INCablenet yet to sign an agreement with Zee TV

The leading multi-system operator (MSO), INCablenet, has yet to sign the agreement with Zee Network for distributing its flagship channel Zee TV, a month after it went pay. Zee is asking INCablenet to agree on Star’s subscriber base, the Hindujas

exchange4media News Service 12-July-2001

INCablenet yet to sign an agreement with Zee TV

The leading multi-system operator (MSO), INCablenet, has yet to sign the agreement with Zee Network for distributing its flagship channel Zee TV, a month after it went pay. Zee is asking INCablenet to agree on Star’s subscriber base, the Hindujas are not willing to give way. INCablenet pays for 1.35 lakh subscribers to Star in Mumbai.

Zee has not switched off its pay service to Mumbai’s largest cable network as of now. Price is not an issue of dispute. INCablenet is willing to pay Rs 26 per subscriber for the 15 channels. But Zee is demanding a substantial increase in the subscriber base as it has brought its flagship channel into the pay bouquet.

Zee and INCablenet may soon arrive at a settlement. Meanwhile, Hathway Cable & Datacom have signed up with Zee. SitiCable, another big operator, is part of the Zee group. Zee TV went pay on June 10 this year.

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International: Hottest media property that's not for sale? Time Inc.<br>But skeptics question top execs' real long-term intentions

Time Inc. consistently makes impressive double-digit profit margins and is considered by many a good media business, a still-growing company with as-yet-unlocked potential synergy with the rest of the Time Warner operation. Yet everyone from the Time & Life Building to Wall Street and Nebraska keeps on wondering when the property is going to be dealt.

exchange4media News Service 02-April-2007

Time Warner chief Dick Parsons recently told a "town hall" meeting of 400 employees about a conversation he'd had with Omaha investment wizard Warren Buffett on the subject of selling Time Inc. "As your friend, don't do that, it's a good business," said Mr. Buffett, according to people who heard Mr. Parsons recount the story. "But," he added, "if you do sell it, sell it to me."

And there's the rub. Time Inc. consistently makes impressive double-digit profit margins and is considered by many a good media business, a still-growing company with as-yet-unlocked potential synergy with the rest of the Time Warner operation. That fact, along with Mr. Parsons' persistent denials that there are any plans to sell, ought—one might think—to kill this story. Yet everyone from the Time & Life Building to Wall Street and Nebraska keeps on wondering when the property is going to be dealt.

It's also been noted that Mr. Parsons, whose contract is up in May 2008, is not Jeffrey L. Bewkes, Time Warner's president-chief operating officer and the company's heir apparent. And Mr. Bewkes has repeatedly said that nothing is off the table. "It is constantly looked at," Mr. Bewkes said at a Goldman Sachs media conference last September. "What should we not have? Or what should we get?" Many people believe Mr. Bewkes would sell Time Inc. for the right price.

A note to skeptics: Time Inc. could probably fetch bids above $16 billion. Try finding a CEO who wouldn't at least slow down for a look.

Anyone following the ongoing upheavals in media—not to mention the jangled nerves following round after round of layoffs at Time Inc., where McKinsey & Co. is now examining areas like information technology and finance—won't be surprised to hear that questions over Time Inc.'s place at Time Warner aren't going away.

The Monday after Mr. Parsons' "town hall," as it happens, a Bear Stearns analyst raised his rating on Time Warner to "outperform" partly because he believes the company, particularly once Mr. Bewkes takes over, will get more aggressive about restructuring its portfolio. To wit: It could merge AOL with another leading web property—or perhaps could spin off Time Inc.

"We think that the publishing division is the least attractive strategic fit with Time Warner's other video-centric businesses such as cable networks, cable systems and filmed entertainment," said the analyst, Spencer Wang, in his note. Combined with challenges in the magazine business such as slow growth due to online cannibalization, he said, there could be several benefits of divesting publishing.

A year ago, Reed Phillips—managing partner at the media-investment bank DeSilva & Phillips—would have given a Time Inc. sale or spinoff no chance. "Today I would no longer say 'never,' because Time Warner has continued to change and evolve," Mr. Phillips said. "I get the clear impression that the company is focused on operating performance and measures how each division is doing and how each division contributes to the overall company. And if there's a sense that part of the company is no longer contributing in the way that top management expects, I don't think anything's sacred."

Top management at Time Warner, like that at any public company, is under pressure to improve revenue and earnings year after year, no matter the market conditions. Although Time Inc. Chairman-CEO Ann S. Moore is expanding quickly online, moving the needle with print has proved much harder. That has forced strikingly difficult decisions, most recently last week's death sentence for the Life newspaper supplement.

"Wall Street wants to see growth," said Robert Safian, the Fast Company editor and Mansueto Ventures managing director who worked for Time Inc. titles Money, Fortune and Time during the last decade. "The bigger your base, the more you need in raw terms to show it. But if you back Time Inc. out of Time Warner and there's more growth in other divisions, then the overall growth might look bigger."

Plenty of people still consider the idea—first pushed to the front burner during Carl Icahn's 2006 drive to break up Time Warner—to be unlikely, impossible or ridiculous. For one thing, "Time" is the name on Time Warner's door, said Andrew Swinand, president-chief client officer at media agency Starcom USA. "I would be shocked if they sold it," he said. "For me, the biggest thing is that Time Warner as a company needs to be dynamically flexible. I still believe that the initial vision of integrated media was correct. I just believe that they haven't activated it."

The tax hit on any outright sale would be painful too, if less so in a spinoff to shareholders (which could lead in turn to a takeover). Time Inc. also owns huge stores of content that should prove valuable in a Long Tail world. And the company has been securing better position for showing growth by cutting costs, redirecting investment to digital projects, selling 19 magazines and closing two others.

"Corporate has worked closely with Time Inc. in developing its new online strategy, which is showing success," a Time Warner spokesman said. "We don't have any plans to spin off Time Inc." A Time Inc. spokeswoman referred inquiries about the company's relationship with Time Warner to the parent company.

Finally, there's the issue of price, but that could cut either way. Two media bankers said a premium property like Time Inc.—which really has no equal in its business—would command a sky-high multiple of perhaps 15 times earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization. Last week's client note from Bear Stearns estimated that Time Warner's publishing division will have 2007 EBITDA of nearly $1.1 billion, which could put a bid close to $16.5 billion.

That is not a figure anyone would take lightly—neither a potential bidder nor the potential seller.

But the money is out there. "Private-equity firms have become so much bigger in the past year that now that kind of bite size is attainable," Mr. Reed said. "A private-equity firm could do that transaction today. It would have been much harder to do a year ago, but they've raised so much money, and you see all the time that they're looking at big media opportunities."

Time Warner shareholders wouldn't let management ignore a $16 billion offer either. "Companies can't just stiff-arm shareholders," Mr. Reed said. "They really have to listen today, more and more."

Meanwhile, the thousands of Time Inc. employees who survived the cuts of 2005, 2006 and 2007 walk the corridors occasionally wondering what Ms. Moore, Mr. Parsons and Mr. Bewkes really think of them.

"I don't think anyone is confident that Time Inc. will stay part of Time Warner," said one former Time Inc. executive, who predicts the conglomerate will eventually split up. "From the CEO down, everyone questions whether or not Time Inc. will be spun off."

There certainly could be advantages for an independent Time Inc., such as a better ability to focus on long-term strategy. Mr. Swinand, the sale skeptic, said Time Inc. would have fewer resources on its own but would be speedier and more flexible.

Mr. Reed, the agnostic, said Time Inc. wouldn't lose much if separated from Time Warner and would retain enormous clout. "They would also be able to invest much more aggressively in taking the brands into the digital realm," he said. "They're doing a pretty good job already; it's just that they're hamstrung by having to deliver earnings to the parent company."

All the talk of speed and aggression, as a matter of fact, reflects the reality of the magazine business today. It's in transformation. The business will survive, but those publishers that adapt best will thrive the most. Others will keep having to make difficult choice after difficult choice, pinned between the need to prepare for the future and the state of the field today. Even though Time Inc. owns some incredibly powerful brands, really changing the business model might take a "reset" year—which Wall Street rarely allows public companies.

As things stand, the need to make short-term numbers all the time is breeding resentment.

"Basically the dollars are going into digital at that company," the former Time Inc. executive said. "If you're not one of the four weeklies, people are very frustrated. They are not putting money behind transforming the women's lifestyle publications. Those are the ones that have had constant growth, and yet they're not getting the investment."

Another former staffer recalled the speculation among Time Inc. employees. "There was hallway chatter about it at different times," the ex-staffer said. "Sometimes it was hopeful. 'Wouldn't it be great? Will Warren Buffett buy us?' Other times people said, 'Who would buy us and what would they do with us? They might squeeze us even harder. That Midtown real estate is expensive. Maybe Time Inc. could move to Princeton, N.J.'"

Source: Adage

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International: J&J Puts $3 Billion Global Media Account in Play<br>Universal McCann, Initiative, OMD and MindShare Expected to Give Chase

It's official: Johnson & Johnson has put its $3 billion global media-buying and -planning account into review. A global media review has been anticipated since J&J began the $16.6 billion acquisition of Pfizer's over-the counter drug and personal-care business in October 2006.

exchange4media News Service 31-March-2007

It's official: Johnson & Johnson has put its $3 billion global media-buying and -planning account into review.





A global media review has been anticipated since J&J began the $16.6 billion acquisition of Pfizer's over-the counter drug and personal-care business in October 2006.





Current roster shops expected to participate include Interpublic Group of Cos.' Universal McCann, which handles a large share of the media planning and buying in North America, and its sibling Initiative; Omnicom Group's OMD, which handles planning and buying for various brands globally; and WPP Group's MindShare, which covers some planning and buying for acquired Pfizer brands in most regions outside of the U.S.





Advertising Age first reported news of the review in November 2006.





Independent media agency Naked, which handles communications planning in the U.S., and Mediaedge:cia, which handles interactive buying for non-consumer Pfizer brands, are not expected to be affected.





A global media review has been anticipated since J&J began the $16.6 billion acquisition of Pfizer's over-the counter drug and personal-care business in October 2006. Within the first month, J&J dropped Aegis Group's Carat -- which had the Pfizer business -- from the collective roster, furthering speculation that the company has been looking to consolidate and cut costs.





In the U.S., J&J spent $1.3 billion in measured media last year, according to TNS Media Intelligence.





Meanwhile, as global sales rose 6% last year, global ad spending decreased by 10%. In the U.S. spending dropped twice as much, although it is believed to have been shifted to unmeasured media. The company has also announced it will sit out this year's upfront, which suggests it may be looking to stay flexible enough to further explore nontraditional media by not being locked into expensive TV commitments.





Source: Adage

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International: Advertisers Salivate Over YouTube Killer<br>NBC-News Corp. Deal Meets Demand for Online Video From Professionals

How would you like to advertise in professionally created video content, available online with massive scale and reach?

exchange4media News Service 31-March-2007

International: Advertisers Salivate Over YouTube Killer<br>NBC-News Corp. Deal Meets Demand for Online Video From Professionals

How would you like to advertise in professionally created video content, available online with massive scale and reach?

It was an offer marketers such as GM, Esurance and Royal Caribbean couldn't, and didn't, refuse.

Wary of YouTube

The proposition from the folks behind News Corp. and NBC's brand-new online-video project looks like a winner to advertisers, which have been crying out for online-video content but wary of the consumer-generated clips that have dominated on other sites. And while the yet-unnamed venture set to launch this summer has been rumored for the better part of a year, lining up the ad partners was a rapid-fire process.

General Motors Planworks got a call from NBC around 5 p.m. on Wednesday about the opportunity and closed the deal in just a few hours through a call with the automaker's media czar, Betsy Lazar, and four e-mail exchanges, said Curt Hecht, chief digital officer at GM Planworks, the Publicis Groupe buying and planning shop dedicated to General Motors. Another advertiser, Esurance, got the call from NBC around the same time and made the quick decision, with its media agency, MPG's Media Contacts, to jump on it. (Media Contacts has two other clients, one of them Royal Caribbean, that signed on March 22.)

Shortage of inventory

One reason these marketers moved quickly is this joint venture solves one of online video's biggest problems: the dearth of high-quality online-video content for marketers to buy.

The online-video market is still small compared to the $65 billion TV-ad market -- eMarketer estimates peg the online-video market at $775 million this year. Meanwhile, ComScore's January numbers indicate nearly 123 million people in the U.S., or 70% of the total U.S. internet audience, viewed 7.2 billion videos online. YouTube.com was the most popular streaming site, with 992 million video streams.

That marketers signed on to the opportunity so readily (as opposed to the time it took them to dip their toes into user-generated online video), underscores the importance of editorial adjacency for marketers. Google's YouTube has attempted to fit advertisers into its site with some sponsorship deals, but marketers often worry their ads will appear next to videos that may be inappropriate, because of either rough language, bawdy humor or overtly sexual themes.

High-quality content

"The idea is to align yourself with high-quality content with the thought that it will have a good rub-off on your brand," said David Cohen, exec VP and U.S. director of digital at Universal McCann, which buys media for Intel, another launch advertiser. "Purchase intent and brand favorability come from association of the content with which you align yourself."

The deal comes just a week after Viacom filed a $1 billion lawsuit against Google and YouTube and days after Apple introduced its iTV product, intended to bring internet video to TV screens. Under the joint venture, News Corp. and NBC Universal will create an independent company to cull their TV and film content, distributing it on a stand-alone site as well as through partners AOL, MSN, Yahoo and MySpace, which combined reach 96% of the U.S. internet audience. More media companies may join the venture as content partners, and there are talks other equity partners could be added. "For us it was a natural" since GM and its media agency have good relationships with all of the media outlets, Mr. Hecht said. The online-video site will allow GM to leverage the programmers' professionally produced content and the scale offered by the digital outlets. "This was a no-brainer," Mr. Hecht said. "These are all companies we like and do a significant amount of business with."

NBC and News Corp. will contribute to a marketing and promotional budget and will be throwing another ad-sales entity into an already crowded marketplace, since the new company will have its own ad-sales force.

Working out ad units

Thom Campbell, Intel senior media manager, said the company is still working out the details of its charter ad membership, but ad units will include pre-roll spots and sponsorships around "entry points."

"Sure there are risks, but they are tech-driven risks. And that's not just our backyard; that's our whole house," Mr. Campbell said. As for comparisons to YouTube, he said: "The biggest difference is this is actual entertainment content from entertainment companies. There will be consumer-created content of course, but it's almost a consortium of companies that own the content. ... It's much more legitimate."

While nobody's counting out user-generated video as a piece of the future marketing mix, how marketers fit into it in a scaleable way has yet to be cracked. Quality content with scale is what has marketers really excited. The content will be distributed on a primary site as well through as those of the four major web properties, Yahoo, MSN, AOL and News Corp.-owned MySpace. That means the site will give NBC TV programmers access to a larger pool of consumers than it had on NBC.com. Ed Montes, MediaContacts' exec VP-managing director, U.S. operations, said he can't think of a previous example where an advertiser could get that kind of scale next to professionally created online-video content.

Massive reach

"Traditional marketers tend to say online video is great, but it doesn't give you massive reach," he said. "[With the joint venture] we're marrying those two things." The commitment is likely to be a small piece of marketers' media mixes, with initial figures ranging between a couple hundred thousand dollars and $1 million, but the opportunities for marketers to experiment will be valuable. The ad model isn't yet hammered out, and marketers are hoping to help play a role in defining it.

"We have to begin to experiment and find the most effective way to maximize monetization and, more importantly, provide viewers with great experiences," said News Corp. President-Chief Operating Officer Peter Chernin. "It's great to be able to control your own destiny." As opposed to farming it out to YouTube, perhaps?

When asked what this new site will offer that YouTube does not, GM Planworks' Mr. Hecht said it wasn't a matter of any shortcomings of what will, no doubt, be one of the new site's major competitors. "This is clearly a statement about a new business model."

Source: Adage

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International: For marketers social media soars, mobile and gaming lag<br>E-mail, search remain the interactive marketing channels to watch in 2007

What emerging channels will nab the most marketer interest this year? Despite the hype around tactics such as mobile and gaming, adoption of those areas is still low, according to a Forrester survey of interactive marketers.

exchange4media News Service 30-March-2007

International: For marketers social media soars, mobile and gaming lag<br>E-mail, search remain the interactive marketing channels to watch in 2007

What emerging channels will nab the most marketer interest this year? Despite the hype around tactics such as mobile and gaming, adoption of those areas is still low, according to a Forrester survey of interactive marketers.

Perhaps it's a case of marketers not always putting their money where their mouths are, because much buzzed-about areas such as mobile and gaming aren't, as Forrester analyst Brian Haven puts it in his report, getting much love from the interactive ad budgets. Less sexy staples such as e-mail and search remain strong -- more marketers will use them in 2007 than in previous years -- and because they're the most measurable and the most indispensable, Mr. Haven adds.

RSS, blog use climb

If marketers have been slow to jump on mobile and gaming, social media is a different story. The category has grown quickly over the past 12 months to the point where 40% of marketers are using or piloting RSS, up from 10% last year, and 34% are use or piloting blogs, up from 13% in the 2006 study. Social networks have the slowest adoption of all social media tactics but still notched 20% penetration in terms of marketer use.

"When we talked last year, we saw the trend build but our recommendation at the time was 'it's still OK to hold of,'" Mr. Haven told Advertising Age regarding social media technologies. "But now consumers are leaving marketers behind and the advice now is this is not a fluke behavior -- it's the way things are going and it's time for marketers to take decent strides into social computing technologies."

The gaming lag didn't really surprise Mr. Haven. For the most part it targets a younger, more sophisticated audience. "If you're brand isn't already targeting that type of audience it's difficult to make the justification" to get into gaming, he said. Mobile, he said, comes down to devices -- what the hardware is capable of.

Mobile's a better bet

The report says that of all the technologies marketers aren't using right now, mobile is more promising overall than gaming. As for the hype around mobile, he likens it to the buzz that enveloped blogs in 2002 -- there was a lot of talk but most companies were too afraid to get started.

"One of the key things marketers are looking for is examples of others using the tech but nobody will use the tech until they have an example," Mr. Haven said. "It's a Catch 22 and one of the reasons marketers aren't getting involved yet."

Not surprisingly, better proof of performance will most likely get marketers to spend more on emerging channels, but as Mr. Haven points out in the report, "consumers are moving so quickly into emerging media that marketers can't keep up." Marketers, he said, need to increase their own familiarity with these channels.

The report essentially warns marketers that if they don't start adopting new channels this year, they will fall behind, and it recommends that marketers who haven't yet tried out RSS feeds or blogs begin to do so and that they start behavioral and contextual targeting immediately. Evaluation of emerging channels should be on a case-by-case basis, and marketers need to constantly monitor what kinds of emerging media customers are using to stay ahead of the game.

Source: Adage

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International: Phoning It in: Content created by cell users will be ad 'Bonanza'<br>Mobile helps marketers engage consumers and may catapult MySpace, YouTube to new heights

The allure of consumer-generated content -- and the ad revenue it could generate -- has fueled two of the biggest deals in the digital space, Google's $1.6 billion YouTube purchase and News Corp.'s $580 million MySpace buy. The next space for user-generated content to conquer: the mobile phone.

exchange4media News Service 29-March-2007

International: Phoning It in: Content created by cell users will be ad 'Bonanza'<br>Mobile helps marketers engage consumers and may catapult MySpace, YouTube to new heights

The allure of consumer-generated content -- and the ad revenue it could generate -- has fueled two of the biggest deals in the digital space, Google's $1.6 billion YouTube purchase and News Corp.'s $580 million MySpace buy. The next space for user-generated content to conquer: the mobile phone.

"User-created-content distribution will be gigantic," said Roger Wood, senior VP-general manager, Americas region at Amobee Media Systems. The company allows advertisers to help fund mobile content and entertainment services. "The promise of user-generated content is the converse of the risk," he said. "It's a bonanza for advertisers."

The value of 'smack-talk'

Marketers are already dabbling with consumer-generated content on the mobile phone. Hewlett-Packard is sponsoring HP Courtside, which enables the "smack-talk generation" to post barbs and videos from cellphones to a Yahoo college-basketball page. "There needs to be some value to the user," said Mary Bermel, HP's director-interactive and emerging media. "Mobile needs to be part of a broader experience and a complementary piece to existing activity," she added.

Other marketers have tapped user-generated content as a way to enhance traditional media. Music promoters have shown live mobile messages from audience members during concerts. Nike, Intel and others have displayed consumer-created photos and other content on billboards in high-profile locations such as Times Square. More than four dozen radio stations nationwide sell advertising on interactive radio programming, said Jack Philbin, co-founder and president, Vibes Media. "Marketers are embracing this," he said.

Social networks go mobile

Mobile might be the platform that catapults Facebook, MySpace and LinkedIn to a new level, Amobee's Mr. Wood said. "Anywhere, anytime, instantaneous communication -- that's a big deal," he said.

Helio, a mobile virtual-network carrier jointly owned by SK Telecom and Earthlink, was the first to launch with MySpace Mobile. It was the cornerstone of a marketing strategy that positioned Helio as a device that connects friends. More than 70% of Helio subscribers use MySpace on their phones, said Helio spokesman Rick Heineman. However, Mr. Heineman said it's "more of a communication tool vs. a user-generated-content tool." Helio had 70,000 members at the end of December and is expected to grow to 100,000 by early this year.

No usage data was available from AT&T, which also offers MySpace as well as YouTube. A Verizon Wireless spokesman in an e-mail said Verizon's two user-generated-content channels, Revvr and YouTube, were launched in December on its V Cast service. "They have consistently been among the top-performing channels on the service," he said.

Ringtones and e-mail wanted

In a February Jupiter Research survey, 28% of teens said they wanted MySpace access on their cellphones, compared with 12% who said they wanted access to YouTube. They were most interested in mobile content such as ringtones (30%) and e-mail and instant messaging (27%).

Emily Riley, Jupiter Research's online-advertising analyst, said 7% of consumers create and maintain blogs, while three times that many, 21%, read or respond to blogs by posting messages. "People are interested in small snippets -- it's very well-suited to mobile," she said.

The success of user-generated content in the mobile space also will hinge on its cost to consumers, said Daniel Rosen, head of AKQA Mobile. "As the price of downloading [video and other content] goes down, the popularity will go up." He added: "At the moment, we advise clients to wait and see how big the audience is there."

Others aren't ready to bet everything on user-generated content. ZooVision, a Kalamazoo, Mich.-based mobile-content company, develops streaming audio, video, podcasts, cartoons and even an anime network supported by marketers and free to consumers. "Professionally created content is what people want in the end," VP Sean Berne said.

Source: Adage

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Virgin Atlantic Airways unveils new campaign for Upper Class

Created by Ogilvy, Delhi, the campaign targets the airline’s primary markets of Delhi and Mumbai, with a mix of outdoors, newspapers and magazines for its award-winning Upper Class flight.

exchange4media News Service 26-March-2007

Virgin Atlantic Airways unveils new campaign for Upper Class

Virgin Atlantic Airways has rolled out its exclusive advertising campaign to appeal to the UK-bound traveller for the award-winning flight Upper Class at affordable fares. Created by Ogilvy, Delhi, the campaign targets the airline’s primary markets of Delhi and Mumbai, with a mix of outdoors, newspapers and magazines.

Created around the Virgin Atlantic Airways’ Upper Class cabin and highlighting the exciting features on board, the campaign invites one to experience the seamless and entertaining journey. The campaign is aligned with features available both on board and on ground such as the Upper Class Suite (the largest and widest flat bed in the sky); onboard bar; chauffeur pickup and drop; pre-departure drink; in-flight massage; unlimited and stirring in-flight entertainment; as well as the exotic pampering at the Clubhouse at Heathrow.

Neha Lidder Ganju, Marketing Manager, Virgin Atlantic Airways, India, said, “Our new advertising campaign brings to light the award-winning Upper Class, which is truly a style statement and offers value for money. The campaign is a showcase of strategy and creativity to generate more awareness about Upper Class and drive in excitement for the Virgin Atlantic experience.”

Virgin Atlantic Airways is Britain’s second largest long haul airline and currently operates 14 flights every week between India and the UK, with daily services to London from Delhi and Mumbai.

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International: IQ Report: Why connecting matters more than page views on networking sites

While there are obvious caveats with any measure of Internet audience—the FIM number includes properties besides MySpace, and Yahoo has some social-networking sites—the numbers show where the prevailing traffic winds are blowing. They are going in the direction of properties that allow users to connect with other users and create their own content. For advertisers and media buyers, the next step should be to simply follow the eyeballs and soon a proportionate number of ad dollars will flow toward MySpace and its competitors.

exchange4media News Service 24-March-2007

International: IQ Report: Why connecting matters more than page views on networking sites

Digital media executives watched throughout 2006 as Web 2.0 asserted Internet users’ creative independence from the media giants. And by November, it was nearly a fait accompli.

That was when comScore Media Metrix showed that, for the first time, page views for News Corp.’s Fox Interactive Media, driven largely by MySpace, outstripped those of venerable Internet brand Yahoo. While Yahoo showed a 9 percent decline in page views, to 38 billion, FIM showed a 2 percent increase to 39.5 billion. The spread widened in December, with FIM posting 41.5 billion page views, while Yahoo tallied just under 36 billion.

While there are obvious caveats with any measure of Internet audience—the FIM number includes properties besides MySpace, and Yahoo has some social-networking sites—the numbers show where the prevailing traffic winds are blowing. They are going in the direction of properties that allow users to connect with other users and create their own content. For advertisers and media buyers, the next step should be to simply follow the eyeballs and soon a proportionate number of ad dollars will flow toward MySpace and its competitors.

But some re-engineering may need to take place before that happens. Measured by statistics such as page views, the biggest social-networking sites certainly rival the longtime biggest sites on the Web. But a closer look at their traffic shows that, in fact, they differ markedly from their older competitors. Unique audiences are smaller, and the number of page views per person—especially among the youth demographic that accounts for most of the traffic on sites such as MySpace and Facebook—tends to be much higher. So, while social media rewrites rules of content creation and distribution, it is also poised to revise the analysis around which metrics are important when evaluating advertising properties, as well as what constitutes a successful ad unit.

That causes hesitation among advertisers who use online to energize CPM-driven campaigns. “For advertisers who have a very strict cost-per-acquisition, we tend to not go toward social networks,” says Adam Kasper, svp, director of digital media at Media Contacts, the interactive media unit of Havas. Adds David Cohen, U.S. director of digital communications for Interpublic Group’s Universal McCann: “I don’t think most of our advertisers are looking at social networks just for eyeballs.” The shop’s clients have bought profile pages on MySpace for Sony Pictures and the U.S. Army, among others, in what has become an increasingly popular marketing venture. However, it’s not one that takes advantage of the site’s raw numbers in the same way that a home page buy on a major portal does.

A closer look at traffic numbers makes it easy to see why media planners may never treat sites like MySpace or Facebook the way they do other mass market online properties. For one, there’s the ratio of unique visitors to page views. According to data from Nielsen NetRatings (like Adweek Magazines, a part of the Nielsen Company), an average visitor to MySpace during December cycled through 500 pages of content and spent one hour and 52 minutes on the site. The typical Yahoo user—someone who uses email and checks stock quotes hourly—had only 290 page views, but, with more than 110 million unique visitors, Yahoo had almost twice as many visitors as MySpace. Yahoo users also spent almost 50 percent longer on that property, averaging slightly more than three hours per person. The MySpace audience is spending less time per page, going through almost 4.5 pages per minute, as opposed to 1.6 pages per minute for the Yahoo audience.

The value of social-networking traffic data is very much in the eye of the beholder. Judit Nagy, vp, consumer insights for FIM, sees all those page views and concludes, “There are many ways to reach a person” on the site. Others see it as evidence that people who go to social-networking sites are not in the mood to look at ads. “They’re not disposed to look at these ads in that environment,” says Curt Viebranz, CEO of Tacoda, which to date has not added social networks to the portfolio of properties in its online ad network.

Even as social-networking properties make gains in ad revenue, they lag behind more established sites. In an appearance earlier this month at the McGraw-Hill Digital Media Summit, News Corp. chairman and CEO Rupert Murdoch said MySpace was generating almost $25 million in ad revenue per month and growing at almost 30 percent per quarter, which would put its ad revenue in excess of $450 million by year’s end. Yahoo had almost $1.5 billion in ad revenue in the fourth quarter of 2006 alone.

Does that mean that page views on Yahoo are therefore worth more to advertisers than those on MySpace? The short answer is yes, but if advertisers and social networks can get better at leveraging traffic to build deeper connections with users, page view numbers may lessen in importance. (Yes, social networks do sell banners, buttons, streamed video and search ads, but they aren’t the revenue drivers they have been for earlier sites.) After all, what those numbers represent is the ultimate technological expression of word-of-mouth, where people make connections to other people, entertainment and services through the most massive chat rooms ever built. And most of the online ad industry’s metrics don’t really get at that. “What MySpace can really offer is the engagement value,” says Nagy, who, previous to joining FIM, worked at Yahoo.

Just as the foundation ad unit of a portal is the banner, for a social-networking site it’s the profile page, an area devoted to one advertiser. What those areas offer can be as varied as advertisers themselves, but what they share is a desire to integrate themselves into the social-networking environment. Universal McCann’s MySpace profile for the Army (myspace.com/army) gives users the ability to chat with the virtual Sgt. Star, play video games and download podcasts. The real difference from an advertiser’s main Web site is in features that allow the profile to make friends and receive comments. As of mid-February, the Army has 13,128 friends ranging from wannabe pinup girls to enlisted personnel.

Burger King’s long-running profile of The King (myspace.com/burgerking) has 135,360 friends. Its popularity can be attributed to the ways King makes his friends. For instance, his profile page offers free downloads of the Fox series 24. There have been 800,000 streams and downloads of Fox series so far, according to Tia Lang, manager of media and interactive for the Miami-based Burger King. “What we look for in terms of the social-networking sites is to focus on our super fan,” she says.

Clearly, an advertiser’s comfort level with using friends and other connectivity measures as metrics depends on its objectives. No one, from agency executives to officials at the social-networking sites, believe the current state of measurement is enough—it will have to improve before these sites become advertising juggernauts. “I’d like to see some ad engagement metrics from social networks,” says Chad Stoller, executive director of emerging platforms at Omnicom Group’s Organic.

MySpace says it is working on a number of projects to better track the word-of-mouth that travels through its site. Mike Murphy, chief revenue officer of Facebook, which last September opened its site to registered users beyond its core college audience, says new technologies and ad offerings on the site make it possible to do just that. Using News Feed and Mini-Feed, technologies that the company unveiled to users in September, the site can now send constant updates on people within an individual user’s network to their home page. “It’s a ticker of news of what’s going on with your 140 friends,” Murphy explains.

Facebook extended the program to advertisers by incorporating something it calls “Sponsored Stories” into the feeds. If one of the stories is clicked and the user joins the advertiser-sponsored group it links to, the entire user’s network is informed and, theoretically, viral marketing ensues. The feeds show the activity of trusted friends, Murphy says, and because of this the site is seeing click-through rates of as high as 10 percent on Sponsored Stories.

The site, which had 4.5 billion page views in December, also has deals with washingtonpost.com and NYTimes.com to allow Facebook users to share content. It’s easy to see how these technologies can help measure engagement. Facebook can track not only how many News Feeds ran a Sponsored Story, but whether the message was passed on virally.

Murphy says that impressions created virally have a higher worth because the impression is created by friends. The simple click-through “can’t be enough of a measure,” he says.

That should intrigue any advertiser looking to reach the hard-to-pin-down youth market, but the push by social networks to monetize their unusual metrics could have even more resonance with smaller social networks. These sites, focused on specific interests that attract older audiences (age 35 and up), differ from the younger-skewing networks in that it’s an online representation of the nesting instinct instead of the singles bar freneticism of a MySpace or Facebook. Those who go to sites like Gather.com, which builds networks around people’s passions, spend less time on the site and have fewer page views per person. They are focused on a particular connection they’d like to make and then they leave. “Adult audiences have a higher [need] for return on their investment—their investment being time,” adds Tom Gerace, founder and CEO of Gather.

In late October, Amtrak launched a group on Gather for people who are passionate about train travel called Amtrak Presents: All Aboard! At 4,227 members, it is one of the largest on the site, advertiser sponsored or not. With 1 million monthly unique visitors, Gather is much smaller than MySpace. But because over 70 percent of its audience is college educated and in the 30 to 59 age range, it has a comfort level for certain advertisers that the bigger, youth market social networks don’t. For Amtrak, which generally uses the Internet for transactional marketing, Gather is the only place it is running a sponsored group. “We’re getting them engaged in a conversation,” says Gail B. Reisman, senior director of integrated advertising and East field sales for Amtrak.

With advertiser-sponsored groups, a site’s overall page views hardly matter. The more important metric is the hard-to-define depth of the connection the advertiser makes with users.

As social networks, large and small, become better at creating and defining connections with advertisers, it’s easy to see how size may begin to matter less, diminishing the importance not only of the page view, but eventually other metrics, such as unique audience, with it. The more important issue will be whether the advertiser is reaching the right audience. Because in marketing, it’s all about making the right friends.

Source Mediaweek

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International: TV, Print trigger net searches

Traditional advertising plays a key role in prompting consumers to search for merchandise online, according to a study by the Retail Advertising and Marketing Association (RAMA) and BIGresearch.

exchange4media News Service 23-March-2007

International: TV, Print trigger net searches

Consumers take cues from traditional media on where to shop online.

Traditional advertising plays a key role in prompting consumers to search for merchandise online, according to a study by the Retail Advertising and Marketing Association (RAMA) and BIGresearch.

Roughly half of the consumers told researchers they take cues from TV, magazine and newspaper ads to determine when and where to shop online. In order of preference, 47 percent said they turned to magazine ads, followed by TV commercials and newspaper ads at 43 percent each. (Respondents could choose more than one medium.)

In-store promotions motivated 27 percent to search for products online. When it came to coupons, far more women than men used them for online guidance, at 42 percent of women versus 29 percent of men.

The survey findings seem to reinforce the evidence that many marketing agencies are collecting, which indicates online and offline marketing programs work better than online-only or offline-only campaigns. "When it comes to advertising, retailers always need to be careful not to put all of their eggs in one basket," said Mike Gatti, executive director of RAMA.

"While search engine marketing continues to be a popular strategy, retailers should not lose sight of traditional advertising channels to promote products and services," Gatti said.

Shoppers use the Internet as a resource before determining which items to buy and where. According to the survey, 92.5 percent of adults said they regularly or occasionally research products online before buying them in a store. Products that are most often researched online are electronics, apparel and appliances. Men were twice as likely as women to shop for automobiles online, 20 percent to 10 percent, respectively.

"Retailers must realize that online communities are now producers and are able to extend the distribution of traditional media with a trust and truth not even approximated by mass media," said Joe Pilotta, vp at BIGresearch.

The study surveyed more than 15,000 consumers in November and December 2006. RAMA released its analysis of the survey last week.

Source: Adweek

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International: YouTube faces challenge

In an unprecedented joint offensive aimed at defending the audience of the traditional networks on the Internet, News Corp. and NBC Universal have formed a partnership to launch a Web video distribution channel to challenge YouTube.

exchange4media News Service 23-March-2007

International: YouTube faces challenge

In an unprecedented joint offensive aimed at defending the audience of the traditional networks on the Internet, News Corp. and NBC Universal have formed a partnership to launch a Web video distribution channel to challenge YouTube.

The new channel, which will house a wealth of network TV shows and movies in a copyright-protected environment, will go live sometime this summer.

In addition to creating a unique Web destination for online video, the two broadcast giants have struck sweeping video distribution pacts with Yahoo!, MSN, AOL and News Corp.'s MySpace to showcase the new site's library of content.

At launch, the site will host both full-length episodes and short clips from series such as NBC's Heroes, My Name Is Earl, Saturday Night Live and Friday Night Lights, along with Fox's House, 24, The Simpsons and Prison Break, among others. Unlike YouTube, all shows will be ad supported.

Like YouTube, user-generated content will have a place on the site, said officials, as fans will be able to create mash-ups of network content.

However, the big point of differentiation for the new property is that users will not be able to post whatever they want on the site, affording News Corp. and NBC a level of control not seen on YouTube.

Besides TV shows, users will be able to watch full-length movies on the site, including hits such as Borat, Little Miss Sunshine and The Devil Wears Prada.

Neither company has said whether these movies would be free to users or available through some sort of pay-per-download arrangement.

"This is a game changer for Internet video," said News Corp. president and COO Peter Chernin. "We'll have access to just about the entire U.S. Internet audience at launch. And for the first time, consumers will get what they want—professionally produced video delivered on the sites where they live."

NBCU CEO Jeff Zucker emphasized the built-in safeguards as being key for the new site. "This venture supercharges our distribution of protected, quality content to fans everywhere," he said. "Consumers get a hugely attractive aggregation of a wide range of content, and marketers get a novel way to connect with a large and highly engaged audience."

Yet it remains to be seen whether the networks can manufacture the attraction of YouTube, which has built a huge audience in less than two years.

Many observers have been critical of the stance take by companies like Viacom (which is noticeably absent from this partnership), which they say are trying to control user behavior in a medium that doesn't lend itself to a broadcasting model.

"Media companies are eager to pounce on YouTube's distracting legal troubles to offer any alternative to YouTube's dominance in the market," said Forrester Research media and technology analyst James McQuivey. "But if they aim to create a single site where people have to come to watch their shows, and deprive the rest of the Net of their clips—then they're missing the point."

However, while the networks will have to work hard to create awareness for the new site and convince users to choose it over YouTube, the sheer audience power of portals like MSN and Yahoo, along with MySpace will certainly help.

Said Terry Semel, Yahoo! chairman and CEO, "We believe that this relationship underscores Yahoo's respect for content owners and copyrights and positions us as one of the premier distribution sites on the Web for entertainment programming."

Source: Brandweek

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International: Google tests action-priced ads

Google said it has begun a test of a new ad pricing structure that allows marketers to pay only when customers perform specific actions.

exchange4media News Service 22-March-2007

International: Google tests action-priced ads

By moving to a cost-per-action model, Google could entice more advertisers to join its AdSense network.

Google said it has begun a test of a new ad pricing structure that allows marketers to pay only when customers perform specific actions.

Advertisers specify actions they will pay for, such as newsletter registrations, brochure downloads or product sales, as well as prices.

Through a tag on the advertiser's site, Google tracks visitors' responses. Google said the test ads would not run on its search results pages, but instead on its AdSense network of content sites. And AdSense publishers would get unprecedented control over the ads that run on their sites if they choose to accept the pay-per-action ads. They would be able to choose from groups of ads or individual promotional offers.

By moving to a cost-per-action model, Google could entice more advertisers to join its AdSense network, where agencies frequently report lower conversion rates for ads compared to search results pages.

Advertisers can display either text or image ads within the pricing format.

Google now offers three pricing models: cost-per-click, cost-per-impression and cost-per-action.

The overwhelming majority of Google's ads are still priced on its original cost-per-click model.

Source: Adage

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