Hearst On Verge Of Buying iCrossing; AOL Announces Ad Desk; GroupOn Gets $135 Million

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Hearst Eyeballing iCrossing

Hearst is on the verge of purchasing digital marketing firm, iCrossing, for around $375 million according to Emily Steel and Suzanne Vranica of The Wall Street Journal. The acquisition would come in the footsteps of Dentsu’s purchase of digital marketing firm, Innovation Interactive, as publishers and agencies alike are looking to hire their own digital samurai. Read it. (No subscription? Try this.)

AOL Announces Ad Desk

PaidContent’s David Kaplan talks to AOL’s Jeff Levick about a new self-serve ad platform from AOL called “Ad Desk”. Levick tells Kaplan that Ad Desk will be at “the center of all new display products that the company would be developing from here on in.” Read more. If you feel inclined, you’ll be able to buy AOL and Ad.com inventory. Ad Age’s Michael Learmonth reports, “Building a self-serve tool has been a priority for CEO Tim Armstrong since he came to AOL.” Read Ad Age.

Citibank Covering DSPs

Citibank analyst Mark Mahaney held an investor conference call on demand-side platforms on Monday called “Display Ad Update: Demand Side Platforms”. The call included RocketFuel’s Richard Frankel, BlueKai’s Omar Tawakol and Morpheus Media’s Shenan Reed. Among the insights, Frankel offered three broad trends that are feeding the DSP market according to Mahaney’s summary: “A) Liquidity of data in the market place (esp. emergence of data-independent web pages) provides an understanding of who might be good candidates for ads; B) Fluidity of inventory through exchanges, such as the DoubleClick Ad Exchange and the Yahoo! RightMedia Exchange, allows advertisers to pick inventory that is most important to them; and C) Better technology (more cloud computing power) allows DSPs to collect, analyze, and match data with advertisers in order to find the right inventory to target customers.”

Atherton Calls For Media Futures

From Ad Age’s Ad Networks and Exchange guide (see more here), Andy Atherton expands on “What Online Advertising Should Learn From TV Upfront Market.” He declares, “We must accommodate consumer product companies’ need to plan ahead with scalable, predictable forward media-buying capabilities: It’s time for an Online Media Futures.” Read more.

Virtual Currency Gets Behavioral

Virtual currency and offer providers are getting into the behavioral act according to ClickZ. AdKnowledge’s acquisition of Super Rewards last year is evolving as AdKnowledge’s CEO Scott Lynn discusses the new product’s features” “If we know that a consumer is frequently signing up to receive points with a credit card, then we can choose not to show that consumer banner advertising or promote an offer wall.” Read more.

Adgregate Markets Partners

McAfee and Adgregate Markets announced that it had certified the e-commerce ad units of Adgregate as “secure” and will resell the under McAfee’s “SECURE” trademark. The new certification positions Adgregate Markets ad units as an option for combating malvertising. What’s more, the new “SECURE” designation will be used visually on Adgregate units – which is a good thing: “The display of the McAfee SECURE trustmark resulted in a 75% sales increase and a 41% engagement lift when compared with non-McAfee ads.” Read the release. Undoubtedly, Adgregate’s other new deal with TRUSTe will also help ease consumer’s fears about buying from a banner and should positively impact performance. Read the TRUSTe release.

VivaKi Viva Vindico

Joe Mandese of MediaPost reports that Publicis’ VivaKi has chosen Vindico Group, part of Broadband Enterprises Inc. (BBE), as a preferred – but, not exclusive – provider for video ad serving within VivaKi’s digital media agencies. Mandese adds that Vindico a”worked on [VivaKi’s] recent Pool research and development project, which led to the development of the AdSelector system as a new standard for online video ad buying.” Read more.

The Survival And The Sacred

CEO coach and former Flatiron Partners VC Jerry Colonna discusses how entrepreneurs need to balance between their commitment to their passion – the Sacred Dance – and the reality of the Survival Dance: “What do we tell ourselves about committing to our soul’s work, our Sacred Dance, when we can’t even pay the damn bills?” It ain’t easy says Colonna, but he shares a solution. Read more.

Even Mags Get Real-Time

Mediaweek’s Lucia Moses reports that in an effort to offer marketers more of a just-in-time opportunity with their marketing messages, production cycles that normally lasted up to eight weeks are now being cut to 3 days in some cases. Barry Lowenthal, president of The Media Kitchen, tells Mediaweek, “We’re moving to a real-time world.” Indeed.

Silicon Valley Less Important

-That’s what Lightspeed Venture Partners’ Jeremy Liew says on his venture firm’s blog and adds that the innovation these days is coming in the form of business models rather than technology or product – and then he lists a bunch of companies to prove his point. “While there is some core technology to each of these companies, most of them have more people in functions like marketing, sales, customer care, merchandizing etc than in technology,” says Liew. Read it.

Boom! GroupOn Gets $135 Million

GroupOn joins the ranks of companies such as Facebook and Zynga that have received huge investments from Russia-based Digital Sky Technology. According to All Things D’s Kara Swisher, the social buying site with headquarters in Chicago and an employee base of 270, will receive a $135 million investment which values GroupOn “above $1 billion.” This is the most shocking of all: the company launched one year ago. Read more.

Yahoo!’s New Chief Product Officer

That was quick. Blake Irving will be hired as the new Chief Product Officer at Yahoo! replacing Ari Balogh who said just recently that he’ll be leaving Yahoo! in June. In the release on the new hire, Irving’s prior role was at Microsoft as a VP of the Windows Live Platfrom group where he “led a team of 4,000 to build and operate Microsoft’s Internet-scale services platform, advertiser and developer ecosystem.” Read the release.

Publishers Clearing House Marketing With Games

It’s not just a sweepstakes company (or multi-channel, offline direct marketer) any more as Publishers Clearing House is moving online and looking to leverage its 20 million unique visitors at PCHgames.com. Comprised of casual gamers who like Mahjongg, Solitaire and more, PCHgames.com offers advertisers who deep game integrations and/or overall run-of-site buys. Target Mom now.

Looking At The Ad Rotation

Tom Wolfer looks at what how to define the best possible rotation of ads on a website using Time Series Analysis. Among the questions he hopes the analysis can answer is “how many ad rotations are too many? If a banner ad is changed from four rotations to five rotations, does this negatively impact the ad’s clickthrough rate? Should the ad have remained a three rotation ad to begin with?” Read more.

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