Archive for ValueClick

Articles of the Day

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

Google And Yahoo Appear Ready To Abandon Talks On Pact — While the Google-Yahoo search ad pact seems increasingly headed for rocks, the two sides have continued to insist that they’re talking with the Department of Justice about crafting an agreement that passes regulatory muster. Until now, it seems. Citing unidentified sources, the WSJ says those talks have not moved the ball an inch and suggests that Google (NSDQ: GOOG) and Yahoo (NSDQ: YHOO) may abandon the pact completely. The decision to drop the planned deal could come as soon as next week, the WSJ says—although hedging its bets, the paper adds the two could go the other way and announce a last-minute save. What makes next week so important and why does it seem like such a toss-up? It could have something to do with Tuesday’s presidential election. The thinking could be that an Obama win—which would be at least personally supported by Google CEO Eric Schmidt, an avowed Obama supporter—would probably signal a more jaundiced view of what constitutes anti-competitive partnerships. And a McCain win could mean that antitrust regulation would remain fairly loose.

CBS Swings To Loss On 12.5 Billion Write-Down; Q3 Revs Rise 3 Percent — True to its warnings about lower earnings earlier this month, CBS (NYSE: CBS) Q3 net earnings from continuing operations came in with a loss of $12.46 billion, or a loss of $18.58 per diluted share, versus earnings of $340.2 million, or $.48 per diluted share, for the same prior-year period. The earnings report also highlighted a $56.4 million write-down on items associated with “other-than-temporary declines in the market value” CBS’ investments. Revenues, meanwhile, were up 3 percent to $3.38 billion in Q3, which were driven by the addition of CNET and domestic cable sales of CSI: New York, though offset by lower ad sales. As Les Moonves, president and CEO of CBS Corp., said during the earnings call, “any increase in revenue is welcome in this difficult environment.”

ValueClick Net Income Plummets 88 Percent — Online ad firm ValueClick (NSDQ: VCLK) had previously warned investors that Q3 would be rough and its earnings report on Wednesday clearly bore that out: the company’s GAAP net income was $2 million ($0.02 per diluted common share), down 88.1 from $16.8 million ($0.17 per diluted common share) in Q307. Net income was affected by the completion of an offer to purchase up to 4.9 million stock options with exercise prices ranging from $25.66 to $29.73 per share. It was also impacted by tax adjustments. Excluding those two items, Q3 net income per diluted common share would have been $0.15, ValueClick said. Revenue was down 2.5 percent to $152.9 million compared to $156.9 million for the third quarter of 2007.

Liberty Media’s Interactive Group Income Falls 14 Percent — Liberty Media’s Interactive Group posted slim revenue gains of 2 percent, while adjusted operating income fell 14 percent in Q3. The increase in revenue was primarily driven by the impact of the Bodybuilding.com purchase last December and growth at the other e-commerce companies. The decrease in adjusted OIBDA was due to the results at shopping channel QVC, which is the largest part of the group and has been hurt by the economic downturn. In keeping with the unsteadiness of the market, Greg Maffei, Liberty President and CEO, said the company would concentrate on bringing down its debt. Earlier this month, the company drew down on its QVC bank facilities and retired 87 percent of its senior notes that mature in mid-2009. The company repurchased 13.6 million Liberty Capital shares from Aug. 1 through Oct. 29. Also, Liberty has instituted a hiring fr*eeze, company-wide. Given the uncertainty in the economy, the company is withdrawing its guidance for Q4.

TheStreet.com’s Weak Q3 Forces Boardroom Shuffle — Wall Street’s losses have turned partly into TheStreet.com’s gains, as traffic surged to an all-time high over the course of Q3—and ad revenue tracked upward accordingly. But the company wasn’t completely immune to the market downturn, as it missed analysts’ EPS and revenue expectations (via Tech Trader Daily), and posted a $1.1 million loss in net income. TheStreet.com (NSDQ: TSCM) shook up its boardroom as a result, making Jim Cramer Chairman so that former Chairman (and current CEO) Thomas Clarke can focus on navigating the even tougher times ahead.

WPP Sales Up In Third Quarter; Expects ‘Very Tough 2009’ — Ad holding company WPP Group reported a 16 percent rise in sales in the third quarter, boosted by the stronger dollar and euro against the pound. Revenues came in at £1.72 billion ($2.8 billion), compared to £1.48 billion ($2.42 billion) a year ago. Adjusting for inflation, revenue was six percent higher; on a like-for-like basis–stripping out acquisitions and currency fluctuations–growth was three percent. As rivals Publicis, Interpublic and Aegis reported earlier this week, WPP expects that the “disintegration in the financial markets” will continue to have a “significant negative effect” on consumer and corporate confidence, with 2009 shaping up to be “a very tough year.” CEO Martin Sorrell told Bloomberg that the “real recovery” will come in 2010, when events such as football’s World Cup and the Winter Olympics games should boost sales.

Conde Nast Scales Back Portfolio, Men’s Vogue; Layoffs Are Coming — The print publishing cuts just keep coming. Condé Nast plans to cut budgets company-wide by 5 percent, including scaling back the number of Portfolio and Men’s Vogue issues it publishes and laying off some staff, NYT (FRB: 066570) reports. Men’s Vogue is taking the biggest hit, shifting to bi-annual production from 10 issues per year, and business-industry last-year-darling Portfolio will go from 12 issues to 10. Most of Men’s Vogue‘s operations will be folded into Vogue, while some of Portfolio’s online components, including ad sales, will be bundled with Wired magazine. While the layoffs will hit various titles, the NYT cites unidentified sources saying that the two aforementioned titles will absorb most of the job cuts. At our FOBM conference Tuesday, Condé Nast group president David Carey was adamant that Portfolio was healthy and wouldn’t be whittled down to a “digital only” publication, and was quite bullish on the magazine’s digital revenue generation potential earlier this year. Condé Nast launched Portfolio amidst much fanfare in April 2007. The news comes just days after Time Inc. and Gannett (NYSE: GCI) both said they were resorting to mass layoffs, and the Christian Science Monitor announced it will shift to printing its paper edition weekly instead of daily.

AOL Opens Up Site To Social Networks — As part of its open strategy, AOL today unveiled a new feature allowing users to access social networks including MySpace, Facebook and Bebo directly from the Web portal’s redesigned home page. The “My Networks” feature lets AOL visitors post status updates to multiple social networks at once, as well as provide profile activity information such as new friend requests and mail notifications from third-party social sites. The move follows AOL’s step last month to offer direct access to outside e-mail services including Gmail, Hotmail and Yahoo Mail via prominent links on its home page.

Marchex Adhere Adds 23 Publishers To Roster — Pushing to give media buyers more options as budgets tighten, Marchex Adhere has signed on 23 publishers in the past 90 days, upping the lineup to more than 200. Marchex Adhere for Publishers is a white-label ad platform that publishers use to run their own performance-based advertising marketplaces. The expanded roster gives advertisers a method to target a specific audience, said Sloan Seymour, VP of Seattle-based Marchex.

Netflix and TiVo to Partner on Movies — Netflix will place its Watch Instantly streaming-movie service on TiVo’s HD-compatible set-top boxes, furthering the technology industry’s goal of sending television shows and movies over the Internet — instead of over traditional cable and satellite networks — to ordinary TVs. Netflix, based in Los Gatos, Calif., is more widely known for its DVD subscription service that mails discs in familiar red envelopes. But it has lately been expanding its digital offerings, and now has 12,000 movies and television shows that subscribers can view instantly over the Web on their PCs without charge. Netflix and TiVo said they would begin testing the service on Thursday and expected to make it available to all owners of TiVo set-top boxes in December. There will be no extra charge for TiVo subscribers who also have one of Netflix’s unlimited subscription plans, which start at $8.99 a month.

Gorilla Nation Lands Reuters Canada — Los Angeles-based publisher rep firm Gorilla Nation has been selected to represent advertising inventory for all traffic coming from Canada to Reuters.com (www.reuters.com) and Reuters.ca (www.reuters.ca). GN also recently signed the Economic Times (www.economictimes.com) and the Times of India (www.timesofindia.com). These properties will also contribute to an aggregated market of business professionals for the company’s new financial vertical market offering, in addition to its current 35 vertical markets.

Articles of the Day

Posted in Digital Media, News with tags , , , , , , , , , on October 28, 2008 by Dave Liu

AOL Hands Off Video Duties To Brightcove — After years of handling video content management internally, AOL is expected to announce today that it is bringing in Brightcove to take over those duties. The transition, expected to be completed by early next year, will leave the thriving online video platform with control over AOL’s video content management, publishing, and playback duties.

NYTimes Partners With Brightcove For Video — NYTimes.com late last week relaunched its video platform with a high-definition, wide-screen format, redesigned video library and individual playback pages for each video. The Times’ new video platform rests on Brightcove’s online video technology platform, Brightcove 3–which is designed to help the Times reach new audiences through SEO, and syndication, and improve streaming experiences. “In layman’s terms, Brightcove’s technology brings more stability and flexibility,” said Nicholas Ascheim, vice president of product management at NYTimes.com. “What you want is for a user to able to click play and the video plays, which is harder than you think.” Brightcove’s technology also introduces new advertising inventory and opportunities for brand marketing, according to Ascheim.

Online Retail Traffic Declines — U.S. traffic to retail Web sites has fallen for eight straight weeks as of Oct. 25, marking the first such decline since June 2007, according to a new study by Hitwise. Visits to retail sites dropped 4% in September compared to an increase of 14% from June through August. Hitwise said the fall-off reflects consumers’ cutting back on spending as a result of the current economic climate. “These declines have strong implications for the upcoming online holiday season as well as offline sales,” said Heather Dougherty, research director at Hitwise. “Everyone is aware of the role that the Internet plays to influence offline sales through research, so this slowdown may indicate a further ripple effect in sales in retail locations.”

Three Bidders Left For Reed Business; Former Publisher of WSJ Involved In One Group — We noted earlier today that the Reed Business Information auction is being sweetened again, with parent Reed Elsevier (NYSE: RUK) planning to to offer a bigger vendor loan to finance the struggling sell-off. Now we have learned that there are three parties left in the auction, and interestingly, one group is working with the former Publisher of the Wall Street Journal Gordon Crovitz. Crovitz is working with the consortium of Apollo Management, the PE firm, and Strauss Zelnick’s PE firm Zelnick Media. The other two parties left in the auction are Bain Capital (which has taken on Helen Alexander, the former CEO of The Economist Group as an advisor on the deal) and the group led by TPG and DLJ Merchant Banking Partners. As has been reported before, Reed had been offering vendor financing from its own coffers to $330 million, besides helping bring in other banks for staple financing, and now it may pony up more its own money.

Mansueto’s Koten: Breaking News Doesn’t Bring In Ad Dollars, Aggregation Does — When Fast Company and Inc. publisher Mansueto Ventures laid off 20 staffers, mostly on the online side of the business, earlier this month, it seemed like a curious move. While the magazine side of business has been healthy, Mansueto had spent a much of the past year building up the digital side, including high-profile hires like Robert Scoble, starting Fast Company TV, and creating a social media initiative around Fast Company as well. So why defenestrate a chunk of the online side? In a Q&A with Forbes.com, Mansueto CEO John Koten elaborates on the company’s rationale behind the cuts, which he says was to tear down the walls between the digital and print sides.

ValueClick COO Yovanno Jumps To Widget Analytics Firm Gigya As CEO — Widget distribution firm Gigya has named ValueClick (NSDQ: VCLK) COO David Yovanno CEO, Venturebeat reported. Yovanno told Venturebeat that after nine years at ValueClick, it was simply time to move on. ValueClick has been struggling over the past year. Back in February, ValueClick settled a suit brought by the Federal Trade Commission that accused the company of using fraudulent tactics for online lead gen activities. More recently, that company has been hit by the downward trajectory of the display business. Aside from helping preside over that, Yovanno also managed ValueClick’s comparison shopping businesses and oversaw the company’s acquisition of 14 firms. News of Yovanno’s departure comes just ahead of ValueClick’s Q3 earnings report this Wednesday.

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 August 1, 2008 by Dave Liu

Entrepreneur Media Deal Blows Up; CEO Backs out of Sale — Entrepreneur Media, the Irvine, CA-based parent of Entrepreneur magazine, has called off the sale of its company at the last second. In a memo to employees on Thursday, obtained by Folio, Entrepreneur CEO Peter Shea announced the decision not to proceed with the sale. The company was in the process of being bought by Austin Ventures and Castanea Partners for around $160 million, and we had been reporting on the process all along. The deal was supposed to be finalized this month.

CNET On Target; Immediately Accretive; $1 Billion Interactive Revenue In Three Years — After having listened to several of these so far this quarter, conference call intros are getting pretty predictable: The economy is weak, but business is holding up, and don’t forget to look at all that cash we’re throwing off. CBS CEO Les Moonves explained that the company is taking key steps to move from slow growth to high-growth areas: Selling radio stations, buying CNET: “CNET networks was forecast to make about $450 million in revenue and $100 million in profit, and they are on track.” He added that the acquisition would be immediately accretive to cash flow and earnings, adding 2 percent to revenue and growth estimates.

ValueClick Q2 Profits Slide 6.3 Percent; Revs Up 10 Percent — Having already warned investors two weeks in advance that weakness in display advertising would mean a rough second half, online ad company ValueClick said Q2 net income was $16.5 million ($0.17 per diluted common share) down 6.3 percent from last year’s $17.6 million ($0.17 per diluted common share). Revenue for the quarter of 2008 was $163.8 million, a 10 percent rise from $148.7 million in Q207, thanks in part to a boost from MeziMedia, which ValueClick bought in July 2007.

TheStreet.com: CEO Clarke: Continued Focus On Acquisitions; Ad Market Holds Up — How did TheStreet.com manage to report a pretty solid quarter, in light of ad weakness and the market downdraft? CEO Tom Clarke chalked it up to the company’s efforts at diversifying its network, reducing its reliance on financial advertisers, expanding its subscription services (see: Nails on the Numbers, a stock options newsletter written by Lenny Dykstra) and growing its other services (Promotions.com). Going forward, expect more subscription newsletters, an investment into long-form video and a continued focus on acquisitions (prudent, of course).

Steve Case’s RevolutionHealth Hires Banker, Sale Possible — More signals that the revolution is on hold. Last month we noted that Steve Case’s ambitiously named Revolution Health was moving out of the B2B business and laying off 20 percent of the workforce. We also mentioned that the company as according various strategic options. Now there’s a report that makes this sharper: Workforce Management magazine says that Revolution has hired an investment bank to explore a possible sale or merger. The story says the company hired Morgan Stanley in the spring to help it raise capital, but that it has shifted focus.

Articles of the Day

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

IAC Successfully Places $2 Billion In Debt; Will Have $1.3 Billion To Invest Internally And In Deals — This was expected, but still you can’t take anything for granted in this environment: IAC said this afternoon that it has successfully raised about $2 billion in debt, associated with its spinoff plan. Specifically, the company raised $840 million through bonds and another $1.15 billion through senior notes. IAC CFO Tom McInerney touted the raise as evidence of health at Interval, HSN and TicketMaster (Lending Tree, the weakest of the units is not incurring any debt, and will in fact be given cash). The announcement has the exact breakdown of debt between each unit. After the dust settles, IAC will have about $1.3 billion to invest internally and in new acquisitions, according to McInerny. Technically, the money will be received upon completing some paperwork and other technicalities over the next several days. Meanwhile, in a new note put out today, Doug Anmuth offered some reactions following meetings with IAC management.

Updated: Yahoo Unveils Proxy Page — In a filing with the SEC, Yahoo notes this morning that it has put up a new proxy page at proxyfacts.yahoo.com with the following banner. It pretty much speaks for itself. Update: Per a separate filing, Jerry Yang even made an internal video for Yahoo touting a full campaign to win the vote: “With one of the largest audiences on the Internet, we’re taking full advantage of the power of our network to remind our stockholders why voting for Carl Icahn’s board of directors is a bad choice.”
Of course, with Legg Mason announcing its support of the incumbents, the company is the favorite to hold on.

Analysts On Google: This Quarter Wasn’t So Bad; Long-Term Outlook Still Strong — We’ll see if Google shares get clipped as badly in today’s trading as they did after hours yesterday… so far it looks like justice may be a bit less severe. Either way, it was not one of its great quarters. The key question: what does it mean for its long-term outlook? Analysts are chiming in with their view, and most remain pretty positive: Doug Anmuth, Lehman: The online ad market is showing cracks, no doubt, between Google, Microsoft (NSDQ: MSFT), ValueClick (NSDQ: VCLK) and BankRate, but Google is in the best position of all. He noted that Google’s income fell short in part due to lower interest income on its cash pile (which was noted in the release and discussed further in the call).

Facebook Sues German Knockoff Site StudiVZ; Will Others Follow? — Updated below: Facebook has finally started taking action against its knockoff sites, and has first sued the one most easily accessible in terms of regulatory laws: it has filed a copyright lawsuit against StudiVZ, a German social network which looks very similar, and accuses it of “copying the look, feel, features and services” of the Facebook site, reports FT. The lawsuit was filed in a California court. It says that any differences between the two sites were “nominal” and accused StudiVZ of merely “replacing Facebook’s blue colour scheme with a red one”. The German company that claims 10 million users and calls itself “the most successful social network in Germany, Austria and Switzerland”. Facebook launched a German version a few months ago, but has struggled to gain traction there, the story says. StudiVZ was bought out by Holtzbrinck group, the German publishing giant, for a reported $112 million late in 2006.

Speculation Continues on Napster’s Fate; Could Be Bought By, Well, Anyone — The speculation about Napster’s fate has been going on ever since it relaunched under the new management, and once again, some new fuel to it: Bloomberg did a piece earlier today, noting that company could become takeover bait for hedge funds as its cash on hand exceeds company’s market cap, with stock continuing to plunge lower and lower (it reached a record-low $1.05 on July 16, but had a run up today becuase of the story). While Napster hasn’t posted a profit in four years, its $69.8 million in cash and inv*stm*nts as of March 31 eclipsed the shares’ $52.1 million value before today, it notes. CEO Chris Gorog has built up cash by slashing sales and marketing expenses by 90 percent to $18 million in the fiscal year ending March, while revenues rose 15 percent to $127.5 million.

ValueClick To Launch Predictive Behavioral Targeting — ValueClick Media, a division of ValueClick, Inc., is expected to announce the launch of its Precision BT suite today at the OMMA Behavioral conference in San Francisco. The suite combines access to anonymous consumer online behavior with a predictive technology to create a scalable behavioral targeting solution available to marketers via two products: Precision Retargeting, an enhanced version of the user retargeting capabilities offered by ValueClick Media since 2005, and Precision Profiles, which uses a proprietary predictive algorithm to identify a marketer’s best prospects in hundreds of consumer interest segments.

AOL Health Adds Content Partners — Expanding its editorial scope, AOL Health has partnered with a trio of health sites to add elder care information, doctor listings and other health-related articles and video. The site’s new content partners include Caring.com, HealthCare.com and Health.com, the online presence of Time Warner’s Health magazine, which will supply articles, quizzes, image galleries and videos.