Yahoo! buys Right Media, a smart move to defend its online ad leadership

by Charlene Li

Yahoo! announced that it would buy the remaining 80% of Right Media that it doesn't already own for $650 million today. (, and GigaOm also have coverage).

I was briefed about this late Sunday evening by Todd Teresi, Sr. VP of Display Marketplaces at Yahoo!. Todd's title should give you a hint about why Yahoo! purchased Right Media. Right Media owns an ad exchange, which is different from an ad network. Ad networks typically aggregate ad inventory from publishers and resells it to advertisers. In contrast, an ad exchange is a marketplace where publishers and advertisers can find and execute advertising transactions, similar to what happens on a stock exchange. Ad networks could turn out to be one of the largest users of ad exchanges.

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Mobile Ad Inventory Fragmentation? or Multi-channel?

I want to start this blog with letting everyone know that I don't try to "break" services. I really, really want mobile content and marketing to do well.

Philips is paying $5 million to the Condé Nast Media Group to sponsor recommendations in cities throughout the US and Europe. See story.

Sponsoring alerts is a form of ad inventory. It's an interesting concept in many ways. There isn't much of it. There is consumer interest in these types of services according to our data.

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Mobile Search Overview

I wrote up a piece that gives an overview of the mobile search environment in the US today.

See story.


Why direct marketing agencies have to change

This morning, Merkle announced the acquisition of an independent, Chicago-based, direct marketing agency, CFM Direct.  From Merkle’s perspective, the move bolsters their existing agency services and further strengthens their exposure in the financial services industry – CFM’s primary focus area.

But the move emphasizes an interesting trend in the direct marketing industry.  The lines between direct marketing agency and database marketing service provider are blurring.  Both are adding services or acquiring companies that boast the historical strengths of their opposite numbers.  On paper, their capabilities are beginning to look the same. 

But, they are still different beasts - one is creatively focused, the other operationally focused; one sells time, the other sells output; one is often tied to exclusivity, the other will sometimes work with all of the top firms in a given vertical; one demonstrates phenomenal account management and program management rigor, the other, well, doesn’t…

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Digital Agencies at ARF re:think

The second panel of the day at ARF's re:think conference was "The
Agency of the Future" including R/GA, Avenue A|Razorfish, Nitro and

Continuing on the one-of-these-outfits-is-not-like-the-other theme,
Nick Law, Chief Creative Officer from R/GA shows up in short sleeve
shirt, jeans, and swooshes in stark contrast to other panelists in
standard business casual.  Interactive is the new traditional and its
agency executives appear to have followed suit, so to speak.

Get it?

Followed suit?

Ok moving on, Rance Crain of Ad Age
did a nice job of moderating and stirring up the pot.  He suggested an
alternative title for his panel as well:  "Digital:  Just Another
Silo?"  BTW, I'm guessing he's not a big fan of subservient chicken,

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Research Agency CEOs at ARF re:think

The second day of the ARF's re:think conference opened with a panels
research agency executives, called "The Research Agency of the Future"
with the CEOs of GfK, Kantar, TNS and Nielsen.  Moderator Jim Figura of
Colgate-Palmolive said it should have been called "Insights Agency of
the Future."

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Parental Controls on Cell Phones for Kids

Disney announced a number of new services targeted at parents today. Things seem to be going well for them given the roll out of the new services and planned expansion. Our research shows they are on target with their offerings for parents - esp. when it comes to child-tracking and helping parents to control costs. Will be interesting to see if the value provided by these services will outweigh parents other priorities (e.g., cheap voice minutes) in the long term. The services offered are more appealing to parents of younger children than older ones.


Shopping with Text Messaging ... Is it New?

The NY Times did a big piece on a company called ShopText today. It's an interesting idea and one that I'd love to see take off. I question though, whether or not it is a "new form" of impulse as the title of the article reads.

Mobile content retailers have been pushing mobile content (e.g., ring tones, games) with short codes in magazines for years now - literally. Adoption has been fairly low to date and limited to a younger audience (e.g., readers of CosmoGirl).

As an extension of ecommerce, it isn't so new. As a virtual mobile payment, it is more new - not much of that out there yet.

I am wondering if we'll see it in catalogs. Is it more time-efficient than a 1-800 number to place an order. (Anyone order from those flight catalogs on airplanes?)

Will early adopters be online consumers ... the ones who like to comparison shop, look for good deals, and read consumers reviews? The small screen has some limits (e.g., ability to read product description, enter a size, enter a gift address, etc.)

I like the idea of it as a core technology for MCommerce applications. I like the idea of not having to register my cell phone number and credit card with every possible online entity from which I may buy something.


Google Takes DoubleClick for $3.1 Billion

I'll admit.  I had my money on Microsoft taking DC as a technology solution to their ad serving need.  And I think if the deal were only about technology, Microsoft would have made a solid suitor.  But DoubleClick brings Google much more than an ad serving solution.  What's my take on this deal?

*Google wins.  We've been watching Yahoo! and MSN chase Google since paid search marketing exploded as a marketing channel and major revenue source for the three portals.  This deal ends the race.  With its DoubleClick purchase Google extends its capabilities into online display advertising and completes its set of online services.

*Its not about the technology.  Google already had ad serving.  This deal gives Google access to publishers outside of its current AdSense network and to behavioral data that will help them with ad targeting.

*Now Google can move offline.  I agree with Charlene Li on this one.  With the online space locked up, Google can focus on maturing its current offline efforts and on defining its next moves into traditional channels.

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Can Better UI ' s Sell Content?

Amp'd followed the launch of its portal in the Japanese market with one in Canada with Telus. (See I think this is going to be a story to watch. To date, a lot of media companies have followed a strategy of one of two extremes - just content or a full-blown MVNO. Personalized or media-centric UI's on phones create an exciting middle ground. Our data show that the target market is on the verge of being ready and may be if the opportunity presented itself. Amp'd will present a range of media and entertainment services, but one can easily imagine extending this scenario into branded phones on a traditional carriers' network.