The latest forecast from Veronis Suhler Stevenson (VSS), issued Sept. 28, projects that targeted media will be the fastest-growing media sector in terms of total spending in 2011, due primarily to an uptick in consumer Internet, mobile services and branded entertainment.
As executives bring their brands to life, they should invest in the people who know it best: their employees. Who better to tell a brand's story than those people who are most passionate about a brand.
Lett Direct Inc. Bethany Beach, DE, and Marketsmith Inc. of Morristown, NJ, have signed an agreement to offer joint services.
Patrick Vogt has been named chairman and CEO of Datran Media, a digital marketing technology company based in New York.
Digital marketing firm Moosylvania has introduced MealChime.com, a new restaurant search site. Domino's Pizza, McDonald's and Hardee's all have signed up as advertising partners for the new site, which will initially serve the St. Louis market.
The Pennsylvania Attorney General has sued two mortgage companies for violating the state's do-not-call laws. Charles A. Ruppersberger IV, doing business as Direct Leadsource, and Justin Harford, doing business as Golden Apple Mortgage, Foote's Inc. and New Equity LLC, were the defendants.
ComScore said Tuesday that it will begin providing online ad networks both potential audience reach and actual reach.
United Parcel Service (UPS) has plans to open two $180 million transport hubs in China, according to recent Reuters reports. The company has doubled its head count in China over the past 18 months to around 5,300, but expects that number to increase by at least 1,000 annually over the next 3 to 4 years.
At last week's Cannes Lions International Advertising Festival, the Direct Lions Grand Prix was awarded to Mumbai's JWT India, for the Times of India entry. The campaign Web site registered more than 1.3 million hits and more than 1 million YouTube downloads.
Time Warner Inc. has announced that it will formally split off its cable TV business, allowing it to focus on cable network, entertainment and publishing operations. Time Warner Cable will pay a total dividend of $10.27 per share.
The Federal Trade Commission, in cooperation with more than 30 international, federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies, completed its largest telemarketing fraud sweep last week.
Merck, the manufacturer of painkiller Vioxx, has settled deceptive advertising charges for $58 million and agreed to submit all new television commercials for its drugs to the Food and Drug Administration for review for the next seven years. The agency had challenged Merck's direct-to-consumer television ads, which began in 1999.
The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has agreed to review a case, in which ad-supported freeware company Zango sued spyware removal company Kaspersky Lab in 2007, alleging that Kaspersky interfered with Zango's relationships with its customers by deleting Zango's pop-up serving program.
This summer, eBay plans to help launch WorldofGood.com, a marketplace for buying fair-trade products, to the public, in partnership with fair-trade company World of Good, Inc.
National Geographic Channel is asking fans of its on-air special Stonehenge Decoded to get closer to the archaeological mystery by engaging with an online game of themed puzzles. The game, created by Arkadium, runs on www.natgeotv.com/stonehenge and promotes the show set to air June 1.
NBC Universal Digital Media has kicked off the Digital Health Network, which will distribute premium health video. The goal is to create an informative viewing experience for users looking for health information online.
In order to get potential drivers behind a virtual wheel, Mini USA has released Clubmania Pinball, a free online game for the Nintendo Wii that promotes design elements from the 2008 Mini Clubman.
MRM Worldwide has acquired digital strategy agency Starsky, one of the largest agencies of any discipline in Sweden, and merged it with its operation in Stockholm. The new entity is now known as MRM Starsky Worldwide. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.
Alterian has announced plans to acquire Mediasurface, a Web content software company. Alterian's objective is to expand the online execution capabilities of its platform to encompass Web sites, corporate intranets, extranets and social media channels. Terms were not disclosed.
Gerald Bernard Baldwin, a 23-year veteran of Young & Rubicam, died May 10 from prostate cancer. He leaves behind his wife, three sons and four grandchildren. Baldwin was known for championing the development of cable TV, DRTV, bartersyndication, unwired radio and TV networksand infomercials.
American Diabetes Wholesale, a discount provider of diabetic supplies, has launched an affiliate program on the Performics network. MoreVisibility will help the nonprofit launch and manage the affiliate program.
Arby's recently launched a Rescue Brigade concept with Merkley & Partners. A microsite, www.arbysrescuebrigade.com, introduces a group of brand enthusiasts who show up in a branded Rescue Mobile to "save the world from ordinary fast food." Consumers can submit videos to join the team and be featured in an on-air commercial.
Microsoft's directors met April 30 to discuss its possible bid to purchase online search giant Yahoo. There were speculations the company would offer a higher bid than the original $44.6 billion one. Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer threatened to start a proxy fight to oust Yahoo's board if the two companies did not reach a negotiated deal by April 26. However, that deadline has passed with no action. On May 1, Ballmer reportedly told staff a decision on whether to lead a hostile takeover or raise the bid would be announced soon.
FTD Group Inc., the online floral delivery business, was acquired for $456 million by United Online Inc., which owns social networking site Classmates.com and customer loyalty site MyPoints.com. The deal is expected to close in the third quarter of this year.
On May 2, Amazon filed a complaint in New York Supreme Court objecting to the state law approved by Gov. David A. Paterson last week, which requires out-of-state online retailers to collect taxes on everything sold in the state if it has agents or affiliates in New York. Amazon, which has thousands of affiliates with New York addresses, is contesting the constitutionality of the law.
Google is being sued by David Almeida, a private investigator who is using Google AdSense to promote his business. Almeida filed charged against the Web giant in federal court last Tuesday claiming the company deceived him and charged for ads displayed on third-party Web sites, a service he claims not to have requested — Almeida alleges that he left the "optional" box blank.
The Federal Communications Commission has conducted two hearings on network management, following Comcast Corp.'s claim that it sometimes delayed file-sharing traffic for subscribers as a way to keep Web traffic flowing. FCC chairman Kevin Martin said that his agency has all the authority it needs to prevent Internet service providers from discriminating against Web surfers and that new legislation is unnecessary.
California state lawmaker Charles Calderon is proposing a tax on music purchases made online. The proposal, AB1956, seeks to tax music downloads by adding sales tax to music purchases made online — increasing the price of the average iTunes download from 99 cents to $1.08.
EBay filed a lawsuit in the state of Delaware against community classified site Craigslist last Tuesday. The online auction site, which bought 28.4% of Craigslist in 2004, claims that Craigslist's two directors, founder Craig Newmark and chief executive Jim Buckmaster, unfairly diluted eBay's economic interest in the company in January.
Digital Pulp launched a new brand site for The PayItGreen Alliance, formed by NACHA — the Electronic Payments Association — to encourage consumers and businesses to manage their finances electronically. The Web site, found at www.payitgreen.org, guides visitors to information about the benefits of online payment using animation.
Canada Post Corporation and FedEx Canada have teamed up to develop Priority Worldwide, a new international express service. The service will be delivered in Canada through Canada Post's retail and commercial networks, and worldwide through the FedEx international delivery network, beginning in Fall 2008.
According to the quarterly Bellwether Report from the UK-based Institute of Practitioners in Advertising, the direct marketing sector is showing its biggest decline in eight years. Budgets dropped 6.3% in the last quarter, the report said, spurred by weak sales and ongoing economic concerns.
The Do-Not-Call Fee Extension Act of 2007 has been enacted, setting the annual fees telemarketers will pay to access the registry in fiscal year 2009 at $54 for each area code of data accessed or $14,850 for access to every area code in the registry, whichever is less. More than 157 million phone numbers are currently enrolled in the National Do Not Call Registry.
The Federal Communications Commission may amend its rules on how phone and cable companies can use customer information when competing for business. It is expected to look further into whether customer retention efforts between phone service and cable providers are pro- or anti-competitive.
The US Postal Service has published its changes to Shipping Service standards in the Federal Register. They will take effect May 12. Express Mail prices will be zone-based prices, taking into account weight and distance. Priority Mail retail prices are increasing by 6%, while Parcel Select prices are increasing by 5.7% on average.
Reaching out to tense 20- and 30-something females, Johnson's launched an online campaign around its Melt Away Stress line of skin care products at www.JohnsonsForYou.com\Escape. The site features an Express Your Stress user-generated content contest, Jamaica getaway sweepstakes, Celebrity Stress Secrets videos featuring ABC's Ugly Betty actress Ana Ortiz, and an "Escape Your Stress" quiz widget.
Charles Farrugia, a defendant in a Federal Trade Commission lawsuit alleging a scam involving telemarketing lists and American businesses, has settled FTC charges for his role in the May 2006 Datacom Marketing case. Farrugia, who was acting as the corporate defendants' president when the case was filed, was added as a defendant in November 2006.
UPS lowered its first quarter earnings expectations to 86-87 cents per diluted share from a previously anticipated range of 94-98 cents. According to the company, lower volume trends were experienced and are expected to continue as a weak US economy causing a reduction in domestic package volume and a shift away from premium products.
The Interactive Advertising Bureau released digital video ad format guidelines for in-stream, overlay and video companion ads to simplify specs and make creative submissions more efficient. The guidelines deal with linear formats such as pre-, mid-, or post-roll ads, as well as non-linear units such as overlays or product placements. The trade group is seeking comment on the guidelines throughout this month.
Americans reported $240 million in online fraud losses in 2007 to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, an increase of $40 million from 2006, according to the FBI's National White Collar Crime Center. Credit-card fraud accounted for 6.3%, check fraud accounted for 6%, computer fraud accounted for 5.3%, and identity theft accounted for 2.9% of all complaints filed.
Former employees of AB&C Group, the fulfillment arm of recently shuttered BlueSky Brands Inc., have filed legal complaints against the companies for failure to compensate workers. Attorney Paul Taylor has filed a civil action suit in Jefferson County, WV against AB&C, BlueSky and the private equity firm Reliant Equity Investors, which owns BlueSky. Robert Pulciani, CEO of BlueSky; Thomas Darden Jr., managing director of Reliant Equity; and Philip Wax, CFO of AB&C, were also named in the suit. Neither any named parties nor any other representatives from BlueSky could be reached.
Google, MySpace and Yahoo have partnered to create a nonprofit OpenSocial Foundation with the goal of supporting neutrality in the development of social network widgets. Google launched its OpenSocial network last November at a time when Web applications on social networks such as Facebook were gaining popularity. In other news, Facebook suffered a security breach last week. Users' restricted photos were available for public viewing for about an hour.
EBay Inc. said last week it would cut 125 jobs in Europe and North America, including 70 positions at its headquarters in San Jose, CA. The online auction site said the cuts are aimed at streamlining operations. It currently employs about 15,500 people.
A two-year-old case between the Federal Trade Commission and Impulse Media Group Inc. was settled in the US District Court in Seattle last week, finding Impulse Media not responsible for sexually explicit e-mail spamming by its affiliates.
In an investor presentation detailing its three-year financial plan and strategic initiatives, Yahoo's board of directors unanimously determined that Microsoft's January 31 unsolicited acquisition proposal substantially undervalues Yahoo.
Alliance Data Systems Corp. has released a statement alleging a breach of the May 17, 2007 merger agreement between Alliance Data and The Blackstone Group. The notice demands that Blackstone affiliates, Aladdin Solutions and Aladdin Merger Sub, cure the breaches and consummate the transaction.
The USPS has launched a pilot Mail Back program that allows customers to recycle small electronics and inkjet cartridges by mailing them free in envelopes available in 1,500 post offices. Postage is paid by Clover Technologies Group, a remanufacturer of inkjet cartridges, laser cartridges and small electronics. Nineteen other companies bid for the contract.
Getting men to interact with its brand is no sweat for Unilever's Degree Men, with the launch last week of the "The Rookie: Day 3 Extraction" campaign. Through a partnership with the Fox network's 24, the brand is distributing digital shorts for the next five weeks through video on demand, broadband andmobile devices that chronicle the adventures of counterterrorism agent Jason Blaine.
Hallmark Flowers, a subsidiary of Kansas City, MO-based Hallmark Cards, plans to shut down its 7-year-old direct-to-consumer flowers and gifts business by the end of April. Nearly 100 employees will be affected by the decision, which came after an internal analysis of Hallmark's business determined that operational investments required may not be recouped. Hallmark.com will continue to sell premium e-cards, paper cards, print-on-demand cards, digital greetings, and stationery products; the site also offers free e-cards, company details, and information about Hallmark Gold Crown stores.
In an effort to celebrate mail, the US Postal Service has joined with HBO to spotlight founding father and prolific letter-writer John Adams. The "Power of the Letter" campaign, running until the end of this month, promotes HBO's epic miniseries John Adams, which premieres on March 16. It also drives viewers to visit www.poweroftheletter.com to create and customize greeting cards with quotes from John Adams and his wife Abigail that were created by the USPS' online retail partner Cardstore. Visitors can also enter a sweepstakes to win a VIP trip for four to Colonial Williamsburg.
Yahoo Inc. amended its company's bylaws last week, extending the deadline for nominations to Yahoo's board of directors from March 14 to 10 days following the public announcement of the date for Yahoo's 2008 annual meeting of stockholders. As of press time, this date had yet to be announced. A company statement said, "the amendment will give stockholders who want to nominate one or more directors, including Microsoft Corporation, more time to do so."
Federal Trade Commission chairman Deborah Platt Majoras has announced that she will leave her post at the end of this month. Majoras was appointed by President Bush and sworn into office in 2004.
Marchex Inc. and Citysearch, an operating business of IAC, announced a strategic partnership that provides Citysearch with a new distribution channel for both its content and advertisers and provides Marchex with extensive content for its local network.
BSocial Networks Inc. is launching Market Lodge 2.0, an e-commerce software product that allows ads to stream into the user recommendations section of social networking sites. It estimates that it will reach 50 million users.
24/7 Real Media Inc. and Petry Media Corporation announced a multi-faceted partnership to provide targeted ad serving to Digerati iSales network of more than 300 TV station Web sites.
Pitney Bowes has acquired Toronto-based direct marketing company Bluetree for an undisclosed amount. Pitney Bowes plans to use Bluetree to capitalize on an anticipated turn, among Canadian marketers, to non-telemarketing channels following the establishment of a do-not-call list in Canada expected this summer.
Time Warner Inc.'s Internet service provider Road Runner began blocking images in e-mail by default in a move to protect subscribers from spam. Road Runner has about 7.7 million subscribers. Other e-mail inboxes that switch images off by default include AOL, Hotmail/WLM, Yahoo!, Gmail, Outlook 2007, and Outlook 2003.
A dispute over preferential URL legislation has surfaced in the Florida courts. Chris McElroy has filed a class action suit against Network Solutions LLC and the Internet Corp. for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN).
Experian filed a lawsuit against identity theft insurance company Lifelock in a California district court last week. It alleges Lifelock has illegally put fraud alerts on credit files managed by Experian, flooding its system and reducing the effectiveness of legitimate credit freezes. Lifelock executives have stated the suit is "frivolous" and a ploy to attack a competitor.
Arbitron and Nielsen Co. cancelled further development of their joint Apollo Project, a research tool that aimed to track purchase influencers and metrics across multiple media channels in a single database. The companies said that despite interest from Procter & Gamble and six other clients, there was not enough interest to justify the cost of a national rollout.
The Interactive Advertising Bureau released interactive advertising privacy guidelines last week developed by representatives from Facebook, Google, ValueClick, Walt Disney Internet Group, Yahoo and others.
Speculation that gifts cataloger Red Envelope may shutter gained more clout last week as the nine-year-old company reported a loss of $4.3 million, compared with a net income of $5.3 million for the same period last year. Order shipments during the third quarter dropped about 20% compared with last year. CEO John Pound said in a statement that Red Envelope "is evaluating various options for addressing these challenges immediately."
The Alliant Group has launched a multichannel database marketing infrastructure for Charter Communications. The database facilitates outbound direct mail, telemarketing, and e-mail marketing communications to customers and prospects across all three Charter divisions.
Nonprofit marketing technology provider Convio, Inc. has partnered with ThePort Network to launch a social media suite that will allow Convio clients to build branded social media communities such as branded blogs and social networks into existing Web sites.
Yahoo grew membership of its Newspaper Consortium with the addition of four publishers, including Shaw Newspapers, the Times Publishing Co. and the Columbian Publishing Co., raising its total to 634 newspapers in the US. Yahoo provides search, graphical and classified advertising to its newspaper partners.
VideoEgg, an online video company, has launched an ad network that uses a cost-per-engagement model. The AdFrames Brand Response Network distributes video or rich media through an expandable ad unit that can be formatted to fit any page, widget or online game. Microsoft has signed on as an advertiser. Engagement begins when users roll over ads.
Valassis reported net earnings of $20.6 million, up 197.3% from $6.9 million in the prior year, primarily because of its $1.2 billion acquisition of shared mail ser¬vice Advo last March. Revenue rose 131% to $661.5 million for the quarter ended December 31, over $296.4 million last year.
The Federal Trade Commission amended its interpretation of the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act of 1998, which regulates Internet marketing to children younger than 13. It said that Web site operators should obtain parents' consent before letting users under age 13 send an e-card that includes the senders' e-mail addresses or first and last names. This guideline has implications for viral marketing efforts aimed at the tween community.
The US Postal Service and the Postal Customer Councils are sponsoring symposiums next month to help mailers prepare for new Intelligent Mail barcode requirements set for January 2009. Mailers will be required to use Intelligent Mail barcodes to take advantage of automation prices for letters and flats.
EcoEnvelopes, developers of reusable envelopes, received a national customer ruling from the US Postal Service, a designation that signifies the design will withstand transport through the US mailstream. This is the first NCR awarded to a reusable envelope and indicates growing interest for reducing waste materials when sending postal mail.
The US Postal Service has introduced a new box, which costs $12.95 and ships to any US address. The Priority Mail large flat-rate box, at a foot long and wide, and 5.5 inches tall, is 50% larger than other USPS flat rate boxes. The service will be available beginning March 3.
Nokia has launched a global ad network for mobile sites of more than 70 major publishers including Discovery, Hearst, Reuters and Sprint, as well as brand marketers including BMW and Paramount. The cell phone company is leveraging the analytics technology of its October 2007 acquisition Enpocket for the project. The company says that the Nokia Media Network is yielding click-through rates averaging 10%.
Urban Brands Inc. has hired ATG Commerce to relaunch Web stores for its Ashley Stewart and Marianne brands. AshleyStewart.com will launch this spring with an updated merchandising ability and personalized browsing and buying experience. The Marianne launch date is not yet set.
The Los Angeles Times has introduced a standalone print weekly, based on the success of Metromix Los Angeles, an online local culture portal launched last summer. The Web site and print paper launch are both attempts for the publication to reach a younger audience. Initial circulation is estimated at 100,000.
Beginning today, HarperCollins is posting free electronic editions of some of its books on its Web site. Rather than allowing users to download or print books, the program will allow users log in and browse books. The service will be available for one month.
OgilvyOne last week entered into a marketing partnership with mobile data services provider Acision. The company said that it wants to grow client interest in the channel. OgilvyOne has plans to leverage Acision's mobile platform, used by more than 300 network operators, with its CRM and data capabilities.
Marketing holding company Havas experienced record growth in 2007, with a 7.1% increase for the full year and a 9.8% increase in Q4 alone for business. Strong growth was also reported for all group businesses, with Euro RSCG up 5.5% and Havas Media up 19.1%.
DHL Express USA reduced its workforce by approximately 600 positions last week. The company said that workforce reductions will occur through attrition, reductions and suspending open positions across functional areas and were an effort to lower general and administrative costs due to the current economic climate.
Nielsen Co. sent a letter on February 8 to its customers acknowledging the delays in ratings reports. The company has hired Cheryl Idell, former EVP of media and marketing planning at Twentieth Century Fox, to oversee Nielsen's media analytics products.
ValueClick will pay $2.9 million to settle charges of violating CAN-SPAM and other fair advertising Acts with the Federal Trade Commission. The charges address practices of ValueClick's Hi-Speed Media division in using the word "free" in its marketing materials.
Hewlett-Packard has agreed to a financial settlement with The New York Times and three BusinessWeek journalists in connection with the company's pretexting scandal that took place in 2006. Terms of the private settlement were not disclosed.
OmniMedicalSearch.com has launched a health and medical forum search engine across more than 120 different online forums. The health and medical forum search engine was developed through the Google Custom Search product.
Medical online newsletter outlet Intellisphere has acquired the Princeton, NJ-based division of Ascend Health. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed. Titles acquired include American Journal of Managed Care, Cardiology Review, Pharmacy Times, Resident and Staff Physician and Surgical Rounds.
Art Technology Group Inc. has completed its acquisition of CleverSet in a $9 million cash transaction. CleverSet's automated personalization engines for e-commerce clients are expected to expand ATG's eStara e-commerce optimization services.
Hispanic-focused content provider Batanga purchased online ad network HispanoClick, which claims to have a monthly reach of 5.6 million unique Latino users, last week. Terms were not disclosed. HispanoClick's network has more than 800 Hispanic publishers. Advertisers include Verizon Wireless, Kraft, Mazola, the US Army and Western Union.
MeritDirect has partnered with data services provider Genalytics to provide its customers with predictive modeling tools for their direct marketing campaigns.
The Wall Street Journal launched a mobile application for Windows Mobile phone users to access WSJ.com, MarketWatch.com and Barrons.com. Created through a partnership with Action Engine Corp. the service allows consumers to read news, manage a personal stock portfolio, track the market, watch videos and listen to streaming podcasts. Windows Mobile is an advertiser on the service.
AOL and Zed, a mobile value-added player, have announced a partnership to promote their mobile products on their respective European and US mobile and Internet sites. Under the agreement, Zed's products will be promoted within AOL's WAP portal in the US as well as within AOL's desktop destinations in Europe.
Burst Media has launched a CDKitchen Cooking Network, which provides ad support for Burst Network's premier food site CDKitchen.com and more than 20 other food-related sites. According to Burst, the network boasts more than 4.3 million visitors and delivers more than 23.5 million page impressions each month.
SB 364, passed by the California Senate last week, requires that consumers receive a clear, informative notification letter when personal data kept by a business or public agency has been stolen. It also requires the state to establish a central reporting site to catalog security breaches. The bill awaits action in the State Assembly. Another bill, SB 612, allows identity theft to be prosecuted in the victim's home county. Both bills were written by Senator Joe Simitian (D-Palo Alto).
The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers said it may approve dot-post Internet addresses for postal agencies as early as this month. The initiative was proposed by the UN Universal Postal Union in March 2004 in an effort to instill trust for the Web sites for government postal agencies.
E-mail marketer Sili Neutraceuticals was fined more than$2.5 million by Federal district court of Northern Illinois for violating the Can-Spam Act by sending e-mails that contained misleading subject lines and didn't offer an opt-out mechanism. The complaint said that Sili had been marketing Hoodia and human growth hormone supplements since 2004 via e-mail, which contained links to Web sites that made false claims about the product.
The Federal Trade Commission will host a two-day Town Hall meeting to explore the evolving mobile commerce marketplace and its implications for consumer protection policy. The meeting is open to the public and will be held on May 6-7 at the agency's Washington conference center.
In a campaign aimed at adding levity to paying the bills, Intuit is running a sweepstakes that invites aspiring comics to submit stand-up videos for its TurboTax software at its microsite TaxLaugh.com. The tagline "Comedy is hard, TurboTax is easy" promotes the home tax program, and the sweepstakes is hosted by comedian Jay Mohr.
Direct mail spending to reach $65B next year; ad networks lead digital transactions.
Cataloger and retailer Frederick's of Hollywood has completed its merger with intimate apparel designer and manufacturer Movie Star. The combined company will be called Frederick's of Hollywood Group. Expected revenue from the combined companies is $200 million. Peter Cole is executive chairman. Linda LoRe will continue as Frederick's CEO, and Melvyn Knigin will continue to serve as Movie Star's CEO.
Australian mobile marketing firm 5th Finger has launched in the US with offices in San Francisco and New York. The company has established relationships in the North American market including TVi Media and Avenue A Razorfish. International clients with US presence include Foster's Group, Nestlé, Nike, MSN and Virgin Mobile.
Company of the Week
SK&A is a leading provider of U.S. healthcare information solutions and databases. As part of IMS Health, SK&A researches and maintains contact and profiling data for over 2 million healthcare providers, including 800,000+ prescribers. SK&A's data supports research and marketing initiatives for life sciences, medical device, managed healthcare, direct marketing, publishing, education and more. SK&A's proprietary databases are telephone-verified twice per year from its world class Research Centers. SK&A enables multi-channel marketing and sets the standard for data quality and reliability. SK&A's customers include many of America's most recognized healthcare, publishing and pharmaceutical institutions.