Monday, March 20, 2006
  • Ross Fadner, March 20, 2006, 10:30 AM
  • If Business Week says it, it's so: advertisers are a lot wiser about the Web these days. Why? Measurability has made the medium irresistible to national advertisers, who, for so long, have lamented the waste inherent to a business built on a foundation of imperfect measurement. Of course, not all Internet numbers are perfect, either. There are problems like click fraud, for one thing, and the fact that some 10 percent of Web users regularly erase their cookies makes it clear that for all its counting, Internet advertising isn't an exact science. But it's continually coming up coming up with new and inventive ways to track consumer interaction with the Web. For example, the article says certain agencies can now  track how consumers move their mouse cursor on the computer screen. Behavioral targeting provider TACODA Systems is said to be readying a study where a brain scanner analyzes how ads register in the mind of a group of Web surfers. Exciting stuff for the ad industry, to be sure, but these and other breakthroughs are sure to separate the men from the boys in Net advertising, says Rishad Tobaccowala, head of Publicis Groupe's new media consulting firm Denuo. He says the future of the Web will belong to an exclusive online elite, able to entice consumers with incentives to give up data--promotions, discounts, more relevant information, etc. He expects a "flight to quality" in Net advertising; others, including Avenue A/Razorfish GM Jeff Lanctot, believe most of the big money will now move away from search, which is settling, and towards display and video. But advertisers in this space will be hungry for better measurement, which is where the next big advertising industry battle is now taking place.   Read the whole story...
  • A new venture from the former president of the company that brought us MySpace is now seeking to unseat Google and Yahoo at the top of the ad network business. Brett Brewer, the former head of Intermix Media, now owned by Rupert Murdoch's News Corp., has just received $48 million in fresh venture capital to develop his new project, Adknowledge. Unlike Google and Yahoo, which are contextual network operators in addition to being search providers, Adknowledge aims to provide an alternative to text ads tied to keywords by placing behaviorally targeted ads in Web pages and e-mails. Brewer says search is no longer as cost-effective as it used to be, opening the way for new ad formats. "Now search engines are getting competitive, their margins are very slim," he said. "People are looking for other ways to get clicks." By people, Brewer specifically means small and mid-sized businesses, which, perhaps more than national advertisers, need a cost-effective means of getting their products in front of consumers. So far, Adknowledge's network consists of over 400 content providers; it also designs ads for its customers. Adknowledge buys ad space directly from content providers and charges a PPC that ranges from 30 cents to $7 depending on the segment. The company claims an advertiser base of 20,000. Read the whole story...
  • Radio Disney knows how to reach its audience. Since its broadcast-only days, Radio Disney has evolved into providing content via satellite radio, cable TV, video-on-demand, and now podcasts. In a push to follow 6- to 14-year-olds around every media device they own, Radio Disney has expanded to podcasting, where it will produce original content and offer repurposed time-shifted content in a downloadable format. To date, Radio Disney says there have been 170,000 downloads of its podcasts, which so far have not included advertising. That will change, however, Disney executives told Ad Age. Starting in June, Radio Disney will insert ads into its weekly podcasts; advertisers will be able to buy monthly spots. Video game maker THQ is among the first to sign on.   Read the whole story...
  • The so-called "Net Neutrality" bill that would keep Internet network providers from being able to allocate network bandwidth as they see fit is gaining some serious momentum from consumer groups. The American Association of Retired Persons, with its 35 million-plus members, is the latest--and biggest--among a growing list of companies to back the initiative urging senators to require net neutrality principles by law. While the AARP isn't typically the kind of organization you would think would back technology legislation one way or another, recent surveys show that some 72 percent of 50- to 59-year-olds access the Web on a regular basis. Network providers like AT&T, Verizon, Comcast and others argue that concerns about Internet control via the proposed fast lane are theoretical, making new laws unnecessary. The AARP sent a letter to Congress urging legislators to back the Net Neutrality bill proposed by Senator Wyden of Ohio. A total of 64 companies have sent identical letters to the House Energy and Commerce Committee backing legislation, including Google, Amazon, Microsoft, TiVo, eBay, Yahoo, Adobe Systems, BT America, the Digital Media Association and Sony Electronics. All argue that "unfettered" Internet access is essential to any consumers' bill of rights. Read the whole story...
  • Phishing scams, which are fraudulent e-mails that request personal information and appear as though they come from a trusted source, are becoming more sophisticated, says a new AFP report. Often, these e-mails come from phishers posing as banks, saying they need to "verify" your account information, or that someone has gained "unauthorized access" to your account. A survey last year from First Data Corp. found that 43 percent of US adults had received at least one of the bogus e-mails. Of those, one in 20, or about 4.5 million people, gave up the requested information. Half of those ended up being victims of theft or identity fraud. Many US victims ended up giving out their social security numbers, which can be used to open bank or credit accounts. Experts, gathering at a recent conference on the subject of online fraud, said victims on average reported losses of $600, but where social security numbers were concerned, the damage tended to be more severe. Privacy and fraud protection specialists from companies like Microsoft and American Express discussed the need for a universal authentication system, to help consumers detect bogus e-mail. Symantec recently identified 7.92 million daily phishing attempts, an increase of over 5.5 million in the last six months. That's an amazing increase--and many believe the problem will only worsen. If ever there was a reason to rally behind the new push towards charging for bulk commercial e-mails, this would be it. Read the whole story...