Archive for Amazon

Articles of the Day

Posted in Digital Media, News with tags , , , , , , , on October 26, 2008 by Dave Liu

YouTube Adds Affiliate Links To Its Videos; Amazon and iTunes Downloads — And what took so long? YouTube has added a no-brainer: affiliate download links from Amazon and iTunes for music and other kinds of downloads, from any specific video on its site. For instance, if a user is viewing a video of music artist, then links from Amazon and iTunes will appear on the page for song download (see an example here. Another example is video game download for Spore, by EA). The Google-owned company is touting this as a larger e-commerce platform play, and will add music, movies, TV shows, concert tickets and other products down the line. For now on the music side this has only been enabled for EMI and Universal Music artists…hard to see why others would resist. Also this only works in U.S. as YouTube content partners who are using its content ID system (for managing and anti-piracy) can also enable these links on user-generated content.

Slowdown Shows In H108: Online Ad Spend Gained 15.2 Percent; Q2 Up 12.8 Percent: IAB — After the poring over the series of revisions that have gone into the latest ad forecasts this morning, the Interactive Advertising Bureau’s review of ad spending during the first six months of 2008 is beginning to look like the good old days, at least in comparison: for H108, ad revenues reached $11.5 billion for a 15.2 percent increase over the nearly $10 billion during the same period last year, which represented a gain of 26.6 percent over H106. The numbers suggest that online advertising, while still seeing consistent growth, is seeing its gains continuing to slow. That fact was driven home by online advertising’s Q2 numbers. Although Q2 grew 12.8 percent year-over-year, it showed a slight sequential decline of 0.3 percent from Q1.

Local Search Is Hot, Yellow Pages Still Get Used — About 31% of consumers turn to a search engine first when they’re on the hunt for local products and services, according to new stats from TMP Directional Marketing (TMPDM). That’s up just one percentage point from 2007, but still enough to move search engines ahead of print Yellow or White pages in terms of overall usage. About 30% of consumers turned to printed directories first, down from 33% last year.

BT Crash Takes Adzilla Down With It — Adzilla.com has become the latest casualty in the behavioral targeting meltdown, with the company liquidating assets and shutting down operations, Online Media Daily has learned. Well-placed sources say pressure from congressional scrutiny and telecom operators, as well as the sudden departure of Adzilla CEO Toby Gabriner, left the company with few options besides laying off its workforce and shutting down.

Articles of the Day

Posted in Digital Media, News with tags , , , , , , , , , on October 23, 2008 by Dave Liu

LinkedIn Debuts B2B Network — Seeking new revenue streams, professional-focused social network LinkedIn today is expected to debut a network catering to business-to-business market researchers. “B2B market research is a $100,000 million dollar industry, and we feel we can become a leading provider of that data,” said Dan Shapero, director of business services for the LinkedIn Research Network. To date, the LinkedIn Research Network has already partnered with six market research firms–including Phoenix Marketing International and OTX–to conduct targeted B2B primary research among its network of some 30 million professionals worldwide. Among the other advantages that LinkedIn claims to have over other data providers is its global reach with over 13 million professionals outside of the United States on the LinkedIn network. The network also purports to provide deeper insights through better targeting by filtering respondents by title, seniority, function, age, country, and company size, among other variables.

Amazon Q3 Profits, Revs Up, But Poor Outlook Sends Shares Down — Although Amazon was able to beat an analysts’ consensus forecast of $0.25 per share earnings, shares were still down as much as 14 percent in after hours trading, which Marketwatch attributed to a poor Q4 outlook. That said, compared to some others, Amazon reported healthy Q3 numbers, as net income grew 48 percent to $118 million, or $0.27 per diluted share, compared with net income of $80 million, or $0.19 per diluted share, last year. Revenue was up 31 percent to $4.26 billion, missing analysts’ estimates of $4.28 billion. Amazon had offered revenue guidance of a range between $4.2 billion and $4.43 billion. Outlook: Q4 net sales are expected to be between $6.0 billion and $7.0 billion, or to grow between 6 percent and 23 percent compared with Q407. For the full year, net sales are expected to range from $18.46 billion and $19.46 billion, or to grow between 24 percent and 31 percent compared with 2007.

Health Content Wars: Microsoft Bests Google With Aetna, Yahoo Beefs Up Through Partnerships — Microsoft continues to line up HealthVault partners: the latest is Connecticut-based health insurer Aetna. Members currently using Aetna’s electronic Personal Health Record (PHR) feature will be able to transfer those records to HealthVault next month. Aetna is the first benefits provider to make use of Microsoft’s platform. Microsoft recently said that a number of health institutions want to tap both HealthVault and rival Google Health, but the Aetna partnership may be the first sign of a slight advantage over Google. While a number of pharmacy benefits providers have partnered with Google Health, we’ll see how long it takes before a major health insurer does the same.

Google Upgrades Analytics Functions — Google unveiled a major upgrade Wednesday to Google Analytics. It includes new services–such as custom reporting, advanced segmentation, API, visualization tool, integration into AdSense–and updated user interface and management interface. Until now these features had been “extremely expensive,” said Brett Crosby, senior manager of Google Analytics, suggesting companies spend millions of dollars annually for similar functions. “We took something expensive and difficult, and made it free and easy to use.

Olympics Pump Baidu Q3 Profits Up 91 Percent — Boosted by increased usage during the Beijing Olympics, Chinese search engine Baidu’s Q3 profits came in at $51.2 million (347.9 million yuan), or $1.47 per share, up 91 percent from last year’s $24.2 million (181.7 million yuan). Revenues increased by 85 percent, to $135.4 million (919.1 million yuan), from $66.3 million (496.5 million yuan) in Q307. The company beat estimates (via WSJ) although just barely for revenue; analysts polled by Thomson Reuters (NASDAQ: TRIN) expected earnings of $1.28 per share on revenue of $135 million. The engine was also able to attract more advertisers—and get them to spend more—than in previous quarters. Baidu (NSDQ: BIDU) had 194,000 customers in Q3, up 7 percent from Q2, and up almost 36 percent year-over-year. Average revenue per customer came in at 4,700 yuan ($692), up 6.8 percent from Q2 and up 34 percent year-over-year.

Thomson Reuters Plans ‘Relentless’ Cost Cutting In Downturn, Still Optimistic — Thomson Reuters has promised to “relentlessly” cut costs as the global economy begins to bite its clients’ businesses and, with them, its own. Devin Wenig, CEO of the markets division that includes Reuters Media and Reuters.com, yesterday told staff, in a frank internal memo obtained by paidContent:UK: “Many of our big customers are struggling and there is talk of a global recession. We are in a period of unprecedented change that seems to be unfolding in real time… The changes we are witnessing are global and deep and this is very different to a cyclical downturn.”

Digital Media M&A

Posted in Deals, Digital Media, News with tags , , , , , , , , , on October 22, 2008 by Dave Liu

Branching Out, Akamai Acquires Ad Targeter Acerno For $95 Million — Content delivery network Akamai, looking to build up its “data insight business,” has bought ad targeter acerno for $95 million in cash. The deal is expected to close this quarter and is subject to certain closing adjustments. The purchase of acerno comes as Cambridge, Mass.-based Akamai (NSDQ: AKAM) is attempting to branch out from its primary CDN business. In conjunction with the acquisition of acerno, Akamai is announcing the creation of its Advertising Decision Solutions group, which will supply online marketers with audience data. Acerno offers targeting tools based on consumers’ online shopping decisions. Given the current regulatory climate, acerno emphasizes that its data collection is strictly “anonymous.” Akamai and three-year-old acerno, which has offices in New York and San Francisco, had been working together recently before deciding to merge.

ValueClick Sells ‘Non-Core’ Units For $18 Million — Online ad company ValueClick has decided to unload two of its “non-core” properties, as the company battens down the hatches for a darkening display ad outlook. The company has received a total of $18 million in the sale, AdAge reports, though specific terms weren’t disclosed. ValueClick’s Mediaplex Systems, which provides software solutions for media buying and planning, is now owned by Chicago-based MediaBank. The company was bought by ValueClick in 2001 for $48.9 million. ValueClick is also jettisoning its inkjet e-commerce business, to a purchaser who was not identified. The online ad company has had a more challenging year than most other notable names in the business. Aside from warnings that the display business was trending downward, earlier this year, ValueClick settled a suit brought by the Federal Trade Commission that accused the company of using fraudulent tactics for online lead gen activities.

Amazon Gets Reflexive, Picks Up Casual Games Provider — Kindle owners, you may be able to get some gaming time in between reading the WSJ and Proust very soon, as Amazon.com has acquired Reflexive Entertainment, a privately held casual games developer and portal founded in 1997. The Lake County, Calif.-based developer announced the deal on its blog, though terms were not disclosed. Reflexive distributes PC, Mac and mobile games like Big Kahuna Reef and the Ricochet series through its own arcade, as well as on platforms like Xbox LIVE Arcade.

Getty Buys Jupitermedia’s Online Images Unit For $96 Million — So the second time proves to be lucky: Jupitermedia has sold its online images business to its larger rival Getty Images for $96 million in cash. The first time Getty (NYSE: GYI) tried to buy JUPM’s images business, in February 2007, the deal fell apart. This new deal is centered on a definitive stock purchase agreement, and Alan Meckler, Jupitermedia’s chairman and CEO, and others, who collectively hold about 35.9 percent in Jupitermedia (NSDQ: JUPM), have agreed to vote in favor of the deal. Meckler said the deal will allow the New York-based company to pay off all its bank debt. Jupiter’s images division had revenues of $8.9 million in the last reported quarter (Q208), and operating profits of $7.2 million.

Articles of the Day

Posted in Digital Media, News with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 24, 2008 by Dave Liu

Yahoo Board To Meet, Consider AOL Deal — The Yahoo board is set to meet for the first time since Carl Icahn and two new board members were added. As Kara Swisher reports, there will be much to discuss, particularly the company’s stock falling to a five-year low. What can Yahoo do to boost shares? Swisher says the purchase of AOL from Time Warner looks to be Yahoo’s “most attractive option,” and that the talks are “more serious than (have) been reported.” Other problems that need to be addressed include attracting new top-level talent, reacting to the troubled economy (in which display advertising looks particularly weak), and appeasing disenchanted investors. However, Swisher that Wall Street’s recent meltdown might not weigh as heavily on the Web giant as previously thought. “In relative terms, with a strong balance sheet, the company is quite healthy compared with many firms,” she says, adding that Yahoo may become a reliable place “advertisers flee to in times of uncertainty.”

Antitrust Group’s Advice On Google-Yahoo Ad Pact: Limit Incentives For Yahoo To Run Google Ads — Given the name, it’s probably not a surprise that the American Antitrust Institute has issued a white paper (PDF) calling the Google-Yahoo ad pact “anticompetitive.” But in a glass half-full take, the group does cite some “pro-competitive” benefits to the deal as well. It also has some advice for keeping the deal intact without skirting antitrust rules. The partnership, which is being examined by the U.S. Department of Justice for potential antitrust violations, gives Yahoo (NSDQ: YHOO) the option of placing Google (NSDQ: GOOG) ads on its search results. The AAI, which describes itself as non-profit education, research and advocate, wants assurances that the deal won’t create “a black hole that swallows up Yahoo, despite Yahoo’s intentions to stay in business.” The AAI’s paper adds that in general, it is more than natural to be concerned about any deal between two such larger players that potentially gives the dominant firm a market share in excess of 90 percent.

Google Android Phone G1 Live: T-Mobile G1 Will Be For Sale In US Oct. 22 For $179 — T-Mobile USA announced today that customers in the U.S. will be able to pre-order the T-Mobile G1, beginning today at http://www.T-MobileG1.com. General availability will begin Oct. 22 at select T-Mobile retail stores and online in the U.S. The G1 will cost $179 with a two-year voice and data agreement. The T-Mobile G1 will also be available in the United Kingdom beginning in November, and across Europe in the first quarter of 2009. Countries include Germany, Austria, Czech Republic and the Netherlands. Data plans will start as low as $25 and go up to $35 a month for unlimited messaging and Internet browsing.

Amazon Confirms Music Store For The Google Android G1 — As rumors indicated yesterday, Amazon.com (NSDQ: AMZN) confirmed today that it will provide an Amazon MP3 music store for the T-Mobile G1, which is just a half an hour away from being unveiled at a press conference in New York. The store will allow T-Mobile G1 users to search, download, buy and play music from a catalog of 6 million DRM-free MP3 songs from all four major music labels and thousands of independent labels. But wait, don’t get too excited because as you may suspect, the tracks will have to be downloaded over a Wi-Fi connection, however, users can still browse, listen to samples and buy on the T-Mobile network. Still, this is an improvement over even Nokia’s (NYSE: NOK) highly anticipated Comes With Music service, which is expected to be a side-loading only affair. More than 1 million songs cost 89 cents, while albums are priced between $5.99 to $9.99. Engadget couldn’t have said it better when it said: “How you like them Apples, Apple.

AP Moves Online Video Network From Microsoft To thePlatform — Looking to revamp its Online Video Network, the Associated Press is handing over the running of its video player and uploading service from Microsoft (NSDQ: MSFT) to thePlatform, the Comcast-owned broadband and mobile video services provider. The AP didn’t offer a reason for the switch from Microsoft in its announcement. It comes just as the wire service is preparing to rollout a new video platform by December. The two-year-old OVN service sends news video to—and from—AP’s global affiliates. The move also comes as the AP finds itself battling back a rebellion from its members of its fee structure and more competition from online sites like Politico.com, which has struck deals with local newspapers to share its coverage of Washington DC as part of its new ad network.

Articles of the Day

Posted in Digital Media, News with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 19, 2008 by Dave Liu

Yahoo Music, Rhapsody Partner For Music Search With Full-Track Streaming; ‘IMDb For Music’ — Yahoo Music and Rhapsody Networks are live with the latest example of their partnership: full tracks served up with Yahoo U.S. search results. For instance, search for Bruce Springsteen and the top unsponsored result is a search box with links to five tracks; pick one and the FoxyTunes player pops up near the bottom of the browser. The music kicks right in. Browsing can continue and you can even use other screens. The catch: unless you’re a Rhapsody subscriber, full-stream play is limited to 25 songs a month. Rhapsody, as you may recall, picked up Yahoo’s subscription music business when the portal shrugged it off as something that couldn’t gain enough scale. This move, part of an expansion of Rhapsody across Yahoo, meshes the power of Yahoo Search with Rhapsody 25—a service Rhapsody already offers as its music gateway—a combo promo vehicle and ad-supported offering. (Yes, I know Google owns the search world but Yahoo still accounts for roughly one in five U.S. searches and that’s not peanuts when it comes to something like this.)

NYT’s August Revenues Down 14 Percent; Online Sales Recover After Weak July — The New York Times company’s revenues fell sharply in August (16 percent at its three main papers NYT, IHT and Boston Glober), yet its online showed a marked improvement over the flat July. Online ad revenues in its news media properties grew 7.9 percent despite weakness in online recruitment advertising, particularly in late August. About.com Group’s ad revenues rose 16.1 percent due to growth in both cost-per-click and display advertising. Online revenues made up only 13 percent of overall revenue at the Times in August. But this online growth is still slower than previous month before July (of course August is seasonally a very slow month): In June, the online revenues rose 21.5 percent over June 2007. Online ad revenue grew 14.2 percent in May, 25.6 percent in April, and 14.8 percent in March.

Amazon Launches CDN As It Enters A Highly Competitive Field — This was to be expected after Amazon’s (NSDQ: AMZN) S3 storage service and EC2 on-demand computing service already leading the way in cloud computing. Now it is launching a content delivery network later this year, that will take on the likes of big incumbents like Akamai (NSDQ: AKAM) and Limelight and also the slew of starts that have gotten funding over the last two years. As to what differentiation the book giant will have besides the big network, it is going to be charging its customers on usage instead of the long-term contracts current players foist on their clients, as Om explains here. There will be no long term contracts and it will publish the prices online, something of a rarity in the famously-obtuse sector. Amazon CTO Werner Vogels also explains the service on his blog here.

Telstra Axes 800 Jobs in ISP Division; Rebrands It As Digital Media Division — Some digital thunder down under (sorry, bad cliche): Telstra, the Aussie telco giant, will slash 800 jobs and restructure of its BigPond ISP and portal business. BigPond’s ISP functions will be integrated into Telstra’s main business, while a new division, to be known as Telstra Media, has been created to oversee the integration of Telstra’s online and mobile content businesses, reports SmartCompany. Telstra Media will continue to be led by current BigPond group MD Justin Milne. Milne’s portfolio has been expanded to include an international focus and a remit to purse M&A activity.

Could Display Make A Comeback? — “Display ads have fallen on hard times,” according to The Wall Street Journal, and given this week’s meltdown in the financial sector — traditionally a big buyer of online display ads — things may get worse before they get better for Web publishers. Even so, some major Web companies are trying to engineer a comeback for display ads, despite the dark economic times. Microsoft, in particular, is making the pitch that display performs better for marketers than search in certain areas. Yahoo and Time Warner’s AOL would agree (given Google’s insurmountable lead in search, the largest online advertising category, they have to). In fact, Yahoo is set to release a new display advertising system next week, while AOL recently relaunched its ad platform, dubbed Platform A.

Digital Media M&A

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

Amazon Buys Another Books-Focused Social Site Shelfari — Amazon is buying up another books-focused social network Shelfari, three weeks after it acquired AbeBooks, which holds a 40 percent stake in Shelfari’s main rival, LibraryThing. The Seattle-based startup was founded last year by Josh Hug, the former director of device engineering at RealNetworks, and in fact Amazon was a seed investor in the company…it had raised a total of $1 million.

DriverSide Acquires FairBenjamin — DriverSide Motors, a San Francisco-based operator of an automotive research and information website, has acquired FairBenjamin, a website for finding local mechanics. No financial terms were disclosed. DriverSide has raised an undisclosed amount of VC funding from Catamount Ventures.

United Online Completes Acquisition Of FTD For $754M: FTD Growth Slow In Latest Quarter — One of the more unexpected M&A deals closed today, as United Online (NSDQ: UNTD) completed the acquisition of floral company FTD for $754 million in cash and stock. The deal, which gives FTD shareholders 15 percent of the combined company, was originally valued around $800 million. The company says the combined company has trailing twelve month revenue of $1.14 billion, and op income of $169.1 million.

Lifetime Networks Acquires ParentsClick Network For About $10 Million; First Digital Acquisition — Lifetime Networks’ digital push continues with its first acquisition—picking up privately held ParentsClick Network, both for its technology and its content. With it, Lifetime now is a player in the parenting and moms online category. The company started as MothersClick in 2006 and since then expanded into other sites as well. The sites include MothersClick.com, which provides tools to find or start groups and share info, and MomBlogNetwork.com, a content aggregator and promoter with more than 2,500 registered blogs. ParentsClick’s dowry includes more than 200 parenting-related domain names. Terms weren’t disclosed. Sale price is about $10 million, our sources say.

Articles of the Day

Posted in Digital Media, News with tags , , , , , , , , , on July 31, 2008 by Dave Liu

comScore Revs Up 34 Percent; Net Income Soars — Shares of internet measurement firm comScore are spiking hours after the company reported another very healthy quarter. Excluding the impact of the M:Metrics acquisition, revenue was up 34 percent to $27.8 million and adjusted income more than doubled to $2.57 million. Including M:Metrics, revenue was up 38 percent and EPS would have been $.06 per share. Meanwhile the company is still winning customers, netting 64 in the quarter, bringing its total to 1,013. International revenue is still small at $4.1 million, but it grew at a 75 percent clip, and accounts for for 14 percent of the total. With M:Metrics factored in, the company is calling for revenue of $119-$120 million, a few million ahead of current estimates.

IAC/InterActiveCorp to make multiple buys under USD 100m — IAC/InterActiveCorp., the New York-listed internet company, plans to engage in multiple buys, reported the Wall Street Journal. The report, part of a story looking at the company’s second quarter results, cited IAC chief executive Barry Diller as saying the company plans to use USD 1.3bn in dividend payments from its spin-off to make multiple buys. According to the report, Diller said the deals will each be under USD 100m and if it can’t find good targets it will return cash to shareholders. Source: Wall Street Journal

Dubai Group, Blackstone Eye Informa — The Blackstone Group has teamed up with Investment Corp. Dubai to bid on UK media group Informa PLC (LSE: INF), according to The Financial Times. Earlier reports had an alternate consortium of Carlyle Group, Providence Equity Partners and Hellman & Friedman, but today’s FT story says that Hellman & Friedman has walked away.

Cobalt Rolls Out Search Tools — Cobalt has developed a new set of paid search marketing tools under its PowerSearch automotive advertising platform. The tools, which are based on search traffic research and ongoing auto industry trends, offer clients new keywords and bidding strategies to capitalize on consumer interest in parts and services, as well as financing. The ads can run across Google, Yahoo and MSN.

Interpublic Makes HUGE Bet On Digital Marketing — Taking a majority stake in online agency HUGE, Interpublic Group has bolstered its digital marketing capabilities. The deal gives Interpublic an interactive shop that specializes in building sophisticated, transactional Web sites for clients such as JetBlue, IKEA, Scholastic and Time Warner Music Group. Its clients’ sites together generate $3.5 billion in annual revenue and draw more than 120 million visitors a month.

IAC: Search Ads Hold Up, While Display ‘Spotty’; Looking At All Deals, But Will Be Selective — For its last call as a single company, all five CEOs and their CFOs are on IAC’s conference call. Kicking off the call, Diller noted that it’s not even worth talking about Old IAC anymore, in part because it’s almost gone, but really because “It’s just too much complexity and information.” That statement speaks as much to the company’s conference calls and earnings releases as it does to the whole notion of Old IAC: ‘just too much complexity’. Hence the breakup. Right now the company doesn’t have precise timing on the split, except that it will be “very soon”. Diller said he hoped to talk about all five companies on the call, and that he didn’t want New IAC to hog the time, but almost every question was on New IAC (NSDQ: IACI). At a couple of points, Diller, from the position as a shareholder in each company, took the job himself to ask questions of the other CEOs.

Amazon Launches Online Payment Services — In a move to rival eBay’s PayPal and Google’s Google Checkout, Amazon launched on Tuesday two online payment services, Checkout and Simple Pay. The difference in the two is that Checkout provides capabilities to support real time shipping, tax calculation, promotions and other tasks like cancellations and shipment tracking, while Simple Pay enables customers to use payment information already on file.