Aol’s Hot Document; More Microsoft Acquisition, Exchange Bytes; The IPOs Continue With Velti

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Aol’s Hot Document

Yesterday, prior to this morning’s Aol Q4 2010 earnings release hits the wires, Business Insider’s Nicholas Carlson was able to get his hands on CEO Tim Armstrong’s 58-page “master plan” – aka “The AOL Way” – for turning the company’s content business around. In addition to enormous boosts in pageviews – the goal is to get Aol’s sites to be less reliant on the homepage for traffic and drive their own traffic – he wants the percentage of stories optimized for search engines to reach 95 percent. Read more. On ReadWriteWeb, Marshall Kirkpatrick has his own, personal take on the benefits of cranking out the content. Read it.

Microsoft: Acquisition Averse?

There’s been a lot of talk about Microsoft’s inactive acquisition strategy lately, at least compared to rivals like Google and AOL. ZDNet’s Mary-Jo Foley hardly blames Microsoft for its reluctance to go shopping for more digital ad properties as she follows up on yesterday’s story by All Things D’s Peter Kafka. Foley brings the latest on the apparent wind-down of AdECN, Microsoft’s in-house ad exchange and quotes a Microsoft spokesperson: “Microsoft’s extended partnership with AppNexus represents an important building block in our scale display strategy. AppNexus has begun providing core real-time bidded offerings to Microsoft customers and as a result, we have discontinued our investments in AdECN as our RTB platform and are now referring to our offering as the Microsoft Advertising Exchange. The people who were working on AdECN have been redeployed to other roles within the organization, either in support of display or search advertising.” Read more.

Do Not Track = Do Not Call

Industry trade group The Direct Marketing Association, enforcers of the “Do Not Call” list for telemarketers, has officially recognized the “Do Not Track” ad icon program governed by the Digital Advertising Alliance, reports ClickZ’s Kate Kaye. The DMA equates the two programs and members will be required to post the ad icon in behaviorally targeted ads. Those who don’t comply with the DMA’s rule will be “shamed” and “embarrassed.” Persistent violators would be expelled from the organization. Read more.

Google TV Ads Adds Viamedia

Google has slowly been trying to expand its ad dominance from search to display to TV. The latter has proved to be the most tricky. But Google is nothing if not persistent. The company has struck a deal with ad sales firm Viamedia, reports Multichannel News’ Todd Spangler. Read more. The deal will give Google TV Ads’ marketplace access to local ad inventory covering about 2 million homes across 18 cable and telco operators. The Google TV Ads network now has a  reach of 37 million cable, satellite, and telco homes in the U.S., Mark Piesanen, head of strategic partner development for Google TV Ads, said in a blog post. The service now offers 1,200 gross rating points — or GRPs, a measure of advertising reach — and 1.5 billion available impressions each week for advertisers.

Google, Transparency, AppNexus

On its AdWords blog, Google continues to beat the drum of transparency as it looks for a direct path to the marketer. From the Inside AdWords blog, a Google rep announces, “In order to improve advertisers’ experience, we’re making changes to AdWords policies so that advertisers working with third-party partners understand how AdWords is performing for them and know what to expect from third parties. We believe that focusing on what’s best for the advertiser is ultimately the best long-term course for third parties working with AdWords.” Read more.  This move may echo (albeit distantly) the November cut-off of AppNexus from the DoubleClick Ad Exchange. By the way, sources say that as of early January, DoubleClick Ad Exchange service had been restored to AppNexus’ clients who now must have their own individual seat on the Exchange, but may use AppNexus as their RTB buying platform.

Amazon’s YouTube Recommendation

Greg Linden reports on his personal blog that parts of Amazon’s recommendation engine are being used by Google’s YouTube and points to a recent paper by a Google team at an industry conference. Linden writes, “The most interesting disclosure in the paper is that YouTube has switched from their old recommendation algorithm based on random walks to a new one based on item-to-item collaborative filtering.” Get filtered with Greg Linden.

Publishers’ Dilemma

Would publishers be willing to test an all-paid service in exchange for giving up ads on the content? That’s the question Readability is asking. The service, which has a browser app that takes web pages and renders them as clean text and without any graphics or images, certainly has some appeal to readers who want a “peaceful” experience online. But publishers, who depend on ad-support, are more apt to look askance at such a service. In an attempt to appeal to publishers, Readability is asking for their participation in a paid version. GigaOm’s Matt Ingram takes a closer look at the prospects of the business here.

More Than A Click

In response to Webtrends’ study (via Mashable) of declining click-throughs – and rising cost per clicks – on Facebook, the Stepchange group says that the report has overlooked some of the value the social net brings to marketers. For one thing, the smaller size and relatively unobtrusive quality of the ads, when an ad gets clicked, it’s most likely to be on purpose and prove engagement. “A more accurate comparison would be the cost of Facebook fan acquisition versus the cost of email address acquisition, since both involve a user agreeing to receive updates from the brand going forward,” Stepchange says. Read more.

Velti Shares Soar, And Then…

With last week’s Demand Media and Nielsen IPOs, this is starting to feel like media company season for stock offerings. Shares of mobile ad firm Velti jumped on Friday to $15.58, or 29.8 percent above their $12 initial public offering price on the Nasdaq, Reuters reported. Still, investors’ ardor can be fickle. Looking at Velti’s Yahoo Finance page on Tuesday evening, the stock showed signs of coming back to earth, closing at $14.17 per share, though that was still higher than that day’s opening price of $13.70. Read more.

How Free Is Free Money?

As we’ve reported, Yuri Milner, the mastermind of DST which invested in Facebook and Zynga, has made a much publicized foray into the seed investment space with $150k in convertible debt to any startup in the Y Combinator program. It has been seen as a game changer. On Startup Lawyer, Wilson Sonsini lawyer Yoichiro Taku looks at the terms and emphatically concludes, “I can’t think a good reason to turn down this deal, unless a company is never planning to raise outside investment.”  Read the analysis.

Just Tagline It

Creating a catchy tagline like “Just Do It” or “Got Milk?” is more art than science. But Inc.’s Tim Donnelly asked a few of the experts for some tips. One helpful “don’t” comes from Landor’s Jasmine Tanasy, who suggests that marketers place a moratorium around these meaningless examples of hyperbole: “innovation,” “global,” “insights,” “power.” All of those words are beyond over-used, especially in online advertising. Read more.

Oh The Weather

How bad is the weather? It’s so bad – at least in the midwest and eastern half of the country – that The Weather Channel is putting out press releases. And, there’s more as they report: “For digital, has had three of the top five days EVER in January of this year. In fact, yesterday we had an all-time high day for page views on all TWC digital properties (more than 217 million page views) and on on PC (126.7 million page views).”  Read the release.

Data-Driven Eventorama

The event season is back in full-swing and includes two events this Thursday in New York City.  Demand-side platform DataXu is co-hosting an event with the New York Advertising Club called, “The Future of the Digital Consumer.” More info here.  Meanwhile, The Paley Center is sponsoring an event that hopes to bring emerging companies together with industry leaders and investors called, “The Next Big Thing.” Video ad marketplace is a featured presenter.  Read more.

You’re Hired!

Online ad targeter [x+1] is putting that the $10 million funding round it raised this month to some quick use with product management hires which include Tom Caputo (formerly of Advanced Technology Ventures), John Hutchison (previously at Direct Channels Group) and Maggie Neuwald (more recently director of optimization for Yahoo’s Right Media). Read the release.

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