Posts Tagged ‘advertising’

And Then There Was One, as Disney Picks Single Digital Leader

November 12, 2013  |  All Things Digital  |  No Comments

Earlier today, Disney said — what is likely not much of a shock to anyone — that it was handing over the reins of its interactive division to one of its two co-presidents, Jimmy Pitaro. That means John Pleasants, who was the other co-president and was located in Silicon Valley, is leaving the kingdom, merging the games and media units under one leader in Los Angeles. Pleasants, as happens in these kinds of things, will be a strategic consultant to Disney Interactive. The reorganization of the unit comes three years after the Pitaro, a former Yahoo media exec, and Pleasants, who came to Disney via its acquisition of Playdom, were paired . Disney Interactive recently reported its second quarterly profit of $16 million on sales of $396 million, in what has been an uphill effort over the past decade for the the entertainment giant. Under the regime of former CEO Michael Eisner — many digital moons ago and which I covered since I am so dang old — Disney bought search engine Infoseek and tried to create a portal called That failed, and was one of many efforts to define the media company’s Web goals. More recently, in 2008, Disney gathered most of its Internet properties under Steve Wadsworth. Then came the pairing of Pitaro and Pleasants. And now, just Pitaro. Disney said it “will move forward with a singular strategy for driving revenue and advertising across key platforms and franchises,” such as Disney Infinity — a big Pleasants project — and Club Penguin.

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Today’s Giant Media Event, Brought to You – and Owned – by Google

November 3, 2013  |  All Things Digital  |  No Comments

Remember when Google was a technology company that didn’t want to be in the media business? Actually, that was always a stretch, since Google has been selling ads since 2000, and soon after that became one of the world’s most powerful media companies, no matter how it liked to describe itself. Now Google has stopped pretending. And it is doing a lot more than selling ads around other people’s content – it’s investing in content itself. See, for example: Zagat , Frommer’s , Machinima , Vevo , dozens of YouTube channels , and 300, Lyor Cohen’s new record label . And if you don’t want to click on any of those links, head to YouTube tonight at 6pm eastern, where the world’s largest video site is putting on its own awards show , designed to occupy some of the same pop cultural turf now claimed by spectacles like the Grammy’s and the VMAs. As the Verge reminds us, YouTube has tried to do something a little like this before.  But YouTube Live was mostly a celebration of things that only existed because of YouTube, like Tay Zonday . And it ended up being a pretty modest celebration . Tonight’s YouTube Music Awards are supposed to be big big big, featuring people lots of people have heard of, like Lady Gaga and Eminem. Director Spike Jonze, who made it big in music videos back when music videos were still something you watched on MTV, is coordinating the whole thing. And YouTube promises that the whole thing will run a tight 90 minutes, which is a big deal for a company that plays it by ear quite a bit. What’s most striking about today’s event is that the concept isn’t really that striking at all: Music videos and YouTube are now synonymous , and have been for a long time.

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Cable Upfront Haul Passes the $10 Billion Mark

October 21, 2013  |  Media Week  |  No Comments

While the national cable TV networks continue to siphon off upfront dollars from the broadcasters, the days of torrid double-digit volume increases appear to be a thing of the past. According to calculations made by the Cabletelevision Advertising Bureau , ad-supported cable networks generated a record $10.2 billion in 2013-14 upfront commitments, marking a 4 percent uptick versus the year-ago period. And while that’s hardly what anyone would characterize as chump change, it is the smallest year-to-year increase in five years. (The recession-wracked 2009-10 cable bazaar was down 11 percent from a then-record $7.6 billion; that same year, the Big Four broadcasters saw upfront dollars plummet 22 percent to $6.88 billion.) Last year’s cable haul was up 5 percent to $9.8 billion, a “normalized” result that paled in comparison to the 16 percent increase in the 2011-12 upfront and a plus-19 percent result in 2010-11. Cable upfront sales have been on the rise for the last four years, as commitments have increased 52 percent since the last downturn. Ad-supported cable nets have out-earned the English-language broadcasters three years running; this summer, ABC, CBS, NBC, Fox and the CW stitched together an estimated $9.15 billion in upfront sales. The competitive balance between the two sectors has been shaken up by the sheer amount of quality programming now available on cable as well as the inherent efficiencies of the business. On a CPM basis, prime-time inventory on a top 20 cable net costs about one-third as much as that on the broadcast nets. (Obviously, outliers like TV’s top-rated scripted series, The Walking Dead , and ESPN’s Monday Night Football, don’t conform to the tertiary trend.) CAB president and CEO Sean Cunningham attributes cable’s strong showing to a combination of factors, although the synthesis of TV and on-demand/streaming sales seems to have helped move the needle this year. Over the course of the summer bazaar, cable nets locked in approximately a half-billion dollars in online video revenue. “Throughout our meetings with agencies and advertisers we handed off a ton of proof-points about our brands, our record-breaking original programs, our role as dominant content over five screens (including social TV), and the incredibly high amount of consumer hours spent monthly with ad-supported cable brands—some 94 hours-per-month on TV and the Internet combined,” Cunningham said.

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Google, Facebook Call an Ad Tech Truce: DoubleClick Is Coming to the Facebook Exchange

October 18, 2013  |  All Things Digital  |  No Comments

Diaframma / Google and Facebook are the Web’s biggest advertising heavyweights, and fierce rivals. So it wasn’t surprising that when Facebook launched its Facebook Exchange ad-selling platform in 2012, it ended up working with just about everyone in ad tech except for Google. But now that is changing. Google announced today that its DoubleClick unit will soon be working with Facebook Exchange, which lets advertisers show ads to Facebook users based on their travels outside of Facebook’s pages . In English: Facebook is going to sell ads to Google’s ad buyers.

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Foursquare Opens Up Its Self-Serve Ad Platform

October 14, 2013  |  All Things Digital  |  No Comments

Asa Mathat / If you want to be a big Web/mobile company that makes money selling advertising, then eventually you need to give small advertisers the ability to buy ads from you without talking to another human. Facebook built this kind of self-serve ad business a few years ago, and Twitter is building one, too . Google makes a ton of money from self-serve. And now Foursquare has one , too. If you’re a Foursquare user, you probably won’t notice any change to the service, but if you look very carefully, you may see more local shops and restaurants pitching you in places where Denny’s used to buy ads. The change is on the flip side, where Foursquare has built a platform that lets a local bar or restaurant buy an ad without ever picking up the phone. Foursquare started testing the software this summer , and says it has tried it out with a thousand buyers so far. Now anyone can buy an ad on a cost-per-action basis, as long as they’re willing to spend at least $50 a month. If Foursquare is going to be a standalone business, self-serve will be important. If it eventually ends up selling to someone like Apple or Yahoo, presumably for the value of the data it has built up over the last four years, its ad platform won’t really matter that much. What still matters a lot to Foursquare is whether more people are using the once-buzzy discovery service

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Life Is But a Stream at Yahoo These Days — But Will It Revive Ad Revenue?

October 13, 2013  |  All Things Digital  |  No Comments

If you look on any major destination content property on Yahoo these days — Finance, Sports, News — you get the picture pretty quickly. The presentation is a slightly numbing and decidedly robotic experience, a major shift away from Yahoo’s formerly edited and livelier content pages, removing almost all feeling that humans touched the page and underscoring that computer algorithms are now firmly in charge. Other than changing topics and different color schemes, the key properties all look exactly alike, an endless scrolling feed of news, now mostly from outside sources, with in-stream ads inserted periodically that look very similar to the content. It’s the ads, in fact, that are the real point. Arriving in April, these “Stream Ads” are now everywhere across the Yahoo universe, even in Yahoo Mail. The sponsored and targeted content is akin to those you might experience in Facebook’s News Feed, which has always looked this way. The move to embrace this native ad format — which Yahoo claims “matches the content and context of the pages” and works across all devices, especially mobile ones — is CEO Marissa Mayer’s big gamble on turning around what has become a very dicey situation for the Silicon Valley Internet company’s ever-declining advertising business. “This IS her big play on the ad side,” said one person familiar with the efforts with in-stream ads at Yahoo. “Everything else is just a sideshow to her.” That sideshow is largely referring to the depressing and persistently declining trends in Yahoo’s display business. While Yahoo has been upping its premium efforts — such as a billboard unit that drops down on pages with noisy movie trailers or flashy smartphone come-ons — many inside the company acknowledge that this is unlikely to turn the tide. Consider: In the last quarter, display ad sales dropped fell 12 percent from a year ago, with overall revenue dropping seven percent to $1.14 billion. And Wall Street analysts do not expect any dramatically improved results in the third-quarter results, set to be announced Tuesday after the markets close. While online advertising performance across the industry, including at rivals Facebook and Google, continues to rise strongly and in double-digits, it is expected that Yahoo will show little to no growth in its core business. Analysts are estimating that Yahoo will have 33 cents in adjusted earnings on revenue of $1.08 billion, compared to 35 cents on $1.09 billion in the same period a year ago. Mayer, who has been in the job 15 months, has acknowledged the problem in several earnings calls so far, noting that she is first focused on building up talent and products, before any being able to show any lasting improvement in revenue. Helping her out massively to bridge the gap is the gift that keeps on giving from China, in the form of a large Yahoo stake in the Alibaba Group. Its upcoming and ever-rising IPO valuation has kept Yahoo shares rising dramatically. Eventually, of course, the impressive work of Alibaba execs will not provide the lift for Yahoo, which is where in-stream ads presumably come in. Yahoo execs, who declined to be identified due to Mayer’s stringent no-leaks policy, said that Mayer has hopes that native ads will be a “third marketplace” for the company and, in time, its greatest driver of new revenue.

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Google Turns On Social Advertising, but Holds Back on Larger Personalization Play

October 11, 2013  |  All Things Digital  |  No Comments

Google will soon include users’ names and faces as endorsers in its advertising, it said today , via a terms of service change that will go into effect November 11. It’s the kind of advertising (your friend likes this brand, maybe you will too!) that has grown familiar to users of Facebook. But since this is Google, the ads draw from a smaller pool of active social networking users, yet have the potential to be displayed on Google’s much broader network of websites. The endorsements will come from people who have opted into Google+, which has 390 million monthly actives across Google. Google said it plans to add the names and photos of its users onto its ads, once they’ve indicated they like something by giving it +1’s, comments and follows on Google properties. Users can opt out of endorsements if they wish. The ads will only be shown to people who could see that information already, whether it’s friends, family or public. So it’s possible that even people who don’t use Google+ will see endorsements based on public content.

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Microsoft Denies Report of Ad Data Being Harvested From Xbox One’s Kinect

October 7, 2013  |  All Things Digital  |  No Comments

Asa Mathat / It’s still a month and a half away from launch , but Microsoft’s next-gen gaming console kicked up another messaging controversy over the weekend when Advertising Age reported that the Kinect camera, mandatorily bundled with the system, could be used to harvest marketing data about users. But Microsoft is flat-out denying that report, saying it was based on a misinterpretation of marketing and strategy VP Yusuf Mehdi’s onstage presentation at a marketing conference in Phoenix. The reporter did not interview Mehdi to confirm his interpretation of the speech, a company spokesperson said. The original report quoted Mehdi (pictured, top) as saying Microsoft’s strategy with the new console is to bridge offline and online worlds: “It’s early days, but we’re starting to put that together in more of a unifying way, and hopefully at some point we can start to offer that to advertisers broadly.” However, the company said that line was in reference to content that can carry over from the Xbox One into platforms like the second-screen companion , SmartGlass. “For example, just as Xbox SmartGlass allows companion mobile experiences that are synchronous to what is being watched on TV, advertisers could create new experiences unifying their content across devices,” the company said in an emailed statement.

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How to Sell Songs on iTunes If You’re Not Miley Cyrus or Katy Perry

October 3, 2013  |  All Things Digital  |  No Comments

In the old days, a couple of years ago, the best way to sell digital music was to get your song featured in an Apple commercial . New option: Get your song featured in the series finale of really popular show. More than 10 million people watched the last episode of “Breaking Bad” Sunday night, which means more than 10 million people listened to “Baby Blue”, Badfinger’s 1971 hit. And, as reports suggested earlier this week, a bunch of people bought the song that very night. Nielsen SoundScan says more than 5,300 digital copies of the song were purchased Sunday night. For comparison’s sake, the song sold 200 copies in the previous week, and had never moved more than 1,000 copies in a week . But even a really popular TV show can only do so much, and a song that came out four decades ago is still no match for people who were born a couple decades ago. “Baby Blue” has indeed vaulted onto iTunes top sales chart, but it’s down at 27, well below multiple entries from Katy Perry and Miley Cyrus. Entertainment Weekly has a charming interview with Joey Mulland, Badfinger’s sole surviving member (who won’t see a big check from the sales, but presumably will sell more concert tickets in venues like Panama City, Fla.). The New Yorker’s Ben Greenman has a very smart piece about the way Very Important TV Shows use pop music these days.

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Lauren Zalaznick to Leave NBCUniversal

September 27, 2013  |  Media Week  |  No Comments

Lauren Zalaznick is leaving NBCUniversal after 12 years, following a reorganization in February that put the networks in her portfolio under the control of Bonnie Hammer . In a memo to NBCU staffers, CEO Steve Burke on Friday said Zalaznick will stay at NBCU “to transition her current portfolio;” upon completion of that phase she will consult with the company “on digital media content and technology marketplace trends.” Zalaznick’s time at NBCU was characterized by an ability to make the sometimes disparate parts of the company portfolio flex in unison, particularly in the advertising world. Under her watch, Bravo became the No. 1 cable network for clients looking to reach affluent viewers. Over the past few years, she and Hammer acquired ever-broader and less-logical fiefdoms—Zalaznick oversaw Bravo , Oxygen and Style , but Hammer had E!; Zalaznick added digital and Hispanic responsibilities to her portfolio while Hammer took charge of the smaller Comcast nets. When NBCU brass scaled back Zalaznick’s responsibilities, stripping her of the networks in favor of an evp position that would find her managing the company’s digital division, the writing was on the wall. Although NBCU at the time vehemently denied talk of her imminent departure, insiders characterized the shift as a demotion. In the eight months since the re-org, Zalaznick has continued to be a visible part of the NBCU apparatus. In March, she appeared at SXSW to talk up TV Everywhere, and just weeks ago it was announced that she would receive the

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