- In an apparent vote of no confidence, ABC News appears to have abandoned Tumblr, the microblogging-plus-video social media site, reports Digiday. While Tumblr has a huge audience, Digiday describes its benefit to publishers as “uncertain.” ABC had run at least three Tumblr feeds (called “Tumblrs”), including for “Nightline” and “ABC World News with Diane Sawyer” for over two years. ABC has declined comment. Digiday speculates that ABC may have been concerned about the liability of sharing content on Tumblr. ABC News has a strong presence on both Twitter and Facebook, with the Twitter accound @ABC has having more than 1.6 million followers and its Facebook page with more than 492,000 likes.
- Apple kept its word to developers. Apple on Sunday, April 1, announced to developers that it has increased their share of revenue in iAd from 60 to 70%. Also true, as AdExchanger reports the significance, advertisers can now spend as little as $100,000 to initiate mobile campaigns, down from a $300,000 threshold that went into effect last July. That is just a fraction of the “lofty” $1 million minimum for entry when iAd launched in 2010, and of the $0.5 million entry from last February.
- Google and Starbucks are planning a Google Offers campaign for this week, reports ClickZ, which “should be a boon for Google Offers subscriber numbers,” given Starbucks' popularity. Starbucks joins such national brands as REI, JetBlue, and Toys R Us which have partnered with Google Offers since Google launched the deals platform 10 months ago. Groupon still reigns as the source for bargains at local businesses.
- “The Economist” is putting the brakes on the “everything is free” ethos, reports Digiday. The magazine’s Managing Director for the Americas Paul Rossi called the free or lower-cost digital model “suicide.” Rossi spoke at Digiday’s Publishing Summit last week, and told the crowd that “It makes no sense in my mind if you think a mag on a news has a [value] to a reader of $4.99 that you sell that to a reader digitally for 99 cents or $1.99…I don’t understand the logic.” Rossi also addressed the problem of digital advertising not coming close to replacing print revenue—partly because lower- or no-cost content devalues digital ad placements.
- Business Insider has published a provocative article called “This Is What Advertisers Hate About Facebook,” citing a “top ad executive at a company that helps brands market on Facebook.” Among the dislikes: unreliable APIs. “[Google] technology has been reliable for the past 15 years. With Facebook, you feel like you're dealing with three developers in their garage changing their mind every week.” Also, ownership of data and content, particularly customer data. Facebook says it’s theirs, brands think it’s theirs. Finally, analytics. “It's not just that the functionality is lacking, the executive said, it's that the stats are virtually unusable,” says Business Insider. The executive cited disbelief that a big brand with a Facebook page for a small-town subsidiary had supposedly “reached” 1.3 million people.
- NBCUniversal has penned a multiyear agreement with FreeWheel to use its ad-management system to serve online and mobile ads across some of NBCU's network and cable digital properties, reports Multichannel News. Those properties include NBC.com, NBCSports.com, NBCOlympics.com, CNBC.com, USANetwork.com, BravoTV.com and Telemundo.com. NBCU will use FreeWheel's Monetization Rights Management system for multiple sites, including NBCOlympics.com in connection with NBC's coverage of the 2012 Summer Olympic Games in London. NBCU reports that advertisers have already bought more than $50 million in digital inventory for the Summer Olympics. With the FreeWheel system, advertisers can now buy specialized digital ad packages such as exclusivities, sponsorships and other converged-ad campaigns.
The Association of Business Information and Media (ABM) has released its latest Business Information Network (BIN) Report, a compilation of trade media sales data and revenue for business-to-business (B2B) media companies. Total revenues for B2B media companies in the U.S. rose from $24.7 billion in 2010 to $26.5 billion in 2011, an overall increase of 7.2%.
The BIN Report covers four B2b revenue streams, in order from largest to smallest: trade shows; print advertising; digital advertising; and data. The data category includes rich media and business information services on a subscription and transactional basis.
Digital advertising led in gains, with a leap from $5.2 billion to $6.4 billion, a boost of 22%. Print gained only 3.8% by comparison, but still represented $7.7 billion in revenues, or $1.3 billion more than digital. But that won’t last.
Trade show revenue contributed the highest revenue by stream at $10.5 billion, but showed the weakest gains at 2.2%. Still, by share of all revenue, it was the largest contributor to the industry revenue, at 40%.
The New York Times announced on Tuesday Evening, via its website, that it will cut the number of free stories nonsubscribers are allowed to read by 50%, from 20 per month to 10. The changeover takes effect on April 20.
As the announcement goes, “This change will strengthen our ability to continue providing the world’s most insightful and investigative reporting in journalism today, as well as support the ongoing development of digital innovations and apps that make The Times an experience you won’t find anywhere else.”
Why the change? “We think 10 articles a month, plus free access to our home page, strikes a better balance between visiting and subscribing…the change provides us with an opportunity to convince another segment of our audience that what The Times has to offer is worth paying for.”
Articles, blog posts, slide shows, video and multimedia will count towards the monthly limit; but a workaround is that access via links from Facebook, Twitter, search engines and blogs will not.
Is this not a bit risky? Perhaps it would be for Gannett and the 80 local papers that are erecting paywalls, but not for The Times. As Times spokesperson Eileen Murphy told the Poynter Group, “The number of non-subscribers who turn more than 10 pages but less than 20 is relatively small…so this move will not have an impact on most users and we expect minimal impact on traffic. And, we hope to convince this segment of our audience that they should take advantage of the many benefits of subscribing.”
GroupM and Nielsen today announced a collaboration to create a new measurement service that integrates media planning and measurement across television and the Internet.
This is good news for Nielsen, as the partnership will help the company overcome its TV-centric image; for ad buyers as well, which have yet to settle upon a single source for cross-media measurements.The goal of the partnership, said the companies in a release, is to "overcome challenges posed by separate media planning, buying, and analysis processes for TV and the Internet, and to answer a growing demand by advertisers for cross-platform measurement tools that help them streamline their marketing strategies."
The new service, dubbed Nielsen Cross-Platform Campaign Ratings, will leverage the Nielsen Online Campaign Ratings product, as well as its existing television audience measurement capabilities, to provide clients with total and overlapped reach and frequency of their marketing campaigns. Nielsen Online Campaign Ratings provides reach, frequency and GRP measures for Internet advertising.
The effort calls for GroupM, a media investment management company, and the Nielsen Company to contribute resources and expertise to create Cross-Platform Campaign Ratings and make it available to GroupM clients. The companies will also work together to develop innovative new measurement tools that extend beyond TV and online to other platforms.
“Our advertiser clients increasingly recognize that traditional television advertising and online video advertising must work together,” said Rino Scanzoni, GroupM’s Chief Investment Officer. “It’s vital that we have consistent measurement, and that’s our goal in working with Nielsen.”
Executives from both companies said consistent measurement across TV, the web and beyond is critical in order to calculate the total reach and frequency of a cross-platform campaign—a goal previously unattainable because TV and web measurement traditionally employ different metrics.
“Cross-platform metrics are essential to both buyers and sellers of advertising,” said Steve Hasker, president of Media Products and Advertiser Solutions for Nielsen. “Every day, we’re hearing from advertisers, online publishers, TV networks and agencies that a better system of measurement is required. Through working closely with GroupM and others in the industry we believe we can help create best practices that will benefit the entire ecosystem.”
“Today I’m happy to announce that the partnership we announced this past November, between Microsoft, AOL and Yahoo! is now fully operational and open for business,” declared Microsoft on its ad blog. “Starting this week, the Microsoft Media Network, AOL’s Advertising.com and Yahoo! Network Plus are leveraging real-time bidding (RTB) to offer advertising opportunities across all three networks’ premium, non-reserved, owned and operated display inventory.”
The idea is to provide marketers with “flexible access” to a larger pool of ad inventory; added audience reach; and the combined analytics of the three organizations.As Yahoo! described the offering in its own ad blog, the partnership streamlines the media-buying process “by providing more efficient access to premium online ad inventory,” while both extending reach and offering better yields.
As Adweek described, the agreement was perceived as a “play against Google, which added premium inventory to its offering through last year’s Admeld acquisition.” But until this announcement, there was no indication when the partnered inventory would go live. Still there were some rumblings, when AOL moved its inventory to Yahoo!’s Right Media Exchange (RMX). Microsoft’s inventory will remain on its Microsoft Advertising Exchange.
- “Comcast's XfinityTV is giving college hoops fans a chance to check out all the Madness in one place,” writes Multichannel News. Comcast has aggregated coverage of the NCAA Division 1 Men's Basketball Championship at http://xfinity.comcast.net/sports/cbk/, where Comcast subscribers can stream games live; this regardless of the network on which a game airs, be it TBS, TNT, TruTV or broadcaster CBS. The microsite also brings in video from ESPN, Fox Sports, Big Ten Network, AP and Reuters.
- No word yet on if/how it will work in advertising, but PixyKids, a social network aimed at kids 6-12, has raised $3m in funding, reports SocialTimes. The funding comes from ATA Ventures and angel investors. PixyKids is a new social network focused upon parent-approved entertainment, social interaction and creativity. The site will have a heavy bent toward creativity, offering kids a platform to share their art, photos and videos. CEO Rajul Kadakia has billed it as “Facebook Meets Disney.”
- The CW is “Pushing the boundaries to where its young TV viewers are,” writes Media Post, “as well as helping its TV advertising sponsors,” by releaseing a new mobile app where full episodes of CW shows can be viewed the next day—ads intact. Before, those episodes were available three days after airing. In fact, the most recently aired five episodes are available on the app, which in turn is available for iPad, iPhone and Android. CW is home to “Vampire Diaries,” “Gossip Girl,” “America’s Next Top Model” and “Gossip Girls,” among other properties.
- Rush Limbaugh posted his first tweets yesterday, reports CNBC, with links to two stories that were supportive of him after the recent advertiser boycott. (This after Limbaugh referred to a female birth-control advocate and law student as a “slut” and a “prostitute.”) A bold move, considering the considerable backlash against him on Twitter. Limbaugh created the Twitter account in 2009 but never used it. “There’s an army out there that wants to be mobilized, and so, I figured, use Twitter for it,” he said on his radio show. One story by Cornell Law School professor William Jacobson accused Limbaugh’s opponents of “astroturfing” advertisers. As of Thursday, Limbaugh had more than 100,000 followers.
- eBay has selected Publicis Groupe's Digitas to handle its digital media and digital creative, reports Ad Age. Digitas beat out a trio of finalists, which included Organic and Swirl. The deal does not as yet include social media, and it is unclear if that will be assigned to a different agency. eBay's North American CMO Richelle Parham worked at Digitas for 12 years, finishing as senior VP and general manager at Digitas in 2007.
Nickelodeon at its upfront presentation held yesterday at Lincoln Center unveiled plans for an unprecedented 650 new episodes—the most in the network’s history—of both brand-new content and returning hits (like “SpongeBob Squarepants” and “iCarly”).
As Adweek describes, “Nick pulled out all the stops at a svelte hour-long show,” but said as well that the network needed to demonstrate innovation. Nickelodeon “made headlines with a 19% year-over-year slip in November,” which parent company Viacom tried to blame on poor math by the Nielsen Company.
Nonsense, countered Nielsen, and the broadcast industry at large. The slip came down to 1) aging inventory and too many reruns; 2) stronger and more new offerings by rivals Disney and the Cartoon Network; 3) possibly losing young viewers to gaming and over-the-top (OTT) content; and 4) upset parents. (One parent we reached for this article, who is also in charge of programming for a midwestern cable provider, described Nickelodon content as “nasty” compared to its early days.)
Nickelodeon may be onto something, when it blames OTT content. It looms particularly large in on-demand viewing. When Comcast’s Xfinity On Demand service tallied its most-watched series for 2011, Nickelodeon took two of the three top-requested kids series, with “SpongeBob SquarePants” and “Dora the Explorer,” and all three of the most-requested non-animated series by kids aged 7 and up, with “iCarly,” “Big Time Rush” and “Victorious.” But neither Disney nor Cartoon Network suffered the same plummet, and their offerings too are available on demand. Right alongside them in the Xfinity tallies are Disney Channel with “Mickey Mouse Clubhouse,” PBS’s Sprout with “Barney” and “Sesame St.,” and the Cartoon Network winning the top three spots in animated series among kids 7+. Every one of those three series debuted in 2010, where Nickelodeon’s “SpongeBob” debuted in 1999, and “Dora” in 2000.
Nickelodeon seems to have moved beyond trying to blame multiscreen viewing and bad math by Nielsen. "Nickelodeon has no intention of letting the recent ratings slip slow down our creative momentum," said Viacom’s Nickelodeon Group President Cyma Zarghami at the upfront. “Kids have a ferocious appetite for new content and it is our intention to serve them more, innovative work than ever before.” Among other new offerings:
- “The Legend of Korra,” based on a character from the film “Avatar”
- A stop-motion SpongeBob SquarePants Christmas special
- Several original primetime TV movies
- “Hollywood Heights,” based on a teenager’s life as she achieves singing fame
- An animated series based on the Raving Rabbids video games It has not tossed out “SpongeBob” or “Fairly OddParents,” but, will roll them into a portfolio of more than 300 new animated episodes in 2012
At the heart of Yahoo’s just-announced lawsuit against Facebook: patent violations, particularly with regards to targeted advertising. Yahoo lists 10 patents which upon which Facebook has supposedly and knowingly infringed, which include patents for advertising; privacy; customization; social networking and messaging.
Forbes describes the stakes. Yahoo is claiming that Facebook relies upon its patents “to direct ads to viewers who have expressed an interest in certain topics and the pay-per-click model for charging advertisers, which it says requires Yahoo!’s patented algorithms” to strip away fraudulent or unwanted clicks.
If Facebook were to be disallowed the technology, then, the personalized experience of Facebook, both in social networking and advertising, would be essentially wiped out. The New York Times in its DealBook section has listed just what those ad patents are, being three entitled “Method and system for optimum placement of advertisements on a webpage,” granted in 2005, 2006 and 2008, and one called “System and method to determine the validity of an interaction on a network,” granted 2010. Also in contention, at the sheer ability to target those ads, as the suit includes patents for generating a “community bias” and a “dynamic page generator.”
Facebook in a statement said that “We’re disappointed that Yahoo, a longtime business partner of Facebook and a company that has substantially benefited from its association with Facebook, has decided to resort to litigation.” Facebook claims that after some unsuccessful negotiations, it “learned of Yahoo’s decision simultaneously with the media. We will defend ourselves vigorously against these puzzling actions.”
How likely is this to put the brakes on Facebook advertising? Not very, frankly. This kind of suit is commonplace, “Where a company that used to be a leader asserts patent against a newcomer gaining share,” said Alexander Poltorak, chairman of the patent consulting firm General Patent, in the Forbes story. For example, Apple is fielding lawsuits from both Motorola and Samsung for smart phone technology. Settlements are more commonplace in patent disputes, and Apple last year settled with Nokia in a patent suit, for a one-time fee and royalties.
Still, Yahoo has retained a tough firm that once achieved a settlement with Facebook. As The New York Times describes, Yahoo has retained Los Angeles-based Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan, which represented the Winklevoss twins against Facebook. The twins had hired Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg as a programmer to create a social network, and of course Zuckerberg went on to found Facebook, independent of the Winklevoss brothers. The Winklevoss twins took $65 million and Facebook moved on.
So Facebook ads are likely to continue, unabated. Yahoo is likely to walk away from the proceedings with some satisfaction, but not enough to recoup the leadership position it once held.
While Netflix is actively (if quietly) seeking cable partners for its streaming content, they’re finding it a tough road, reports the New York Post. Three of the U.S.’s largest cable and satellite providers—Comcast, DirecTV and Dish Network—have each rejected Netflix, The Post reports, citing industry researchers SNL Kagan.
A Comcast spokesperson further told FierceCable that "We have no plans to offer access to Netflix to our customers through our Xfinity TV service, no matter what device." Both Comcast and DishTV already offer streaming services, so the announcement comes as no surprise. Still this is a disappointment to Netflix, as the three providers combined reach an estimated 56% of pay-TV households in the U.S. Verizon FIOS has another 4% of pay-TV households, according to Deadline Hollywood, but has announced its own streaming partnership with Coinstar/Redbox.
As Deadline reported, a pay-TV alliance with Netflix could force Time Warner to offer its own streaming service, HBO Go, directly to consumers rather than requiring them to subscribe first to cable or satellite: in short, to adopt the Netflix model. Also true, if Comcast were to pick up Netflix, it would “raise questions about the cable giant’s faith in [Streampix],” its new streaming service. And DishTV would have to reconcile Netflix with its Blockbuster rental and streaming service.
- Suddenlink Communications subscribers could lose access to AMC Networks programming later this week, over licensing fees disputes, reports Multichannel News. AMC's contract with Suddenlink expires at midnight on Wednesday (March 14), which may mean that Suddenlink subscribers will lose AMC, IFC, Sundance and We TV. Suddenlink on its website complains that AMC is asking a 50% increase over last year, and a 100% increase over the term of the proposed deal. AMC counters that the network which delivers Mad Men, Breaking Bad and The Walking Dead, deserves a monthly subscriber premium of 75 cents.
- Saturday Night Live took a dive, after last week’s season-high ratings, reports TVByTheNumbers. Actress Lindsey Lohan likely delivered a curiosity factor that actor Jonah Hill (“Moneyball” and the upcoming “21 Jump Street”) could not. SNL drew a 4.3 rating in the metered-market households, says Hollywood Reporter, down sharply from last week’s 5.5.In the Local People Meters, the Hill-led late-night show averaged a 2.6 rating in the adults 18-49 demographic, down double digits from last week.
- Actress Claire Forlani (long-time love interest of the Gary Sinise character on “CSI: NY”) has landed the lead in ABC’s drama pilot “Scruples,” reports Deadline Hollywood in an exclusive. The show will be produced by Tony Krantz and actress Natalie Portman, and is based on Judith Krantz’ potboiler novel by the same name. The show centers on clothing designer Billy Winthrop (Forlani) in a “world of sex, revenge and scandal.” The novel was televised once before in a 1980 miniseries, with the lead role played by Lindsay Wagner.
- Building on the success of Bravo’s “Top Chef: Texas” multiplatform initiative, Bravo TV has announced the release of a “Real Housewives” Facebook game, said the network in a release. “The Real Housewives: The Game” is set to run concurrently with the fifth season of “The Real Housewives of New York City.” It invites players to create a unique identity, interact with their favorite Housewives and construct individual storylines. Fans can build their own virtual environment – from city condo to Hampton’s beach house – and “climb the social ladder by participating in challenges only a Housewife knows how to handle.” Players that excel in a variety of categories such as “Best Apartment,” “Hottest Wardrobe” and “Highest Social Standing” will be awarded with on-air recognition during the live series.
- With speculation of layoffs of 1000+, Yahoo is pushing further into original programming, and seeking partnerships with TV networks beyond its current deal with ABC News, reports Ad Age. That five-month-old partnership created original web series with journalists from both Yahoo News and GoodMorningAmerica.com. ABC News announced last week that the combined series reached more than 89 million people online last month (ComScore data), putting the joint entity ahead of CNN, MSNBC, Huffington Post and CBS.