Visa Adds Digital, Data-Driven Asset; MediaMind Reports Earnings; Facebook’s New Retargeting

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Visa Adds Digital, Data-Driven Asset

It’s not quite ad tech, but it’s the game of big data as virtual goods monetization has turned into a multibillion-dollar industry. It was only a matter of time before the credit card companies step in. Visa has acquired PlaySpan and its payment platform for buying virtual goods – game credits, premium memberships, etc. — within social games and on social networks and other digital properties.  Take a gander at the press release. In addition, the platform not only provides fraud and risk management, but juicy social analytics – Visa must be salivating. The price tag was $190 million plus additional financial considerations regarding milestones, which is pennies compared to the $2 billion Visa spent on Cybersource last year. TechCrunch notes the fun fact that the company was founded in 2006 by 12-year-old, Arjun Mehta – hope he doesn’t spend all that coin at the video arcade. Read TechCrunch’s take.

MediaMind Reports, Building Out

On Tuesday, ad technology company MediaMind reported its Q4 2010 earnings and according to Dow Jones Newswires, “MediaMind posted a profit of $5.5 million, or 26 cents a share, down from $6 million, or 39 cents a share, a year earlier. The number of shares outstanding jumped 38%. Excluding stock-based compensation and related tax benefits, earnings fell to 30 cents from 40 cents as revenue rose 15% to $25.9 million.” Read the release. Analysts had expected 28 cents on $26 million in revenue. Wall Street had no mercy as MediaMind shares plummeted 20% to $12+ in trading right after the announcement. Some Wall Street analysts lowered their price targets on the stock slightly such as JP Morgan’s Bridget Weishaar who thought the sell-off was overblown. And, the Deutsche Bank analyst wrote: “Overall, the 4Q revenue and earnings performance reinforced our core investment thesis that the MediaMind platform is positioned well to grab a growing share of the online display advertising market globally. There does appear to be a higher level of investment to support the business and its growth initiatives, at least in the near-term, which has led us to lower our estimates for 1H 2011 before the benefits begin to accrue in the back half.”  CEO Gal Trifon stressed in the release that his company is building out: “In the coming quarters, we look forward to building on our efforts to grow MediaMind v2.0 (…) and expand our global operations while more efficiently meeting the demands of our growing advertiser base. As part of this expansion, we are strengthening our customer-facing service organization and we recently established a new technical support center in the Philippines.”

Agency/Brand Disconnect

So Land’s End came up with a clever way to capitalize on the latest Snowpocalypse: host a Twitter storm in which consumers could post pictures of the snow and answer trivia questions to win prizes and coupons. However, there wasn’t anything on Land’s End website about the initiative. “[W]hat needs to be done in organizations and in agency relationships to make us able to take advantage of these opportunities?” asks Joe Mele, Razorfish’s managing director of media and marketing for the West region. You better believe Mele’s got a list of solutions here.

Facebook’s Recirculation System

The new Sponsored Stories feature — which allows brands to port user posts recommending their products and such into the right column ad space — is grabbing most of the attention from Facebook’s announcement of ad system upgrades, but to AllFacebook’s Nick O’Neill it sounds a lot like good ol’ retargeting. Still he’s absolutely amazed that Facebook has succeeded in “charging advertisers to recirculate users within its site,” something not even Yahoo was able to pull off. “The more Facebook advertisers spend, the more impressions the social network gets on its site, and the more revenue the company generates.” Read O’Neill’s full analysis here.

Targeting Influence

In reviewing the hypothetical purchase of a bike, Dan Reich suggests on his personal blog that it’s not all about going through gobs of data to make the decisioning process easier or efficient. He writes, “Even if there is a large data set that crunches consumer reviews looking for the very best product, it really only takes a focus group of one and a personal connection to influence someone’s buying decision.” Target connections now.

Two Outcomes for AOL/Huffpo

The Drift’s Doug Weaver has spent most of the week pondering AOL’s acquisition of Huffington Post and he just can’t make up his mind. If Arianna Huffington really takes charge of AOL’s content engine, he thinks the deal could go gangbusters. However, after noting that growing page views is a losing gameplan, he comments, “If AOL simply applies the same advertising-based monetization strategies to a new slice of inventory, then this ends up being a $350 million search optimization deal.” Read the whole internal argument here.

Politics And Ads

The Wall Street Journal reports that some advertisers are concerned that Huffington Post’s left-leaning political agenda  could alienate certain consumers and thereby preclude advertisers from spending on the Aol content network. Christian Juhl of Razorfish tells the WSJ, “One of the first questions we have is, ‘Does this change the editorial style of AOL?’ That is something to watch for. If that were to become the full voice of AOL editorial, then I think, yes, that would risk alienating some people.” Read more.

It’s Not About The Click Impression

Simulmedia CEO Dave Morgan takes over the pages of Ad Age for a piece titled, “The Lowly Ad ‘Impression’ Has Become Meaningless, So Lets Kill It.” He concludes, “Is this the time to revisit ‘engagement’ as universal media metric? I think so. It won’t be easy to develop a perfect, cross-media definition for it; but whatever we end up with will be better than where we are with impressions.” Read more.

Targeting Ain’t Worth the Hassle

Solve Media CEO Ari Jacoby asks why everybody is focusing on targeting instead memorable brand messaging — something like his company’s ads where users type in brand slogans to solve CAPTCHA. All the online privacy noise of late shows that ad tech people are freaking consumers, out, man – and for what? “[W]e’ve found that retargeting provides minimal lift for brand advertisers,” Jacoby says. “Consumers barely click on hyper-targeted ads because they simply don’t care—the extra juice may not be worth the squeeze.” Bold words – read the full interview with Digiday Daily.

RTB For You And Me

Rubicon Project announced a new real-time bidding research study. The white paper bylined by Rubicon product manager Mark McEachran says that according to RP data, “RTB-enabled sites saw 37% lift year over year, or 25% greater revenue lift on average than sites that did not include real-time bidding in their optimization mix.” Read the release. And, download the study (sign-up required).

Don’t Monetize

Media Darwin’s Jim Meskauskas wants to kill six (6) digital marketing buzz phrases and identifies them all on iMediaConnection. Meskauskas starts with monetize: “Say it loud, and there’s music playing… say it soft, and it’s almost like praying. ‘Monetize.’ It means everything from the sale of ‘Me by Me: The Sock Puppet Book’ to More Salad!, an app from Maverick Software that, for 99 cents, let’s you make a virtual salad with a variety of virtual leafy greens and toppings.” He doesn’t stop there – keep reading!

Favorite Foods

News of Amazon’s Facebook integration got Robert Mews of the Grocery Shopping Network thinking about the lack of grocery-related preferences on the social network. Mark Zuckerberg, why don’t you want to know users’ favorite foods? What’s this user’s idea of fresh produce? How about his thoughts on veal versus lamb? Food preferences “would allow more grocery retailers to make stronger food related recommendations to consumers who are connecting via Facebook on their website.” Or they could possibly annoy the hell out of users who already feel over-targeted. Read the bloggage and decide.

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