Microsoft's Ad Outsource; Media Planners Wanted!; Gannett Digital Revenues Continued Surge

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Microsoft's Ad Outsource

Next month, Microsoft will begin handing management of its “non-premium” display across its ad exchange business to AppNexus, reports MediaMemo’s Peter Kafka. That will essentially mean the end of AdECN, the exchange it bought in 2007 but only began testing last year. The move comes several months after Microsoft participated in AppNexus’ $50 million financing. Read more.

Players Planners Needed

Any wariness media planners feel about the shift to platform-based buys is natural: no one likes to feel they’re about to be replaced by a machine (or worse, an algorithm). But rest assured, wounded media planners, Adam Cahill, writing in ClickZ, says you’re more needed than ever. “There's a huge opportunity to identify non-obvious data-driven insights that impact not just the immediate display campaign, but have the potential to be applied broadly to other channels, disciplines, and initiatives,” Cahill says. “To become the person known for identifying leading indicators that the rest of your team can rally around.” Read more. Separately, ClickZ’s Jack Marshall notes that digital agencies are hiring again – but the bad news is they’re having trouble finding qualified applicants. Read that item here.

Facebook Falloff

Facebook is projected to take in $4 billion in ad revenue this year, but that doesn’t mean the ads are working any better. In fact, ad rates were up in 2010, yet click-throughs were down versus the year before, reports Mashable’s Todd Wasserman, citing a report by Webtrends. The report examined more than 11,000 campaigns on Facebook in an attempt to devise benchmarks for ads on the social net. The average click-through rate for Facebook ads in 2009 was 0.063 percent and 0.051 percent last year. That’s half as much as industry standard of .1 percent. The cost per click rose 81.5 percent in 2010 to $0.49. Still, it may all be worth it, since Facebook members do tend to share ads with people in their network, making this one of the most effective – and least controversial ad platform we have right now. Read more.

Dentsu’s Firstborn

Dentsu West, the U.S. arm of the Japanese holding company giant, has acquired 65-person indie digital shop Firstborn, AdAge’s Kunur Patel reported. The company is the latest for the Japanese shop. Last January, it bought interactive agency 360i. Interestingly, it was 360i CEO Bryan Wiener who introduced Firstborn CEO Michael Ferdman and  Dentsu West CEO Tim Andree over dinner just after Labor Day, at Tribeca Grill in Manhattan, which led to the negotiations. Read more.

AOL Goes Viral

AOL’s latest acquisition in a string of them is GoViral, the European video distribution network, paidContent’s Robert Andrews reported. The move comes after a year spent rebuilding AOL’s European business. The purchase satisfies AOL’s overall content strategy by “creating another immediate delivery path for all of the great content we are generating daily”. GoViral has a network of 18,000 sites through which to distribute video campaigns for brands. It says these videos generate more than 60 million monthly views. Read more.

Small-Biz, Big Challenges

Small business is still considered an untapped area of online advertising, but in the past year, interest in interactive by local marketers has been gaining. Video is a big driver of spending plans in general and small biz is no exception, according to eMarketer, which cites a report from Ad-Ology. But there are challenges. Although 45 percent of business owners want to do more with online video in the coming year, 22 percent said they were frustrated with trying to understand the process of online advertising. Clearly, more hand-holding for small biz is needed. Given the difficulty of scaling that business by most large ad tech firms, it looks like those local revenues may remain locked up in too many cases. Read more.

Shopping Spree

Online video services provider KIT Digital’s buying binge continued this week as the Prague, Czech Republic-based company spent $77.2 million to acquire three companies, KickApps, Kewego and Kyte. The company explained that the spending spree is all in support of its goal to become a one-stop shop for online video production, management and distribution. As part of the roll-up, KickApps CEO Alex Blum will become KIT’s COO. MediaMemo’s Peter Kafka has the rundown here. Read the release.

Digital Mag’s Effectiveness

It’s been said so many times in the past year, it’s become a cliché: tablets can save the old print models by approximating the look and feel of glossy paper and ink, while still allowing for the wider audience reach associated with social media. Since iPad magazine sales haven’t exactly done gangbusters, the notion has currently has more skeptics than advocates. But Bryan & Jeffrey Eisenberg say that that digital may be able to bring magazines those high CPMs once again. They point to a study by Alex Wang, Ph.D., on behalf of Adobe, that shows the effectiveness of ads placed in digital magazines. Individuals who saw interactive ads had “stronger engagement, message involvement, and attitude” than those who viewed the same static ad in a print magazine. Read more.

Gannett’s Double-Digit Digital

Gannett’s digital revenues continued to surge in Q4, propped up by the holiday season and the continued ad recovery. Even during the worst parts of the recession, reports paidContent’s David Kaplan, Gannett’s separate interactive units performed consistently well, except for employment site, Careerbuilder. But even that site’s numbers started to improve in the second half, joining rich media provider Pointroll and social media marketing unit Ripple6 on the positive side of the balance sheet. Still, the parent of USA Today doesn’t breakout results for each of its digital properties. That said, the total digital segment’s operating income was $37.8 million, 45.3 percent higher than the fourth quarter last year.

And for the full year, total digital revenue was about $1 billion, which represents about 18.1 percent all of Gannett’s revenues and an 8 percent gain. Read paidContent’s report here and a second one on the earnings call (CEO Craig Dubow discusses the new mobile platform for all its newspapers)while the Gannett earnings release is available here (PDF).

Display Energy

After a bit of slowness in the display markets toward the end of Q2 and Q3, Charlie Black – SVP & General Manager, Platform for Epic Media Group, says the current conditions feel “energized.” In a Q&A on Epic’s blog, Black says the data in general and Epic clients’ spending in particular are the reasons for the buoyant mood. After a typically strong Q4, Black expects budgets to continue their migration from offline to online. Interestingly, he believes that video, which has heretofore been largely insulated from the RTB buying process, will also start to move toward that model, at least for some advertisers. Read more.

Verified Story

Ad.ly, the marketing platform that matches brands with celebrity endorsers on social networks, finished an alpha network on Facebook, and is rolling it out to marketers and agencies, Mediapost’s Joe Mandese reports. Based on results of the beta, Facebook appears to be as much as twice as effective as Twitter in driving actions, including "likes" and comments among social network users. Read more.

Team Building Exorcism

Mark Suster, entrepreneur and VC, has a wide-ranging blog post that compresses everything from sleep-overs and Amy “Tiger Mom” Chua and distills it into a treatise on leadership. The basic premise: leaders don’t have the be the smartest guy in the room; they need to be able to inspire. A great leader is one who creates the environment for cohesive teamwork. And that all comes down to a basic social intelligence – street smarts, Suster says – and experience above all else. Read more.

AdRoll Googled

Tech platform AdRoll is highlighting a mention of the company’s service by Google. Specifically, Google touted the tech firm’s automated API that allows users to retarget within the DoubleClick system. Read the AdRoll post here, and the Google report here (PDF).

Simply Kept

When it comes to data layers, Metamarkets’ Mike Driscoll has four lessons: keep it simple, keep experimenting modules maintain flexibility and borrow a lot from open source projects. Read more.

Date Hacked

The online dating site PlentyOfFish has been the victim of what it describes as a sophisticated hack. The company’s CEO Markus Frind has been updating users on the company’s blog here.

Advertising Everywhere

In the future, your car, phone and mirror may be giving you targeted advertising messages. To some, that might sound a little overwhelming. But here’s a whimsical comic strip by a Microsoft researcher and a research report to boot titled “Ubiquitous Advertising: The Killer Application for the 21st Century.” (PDF). Thanks to a retweet from the WSJ’s Julia Angwin. See the strip here.

 

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