Archive for AT&T

Articles of the Day

Posted in Digital Media, News with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on November 11, 2008 by Dave Liu

Mindshare Wants A Lotame, And A Lot Of You: Cuts Deal Based On How We Spend Time Online — In a Madison Avenue first, WPP’s Mindshare unit has cut a
deal to begin serving ads to social media users based on the time they
actually spend engaged on social media sites, and the advertising content
surrounding them. The deal, details of which will be announced today with
Lotame, the developer of an advanced audience behavior targeting system, is
another step by a major agency away from the classic advertising model of
placing ads based on the context of media content and instead moving to one
based on the context of the audiences consuming it.

AT&T’s VideoCrawler: Part Of A Bigger, Three-Screen Content Distribution
Plan
— A strange launch at a strange time, and from a strange source: AT&T
rolled out a beta version of VideoCrawler, an online video search and
aggregation engine. The public beta comes about three months after an even
softer launch designed to help the company work out VideoCrawler’s kinks,
and AT&T partnered with video search tech firm Divvio in its development.
Divvio founder and CEO Hossein Eslambolchi is AT&T’s former CTO.

FT.com Relaunching This Week: Pink Front Page, New Name Target ‘Obsessive’
Users
— FT.com will tomorrow roll out the latest installment of its
long-term web redesign with a pink front page and a region-specific
homepage for its growing Middle East audience. Those are some of the
immediate changes but, as a redesign, it’s more like a war of attrition:
more changes are on the way but the whole process won’t be over for some
months. In an interview with paidContent:UK, FT.com editor James Montgomery
spoke of his long-term goals and why there’s no money to be made in
attracting casual users.

Facebook Launches New Ad Product, Still Lags Behind MySpace — Facebook may
have passed MySpace in terms of worldwide audience, but the social
networking giant has struggled to sell ads as effectively as its
competitor. Today, the Palo Alto company is unveiling its latest ad format,
called “engagement ads” which prompt a user to do something within the ad
unit, such as post a comment about a product or RSVP to watch a TV show.
Once a user engages with an ad, a message would then be sent through the
news feed to his or her friends list. As the Journal points out, Facebook
has a lot to prove with the new format, which is being made available to
all of its advertisers after four months of testing. According to comScore,
Facebook’s share of U.S. online display spending was just 1.1% in June. By
comparison, News Corp.’s Fox Interactive Media unit, which includes
MySpace, was the market leader in display spending with 15.9%.

For Professional Content, YouTube Pales Next To Hulu — New York Times
technology writer Saul Hansell says Google’s recent move to put
feature-length films and TV shows on YouTube is — like most of the online
video giant’s forays into professional content — more show than substance.
Hansell claims that Google is merely intimating that the professional video
market could become a core moneymaking strategy for YouTube, without really
making the commitment to it. Meanwhile, Hulu.com, the joint venture from
NBC and Fox, is starting to establish itself as the most prominent site for
professional TV shows and movies. As Jim Packer, MGM’s co-president, tells
the Times, “We will have some long-form videos up on YouTube, but I don’t
think that’s the platform to have 30 or 40 movies up at once. I feel much
more comfortable doing that on a site like Hulu.”

Advertising Earnings: Miva Raises $10 Million Credit Line, Posts Q3 Loss;
Marchex Fares Better
— PPC-centric ad network and media company MIVA has
secured a $10 million credit facility from Bridge Capital Holdings
subsidiary Bridge Bank, NA. America’s Growth Capital arranged the credit
line, and MIVA was eligible to borrow $6.5 million of it as of the end of
Q3. The Fort Meyers, FL-based company will use the funds to expand
distribution of its ALOT toolbar, roll out a new media platform (and likely
stave off potential buyers like Blinkx). MIVA seemingly needs all the help
it can get. In today’s Q3 earnings report, the company posted a $10.5
million loss (or 32 cents per share), in contrast to a $3.3 million loss
(12 cents per share) in Q307. Part of the loss stemmed from the company’s
restructuring program—which resulted in a $2.7 million charge in the
quarter—but revenues were also headed the wrong way, down 21 percent to
$28.1 million. CEO Peter Corrao said that MIVA’s restructuring program and
the new ad platform should get the company profitable in 2009.

Articles of the Day

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

Razorfish CEO Kokich: Microsoft’s Not Selling Us—But Ask Me Again In Two Years — Clark Kokich, the CEO of Microsoft (NSDQ: MSFT) online ad agency
Razorfish, is downplaying rumors that its parent Microsoft is shopping it
around. He tells Techflash pointedly that Microsoft has no plans to sell
the company, which became part of the Redmond company when it paid $6
billion for Razorfish parent aQuantive in May 2007. However, he did leave
the door open to sale in the not-too-distant future. Just because there are
no plans at the moment, doesn’t mean that in “two to three to four years
from now, it might not happen,” Kokich said.

UK’s Virgin Media May Sell Content Divison — Days after negotiating an
improved deal to bring Sky’s basic TV channels back to it’s 3.5 million TV
customers for upwards of £30 million, Virgin Media (NSDQ: VMED) is now
considering selling its content division, according to sources quoted by
FT.com. The division includes digital channels Virgin 1, Dave and Watch,
and though FT.com’s sources stress the company has not been “hawking the
business around” to potential buyers, a sale has been discussed at board
level. Conversations ran along the lines of turning the business into “a
series of communication platforms rather than producing any content of is
own”, the story says.

YouTube’s Content Thaw: MGM Posting Full Shows and Movies On It — Frozen
out of most of mainstream full length content, YouTube’s repository is
beginning to thaw a bit, as traction among competitors such as Hulu and TV
networks’ own sites begins to grow: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios (MGM) is
tying up with the Google-owned video site, and will start posting episodes
of its decade-old “American Gladiators” program to YouTube, along with
full-length action films like “Bulletproof Monk” and “The Magnificent
Seven” and clips from popular movies like “Legally Blonde,” the NYT
reports. Some would point out that the financially troubled MGM has nothing
to lose from these experiments, unlike other studios still sitting on the
sidelines.

Blockbuster Changes Its Mind: To Roll Out Set-Top Box For Holiday Rush
AppleTV, Netflix flicks on Xbox 360, and now … a set-top box from
Blockbuster? Consumers can expect one this holiday season, according to Jim
Keyes, Blockbuster’s CEO and Chairman. The company plans to roll out a unit
that will deliver movies on demand from its Movielink download service.
Keyes made the announcement during an investor call this week, Home Media
Magazine reports, though he didn’t offer any details about the
manufacturer, pricing or availability. It’s a complete about-face from what
he told us back in August: namely, that Blockbuster (NYSE: BBI) felt no
urgency to launch its own set-top box any time soon. Perhaps the continued
success of rival Netflix (NSDQ: NFLX) sparked the change of heart—after
all, Netflix had a stellar Q3 (in contrast to Blockbuster’s lackluster
performance), and continues to broker content distribution deals with new
partners like TiVo and Apple.

Yahoo’s Restructured Deal With AT&T: $350 Million Upfront Payment — Yahoo
(NSDQ: YHOO) restructured its AT&T (NYSE: T) broadband/DSL co-branded deal
earlier this year, and at the time, no specific amount was announced,
though Yahoo expected aggregate revenue outside of traffic acquisition
costs to decline by $150-200 million over 2007 because of the
restructuring; Yahoo also expected a $300-400 million upfront payment from
AT&T recognized over the life of the contract. Now in its 10-Q for Q308, it
has the exact number: $350 million as the upfront it got from AT&T, which
was recorded in long-term deferred revenue in Q108 and is being recognized
in marketing services revenues over the underlying service period. Also
this year, it restructured a similar Verizon (NYSE: VZ) deal, though no
specific details have come out for that.

NYTCo Takes $166 Million Writedown For New England Media Group; Faces $400M
Refinancing
— The New York Times Company (NYSE: NYT) filed its 10-Q with
the SEC Friday and it’s not a pretty sight. The company projected a
$140-150 million write down for the New England Media Group when it
reported Q3 results Oct. 23; the number reported in the 10-Q is $166
million with adjustments to come in Q4. That puts the Q3 loss for the News
Media Group at $153 million and the overall loss for Q3 slightly over $106
million. The company has two $400 million revolving credit agreements, one
due in May 2009 and one in 2011. S&P lowered its rating twice this year,
the second time below inv*stm*nt grade; Moody’s has lowered its rating once
and serviced notice that it may do so again. As we reported recently, NYTCo
isn’t in danger of breaching its covenants; there are also no accelerated
payments subject to ratings downgrades. But the downgrades do make
financing trickier and more expensive—and they almost certainly guarantee
that the company faces more restrictive covenants. From the 10-Q: “We are
evaluating future financing arrangements and are in discussions with our
lenders regarding the expiration of one of our credit agreements, scheduled
for May 2009. Based on these discussions, we expect that we will be able to
manage our debt and credit obligations as they mature.” (For the dramatic
interpretation, read this from SAI while listening to Celine Dion. Update:
Should have added that one of SAI’s investors is Kohlberg Ventures, which
is run by James Kohlberg, one of the dissident shareholders appointed to
the NYTCo board. ).

Former Time Vet Robin Domeniconi To Head Up MSFT Ad Sales In U.S. — After
a string of high-profile ad-exec departures,Microsoft has made a key hire:
former Time Inc. vet Robin Domeniconi. Starting January 1, Domeniconi will
serve as VP of U.S. ad sales, reporting to VP of global sales and marketing
Bill Shaughnessy; she’ll oversee sales across MSFT’s roster of digital
products, including MSN and Windows Live, Xbox LIVE, Live Search, and
Facebook. The senior executives who have left MSFT recently include Kevin
Johnson, President of Platforms and Services, and Digital Sales GM Lisa
Utzschneider. While it’s clear that Domeniconi is not taking Johnson’s
place, it’s not clear who will be reporting to her. A company spokesperson
said that the hierarchy won’t be determined until she starts.

Admeld Launches New Platform, Adds Barrett As CEO — Ad optimization
technology provider AdMeld today is expected to launch a new platform to
help publishers maximize revenue from digital ad networks and ad exchanges.
The AdMeld platform, which is emerging from an eight-month beta program,
attempts to leverage dynamic pricing and advanced targeting to better route
inventory from publishers to generate higher revenue for each ad served.
AdMeld is also announcing the appointment of new Chief Executive Officer
Michael Barrett. The online ad veteran most recently served as EVP and
chief revenue officer for News Corp.’s Fox Interactive Media.

BitTorrent In Complete Disarray: President and CEO Leave; 18 Employees Laid
Off
— Goes to the point that P2P is not a business model in itself, and
then, of course, bad management will even make it worse: BitTorrent, the
San Francisco-based company that has been trying to develop an online video
service and company around the open source P2P delivery technology, has
been in deep trouble for a while now, and the issues came to fore this
week, as the CEO and President of the company have left. The company has
also fired about half of its employees, 18 in number, and this after it
laid off 20 percent of the staff in August.

Articles of the Day

Posted in Digital Media, News with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on September 30, 2008 by Dave Liu

MSFT’s Mehdi Upped To Lead Much Of Online Services—But Not As President — Microsoft vet Yusuf Mehdi will now lead much of the company’s online services, including marketing, business development, product management for MSN, and search, according to Kara at AllThingsD. However, CEO Steve Ballmer has yet to appoint an overall replacement for Kevin Johnson, who left his post as president of the platform and service division in July. We suggested earlier this month that Mehdi and Brian McAndrews, SVP-advertiser and publisher solutions, were the most likely contenders to fill Johnson’s shoes. Mehdi, along with McAndrews and Satya Nadella, SVP-search, portal & advertising, are now heading up different aspects of advertising in the company. Formerly SVP-strategic partnerships, he’ll now be responsible for part of the portfolio of SVP Bill Veghte, who will focus on leading Windows and Windows Live.

Yahoo Reorgs Connected Life Division; Next Phase Focused On Making Money On Mobile — Yahoo is reorganizing the Connected Life division with the intention of actually making money. The reorganization, announced internally today at an all-hands meeting, includes a management shuffle and the new goal of contributing to Yahoo’s bottom line by 2009, according to an email we obtained. The email was sent out today to employees by Marco Boerries, Yahoo’s EVP of the Connected Life Division, who also made the announcement at a meeting this morning.

Interview: MediaNews’ Singleton On What’s Ailing Newspapers: It’s The Economy, Not The Internet — It’s been a rough few years for the newspaper business. With the migration of readers and advertisers from print to online, and then the past year’s economic downturn and market meltdown this month, it’s hard to figure out where the fixes are going to come from. William Dean Singleton, CEO of Denver-based publisher MediaNews Group, believes he can address the challenge presented by online media to newspapers by tying print and interactive ad sales more closely together and by relying on cooperative services from Yahoo (NSDQ: YHOO), the AP and real estate ad net Zillow. But the economy, that’s a whole other problem. I spoke with Singleton following Yahoo’s heralding of its APT display ad sales delivery and targeting system last week. During the Yahoo press conference, Singleton said he expects up to 22 percent of the privately-held company’s revenue this year will come from online newspapers, with that number reaching 50 percent in five years. Rather than looking too far ahead though, our conversation focused on the here and now.

AP Signs Up 500 Papers For Online News Sharing Service — While the Associated Press has been trying to beat back threats to defect by member newspapers over the fee structure being implemented next year, a sizable number are still interested in sticking around to take advantage of its growing web tools. The wire service company says that 500 newspapers have signed up for AP Member Marketplace, the online system that lets its subscribers exchange stories, photos and graphics. The service, which was unveiled back in April, is set to get some enhancements this week. In Ohio, 53 papers have asked for access so far, with 45 in Pennsylvania and 26 in Texas are among the 20 states where 10 or more member newspapers have signed up.

AOL Brings Back Digital City As (Yet Another) Blog — In keeping with AOL’s blog-a-week rollout that it’s been doing for the past year to revamp its portal site, the Time Warner company is looking back to its Digital City brand. The site used to resemble *IAC’s* CitySearch network, but Digital City’s new incarnation is more of a general interest blog, with the entertainment, food and nightlife topics underpinning its posts. Perhaps trying too hard to depart from the old Digital City, the site’s postings represent a farrago of topics: a paean to gourmet grill cheese is sandwiched between a post on the upcoming vice presidential candidates’ debate and a post critiquing media coverage of John McCain’s closeness to the gambling business. The general nature of the site makes it more curious as to why AOL needs another site like this, especially when its been sharpening its offerings with sites like the new female focused Lemondrop and the older male counterpart Asylum. Either way, it represents more space to sell ads in struggling display market. Like the other sites, the revamped Digital City’s ads will be handled by Platform-A, AOL’s online ad group.

Broadband ISPs Vow Ad-Targeting To Be ‘Opt-In’ In Congressional Hearing — Although they don’t currently target ads to their broadband subscribers, representatives from AT&T, Time Warner Cable, and Verizon Communications appeared before a Senate committee and promised to adopt a system that would seek customers permission first before serving behavioral ads, ClickZ reported. In a period of increased scrutiny on behavioral targeting, cable companies and telcos are still holding out hope that they can convince lawmakers to allow the industry to self-regulate. Both houses of Congress have been looking into online ad targeting since the summer, when Charter Communications executives were summoned to Capitol Hill to outline a planned test of behavioral ad provider Nebuad’s system.

Articles of the Day

Posted in Digital Media, News with tags , , , , , , , on September 9, 2008 by Dave Liu

Google Expands Efforts To Put Newspaper Archives Online; Timeline, Partners Unclear — In the latest chapter of newspapers’ love-hate relationship with Google News, Google is expanding its online archive effort beyond indexing the existing digital archives of the New York Times and Washington Post to publishers without the resources to digitize. Being Google (NSDQ: GOOG), the goal, of course, is to get every issue of every newspaper online in searchable and fully browsable form. Info on the actual partners is scarce right now but the list includes ProQuest and Heritage; papers cited in the announcement on Google’s blog calls out the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and the Quebec Chronicle-Telegraph.

NBCU Cable Will Deploy Google TV Ads; Multi-Year Partnership Covers Advertising, Research, Tech — Speaking of Google and advertising, the company finally lands a big deal on the inventory side for Google TV Ads. NBC Universal will use Google TV Ads to sell national ad inventory for several NBCU Cable networks as part of a multi-year partnership between the GE media unit and Google (NSDQ: GOOG). The two will share “all ad revenue” in the search company’s first major network deal for Google TV Ads. Participating networks include Sci Fi, Oxygen, MSNBC, CNBC, Sleuth, and Chiller but not Bravo or USA. Google and NBCU promise advertisers access to viewership data “at an unprecedented scale” and the ability to make “real-time adjustments.” The agreement includes: working together to adapt Google TV Ads for local markets; possible expansion to other NBCU properties; the right for NBCU “to set parameters” for the purchase of ad time; NBCU and Google also will collaborate on custom marketing and research projects for Google TV Ads; access for NBCU to advertisers using Google AdWords. Google TV Ads uses set top boxes to serve targeted ads. So far, only the DISH network and a California cable system are on board. NBCU’s involvement could help push the needle.

AT&T Launches Yahoo’s OneSearch — AT&T has formally launched Yahoo’s oneSearch as the default search option on its MediaNet mobile portal following a deal the companies struck earlier this year. Through oneSearch, Yahoo promises AT&T wireless customers access to news, financial information, weather conditions, Flickr and mobile Web sites. The service will also include sponsored search ads with results as well as ringtones, games and other mobile content available via AT&T’s on-deck Media Mall.

AOL May Add Third-Party Services To Home Page — TechCrunch is reporting that it has learned via leaked screenshots that AOL is considering the addition of third-party services to its main page. “If these screen shots are real and AOL intends to push them live, this is an even more radical departure from the home-grown-content-only days,” according to Michael Arrington of TechCrunch.

NYTCo. Cuts 550 Jobs As It Exits The Wholesale Delivery Business — In another sign of the ailing print business, the New York Times Co (NYSE: NYT). is closing down its metro distribution center and with it, cutting 550 jobs. The center, called City & Suburban, handles delivery for the NYT and approximately 200 other newspapers and magazines to newsstands and retail stores in the New York area. The decision to exit the wholesale distribution business, which started in 1992, was pinned on changing economic conditions—such as the migration of readers and ad revenue to online and the higher cost of fuel. Local delivery will now resemble NYTCo.’s national distribution, which is handled by outside companies.