm umbrella – was recently appointed Maxus’ Global Data and Insights Director. Previously, he was Head of Insight at digital agency i-level.

From the release, much of Lawson’s work for Maxus “will focus on strengthening Maxus’s ‘Relationship Media’ offering, a new media agency model powered by creative media thinking and sophisticated, real-time customer data.” Read more.

Lawson shared his thoughts on his new role and the evolution of the media agency model.

AdExchanger.com: As global data and insights director at Maxus, overall, how do you see your new role helping shape a new media agency model?

ML: It’s clear to me that most ‘traditional’ media agencies still need to improve their digital offering. They are in a great place to integrate digital into the media mix, but sometimes fall short in either strategic or technical competence. Or they may have both competences, but struggle to join them together. This shouldn’t really be a surprise, since they are already covering a lot of bases and are often of sufficient size that they can’t adapt their processes quickly enough to response to changes in the digital market. I also suspect that they aren’t being pushed hard enough by their clients in terms of integrated, digital strategies.

So this creates an opportunity for nimble, digitally-savvy agencies to exploit. The agencies that succeed in this area are likely to be small and young enough to avoid the trappings of scale and legacy process. However, to make an impact, they also need clout – primarily achieved through buying power. Maxus meets all of these criteria and is well on the way to delivering an innovative, future-facing approach to media planning. My contribution to this effort is to bring a blend of digital and traditional media evaluation experience and use it to underpin a planning process aimed at today’s consumers. We believe we have a compelling approach that is relevant for many advertisers. It’s a model that also recognises that consumers are increasingly engaging with media that aren’t bought or traded in a conventional way. It’s not a fixed model either, in fact it’s one that will need constant innovation.

Read More: AdExchanger

09/17/10
Adam Glantz

News of the Day


Launched: Microsoft Advertising SDK for Windows Phone 7 Apps and RTB Exchange

Today, Microsoft Advertising is launching our Mobile Advertising SDK for Windows Phone 7 and Microsoft Advertising Exchange for Mobile, the industry’s first real-time, bidded ad exchange in mobile. The release of these innovative platforms is designed to enable display ad serving for Windows Phone 7 applications and deliver tangible benefits to many key industry stakeholders.

With this launch, Windows Phone 7 app developers can maximize their mobile ad revenue by leveraging the industry’s first real-time bidded Mobile Ad Exchange, our superior ad targeting, multiple purchase models and leading resellers including Microsoft’s sales force –as well as the large-scale adCenter marketplace. Specific capabilities of our Microsoft Advertising SDK for Windows Phone 7 include Demographic, Category, Carrier and Location targeting; Text and Image Units; Click to Call and Click to Web ad actions, and robust reporting on in-app ad revenue, ad inventory, clicks, CPM and sell thru rate.

Read More: Community.MicrosoftAdvertising.com

Looking Ahead: The Future of Yahoo! Products

A few months ago, when I first yodeled my way into Yahoo!, I told folks that I was stoked for the opportunity to join up with some of the smartest and best-in-class talent in the world to deliver the future products vision for a company with such a rich history. With more than 600 million worldwide users, Yahoo! has become one of the largest and most trusted Internet brands ever. In fact, we’ve been so successful in bringing the Internet to the masses that, for many, Yahoo! is synonymous with the Web. Over the last 15 years, we’ve delivered habit-forming communications products, highly intuitive search functionality, and awesome content services that make us central to the online lives of vast audiences on global scale — in turn, driving killer value to publishers, advertisers, and developers.

As I’ve learned more about the people and products that make Yahoo! great, I’ve grown even more positive that our future will be a bright one. Our products continue to evolve — and at the heart of that evolution is our commitment to bringing personal meaning to the Web for everyone. In short, that means helping you and the other 600 million people on Yahoo! cut through the vastness of online data by providing the experiences that are most important to you — whether that’s instantly finding the content you are searching for or connecting you with family and friends.

Read More: YCorpBlog

Yahoo’s Ambitious Plan To Change Search

Yahoo previewed features and functions Thursday scheduled for release this fall across its network of sites. During a product demonstration at its headquarters, the Sunnyvale, Calif. technology company focused on search, news and entertainment running on a variety of devices, including Apple’s iPad.

The new design gives Twitter a place on Yahoo, and lets users import Facebook contents into Yahoo Mail. Those who find content on the Yahoo site will have an option to share it via their Twitter feed. Yahoo’s network of sites will integrate social, rather than try to reinvent the social network.

Rolling out on the search engine, an accordion design will allow Yahoo searchers to query broad keyword terms and expand or contract the results by clicking on a link. The tabs will serve up Twitter tweets, videos, events and more. The goal to reduce the footprint on the search page aims to give searchers answers as quickly as possible, according to Shashi Seth, Yahoo’s senior vice president of search products.

Read More: MediaPost

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