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Conversant’s Q2 Tries To Focus On The Future, Not So Much The Present

conversantSince Conversant rebranded from ValueClick and redefined itself from an ad network to an ad tech company, the choppy waters it once rode have calmed.

But last quarter, CEO John Guiliani warned Q2 2014 wouldn’t be as great, particularly due to the possibility of losing – or getting reduced business from – two of its CRM clients.

Conversant’s Q2 2014 revenues came within this guidance, clocking in at $137.4 million, a YoY increase of 7% (that being said, Conversant wasn’t in a great spot financially this time last year). Breaking Conversant down into its two revenue buckets, affiliate marketing revenue from Commission Junction was $40.6 million, (an 11% YoY increase) while its media revenue was $96.7 million (a 6% YoY increase).

The media umbrella includes Conversant’s display business as well as its CRM, mobile, video and cross-channel technologies. The growth rate in media in particular wasn’t as strong as Giuliani hoped. “I’m disappointed this year we don’t have double digits, and I definitely will be next year" if we don’t, he said.

“We’re not there yet,” he added, though he tried to focus on the positive by emphasizing “the things we’ve done to position ourselves for the future, the changing market, and the differentiated products we have.”

Analysts in particular were disappointed with the performance of the company’s media margins, which stagnated between Q2 2013 and Q2 2014. Giuliani said he’s comfortable with Conversant’s focus on adding value via better quality inventory at the expense of gross margins. (more…)


Acxiom Revenue Tanks This Quarter, But CEO Howe Asks Investors To Give It Time

acxiomearningsYou can’t blame Acxiom for trying, but the data management firm still has a ways to go before it achieves its goal of becoming the data management company to end all data management companies. Revenue for the first quarter of 2015 (Acxiom’s fiscal year ends in March) was $242.2 million, down roughly 6% year-over-year from $257.2 million.

Marketing and data services revenue came in at $187 million, down ever-so-slightly from last year. This quarter’s revenue for Audience Operating System (AOS)— Acxiom’s data-management platform (DMP) answer to players like Adobe and BlueKai — came in at about $5.5 million, 50% of which came through gross media spend.

In the words of Acxiom CFO Warren Jensen, the coming year will be one of “transition and heavy lifting.”

The ray of sunshine for Acxiom was gross media spend on AOS, which was up 87% from last quarter to about $28 million. It’s a seam to mine for the data company, which announced seven new AOS clients this past quarter, including a partnership with France-based multinational retailer Carrefour Media. The deal represents the first full deployment of the AOS platform in Europe — and Acxiom CEO Scott Howe is willing to wait and let it percolate before pushing it to bear much-needed fruit.

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RockYou Raises New Funding To The Tune Of $10 Million

RockYouInventory is where it’s at for RockYou.

The company, which recently pivoted away from game publishing to focus on becoming a programmatic in-game video ad network, has raised $10 million in funding from FastPay, a sort of anti-VC that extends credit lines to digital media companies.

It plans to use the money to buy up languishing social, mobile and online games in an effort to pump up its available video ad inventory.

RockYou has a user base of roughly 75 million players, mostly women on Facebook. Although CEO Lisa Marino was unable to share exact revenue numbers, she said about 35 to 40% of the company’s net revenue comes from ads, while the rest comes from digital goods.

“Growing our owned and operated portfolio gives us far more reach to unique users, ultimately delivering greater value to advertisers who can now access even more highly engaged players, i.e., the target consumers for brands,” Marino said. “We’re focused on acquiring existing games, often past their peak but with devoted user bases, and managing and monetizing them through their life cycle.”

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Expedia Flies After Q2, Pushed By Ad-Driven Tailwinds

expediaAnalysts’ high expectations for Expedia’s Q2 2014 earnings were justified when the travel-booking company reported YoY revenue growth of 24% to $1.49 billion.

Though driven predominately by strong hotel room night and air ticket growth, Q2 advertising and media revenue played a notable role in causing the revenue hike, growing 54% YoY to $123 million. Read the earnings release.

Expedia’s acquisition of a 62% majority stake (for $632 million) in German travel metasearch engine Trivago and its promotion of Expedia Media Solutions drove the most ad revenue.

“Trivago is aggressively pushing into parts of the world where they’re very strong and Expedia is perhaps underpenetrated,” CEO Dara Khosrowshahi said. CFO Mark Okerstrom noted that Trivago generates good leads and is an important traffic acquisition channel for travel advertisers. However, he expects to see deceleration during the back half of 2014.
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Rubicon Project Posts Strong Quarter, Sets Sights On Video And Data Value

rubicon quarterlyRubicon Project posted a Q2 revenue YoY increase of 49%, for a total of $28.3 million.

Managed revenue was $153.5 million, an increase of 36% from the same period last year. RTB managed revenue grew 75% YoY. Rubicon lost more money than last year, however, with a net loss of $9.4 million, compared to $2.1 million in Q2 of 2013.

During the call, company CEO, founder and Chief Product Architect Frank Addante highlighted the company’s recent moves, particularly in the ultra-hot areas of video and mobile.

“We released video into private beta and took a huge leap in mobile,” he said. “With the addition of InMobi, we now power the world’s largest mobile native advertising exchange.”

The latter is a collaboration to create a mobile exchange to compete with both Google’s and Twitter’s, one that is said to field 750 million mobile users across more than 30,000 mobile apps.
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Twitter Posts Strong Revenue Growth, Plans To Court Logged-Out Audiences

twitter earnings

Despite the troubles Twitter has had maintaining its audience growth rates, particularly in the US, it has consistently reported revenue increases. Its Q2 2014 revenue was no exception: The company hauled in $312 million – a 124% YoY increase.

Twitter again beat analyst predictions that the social media company would see revenues of about $282 million. Advertising accounted for $277 million in Q2, a 129% YoY increase, driven by higher engagement, according to CEO Dick Costolo. “This translates to higher ROI,” he added. Mobile advertising was 81% of total advertising revenue.

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Nielsen Posts Strong Q2 2014 Revenue, Plans To Focus On Mobile

Nielsen’s revenue soared in the second quarter.

The company on Tuesday reported a nearly 16% revenue growth spurt in the second quarter of 2014 to $1.6 billion, up from $1.4 billion at this time last year, minus the recent acquisitions of Arbitron and Harris Interactive.

Although revenue was up, net profits were nothing to write home about. Nielsen experienced a precipitous decline in income from $426 million in Q2 2013 to $74 million this quarter, which CEO Mitch Barnes blamed on recent refinancing of the company’s long-term debt.

In terms of new products and revenue streams, Nielsen is diving into mobile measurement. While this may still be new for Nielsen, Barnes predicted significant growth later this year with the planned upcoming inclusion of mobile measurement in TV ratings.

For the moment, it’s a bit early to talk about specific revenue from the mobile arm of Nielsen’s Online Campaign Ratings (OCR), which launched July 1, but Nielsen’s CFO Jamere Jackson did note during the company’s Q2 2014 earnings call that revenue for mobile OCR stands “in the tens of millions.” He said Nielsen will share more concrete numbers down the line.

As of now, more than 100 companies have signed up for mobile OCR, including key video platforms Adap.tv, BrightRoll, Drawbridge, LiveRail, Tremor Video and TubeMogul.

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Pandora’s Mobile Revenue Hits All-Time High, Listener Growth Not So Much

PandoraQ22014Mobile ad revenue was up significantly for Pandora during Q2 2014, jumping 59% from last quarter to $167.5 million, a 51% year-over-year increase.

Total revenue for the Internet radio streaming company came in at $218.9 million, 76% of which was made up by mobile ad revenue. While it represented a 38% year-over-year growth for the company, the total came in just shy of estimates. Local ad revenue was $35.3 million, up 144% since last year.

On the revenue per mille front, ad revenue per thousand ad-supported listener hours was on the rise, reaching $34.15 million this year, up 7% from last year.

A big issue for Pandora last quarter was its less-than-robust growth of active listener hours. Investors on the Q2 2014 earnings call pounded Pandora President and CEO Brian McAndrews on the point.

Between Q4 2013 and Q1 2014, the 12% increase in listener hours wasn’t all that much considering the Q1 increase was only 16%. It’s not a static number, but it’s also not impressive, considering the 250 million radio listeners currently in the US. In Q2 2014, radio listening among Pandora users went up just 7.04%.

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TripAdvisor Misses Q2 2014 Estimates — But At Least Ad Revenue’s Up

TripAdvisorearningsTripAdvisor painted a muddled picture during its Q2 2014 earnings call.

The travel booking site’s overall profits came in far below estimates. But ad revenue was a bright spot for TripAdvisor, which saw an increase in both click-based and display ad revenue this quarter.

Click-based ad revenue increased year over year to $235 million, up 28%, while display revenue grew 19% to $37 million.

The company’s CFO Julie Bradley attributed the uptick in click-based revenue to “strong CPC pricing for meta search leads.” (In February of last year, TripAdvisor had rolled out what it refers to as “meta-search,” a Google-inspired feature that eschews the “pop-under” ad format in favor of serving search and display results with the hope of raising both the quality and prices of its display ad offerings.)

Total revenue for Q2 2014 was $323 million, a year-over-year increase of 31%, meaning click-based revenue accounted for 73% of its total second-quarter revenue. Interestingly, that percentage was down just a smidgen from Q2 last year, when click-based revenue represented 74% of total revenue.

The same was true on the display side. Display-based ad revenue comprised 11% of total revenue this year versus 19% last year.
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Marketing Services A Bright Star For Neustar Q2 Amid Contract Black Hole

neustar q2Communications infrastructure provider Neustar is in the midst of a change, one reflected in the growing importance of its marketing and security services.

“We’ve succeeded in pivoting in becoming an information services and analytics company,” said Neustar CEO Lisa Hook during the company’s Q2 2014 earnings call.

Neustar reported Q2 2014 results at $237.5 million, a year-over-year increase of 8%. Its marketing services division saw a YoY increase of 19% to $35 million. Combined with its security services ($34 million at a 28% YoY increase), the two divisions constitute a little less than a third of Neustar’s total revenue.

Neustar’s pivot comes at an opportune time. As a whole, the company is in a bit of a bind, facing concerns that it will lose a huge contract as the provider of technology enabling cell phone users to keep their numbers when they switch carriers.

Services related to number portability constituted the bulk of Neustar’s Q2 revenues ($118.7 million, a 6% YoY increase). This impact contract made up 49% of Neustar’s 2013 revenue, and while analysts hammered Hook for a resolution timeline, she couldn’t commit to one.
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