Ace Metrix, which bills itself as “the new standard in television and video analytics,” has announced the completion of an $8 million round of financing from WPP, Hummer Winblad Venture Partners, Leapfrog Ventures, and Palomar Ventures. Ace Metrix will use the new funds to further accelerate its rapid growth, continue its focus on innovation and product development, and expand into new markets.
The company claims 25% of national television advertisers as clients, and is aggressively pursuing 100% growth through 2012. Just a week ago, Ace Metrix added Samsung to that client roster: Samsung has subscribed to the company’s Ace Metrix LIVE platform, which provides immediate delivery of Ace Scores and the 12,000+ associated data points for every ad in the competitive mobile devices category. Samsung also signed on to use the Ace Metrix PRE service to test ads prior to release, which gives Samsung the ability to adjust creative or media placement using detailed demographic, ethnographic, and psychographic data.
Just two weeks ago, Ace Metrix introduced Ace Metrix TARGET, which allows advertisers to identify specific key audiences and access creative ad performance data for their ads and their competitors. Ace Metrix TARGET adds a layer of granular intelligence to Ace Metrix LIVE. TARGET leverages the same methodology and scoring dimensions of Ace Metrix LIVE, but augments it with specific demographic, ethnographic, and psychographic profiles. As Peter Daboll, CEO of Ace Metrix described, TARGET provides “Exceptional detail and surprising degrees of comparability about how ads perform among critical targets such as technologists, automotive intenders, gamers, and business travelers– for their ads and their competitors’.”
“Ace Metrix continues to impress us with their ability to push the envelope on innovation,” said Pete Sinclair, Managing Director, Leapfrog Ventures, and Managing Director Ann Winblad of Hummer Winblad Venture Partners remarked that “Ace Metrix delivers highly valuable and actionable analytics to the $71B TV advertising sector and the emerging video advertising segment. This is a substantial market opportunity and Ace Metrix has taken the leadership position.”
ur services by many of the most respected brands in the industry – a list that represents the top 25% of national television advertisers," said Peter Daboll, CEO of Ace Metrix. "We are on track to continue our 100% growth rate through 2012 and this new financing will allow us to further extend our portfolio of products and services to key adjacent markets while scaling our business infrastructure and sales and client services teams to meet the demands of our clients.”
DirecTV customers will be able to bundle their video and high-speed Internet services, no matter where they live in the United States, through new agreements with satellite broadband providers ViaSat and Hughes.
DirecTV will offer Excede by ViaSat and Hughes' HughesNet Gen4 next-generation satellite broadband services, with speeds of over 10 Mbps to customers living in mostly unserved and rural areas later this year. This new offering, coupled with already available triple-play bundles with Verizon, AT&T, Century Link and other telco providers, means that any DirecTV customer in the U.S. will now be able to get bundled pricing.
Customers who sign up for satellite broadband through DirecTV will be able to take advantage of certain special offers beginning later this year. More details on the offers and marketing plans will be made available closer to launch.
"We look forward to offering every single DirecTV customer access to fast, affordable broadband options through DirecTV, no matter where they live," said Oswin Eleonora, senior vice president, Emerging Markets, DirecTV. "With greatly improved capacity and speeds, satellite broadband services provided by ViaSat and Hughes will fully support our customers' connected home experience, enabling them to access a host of features like YouTube, Pandora, social TV apps, and more than 7,000 VOD titles."
Dish Network is introducing a new DVR feature, called Auto Hop, which allows customers to skip all commercials on high-def programs from ABC, CBS, Fox and NBC.
“Viewers love to skip commercials,” said Vivek Khemka, vice president of Dish Product Management, on the Dish Network blog. “With the Auto Hop capability of the Hopper, watching your favorite shows commercial-free is easier than ever before. It’s a revolutionary development that no other company offers and it’s something that sets Hopper above the competition.”
Auto Hop is a one-click option, which sets it somewhat apart freom more complicated options by Sage TV, Myth TV and Windows Media Center. One caveat is that the commercial-free viewing does not activate until 1 A.M. following the day or night a show is recorded—cold comfort for advertisers. Those who watch a delayed viewing before 1 A.M. still have the option to use the Hopper’s 30-second “hop forward.”
As for advertisers or transmission fees? "The Auto Hop feature is all about the consumer," Dish Chief Executive Joe Clayton told the Wall Street Journal. Calling commercial-free television a “Holy Grail” that viewers have wanted for 40 years, he asked “What’s wrong with giving the consumer what he wants?”
Here’s what’s wrong. As Broadcasting & Cable reports, Sanford C. Bernstein & Co. analyst Craig Moffett observed that "Auto Hop adds to an already long list of broadcast-unfriendly features of Dish's service, including 30-second skip buttons on their remote controls." DVR services from DirecTV and TiVo do not offer the feature, while Dish promotes the feature with a button on its remotes. Moffett believes Dish is rather reckless, having announced it will not renew a carriage agreement with AMC, depriving its viewers of programming like “Mad Men” and “The Walking Dead.”
Moffett speculates that the networks may take legal action against Dish, or at least, seek higher retransmission fees from the company.
ABC News and Univision News today have announced an agreement “in principle” for a far-reaching, multiplatform joint venture dedicated to “informing, empowering and inspiring Hispanic Americans in English while providing all audiences with uncompromising coverage of current events with a unique perspective.”
The agreement would capitalize on Univision’s news leadership and expertise in reaching U.S. Hispanics and ABC’s global news leadership to serve over 50 million Hispanics, which the companies agree is the youngest and fastest-growing demographic in the U.S. The presentation in English is in response to the 2010 U.S. Census, which revealed that U.S. born Latinos represented about 60% of growth in the demographic over the last decade. Currently, Hispanics represent 16% of the total population in the United States (U.S. Census data), a number that is projected to double to 30% by 2050. Hispanics wield considerable spending power of over $1 trillion, and have an increasing impact on social, economic and political trends.
The new 24/7 network will include America’s first English-language channel for English-dominant and bilingual Hispanics as well as integrated digital and social platforms. It will deliver news content focused on issues, lifestyle interests and culture of importance to Hispanics and will feature a combined pool of journalists from both ABC News and Univision News.
This is good news for advertisers who are looking for another Hispanic-oriented outlet (which soared in 2011). According to Kantar Media, Spanish language TV ad spending surged 19.1% in fourth quarter, paced by higher sell-out levels at over-the-air networks. For all of 2011, the segment increased 8.3%. But, there were few Hispanic-oriented, English-language outlets.
Huffington Post first leaked the ABC/Univision talks in February, citing unnamed “sources close to the negotiations.” The goal at the time was to begin broadcasting before the U.S. Presidential Elections in November. Hispanics are considered influential swing voters in numerous states, including Florida, new Mexico and Arizona.
As HuffPo observed, this announcement is part of a strong trend: Fox News also added a Fox News Latino website in 2010 and Huffington Post itself created a Huffpost LatinoVoices site. NBC Universal as well increased the cross-reporting between its news division and its Spanish language Telemundo network.
New York’s 30-year-old WRKS (Kiss FM) will no longer broadcast at 98.7, reports the Wall Street Journal. Owner company Emmis Communications announced Thursday that it will lease the frequency to ESPN, effective Monday, April 30.
WRKS will merge with its WBLS, at 107.5 FM—a long-time rival—consolidating the city’s urban adult contemporary market under one call. The stations have announced they will "Maintain the Kiss FM legacy," by bringing aboard Kiss FM personality Shaila, and night-time DJ Lenny Green. Emmis has sold WRKS’s intellectual property to WBLS parent company YMF Media.
ESPN has for 11 years broadcast at 1050 AM, as the New York Times describes, challenging the better-established WFAN (a 24/7 sports station on the AM 660 frequency, which used to run “Imus in the Morning”). ESPN Radio New York will take over 12:01 a.m. Monday, and in mid-September, its AM slot will become the Spanish-language ESPN Deportes New York. That, said Traug Keller, an ESPN senior vice president, "Is the real gem [of the shuffle] which will better allow us to add a Hispanic element."
The Times speculates that this is a strong sign that ESPN Radio will pursue the rights to carry Yankees games, for which WCBS-AM pays $14 million in a yearly contract. ESPN Radio already carries the New York Knicks, Rangers and Jets games, while WFAN has the Mets, Giants, New Jersey Nets and New Jersey Devils.
NBC Owned Stations will begin selling national advertising for four Comcast SportsNets cable channels, reports the Washington Business Journal. Those channels include Comcast’s New England, Mid-Atlantic, Northwest and Philadelphia networks.
Comcast Sports Group test drove the model in a trial run at New England Cable News (part of the Comcast Sports Group), and “It worked so well that we decided to expand this relationship to more markets,” Ray Warren, executive VP and chief revenue officer for Comcast Sports Group told Broadcasting & Cable.
Warren went on to describe that Comcast’s regional sports networks “have delivered a lot of value to advertisers because of the hard-to-reach male demos we attract.” Through combining selected regional sports networks with the NBC Owned Stations, Warren sees Comcast as “able to create a complete local package with compelling cross-demo appeal for advertisers that is unprecedented in its reach."
Comcast Sports Group and NBC Owned Stations (there are 10 stations in the group, nationwide) will roll out the model over the next four months, beginning in New England.
Market researchers The NPD Group caused a stir yesterday when it forecast an upward spiral in pay TV subscriptions—from an average $86 in 2011, to $123 by 2015 and $200 by 2020.
The cause: The “perennial tug-of-war between cable operators and creators of programming over who gets the bigger share of ever-rising cable payments,” as the New York Post summarized it. TV program licensing fees, which drive up pay TV monthly rates by an average of 6% per year. Interestingly, that is just one to two points behind the average upfront price hikes.
The challenge: Consumer household income has remained essentially flat. That is partly why 16% of U.S. households do not currently subscribe to pay TV services. Another factor is a sharp rise in housing vacancies due to the mortgage crisis, which has taken five million fewer U.S. households off the pay TV grid. Still, total pay TV subscriptions in the U.S. have not declined much, due to bulk-service contracts with apartment complexes and home owners associations that enable operators to retain subscriptions in vacant homes.
The result: “As pay TV costs rise and consumers’ spending power stays flat, the traditional affiliate-fee business model for pay TV companies appears to be unsustainable in the long term,” said Keith Nissen, research director for The NPD Group. “Much needed structural changes to the pay TV industry will not happen quickly or easily; however, the emerging competition between S-VOD and premium-TV suppliers might be the spark that ignites the necessary business-model transformation of the pay TV industry.”
Where Cord Cutters Get TV
Advertisers will follow the viewers, wherever they are, be it watching broadcast tube or online. Based on the latest information from NPD’s “Entertainment Trends in America” report, pay TV cord cutters reported cancelling their subscriptions primarily because of economic considerations; however, they are still accessing TV programming from—
- free-to-air broadcast
- free Internet TV (e.g. from network websites and ad-friendly Hulu)
- lower-priced subscription video-on-demand (S-VOD) services, like Netflix (which is increasingly making noise about advertiser support)
But they do so grudgingly. “Despite the plethora of OTT options for movies and TV, most consumers want their pay TV providers to be central and relevant to the acquisition and viewing experience,” said Russ Crupnick, senior vice president of industry analysis for The NPD Group. In fact 59% of pay TV subscribers preferred having one single provider for their pay TV services, compared to 21% who desired multiple providers, and 21% who expressed no preference. Sixty-two% of subscribers wanted premium TV either delivered by their pay TV provider directly, or from a service affiliated with their pay TV provider. Only 20% of pay TV subscribers were likely to cancel their pay TV service, if they could get their favorite shows online.
“Pay TV providers offer a convenient, one-stop shop for subscribers, and the majority of customers like it that way,” said Crupnick. “There is an open window for the industry to meet consumer needs and become to television what iTunes is to music; however, there is also a definite risk if pay TV providers don’t capitalize on the opportunity—and soon.”
So what exactly is the new Next Media Tablet Newsstand? “iTunes for magazines? Maybe Hulu for periodicals?” asks Neiman Journalism Lab's Ken Doctor.
It feels like it. Next Issue Media is a joint venture formed by five leading U.S.-based publishers – Conde Nast, Hearst, Meredith, News Corp. and Time Inc. Yesterday it announced the launch of its all-new tablet newsstand featuring top titles designed specifically for Android tablets. “No other offering delivers the combination of a catalog of top-tier titles, a choice of unlimited access plans, a consistent magazine reading experience and a commitment to interactive content,” the venture enthused in a release.
“In short, the Next Issue kiosk idea is transformative,” said Doctor, “though we’ll have to see how quickly customers take to its unknown brand.”
“It’s unclear what benefit Next Issue’s newsstand will bring [publishers], not to mention how heavily the offering will be promoted with consumers,” wrote Adweek, given Next Issue’s plans to rely heavily on word-of-mouth over advertising—surprising for a consortium of heavyweight publishers. And Adweek is skeptical about how an Android-only slate will hold up in the iPad-friendly digital publishing industry.
Still, the value proposition is there. At the heart of the offering: Customers have unlimited access to as many magazines in the Next Issue newsstand as they want, starting at just $9.99 per month. “Now they can easily access and discover more great stories, writing and photography within the entire breadth of the catalog,” and presumably, see that many more ads along with content.
Thus for $9.99, readers can reach a digital catalog including Better Homes and Gardens, ELLE, Esquire, Fortune, Glamour, Parents, People, Real Simple, Sports Illustrated, The New Yorker, TIME, Vanity Fair and more. There are 32 titles available now, and the catalog is expected to expand later this year. However, the company's focus on new titles will remain on quality and mass appeal, not quantity.
A Consistent Reading Experience
“No need to navigate separate apps for each magazine,” claims Next Issue Media. Now customers can browse, manage and read all their favorite titles from a single app in one consistent and easy way. For example, customers can quickly flip through an entire magazine using the animated carousel. Once they choose what to read, they navigate using the same simple, intuitive commands across all titles. They can also access an entire library of magazines in the cloud any time they are connected, while easily managing what they choose to store on their tablet.
Enhanced Digital Editions
All Next Issue magazines are custom-designed for the Android tablet experience, so include enhancements such as videos, bonus photography, interactive features and links to more information online.
"This is a game changer for customers," said Morgan Guenther, CEO of Next Issue Media. "We're bringing it all together. The most popular magazines, a great reading experience, interactive content and unlimited access to our entire catalog – with lots more to come."
- Unlimited Basic: Includes titles published monthly and bi-weekly for $9.99 per month
- Unlimited Premium: Includes all titles in the catalog, including weeklies such as Entertainment Weekly, People, Sports Illustrated, The New Yorker, TIME for $14.99 per month
- Individual magazine subscriptions range from $1.99 to $9.99 per month
- Individual magazine issues are available from $2.49 to $5.99 per issue
- 30-day free trials are available for all subscription plans and print subscribers can add digital editions of the same titles for free or a nominal cost.
- “This is getting ugly,” as Wired describes the Yahoo/Facebook fracas. Three weeks after after Yahoo filed a patent infringement lawsuit against Facebook, the social media outlet fired back yesterday (March 3, 2012) with a counterclaim alleging Yahoo has infringed on 10 Facebook software patents. Ted Ullyot, general counsel of Facebook, said in a statement that “While we are asserting patent claims of our own, we do so in response to Yahoo’s short-sighted decision to attack one of its partners and prioritize litigation over innovation.” Facebook alleges that Yahoo infringed on basic web functionalities including search, headline feeds, photo tagging, and, of course, advertising. Facebook’s rapid response suggests it is clearly “spoiling for a fight,” reports paidContent. “Ordinarily, a defendant in major litigation will use procedural tactics to delay filing its defense or counterclaim.”
- The Facebook suit comes at a bad time for Yahoo, which is laying off “a whopping 2,000 staffers,” reports MediaBistro. New-ish CEO Scott Thompson expects the move to save the company $375 million a year. As Huffington Post describes, this marks Yahoo’s sixth mass layoff in four years, under three CEOs. Thompson claimed “Our goal is to get back to our core purpose — putting our users and advertisers first — and we are moving aggressively to achieve that goal.”
- OpenX has announced a deal with mobile device maker Samsung to supply a mobile, private ad exchange infrastructure called "the Samsung AdHub Market, Powered by OpenX," reports AdExchanger. Launch is scheduled for latter 2012, with a real-time biddable exchange that "enables advertisers worldwide to purchase mobile inventory from mobile developers and Samsung Electronics within a closed marketplace environment, allowing easy targeting of desired audiences.”
- Daily deal site Groupon is “fast clinching its reputation as the bad boy of the IPO circuit,” reports paidContent. Less than four months after going public, Groupon is facing a Securities & exchange Commission (SEC) probe, and shareholders are suing for “gimmicky accounting practices.” A Chicago man is seeking compensation on behalf of Groupon shareholders who were feel the stock price was artificially inflated. The charge is that Groupon failed to set aside adequate reserves for customers seeking refunds through its “Groupon Promise” program. Groupon’s liabilities increased, while the company’s IPO filings predicted refund amounts would shrink.
Whatever the buzz about the new iPhone and Apple-friendly digital magazines, Google’s Android platform is the king of the hill.
comScore has today released data from its comScore MobiLens service, reporting key trends in the U.S. mobile phone industry during the three month average period ending February 2012. comScore found that Google Android continued to grow its share in the U.S. smartphone market, crossing the 50% threshold in February to capture a majority share for the first time in its history.
The study surveyed more than 30,000 U.S. mobile subscribers and found Samsung to be the top handset manufacturer overall with 25.6% market share.
OEM Market Share
For the three-month average period ending in February, 234 million Americans age 13 and older used mobile devices. Device manufacturer Samsung ranked as the top OEM with 25.6% of U.S. mobile subscribers, followed by LG with 19.4% share. Apple captured the #3 ranking in February with 13.5% of mobile subscribers (up 2.3%), followed by Motorola at 12.8%. HTC moved into the #5 position in February at 6.3% (up 0.4%).
Smartphone Platform Market Share
More than 104 million people in the U.S. owned smartphones during the three months ending in February, up 14% versus November. Google Android’s share of the smartphone market eclipsed 50% in February, an increase of 17% since February 2011. Apple ranked second with 30.2% of the smartphone market (up 5% versus year ago), followed by RIM at 13.4%, Microsoft at 3.9% and Symbian at 1.5%.
Mobile Content Usage
In February, 74.8% of U.S. mobile subscribers used text messaging on their mobile device, up 2.2%. Apps were used by 49.5% of subscribers (up 4.6%), while browsers were used by 49.2% (up 4.8%). Accessing of social networking sites or blogs increased 3.1% to 36.1% of mobile subscribers. Game-playing was done by 32.3% of the mobile audience (up 2.6%), while 24.8% listened to music on their phones (up 3.1%).