Facebook may be the king of social networks, but Google+ has one thing above the competition: Forced joining.

In a controversial move and suspected attempt to boost low usage rates, Google decided to add G+ accounts for people who are using any other Google products, whether they asked for it or not. This means that if you’re creating an account on Gmail or YouTube, you’re instantly set up with a Google+ profile. 

Why the push toward unification of users’ social profiles? It turns out that its part of Google+’s drive to dethrone Facebook from its’ social-networking dominance. Both social networks get the bulk of their revenue from online media buying and advertising. A big part of that business model relies on user information. The information about a Facebook or Google+ user’s online activity, their friends and their interests can be leveraged for targeted, conversion-oriented ads.  › Continue reading…

As more and more people use the Internet for online streaming services and other heavy bandwidth websites, connection speed is becoming a pressing problem.

For many years, cable operators have offset their declining pay-TV divisions by offering high-speed broadband services. Time Warner Cable, the second-largest cable operator, said in November that more than 22% of broadband subscribers are opting for higher-speed packages, compared to just 10% in 2009.

Faster speeds on the way. However, there are several competitors on the horizon that are offering even faster speeds, and cutting into cable companies’ bread and butter.  › Continue reading…

A recent survey from the CMO Council shows that although digital marketing has become a big draw for marketers, executives and business leaders, there’s a disconnection between the desire for digital marketing strategies and its deployment. Finding and implementing a successful digital marketing strategy is something that many companies strive for but very few have succeeded at so far.

The CMO Council’s survey entitled “Integrate to Accelerate Digital Marketing Effectiveness” included more than 200 marketers across the United States. Just nine percent of the respondents noted that their digital marketing model was organized and included a plan for growth. Thirty-six percent of marketers surveyed stated that there has been a random embrace of digital marketing solutions that are not planned or unified. Forty-two percent of respondents said that there is a strong interest and active support from managers and C-level executives in their organizations.

Although integrated and well-planned digital marketing strategies have multiple benefits, marketers are having trouble bridging the gap between company demand and actual implementation – which may be due to lack of technology, internal architecture and strategy.

According to Donovan Neale-May, the executive director of the CMO council, there may be a big difference between digital marketing expectations and the actual technology and internal architecture needed to make it happen.

“[There’s a] promise of greater productivity, visibility and accountability in marketing, which 49 percent of marketers noted was a key driver of management interest,” Neale-May stated in an official announcement about the survey results. However, there are still many details that need to be integrated on an internal level in order to make implementing overarching digital marketing strategies a reality.

According to the survey, 20 percent of marketers have the mandate and budget to execute integrated digital marketing strategies, while 18 percent noted that it’s an agenda item that they need to bring up with management.

After years of success with paid search advertising, Google is now moving into the TV advertising game to help small businesses limit the costs and risks associated with traditional media buying.

With its new TV Ads product, Google is reaching out to customers who may not be able to weather the traditional cost of TV advertising. Smaller businesses can get access to advertising on national stations like ESPN, TNT, CNN and 100 other networks for a fraction of the normal cost.

Although it’s true that local television advertising has been losing more consumers to online content in the past few years, national advertising campaigns bring far better results than banner ads on search engine results pages. Up until now, the costs for national advertising campaigns had been far too great for smaller businesses.

According to Inc. Magazine, typical ads will run between $2,500 and $3,500 per week. Businesses can bid on airtime, similar to how Google AdWords customers bid on search engine advertising. This opens up the television advertising market to companies that didn’t have a multi-million dollar budget to use traditional media buying outlets.

Google TV Ads has already had a few successes with small and mid-sized business advertisers: ShoppersChoice.com, an ecommerce site operator, › Continue reading…

If you’re a business owner, CEO or otherwise involved in the decision-making for an organization, it’s important to understand the cost of TV advertising.

Going into the media buying process without a clear understanding of the costs will limit your ability to use the format effectively. The cost of TV advertising has two major components – the production and the media buying.

The production costs of television commercials can depend on a number of different factors:

  • You can get a television commercial produced for as little as $1500, but it’s likely to look bad and be a waste of money.
  • You get what you pay for when it comes to television advertising, just like with other business assets. TV advertising companies may vary depending on their method of production, their experience and their track record.
  • If you want a quality commercial that will produce the results you’re looking for, you will probably need to budget in the neighborhood of $20,000 to $25,000.

In addition to the production costs, you’ll also need to pay for media planning and buying. What is media planning and buying? It’s the process of finding the best period of time, station and target market for your commercial and finding the best price to buy that television spot. › Continue reading…

The world’s two biggest credit card transaction processors, Visa and MasterCard, are exploring ways to profit from consumer information and open up new opportunities to advertisers.

By selling access to the data about what people spend, the transaction companies may provide an important first link between offline spending and online advertising opportunities. Although they are both at the exploratory phases of these information-sharing plans, the fact that they are being considered is making advertisers – and privacy advocates – take notice.

Linking ads to consumer behavior. Currently, online advertisements are linked directly to browsing behavior. Visa and MasterCard’s plans would offer advertisers the ability to display ads based on purchases that are made offline. For example, if a person uses a Visa card to buy fast food, that same person may be shown weight loss advertising later on when they browse online.

MasterCard and Visa do not issue credit cards, but rather handle the processing of transactions made with those cards. The transactions are relatively anonymous. Both companies collect the date, time, dollar value, merchant name and other spending behaviors – but the name and address of the cardholder do not appear. Visa processed 45 billion transactions in the year ending September 2010 and MasterCard processed approximately 23 billion.

MasterCard proposed an idea to ad executives that would sell the purchased attributes paired with names and addresses provided by a third-party company. The proposal was shared with at least four companies, but has been put aside for the time being. They are currently exploring a plan to sell the use of the anonymous aggregated data sorted into marketing segments.

However, MasterCard is now proposing a plan to sell marketers an analysis of anonymous, aggregated data sorted into marketing segments – people likely to be interested in international travel. Visa is pitching ability to use anonymous buying histories.

Both companies note that their plans are very preliminary, but they still raise many questions about anonymity from privacy advocates and other watchdog groups.

For the past several months, media industry leaders either denied the impact of Netflix or saw it as a direct threat to their supremacy. In recent quarterly earnings report announcements, major players were praising Netflix. As consumer behavior changes and the video on demand capabilities of Netflix grow more popular, networks are feeling increasing amounts of pressure to keep up with the times.

Partnering with Netflix for distribution of syndicated shows has proven to be profitable. Netflix purchased a four-year distribution deal with TimeWarner for $200,000 per episode to steam all 100 episodes of FX’s “Nip/Tuck.” It also created a similar deal with LionsGate to stream AMC’s “MadMen.” The deals are charting new, and potentially lucrative, territory for cable networks.

Netflix, along with Amazon On Demand and Hulu, is positioning itself as a solution to use old content in new ways. It is difficult for networks to sell syndication rights to other networks. With the rise in original programming on cable networks, Netflix deals could be a way for production companies to get more mileage from their original shows. There’s already a market for the content and media companies want to get the most revenue out of those shows.

However, despite the TimeWarner and LionsGate deals, some media executives are concerned that making Netflix more appealing will encourage more people to drop their cable service. In 2010, the total number of U.S. homes subscribing to a television service dipped for the first time since the introduction of cable television. If cable television numbers drop, the entire television business model could be changed or revamped.

The Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas this year was crowded with talk of “Smart TV” – the ability to watch content from traditional publishers and the Internet on a variety of devices.

The widespread appeal of smartphones, the promising sales of the iPad (and forthcoming Android-based tablets) and the advent of high speed Internet all make it possible for consumers to get media anywhere, everywhere and at anytime. However, even though the demand is growing and basic technology is there, experts estimate that it will take time for smart devices to be used by a majority of consumers.

Are those in the telecommunications industry ready to deliver what consumers are looking for?

That was the biggest question during the event and there are definite challenges to making content available on demand reliably. Despite the perceived problems for many manufacturers and media companies, the time to embrace smart technology is right now.

There are a few key factors that will help smart devices make the transition from luxury to household essential. First, there is a need for affordable devices and data services that are musts when it comes to mass-market penetration. Bandwidth is definitely an issue – streaming movies and television shows to multiple households will require a massive upgrade for many carriers. The negotiations for the right to air content over the new mediums is another factor because while many companies have embraced sharing their media on the Internet and through smart devices, there are other programmers that don’t include those rights.

Taking it slow. Samsung displayed its Smart TV, which allows consumers to watch regular cable and online content. Comcast is offering over 150,000 titles online to subscribers and other entertainment companies like DirectTV, Time Warner Cable, Cox, Verizon, AT&T and Cablevision are following suit.

Companies are wise to take things slow with implementation – especially because of the failed launch of Web TV in 1996. Experts estimate that because of this smart TVs and tablet entertainment won’t have widespread impact until 2015.

Yahoo Inc. took drastic steps in the last quarter of 2010 in order to increase profits – but despite the cost cutting measures, revenue declined 12% overall.

The company also made two rounds of layoffs in as many months. Compared to Google and Facebook, which are both hiring aggressively, Yahoo seems to be going in the wrong direction of a slow downward spiral.

Yahoo is also dealing with a weak profit projections for the current quarter, which resulted in a 2% drop in its stock. The company partnered with Bing to provide search engine results, while Yahoo concentrated on advertising and the look of the search engine. The former has paid off somewhat – in the fourth quarter Yahoo saw a 16% increase in display advertising revenue.

This performance factor alone won’t be enough to reverse Yahoo’s downward direction, but it is certainly a positive step in the right direction.

According to a recent story reported by Bloomberg Business Week, Apple has become a fierce competitor in the mobile market since the release of iAds in June 2010.
These mobile ads allow advertisers to place interactive banner ads on mobile devices such as the iPad, iPhone, the iPad touch and even on some of the popular game applications. The IDC has forecasted that Apple should have an even share with Google (about 21% each) of the advertising market by the end of this year.
Apple has already contracted with well-known household names such as Skippy (peanut butter), Ragu, Best Buy, and Direct TV among others to participate in the new advertising program. They have reportedly doubled their advertising sales since the iAd launch in June.
Apple has shown it has a lot to offer in the mobile ad market. One of its biggest advantages is that it can target the needs of users in their iTunes network, which now encompasses over 100 million users.
Apple does have some drawbacks in its marketing campaign as well: It requires some control over those campaigns that may not seem lucrative to some advertisers. Advertisers are not able to limit their ads to one device such as the iPad or iPhone either, which might limit the effectiveness of the program.
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