Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Hollywood stars enthusiastically submit to video podcast interviews

Podcast Pickle
Steven Lewis
January 31, 2007

Following the success of last year’s introduction of video podcasts, the Santa Barbara International Film Festival has made podcasts a part of this year’s festival also. With podcasting having proved itself as a medium, SBIFF podcasters are being given greater reign and celebrities are keen to sign up, report podcasters working at the festival.

“Last year many people still weren’t aware of podcasting,” says Scott Parent, a member of the festival’s podcast team. “This year we are getting unfettered access and the powers-that-be really seem to get the importance of viral grassroots style promotion. I think that You Tube probably had a lot to do with — paving that road — but podcasters are reaping the benefits. So far we’ve gotten enthusiastic interviews with Will Smith, Willam H. Macy and Helen Mirren, among others.

“In short I think the film festival is certainly seeing a ROI. They are reaching an international audience through the podcast.”

The podcasts are produced by Media Trust.

Marketers Spend Most On Own Sites

Just An Online Minute... Study:
by Wendy Davis, Tuesday, Jan 30, 2007 2:00 PM ET
SPENDING ON ONLINE ADVERTISING WILL grow 17.9% this year, dwarfing the projected 5.8% growth in overall U.S. ad spending, according to a new report by Outsell, Inc. Total, online is expected to account for around 20% of all ad dollars, Outsell reports. But before online publishers get too optimistic, they should keep in mind that Outsell includes money spent on marketers' own Web sites in the total.

In fact, Outsell reports that the bulk of online marketing dollars, 58%, will go to marketers' own sites. "Spending on advertisers' own Web sites is usually overlooked in online marketing spending studies," states Outsell, which surveyed 1,010 advertisers for the study. "Publishers must compete for these advertiser dollars by proving that they add unique value that the advertiser cannot replicate on its own."

Why are marketers spending so much on their own sites? One reason is that they believe such sites yield results in terms of branding and lead generation. Seventy-five percent of the surveyed advertisers said their own sites were effective or extremely effective at lead generation. By contrast, just 56% said the same about e-mail campaigns, while 48% of respondents deemed search engines effective or very effective at lead generation. For branding, 81% of respondents said their own Web sites were effective or very effective, compared to e-mail marketing (64%) and search (51%).

But these comparisons are somewhat unfair, because chances are that visitors who go to marketers' sites already know they're interested in companies' product or services. Often, those visitors land on the sites in response to an ad -- search, e-mail, banner or other. And, no matter how effective marketers believe their own sites are, they still have to somehow drive consumers to those sites -- which means they must continue buying ads elsewhere.

Online Ad Spending Projected to Grow by Nearly 20%

JANUARY 31, 2007

Some losers, and a winner.

A survey of advertisers who control $6.5 billion in spending projects that the print and broadcast shares of US ad budgets will continue to decline in 2007, while the online ad share grows.

The "Annual Ad Spending Study 2007," from Outsell, shows that US companies plan to increase their online spending by 18% this year, more than for any other major media type.

Looking at the numbers a little closer reveals that advertisers plan to raise search engine advertising by 39%, the greatest increase of any online media method.

The survey also uncovered some troubling news for online ad sellers, however.

The pay-per-click (PPC) share of online ad spending is expected to fall slightly in 2007, by approximately 1%, but that is only an indication of a deeper problem.

Click fraud concerns are the driver in the PPC drop in share.

In fact, the survey indicates that 49% of advertisers have reduced or plan to reduce their PPC spending because of click fraud, up from 37% in spring 2006.

For information on ad spending in Europe, consult eMarketer's new Europe Online Advertising: Spend, Trends and Audience report.

Has Yahoo Picked Marketing as Its Game?

by Liz Gannes
Yahoo is cooking up new media model — one that involves creating little-to-no content. The company is harnessing its ability to build online audiences around brands, something it trumpeted at a media lunch held Tuesday at its Sunnyvale headquarters.

Throughout presentations from the Yahoo Media Group, a part of the new “Audience” division, the key word, uttered more times than we could count, was “promotions.” And so, in both overt and subtle fashion, Yahoo is a company transitioning itself into what’s essentially a marketing platform.

We’ve all wondered how Yahoo will emerge from the shadow of Google and its peanut butter demons. Many have long said Yahoo should define itself as a media company and get out of this technology game. Perhaps a compromise is for Yahoo to put its long-nurtured skills at attracting internet traffic as well as its favored status among brand advertisers to good use.

The most obvious example of Yahoo’s increasing bent towards marketing is its new “Brand Universe” initiative, announced in November. The company will tie together its disjointed properties — such as search, groups, Flickr, Answers, avatars — to lead back to pages about a certain pop culture topic — for instance, Nintendo’s Wii.

The discriminating factor here is popularity, not biz dev deal-making. Monetization is almost an afterthought; it will be varied on a case-by-case basis, and in some instances, the company that owns the brand will not even be involved, said Vince Broady, head of games and entertainment, over and over again to a bevy of incredulous reporters.

“Our whole purpose is to support their brand,” insisted Broady. “In some cases revenue sharing is not a huge priority.”

Yahoo says it will launch 100 such pages by year’s end; next up are the Sims, Halo, Lost, the Office, Transformers, and Harry Potter.

“Brand Universe” may be the most explicit projection of Yahoo’s increasing orientation towards marketing, but there are many others. A presentation about Yahoo TV and Yahoo Movies emphasized promoting pilot episodes and movie premieres; an overview of Yahoo Music highlighted contests, online-only tracks, and the ability of the site to measure buzz about a new single.

Throughout the presentations, original content efforts were clearly deemphasized. Scott Moore, head of news and information, repeatedly labeled Kevin Sites’ war-zone reporting on Yahoo News “good PR.” C’mon now people, that’s what you tell analysts, not reporters!

The marketing business may not be Google-big, but it’s something Yahoo can do well. So far, however, the talk about monetization is lackadaisical. That’s most likely a result of the recent Yahoo reorg, which leaves the financial stuff to an entirely different division. Now that could be a bit of a problem.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Fox in talks to buy online ad company

Written by Om Malik- Posted Monday, January 29, 2007 at 9:09 PM PT

Fox Interactive Media, after a period of relative quiet, is getting acquisitive again. The company is said to be in talks to acquire Strategic Data Corp., a company based in Santa Monica, California, that helps online publishers optimize their online advertising yields.

Talks are at an advanced stage, though no deal has been finalized. Fox routinely talks with various start-ups with an eye on possible acquisition or an investment. Fox Interactive spokesperson declined to comment.

If the deal does close, then it would be the second deal by News Corp.,-Fox Interactive this year. Earlier today1, News Corp., took a 10 percent stake in a company called Roo Group; a fact that apparently wasn’t2 known to the FIM Group, up until this morning, when the Wall Street Journal reported the story.

Strategic Data Corp., (SDC) however would be an ideal acquisition for Fox because it would help them boost the revenues off their MySpace and other web properties. SDC claims that it has technology that “typically achieves network wide revenue increases of 50-150%.”

If true that could give MySpace revenues a rocket like boost. MySpace has notoriously low CPMs. MySpace page views however continue to grow. According to comScore3, Fox Interactive had 39.5 billion page views in November, primarily driven by the 38.7 billion pages consumed at

SDC and FIM have a bit of a history. SDC counts Intermix, the parent company of MySpace (prior to FIM acquisition) as a client4. We chortled a little when we read this description of some of their clients.

Our clients include large ad networks, web publishers, and advertising supported software (“adware”) vendors, serving millions of dollars of popup and other ad types from thousands of advertisers across thousands of publishers and sites every month.

Honesty is typically a great policy, except when admitting that you do business with adware vendors.

EEC: Email Marketing Images Often Go Unseen · MarketingVOX

EEC: Email Marketing Images Often Go Unseen · MarketingVOX: "EEC: Email Marketing Images Often Go Unseen

An enewsletter
from Citibank

Blame it on email reader restrictions, reputation scores or coding errors, but images and links in emails - what e-newsletters, product offers and event invitations rely on - are often stripped out according to a new study by the Email Experience Council (via DMNews).

Reviewing 1,000 emails, the EEC found that 21 percent appeared completely blank when images were turned off or stripped by a variety of email clients. An additional 28 percent showed email copy but had no working links.

More than 70 percent of companies struggle to create a deliverable email, according to the EEC, which recommends working with a company to test image rendering across multiple email clients. Doing so helps to increase response by as much as 87 percent, it said.

However, some 95 percent of vendors do not offer rendering services. Often, the quick fix is to design two versions of an email: with images and without.

EEC pointed out that, in the future, rendering emails specifically for SmartPhones will be of significant concern."

Ads to Help Web TV & Film Download Revs Hit $6.3B by 2012 · MarketingVOX

Ads to Help Web TV & Film Download Revs Hit $6.3B by 2012 · MarketingVOX: "
Home » Archives » 2007 » Jan » 29 » Ads to Help Web TV & Film Download Revs Hit $6.3B by 2012...
Ads to Help Web TV & Film Download Revs Hit $6.3B by 2012

Click to enlarge

TV and film download revenues are expected to grow tenfold from 2006 levels, reaching $6.3 billion in 2012, according to an Informa report (via the Financial Times).

Advertising will consistently outperform a la carte and subscription-based services in terms of revenue generation, and North America will be the largest revenue-generating region, accounting for 65% of the 2012 global total, Informa said.


Revenue by video-sharing sites such as YouTube is expected to grow exponentially over the next few years due to growing broadband penetration, while legal peer-to-peer services will boost internet protocol TV.

However, the report also said online TV is in danger of making the mistakes of the music industry, by hoping that piracy will somehow sort itself out. The music industry did nothing for too long and then resorted to heavy-handed legal action, which has largely proven ineffective.

Only now is the music industry seeing positive results from web-based services, a trend TV content producers can replicate, accord"

YouTubers to Get Cut of Ad Revenue, Video Ads Also Planned

YouTubers to Get Cut of Ad Revenue, Video Ads Also Planned
YouTube founders Chad Hurley & Steve Chen
People who upload their own films to video-sharing website YouTube will soon get a share of the ad revenue, writes BBC News, as YouTube founder Chad Hurley announced a new system that would distribute ad revenue and show video ads.
The move will force YouTube to screen the estimated 100 million videos that are downloaded every day in an effort to weed out copyright-protected videos. To achieve this, YouTube is working on "audio fingerprinting" technologies to identify copyrighted material.
Regarding the video ads, YouTubers likely won't have to put up with overly long pre-roll ads. Hurley said a clip of three seconds was one of the ad options, yet details had not been fully worked out yet.
The new features will be rolled out one by one over the next few months.

Welcome to the 36-Hour Day

JANUARY 30, 2007

Get up. Radio is playing. Turn on the television. Log online. Check e-mail. Answer the phone. Text a friend. Join an IM conversation. Overload? Nope. It's the start of a 'normal' day in the year 2007.

One hundred million US adult Internet users watched TV while they were online last year — more than two-thirds of the total US adult Internet population.

In addition, nearly 90 million listened to the radio while online, and more than 50 million read magazines while online.

"Media multitasking is something that is often taken for granted but actually has a profound impact on the ability to absorb and remember content and advertising messages," says Debra Aho Williamson, eMarketer senior analyst and the author of the new Multitasking Consumers: Distracted or Connected? report. "These days, consumers use so much media that researchers are fond of saying our 24-hour day has morphed into something much longer."

According to a 2006 study by Yahoo! and OMD, consumers now live a 43-hour day filled with more than 16 hours of interaction with media and technology. MTV, in a 2005 study, said a "normal" day lasts 32 hours, with 6.5 hours devoted to various media.

Veronis Suhler Stevenson (VSS), which quantifies time spent with media by using ratings data, survey research and consumer purchase data, reported that between 2000 and 2006, US consumers increased their total media time by 5%, from 3,333 hours in 2000 to 3,499 in 2006.

Put another way, that is an average of 9.6 hours a day of media exposure, up from 9.1 hours in 2000.

VSS estimates that media usage will rise to 3,518 hours in 2007.

"Study after study confirms it. People are consuming more media than ever, but they are not dropping one in favor of another," says Ms. Williamson. "They are juggling, multitasking and figuring out ways to use a number of media channels at the same time."

Who multitasks? Which media? How often? These are the questions that marketers want answered.

"Not surprisingly, a substantial portion of multitasking behavior takes place either entirely on the computer, or with the computer as a part of the media mix," says Ms. Williamson. "The computer, with its multiple windows and applications, creates an environment where multitasking is nearly unavoidable."

The Kaiser Family Foundation found that for children computer activities were the most likely to be multitasked at least some of the time, with 64% of respondents saying they multitasked while using the computer.

Television, on the other hand, was least likely to be multitasked, with 53% of respondents saying they multitasked while watching TV at least some of the time.

The answer to the question "Who is multitasking?" is everyone — but kids are multitasking more.

Time magazine called teens "The Multitasking Generation" in a 2006 cover story detailing how their constant computer use impacts their personal lives. Teens even do their homework while doing something else online — almost half of them, according to Burst Media.

What can marketers do to make their messages seen and heard?

"With the amount of data building up on the amount of multitasking that is going on," says Ms. Williamson, "the best strategy may be to assume that attention waxes and wanes during media usage and that full engagement is no longer a realistic expectation."

One Billion Mobile Ads Served in Six Months

By Eric M. Zeman
January 29, 2007

AdMob says that mobile Web users are drawn to mobile communities and downloading sites, where they have served 1 billion mobile Web advertisements in the last six months.

The United States and South Africa represented the top two countries in terms of mobile Web traffic, with 90 million and 66 million page views per month, respectively. India, the UK and Romania rounded out the top 5.

The top manufacturers’ devices being used to surf the mobile Web were, not surprisingly, Nokia, Motorola, Sony-Ericsson, Samsung and LG. What was surprising was the margin by which Nokia overshadowed Motorola. Three times as many users were surfing the Web on a Nokia device compared to a Motorola device.

The most interesting data to come from AdMob is the growth potential. “The encouraging data point for the mobile Web is not just the number of ads being served, but the pace at which things are growing,” explained Omar Hamoui, founder and CEO of AdMob. “In our first six months, we only served about 30 million ads, and over the following six months, we served 1 billion more.”

“The mobile advertising industry really needs more transparency,” continued Hamoui, “as well as accurate and actionable data. For the first time, we really feel that we have sufficient scale to develop some insight on the usage of the mobile Web, and we’re determined to invest more time sharing this knowledge to help spur the growth of the industry as a whole.”

Monday, January 29, 2007

YouTubers to gain revenue from online videos

YouTubers to gain revenue from online videos

Social networkers who upload their own videos to the YouTube platform will soon have another reason to do so: money. According to reports, YouTube will begin giving a share of the ad revenue from online advertising, shown prior to videos, to the video producers.

by Kristina Knight

youtube.gifYouTube's founders Chad Hurley and Steve Chen are developing a model that will allow them to show video ads and also share part of the revenue. Revenue sharing is only available to those who own the full copyright of the material available for download.

Because of the new model, YouTube must begin screening all of the videos downloaded, estimated at 100 million every day, so that copyrighted videos aren't in the mix. Founder Chad Hurley told BBC News the model is expected to roll out in the next few months and will include a combination of short video clips and advertisements shown before the downloaded video.

Google purchased YouTube in October for $1.65 billion. But the buyout didn't stop the headache of purging copyrighted material being downloaded from the video sharing source. The company hopes to stem the flow of copyrighted material being downloaded with the development of "audio fingerprinting" technology that will identify clips.

Hurley says the new models will be rolled out one by one over the next few months. / In depth - ‘Old media’ moguls show new optimism / In depth - ‘Old media’ moguls show new optimism: "This year, however, the disruptive technologists were playing a more reserved role, while the old media moguls whose power they were supposed to have sapped were exhibiting a new confidence.

The media mood swing was personified by the presence of Rupert Murdoch, the News Corp chairman who has seen little reason to come to Davos in previous years.
But Mr Page and Mr Brin were also cast in a different role, eager to persuade the media that Google was an attractive partner rather than a threat."

BBC NEWS | Business | YouTubers to get ad money share

BBC NEWS Business YouTubers to get ad money share: "YouTubers to get ad money share "

Friday, January 26, 2007

You’re now free to use other contextual advertisements along with AdSense

A recent revision of Google’s AdSense Program Policies now enables you to place contextual advertisements from non-Google services along with AdSense ads on the same page. Till now you weren’t allowed to display ads from third-party services like Chitika eMiniMalls, IntelliTXT, Kontera etc. on the same page as AdSense ads.

However, restrictions still apply regarding the nature of ads shown. You can use any of the other services in conjunction with AdSense, as long as their ads don’t mimic the AdSense ads i.e. the visitors shouldn’t confuse them with AdSense ads.

In other words, services which by default, show ads in the same format as AdSense ads won’t be permitted. If on the other hand, your ad service provides you ad customisation tools with which you can alter the format of the ads (e.g. add a border, alter the colour palette) you are free to place their ads parallel to AdSense.

According to the Jensense Blog

I have had a few questions regarding whether using the same ad unit sizes would constitute having the “same look and feel”, and some others are reporting that using anything in an ad unit in the same style as Google’s (such as using something that looks like YPN) would violate this policy. Fortunately for publishers, the answer is no, just the fact the ad units share the same styling (as nearly all contextual ad networks do) will not break the policy as long as you take care to change the color schemes used by each.

Bottom line, this means you can use the same ad unit sizes from two different programs, as long as there are clear differences in the color scheme (and things such as borders or backgrounds) used by your Google ads. It is also worth noting that proximity of the competitive ad units to each other also comes into factor when making changes to your site by adding competitive ads. I asked Brian Axe from AdSense to clear up just how different the ad units need to be so publishers do not inadvertently violate the policy.

Services like Chitika & Amazon serve ads in a different format by default - so you can go ahead and implement them directly without any alteration as such. You might require a bit of tweaking in case of IntelliTXT & Kontera.

As for YPN ads, be careful - it’s against Yahoo’s program policies to place contextual ads from multiple sources on the same page. But one might expect Yahoo to follow suit after Google’s policy revision.

All in all, the change is actually for the better as it’ll allow placement of ads of competitive products on the same page - and not just from a single source. All you need to ensure is that any other ads you use (whether contextually targeted or not) do not resemble the AdSense ads run anywhere on the same site.

5 Questions to Ask Your Online Lead Generation Provider

by Matt Wise, Thursday, Jan 25, 2007 10:20 AM ET
WITH A REPORTED 71% JUMP in year-over-year revenue, the explosive growth of lead generation means it's one of the hottest sectors in online advertising in 2006. As major brands continue to enter the market in 2007, it's vital to be able to distinguish between top providers who will deliver a quality program -- and lower quality players who will waste time and marketing dollars (and seem to be sprouting up faster than mushrooms after a fall rain these days). To aid in this effort, I've assembled five imperative questions to ask your current or potential provider -- and the answers you need to hear.

1) What do you do to ensure you're targeting the right consumer? If a provider tells you the company contextually places your offer on great sites in its network, that's the wrong answer. Contextual targeting is a novice technology that is inherently flawed since there is never 100% overlap between your target and a site's audience. With the proper targeting, a quality lead can be found on any site. The best targeting methods incorporate your conversion data into a custom "best customer" model that is continually adjusted according to the offer's performance on the backend. Avoid providers that won't accept or are incapable of building a targeting model off your conversion data.

2) Do I have complete ownership of the consumer data? Most marketers should retain 100% ownership of the consumer data. Providers who practice data skimming -- reselling your lead's personally identifiable information -- pose a serious risk of compromising your trusted relationship with the consumer. They're also subsidizing their business with the premium fees you're paying. (For some industries such as mortgage services, "shared leads" sold to four to five companies are the norm. With this model, however, you should pay a significantly lower rate.)

3) Is clear, conspicuous consent required for consumers to opt in? Confirmed consent, whereby the consumer gives clear, conspicuous consent to opt-in to your list, is a crucial component of ensuring quality leads. The key is making certain the consumer is informed of the exact information he is sharing with your company with the express purpose of being contacted by you. Covert consent, where the consumer is automatically added to your list and permission is buried in the terms and conditions policy, will deliver high-volume but low-quality leads. Also note: Your offer should always be optional, and not a requirement for the consumer to complete participation on the host site or receive an incentive.

4) What are your data validation practices? Leads are worthless if you can't contact them. Validating every data field is therefore an absolute must for any campaign. At minimum, providers should offer physical address, e-mail address and phone number validation as well as a fraudulent name filter to catch profanity and bogus names. Among many other key services to look for are credit card validation and available fund pre-authorization, and offer scrubbing to automatically exclude leads who incorrectly answer key qualifying questions in your offer form.

5) How will you ensure my creative is optimized for the highest response? Ongoing creative testing is essential to continually improve volume and quality, even if it's a simple A/B test. Providers should have an experienced, full-service creative team to design, test and optimize your offer for the medium-- and not just repurpose your standard creative.

And as a sixth and final thought, remember that old leads are bad leads. If the provider doesn't offer real-time data delivery, keep looking.
Matt Wise is President and CEO of Q Interactive. Reach him at

SMS Spam on the Rise

SophosLabs has warned of the rising nuisance of spam sent to mobile phones as two people from Florida have been charged with flooding cell phones with spam messages advertising time shares. Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan has filed a suit against Neela Pundit and Charles Rossop for sending 5 million unsolicited text messages to cell phone owners across the country.

More than 200 consumers complained in Illinois alone after receiving the advertisements in October and November 2006 which read "We have someone interested in buying or renting your Time Share" and encouraged recipients to visit two internet websites.

"Cell phone spam isn't just a nuisance, it can potentially hit you in the pocket too. Often mobile spam messages may tell you just to call back a certain number, only for the recipient to find they are unwittingly making a premium rate call," said Graham Cluley, senior technology consultant for Sophos. "Although it's a long way to go before SMS text spam is anything like as big a problem as regular email spam, we are hearing more reports of cell phone users being targeted. Users should report SMS abuse to their phone network providers and think carefully before acting upon unsolicited text messages."

Firms Large and Small Labor to Refine Video Search

By Sara Kehaulani Goo

Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, January 26, 2007; Page D01

Type Hillary Clinton's name into one of the big online video search engines -- Google's, Yahoo's or AOL's -- and the official "I'm in" clip that announced her candidacy for president is not among the top results.

The popularity of sites like YouTube and the widespread rollout of high-speed Internet connections have accelerated video's presence on the Web. Yet the sophistication of a search engine's ability to find video is reminiscent of the Web's early days, when text search was clunky and largely incomplete.

Even Google, the company that has become synonymous with Internet search, is having a tough time sorting out its video strategy. Some say that its $1.65 billion acquisition of YouTube last year acknowledged a weak strategy.

Yesterday, the company unveiled a new video search strategy that would use the strengths of the two sites -- YouTube with its video posting and sharing capabilities and Google with its strong search technology. Users who search for a video on Google Video will now find YouTube content in those results. Google Video plans to incorporate clips from other sites, as well.

Still, there's no guarantee that Google's approach is the right one, leaving a number of firms in search of the winning formula -- and the potential financial windfall for the company that can figure it out.

"There's a huge, incredibly obvious problem here and no really good solutions," said Josh Bernoff, principal analyst at Forrester Research, who wrote a report, "Online Video Portals: Why Video Search Stinks," last fall. "There's billions of dollars to be made."

If done well, video search could open up a new market of online advertising or sales, analysts say. Today, some companies are using video search as a platform to sell banner or text ads placed next to the video clip. Others are experimenting with video clips as a way of pushing sales of downloadable or streaming TV shows. Clips that become popular on the Web are even generating interest among corporate sponsors that want to be associated with them.

Eventually, online video search will be the way consumers access on-demand video programming on their TV sets, some analysts say.

"The key point to understand is that Internet video is going to go to the television," said Phil Leigh, founder and principal analyst of Inside Digital Media, a digital media market research firm. "All of us are going to use the [Internet] search tool to find what we want to watch" on TV.

For now, Google plans to leave YouTube as its own host of user-generated content, as well as sponsored content placed there by movie studios, TV networks and music record labels. Both YouTube and Google Video will focus on generating money from online ads, but it's unclear whether those will be primarily text ads, banner ads or video ads.

"There are lots of different monetization opportunities that will evolve over time. We are most focused on advertising," said David Eun, Google's vice president of content partnerships. "That doesn't mean people won't discover and use YouTube as a promotional platform to see a clip of a fantastic TV show, go to Web site of the owner and end up buying the DVD. We hope that happens."

Other big Internet firms such as Yahoo, AOL and Microsoft are trying to enhance their video search functions or purchase smaller firms to help them.

A number of start-up companies are trying to tackle the problem and have made strides in raising cash and attracting customers.

Privately held, for example, has signed up some news organizations as customers. PodZinger, which started as a search engine for podcasts, added a search engine for videos and raised $5 million last year.

But unlike text, scouring the Web for the right lineup of video search results is technologically tougher.

One process involves scanning words, such as captions, titles or short descriptions written by the person who uploads the clip to the Web. A more sophisticated approach adapts speech recognition technology to the words spoken in a video to find the best matches.

Some firms are experimenting with image scanning technology to recognize content in the video clip. Others, such as Blinkx, are experimenting with facial-recognition technology that would match videos of well-known faces, such as celebrities and politicians, to help categorize them.

But those advanced technologies are still in their early stages and won't be ready for at least another year or two, said Suranga Chandratillake, Blinkx founder and chief technology officer.

"We are in the very early days of not just online video search, but online video," he said.

MediaTrust Brings ABA All-Star Weekend to iPods and Mobile Devices Worldwide

HALIFAX, Nova Scotia, January 26, 2007 – MediaTrust, Inc., an online marketing services company, today announced an agreement to create and deliver free audio and video podcasts of the American Basketball Association (ABA) All-Star Weekend, in partnership with Jazz Media, a company that specializes in big screens and big events. The ABA is the first professional sports league to podcast its All-Star game, and to make it available for free download to any mobile device.

The ABA All-Star Weekend takes place January 27-28 at the Halifax Metro Centre in Halifax, Nova Scotia. MediaTrust and Jazz Media will produce the ABA All-Star Weekend. MediaTrust’s media artists will provide the podcasting resources, infrastructure and post production capabilities. In addition to podcasting the game, MediaTrust will create audio and video podcasts that provide viewers with a behind the scenes look at the sponsorship dinner, Slam Dunk contest, 3-Point Shootout, Hedley concert and meetings between ABA players and local students.

“The ABA gets it: Podcasts are the future. Companies are opening a whole new set of revenue streams by offering events and advertising opportunities through new media, such as podcasts,” said Peter Bordes, CEO, MediaTrust. “In partnership with Jazz Media, we are able to disseminate popular sports games to mobile devices worldwide.”

“If you can't make the game in-person, we'll bring it to your mobile device,” said Susan Douglas, vice president, Operations, Jazz Media. “The ABA All-Star Weekend is just a starting point. We look forward to bringing additional sporting events to fans around the world, in the very near future.”

Podcasts will be available within 24-hours of the live event. Mobile users can browse to,, and

About MediaTrust
MediaTrust ( is an online marketing services company comprised of AdValiant, an affiliate performance network, and AdVario, a proprietary ad-serving technology. MediaTrust offers a ‘one-stop-shop’ for technology and services across all online marketing channels including: affiliate and search marketing, contextual and display advertising, lead generation, e-mail marketing, proprietary ad-serving technology, mobile marketing, data management, Web publishing, list management, and RSS and podcast marketing. MediaTrust’s experienced marketing services organization ensures that each media campaign is uniquely customized for each advertiser and publisher.

MediaTrust delivers real-time, relevant, and intelligent performance-based online marketing campaigns that create awareness, generate leads, drive sales, and retain customers.

About Jazz Media Group
Jazz Media’s outdoor event video branding (OEVB) service employs sophisticated interactive screens to carry both live feeds and a schedule of events. This gives viewers a compelling reason to watch.

Jazz Media’s events include jazz festivals, pride events, national exhibitions and state fairs. Marketing sponsorships and event production is also a big part of their overall mandate.


Media Contacts:
Christine Cefalo for MediaTrust
Cefalo Communications

Sheryl Guanzon
Jazz Media Group

Mobilizing Social Networking Sites

JANUARY 26, 2007
'Gotta run, but we can stay connected.'
US and UK mobile phone users are starting to put their phones to work creating and uploading content to a variety of Web sites, and social networking sites are leading the way.

It may be far from a mainstream activity as yet, but according to Telephia, 4% of UK mobile users have already uploaded content created on their mobile phones to social networking sites, video- and picture-sharing sites, blogs and personal Web pages.

In fact, users are even finding ways to send content to sites that do not yet offer facilities to upload directly from mobiles, which suggests a strong latent demand for mobile to be integrated into the social networking world.

"Social networking sites have taken the Web by storm. Eighty-five percent of UK consumers are using text messaging to stay connected to their peers and more than 80 percent of new phones sold are camera phones," said Reza Chady of Telephia.

More to the point, Mr. Chady added, "Social networking in the UK will spread from the PC to the street in 2007."

Telephia's research in the UK suggests that MySpace is the site receiving content from the largest number of mobile consumers, with 21% of mobile uploaders saying that they have sent content there.

In the US, where a mobile version of MySpace is available on certain carriers, 6% of mobile users are uploading content to sites from their phones. But social networking sites dominate, with 32% of mobile uploaders putting content onto MySpace.

In both the US and UK, uploading content from the phone is most popular with younger consumers, with 15-to-24-year-olds leading the way.

For more information on developments in social networking, read eMarketer's Social Network Marketing: Ad Spending Update report.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Brand Marketers: Google Should Open Ad-Serving Doors

Brand Marketers: Google Should Open Ad-Serving Doors ClickZAs it expands into new ad mediums, including radio, print and TV, Google is no longer enjoying the favorable opinion of many brand advertisers. They feel its approach to ad-serving is actually more limiting than expansive. "If I've got a brand campaign and a tenth of the campaign is running through Google, in my mind it takes away the advertising efficiencies," Jeff Marshall, managing director and vice president of media agency Starcom IP. But Google doesn't control display, a world that includes a growing multitude of significant players. In the end, its closed-off stance hurts the Web giant most, says AKQA's Andrew O'Dell, whose client list includes several national brand advertisers. As Google's AdSense expands its ad platforms to try and compete with the likes of and 24/7 Real Media, etc., he says it will have to open its doors to companies like DoubleClick or aQuantive's Atlas, which help marketers consolidate their serving and reporting across hundreds of different Web publishers.It's an odd twist on the online music-DRM controversy, and you'd think the deployment of such proprietary technologies is very un-Google. - Read the whole story...

ValueClick Groups Sites to Extend Valentine's Day Reach · MarketingVOX

ValueClick Groups Sites to Extend Valentine's Day Reach · MarketingVOX: "ValueClick Groups Sites to Extend Valentine's Day Reach

Click to enlarge ValueClick Media, the performance advertising network division of ValueClick, Inc., has announced a new custom channel, designed to extend the reach and effectiveness of campaigns centered around Valentine's Day, reports MediaBuyerPlanner.
The channel, dubbed 'Run of Love,' is a group of sites selected from the ValueClick Media network based on their content relevancy to love, relationships, greeting cards and Valentine's Day.
Among the nearly 100 sites are Lavalife,, GreetingHub,,, SendCheer, Great Love Quotes, Lovers Quotes, EcardUniverse and lovepoetry.
ValueClick Media claims a reach of more than 75 percent of the U.S. internet audience across 13,500 sites. "

'Social Media Engines' Next Big Search Thing...

Home » Archives » 2007 » Jan » 25 » Danny Sullivan: 'Social Media Engines' Next Big Search Thing
The new traffic powerhouses
Search engine marketing typically entails optimizing first and foremost for Google - then Yahoo, Ask, and Microsoft's search engine. But according to Search Engine Land's Danny Sullivan, the other "search engines" that really matter are "social media search engines."
Case in point: Leading blog TechCrunch gets much of its traffic from Google - and Digg, StumbleUpon and Reddit. These "social media engines" are not merely smaller vertical search engines about which search marketers can say "oh, I'm not up on Digg. I might look into it later," Sullivan writes.
Instead, he says, they're traffic powerhouses that are rapidly becoming the equivalent of major search engines - and publishers or search marketers need to think of harnessing them even before traditional players like Yahoo or MSN.
Though, to term them "search engines" might be somewhat misleading - since social media sites like Digg are built for discovery and entertainment, not search. Sullivan calls them "kissing cousins."

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

The Multicultural Message: Two Industry Players Assert the Marketing Needs of the Hip-Hop Generation and Beyond

Written on
January 22nd 2007
by Regine Zamor
XML Feed
With the rise of the digital era and the growth of interactive usage and advertising, it’s become increasingly important to understand audiences. Making up 13% of the population is the multicultural audience, which subsequently, has not received attention commensurate to the “astronomical growth” it’s experienced.
Upon speaking with consultant Erin Patton with the Mastermind Group, and Publisher of AOL Black Voices Alvin Bowles, and taking a closer look into the interactive realm of multicultural advertising, it is clear that as this audience grows, advertisers and agencies need to do more to acknowledge that this demographic is here and that their dollar is important. Although this demographic was a bit sluggish in the wake of online participation, there has been consistent growth. Even in 2005, African Americans had an online user base of 18.4 million and in 2006 African American and Hispanic internet usage was nearly equal to that of the general market. Considering such growth, it’s time for the industries ad spending dollars to finally make a match. Welcome to the age of multicultural marketing.
So, it’s no secret that online usage and the advertising that comes with it are on the rise. What this means for agencies and marketing professionals, however, is that the way multicultural audiences are factored into ad budgets may also have to change. Alvin Bowles heads all of the sales efforts at AOL Black Voices and has seen the rising trend of the multicultural audience. According to the December 2006 comScore Media Metrix report, just last year when Bowles joined AOL Black Voices, the website brought over a million visitors a month, while today, the African-American hub accounts for 3 million users per month.
“There’s tons of growth. In a sense, there’s astronomical growth within the multicultural audience online,” states Bowles. Accordingly, Erin Patton of the MasterMind group concurs that not only is there growth, but “hip-hop’s generation X has matured and evolved the influence that was once willed through traditional categories and it has now broadened.”
Furthermore, through his research, Patton has found that the “growing influence of multicultural consumers in the general market…at this point is clearly becoming the new general market for this generation, which is growing up without the racial parameters or boundaries.” Part of the lack of online acknowledgement may be attributed to the approach advertisers take when it comes to reaching this target. Most advertisers are still under the misconception that traditional media is the best way to reach the African-American community. Not suggesting that traditional media be decreased, Bowles calls it “not an either but an and conversation”—a conversation that agencies and executives and consultants need to begin having in order to achieve the brand loyalty that comes along with the multicultural market.
And with the multicultural market also comes a certain type of brand loyalty that is known, but Patton warns that brands may be taking this loyalty for granted, assuming that the dollars will just flow in. “It is a loyal audience, but it’s also one that places a high degree of importance and significance on brands that communicate to them through cultural and lifestyle nuances,” Patton affirms.
Pages: 1 2 next page »

In Search Of The Magical Blend

by Phil Leggiere, Wednesday, January 24, 2007

THE "PARADIGM shifting" innovations that have moved online advertising forward have invariably involved a radical simplification and streamlining of what had been complex processes. The great example, of course, is Google, which, by focusing on simplifying the search experience for users, publishers and advertisers alike, made paid search advertising a fully coherent, compelling proposition. Display advertising is ready for a similar streamlining, one involving a synthesis of all the currently siloed targeting methodologies being advanced and used in isolation, Jim Barnett, CEO of the new automated targeting ad network, argues below.

Behavioral Insider: You've been outspokenly critical about the way behavioral targeting has been discussed and deployed by most established ad networks. What's going to be different about's use of targeting?

Jim Barnett: We start from the perspective that the way the discussion has been framed about behavioral targeting -- and frankly, targeting in general -- is largely nonsensical. The discussion's been stuck on the level of asking, is targeting by one kind of data better than another, is behavioral better than contextual, is demographic better than manual site selection, etc. To me it sounds like a futile approach. The answer is, they're all useful in some situations. Experience should have made it clear that these approaches, and many other types of targeting, are all valid and can be effective techniques. The pressing question is, how do you make them all available on a single platform, on an as-needed basis, when they're relevant.

Today most networks only fly one flag...

BI: Where specifically do you see conventional approaches being misguided or inappropriate?

Barnett: The core problem as I see it is that technology vendors -- and I think ad networks are equally guilty in this -- have been hung up on and preoccupied with the means (whether it's targeting methodology X and targeting methodology Y) rather than the end: what exactly does the advertiser hope to accomplish. For a network to be relevant in the future, it will need to blend all of these approaches, offering a multiplicity not only of targeting methods but pricing models as well.

Most advertisers ultimately don't care which particular targeting method is employed. What they really care about is accomplishing their goals at a reasonable price. The goal is to simplify everything by having a technology that analyzes all the complex variables that go into matching an advertiser's ROI goals, budget priorities and their message to particular placement options.

BI: What is the role or responsibility of the advertiser in all this?

Barnett: The responsibility of the advertiser is to set specific goals and know what they really want to accomplish from an ad. That's the front-end work where they really need to be spending their time. Right now, instead of focusing on marketing ends, the average advertising agency is spending inordinate amounts of time sifting through mountains of keyword lists or manually selecting sites.

BI: How does the new platform you're rolling out work?

Barnett: What we've done is develop algorithms that blend over 60 variables. The system we're developing blends site analysis, past performance, content category, user information, action type, brand strength among many other things, and sorts them out based on advertiser criteria for desired results to predict optimal placement.

Rather than serving an ad based on a particular standalone methodology, we'll use the entire continuum of targetable data based on real-time tracking being generated from each user on the network each time they visit a new page. The system basically searches the entire database to find the optimal ad to serve to that user.

BI: As I understand it, you already have over a thousand advertisers currently online and are doing a publisher's beta. What kind of goals do you have for the near to mid-term future, and where does targeting fit in the gameplan?

Barnett: In the ad network of the future -- and it's a future I think is coming faster than most people think -- networks won't be able to go to advertisers and say, 'well we can track by user search history, Web browsing and transactions and that will cost you X amount; or we can target sites based on their past performance and that'll cost you Y.' The new model will start with the question 'What is your goal and what are you willing to pay to accomplish that.' What we're aiming for is when a user comes to a site, the network will recognize the user based on profiles advertisers have provided about what type of users and what type of results they're looking for. Then the network optimization technology will make a decision on the fly about how to weight and target that user in terms of available options. The network will then select what particular ad makes the most sense for that particular user at that particular page at that particular time.

Yahoo Beats Street's Forecasts, Bows New Search Rank Model · MarketingVOX

Yahoo Beats Street's Forecasts, Bows New Search Rank Model · MarketingVOX: " Home » Archives » 2007 » Jan » 24 » Yahoo Beats Street's Forecasts, Bows New Search Rank Model...
Yahoo Beats Street's Forecasts, Bows New Search Rank Model

Click to enlarge Yahoo's fourth-quarter earnings beat Wall Street forecasts, despite having decreased 60 percent year over year, writes CNET.
Yahoo's net income for the quarter ended Dec. 31 was $269 million, or 19 cents a share, including stock-based compensation expenses, compared with $683 million, or 46 cents a share, a year ago. Revenue rose to $1.7 billion from $1.5 billion a year ago. Excluding traffic acquisition costs - fees paid to content partners - revenue was $1.2 billion, up from $1 billion.

'We ended the year on a strong note with solid growth in revenues and operation cash flow, strong profitability and healthy growth in users and user activities,' Yahoo CEO Terry Semel is quoted as saying.
Semel also said Yahoo's new ranking model for search ads would be introduced Feb. 5, earlier than anticipated. Part of Yahoo's new Panama search advertising platform, the system will rank search ads by quality, as does Google, and not just keyword bid price.
Yahoo is expected to take in 15 percent of search advertising revenues, compared with Google's nearly 67 percent, according to a report issued Tuesday by eMarketer. "

AOL Names Dhir, Dunne to Top International Posts · MarketingVOX

AOL Names Dhir, Dunne to Top International Posts · MarketingVOX: "AOL Names Dhir, Dunne to Top International Posts

Dhir Maneesh Dhir has been elevated from his position as senior VP in AOL's India region to EVP overseeing international operations, and Dana Dunne will replace outgoing Phillip Rowley as head of AOL Europe, CNET reports.
The moves are part of a senior management restructuring effort, as a result of which a slew of high-level execs have left the company in recent weeks.
Dhir, who will report directly to AOL President and COO Ron Grant, will work from the company's offices in Bangalore, India, IT News Online reports. Dunne will report directly to Dhir.
Dunne will attempt to expand AOL Europe's online-advertising operations after the unit sells off its internet access businesses in the region. Previously, Dunne was the president of Belgian telecommunications company Belgacom.

Net Vid ads effective

Study: Net vid ads effective
By Alex Woodson

Jan 24, 2007
NEW YORK -- Advertising on broadband platforms can be just as lucrative as traditional television advertising as marketers continue to find new ways to tap into sponsorship and promo opportunities on emerging platforms, according to a report to be issued today by Nielsen Analytics.

The study, entitled "Whatever, Whenever, Wherever: How Broadband Is Redefining the Economics of Television," contends that as marketers continue to learn how to use the Internet to their advantage, broadband video advertising can actually be a more effective way to reach consumers than traditional ad models.

"The study concludes that programrs have the opportunity to create new revenue models to benefit content owners and their affiliated stations," said study author Larry Gerbrandt, head of Nielsen Analytics. "With broadband streams, for example, fast forwarding through commercials can be disabled making it more likely the consumers will watch the spots and possibly interact with them."

The interactive nature of the Internet also allows marketers to experiment with different ways to advertise and connect with their audience, said the report. The study mentions that marketers have had success with Google-owned YouTube and News Corp.'s, in particular.

"Ad models can be customized and managed in a broadband environment," Gerbrandt said. "Interactivity can be embedded into the program in such a way as to enhance engagement which does not take viewers away from the enjoyment of the program."


At the same time, the study affirms that viewing video on broadband platforms has not come at the expense of traditional TV watching for many viewers. Household television usage has climbed consistently by more than an hour per day during the past decade, peaking at an average of more than eight hours a day during the 2005-06 TV season.

Nielsen Analytics is owned by Nielsen Co., the parent company of The Hollywood Reporter. The study was completed in partnership with Scarborough Research.

Consumers Willing to Trade Off Privacy for Electronic Personalization

According to The 2006 ChoiceStream Personalization Survey, the number of consumers willing to provide demographic information in exchange for a personalized online experience has grown dramatically over the past year, increasing 24 percent to a total of 57 percent of all respondents.
The survey also finds that the number of consumers willing to allow Web sites to track their clicks and purchases increased 34 percent from the previous year. And the results show no significant decline in the number of consumers concerned about the security of their personal data online, with 62 percent expressing concern in 2006 vs. 63 percent in 2005.
Esther Dyson, an advisor to ChoiceStream, says "Consumers are... increasingly willing to let vendors know more about them in exchange for the convenience and relevance of personalization... For this model to work, it's critical that the vendors make it clear what's going on, so that the personalization feels friendly..."
Of the 30 percent of respondents indicating membership in a social network, 75 percent, indicated that personalization would improve their social networking experience by introducing them to members who share their tastes and interests.
The Survey reports that interest in personalization is spreading to consumers' television and mobile screens:
45 percent of survey respondents are dissatisfied with their current onscreen TV program guide because it takes too long to find programming of interest.
47 percent expressed interest in receiving a personalized guide to help them find shows and movies that match their tastes and interests
62 percent of all 18-24 year-olds expressed interest in personalization
37 percent of 50+ year-olds expressed interest
40 percent indicated that they would watch more VOD/PPV if it were easier to find programming and movies that matched [their] tastes and interests.
Almost 50 percent of Survey respondents indicated that they would be more likely to download ringtones, music or other content to their mobile devices if they were presented with choices based on their tastes and preferences.
Steve Johnson, CEO of ChoiceStream, said "... It's no longer enough for devices to simply provide consumers with access to content. They have to offer guidance to help... find the right content for them..."
Additional Survey results from ChoiceStream may be accessed through this link.

Monday, January 22, 2007

MediaTrust to Podcast 2007 Santa Barbara International Film Festival

NEW YORK CITY, January 22, 2007 – MediaTrust, Inc., an online marketing services company, today announced it has been selected to create and distribute video podcasts of the 2007 Santa Barbara International Film Festival (SBIFF). The Santa Barbara International Film Festival will take place from January 25 to February 4, 2007.

“In 2006, the Santa Barbara International Film Festival was the first domestic film festival to deliver video podcasts. For the second year in a row, the SBIFF will leverage MediaTrust’s leading-edge technology to bring the art of filmmaking to the broadest possible audience,” said Roger Durling, director, SBIFF. “The podcasts deliver a level of exposure to our participants that can’t be attained at other festivals - and at the same time - provides our local audience with podcasts with the industry’s most interesting talent for a period of time that far exceeds the dates of our Santa Barbara event.”

“Video podcasts provide visitors with a look ‘behind the scenes’ in a series of interviews with directors, producers, actors and others,” said Joseph Matheney, chief technology officer, MediaTrust. “We are pleased to partner with the most technology-savvy film festival in the country to allow participants a peak behind the curtains, long after the show has ended.”

MediaTrust’s Matheney and several local celebrities including Dian Van Patten from Fox’s hit television series 24, and Scott Parent from Adam Curry’s PodShow and Sirius Radio, will team-up at the SBIFF to conduct exclusive in-person interviews with Will Smith, Tom Cruise, Sacha Baron Cohen and others.

The 2007 SBIFF will highlight an all-star cast of the film industry’s top talent. The Festival will recognize the following award recipients:
• Will Smith: 2007 Modern Master Award
• Forest Whitaker: 2007 American Riviera Award
• Al Gore and Davis Guggenheim: 2007 Attenborough Award for Excellence in Nature Filmmaking
• Helen Mirren: 2007 Outstanding Performance Award
• Bill Condon: 2007 Montecito Award

Dedicated to the art of filmmaking, the SBIFF offers a broad array of international and independent films, with a commitment to diversity. It attracts more than 43,000 visitors each year. The SBIFF endeavors to enrich the community both culturally and economically by presenting eleven days of films, seminars, symposiums and parties. Films from American Independents to major studio releases, to award-winning foreign films and international documentaries, cinephiles have the opportunity to discover mainstream and alternative films, as well as meet the filmmakers and talk with them after screenings. SBIFF is in its 22nd year.

A donation of goods and services from MediaTrust will allow the proceedings of a number of the Festival’s highly attended and entertaining events to be available as both audio and video podcasts to the general public. SBIFF podcasts are available for download at Also making the SBIFF podcasts available will be Apple iTunes, at

About MediaTrust
MediaTrust ( is an online marketing services company comprised of AdValiant, an affiliate performance network, and AdVario, a proprietary ad-serving technology. MediaTrust offers a ‘one-stop-shop’ for technology and services across all online marketing channels including: affiliate and search marketing, contextual and display advertising, lead generation, e-mail marketing, proprietary ad-serving technology, mobile marketing, data management, Web publishing, list management, and RSS and podcast marketing. MediaTrust’s experienced marketing services organization ensures that each media campaign is uniquely customized for each advertiser and publisher.

MediaTrust delivers real-time, relevant, and intelligent performance-based online marketing campaigns that create awareness, generate leads, drive sales, and retain customers.

Media Contact:
Christine Cefalo for MediaTrust
Cefalo Communications

User-Generated Video: Promotable Or Perishable?

by Alan Schulman, Monday, January 22, 2007
NOW THAT WE'RE COMFORTABLY ENSCONCED in the culture of the viral video du jour, it seems only natural that more and more advertisers want to jump on the bandwagon. Which is a good thing for some of us in that we're finally getting our advertisers out of the habit of relying too much on :30 network TV spots, trade spiffs, a few print ads and some quarterly coupon drops--and getting them to think more about the emerging media imperative.

The danger in this, if you're on the agency side, is, you're damned if you do, and damned if you don't. If you're proactive and run out and sell your advertiser on the value of drafting off this momentum with another user-generated video contest, tying it to a campaign idea, posting it on the advertiser's Web site, YouTube or Google, and letting the home videos begin, you run the risk of being accused by the next CMO of being:
a) too tactical;
b) me-too;
c) amateurish; or
d) all of the above.

On the other hand, if you sit idly by and bask in the glow of your last TV campaign's million-dollar production values while your client reads the latest viral numbers on YouTube's most popular videos in The Wall Street Journal, then you run the risk of:
a) watching your client make a deal directly with two up-and-coming film-student-come-music-video directors who pitched them on a really "quirky" viral video idea;
b) having to write a POV on why you didn't inform your client about YouTube earlier;
c) not being innovative enough; or
d) all of the above.

What to do? Take a step back.

Viral video push is a big bonus to a well-conceived and executed media plan, but it's not in itself a substitute for a big brand Idea. And don't confuse trends with trendy. The trend is consumer as creator, not consumer as creative director. If we use it properly, as some consumer researchers and fan culture monitors are doing, the consumer as creator trend can provide lots of valuable insights into how people perceive and interact with brands, how much cultural currency those brands posses, and their real relevance to different segments. This is the trend to draft off of -- not the trendy.

Trendy are the terrifically clever one-off spoofs, commercial parodies and even laugh-out-loud amateur commercials being posted which, in most cases, lose their relevance and cultural currency almost as quickly as they gain it. They simply aren't grounded in the equity of a smartly conceived brand idea that leaves you longing to see the next one, and the next one and the next one. They're more like the photos you take on your cell phone -- made fresh daily, portable and perishable.

Which is not to say there haven't been great user-generated commercials whose humor might trump that of the Creative AOR's actual brand campaign. The question is, over time, which is truly promotable and which becomes perishable? Only the consumer knows for sure.

It's gutsy to throw your campaign idea out there to the hand-held consumer cameras and see how well they can draft off of your idea. Cadillac, Chevy, Coke and many others have blazed the trail, so you too can follow if you wish. But as the video shorts come rolling in, be sure you're mining for the right brand measures. Then, check their expiration date. We're living in times when we consume and spit out that which is considered "new" at an extraordinarily fast pace, so those user-generated videos you just collected are likely to become perishable... long before your campaign idea does.

adCenter Labs Shows off 'Breakthroughs,' Video Hyperlinks

Microsoft is this week offering what it says is a "glimpse at the future of online advertising" and announced that its video hyperlink technology will debut ahead of schedule.

Microsoft's third-annual Demo Fest two-day gathering in Redmond is showcasing "breakthrough digital advertising tools" by Microsoft adCenter Labs, which is tasked with spawning innovations for Microsoft's adCenter platform.

Microsoft adCenter Labs will work with a national retailer this spring to bring the first Video Hyperlink ad pilot to MSN, Microsoft said. The ad will feature a video segment with embedded hyperlinks for featured products. Those who click on the products will be taken to a page on the retailer's website where they can purchase the item.

"At last year's Demo Fest we said that this technology would take us three to five years to get to market, but due to overwhelming community feedback we've been able to release it in just one year," said Tarek Najm, distinguished engineer and general manager of Microsoft adCenter.

The seven focus areas of adCenter Labs are keyword and content technologies, ad selection and relevance, audience intelligence, social networking, video, platforms, and devices. Among the technologies being developed by the 120 or so Microsoft adCenter Labs researchers and engineers are the following (as described by Microsoft):

Keyword Services Platform. The platform provides a set of web service APIs related to keyword technologies, including keyword recommendation, forecasting, categorization and monetization, enabling developers to build more intelligent applications for online advertising and beyond.
Commercial intent detection. Advanced keyword analysis helps differentiate consumers who want to make an online purchase from those who are searching for information about products or performing other tasks.
Large display feedback. Vision-based technology creates interactive public displays that can measure the size of the audience, as well as track audience gestures and estimate demographics.
Social video sharing. This is a next-generation video-sharing solution that features a synchronized "commenting" technology. The introduction of in-video, synchronized comments enables a new level of interaction between users, opening up the video as a medium for collaboration.
Content classification. By accurately analyzing and matching the Web pages included in search results, Microsoft adCenter Labs technology helps increase the probability that the ads displayed during web searches are relevant to consumers.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Big Media’s Crush on Social Networking

Katherine Streeter

Published: January 21, 2007
I WAS wandering around recently in Second Life, the much-ballyhooed online virtual world, and had a nice chat with one of its “residents.” But at the end of the talk he (or perhaps she; you never really know in these digital dioramas, where anyone can create an identity and just about anything else) asked if he could add me to his “friends” list and thereby keep tabs of my comings and goings in the online world. “Sure,” I replied, not because I was yearning to keep in touch but because it just struck me as rude to turn down such an invitation.

Last week, a similar episode occurred in my real life, when I prepared to leave a meeting with someone I had never met before but really liked. This time, my host asked me if I was part of LinkedIn, a buzzy Web site intended to link people with similar business interests. The site has gained much attention in the tech industry: Business 2.0 magazine recently hailed it as “MySpace for grownups.” (MySpace, the social networking site owned by Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation, is, of course, the ne plus ultra of such Web sites, where young and youngish people put all kinds of information about themselves online in search of friends, dates, music and whatever.)

In the case of LinkedIn, I was privately relieved to be able to say that I had not yet joined, although I noticed that people kept asking me if I was a member. And, I must acknowledge that the invitation, like the one in Second Life, irked me on some level — though it was a nice gesture after one meeting. It struck me as far more personal than just exchanging business cards, yet less of a commitment than adding someone to your instant-message “buddy list.” Yet a tad forward nonetheless: like a three-cheek kiss from strangers on a distant shore.

Don’t get me wrong. I like people, and interacting with so many of them is one of the great pleasures of my job. And, heck, all that journalists do all day long is call people who may not want to hear from them. But that said, I have always recoiled at the use of the word “network” as a verb. I wouldn’t want to join any social networking Web site that would want me as a member. You might say that I am into antisocial networking.

I say this in full recognition of the rampaging popularity of social networks and the fact that big media companies — particularly the large club that still envies Mr. Murdoch’s snatching of MySpace in 2005 for what now looks like a knockdown price — have developed a full-bore teenage crush on these businesses.

Social networking is a close cousin of the other obsession of the moment: user-generated content. Of course, there is a difference. User-generated content is basically anything someone puts on the Web that is not created for overtly commercial purposes; it is often in response to something professionally created, or is derivative of it. So, it could be a blog, a message board, a homemade video on YouTube, or a customer’s book review on

Social networking, on the other hand, is something potentially deeper — it represents a way to live one’s life online. In many ways, it is the two-dimensional version of what sites like Second Life aspire to be in 3-D: the digital you. And that ties to another earnestly overused term of art at the moment: engagement.

Engagement basically refers to the amount of time people spend doing one thing — reading a magazine, watching a TV show — but also to the depth of their participation. Do they vote on “American Idol”? Flock to Disneyland? Go to the NBC Web site after “The Office” to watch deleted scenes? Or, now, do they integrate their favorite media into their digital personas?

Sony, for instance, paid $65 million for a video-sharing site called and started a nifty service through which you can load your favorite clip from one of its movies — say, Jack Nicholson barking, “You can’t handle the truth” at Tom Cruise in “A Few Good Men” — onto your MySpace or Facebook page.

Over the last few weeks, other media companies have accelerated their efforts in social networking. For example, the Hearst Corporation on Jan. 8 bought a small company called And the Walt Disney Company, the CBS Corporation, Viacom and NBC have all been busy planning new social networking features for their various Web sites.

Many of the ventures sound like logical extensions of existing media brands because, hey, media companies are all about attracting and keeping audiences and then figuring out ways to bring them closer to marketers.

Hearst’s acquisition of eCrush and related Web sites fits nicely with a coming revamp of, and other online publications for teenagers. One of the sites it acquired,, is basically a flirting site for teenagers that vets its participants’ information before matching kids up, to keep the fun clean and safe. So far, the site has attracted more than 3.8 million “hotties” (its term).

Chuck L. Cordray, the vice president for Hearst Magazines Digital, noted that part of the appeal of eCrush is that it is a stand-alone business that can also become a feature of other Hearst online ventures.

“It’s a new way of fulfilling a mission magazines have fulfilled for some time, which is creating communities of interest,” Mr. Cordray said.

What is striking about many of these mainstream media ventures into social networking is that they mirror the big debate over whether Internet surfers will continue to migrate to big portal sites like AOL and Yahoo or will use widely available tools to fashion their own customized Web lives.

According to the online ratings firm ComScore Media Metrix, most of the Top 10 social networking sites as of December 2006 were still big portals like MySpace, Facebook, Yahoo Geocities, Lycos Tripod and AOL. Of course, if social networking soon becomes a popular feature of existing media brands’ Web efforts, its success will be measured by how much it drives traffic and revenue to existing brands, not just by whether it creates winning new ones. For now, NBC, like Disney, is placing most of its bets on integrating features like personalized pages into its existing Web sites rather than trying to build new destinations.

IT can be a tricky business when audiences evolve from being consumers to members. For instance, the need to keep out the wrong element adds a new layer of complexity to the media mix.

MySpace, which according to ComScore Media Metrix attracts more than one-third of the entire social networking audience in the United States, was sued last week by several families who accused it of negligence and recklessness; they said predators were introduced to their underage daughters on the site. MySpace denied any wrongdoing but has been working on ways to make the site safer.

Know this: if you are part of the social networking wave, you will have all the “friends” you can handle. The invite is the new handshake. Get ready for a lot of opportunities to join all kinds of networks — and, one hopes, some appropriately Webby new way to politely say, “No, thank you.

Friday, January 19, 2007

Don’t Like the Dancing Cowboys? Results Say You Do

January 18, 2007

Most online advertisements are becoming less obtrusive and more tailored to the interests of individual Web users. Among the stubborn holdouts are the two-stepping cowboys, frisky rooftop dancers and weird tattoos in ubiquitous Web banners from

The company, one of the Internet’s biggest advertisers, routinely festoons Web sites large and small with its ads, spending $74.6 million on them in the first 11 months of 2006, according to TNS Media Intelligence. The surprising success of the ads led LowerMyBills to a significant payday: the credit agency Experian bought the eight-year-old company for $400 million in 2005.

But on the path to prosperity, LowerMyBills has run into a lot of people who say the undulating characters in the ads are highly distracting and have so little to do with low-interest loans that they border on the surreal.

The most memorable LowerMyBills banners feature silhouetted dancers like the prancing cowboys, or the couple doing a jig on their roof under a full moon. In another ad, a suited man wildly pumps his fists under the headline “$510,000 Mortgage for under $1,698/month.”

In variations of these ads that are ever stranger, the same figures are tattooed onto arms or shaved into hair.

“The ads are like a Monty Python sketch,” said Dev Ravindran, a software developer from Jersey City who created a blog to track and humorously critique the ads ( “Some of them are so out of the blue they make no sense.”

Rogers Cadenhead, an author and blogger, resorted to tinkering with his computer to block all ads from the company. “I was trying to read a news article and realized the dancing mortgage people were eliminating all rational thought from my brain,” he said.

There may be few online ads less aimed at a specific audience than the LowerMyBills dancers, who are equally likely to perform their fanciful boogie on a bulletin board for hockey enthusiasts as next to an article related to home finance or on a mortgage-related site. (They also appear on the Web site of The New York Times.)

Matt R. Coffin, the co-founder and chief executive of LowerMyBills, said the company’s ad campaign represented a return to traditional advertising principles rather than an embrace of the latest conventional wisdom.

“Building a brand is often about being different, and we are always looking for new and innovative ways to attract the attention of consumers interested in lowering their bills,” he said.

Mr. Coffin said that the company closely tracks the performance of its ads, removing the ones that do not attract clicks, and that the banners are highly effective at getting Internet users to fill out loan applications. “If you keep seeing the same ads, that means they are working,” he said.

Internet companies like LowerMyBills are called lead generators because they take loan applications filled out by customers who click the ads and give them to actual lenders like Citibank, which pay them for the referrals. The company’s success hinges on buying lots of low-cost ad space on Web sites and then persuading users to click.

But on Web bulletin boards, the ads are drawing a lot of criticism. In one discussion of the company, a user calling herself Jane Dough wrote, “Even if they had the best interest rate around, I would still find myself thinking, ‘But aren’t they the cheesy company with the stupid dancing people?’ ”

In another discussion last week on the site of the band the Beastie Boys, fans of the group pondered the prevalence of the ads and in particular the woman on the rooftop, who appears to have cornrows in her hair and an unusual body shape for a model.

Others wonder what the dancers have to do with home equity loans or debt consolidation. Mr. Coffin said by way of explanation: “Our view is that people are crazy about saving money, and when they do save money they are very happy.”

But that does not explain other LowerMyBills ads, like the ones featuring a dog wearing goggles and a scampering duck.

One person who can shed some light on the LowerMyBills mystique is Jennifer Uhll, a 35-year-old graphic artist from Los Angeles who joined LowerMyBills in 2002 and became creative director in 2005. She left the company last summer to start her own firm, Juhll Inc.

Ms. Uhll said the company has included maps of the United States in its ads for years, ever since executives read a brochure about online advertising that said people responded to the chance to specify their home states. Most LowerMyBills ads include this feature, though it seems to have little effect on the loan application that people are asked to fill out.

Ms. Uhll said she first used the silhouettes in January 2005, in an ad featuring a woman blowing colorful bubbles that represented the 50 states. Four months later, another LowerMyBills ad with three prancing, high-kicking sheep under the headline “Mortgage Rates Hit Record Lows!” also performed well.

So Ms. Uhll combined the two concepts, animating her silhouetted, pony-tailed woman with a swaying modern dance. Ms. Uhll said she is a dancer and took a variety of dancing classes for more than a decade. She is also a fan of the pet sequences in “America’s Funniest Home Videos,” which relates to the animal ads.

“I usually put into my creative work what I love and what makes me happy and gets my attention,” she said.

Ms. Uhll said her online advertisements for financial companies, including ones she created before and after she worked for LowerMyBills, typically earned around $4 in lender referral fees for each dollar spent on the ad. The average for most lead-generation companies is less than $2 earned for each dollar spent on Web ads.

LowerMyBills, which is based in Santa Monica, Calif., declined to say exactly how effective its ads are, and it seemed eager to prevent that information from becoming public. After Ms. Uhll spoke to a reporter, she said, the company sent her two e-mail messages and a formal legal letter, warning of her continued obligations and saying it was “extremely sensitive to the disclosure of confidential information.”

Ms. Uhll said she is aware of Internet users who hate the LowerMyBills ads and she does question whether the ads pollute the Internet, as some assert. But she said she decided that “there are lots of people who are glad they saw the ad and ended up paying a lot less money.”

Many online advertising experts express a grudging respect for the work of Ms. Uhll and her successors at LowerMyBills. “I do have a bit of admiration for the company,” said James Gardner of the online ad archive, which maintains a collection of LowerMyBills ads. “They are very comfortable flying in the face of scorn and ridicule.”

Timothy Hanlon, a senior vice president at the Starcom MediaVest Group, a media communications firm, called the company a “bottom feeder,” but he added: “The last time I checked, advertising was designed to draw people’s attention. On that level, LowerMyBills succeeds with a gold star.”

Mr. Coffin was not apologetic about his company’s methods. “One thing we will probably expand to the nth degree are the dancing silhouette ads,” he said. “It’s a great opportunity to double down on a proven winner.”

Display Ads Disappearing from E-Mail Sites

JANUARY 17, 2007

Now you see them, now you don't.

Display advertising is a large part of the revenues at major e-mail sites; nevertheless, it apparently is becoming a smaller part.

According to Nielsen//NetRatings AdRelevance, e-mail sites garnered just 44.2% of banner ads in December 2006, down from November's 47.5% and October's 51.1%.

Of course, it should be noted that display advertising fell slightly overall in December. Online advertisers ran 257.7 billion display ads last month, compared to 259.6 billion in November.

The top five advertiser categories for display ads for December was led by financial services, accounting for 29% of online display ads, up from 25% in November. Web media was the second-largest category, with 17% of impressions, though down from 20% in November. Retail goods and services accounted for 16% of impressions, flat from November; telecoms accounted for 13%, up from 10% in November; and public services held the fifth spot with 6%, down from 9% in November.

Nielsen//NetRatings also reported that, as usual, Google was the top search provider in November, as ranked by total searches, followed, by quite a ways, by Yahoo! and MSN.

Nielsen//NetRatings estimated that 3.1 billion search queries were conducted on Google, representing some 50% of all search queries conducted during the month.

According to comScore Networks, in December the story was much the same, with Google sites capturing 47.3% of the US search market, a slight .4% gain over November. Yahoo! grew .3%, maintaining its second-place ranking with 28.5% of US searches, and MSN was third at 10.5% of searches.

By comScore's calculations, Americans conducted 6.7 billion searches in December, up 1% over November.

For more information on online advertising trends, read eMarketer's US Online Ad Spending report.

That Slope Is Just Getting Slipperier

George Simpson

As if air pollution, astronomical real estate prices and the possibility of running into The Donald weren't reason enough to sprint to suburbia, here comes this news item from a New York Times story: "Yankelovich, a market research firm, estimates that a person living in a city 30 years ago saw up to 2,000 ad messages a day, compared with up to 5,000 today."

Since the story was about place-based ads, one assumes the 5,000 messages don't include those we encounter in media--which, you will recall from earlier Over The Line dispatches, is where we bury our noses for about three hours a day. A single network prime-time TV show now has 634 ads per hour (956 if you count the promos they scroll under or paste over the content itself). The only good news is that ads are continuing to disappear from your newspapers and magazines. The bad news is that when they lose those cool auto ads, magazines replace them with cheapo, classified-looking ads from the retail equivalent of penis and breast enhancement creams, crapping up their layouts and just adding to the clutter.

But the bottom line is that overloading consumers with ads to the point that they can't sit quietly in a toilet stall without having to see commercial messages just puts them further over the edge, so they just hate the ad industry more than ever and forget how useful (and occasionally entertaining) ads can be to their lives.

Like everyone else, I have online ad blockers and I fast-forward through TV shows I have recorded. I either change channels during live TV commercials--or hit the mute and read a magazine for the duration of the break. (Given the length of most newsmagazine stories now, I can nearly complete an entire issue in two pods). I never listen to commercial radio anymore, since their ads are THE MOST obnoxious of all media. I am happy to pay for XM, which I listen to in the car and almost all day online. I only look at newspaper ads that have SALE in big letters plastered across them. ANYTHING related to advertising that comes in the mail (no matter how cleverly or deceptively designed to get me to open it) is dumped unread into the trash. In other words, I am a pretty typical consumer.

But at least I acknowledge that I love ads that are relevant to what I am in the market for on any given day. I don't really care which medium delivers them to me, either (except that online has spoiled me with instant gratification, so if a print or TV ad asks me to dial a number or go to a store, our love affair pretty much ends right then and there.)

I grew up on the premise that advertising was a form of information, and therefore useful for the consumer. But as ad exposure has climbed beyond the 5,000 units a day, the contest to gain my attention has resulted in the pollution of most urban landscapes, TV screens, print layouts and my computer screen. There was a story yesterday about a woman who produces some of the Internet's most annoying ads, which use constant motion to get your attention. While some might see her as a kind of ad industry folk-hero for producing ads that seem to work for her client, I suspect most consumers would rather she be drawn and quartered in Iraqi justice system-time.

I appreciate that one man's "best ad of the year" is the next man's "if-I-see-that-goddamned-spot-one-more-time-I-will-pitch-the-plasma-out-the-door," and that at the end of the day, it all comes down to what moves product out the door, but I would not underestimate consumer backlash to too-many-ads-trying-too-hard-to-get-my-attention. I know people who won't buy from companies just because they got a telemarketing call from them, or hate seeing the same ads run during every college bowl and pro playoff game. OK, it's me. But I am not alone (I don't think).

Too many in the ad industry chuckle when people in focus groups say they hate ads--but then go out and buy the product anyway. But all we've done is foster a resentment that will be reflected in enhanced electronic measures to avoid ads at all. Including the ones that we might have really wanted to see.

Europe: One Continent, Many Online Ad Markets

JANUARY 18, 2007

Online, the old world now looks like a new frontier.

After years of being viewed as laggards in online advertising, the countries of Europe are catching up — and fast.

"eMarketer estimates online ad spending will hit $7.5 billion in Western Europe this year, up 25% from $6.0 billion in 2006," says Lisa Phillips, eMarketer senior analyst and the author of the new Europe Online Advertising: Spend, Trend and Audience report. "It is literally gobbling up ad dollars from other media."

This year, the Internet will comprise 7.3% of total European ad spending — ahead of radio and out-of-home — but by 2010 it will account for 9.4% of all ad spending, at the expense of newspapers (28.1%) and magazines (15.8%). TV's share of the market will grow slightly, to reach 34.4% in 2010.

More than half (51%) of the growth in online ad spending in Europe has come at the expense of other media, according to the "Marketers Internet Ad Barometer" report, published by the European Interactive Advertising Association (EIAA).

"Europe as a region is far from homogeneous, and advertising strategies must employ both national and pan-European elements," says Ms. Phillips. "The vast majority of online ad budgets are allocated by country, but regional and pan-European teams of marketers have strong influence."

There are definitely challenges ahead.

Nevertheless, marketers surveyed by the EIAA, representing global and European brands, expect the online spend to grow 67% between 2006 and 2008.

In the UK the Internet is expected to account for as much as 18% of all media spending this year, according to GroupM.

The UK is also the most expensive country in the world for online advertisers. eMarketer estimates that advertisers will spend $217 per Internet user in the UK in 2010, compared with $136 per French user and only $10 per Italian user.

By comparison, the US audience seems a bargain. Advertisers spent $86 per American user in 2006, and they are projected to spend only $130 per user in 2010.

"And don't forget Central and Eastern Europe," says Ms. Phillips. "As of right now, it is the fastest-growing region for advertising in Europe."

Even though its ad spend equaled just 27% of the ad market in Western Europe in 2006, ZenithOptimedia predicts the region will grow to a total of $13.8 billion by 2009, overtaking Western Europe, which will account for $12.9 billion.

Online advertising is keeping pace in Eastern Europe as well. Internet advertising in the region will grow 28.6% this year, to $292 million, based on PricewaterhouseCoopers/Wilkofsky Gruen Associates data, and hit $482 million in 2010. That year, Poland will account for 44.8% of Internet spending in the region, or $216 million, followed by Russia with a 32.4% share, or $156 million.

Keep pace with this diverse and dynamic market, read eMarketer's new Europe Online Advertising: Spend, Trend and Audience report today.