Archive for Aegis

Articles of the Day

Posted in Digital Media, News with tags , , , , , , , , , on October 29, 2008 by Dave Liu

Aegis’ Fay: ‘Not As Bad As You Think’—And Not Done With M&A — Aegis North America CEO Sarah Fay, in a conversation with Andy Serwer, Fortune’s managing editor, at Future of Business Media conference hit on all the touch points facing the ad industry right now: the state of ad spend, the divide between traditional and digital, the Google issue and M&A activity. In general, Fay expressed a relatively sunny take on the turbulent media industry at the moment. Bullish on M&A activity, display: During the audience Q&A, Fay noted Aegis’ eight digital acquisition this year—a company called IF based in Malaysia—and added that the company has no plans to pull back on digital M&A, especially in emerging markets. She added that while search’s accountability is even more crucial to marketers during an economic downturn, the importance of online branding will make display more attractive as well.

Hulu Hopes To Enter UK; Held Up By Kangaroo’s Troubles — We’ve speculated for a while that NBCU/News Corp.’s US VOD JV Hulu would like to launch here in the UK. Today C21 reports the site is considering “a partnership approach” with UK counterpart Kangaroo, with C21 even suggesting Kangaroo could itself get named “Hulu” rather than the rumoured “See-Saw” This is not quite our understanding of the situation. Sources told paidContent:UK the much-lauded Hulu is hoping for a UK launch next year, along with several other territories under consideration. But its plans are on hold until the outcome of the Competition Commission inquiry that’s currently preventing Kangaroo’s launch. That’s because Hulu would be better to launch with a full service, carrying public service shows from Kangaroo’s founders BBCWW, ITV (LSE: ITV) and C4, than a piecemeal offering.

Long-standing Book Search Lawsuit Costs Google $125 Million — How much has it cost Google to scan hundreds of thousands of books and make them available via its Google Book Search? At least $125 million. That’s how much the search giant has paid to settle a long-standing class action lawsuit with the Authors Guild and the Association of American Publishers (representing publishers like McGraw-Hill (NYSE: MHP) and the Penguin Group). The funds will be used to set up a Book Rights Registry that will let U.S. copyright holders register their works so that they can get a cut of any resulting online retail and ad sales. MarketWatch’s Therese Poletti wonders if the settlement lines Google up as a future Amazon.com competitor, or at least, a contractor—as Google’s scanned books could wind up as part of Kindle’s growing library.

Could A Recession Bring Back The Idea Of Charging For Content? — Economist.com took a pass on the free-content phenomenon first time around – now, just as flares and yo-yos came back in to fashion, the publisher sees pay walls regaining popularity in an advertising downturn. The news mag’s site already charges for stories over a year old and, publisher Paul Rossi told our Future Of Business Media conference, that could be just the right model for a looming recession: ”The growth in online advertising is slowing. Is this the return to paid content online, because advertising becomes less a driver for the business? It will be be interesting to see if paid content comes back online because the model is changing.” The Economist already had something of a disdain for the ad-dependent alternative, vowing never to mix ads and editorial on the same print page: “We start with the premise that a reader is paying us a substantial amount of money for our magazine.” And Rossi, interviewed by our managing editor Ernie Sander, seems never to have considered web ads a truly viable paradigm anyway, saying “to be rely effective online, it has to be interuptive and disruptive” – losing points for user experience. Despite flirting with free, WSJ.com and FT.com have settled on a part-free, part-paid compromise. Economist.com, too, seems to have that base covered as we enter uncertain times.

Bloomberg’s Norman Pearlstine: Acquisitions Won’t Grab Headlines — Norman Pearlstine, chief content officer of Bloomberg, said during his Q&A today that they are indeed looking at acquisitions, while also providing a refreshing take on what’s working with their highly profitable terminal business that charges 290,000 subscribers about $18,000 a year, and the work that needs to be done in its smaller consumer media business, including Bloomberg TV, which reaches 57 million U.S. homes. Bloomberg won’t be buying anything as big as AOL: “Historically, Bloomberg has had a strong preference for building rather than buying, and since I’m coming from Time Warner (NYSE: TWX), the approach makes a lot of sense. But I think that we have shown a number of things—while maybe not in the acquisition area—we have shown the ability to work with others. We also have signaled a willingness to look at acquisitions. The CEO of Bloomberg, who is in charge of the terminal business, created a new group called Bloomberg Ventures, which is looking at a lot of new ventures for potential acquisition. In the immediate future, we aren’t talking about the major kind of acquisition that gets written about. With the difficulties of integration, and again I’m reminded of my AOL/Time Warner experience, I’m with that program.”

Financial Portals May Face Audience ‘Burnout’ — The economics crisis has been good to both financial portals, like Yahoo Finance and AOL (NYSE: TWX), while also benefiting niche sites like Seeking Alpha and Minyanville, according to comments made by those company executives during a panel. Here’s what they said about what products work the best, and any potential tie-up between Yahoo and AOL. On the potential Yahoo-AOL tie-up. Is bigger better? In September, Yahoo Finance recorded 20 million uniques and AOL had 14 million: Scott Moore, Yahoo SVP said the two sites are complimentary. Yahoo is a news aggregator and AOL’s focus is on personal finance. “If one company owned both of the sites, it would be a category-killer. It would be game over in terms of metrics.” Marty Moe, AOL SVP of Money & Finance: “I have no idea what will happen, and I don’t have any knowledge of discussions going on, but with that said, any scenario would present enormous opportunities. In this this economy, there are many ways in which bigger is better. In this economy, it’s inevitable that consolidation is happening. I think that it’s a trend that will happen, particularly for international growth.”

Digital Media M&A

Posted in Deals, Digital Media, News with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 10, 2008 by Dave Liu

eBay Pays $945M For Bill Me Later; Buys Two Danish Sites For $390M; Cutting Staff By 10 Percent — eBay (NSDQ: EBAY) announced two acquisitions—spending over $1.3 billion altogether—this morning designed to shore up its other parts of its business in the face of declining profits and stagnant traffic at its primary online auction site. The company also finally addressed layoff rumors and said that it is indeed cutting 10 percent of its 15,000-person workforce. The company said about 1,000 full-time jobs will be affected, in addition to several hundred temporary workers and the elimination of open positions. The two acquisitions and the layoffs were summarized in a single release, with two others containing additional details.

Local Online Research Firm Kelsey Group Bought By BIA Financial Network — Kelsey Group, a Princeton-based provider of research and consultancy services in the local media space, including online (we have quoted their work many times over the years), has been acquired by Chantilly, VA-based BIA Financial Network, the financial and strategic consultancy firm for media and communications industries. Financial terms were not disclosed. Kelsey will operate under the newly formed subsidiary BIA Advisory Services, which will also include BIA Consulting and BIA Research. John Kelsey, who founded the group in 1986 with his wife Pam, will oversee conference planning and execution. More details in release.

Aegis Buys Environmental Marketing Company — Media buying and planning firm Aegis Group’s latest acquisition is a little off the beaten path. It has bought fellow London-based company Clownfish, which helps advise marketers on crafting more eco-friendly, “sustainable” initiatives. The acquisition’s terms weren’t detailed, though Aegis said Clownfish has $880,000 (£500,000) in gross assets. While the purchase would seem to have little to do with digital media, Aegis insists that it does. Clownfish will be folded into Aegis’ Isobar search ad network, as the company says it sees a clear relationship between the online and environmentally sound business practices. Overall, Aegis has been stepping up its buying activities lately. Last month it bought U.S.-based search engine marketer Range Online Media for Isobar, its sixth acquisition this year.

VeriSign Exits Mobile Content; Sells Remaining Stake In JV To News Corp For $200 Million — VeriSign’s effort to capitalize on mobile content through its acquisition of Jamba is officially over. VeriSign tried to keep skin in the game through a JV with News Corp (NYSE: NWS). selling 51 percent in May 2007 for $187.5 million and a merger with Fox Mobile Entertainment. Today, the two companies said VeriSign has sold its remaining 49 percent to News Corp for approximately $200 million, suggesting that the value of the JV, which has struggled with leadership and strategic issues, has been static at best. VeriSign’s sale has been expected for months given the company’s switch to a core focus on internet infrastructure. VeriSign acquired German mobile content company Jamba in 2004 for $273 million.

Monster Acquires Remaining 55 Percent Of ChinaHR For $174 Million — Monster.com has full ownership now of major Chinese recruitment site ChinaHR.com, spending $178 million on the 55 percent it did not already own. Monster acquired 40 percent in 2005 for $50 million with a promise that it could get the remainder if ChinaHR failed to do an IPO within three years, according to TradingMarkets.com. As recently as mid-September, ChinaHR president Zhang Jianguo held out hope that the company would finish its IPO plan before year’s end. The acquisition gives Monster a major presence in online recruiting in Asia as well as China. Monster moved quickly to put its stamp on the company, appointing Edward Lo, EVP, Monster Greater China, as interim CEO of ChinaHR; he’ll keep his Monster regional duties as well. But it’s far from a slam dunk. As TradingMarkets.com notes, China’s growth is slowing and the sites face challenges from smaller companies, more localized companies with less overhead.

TNS’ Saga Nears Its Close, As WPP Declares Victory — WPP Group says it’s ready to close the deal for its $2 billion (£1.14 billion) takeover of TNS Media Intelligence, having received the support of 82 percent of the audience researcher’s shareholders, Reuters reports. The is now unconditional, though the extended offer period for further acceptances is open until Oct. 22. WPP will no longer offer the option to mix and match the share to cash ratio, however. As more shareholders shifted their support to WPP over the past week, TNS finally dropped its opposition to the deal on Monday, though it continued to maintain the WPP’s bid undervalued the company. Executives at the UK media measurement firm said they were in an untenable position, as continued attempts to block the takeover would have left TNS investors holding on to a minority interest in an unlisted company.

Digital Media M&A

Posted in Deals, Digital Media, News with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 12, 2008 by Dave Liu

ZM Capital To Buy Greenfield Unit from Microsoft — Microsoft Corp. announced that it will sell Greenfield Online’s Internet survey business to an affiliate of ZM Capital for an undisclosed amount. The sale would come after Microsoft completes its acquisition of Greenfield Online in Q4, with ZM lining up leveraged financing from NewStar Financial, CIT and VSS Structured Capital.

LiveUniverse Buys Online Movie Ad Network Peerflix — LiveUniverse, the online media holding company, is continuing its streak of picking up assets on the cheap, and has now bought Peerflix, an online DVD trading service which morphed into an online advertising network focused on movie watchers. Terms of the deal were not disclosed. Peerflix received two rounds of funding from Battery Ventures, BV Capital and 3i, with the second round totaling $8 million. LiveUniverse has earlier bought other sites on the cheap including Revver, Pageflakes, Meevee and others.

Reliance Buys Majority Stake in Cricket Video Webcasting Site Willow.tv — Reliance ADA Group, the Indian telecom and media conglomerate, has bought a 70 percent stake in Willow.tv, the Cricket webcasting site based in Sunnyvale, CA. The price was undisclosed, but according to Rajesh Sawhney, president of Reliance Entertainment, the company will spend about $60 million to $70 million in this acquisition and expansion together, quoted in WSJ. Willow TV has been around for about five years, and named after the tree from which Cricket bats are made. It was among the first to start live webcasting cricket matches for expatriate audience worldwide, though a big part of its audience is South Asians in U.S. (including me). It charges anywhere from between $10 for a short series to $150 a full cricket tournament, depending on the countries and number of games involved. In 2007-08, the site has streamed most of the major tournaments live, including the Indian Premier League, Australian, South African and English cricket.

Online Content Marketplace InDPlay Acquired By Ascent Media — Global Media Exchange (GMX), a division of media production and services firm Ascent Media (which in turn is owned by John Malone’s Discovery Holding) has acquired Silicon Valley-based inDplay, an online content licensing marketplace specializing in indie films. The terms of the deal were not disclosed. The company was notable for receiving investment from some heavyweights including Google CEO Eric Schmidt, William Hearst III, Donald Dixon and Rob DeSantis, back in 2006. GMX is a new division of Ascent, and will be used as a marketplace for content owners and buyers to connect, buy and sell professionally produced content online. The site will launch in phases in 2009, and be aimed primarily at film studios, independent film companies and producers, video production houses.

Aegis’ Isobar Acquires Search Marketer Range Online Media — UK media agency firm Aegis Group has acquired search engine marketer Range Online Media. The purchase was made by Aegis’ search marketing arm, Isobar. Terms were not disclosed, although Aegis noted that the Fort Worth, TX.-based Range Online has gross assets of $12 million. Founded in 2001, Range Online initially focused on services aimed at retail and travel businesses. More recently it has expanded into the technology, luxury brands, financial services, utilities, and entertainment industries. Following the acquisition, Range Online Media will re-brand as iProspect and form the fourth US office in the iProspect global search network. This is the sixth acquisition Isobar has made in search marketing this year. Range Online ups iProspect’s reach to 21 offices in 17 markets worldwide.