Archive for NBC

Articles of the Day

Posted in Digital Media, News with tags , , , , , , , , , on December 16, 2008 by Dave Liu

Growth Of Online Video Slows — Is nothing sacred? According to NBC Universal, ad sales for online video are also slowing down in this economy, casting a shadow over one of the few bright spots in the sullen economy. TV executives in particular had pinned high hopes on online video as sales of TV ads grow sluggish. Online video was growing at an explosive rate and was not expected to significantly diminish. But apparently nothing is safe in the current economic climate, as even Hulu ad sales have slowed: While it’s entire inventory was sold out as recently as August, that is no longer the case.

Yahoo Makes Upgrades To Open Strategy — Yahoo on Monday unveiled upgrades to its Open Strategy, which is aimed at opening up the site to third-party developers and other content and service providers. The enhancements include a “smarter inbox” for Yahoo Mail that sorts incoming mail by priority and allows users to see status updates from friends connected through Yahoo’s universal profile service. The new mail offering also allows outside companies to offer communication applications within the navigation panel.

BT Group Plans Rollout Of Phorm’s Webwise Platform — The U.K. Internet service provider BT Group said Monday it has completed its most recent test of controversial behavioral targeting company Phorm’s platform, Webwise, and expects to roll out the system throughout the network. BT and Phorm refused to answer questions about whether they intend to seek subscribers’ explicit consent before deploying the platform, or whether Webwise will automatically monitor Web activity and serve targeted ads unless subscribers opt out.

BitTorrent Renegotiates Third Round; Takes $10 Million Less Than Before — How long before P2P file-sharing service BitTorrent crashes and burns? The company raised $17 million in a third round over the summer, but according to TechCrunch, it has returned most of those funds to investors DAG Ventures, DCM and Accel Partners in exchange for a smaller, $7 million round. BitTorrent has been trying to develop a more advertiser-friendly online video service, but in a shareholder letter leaked to TechCrunch, the company said its products “were not gaining sufficient traction” and that it would “significantly miss its projections”—causing lead investor DAG Ventures to push for the funding renegotiation. BitTorrent has raised about $40 million in funding since its inception in 2004, but said that this latest development “substantially reduces” its valuation to about $28 million. This news comes about a month after a massive exec shakeup in which both co-founder and president Ashwin Navin and CEO Douglas Walker departed, and about half the staff was fired.

Thanks But No Thanks: Ex-Vodafone Head Not Interested In Yahoo CEO Post After All — Last week, we reported that Arun Sarin was showing strong interest in Yahoo’s now-available CEO position, and this morning we reported that private equity firm Kohlberg Kravis Roberts has asked him to join as a partner. Now what’s the word? The Financial Times says the former Vodafone chief is no longer interested in succeeding Jerry Yang, partly because of the possibility of Yahoo (NSDQ: YHOO) being dismembered. Sarin is instead exploring other options, such as the post with KKR. Peter Chernin, president and COO of News Corp., expressed disinterest earlier this month and is still working out his contract with News, which is set to expire in June. Whose name will be floated next?

Articles of the Day

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

NBC Universal not shopping iVillage; will not be too active in M&A for next 18-24 months, CEO says — NBC Universal, based in New York City, is not shopping iVillage, CEO Jeff Zucker told this news service. He denied a report in Women’s Wear Daily, which cited a banker as saying that iVillage was for sale. iVillage is an online site for women, featuring horoscopes, health and pregnancy information, message boards and blogs, celebrity gossip, beauty and more. General Electric (NYSE:GE) holds an 80% stake in NBC and Vivendi (EPA:VIV) has a 20% interest. GE, with a market capitalization of roughly USD 200bn, is trading close to its 52-week low of USD 12.58 per share, down from a 52-week high of USD 38.52 per share. Vivendi will continue to be a long-time partner and there has been no discussion of an exit, Zucker said at the UBS 36th Annual Global Media and Communications Conference. Regarding acquisitions, the media conglomerate will not be too active on the M&A front in the next 18 to 24 months, he said. NBC is going to be opportunistic in the short and long term and “playing it safe” in the marketplace, Zucker said. When asked if the company could divest its theme parks, which represent 5% of revenues, Zucker told this new service, “not in this market.” Zucker did play up the company’s cable operations, which comprise 60% of its revenues. During the conference, he said the cable networks are expected to grow at a rate in the double digits even in this depressed market. Source: mergermarket.

AOL Makes Bebo Changes, Announces More To Come — AOL this morning unveiled a makeover for Bebo, the social network purchased by the Time Warner company for $850 million earlier this year. The most prominent of the new features is the “social inbox,” a “one-stop destination” which aggregates email accounts, site recommendations and social media feeds from across the Web. Beyond the new look and features, Kara Swisher says “a more radical series of announcements” is on the way from the U.K.-based company, which users can expect to be rolled out in the New Year. The latter series of changes have impressed Yahoo in particular, Swisher says, which continues to negotiate an AOL buyout with parent Time Warner. As part of the changes, AOL will turn its various social media tools — like chat rooms, news feeds and instant messaging — into embeddable features on any site. The service will be called “Site Social” and will be monetized through AOL’s Platform A advertising system. As one person familiar with the upcoming changes says, “we … have all these tools and want to reach out to publishers who need to socialize their sites and find it hard to do so.”

Yahoo Courts Former Vodafone Head For CEO Post — A new frontrunner has emerged in the race to succeed departing Yahoo CEO Jerry Yang: Arun Sarin, the former head of UK-based Vodafone, the world’s largest mobile operator. According to The Financial Times, Yahoo has approached Sarin with “strong interest,” although the former Vodafone chief has made no decision on whether to join the ailing Web giant, saying he was considering other offers as well. The report claims that at least one possibility would involve the position of chairman rather than CEO. Sarin stepped down from his post at Vodafone in July after five years with the telecom giant. He is credited with leading the company’s expansion into emerging markets, although he suffered a shareholder revolt in 2006 due to concerns about slowing growth in Vodafone’s core European operations. He was later able to repair relations with investors. Sarin is also the former CEO of Infospace, a once-mighty conglomerate of search engines.

Chrome To Exit Beta, Move Closer To ‘Web OS’ — Google will soon take Chrome, the Web browser the search giant launched last summer, out of beta, vice president Marissa Mayer announced recently at Le Web 08. The move is significant, TechCrunch says, because Google already has a number of eager customers who can’t offer the open source browser until it’s out of beta. With Chrome, Google is essentially trying to redefine the browser around open standards. On Monday, the search giant rolled out a new open source software platform called Native Client, which GigaOm says moves Google “even closer to fulfilling the early promise of a ‘web operating system.”‘ This was one of Microsoft’s original fears when Marc Andreessen brought Netscape to prominence over a decade ago: that the browser maker would be able to offer services and features that compete head on with Microsoft’s desktop software products. Famously, Bill Gates and co. countered with the scripting language ActiveX and the browser Internet Explorer, which ultimately clobbered Java and Netscape.

Goodmail Systems Allows Video In Email — A Silicon Valley company is launching a product early next year that gives movie studios and television networks a compelling new marketing tool. Goodmail Systems has developed a way to insert video directly into emails. When a recipient opens a message, they can almost instantly view a move trailer or promo for an upcoming TV episode.

Google Adds Indie VC To M&A Division — Google (NSDQ: GOOG) has added indie VC Karim Faris to the ranks of its M&A division, peHUB reports. Faris will focus on funding and acquiring smaller companies in the media and Internet space, but his background also meshes quite nicely with Google’s recent forays into energy technology. He sat on the board of Lilliputian Systems, a startup that develops portable fuel cells for electronics, during his four years as a principal at Atlas Venture. Faris also held positions at Level 3 Communications, Intel (NSDQ: INTC), Generation Partners and Morgan Stanley.

Articles of the Day

Posted in Digital Media, News with tags , , , , , , , , , , on November 21, 2008 by Dave Liu

Microsoft Considers Debt Offering — Microsoft is considering selling bonds for the first time in its history, Bloomberg reports, a curious move considering the software giant’s $20 billion cash hoard. An SEC filing noted that the company is now free to issue debt at any time. What does Microsoft need to raise capital for? Silicon Alley Insider reminds us that the software giant sought to at least partially pay for a Yahoo acquisition by issuing debt. Of course, that deal fell apart, leaving no obvious reason as to why the company would continue with the registration process. Is Microsoft preparing another bid for Yahoo? Not if you’ve been listening to Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer recently. Maybe Microsoft wants to buy Salesforce.com or Facebook, or maybe both? SAI thinks the company is most likely preparing a massive stock repurchasing program. At $17.53 per share, or 9 times trailing earnings, Microsoft thinks its stock is undervalued. Brad Lutz, vice president of investment research at Declaration Management & Research LLC, says a bond offering from Microsoft would be in high demand among investors, who are anxious to find sound investments outside the realm of finance. “Non-financials have generally received a warm reception by the investment-grade capital markets,” Lutz said. “There’s certainly demand for higher-quality issuers.”

Vivendi CEO: No Decision Yet On Whether To Sell Stake In NBCU; GE’s Immelt: ‘Would Buy In Heartbeat’ — Vivendi SA has yet to decide whether it will keep its 20 percent stake in NBC Universal or exercise its annual option to sell, CEO Jean-Bernard Levy told analysts at a Morgan Stanley conference in Barcelona today. According to Bloomberg, Levy said: “Right now, considering the general expectations for the value of the assets, the dividend flow we get from NBCU is very good. … We will have to make a decision to optimize the proceeds that we get from NBC Universal (NYSE: GE). We will probably find a better allocation of assets at the right time, in the right environment.’’ This may not be the time given NBCU’s decent performance in a rough environment but he left the window wide open: “We will have to make the decision in the next two to three weeks, so you will hear about it shortly.’’ The deadline is in early December. Vivendi has an annual option through 2016 to call for an IPO to sell the stake; GE has the right to pre-empt that by buying it. Immelt told Bloomberg earlier this week that GE would do just that: “They have been a terrific partner. I’m not anxious to do it because they have been a good partner, but I would do it in a heartbeat.’’

Yahoo Remains In Talks With Time Warner About Buying AOL — Yahoo, the Sunnyvale, California Internet company, remains in talks about buying Time Warner’s (NYSE:TWX) AOL unit, reported the Boston Globe. The report, citing a newswire, reported people familiar with the matter said executives from both companies have met in the past few weeks and are negotiating over a deal. Time Warner would give Yahoo AOL’s advertising business in exchange for a stake in the combined company, according to the report. The report noted that differences between both sides still exist. Yahoo has a market capitalization of USD 12.4bn. Source: mergermarket.

Q3 Online Ad Revs Rise 11 Percent—Less Than Half Q307 Growth Rate: IAB — Considering the economic meltdown of the past few weeks, the fact that online ad revenues grew 11 percent in Q3 would seem to be reason to celebrate. But comparing the latest figures from the Interactive Advertising Bureau to its Q307 report shows how much growth has slowed. While online ad spending approached $5.9 billion this past quarter, in Q307, when the IAB said revenues hit $5.2 billion, it had gained 25.3 percent over the prior year. Although online ad dollars had already been slowing last year consider the difference from Q306, when web-based advertising was up 33 percent. Flat revenues: Compared to the other two quarters this year, online ad spending is dead flat, said the report, which the IAB partnered with PriceWaterhouseCoopers on. For example, in Q2, online ad dollars climbed 12.8 percent. Looking at the first nine months of the year at least, revenues totaled $17.3 billion, up from $15.2 billion in the same period a year ago, for a 13.8 percent gain. Again, for the sake of perspective, in Q307, the IAB reported that the first nine months of the year grew 26 percent year-over-year.

Google Unveils Search Personalization Tools — Google on Thursday unveiled new personalization tools that allow users to re-rank and edit search results. The SearchWiki tools let anyone logged into a Google account move results up or down, delete them entirely, or add personal notes through markers that appear next to each entry. The changes do not affect anyone else’s search experience, although users can click a separate link to see a view that reflects changes made by other SearchWiki users. Marissa Mayer, Google’s VP of search products and user experience, tells The Wall Street Journal that the tools are particularly useful for searches that users do repeatedly. Someone who frequently searches for medical reference materials, for example, would be able to eliminate results they haven’t found useful in the past.

As Economy Slows, Facebook Hits The Accelerator — As the economic outlook worsens, most Silicon Valley tech startups are cutting costs, but not Facebook, says BusinessWeek. The social networking giant is pressing ahead with aggressive plans for growth. As Facebook investor and board member Peter Thiel says, “This is not the time for tech companies to be cutting back; this is the time to be hitting the accelerator.” What does that mean, exactly? According to the report, Facebook will continue to go to great lengths to keep user growth high in tough times. This means hiring aggressively, hitting the M&A trail (possibly), and continuing to roll out new ad platforms. Despite the site’s growing development costs, engineers are working on versions in languages like Xhosa, Tagalong and French Canadian to corner niche audiences. “We’re in this game not just for five or 10 years,” says Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook’s chief operating officer. “We’re in it for 20 to 30 years.”

Articles of the Day

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

Life Photo Archive Goes Live On Google; Advertising To Follow — The never-ending effort to make every possible cent from Life magazine continues with today’s launch of the Life Photo Archive on Google (NSDQ: GOOG) a project nearly two years in the making. The 10 million-plus images—many of them iconic and 97 percent not available to the public before—will show up in searches through Google or directly through http://images.google.com/hosted/life, providing consumers with the kind of access that once was unimaginable. But Time Inc. and Google are looking beyond the cool factor to the revenue potential: Time Inc. wants to drive traffic to the upcoming Life.com joint venture with Getty Images (NYSE: GYI), while Google hopes to finally crack the problems of making money through image search. Time Inc. execs aren’t commenting on advertising but I’ve confirmed that the deal with Google includes revenue sharing for advertising. No confirmation, though, on when that will kick in.

Ziff Davis To Close PCMag Print; Focus on Online; Still Looking For Options For Gaming Division — Ziff Davis, the tech/gaming media company that recently exited Chapter 11 bankruptcy, is now taking the brave but inevitable step of closing down the print version of PCMag to focus its energy on its growing PCMag online network of sites, led by flagship PCmag.com. The magazine, which was started in 1982, has a storied history, but its print base eroded over the years as its core brand of journalism—news you can use while shopping for computers—moved online. It cut back from bi-weekly to monthly earlier this year. PCMag, which literally invented the idea of comparative hardware and software reviews, at one time during the 80s averaged about 400 pages an issue, with some issues breaking the 500- and even 600-page marks, according to this Wikipedia history.

Online Video Cannibalizing TV Consumption — A new IBM study reveals that online video is cannibalizing television consumption. The poll of 2,800 people in six countries found that 76% have viewed video online and that 45% do so regularly. About 15% of those who watch online videos say they watch “slightly less” TV than they used to, while 36% say they watch “significantly less” TV as a result of their online video viewing. Indeed, “place-shifting alternatives may be changing consumer couch-potato behavior,” the study claims. IBM polled 2,800 people in six countries for the study. Other findings were that people definitely prefer the ad-supported model to paying for content. Of those who watch online video, a whopping 70% said they prefer the ad-supported approach, though they specify that commercials be viewed either before or after the video clip runs in its entirety. Also, nearly 60% of respondents said they were willing to provide advertisers with personal information in exchange for something of value, like discounts on products, frequent flier points, or free music videos.

DriverTV Launches Ad Network — With the help of minority-stakeholder NBC, auto-focused Web site and VOD channel DriverTV has launched a new content and ad network. The network, which features the DriverTV’s proprietary “Virtual Showroom Experience” videos, lets publishers and advertisers pair targeted overlay and display ads with its targeted content. The network, which features the DriverTV’s proprietary “Virtual Showroom Experience” videos, allows publishers and advertisers to pair targeted overlay and display ads with its targeted content.

Ex-News Corp exec: Downturn will be ‘very, very ugly’ — The outgoing chairman of News Corp’s European business, Marty Pompadur, has warned that the economic downturn will have a “very, very ugly” effect on the media – and could force some companies to put themselves up for sale. Pompadur, who resigned from the News Corp board last week after more than 10 years as one of Rupert Murdoch’s closest lieutenants, told the European Media Leaders Summit in London that the impending recession would be “pretty deep and pretty long”. “As I look at what’s going on globally, in the United States, Europe and the Middle East, it’s very, very ugly,” he said yesterday.

Articles of the Day

Posted in Digital Media, News with tags , , , , , , , , , on November 17, 2008 by Dave Liu

Despite Industry Gloom, AOL Takes Its Ad Sales Pitch On The Road — Despite all its bad news lately, AOL (NYSE: TWX) can point to at least some revenue gains tied to its traffic jump. The company’s Q3 was mixed at best: profit dropped 7 percent to $400 million and display ad revenue fell 15 percent to $181 million; meanwhile, it had 12 percent gains in paid search. Later tonight, AOL, led by CEO Randy Falco and Lynda Clarizio, head of Platform-A, will gather 400 ad and media execs to kick off a “traveling upfront presentation” it’s calling the AOL Roadshow at the American Museum of Natural History. Bill Wilson, EVP of AOL Programming, demoed his presentation for me Friday; he’ll be trumpeting the company’s traffic numbers (one favorite of his: 21 months of consecutive year-over-year unique visitor growth for a current total of 56 million uniques). More important, he will also try to convince the industry that AOL is actually delivering on those traffic gains. Although total ad revenues were down 6 percent to $500 million in Q3, Wilson will highlight the news that the vertical content network of sites were up “solid double digits in Q3”—but no specific figures.

WSJ.com’s Third Super-Premium Tier Coming? — Murdoch’s love for newspapers is undying, nevermind the near-death throes of the medium itself, and he reads it out (literally, on the radio) as part of a series of Australian radio lectures titled, “The future of newspapers: moving beyond dead trees.” Compare and contrast this to his famous speech on April 13, 2005, to the American Society of Newspaper Editors, which shook the newspaper industry then for its forward thinking about the digital future of newspapers. And this was before he bought MySpace (three months later) and later in 2007 bought Dow Jones.

GE’s Immelt: ‘Some Opportunities In Media Consolidation’ — Jeffrey Immelt’s latest tack to convince people that NBC Universal (NYSE: GE) parent General Electric is staying in the media business—talk about buying more media assets. The GE chairman and CEO told the FT “There are going to be some opportunities in media consolidation, in infrastructure, oil and gas, aviation. And my hope is that we can play in some of those as time goes on.” Those who may need convincing include Vivendi (EPA: VIV), which owns 20 percent of NBCU. As FT points, it’s time for the annual guessing game over whether Vivendi will exercise its put option for GE to buy that stake and whether GE would sell NBCU to avoid further investment. GE acquired the majority of NBCU in a $14 billion deal in 2004. But much has changed at GE since the last time this question came up, including the company’s structure and NBCU’s designation as one of five operating units. Vivendi’s put option runs through 2016 and is based on market value; starting 2011, GE has an annual window with call rights through 2017 with a floor price of $8.3 billion that will increase based on the Consumer Price Index.

AOL Cutting Off Uncut Video Service; More Squeeze On Third-Party Vendors? — AOL (NYSE: TWX), as part of its efforts to trim the non-core and no-revenue-generating parts of its portfolio, is closing down the AOL Uncut online user-gen video service, after 2.5 years of trying to compete in the space. The service, started in May 2006, was powered by Videoegg, which has since moved on to become an online video-advertising network. According to a memo/FAQ to be sent out next week, obtained by Techcrunch, the service will close on Dec 18, and users will have to transfer video off the service before then. It is recommending that users transfer videos to Motionbox, the white-label video-upload service.

Discovery To Invest Up To $100 Million in Oprah Network; Has Spent $7 Million Till Now — The high-profile launch of “OWN: The Oprah Winfrey Network” in late 2009 has attracted its own share of speculation since the announcement in January earlier this year, including executives, programming choices and finances. The company has already names Robin Schwartz as president, Maria Grasso as SVP of programming, Robert Tercek as president of digital media, among others. But no other details on the finances have been revealed till now.

UMG Digital Sales Up 33 Percent, New Streams Offset Dropoff In CD Sales — Universal Music Group predicted a turnaround, and maybe it’s coming to pass… UMG posted EUR 3.14 billion ($3.97 billion) revenue in the first nine months of 2008 –that’s up 3.5 percent if you rule out currency fluctuations. True, in actual currency, it’s down 3.8 percent, but even that’s better than the kind of chronic results some of the majors have become used to. It’s not that CDs are enjoying a revival… the hike came thanks to growth in music publishing and merchandising after UMG bought BMG Music Publishing and Sanctuary, from increased licensing income via the growing number of music-using services, and from a 33 percent increase in digital sales. All of which ”more than offset lower physical sales, according to parent group Vivendi’s earnings. Earnings before the deduction of interest, tax and amortization expenses were up 21.8 percent to EUR 408 million ($516 million) but were actually dragged down by various restructuring costs. Duffy was a big seller for the label.

Articles of the Day

Posted in Digital Media, News with tags , , , , , , , , , on November 4, 2008 by Dave Liu

Yahoo Media Group Shakeup: Scott Moore and Alan Warms To Leave; Dossett To Join; Khemlani Promoted — Update: See Yahoo’s official announcement on Moore’s departure and Jeff Dossett joining the company. This had been cueing up for a few months now: Yahoo’s media group head Scott Moore and head of Yahoo (NSDQ: YHOO) News Alan Warms will be leaving, according to a report by Kara Swisher. The departures will be announced internally this week, and no word on where they are going. Moore came from MSN in 2005, while Warms came into Yahoo last year through the acquisition of Buzztracker, his company. Moore might have some plans to start his own company, the report says. These departures come after Yahoo announced laying off about 1,500 employees late last month. Yahoo’s media group has some of the biggest online media sites in its portfolio: News, Finance and Sports, and has been among the few bright spots in the beleaguered company.

NBCU’s Chief Digital Officer George Kliavkoff Leaving; Internal Memo — It is a bloody Monday in big media/Internet land, as layoffs, reorgs and senior exec moves continue: George Kliavkoff, the Chief Digital Officer at NBC Universal and main brain behind conceiving and developing Hulu, is leaving the company. He will be there till the end of this year, and will then move on. The news was first reported by News.com. Kliavkoff opted out of the final year of his NBCU contract, allowing him to discuss other jobs with possible employers. In a memo to employees, he wrote: “I believe in my heart that this is a best time to start, run, or invest in digital companies and I am very excited about moving on to my next challenge.” Which probably means startups or inv*stm*nt world, but we’re speculating otherwise: would an MSFT job be in the offing? MSN desperately needs someone to run it, for sure. And of course Kliavkoff has deep Seattle connections, having been at RealNetworks before. He joined NBC as its first chief digital officer in 2006, and prior to that spent nearly three years at MLBAM, the digital arm of MLB (commuting to New York from Seattle).

About Those Rumors That the New York Times Would Sell About.com — We’ve heard the chatter about the New York Times Company possibly selling About.com … let’s start by admitting that what makes sense to me and what makes sense to the people running the New York Times Company doesn’t always dovetail. That said, it’s hard to find any scenario, save an amazing offer, that would make a sale of About.com seem like a close-to-sensible move for NYTCo at this point. Just a few reasons: About.com is the growth story for the company right now. A sale would give up the only true source of cash growth. A sale now wouldn’t come close to multiples that make sense; NYTCo might be lucky to get 10-12x multiples in this environment. About.com is on track for $60 million EBITDA this year. Subtract the debt, etc., and the company would come away with precious little. NYTCo has stressed at every turn its commitment to increasing the amount of its revenues that come from digital. An NYTCo spokeswoman responded to my query with the usual “we don’t comment on rumors concerning potential acquisitions and divestitures.”

SpotRunner Laying off 115 People; Looking For Strategic Options For Local Search Group — SpotRunner, the heavily backed online and TV ad agency based in Los Angeles, is laying off about 115 people from its company, which is 30 percent of staff, we have learned and confirmed by the company. Rumors to this effect started circulating last week, but no decision was made until the internal announcement today. The company CEO Nick Grouf told me that the company is still in a strong financial position, with significant cash in the bank. It raised a big $51 million fourth round earlier in the summer from an international group of investors include UK media group Daily Mail and General Trust, Spanish-speaking media giant Grupo Televisa, hedge fund Legg Mason Capital Management and French luxury group Groupe Arnault/LVMH.

JP Morgan’s Online Ad Outlook Worsens; Display’s Deterioration Accelerates — Since JP Morgan internet analyst Imran Khan lowered his expectations for online ad spending two months ago, the outlook has only gotten more pessimistic. In Khan’s latest revision downward, JP Morgan is now calling for total online global ad gains of 25 percent in F’08 and 13 percent in F’09. Khan previously estimated 28 percent and 19 percent year-over-year growth, respectively–all things considered, online is still looking comparatively healthy, at least for now. Here’s JP Morgan’s breakdown: Display deteriorates: While the category has been limping along since last spring, JP Morgan finds that sell-through rates continue to decline. Also, CPMs for premium inventory are flat to slightly down. Looking forward, Khan says CPMs are likely to remain depressed and sell-through rates will worsen. And so, for JP Morgan’s F’08 and F’09 U.S. display estimates, the analyst expects display dollars to hit $7.95 billion (11 percent Y/Y growth) and $8.45 billion (6 percent growth). That’s down from JP Morgan’s September call of $8.15 billion (14 percent Y/Y growth) and $9.43 billion (16 percent growth). For global display growth, JP Morgan sees F’08 bringing 14 percent Y/Y growth vs. its previous estimate of a 16 percent rise. More on search’s strength and new research from the Rubicon Project after the jump.

Strata Reaches A New One, Integrates With Microsoft Ad Serving Systems – Amid a fierce battle for dominance in the important, but back-office world of media buying systems, a spunky dark horse has been chalking up some important innovations for processing digital media buys. Strata Marketing, the Chicago-based software and systems provider that happens to be owned by cable TV and broadband giant Comcast Corp., Monday announced a breakthrough that will enable agencies and advertisers using its systems to seamlessly integrate with Microsoft’s advertising technologies including its Atlas ad-serving platform.

Adap.TV Launches Program To Serve Ads Onto Video — San Mateo, Calif.-based Adap.tv, creators of OneSource, a platform to help publishers fully monetize their online video content, has launched a product designed to extend the capabilities of top ad display management systems–DoubleClick DART and Microsoft Atlas AdManager–to serve ads onto video. Using Adap.tv OneSource, online publishers can extend the functionality of display management systems such as DART and Atlas.

Articles of the Day

Posted in Digital Media, News with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 13, 2008 by Dave Liu

Newspapers Cope With Ad Slowdown: Hold Back On Inventory And Ad Nets — The NYT weighs in on newspapers’ struggles amid the online ad slowdown and surveys a number of different strategies being employed. McClatchy, for one, says they are decidedly reducing the number of online ad units in invetory. “It is a case where yeah, you could probably sell another advertiser by creating another ad space,” but that would tend to depress overall revenue, says Christian Hendricks, VP for interactive media at McClatchy. The publisher’s Q2 internet revs climbed 12.5 percent, which represents about 11.8 percent of its total ad revs from that period.

MySpace Expands Self-Serve MyAds Display Ad Service — MySpace’s hyping up its expanded self-serve ad service like the second coming of, well, Google AdWords. After being in test for almost a year, the company is launching its MySpace MyAds product in open beta tonight. The social network has been using what it calls hypertargeting to allow its brand advertisers capability to micro-target users with ads. But this expanded MyAds platform will allow anyone to create an account, choose from among 1100 niche categories, upload/choose creatives and start an ad campaign, targeting the 76 million U.S. MySpace users. This is a display ad system, unlike Google’s text based ad system (at least on its own site), but like Google and others, is a CPC system. Also, like Google, it has build an analytics tool for the self-serve users…from the screenshot I saw, it does look a lot like Google Analytics. It hypertargeting service allows advertisers to target ads based on the interest that MySpace users display on their profile pages. The new MyAds service allows targeting parameters such as age, sex, geographical location, combining it with user interest categories including specific keywords within each category. For example, within the ‘videogame’ enthusiast category, a further targeting keyword or phrase might include ‘Call of Duty 5’ if relevant to an advertiser’s campaign, the company explains.

Small Yahoo Investor Asks MSFT To Rebid At $22; Asking For Asia Spinoff; Shares Below $12 — At the rate it is going, $15 per share might sound enticing to Yahoo (NSDQ: YHOO) after a while. A small Yahoo investor Mithras Capital has put out a proposal asking MSFT to rebid for the company at $22 a share, reports Reuters. As part of a proposed deal, Microsoft (NSDQ: MSFT) would unload Yahoo’s Asian assets and non-search businesses, extract $3 billion worth of cost savings and receive $2.8 billion of tax benefits, which means MSFT will pay $10.3 billion for Yahoo’s search business (about $2 billion less than it was willing to pay earlier in the summer for search portion). It also calls for Yahoo to drop its poison pill, while valuing Yahoo’s Asian assets at $7.2 billion and its non-search business at $4.5 billion. Earlier this year Mithras backed Carl Icahn’s stake in the company. Yahoo’s shares hit a five year low yesterday, and today is down about 2 percent today to trade below $13. The Yahoo-Google (NSDQ: GOOG) ad deal is certainly going to be mired in regulatory issues in a while, and any Yahoo-AOL (NYSE: TWX) combination would also face somewhat similar regulatory issues.

Earnings: GE Q3 Earnings Meet Lowered Expectations; NBCU Profit Up 10 Percent — Late last month, General Electric chairman and CEO Jeff Immelt lowered the company’s Q3 guidance dramatically and today it met those expectations. We’ll see if the inoculation—and the subsequent infusion from Warren Buffett—helped when the market opens. In the meantime, a quick look at the results: Earnings from continuing operations dropped 12 percent to $4.5 billion from $5.1 billion on Q307, with a corresponding 10 percent decrease in earnings per share to 45 cents from 50 cents. (Including all operations, earning dropped 22 percent.) Revenues from continuing operations were $47.2 billion, up 11 percent over $42.5 billion in the same quarter last year. Growth in infrastructure and media were countered by a sharp decline in financial services.

RBI Sale At Risk Of Falling Through As Bidding Price Drops To $1.7 billion — Reed Elsevier’s troubled attempt to sell-off its UK B2B division Reed Business Information appears to be in big trouble with the news that bids for the company since August have fallen about a half-million dollars, according to Bloomberg. Two unidentified sources close to the deal told the news service the bids have dropped to about $1.7 billion (£97 million) from $2.3 billion (£1.3 billion). The company has struggled to attract the financing needed to seal the deal since the sale was announced in February. Merrill Lynch analyst Paul Sullivan said in a note that the risk of the sale “being delayed or falling through has clearly increased”. The markets were unimpressed and shares in Reed Elsevier dipped 6.4 percent to 468.25 pence at 1.34pm in London trading today, its lowest value since February 2004.

Time CEO Anne Moore Rules Out IPC Media Sale; Announces Two-Year Plan to Counter Downturn — She might run the biggest magazine company in the world in a time of falling advertising revenue and dwindling sales, but Time Inc’s (NYSE:TWX) CEO and Chairman Anne Moore doesn’t sound too concerned. She tells The Times of a two-year strategy to get her company, owner of consumer UK magazine publisher IPC Media, through the downturn—which will look to address its nine percent Q208 drop in ad revenue. Digital revenues grew 73 percent in 2007 and now make up 15 percent of the group’s total ad revenue. Moore considers Time not a magazine publisher but a “content company” But as The Times’s Dan Sabbagh writes: “Nevertheless, print magazine advertising is heading south this year, and digital growth in 2008 will miss the previous 53 per cent target”.

Economic Meltdown Strikes Viacom, CBS Corp.; Both Warn Investors On Lowered Outlook — It looks to be a brutal Q3 reporting season: Both Viacom (NYSE: VIA) and CBS (NYSE: CBS) Corp have cut their respective outlooks, warning investors that they have been taking a hit on the ad slowdown and the wider economic pain touching all businesses right now. Reuters: Viacom’s Q3 earnings will come in at least 10 percent short of Wall Street estimates. The company pinned the decline on the worsening ad revenue picture. That news quickly shot Viacom’s stock down 20 percent. Viacom Chief Executive Officer Philippe Dauman issued a statement saying the media giant, which owns MTV Networks and Paramount, was “moderating our near-term targets” in light of the dismal economy. In its Q2 earnings report, Viacom pointed to both retail and automotives categories as the reason for lower than expected revenues at its cable TV properties. While they held back on strong prediction for Q3, it’s clear they couldn’t foresee how bad things have gotten. Neither have financial analysts, who keep revising their forecasts downward. In a statement, the company is forecasting a 2 percent drop in global ad revenues, with a decrease of roughly 3 percent in the U.S. and an 8 percent gain internationally. The company will release its full Q3 results on Nov. 3.