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AOL’s Display Declaration
Even as rivals Yahoo and Google claimed easy display revenue increases in 2010, AOL continued to struggle. The company was in the midst of a major overhaul of its ad systems and approach CEO Tim Armstrong cautioned many times. Over the past few months, he has given hints that the one-time display powerhouse would be back on top by mid-2011. This week, Armstrong took to the podium at the Citi Global Entertainment Media Telecom Conference in Phoenix, to give his strongest declaration that AOL would see its display revenues in line with the rest of the market in the second half of this year. Time will tell. Read more in Nat Worden’s Dow Jones Newswires piece.
Yahoo! Display Exec Changes
The Yahoo revolving door keeps turning. A few months after Hilary Schneider , one of the architects behind the company’s APT display system, exited, David Zinman, Yahoo’s VP and GM for display advertising is headed for the out door, AllThingsD’s Kara Swisher reported. Zinman arrived at Yahoo through its purchase of ad net BlueLithium nearly four years ago. Yahoo has already decided to replace him with James Beriker, formerly the CEO of display ad optimizer Dapper, which Yahoo bought last October. Swisher added that this latest change appeared to have nothing to with yet another expected reorg being engineered by Yahoo Americas EVP Ross Levinsohn.
Facebook: Money For… What?
Facebook once again captured the world’s attention this week when it raised an staggering $450 million from Goldman Sachs, while existing investor DST also kicked in another $50 million as well. The $500 million deal values the social net at $50 billion—more than companies like Yahoo and Time Warner. Despite the phenomenal success the social network has earned the past few years, many observers were still left shaking their heads. One of the most interesting pieces to question the valuation was the The Economist, which noted that Facebook has a much less diverse and robust ad model than companies like Google, which at least has search ads. Facebook mostly gets by on low-cost display ads. In any case, let’s accept that somehow it does manage to bring in $2 billion a year. That would suggest that Goldman and DST are paying 25 times current revenues for their shares – a significantly high multiple, even considering Facebook’s dominance of social media.
The ad recovery in the UK appears to be in full swing, much as it is in the U.S. But, NewMediaAge believes there’s a bit of irrational exuberance when it comes to projections that have display ad growth up double the rate of search this year. Although it concedes that there are reasons for buoyancy about the segment, such as the expectation of greater integration of different ad platform and media, when you get down to it, search will remain at the core of the UK ad market. That could be especially true with the growth of the mobile search ad space. But that’s the opinion page. NMA’s cover story does say that display will lead the industry out of the doldrums this year, with spending gains 9.3 percent, compared to search 4.4 percent rise in 2011.
Two Billion Ad Requests
Mobile advertising is expected to continue its rapid rise this year, and Google’s AdMob mobile ad network has hit a pretty noteworthy milestone. In a Google blog post, the company says AdMob receives more than 2 billion ad requests per day – that’s more than four times the amount twelve months ago. In terms of what Apple’s iAd system has to compete with, Google reports that more than 100 million unique Android and iOS devices get an ad request each month, nearly doubling over the last six months. And it’s not just in the U.S. either. There are nine countries in the AdMob network that generated more than a billion monthly ad requests in December 2010, up from just one country a year ago. The strongest regional growth in monthly ad requests over the past year has come from Asia (up an eye-popping 564 percent), followed by Western Europe (a 471 percent gain) and, of all places, Oceania (where the South Pacific saw a 363 percent rise).
Connecting Digital To TV
One of the big trends spilling over from last year into this one is the rise of over-the-top TV – otherwise known as the facilitator of cable viewers who want to cut their cords. After quietly being placed on wifi-enabled television sets, Yahoo's Connected TV platform is expanding beyond the wifi side of the set to the real-time TV part. The Yahoo widget will have the ability to connect in with live TV broadcasts. It can detect whether someone is watching a TV program or ad that can be matched with a feature on the widget for the purposes of seeking more information. See this take from Engadget’s Richard Lawler, which also includes the release.
Opting-In To Opting-Out
The online ad industry is still feeling the reverberations of the FTC’s end of year recommendation that browsers come equipped with a “Do Not Track” button. With that in firmly in mind, ad network Specific Media has decided to claim the mantle of being the first Interactive Advertising Bureau member to adopt the Advertising Option Icon across all its display ads. The icon is a tool users can use to “opt-out” of behavioral targeting. Specific Media is working with an entity called PreferenceCentral, a privacy solutions company (yes, the “threat” of targeting is creating many new business models), to deploy the icon for it. The IAB began promoting the icon last year to its members as a way of preserving the self-regulatory system over behavioral targeting.
Virtual Charge Card
When users are playing Zynga’s popular Farmville or Mafia Wars games, instead of paying with virtual cash, they can now use their virtual American Express charge card. Mediaweek’s Mike Shields details the new agreement between game developer Zynga and Amex, starting with 20 exclusive goods – including rewards points and other items – this week. The list of virtual goods available for purchase is sure to help Zynga prove that there is real money to be made from make believe.
After months of building a solid relationship, digital marketer Epic Media Group has struck a more formal strategic technology partnership with ad management platform LucidMedia. The deal is expected to give Epic Media, which owns Traffic Marketplace, access to LucidMedia’s demand-side platform and its real-time bidding management and semantic targeting abilities. Read more about the deal in the release.
Go West, Young Startup
Forget the land of MIT. Don’t even mention Silicon Valley. If a study by Portfolio.com is to be believed, that is. Cited by MassHighTech, the study found the most of the brainpower – i.e., highest levels of education attained by the adult population among 200 American cities – was located in the environs of Boulder, CO. Guess the team behind publisher network Lijit may be on to something after all.
The Last Word
Although New Year’s Eve was a week away, you’re probably still hung-over from binging on 2011 media industry predictions from the vantage point of 2011. The Media & Marketing and Tech reporting team at the WSJ have listed their favorite crystal ball visions: from social networks that extend their reach beyond the confines of the web to (finally!) premium VOD for cable. No surprises on the online advertising front, as the Journal warns of coming legislation that will seek to curb targeting.
eBay’s Fashion Fixer
With all the attention focused on shopping recommenders like Groupon and Gilt Groupe, it’s easy to overlook one of the web’s primary sources of shopping: eBay. This week, ex-Lucky magazine creative director Andrea Linett joined the online auction site to give the marketplace a bit of a makeover and dilute the messy, flea market feel. Given the struggles that magazines are in right now, even fashion titles, if Linett can effectively spruce the site up and attract more fashionable labels, that could be a challenge to the e-commerce and affiliate sales programs that are now buttressing many online women’s magazines. Read more about eBay’s fashionable turn at the NYT.