Kindling With Ourselves
Jeff Bezos revived talk about the Kindle book reader this week in an address to the BookExpo Convention. Whenever a company won't say outright how many units it actually sold, the Roving Eyeball reaches for the Visine to get the red out. Instead, Bezos played the percentages game, saying that 6% of all of Amazon's titles that are available in paper and e-book format are now sold into the Kindle, a statistic which means little to nothing. Gee, could you parse that metric just a little more for us, Jeff? At the risk of getting slammed again by Kindle acolytes, the Eyeball would like to reiterate his original opinion here: It is a hopelessly hobbled test device that is two generations away from viability. As 2,800 reviewers at Amazon.com attest, there is a niche market for this kind of gadget, but don't mistake that for a platform or a market of any size. But the electronic ink technology driving the screen mimics only the size and look of a trade paperback. Worse, we still say that the button array, which makes it all too easy to advance and retreat through pages accidentally, is a fatal flaw. As a magazine reader, its lack of color and image fidelity makes it useless. The wireless distribution mechanism is inspired, we will admit, but that is not enough to make the Eyeball get all teary. Sorry, Kindle-ites, but this is one of those rare instances where the sales and distribution systems for a new technology are actually ahead of the device itself. Despite the recent revisionism regarding the Kindle, the Eyeball still says...wait a few years.
We're all video producers now, including the consumer brands. And in Business Casual, meet Alan Alda at his geekiest in a performance sponsored by The Week.
In min This Month
Reader's Digest, the original aggregator, makes everything old online new again; In B2B, we take the temperature of online communities and wonder why publishers aren't making better hay out of their own user data.
Also check out Steve Smith's minsider blog and min on Myspace.
Morgan Serves Up His Next Act
Veteran Internet advertising evangelist Dave Morgan starts the next stage of his career as chairman and partner in The Tennis Company, owner of Tennis Magazine and Tennis.com. Morgan, most recently head of global ad sales for AOL, had founded both Real Media Inc. and Tacoda. Tennis Company CEO Bob Miller says Morgan's arrival marks the brand's transformation into a multi-platform media company.
Fox's Jones Goes Mobile
Further evidence that traditional digital talent knows which way the wind blows. Former VP, digital marketing for 20th Century Fox, Liz Jones, moves to mobile marketing firm The Hyperfactory as VP, entertainment and media. Jones served at Fox for a decade in its film division and then at Fox Mobile. She will specialize in helping film, TV, music and game properties develop mobile campaigns. The Hyperfactory is among the most awarded mobile marketing companies in the U.S., working with brands like Coke, Toyota and Vodafone.
Hoenig and Reiter Crave Sales
Men's site CraveOnline expands its sales force with the hires of Doug Hoenig to sell the Midwest region and Danielle Reiter to cover the East Coast. Hoenig comes over from Comcast, where he worked on its media sites. Reiter has worked at Mindshare and CBSSports.com.
Resides: Seattle, Washington
Chaperone: Eric Hertz, CEO
Income: VC funded in part by Microsoft
Status: Working with major brands like AP, MTV, AOL, CMT, etc. to bring their widgets onto mobile
Call Me: zumobi.com
About Me: This Microsoft spin-off created an ad-supported widget platform for mobile. Running only on Windows Mobile for now, it soon will launch on BlackBerry and iPhone. It lets content publishers push dynamic content onto the phone and with ads via 16 customizable icons on the Zumobi deck. It also allows publishers to circumvent the carriers and push media onto phones in a more convenient format than most WAP-based solutions.
Resides: Salt Lake City, Utah
Chaperone: Tony Zito, CEO
Income: Privately funded
Status: Clients include Capitol Records, American Idol, Overstock.com and Mitt Romney
Call Me: 801-993-2286
About Me: This branded widget creator just launched a new and interesting distribution mechanism for Web applications, via display advertising. Rather than letting widgets sit undiscovered in increasingly cluttered libraries, the company created a rich media ad unit that contains the widget itself, which the user can pull into a social network or desktop... a good prospect for publishers looking for greater distribution.
||Research & Stat Snacks
Can Social Nets Make It Work?
An interesting bit of thumbnail estimation caught the Roving Eyeball this week, courtesy of our friend David Hallerman, analyst at eMarketer. Dave was arguing with himself about the real viability of social networks as ad platforms given advertiser reticence to play there. He did a rough calculation of the average ad revenue per unique visitor at major destinations that we found fascinating.
As Dave mentions, the remarkable thing here is not the enormous gulf between Google's and Yahoo's ability to monetize their users but the fact that the social nets are not as far behind as one might think given their bad rep as ad vehicles. Can they be monetized? Well, they already are being motenized, at a rate not far behind portals like MSN.
Google - $65.55
Yahoo - $31.25
Microsoft/MSN - $17.74
MySpace - $12.85
Facebook - $11.79
Sega's Got Game
In the beleaguered mobile game market, it is rare to hear a publisher tout success. Sega, however, says it that sold 8 million copies of the mobile Sonic the Hedgehog in its two years on U.S. and European phone decks. On the Verizon service alone, it enjoyed 3 million downloads, and across all wireless carriers it still sells through 100,000 copies a month. The game recreates the game play of the original Sonic games on the Sony Genesis system. However, mobile gaming generally has been a disappointment for the medium. It turns out that older classic titles like Sonic will satisfy a user for extended periods. Unlike console and PC gaming markets, the rate of actual purchasing (as opposed to playing) is lower than many in the industry had expected. But unlike other fame platforms, mobile games actually can increase their popularity over time, so two-year-old titles like this one, Tetris or Bejeweled fare better than many fresh new designs.
Trying to Turn Japanese
In the highly evolved Japanese mobile market, where publishers often receive 90% of the revenues from sites that run through carriers' decks, mobile ad spending was up 60% in 2007 to $621 million. A third of Japanese mobile users access mobile search every day. According to a new study of the Japanese market from Infinita, carrier cooperation, favorable revenue shares for publishers and standards for the mobile Web helped accelerate the platform in ways the U.S. market can only dream about.
Media buyers have been more confident about buying into the eco-system as they see all the players work in concert to create a consistent, reliable media buying experience. Will this happen here? Fat chance. Carrier competition and a general reticence to embrace the ad model by these networks make it almost impossible for such cooperation here. Here's hoping that outsiders like Google and Apple can open up the platform faster.
||M&A and Other Deals
Nielsen Unloads Four
Nielsen Business Media has sold American Artist, Drawing, Watercolor and Workshop magazines to Aspire Media's Interweave. The company will develop the titles, some of which date back to the 1930s, into multi-platform publishing brands. Nielsen still has roughly 40 titles and 195 digital products in its stable.
Collective Media Gathers Personifi
Ad network Collective Media buys current partner and ad targeting vendor Personifi for a price in the "low eight figures," according to Collective CEO Joe Apprendi, via VentureBeat. Personifi works with several networks to help refine their targeting with contextual technologies that read phrases on a given page. The move seems to be part of a necessary consolidation of ad network space. Media buyers are expressing confusion over the number of options while more and more publishers are complaining about working with networks. Turner Broadcasting is the latest big media company to announce plans to pull out of third-party ad networks and sell all of its own inventory.
comScore Dials Up Mobile
In comScore's $44.3 million purchase of M:Metrics, the two significant mobile measurement firms now have found homes in more traditional metrics powerhouses. Along with Telephia, now Nielsen-owned, M:Metrics helped pioneer the metering of mobile phone usage. Its more recent M:Ad product monitors the proliferation of ad units and brands across the mobile Web as well in much the same way AdRelevance has for the general Web. comScore and Nielsen have helped legitimize the mobile category by absorbing these companies. By going with comScore, M:Metrics now can compete more effectively in combining Web and mobile analytics and tracking media brands and advertisers across Web and mobile platforms.
Veoh Cancels Its Visa
So much for distributing everywhere and anywhere. Video aggregator for several major brands, Veoh, is restricting access to all but 33 countries according to NewTeeVee.com. The move seems designed to concentrate the company's marketing efforts more efficiently, and Veoh is promising more targeted ad products. Despite complaints pouring into its forums, a company spokesperson says the move cut out only about 10% of its audience. Clearly, we are in a second stage of video for many start-ups—figuring out how to make some real money off of this is now the real question.
CBS's New Eye on Video
The much-hyped CBS strategy to hyper-distribute its video far and wide will get a boost when its new video player launches in coming months. Promising new features that let users embed CBS premium content across social networks and personal sites, the company says it fully embraces an "open approach" to redistributing content wherever the user wants to plant it. In addition to easier sharing and embedding, the new player will allow video search as well as higher quality H.264 video playback for near-HD quality. We are already starting to see CBS videos embedded at some blog and news aggregation sites. The clips carry with them ad pre-rolls that CBS hopes will monetize the effort so that someone somewhere can actually make some money off of this digital video craze.
||Sites to See
Glam TV Pulls It All Together
Boasting launch partners Sony BMG, TVGuide, Lifetime, Turner Broadcasting and E! News, Glam Media launched its video aggregation player. Glam TV has a very usable, attractive interface that accesses clips across 14 vertical content areas. About a dozen thumbnails are served onto each page, which the user can sort and search in each vertical. Glam is promising a range of ad opportunities, although we saw only large static ad units to the side of the view window. Glam says it can offer, pre/mid/co/post rolls, overlays, and even page takeovers and targeting to day parts, audience, content and behavior. With 35 million unique users, Glam certainly has the potential to make a mark in the online video space. The Glam TV box has prominent placement on the front page.
Is That a Magazine on Your PS3?
In a novel content and distribution deal, gaming magazine publisher Future U.S. launches the "downloadable branded entertainment module" for the Playstation 3, dubbed Qore. The module will contain movie and game trailers, demos, console customizations and more. The first "issue" will be available June 5 for $2.99 via the Playstation Network store embedded on every Playstation 3. Future says it sold out the available ad units for the issue in weeks. There are six spots being filled by Burger King, Universal Pictures and Activision.
Gigya Gets Social
Widget maker Gigya is offering publishers a new Gigya Socialize product that helps users invite friends to participate in a site, share content and even see what their friends are doing on a site through a newsfeed. Users can build friends lists so they can share their online travels. By partnering with Gigya, a Web site can have its assets included in the network of users who share their data. Gigya says it manages over 41 million contacts.
What's the Measure of an Online Brand
Branded entertainment metrics firm iTVX extends its research from TV and film to online with its new In Web tool. Now marketers, agencies and publishers can try to measure the value of branded content like product placement and branded webisodes on the Web. The new tool is designed to help cross-platform advertisers assess the relative value of their Web presence. Many of the major auto companies as well as Unilever and Dial Corp. have signed on to evaluate the Web tools. Product placement and branded media are among the fastest growing categories of ad spending but the means to measure their effect have been elusive and arguable. iTVX's main competitor, IAG Research, was bought by Nielsen recently, which gives that rival access to a range of online and offline data. iTVX is rumored to be in talks with Nielsen's main competitors in the space as well.
June 5, 2008
New York Venture Capital Event & Workshop
1290 Ave. of the Americas, 39th Floor, New York City
Organized by FundingPost, the meet-up brings together start-ups and early-stage investors with panels on meeting and pitching the money boys.
June 10-11, 2008
Mobile Marketing Forum
Marriott Marquis, New York City
The east coast annual conference of the Mobile Marketing Association will be brimming with case studies of recent mobile campaigns from major brands worldwide. Almost all of the major players in mobile gather for this one.
June 11, 2008
Min's Sales Executive of the Year Award
8:30-10:30, Grand Hyatt, New York City
Min's own awards honoring outstanding sales performance in the media world.
June 15, 2008
The Digital Publishing and Advertising Conference
New York Marriott Marquis, New York City
This one-day conference focuses on digital magazines, with keynotes from Jordan Rohan, founder Clearmeadow Partners, and Marta Martinez, SVP Strategic Development, Havas Digital.
June 16-17, 2008
Widget Web Expo
New York Marriot/Brooklyn Bridge
Widget World! Everything about the latest trend in content and brand distribution.
June 17, 2008
Marriott Marquis, New York City
Surviving the great fragmentation. This media-centric event boasts panels on the role of portals, vertical media networks, and engagement metrics in the evolving online eco-system.
|The min Press in now open for business: Just published titles include: min's State of the Digital Media, The Most Intriguing & Top Selling Magazine Covers, min's Annual Boxscore Review and more.
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