Archive for Sugar

Articles of the Day

Posted in Digital Media, News with tags , , , , , , , , , , on October 7, 2008 by Dave Liu

Microsoft Raises Stakes With Search Perks — Microsoft continues to offer incentives to searchers to boost usage (and eventually market share) of its Live Search engine, the latest of which is called Search Perks. Some detractors call it bribery, and others say that it’s yet another desperate attempt to attract users– but according to stats from Hitwise, if Search Perks performs as well as Cashback, then the promotion should actually be called a success. The software giant launched Cashback, which gives shoppers money back for every product they search for (and eventually buy) through Live Search in late May. Although the program boosted search volume by 15% a month later (per comScore), the question has been whether it would cause Microsoft’s search share to continue to rise.

TV Guide Network Being Sold Separately From Mag; Book Finally Out — Macrovision (NSDQ: MVSN) has finally put the book out for the formal sale of TV Guide Network, according to Variety. The channel includes its flagship TV scrolling IPG, distributed in about 80 million homes in U.S., and the much-smaller TVG Horse Race Network, and the story says could fetch a relatively-small $400 million for the sale due to the financial market and economy turmoil. TVGN had total revenues of about $129 million last year. Among the companies considering the channel are Constellation Ventures, the NYC-based media focused VC firm, the story says. Not much interest from the usual suspects Time Warner (NYSE: TWX), News Corp (NYSE: NWS). and Disney (NYSE: DIS). UBS is running the process for Macrovision.

Depressing Movies: Netflix Cuts Q4 Outlook; Shares Down — So maybe people aren’t watching that many movies during these depressing times, or at least not joining a new service in droves: Netflix (NSDQ: NFLX) has cut its Q4 subscriber outlook, and also said that Q3 ended with fewer subscribers than it anticipated. CFO Barry McCarthy said that net subscriber growth in July was “in line with expectations but August was unusually weak…In September, the business regained momentum with results slightly below original expectations, likely due to the economic climate.” Netflix ended Q3 with about 8.672 million subscribers, just below the low end of its previous guidance of 8.675 million to 8.875 million subscribers. Subscribers grew 23 percent year-over-year and 3 percent sequentially. For Q408, it expects subscribers between 8.95 million to 9.25 million, down from 9.1 million to 9.7 million. Revenues are expected between $353 million and $359 million for the quarter, down from its earlier projection of $357 million to $367 million.

TNS Surrenders To WPP Group, Tells Shareholders To Accept The $2 Billion Deal — After months of repeatedly rebuffing WPP Group’s $2 billion (£1.14 billion) takeover bid, media measurement firm TNS is now telling its shareholders to approve the deal, Reuters reports. WPP made the offer back in July, two months after TNS and its German rival, media audience monitor GfK, announced plans to merge, creating the world’s second largest audience measurement firm after Nielsen. But when WPP muscled in with its offer for TNS, GfK began to get cold feet. GfK began trying to come up with a cash offer for TNS, but those efforts quickly failed, leaving nothing but TNS’ continued rejections of WPP and the ad giant’s unflagging desire to buy it.

Name Change Didn’t Help: Jellycloud Defunct; $50M In Funding Down The Drain, 36 Staffers Out — Adware purveyor turned ad network Jellycloud has had two other aliases during the past eight years, but now you might as well call it dead and buried. Last weekend, the company (fka Gator and, subsequently, Claria) closed up shop and had its furniture repossessed, Valleywag first reported, citing an unidentified tipster. The news was confirmed today by Venturebeat, which cited an unidentified source within the company. Repeated calls to Jellycloud were not returned. About 36 employees lost their jobs. Last month, Scott Vandevelde, Jellycloud’s CEO, was comparing the company’s offerings to both traditional ad nets like AOL’s Advertising.com and the Yahoo (NSDQ: YHOO) ad exchange Right Media.

Sugar Expands E-Commerce, Opens ShopStyle API, Launches New Sites — Blog network Sugar Inc. is opening its ShopStyle API to anyone interested in building apps based on the shopping technology and plans to follow that up with something called ShopSense, which will allow users to share in Sugar’s retailer revenue. CEO Brian Sugar bills it as a way for publishers to make money, especially during the upcoming holiday season. Sites already using ShopStyle, acquired last year, for their e-commerce include Glamour, Elle UK, Bravo and InStyle. Of course, this doesn’t instantly translate into revenue for anyone outside Sugar. That kind of proof will have to come in the form of payments.

Jivox Unveils New Online Video Ad Platform — Jivox is expected to announce today a new version of its DIY online video ad platform that helps connect small and medium-sized businesses reach local customers via viral and local search campaigns. While big brands are seeking to capitalize on short-form video content and the transition of traditional media to the internet, San Mateo, Calif.-based Jivox aims to help small advertisers find online video success with local video on established Web properties that are proven to reach customers at a local level via Jivox AdSlate 3.0.

Articles of the Day

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

Yahoo’s New Board To Meet Next Week — Yahoo’s newly reconstituted board will meet for the first time next week, giving activist investor Carl Icahn his first chance at seeing the company workings from the inside, reports WSJ. The two other Icahn-supported board members, Frank Biondi and John Chapple, will also be there at the meeting this Tuesday. WSJ says it is not yet clear if Icahn will show up personally. At the meeting, the board members will get an update on the still-ongoing talks between Yahoo and Time Warner/AOL (NYSE: TWX), and a possible combination. For now any talks are on a slow burner. Also, for sure, the Google-Yahoo advertising partnership and potential regulatory issues will be discussed.

Facebook Plotting Beacon’s Full Return? Users Continue Rebellion Against Redesign — While the number of Facebook users that have signed up to protest the social net’s redesign represents only a fraction its 100 million members, the movement continues to gain attention. Over the past few months, dozens of groups have popped up on Facebook to voice displeasure at the changes. As USAT notes, one group has attracted 1 million members. The changes include separating members’ profile info into different areas of the site. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has said that he’s seen this kind of thing before—such as when the site first introduced the “news feed” feature two years ago. And it doesn’t appear as though the protests are going to lead to any mass defections. But one change that did quickly blow up in the social net’s face was last year’s Project Beacon ad program. A number of reports in the past week indicate that Facebook might be reviving Beacon.

Microsoft Rushes To Defend Display Ads; Now If Only Marketers Would, Too — As recent online ad spend reports have shown, the display business has been having a tough year—and this past week’s market shocks suggest it’s only going to get worse. Companies like AOL (NYSE: TWX), Yahoo and Microsoft have made big bets on display taking off, and the pain of display’s decline could become acute. Microsoft, for one, feels enough is enough, and is stepping up efforts to convince advertisers to consider display, WSJ reports. Microsoft says it can prove that display is a better motivator of consumer behavior than search. The company plans to present its data, which was compiled by its ad serving unit, Atlas Institute, to agencies in round of upcoming meetings. While Microsoft has a search ad business too, it is more dependent on display sales. That said, the company says that the Atlas’ research on display began two years ago, long before it bought the ad serving firm. While Microsoft hopes its numbers will convince advertisers, the company has been oddly silent about promoting it publicly and in detail.

China’s Focus Media To IPO Its Allyes Internet Ad Business; Valued At $1-$1.5 Billion? — Chinese advertising firm Focus Media is primarily engaged in the out-of-home market, but it does have a fast-growing, internet business that it acquired just last year for $300 million… And now the company plans to do a spinoff of the unit (Allyes Online Media Holdings) via an IPO. The company said in a release this morning that it would commence the IPO following an F-1 filing and “as market conditions permit”, which could be a while. The internet business at Focus is hot. In August the company said revenue grew 201 percent in the quarter, accounting for $76.1 million of the company’s total $211.7 million in revenue. Given this growth and the market’s longstanding love of all things Chinese internet, it’s no surprise that the company would want to take this business out from under the parent company’s umbrella.

Informa Bid Collapses; Consortium Could Not Raise More Cash — The leading bid for Lloyd’s List B2B publisher and Datamonitor operator Informa has been scuppered by the state of the financial markets. Providence, bidding with Blackstone and Carlyle, offered 450p per share (£1.9 billion), but the trio said they were unable to get financing to fund a higher offer. Informa will now be betting it can weather the economic storm – its shares closed 32 percent below the offer price yesterday at 342p. With so many other B2B outfits in play right now, it’s testing times. Reed Elsevier said in August its planned divestment of Reed Business Information could take place as early as October.

Sugar, Inc. Launches Blog Platform With Retail Rev Stream — An interesting move from Sugar Inc. following its mid-summer course correction with NBC Universal … the blog network opened its publishing platform to its readers today with OnSugar beta promising “sweet & simple publishing.” The concept: give users the tools to do what the Sugar pros do, increase engagement and add to revenue starting with retail links served up with the new blogs. CEO Brian Sugar said the move doesn’t preclude a Sugar ad network but this and other recent actions suggest that Sugar is still focused on realizing its own potential as a network.