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Industry Buzz & Snippets: 6/5/08


McGuinness learns
new synonyms for 'thief'

Agencies and Marketing Execs:

  • Agency.com appointed Brad Williams and Russell Unger to new positions in Chicago.
  • Tacoda founder Dave Morgan is now heading The Tennis Company, which operates Tennis.com. His plan is to connect the company's passionate audience with high-tier brands.
  • Shashi Seth, YouTube's head of monetization efforts, left the company to become chief revenue officer at Cooliris, a startup whose ad model he plans to develop.
  • Yahoo's Brooke Chaffin has taken the chief revenue officer position at Auditude, an ad platform shop for syndicated media management and targeting.
  • Interpublic Group is considering extending the Emerging Media Lab to increase its perceived dominance in emerging media solutions.
  • Publicis' GM Planworks agency is cutting 25 positions and re-focusing on digital efforts to maximize operations and meet client demand.
  • Aegis Group acquired AdWatch, Russia's top independent digital marketing shop, at a price tag of over $20 million.

Biz Buzz:

  • Whitepages.com bought voiceover internet protocol (VOIP) and widget developer Snapvine for a rumored $20 million. The buy enables Whitepages.com to both locate users — its primary function — and perhaps give them a ring.
  • Disney bought social network FanLib, a community of fan fiction writers, and is said to be prospecting startup video site DigiSynd.
  • Disney also began merging its digital operations into the newly-formed Disney Interactive Media Group, which will handle mobile, online and gaming initiatives.

Broadband:

  • A study by ABI Research predicts online video will be viewed by 1 billion people in 2013, four times as many people as in 2008. Growth depends on the increase of broadband penetration and speeds.
  • NewYork.com is planning the launch of social network/video sharing tools for struggling city artists.

Cross Media:

  • CBS is promoting Last.fm as the place to find music. The campaign launched during the premiere of its new series Swingtown.
  • 3 Feet Media launched the Digital College Network, a series of digital screens located in 263 college bookstores across the country. 250 more will be added by year-end.
  • Google's Chief Economist Hal Varian believes better metrics are key to the future of advertising. The effects of online measurement, he said, will eventually be felt across all media.

Legal, Government and Regulation:

  • FCC head Kevin Martin said he's taking all points of view in the "net neutrality" debate seriously as the agency nears a decision on the matter.
  • The FCC also stated its preference that the winner of an upcoming auction of airwaves provide free Internet service, a ruling that makes the telecom industry understandably unhappy.
  • Google was sued over claims it ran ads for fraudulent mobile offers.

Mobile:

  • Verizon customers can now access Qwikies, branded mini-games from Nickelodeon Kids and AddictingGames.
  • A study from Mobixell Networks shows 35 percent of surveyed 16 to 35 year-olds would use more multimedia features on their phones if, with ad-support, those services were free or discounted.
  • Universal Pictures created a mobile game based on its "Battlestar Galactica" show. The game lets players destroy the Cylon fleet for about $3 a month depending on your carrier.
  • Rocawear launched a mobile campaign targeting Boost Mobile customers, offering coupons for purchases made on the apparel brand's website.

New and Improved:

  • Microsoft launched TaskMarket.com, a listings site that allows companies to put available jobs online for people to bid on publicly.
  • User-edited search engine Wikia Search is moving out of alpha and opening to the public.
  • Widget maker Slide moved into new offices in New York City. Ex AOL exec Jason Bitensky was asked to lead the offices, which will be stocked with new salespeople.

Publishing:

  • Rolling Stone has partnered with PluggedIn on a deal to bring PluggedIn's high-def media player, and its catalog of major label and independent music videos, onto the Rolling Stone site. The PluggedIn website will also include a new Rolling Stone channel.
  • The Washington Post Company announced the formation of The Slate Group a collection of new online-only magazine-style sites.

Signs of Doom:

  • Online job postings dropped 13 percent in May, signaling a slow summer.
  • U2's manager Paul McGuinness blames ISPs for the music industry's troubles, likening them to "shoplifters" for aiding and abetting illegal filesharing. This is not the first time he's ranted thus.

Tools and Software:

  • Yahoo is releasing an API for its Address Book that will open up the service to outside developers to build new creations for contact lists.
  • Yahoo also launched Fire Eagle, a mobile location-sharing tool, in limited beta.
  • YouTube added Annotations, a tool that lets users add links and text to videos they've uploaded.

User Experience:

  • Comcast and Time Warner Cable have announced plans to charge heavy Internet users for above-average use in certain markets, affecting the connection speeds of some instead of all users.
  • If you're wondering why you never see ads for MySpace, Friendster or other social networks on Facebook, it's because those words are on the list of those blocked by the site.

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