The end of integrated marketing?

When Google announced its intention to acquire DoubleClick six weeks ago, it sparked upheaval in the interactive marketing industry with aQuantive, Right Media, and 24/7 Real Media subsequently being gobbled up.  Then two weeks ago, offline marketing powerhouses Acxiom and Epsilon's parent company, ADS announced that they will both be acquired by private equity companies for sizable chunks of change.  So what’s going on in the marketing and media arena?  And, is there a link to between these ‘old’ and ‘new’ media company deals?

As private equity deals, the Acxiom and ADS acquisitions are pretty distinct from those of the interactive marketing companies.  Private equity has become a business story in its own right during the past few years, partly because of the factors that have enabled such a slew of PE deals – cash is easy to come by, credit is cheap, interest rates are low, and balance sheets are clean and relatively debt-free.

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SF Muni Wi-Fi - Back to Basics

Gavin Newsom appeared on CBS MarketWatch to talk about the state of the Muni Wi-Fi project here in San Francisco.

See video.

He's right on target with his comments. The goal of the project is to provide basic access so that kids can get homework assignments and people can fill out job applications. The city isn't in a position to go head to head with other ISP's nor should they. He announced the project and a deal at a great time - when vendors and service providers were looking for proof of concept opportunities. The window won't be open forever. This ongoing debate around what (how much bandwidth) citizens have a right to for free (ad-sponsored) isn't helping to solve the basic problem. Yes, a good browsing experience requires a fast connection, but 300+ kbps isn't too bad.

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Show Me Your Viral Video And I’ll Show You Mine

Forrester encourages B2B marketers to use online video, recorded Web seminars, and other rich media to educate, train, and persuade buyers. Through testimonials and case studies, video creates a lasting impression and emotional bond that is important in business marketing. It’s also less risky to experiment with this medium with the cost of recording decreasing.

But how far can B2B marketers push video from traditional interview or demonstration formats into non-traditional word-of-mouth? Clients see consumer-oriented video ads on YouTube and ask if we see viral video work in business marketing. The answer? We don’t see much.

Exceptions do arise: Scalent VP of Marketing and friend, Kevin Epstein, sent me an April Fool’s joke video his team put together, and – on a whim – decided to post on YouTube.  Kevin wrote about this decision on his blog and I asked Forrester’s marketing research team to look and weigh in. Our take: video may become the digital tchotchke: logo-emblazoned pens, toys, and other useless items companies give to prospects or hand out at tradeshows.

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Google Bidding on 700 MHz?

An interesting idea.

The relationship between Silicon Valley and the wireless operators has been a hot topic in recent months. Few deals have been announced in the US though there have been more abroad. Watching the carriers go head to head with Google, Yahoo! and Microsoft on Search and web browsing (information retrieval on phones) leads one to suspect the two sides have talked, but failed to reach agreements - or perhaps it's too early for the carriers to know exactly what they want long term.

Whether or not the carriers would be willing to let one of these online players be an MVNO is one aspect that hasn't been discussed that extensively. Our research shows that few consumers are interested in ad-sponsored voice services, but consumers seldom say they are.

The other interesting aspect would choice of technology. We haven't seen a greenfield entrant with the same resources as Google. Just because they bid doesn't mean they have plans for a national roll-out. We've seen that with our local Wi-Fi - the SF trial.

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Mobile Ad Inventory - Solving the Fragmentation Problem

Mobile ad networks have been a hot topic the past six months even before AOL's purchase of Third Screen Media late last week.

I wrote up a detailed piece for RCR Wireless. See article.

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aQuantive Acquisition Signals Major Shift In Media/Advertiser Relationships

Early this morning Microsoft announced it will buy online marketing company aQuantive -- the holding parent of interactive agency Avenue A/Razorfish, display and paid search ad mangement platform Atlas and inventory management system DrivePM.  The $6 billion deal cash deal represents an 85% premium to aQuantive's closing price last night and will likely close during the first half of 2008.

I think there are two obvious calls to make based on this deal:

1.   The acquisition certainly builds out Microsoft's access to the entire online advertising supply chain.  Prior to the acquisition Microsoft had the execution channel -- sites where advertisers could buy ads.  Now, they also have the upstream pieces of this chain:  planning, strategy, creative.  WPP is working toward a similar goal with its recent announcement to acquire 24/7 Real Media.  But WPP had the planning, strategy, and creative pieces and bought 24/7 for access to the downstream channel.   

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Silverpop/VTrenz: Makes Sense All Around

Greetings from beautiful Stone Mountain, GA, where I am currently prepping for my presentation tomorrow at Silverpop's Digital Marketer Customer Conference.  I'm looking forward to hearing more about the Silverpop/VTrenz deal tomorrow, but here are my thoughts so far:

Overall, I think this is a good move for Silverpop and an even better one for VTrenz.

VTrenz gets access to enterprise customers, and Silverpop's well-established resources: R&D, client base, professional services team.  And they break into the mainstream email marketing space.  A coup I think for a niche player from Fargo,ND which to date has been company to a solid, but very small collective of B2B electronic lead management tools.

And Silverpop enters a new market: B2B and now has a ready-made solution for marketers trying to use email to sell high-consideration products (think cars or health insurance rather than books or pet supplies).

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Vtrenz: Good Move Or Not For Silverpop?

Earlier today, Silverpop announced their acquisition of marketing demand management start-up Vtrenz. My colleague Shar VanBoskirk and I had the opportunity preview this event with Bill Nussey and Will Schnabel. From a B2B marketing perspective, this combination holds promise because email and lead nurturing make good bedfellows. In B2B, email is a low cost way to continue prospect conversations and it gives marketing a direct channel for incubating buyers during longer B2B purchase cycles.

Because there's not a lot of overlap in technology or customer bases here, the prospects for a richer, more rounded offering are good. However, this combination is not unique: Eloqua also offers email, lead warming, and prospect analytic solutions. So -- other than giving Eloqua some stiffer competition -- will this merger matter in the greater email market?  Probably not, but I'll let Shar weigh in on that question.

To make this deal stand out, Silverpop needs to:

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What a Microsoft/Yahoo union could mean for marketers

As the day continues, the talk of a Microsoft/Yahoo! union is sounding more and more specious.  None-the-less I thought I'd weigh in with my take on what this pairing would mean for interactive marketers.

I still think Yahoo and MS are wrong to continue to chase Google.  If that is what this potential merger about it just seems really naïve.  Billions of dollars to try to “catch up” to a company that will only continue to out-innovate them.

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Why Microsoft + Yahoo! makes sense – and why it won’t work

by Charlene Li

The New York Post and WSJ.com just came
out with stories
of a rumored merger between Yahoo! and Microsoft. On paper, the deal makes sense for the following
reasons, but in the end it's going to be so hard that I don't think it will happen.

First, let's take a look at why it makes sense:

- Audience
combination.
Yahoo! and Microsoft have two of the largest online audiences –
according to Nielsen//NetRatings, 108 million and 95 million respectively in the
US in March 2007. Google had slightly more uniques (108 million), but the
combined unduplicated audience for Yahoo! + Microsoft is 129 million.

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