Here's today's AdExchanger.com news round-up...
Networking and Behaving This Week
Hello Left Coast!
More conferences this week for digital advertising enthusiasts as OMMA Ad Nets is in Los Angeles on Tuesday and OMMA Behavioral is in San Francisco on Thursday. The Right Media blog pipes up for the West Coast, "Most of the conferences tend to be in New York City because that's where the agencies are, and although it's great to get to New York, sometimes it's nice to go to something around the corner." Look, bottom line, it's nice to let you people have a conference once in a while.
ValueClick Takes It On Its Wall Street Chin
Benchmark Capital downgraded ValueClick Media to a "sell" even though it has yet to report its Q2 2009 earnings (Due August 4). StreetInsider.com noted on Friday, "Benchmark said ValueClick's three largest segments Media, Comparison Shopping and Affiliate Marketing each could decline by mid-teens percentages in 2009."
In other ValueClick news, their technology division known as Mediaplex, announced that its MOJO ad server has turned 10 years old. Happy birthday. Read the release.
Compressing The Funnel
Adgregate Markets (Q&A) and Linkstorm announced a partnership which will bring Adgregate's in-banner eCommerce system to Linkstorm's rich media banner offering called "Banner Xpander." Read the release. Adgregate Markets effectively attempts to compress the purchase funnel by creating awareness and offering fulfillment all in a single, display ad unit. Direct response (DR) advertisers - such as those who are Linkstorm clients - would appear to be a good fit.
Hespos Warns Agencies on Arbitrage
In his iMedia Connection article, "Should agencies be ad networks?", Tom Hespos of Underscore Marketing suggests that agencies may be running the risk of conflicting with client interests and the existing ad agency commission model. Hespos writes:
"I think we step over the line when agencies become speculators on blocks of ad inventory. When an agency lays out cash to acquire ad inventory in the hopes of reselling it to clients at substantial markups (more than what commission-based agencies might hope to get), it introduces an ethical conflict into the mix."
Nice to see Hespos take on this topic. As an ad network provocateur, he has traditionally seen little differentiated value between ad networks and, perhaps, rightfully so for certain types. Now, he worries that agencies may be turning to the dark world of arbitrage that the ad networks inhabit.
Our view is, first, that ad networks are not the bad guys here - they fill a market need. Now, agencies are trying to grab the ad network's margin by creating demand-side buying platforms which go around ad networks and aggregate inventory from not only ad exchanges, but other ad networks, direct-to-publisher buys, yield optimizers, social targeting networks, etc. (Hespos seems to think all the new automated buying done by agencies will come through the inventory of ad exchanges - this is a few years in the future, but we like his thinking.)
Razorfish's Matt Greitzer comments at the bottom of the article to address the "conflict of interest" question:
"I don't think anyone disagrees with your point, 'you can't ask a media seller to solve high-level business problems.' Most of the agencies who are pursuing this opportunity break out the inventory-selling part of their business as a separate company (Havas' Adnetic, IPG's Cadreon, Razorfish's ATOM Systems, etc). I think this resolves any conflict of interest, and cleanly separates the strategic/planning arm of the agency from the transactional arm."
"If an agency is adding value through data modeling, optimization, etc. they essentially turn bad inventory into good. They should be able to capture commensurate value for this service as long clients are fully aware of their compensation model. There are a few players who are simply buying an impression for $0.50 and selling it for $2.00, as you suggest, but I think this is the exception, not the rule."
Razorfishing with Publicis
And speaking of Razorfish, Publicis CEO Maurice Levy met with reporters late last Wednesday and said, "'If Razorfish were for sale, we would look at it...it is one of those companies that would be nice to have,' adding that at this point he wasn't aware that it was for sale." C'mon man! I know you know. I just know it.
Jay Weintraub has a great post on his blog regarding Adblade with details on how they're succeeding in the marketplace - with additional background on Casale Media's success. Weintraub writes, "Have a flog (fake blog) but struggling finding extra distribution, especially on good converting inventory? Not to worry, Adblade is here for you."
Jumping Into The Pool
Naj Kidwai, CEO of Real Time Content, a provider of personalized video ad technology takes to the Ad Age podium and discusses Starcom MediaVest Group (SMG) and VivaKi's initiative aimed at standardizing online video advertising formats - known as "The Pool" - that will likely have a great impact on addressable media strategies of the future.
Not surprisingly, Kidwai argues that advertisers need to take advantage of digital's interactive element saying, "It's time for advertisers to put themselves in the shoes of the online viewer who is looking to be engaged in the online-viewing experience."
Was Platform-A, Now AOL Advertising - With Layoffs
The Armstrong clean sweep continues at AOL as CEO Tim Armstrong has removed the name "Platform-A" which began under Lynda Clarizio's tenure and has unwrapped the AOL brand name to form "AOL Advertising." Jeff Levick, president of global advertising and strategy of now-AOL Advertising told Brian Morrissey of AdWeek, "I think we were bringing more confusion than solutions to the marketplace. One of our goals is to very clear with the companies who they're doing business with." This has to be the first time an online advertising company has removed the word "platform" from their branding and messaging.
Also, according to the NY Post, CEO Armstrong also let his East Coast staff know that "another round of layoffs could come down in the next 60 days." Bummer.
Oh Platform, My Platform
Kowabunga is changing its name to Inuvo and adding the word "platform" to its new affiliate marketing product. That's the spirit! And since you're probably wondering, Inuvo is a combo of "innovate" and "nouveau" according to the Inuvo blog. What does IPG's "Cadreon" mean? "Cadillac" and "Freon"?
From the release:
Kowabunga, "a provider of performance-based advertising and technology solutions, announced today that it will be launching a beta version of the Inuvo Platform on August 10, 2009. This initial launch is a complete re-engineering of the MyAp affiliate marketing solution that currently serves hundreds of advertising customers and thousands of publishers.
Murky, mysterious screenshot of the new platform from the Inuvo site:
Liquidity for Digital Out-Of-Home
In another step forward for addressable media in the digital out-of-home space, Adverto TV, a provider of "digital place-based media in supermarkets, deli's, bagel shops, convenience stores and grocery stores," in the New York area announced that it has recently plugged its media network into rVue, Argo Digital Solutions' (Argo) addressable advertising exchange for digital out-of-home (DOOH).
A graphic from the Adverto.TV website paints the DOOH story effectively:
The Tetris of Info
Suffering from information overload? Clickable's Max Kalehoff makes a wise connection between the game Tetris and the streams of info hurtling towards you via email, browser, TV and more in his Mediapost article.
And now, for more info!
Facebook Faces and Privacy Scores
Riva Richmond of The New York Times covers the controversy over certain ad networks using the images from Facebook profiles in their Facebook ad network ads. Richmond notes a University of Cambridge study (PDF) which found that among 45 social networks, "Facebook and MySpace, frequently the targets of privacy critics, finished slightly above average." But is being "above average," good?
Addressing Consumers With A Voice -Platform-style!
You, too, could have Don Pardo talking over the phone with potential clients - well not quite, but close - through a new in-call media platform partnership between VoodooVox and Voices.com. David Ciccarelli, President and CEO of Voices.com says in the release, "We've married our network of voice professionals and ad creation processes with VoodooVox's In-Call Media platform, providing an easy way for all advertisers to create and launch In-Call campaigns." The release goes on to say, "VoodooVox's current roster of publishers generates 300 million calls per month, and the company expects that level to grow to 1 billion by late-2009." VoodooVox is backed by venture capital investors Apax Partners, Steamboat Ventures (The Walt Disney Company), Softbank Capital, and Village Ventures among others.