Friday, May 18, 2007

Google 2.0: Google Universal Search Launched!

Google 2.0: Google Universal Search

Source: Search Engine Land

Google is undertaking the most radical change to its search results ever, introducing a "Universal Search" system that will blend listings from its news, video, images, local and book search engines among those it gathers from crawling web pages.

The new system officially rolls out today for anyone using and searching in English. Not everyone will see it at first, but over the course of the next several days, Universal Search should be more, well, universal. A new navigational interface has also been unveiled for Google and is covered more in the companion piece to this article, Google's New Navigational Links: An Illustrated Guide.

The move potentially should be a huge boon for searchers, while search marketers who have paid attention to the importance of specialized or vertical search will see new opportunities. To fully explain the importance to both groups, I'm going to work step-by-step through the concept of vertical search engines, how they're often ignored by searchers and search marketers alike, then how Google is going to make this content more visible through Universal Search.

Read the whole story...

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Microsoft Agrees to Purchase AQuantive for $6 Billion

Microsoft Agrees to Purchase AQuantive for $6 Billion

By Dina Bass and Tim Mullaney

May 18 (Bloomberg) -- Microsoft Corp. agreed to buy aQuantive Inc. for about $6 billion, its biggest-ever acquisition, as the world's largest software maker seeks to catch up to Google Inc. in the online advertising market.

AQuantive shareholders will receive $66.50 a share in cash, Redmond, Washington-based Microsoft said in a statement today. The offer is 85 percent higher than aQuantive's closing price yesterday and more than 29 times the Seattle-based company's anticipated 2008 earnings before some items.

Microsoft Chief Executive Officer Steve Ballmer is hustling to keep pace as rivals make purchases to win a bigger slice of the market. Google is buying DoubleClick Inc., which competes with aQuantive in creating Web ads and measuring whether they reach the target audience, and Yahoo! Inc. is adding Right Media Inc.

``Microsoft was getting desperate,'' said Sameet Sinha, a Kaufman Brothers analyst in New York. ``With each passing deal, the scarcity value rose. AQuantive is a one-of-a-kind company.''

Shares of aQuantive jumped 77 percent to $63.60 at 12:35 p.m. in Nasdaq Stock Market trading. They had added 45 percent this year before today. Microsoft slipped 9 cents to $30.89. ValueClick Inc., a competitor to aQuantive and DoubleClick, jumped as much as 13 percent to $31.59, a record high.

`Economic Firepower'

The price, which includes outstanding options, is higher than analysts anticipated, even after Google agreed to pay $3.1 billion for DoubleClick. Analysts at Citigroup and Piper Jaffray & Co. had put aQuantive's takeover price at $39 to $42 a share.

This is the fourth Web ad acquisition since April 13, when Google announced the DoubleClick deal. Yesterday WPP Group Plc agreed to buy 24/7 Real Media Inc. Yahoo agreed last month to buy the 80 percent of Right Media that it doesn't already own.

The multiple based on earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization that Microsoft is paying is almost double what WPP will pay for 24/7, Wachovia Capital Markets analyst John Janedis said in a note. AQuantive is more profitable and has a larger share of the market than 24/7.

Microsoft beat out other bidders for aQuantive, Chief Financial Officer Chris Liddell said on a conference call today. AQuantive also probably boosted the price by posting better-than- expected results last quarter, Sinha said.

Microsoft will pay four times the price of its previous largest deal, the 2002 purchase of Navision A/S. The agreement comes after it backed away from deals such as Google's $1.65 billion acquisition of YouTube Inc. because it was too pricey.

The company, which had $28.2 billion in cash at the end of March, is willing to pay more for acquisitions that drive growth, Liddell said. ``Clearly we have the economic firepower to do more if we wish to,'' he said.

New Level

AQuantive was founded in 1997 by Chairman Nicolas Hanauer and Chief Strategy Officer Michael Galgon. Its biggest business is the online ad agency Avenue A/Razorfish, and its most profitable is the Atlas unit that sells software and services to measure and target ad campaigns.

The acquisition means a $278 million payday for Hanauer, who owned 4.18 million shares, according to filings. Galgon will get $17.7 million, based on his 266,475 shares.

Internet ad sales are growing twice as fast as the personal- computer market, where Microsoft's Windows runs most systems, and the purchase builds its position in graphical display ads, an area where the company ranks ahead of Google and behind Yahoo.

``This deal takes our ad business to a new level,'' said Kevin Johnson, president of the Microsoft unit responsible for online services, in an interview. ``We're committed to increasing our slice of the $40 billion'' worldwide Internet ad market.

Trailing Google

Microsoft's ad sales grew 23 percent last quarter, less than Google's 66 percent. Microsoft had $1.61 billion in ad sales in 2006, less than the $10.6 billion for Google, said Charles Di Bona at Sanford C. Bernstein & Co.

Google dominates the market for ads linked to search results by handling 48.3 percent of Web searches. Microsoft won 10.9 percent of U.S. searches in March, said Reston, Virginia-based ComScore Inc., which tracks Web use.

Because Microsoft trails in search ads, the company is trying to attack by convincing advertisers to focus to broader graphical ad campaigns across multiple types of media.

AQuantive, with about 2,600 employees, will help Microsoft garner more ad revenue from its MSN Web sites as well as newer areas for advertising such as the video-games, Internet Protocol television and Internet-based Office programs, Johnson said.

Targeted Ads

DoubleClick and aQuantive pull in billions of dollars in ad revenue by helping target listings to specific customers. For example, General Motors Corp. could hire aQuantive to find people browsing car sites on the Internet. Ads would then be shown to those customers when they use the Internet more broadly to read news sites, check sports scores or find the weather.

Avenue A, a buyer of search ads for clients, may help Microsoft score more revenue in that area. Owning Avenue A also puts Microsoft in the position of having one of its businesses making significant search ad purchases from Google and Yahoo.

If the deal is rejected by regulators, Microsoft may have to pay aQuantive a termination fee of $500 million, aQuantive said in a filing today. AQuantive may have to pay Microsoft $175 million if the deal is terminated under certain circumstances.

Morgan Stanley advised aQuantive and Lazard Ltd. advised Microsoft.

To contact the reporter on this story: Dina Bass in Seattle at ; Tim Mullaney in New York at

Last Updated: May 18, 2007 12:49 EDT
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Healthline Selected to Power Intelligent Health Search Across the HealthCentral Network

Healthline Selected to Power Intelligent Health Search Across the HealthCentral Network

PR Newswire via NewsEdge Corporation :

SAN FRANCISCO and ARLINGTON, Va., May 15 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Healthline Networks ( ), the leading provider of intelligent health information services, and The HealthCentral Network, Inc. (, a leading online resource for consumer- oriented health and wellness information, today announced that Healthline's Medically Guided Search and navigation platform will now power search for all of The HealthCentral Network (THCN), a collection of more than thirty general health and condition-specific Web sites, significantly enhancing health information search experience on each site.

"HealthCentral Network's comprehensive condition-specific sites are focused on providing individual health seekers with the resources they need to take control of their health, from clinical information and community tools so that people can inform, share and support each other," said Chris Schroeder, chief executive officer and President of The HealthCentral Network. "Medical information is one of the most complex search categories, and Healthline's medical domain expertise is the key for further enhancement of our health information search. Their technology, focused specifically on health and wellness information, will be a powerful addition to our sites, allowing our users to further customize their experience and find exactly what they need, on their terms."

Healthline will be providing its Medically Guided Search and navigation services through its Healthline Application Program Interface (API), providing search results in XML and allowing each THCN Web site to customize the search results page to match its own look and feel. Health information seekers on any of THCN's web sites will be presented with search results from the HealthWeb, a pre-screened universe of more than 200,000 high-quality consumer health Web sites representing 175 million Web pages.

THCN visitors will also be able to refine the results of their search by using navigation links to broaden or narrow their search, or find related topics, based on Healthline's semantic taxonomy. Developed and maintained by doctors and medical informatics professionals, Healthline's taxonomy -- the world's largest consumer health database, including a medical terminology index of more than 1.3 million medical terms, synonyms and "consumer friendly" names -- and the Healthline HealthWeb, ensure that visitors to THCN Web sites will now be presented with the most comprehensive and contextually relevant health search results.

"Online health information is often fragmented, untrustworthy, or hard to find," said West Shell III, chairman and chief executive officer of Healthline. "By integrating with The HealthCentral Network, we will combine the assets of a leading health and wellness content network with fast, intelligent, and effective web search, giving consumers access to a broad array of high-quality, relevant health information. This is an exciting alliance that will evolve with innovative new products and services providing users with the trusted, comprehensive health resources they need to live a healthier life."

About Healthline

Healthline Networks offers an innovative approach to meeting the needs of today's health information seeker. The company's unique consumer healthcare taxonomy, begun in 1999 in collaboration with 1,100 medical specialists, powers a suite of intelligent health search, navigation and content services. Combining advanced search technology with deep medical expertise, Healthline and its business partners -- a network of trusted destination sites that include publishers, portals, search engines, employers and health plans -- help consumers navigate the complex world of healthcare information, empowering them to make more confident, informed decisions. Headquartered in San Francisco, Healthline is backed by VantagePoint Venture Partners, Reed Elsevier Ventures, Mitsui & Co., Ltd., and JHK Investments, LLC.

About The HealthCentral Network

The HealthCentral Network, Inc. ( ) is a new and unique online offering, comprised of more than 30 health and highly specific condition Web properties. Each site provides timely, interactive, in- depth, and trusted medical information from organizations including Harvard Health Publications among others, and connections to leading experts and thousands of people who share their related experiences and inspiration. The HealthCentral Network was acquired in 2005 by Polaris Ventures, Sequoia Capital, The Carlyle Group and Allen & Company, and has built a management team that combines decades of experience in interactive media and medical, science, and news journalism. The company received top recognition from The International Health and Medical Media Awards with a 2006 FREDDIE Award for and the Health Care Standard of Excellence WebAward from the Web Marketing Association.

SOURCE The HealthCentral Network, Inc.

CONTACT: Victoria Steiner, Manager, Corporate Communications, of Healthline Networks, Inc., +1-415-281-3110,; or Kristen Carriker, PR & Marketing Manager, of The HealthCentral Network, Inc., +1-703-302-1058,

<<PR Newswire -- 05/16/07>>

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Portada's New Ad-tracking System Identifies Hispanic Market Spenders

Portada's New Ad-tracking System Identifies Hispanic Market Spenders

PR Newswire via NewsEdge Corporation :

NEW YORK, May 16 /PRNewswire/ -- Portada is pleased to announce its agile and data driven print ad-tracking system that empowers users to instantly pull information on National Hispanic print advertising investment with the push of a button. This highly-specialized market research tool, hosted at offers a comprehensive look at which brands are targeting the Hispanic market, and which newspapers they are using to do so with FSI and ROP programs.

"This is a very effective tool for publishers, direct marketers and corporations interested in reaching the Hispanic market. In fact, it is by far the most comprehensive Hispanic print ad-tracking tool and an ideal complement to our Database of Media Buyers and our premium content", says Marcos Baer, publisher of Portada.

The system is searchable by:

Publication (272 newspapers and more than 50 magazines) allowing users to see what newspapers and magazines are garnering the most national advertising investment.

Brands(520 ROP and 160 FSI): revealing which companies are serious about targeting the Hispanic market with print programs.

Category (12 different categories): giving a comprehensive look at national Hispanic print ad investment within the twelve major categories, including Retail, Financial, Telecom, and Automotive.

In addition, Portada's Ad-tracking system offers year-over-year comparisons, enabling the user to spot market trends with unprecedented ease. The data is searchable at and displayed on an Excel spreadsheet.

While this is a powerful tool in its own right, it also is the perfect complement to Portada's Media Buyer/Planner Database, which holds contact information for the media buyers and planners who are making the decisions noted in the Ad-tracking database. Special pricing is available which includes both Portada's Ad-Tracking System and Media Buyer/Planner Directory.

To support its launch Portada has developed a special charter program through June 15th. For more information, contact Sales & Marketing Director Annette Fielman at (516) 396-0179 or at

About Portada:

Portada, the only audited trade publication in the Hispanic media marketplace, is the prime source of news and analysis about the expansion of print and digital media into the U.S. Hispanic and Latin American markets. Portada's media vehicles include its magazine (published 5x a year), website, and targeted weekly, bi-Weekly and monthly E- Newsletters. Portada also offers resources and services for advertising, publishing and PR professionals.

SOURCE Portada

CONTACT: Alex Andrews, Editor of Portada, +1-212-685-4441,

<<PR Newswire -- 05/17/07>>

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Thursday, May 17, 2007

Rodale Survey Finds More Consumers Comparing Drugs Online

Rodale Survey Finds More Consumers Comparing Drugs Online
by Nina M. Lentini, Thursday, May 17, 2007 5:01 AM ET
IN THE FACE OF CRITICS who say direct-to-consumer marketing of prescription drugs tends to send consumers racing to their doctors for a dose, the 10th annual national survey on Consumer Reaction to DTC Advertising of Prescription Medicines has found that just 8% ask their doctors for a specific medication after seeing a DTC ad.

Perhaps the biggest change found in the survey, says Cary Silvers, director of Consumer and Advertising Trends at Rodale, is the change in consumer behavior.

"We're picking up a trend where more consumers are looking to be able to compare one medicine to another," he says. Since 2005, the percentage of people who compare drugs online has risen 15 points, to 61%.

The annual survey is conducted by Prevention, Men's Health and Women's Health magazines, with technical assistance from the FDA's Division of Drug Marketing, Advertising, and Communication.

The desire for on-demand information is "another element that [the direct-to-consumer industry] has to contend with in additional to the traditional gatekeepers," Silvers says. Acknowledging that Rodale publications profit by DTC advertising, he notes that there are many opinions, pro and con, on the issue. "We bring the voice of the consumer."

The survey found that the No. 1 action taken by consumers after seeing a DTC ad is information seeking--before, during and even after a prescription is filled.

Other key findings, according to Rodale:

  • Most consumers (68%) claim they know a lot about their medical condition or illness, the benefits of the prescription medicines they take (67%), and the risks (59%). Consumers who claim to be knowledgeable are also more likely to talk to their doctor about an advertised drug.
  • Even after a prescription is filled, the majority of consumers (75%) are still looking for information about their medications. Twenty-nine percent of these consumers find themselves stopping to read/watch an advertisement.
  • More consumers agree or somewhat agree (73%) that DTC ads allow people to be more involved with their health care.
  • Increasingly, consumers want to know more than the risks and benefits of the medicines they are taking. They also want to know how the medicine's effectiveness compares to other medicines--61% vs. 46% in 2005; how the medicine treats their condition--76% vs. 70% last year; and how it interacts with other medicines--66% vs. 57% last year.
  • A little more than half of consumers (56%) are currently taking a prescription drug. Ten years ago, that figure was 47.
  • Among the 36% of consumers who remember seeing any disease awareness ad, half (52%) say they have either talked with their doctor, a friend or family member or searched for additional information online.
Nina M. Lentini edits Marketing Daily. Email her at
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What Happens When You Let Go

What Happens When You Let Go
by Adam L. Penenberg, May 2007 issue

No, they’re not mad scientists. They’re ordinary Joes, who for reasons best understood by themselves, began fooling around with packages of Mentos and bottles of Diet Coke.

Mint-maker Mentos was in a rut. A unit of Italian confectioner Perfetti Van Melle, Mentos spent $20 million a year on marketing, most of it on its famously campy “freshmaker” TV commercials that had run for the past 15 years. Vice president of marketing Pete Healy believed Mentos needed to, as he put it, “reassess, redefine and reposition its brand.”

This prompted him to sit down last year with other executives for a brainstorming session to personify what the product was all about. If Mentos were a car, they wondered, what kind would it be? A sporty convertible. If a recreational activity, rock climbing or beach volleyball. And what celebrity was most like Mentos? Adam Sandler, former Saturday Night Live cast member and star of such cinematic schtick as Happy Gilmore and The Waterboy. Then a Web video of two goofy guys creating a replica of the Bellagio Fountain in Las Vegas out of nothing more than Mentos and bottles of Diet Coke went viral last June, downloaded by millions, spawning thousands of imitators and attracting immense media coverage, and it hit Healy. “What could be a better fit than Adam Sandler and Mentos geysers?” he asked himself. “It reflected our personality.”

What followed was a marketing coup that has become a textbook example of how a company can harness the power of viral video, where the standard 30-second TV ad, which is waning in influence, is replaced by the Web concept of collective curation. That’s when the audience decides what’s good and what should be watched and the traditional gatekeepers — television networks, movie studios and the news media — are pushed to the sidelines.

This democratization of content is made possible by the advent of cheap video cameras, camcorders, even cell phones that capture user-generated infotainment, aided by powerful, affordable software like Final Cut Pro and iMovie to shape it, and then distributed via a massive digital infrastructure with ample bandwidth. The technological zeitgeist is equal parts human, however, as netizens blog about what interests them or disseminate links to everyone in their e-mail and IM address books. Meanwhile, user communities have sprouted up on people portals like MySpace, Flickr, YouTube and Digg. There, people share everything from blog posts to news articles, pictures, audio podcasts and videos in a quest for their own Wharholian 15 megabytes of fame.

“It’s all about the combination of next-generation content creation and distribution coupled to instant access to your social network community,” says Adam Lavelle, vice president of strategy for iCrossing, a digital marketing agency. “Because distribution is so huge and fluid and easy, your community connects to other communities, which fosters this distribution. If I know you, then I know everyone you know.”

Commerce as Conversation

In the end, the audience chooses which messages to spread, and companies have little choice but to let go of their brand. As Procter & Gamble CEO A.G. Lafley said in a speech at the Association of National Advertisers, “The more in control we are, the more out of touch we become. But the more willing we are to let go a little, the more we’re finding we get in touch with consumers.”

This, of course, frightens executives used to molding their brands to fit their own hackneyed scripts. If consumers start tarnishing their name, and that spreads, it could be disastrous. In the old days, if you had a problem with customer service, you wrote a nasty letter to a company’s complaint department — if you could find it. Nowadays, the Web enables the fluidity of information where consumers enjoy unprecedented power. In essence, commerce has become a conversation. Businesses either talk to us or face our wrath, which is amplified through the blogosphere and sites like Digg and Slashdot with their legions of snarky users, who tell others, and so on and so on, until millions are mocking a company.

This is something AOL learned the hard way last year when an irritated customer, trying to cancel his membership, recorded the phone call with customer service and posted it on the Web. It became, as The New York Times characterized it, “the online equivalent of a top-of-the-charts single.” General Motors launched a Web site that allowed visitors to post their own Chevy Tahoe ads, with predictable results. A number of them blasted the carmaker for manufacturing gas-guzzling SUVs that contribute to global warming. What’s the solution? Companies could start by being proactive and engaging their critics instead of trying to gloss over perceived problems — because viral criticism loves a vacuum.

Chain Reaction

On the upside, a company willing to let go of its brand can find its way to great, untapped riches — as Mentos found. The Bellagio Fountain video was downloaded 20 million times and more than 10,000 copycat mint-soda videos were posted online, which created a multiplier effect: Mentos tallied a staggering 215 million mentions of its product in TV, print or radio stories over the past nine months, and estimates the free publicity was worth $10 million to the company — half its annual marketing budget. More to the point, Mentos, well, made a mint: Sales climbed 20 percent during the first viral tsunami, and even after the commotion died down, they remained 15 percent higher than they had been.

Coca-Cola also reaped rewards. Before the video, Diet Coke’s sales had been flat, while the company as a whole was losing market share. But Michael Donnelly, the soft-drink maker’s interactive director, reports that after it went viral there was a “significant spike” in sales of two-liter bottles of Diet Coke — the ones used on camera. He wouldn’t give exact numbers but confirmed it was between 5 and 10 percent. A second video by the original instigators, employing 251 bottles of Diet Coke and 1,500 Mentos in a massive chain reaction, led to a 27 percent increase in traffic to

All of this was a million miles away from the minds of Fritz Grobe, a professional juggler, and Stephen Voltz, a trial lawyer, who were the ones responsible for all of this. In fall 2005, the two heard from a friend that if you drop Mentos into a bottle of Diet Coke, it would explode. Performers at heart — Grobe and Voltz were members of a Buckfield, Maine, regional theater company — the two went out to the backyard to try it. After the pyrotechnics, their first thought was, How far could they take it?

Naturally, they weren’t the first ones to do this. For decades, high school students had mixed vinegar and baking soda to make volcanoes erupt at science fairs, and science educators tossed Wint-O-Green Life Savers into diet soda to demonstrate chemical reactions. (Why diet soda? Cola’s brown color makes it easy to see, and diet cola’s lack of sugar makes it easier to clean up.) Since the early 1990s, Mentos had been aware of the geyser phenomenon, which would come and go in popularity. Then science educator Steve Spangler demonstrated the Mentos-Diet Coke effect on Denver, Colorado’s 9News, with anchor Kim Christiansen getting soaked in the process in September 2005. The video of this was posted online and became a minor hit.

As for Grobe and Voltz, they spent the morning playing around with the idea. After corralling as many bottles of Diet Coke and tubes of Mentos as they could, they constructed a 10-bottle fountain with the aid of some cement blocks and put on a show at the Oddfellows Theater for other members of their troupe. The response urged them to greater heights. They spent about five months experimenting — cutting slits in bottles, drilling holes, adding screens. After settling on the Bellagio Fountain in Las Vegas, the two drafted blueprints, carefully choreographing their effects to match those of their glitzy muse. On April 29, 2006, the two laid out 200 liters of Diet Coke in an intricate design and prepped more than 500 Mentos mints (Total cost: $300), then spent eight hours doing walk-throughs.

“It felt like blowing up a building,” Grobe says. “We had one chance. We had never done more than 20 bottles at a time before that.” 

While a friend with a digital video camera recorded the action, the two, dressed in white lab coats, crossed their fingers and let it fly. Amazingly it all went off without a hitch. In fact, it went better than they had imagined because it was an unseasonably warm day, so the effects were even more spectacular, especially at the end when the grand crown shot out in different directions and spun. They got soaked, puddles of Diet Coke gathering in their goggles.

They entered a Web video contest sponsored by the E-Channel but didn’t win, so the first Saturday in June they posted it to their Web site, Voltz told one person about it: his brother. Within hours, thousands of visitors were viewing “Experiment #137.” By the end of the first day, they counted 14,000 downloads. Two days later, “The Late Show With Dave Letterman” called. Grobe told producers they had only done the fountain once and would need a chance to rehearse. Over the course of the next few weeks, Grobe and Voltz grew sufficiently confident they could perform the Mentos geyser live.

Meanwhile, the video had become a runaway hit. Over nine days, more than 2 million people logged on to their site. This had a downside, as enthusiastic viewers kept posting it on YouTube. But Grobe and Voltz had a deal with, where they would split ad revenue. Voltz put his legal expertise to work and sent a flurry of letters to YouTube, which automatically stripped the Revver ad from the video, demanding that the site remove their copyrighted material. As soon as one video came down five would go up. Grobe and Voltz just couldn’t keep up. In the end, they earned about $35,000 in advertising revenue and estimate they could have made double that if YouTube and other video-sharing sites would have proactively blocked users from posting it.

Pete Healy of Mentos heard about the Mentos geyser phenomenon after his marketing director tuned in to National Public Radio, which ran a segment about it. Healy told a Wall Street Journal reporter that Mentos was “tickled” by the video. Although he didn’t tell the journalist this, he did wonder about liability. “You hope people have common sense and won’t allow their three-year-old to stand over a bottle of exploding soda,” he said. (No one to date has threatened either Mentos or Coca-Cola with lawsuits over this.) 

Healy then called Grobe and asked if there was anything the company could do to help?

“Send Mentos,” Grobe replied.

Coke Gets Behind the “Domino Effect”

Healy did more than that. Although he knew there would be risks to involving Mentos in this type of new-media campaign, in the end, Mentos was candy, not a cure for cancer. How much effort would people put in ridiculing it? “As long as we maintained a light touch and were authentic, we figured we would probably be okay,” Healy says. “We knew there were parodies of the old Mentos TV ads. It didn’t bother us; in fact it showed people were engaged with the personality of the brand.”

When Grobe and Voltz appeared on the Letterman show at the end of June, Healy dispatched the Mentos-mobile — a Pontiac Solstice convertible wrapped in Mentos graphics — which was parked outside the theater, while street marketers in Mentos T-shirts and toting 6-foot rolls of Mentos gave out candy to passersby. At the same time, the Coca-Cola Company, slower on the uptake, didn’t know what to think. A Coke spokeswoman told the Wall Street Journal, “We would hope people want to drink [Diet Coke] more than try experiments with it.” She added that the “craziness with Mentos” didn’t “fit” Diet Coke’s “brand personality.”

Michael Donnelly, the company’s interactive director, admits Coke wasn’t prepared for this. But in July the soft-drink maker relaunched with a new focus: consumer-generated media that celebrates creativity and self-expression. Within days of starting his job at Coke in August, Donnelly contacted “the guys,” as he called them. This led to a pow-wow among Coke, Mentos, Grobe, Voltz and Google, which wanted in on the action.

The companies agreed to work together to support the performers in a second video, which Grobe and Voltz dubbed “The Domino Effect.” That, too, was a big success, attracting 5 million downloads on Google Video. At the end, there was an advertisement that linked to or, announcing a con test. For three months, people could submit their own videos of ordinary objects doing extraordinary things, and Grobe and Voltz were the judges. “A great one involved balloons, Mentos, Diet Coke, and a series of chain reactions,” Grobe says. Coke supported the campaign by buying up hundreds of search keywords on Google, msn and Yahoo — anything relating to Coke, Mentos and explosions. Coke counted some 1.5 billion ad impressions from the campaign.

Great Geysers

Because the odds of benefiting from a phenomenon like the Mentos and Diet Coke geysers is less than the chances of winning “American Idol,” some companies have been trying to game the system — with decidedly mixed results. Samsung released a series of videos on YouTube featuring a St. Bernard named Sam on a plane. The few who actually watched characterized them as  “lame,” “a stinker,” and “zzzzzz.” One user summed up: “I would really like to know which agency and production company came up with this uninspired piece of crap.”

Dove has had hits and misses. It scored big with “Evolution,” a Web video that illustrates through makeup and software how an ordinary woman can be transformed into Mischa Barton hot. On YouTube alone, several parodies have been viewed for a combined total of 5 million times. (Personal favorite: “Slob Evolution,” in which a male model eats, drinks and smokes himself into someone who resembles Christopher Hitchens.) Dove also posted a flop when it tried to foist a promo for “Dove Cream Body Oil” on to the YouTube community. The video received more than 10,000 comments—almost universally negative.

FedEx, on the other hand, squelched any viral-marketing potential by threatening legal action against a loyal customer who had created furniture out of the air shipper’s boxes, then posted the pictures on his Web site. “The worst thing you can do is act like a grumpy old brand and send out cease-and-desist letters,” says Michael Maslansky, president of Luntz, Maslansky Strategic Research. “It makes you look bad.”

Adds Mentos’ Healy: “If I had been FedEx, I would have gone online and created a ‘Design Your Own Dining Set Out of FedEx Cartons’ contest.”

There have been some modest corporate-inspired Web video successes too. More than three million YouTube users have watched Tom Dickson, the earnest founder of Blendtec, a blender manufacturer, pulverize an iPod. He also stars in several other must-see “Will It Blend?” videos released on YouTube and Blendtec’s own Web site, where he destroys baseballs, rake handles, lightbulbs, magnets, marbles, half a rotisserie chicken, and a 12 oz. can of Coke. The month after the videos hit the Web, Blendtec sold four times as many blenders online as it had over the previous monthly record.

Mentos continues to sponsor Grobe and Voltz, helping them perform with the Blue Man Group Theater in Boston. The two say they are talking to TV networks about potential shows, and recently returned from Europe where they appeared on French TV. They also gave performances in the Netherlands, Belgium, Turkey and Pittsburgh. “We are earning a decent living as performers and it all started with a simple Web video,” Grobe says.

Now Mentos has begun to partner with Steve Spangler, a highly caffeinated educator who has made a career teaching teachers how to teach science. A staple at conferences, Spangler, whose father was both a magician and scientist, speaks to roughly 150,000 teachers a year. And at each conference he can’t resist but demonstrate the power of Mentos and Diet Coke. At the end of this year, he is scheduled for “The Momentum Tour,” where he plans to visit dozens of schools where teachers are doing creative experiments with Mentos and Diet Coke. Mentos will send the car and supply the mints.

Spangler, who claims he has set off perhaps 5,000 Mentos-Coke geysers over the past seven years, has also begun selling toys based on this theme. The first to hit the market is the Steve Spangler Geyser Tube, which sells for $4.95 and says on the label “powered by Mentos.” He also expects to release the Great Geysers Kit for $19.95, which would contain a geyser tube, test tubes, chemicals like citric acid and baking soda, macaroni, string, a basic science kit, an instruction book explaining carbonation, and, of course, Mentos. Spangler has filed for patents and will get all the money, since Mentos agreed not to share in any of the revenue. In fact, Spangler is even paying for the Mentos. 

What’s the secret of a campaign like this? “You have to have a light touch and be careful not to act like a guy in his mid-40s trying to be a hipster,” says the 54-year-old Healy. “It doesn’t smell right.”

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Google's Universal Search: Where Video and SEO Meet

Google's Universal Search: Where Video and SEO Meet
by Tameka Kee, Thursday, May 17, 2007 6:00 AM ET

source: Media Post

GOOGLE'S NEW UNIVERSAL SEARCH MODEL will aggregate information from across all of the search giant's content sources--videos, images, news, maps, books and Web sites--into a single set of relevant results.

Announced at the Google Searchology event, and with full national functionality slated for the end of today, the company's goal for universal search is to create "a seamless, integrated experience to get users the best answers," said Marissa Mayer, Google vice president of search products and user experience at Google.

A user that inputs "Italian restaurant in nyc" for example, might find local search listings complete with a Google Map, above a link to breaking news on New York City restaurants, in addition to sponsored and organic links. Users will also be able to play embedded videos from Google Videos or YouTube directly on the page, while a thumbnail will link them to videos hosted by other sites like MetaCafe.

The task of pulling various types of data together, comparing, and ranking them with the speed and accuracy to which users have become accustomed requires new algorithms, software and hardware--part of the new technical infrastructure Google is in the process of installing.

Some industry insiders said the universal search model may pose challenges for both users and marketers. "It takes away from the beautiful uniformity that has made Google so successful," said blogger and competitive Web master John Andrews.

While not a jarring change, as the search giant has been implementing aspects of this capability over the past few months, "on first glance, it seems a bit inconsistent," said Dan Thies, president, SEO Research Labs. "Users may wonder what kinds of results they're going to get when they enter a search term."

For marketers, the new search model's inclusion of media such as video and scanned books puts the onus on them to increase the breadth of their readily accessible digital content. "Advertisers need to have more multimedia available, and it needs to be catalogued and tagged in the right way," said Chris Copeland, senior partner, managing director of GroupM's Outrider. "We have to make sure that they apply the fundamentals of SEO to all of their assets now, not just Web pages."

Asked whether the universal search model would impact the speed or quality of results, Google Vice President of Engineering Udi Manber responded: "We continue to concentrate on improving the quality of search, devoting resources to developing better ranking mechanisms and algorithms."

Tameka Kee can be reached at


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comScore Finds An Older Podcast Audience

comScore Finds An Older Podcast Audience
Thursday, May 17, 2007 6:00 AM ET

source: Media Post

PERHAPS REFLECTING THE EDUCATIONAL AND business themes of top podcasts, a comScore study of the iTunes podcasting audience found that 35- to-54-year-olds represent half of the downloaders--running against the conventional wisdom that only young, tech-savvy consumers download and listen to podcasts. The study, sponsored by mobile advertising enabler Ad Infuse, also found podcast consumption increasing with higher income and education. "Because these core audiences represent highly desirable consumer segments, it's probably just a matter of time before significant advertising dollars begin to flow toward this medium." said Nick Tabbal, comScore's senior vice president of media and entertainment solutions.

The study also found that male podcast downloaders outnumbered females two to one.



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PhRMA Joins National Bipartisan Coalition to Fight Chronic Disease

PhRMA Joins National Bipartisan Coalition to Fight Chronic Disease

Washington, D.C. (May 15, 2007) — Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA) President and CEO Billy Tauzin issued the following statement today regarding the Partnership to Fight Chronic Disease (PFCD).

“America’s pharmaceutical research companies believe that to improve the health of Americans, we must start with prevention of chronic disease. That is why PhRMA is proud to join with over 40 other partners in a national bipartisan coalition effort to battle chronic disease: the Partnership to Fight Chronic Disease (PFCD). We want to make sure that the issue of chronic disease is the key health care issue in the 2008 presidential election.

“Chronic diseases account for seven out of ten deaths in the U.S., according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). These diseases also are the primary driver of health care costs – nearly 75% of yearly health care spending in the U.S. With the stakes this high, we must do everything we can to avoid disease before it becomes so costly to patients and to the health system overall.

“While prescription drugs can help treat chronic disease and help prevent conditions from worsening, they are not the best solution. Prevention is the key. Working together through the PFCD, we hope to broaden understanding of the problem of chronic disease among our nation’s leaders so that we can better address solutions. PhRMA is committed to finding the proven policies and practices that – if implemented on an individual, state, and national level – will have a tremendous, positive impact on our nation’s health and healthcare system.

“Together – through the Partnership to Fight Chronic Disease – we can make a difference. America’s pharmaceutical research companies are happy to play a role in this very vital effort.”

About the PFCD

The Partnership to Fight Chronic Disease is a national, bi-partisan coalition of patients, providers, community organizations, business and labor groups, and health policy experts. They are committed to raising awareness of chronic disease and the policies and practices that save lives and reduce health costs through more effective prevention and management of chronic disease.

The mission of the PFCD is to:

Educate the public about chronic disease and potential solutions for individuals and communities Mobilize Americans to call for change in how governments, employers, and health institutions approach chronic disease Challengepolicymakers on the health policy changes that are necessary to effectively fight chronic disease Currently, more than 40 advisory board members and partner organizations from across the country have joined the PFCD. For more information on the partnership, please visit:

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Asking the right questions helps people raise their health literacy...

Asking the right questions helps people raise their health literacy; Understanding drug instructions, doctor's directions and food labels are all critical health-care skills

Los Angeles Times-Washington Post News Service


Ever leave your doctor's office more confused about your health issues than when you walked in? You might be suffering from more than physical ailments.

Low "health literacy,' an individual's ability to obtain, process and understand health information and the services needed to make appropriate decisions and follow instructions for treatment, can put you at risk for unnecessary hospitalizations, emergency treatment and medication errors.

A recent U.S. government study revealed that the problem is epidemic. Estimates are that more than 89 million American adults have low or limited health literacy skills.

People of all ages, groups, income and education levels are challenged by the problem, but the elderly, who may have hearing, vision or cognitive loss, are particularly vulnerable.

Health literacy includes the ability to understand instructions on prescription drug bottles, appointment slips, medical education brochures, doctor's directions, food labels and consent forms, and the ability to negotiate complex health-care systems.

Not simply the ability to read, health literacy requires reading, listening, analytical and decision-making skills, and the ability to apply these skills to health situations.

"If you leave your doctor's office not really understanding what was discussed, if you can't make out prescription directions, you're not going to be able to follow a treatment plan properly,' says Gabriel Martinez, director of sales and marketing for Senior Whole Health.

The Massachusetts health-care company is part of The Partnership for Clear Health Communications, a national coalition working with health-care providers and consumers to raise awareness and provide solutions to low health literacy.

"Health literacy skills are a stronger predictor of a person's health status than age, income, employment status, educational level and racial or ethnic group.'

Compounding the problem is that many older patients hide their confusion from their doctors because they are too ashamed or intimidated to ask for help.

Martinez advises seniors to arrive at health-care visits prepared with a written list of symptoms and current medications, both prescription and over-the-counter.

Bringing along another pair of ears, such as a caregiver, friend or adult child, is another way to sort information. But the real key to higher health literacy, he says, is knowing the right questions to ask.


Ask Me 3, The Partnership for Clear Health Communication's community-based educational initiative, visits senior centres, elderly housing, community centres and churches to teach seniors three simple queries:

(1 star) What is my main problem?

(1 star) What do I need to do?

(1 star) Why is it important for me to do this?

"These questions are designed to empower seniors, giving them the basic queries they should pose to their doctors, pharmacists or nurses when preparing for a medical test, a procedure or when they get their prescriptions filled,' says John Baackes, chief executive of Senior Whole Health. "Asking the right questions will help them to understand how to get better.'

Better understanding can also affect health care's bottom line. Costs caused by excess hospitalizations and emergency care, errors by patients in their self-treatment and other problems associated with limited health literacy are estimated to be $58 billion to $73 billion US a year.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has made health literacy part of "Healthy People 2010,' its list of national health objectives.

In a statement on the issue, former Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson said, "Health literacy can save lives, money and improve the health of millions of Americans. It goes to the core of our health-care system. Improving the ability of Americans to obtain, process and understand basic health information is essential to our strategy of prevention.'

Photo: CANADIAN PRESS FILE / Low health literacy, the inability to understand health information, affects people of all ages and economic classes, but the elderly are particularly vulnerable.

<<Kitchener Record -- 05/16/07>>

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SpineUniverse Unveils Nationwide Osteoporosis Awareness Campaign To Educate Public About Risks...

SpineUniverse Unveils Nationwide Osteoporosis Awareness Campaign To Educate Public About Risks, Prevention & New Breakthroughs

New Campaign Coincides With National Osteoporosis Awareness Month in May

MONTCLAIR, N.J.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Osteoporosis is a major public health threat for an estimated 44 million Americans. In the U.S., 10 million individuals are estimated to already have the disease and almost 34 million more are estimated to have low bone mass, placing them at increased risk for osteoporosis.¹

During National Osteoporosis Awareness Month in May, sponsored by the National Osteoporosis Foundation (NOF),––an online resource for spine focused health care providers and consumers––is launching a new osteoporosis and fracture education campaign in partnership with Kyphon, a leader in restoring spinal function through minimally invasive therapies. The objective: to increase awareness of the consequences of osteoporosis and encourage people to take action to protect their bone health and prevent osteoporosis however and whenever possible.

“While the public has been well educated on topics such as heart attacks, insight into preventing back injuries and osteoporosis have fallen under the radar,” says Dr. Isador Lieberman of the Cleveland Clinic Spine Institute. “Awareness of the risks of osteoporosis and early detection of low bone mass is essential for this disease, because if not prevented or left untreated, osteoporosis can progress painlessly until a bone simply breaks.”

There is an estimated 1.5 million fractures resulting from osteoporosis in the U.S. each year, with a majority of these fractures occurring in the spine. Key elements of the campaign include featuring spine tips on the website, along with posting osteoporosis-focused articles written by the site’s editorial board of leading spine and pain specialists around the country.

Osteoporosis Facts²

What is Osteoporosis?: Osteoporosis is a disease in which bones become fragile and more likely to break. These broken bones, also known as fractures, occur typically in the hip, spine, and wrist. Fortunately, osteoporosis can be prevented or treated.

Bone Density Testing:

According to the National Osteoporosis Foundation, the only sure way to determine bone density and fracture risk for osteoporosis is to have a bone mass measurement (also called bone mineral density or BMD test). A bone mineral density test compares your bone density to the average density of healthy young adults. A BMD score of -2.5 or below indicates osteoporosis. While women are four times more likely than men to develop the disease, men also suffer from osteoporosis.

Risk Factors:

Risk factors for osteoporosis include: Personal history of fracture as an adult, history of fracture in a first degree relative, advanced age, female sex, dementia, poor health/frailty, current cigarette smoking, low body weight, anorexia nervosa, estrogen deficiency (past menopause, early menopause––before age 45), low testosterone levels in men, use of certain medications such as corticosteroids and anti-convulsants, low calcium intake, excessive alcohol use, recurrent falls, inadequate physical activity.

Prevention Tips:

Calcium plays an important role in maintaining bone. Calcium alone cannot prevent or cure osteoporosis, but it is an important part of an overall prevention or treatment program. Vitamin D3 plays a major role in calcium absorption and bone health. v Exercise is a key factor in preventing osteoporosis. Bone is living tissue that responds to exercise by becoming stronger. Just as a muscle gets stronger and bigger the more you use it, a bone becomes stronger and denser when you place demands on it.

According to SpineUniverse CEO Bill Paquin, “As a leading spine information resource for doctors and consumers, is committed to bringing together all of the latest and most credible information about osteoporosis and making it easily accessible to the public. The goal of our new campaign is not only to assist those currently affected by osteoporosis, but to help prevent others from developing the medical condition in the future.”

About SpineUniverse LLC

SpineUniverse LLC is a newly-formed company resulting from the March, 2007 merger of and BroadWater, Inc. The company’s two divisions include, the leading website devoted exclusively to providing information and treatment options pertaining to spinal disorders and pain management; and BroadWater, a leading medical education provider offering online and offline patient education resources, and managing medical meetings and courses worldwide. For more information, visit and About Dr. Isador Lieberman Dr. Lieberman is a fellowship trained Orthopaedic and Spinal Surgeon with Cleveland Clinic, specializing in the surgical treatment of spinal disorders. Dr. Lieberman is a paid consultant to Kyphon, he is a paid consultant and owns stock or has stock options in Crosstrees, Merlot OrthopediX, Trans1, Axiomed, Mazor Surgical, and he receives royalties from DePuy Spine and Stryker Spine. For more information, please visit and click on “Find a Physician.” ¹ The National Osteoporosis Foundation

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Consumers: Marketers of Tomorrow, Starting Today

Consumers: Marketers of Tomorrow, Starting Today

Source: MAarketing VOX

As advertising moves into the interactive space, consumers are increasingly doing the advertising themselves, reports The Los Angeles Times. The adoption of CGM incorporations into formal marketing plans is one symptom of this trend.

M&M's has logged 1.5 million users for a feature that allows people to create M&M avatars in their own image. And on, users can add themselves to a 30-second spot.

MIT Cultural Anthropologist Grant McCracken thinks this new era of participatory advertising represents a revolution. For the first time, marketers are inviting consumers "into the production of meaning."

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Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Get a (First) Life

Funny funny funny. 
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Discovery to Ring Up 14 Mobile Series

Discovery to Ring Up 14 Mobile Series

Mike Shields

MAY 14, 2007 -

Discovery Communications is making one of the more aggressive mobile content plays seen to date among traditional media companies. The company said it plans to launch 14 original mobile series this year on Discovery Mobile, its 24-hour mobile network.

Four of the new third-screen shows will revolve around Discovery’s environmentally-focused PlanetGreen initiative, including the eight-episode Greenspace, which highlights individuals efforts to help protect the environment in small ways, and Go Green, a service-oriented eco-friendly series due in the third quarter.

Also in the works are What Are The Odds?, a 26-episode series kicking off this month that explores the odds of rare occurrences--ranging from winning the lottery to bumping into an old friend--and TLC’s Life Essentials, a ten episode short-form show providing basic tips on endeavors like raising children and throwing dinner parties.

All of the new Discovery shows are designed to be consumers in short snippets, as they run mostly three to four minutes in length. The shows, along with the company’s pioneering year-old made-for-mobile network (which does not yet carry advertising) are available on various paid subscription platforms, including Amp’d Mobile, MobiTV and SmartVideo.

With the aggressive mobile programming slate, it’s clear that Discovery executives have faith that the audience for mobile video is set to surge and that its networks’ programs are well-suited to the medium.

“Discovery occupies a wholly unique and valuable space in the mobile content landscape,” said Clint Stinchcomb, executive vp and general manger, Discovery Emerging Networks. “As the number-one producer of nonfiction entertainment with broad and flexible programming rights, we can provide consumers and distributors with original, compelling series unique to the platform.”

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'You' Trend Marches on with Custom Voicemail

'You' Trend Marches on with Custom Voicemail

source: Marketing VOX

YouMail, a growing hit among Gens X and Y, gives the forgotten art of voicemail a facelift, reports The Fayetteville Observer.
YouMail enables users to create personalized outgoing greetings tailored to specific callers. The service supports most major mobile carriers.  Users head to to create various outgoing messages, a practice that promotes site stickiness. Strong user interactivity enables the site to subsist on a diet of online advertising without imposing subscription costs on its clientele.
Users may also save voice messages. While a typical voicemail box deletes messages after about a month, YouMail acts as "an audio scrapbook, allowing users to forever save their daughter’s babbling first voice message, or the off-key but heartwarming recording of Grandma singing 'Happy Birthday,'" writes the Observer.
Organic word-of-mouth is considered the primary contributor to the service's spread and popularity.
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Gamers More than Geeks, Stats Show

Gamers More than Geeks, Stats Show

Source: Marketing VOX
Long tagged the pursuit of choice for teenage males, the profile of today's gamer casts a broad demographic net, reports Ad Age. Today, teenagers account for only 17 percent.

The popularity of online gaming comprises the source of the shift, according to an NPD study entitled Online Gaming 2007: The Virtual Landscape.

Advertising in games is a $200 million industry, with multiplayer online games accounting for just 19 percent of gamers. Casual gaming, or card, puzzle and arcade games, accounts for 44 percent of all gamers. This category has been especially savory for advertisers.

Seventeen percent of gamers keep online casinos afloat, while at the other end of the spectrum, 20 percent of gamers include kids aged 6 to 12. Fifty-four percent of gamers are console owners, while 41 percent are on a handheld system, like the Nintendo DS and Sony PSP.

Surprisingly, women represent 42 percent of gamers and typically play casual, single-person games online. And finally, 80 percent of online gamers hail from middle class backgrounds, pulling in between $35,000 to $75,000 per year.

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AOL Buys Third Screen Media, Adds Mobile

AOL Buys Third Screen Media, Adds Mobile

by Gavin O'Malley

In a move that bodes well for the future of mobile marketing, AOL has agreed to acquire Third Screen Media for an undisclosed sum. It will operate as a wholly owned subsidiary of AOL's third-party ad network

Read the whole story <> ...

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Tuesday, May 15, 2007


The follow statements (in red) come from the website titled "GoodMagazine".  We stumbled upon on this magazine as we searched far for more online gutter video garbage... but what we found was beyond smart and innovative, it was provoking me to think.   I think it's worth digging deeper and exploring what GOOD is trying to do... So here's my lay of the land, bsaed on their own words:

Welcome to GOOD, media for people who give a damn

We see a growing number of people tied together not by age, career, background, or circumstance, but by a shared interest. This revolves around a passion for potential mixed with fierce pragmatism and creative engagement. We sum all this up as the sensibility of giving a damn. But to shorten it, let's call it GOOD. We're here to push this movement and cover its realization.

While so much of today's media is taking up our space, dumbing us down, and impeding our productivity, GOOD exists to add value. Through a print magazine, feature and documentary films, original multimedia content and local events, GOOD is providing a platform for the ideas, people, and businesses that are driving change in the world.

# # #
Well here is a sample of what GOOD is capable of... and I have to say, it's damn good!
Over 500,000 views on YouTube Alone... 
This experiment captures a philosophical approach to communication that I belive can be applied to many different aspects of the communitcation business.  Let me know your thoughts. 
# # #

A very brief history of GOOD

Ben Goldhirsh founded GOOD Magazine and Reason Pictures in 2004. Starting from the back of a small office in Los Angeles, momentum has been building steadily as a growing team works to craft their vision of GOOD. Both companies seek to create entertaining media that attracts broad audiences to content that matters. To learn more about our ongoing history, check out our blog.

# # #
I have spent about 15 minutes interacting with this website, which is hardly what it deserves.  However,  have to say, I am impressed.  Most importantly, I am humbled.  Thank you "Good Magazine" for inspiring us to Give a Damn.  I'm not there yet, but you have opened the door for me.
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Second Life ratings highlight growing web analytics issue

Second Life ratings highlight growing web analytics issue  
By Stan Beer    

Monday, 07 May 2007 
The social networking virtual world called Second Life has caught on like wildfire in Europe, while North Americans have been far more reserved in their adoption of the service, according to web analytics firm Comscore. However, the most recent stats from Comscore highlight a growing issue concerning the use of sample panels for determining the number of web site visits.
According to Comscore, a relatively modest 1.3 million logged-in to Second Life in March 2007, of which 61% were Europeans, while just 19% were from the US. In fact, Comscore reckons that the number of active German Second Life residents exceeds those in the US. This is despite the fact that Second Life was launched in the US in 2002 by San Francisco based Linden Labs.
Comscore, like rival analytics firms such as Nielsen Netratings, bases its findings on the surfing habits of sample panels of volunteer users, rather than tracking actual hits to sites. The method, similar to how TV ratings are compiled, was developed more than 70 years ago and has come under increasing scrutiny recently, with massively popular social networking site Digg reporting huge discrepancies between its own stats based on server logs and those supplied by Comscore.
According to a report in BPM Today, Digg's own stats, independently audited and confirmed by web analytics firm WebSideStory, showed the site was getting 15 million visitors a month. Comscore, however, put the figure at between one and two million. Technorati, a popular site that tracks searches of blogs, reported similar order of magnitude discrepancies between its own logs and those of analytics firms using sample ratings systems.
Needless to say, the advertising rates of a site that gets an audience 15 million visitors a month differs significantly from a site an order of magnitude lower on the scale of visitations. Such discrepancies have prompted calls from web publishers for both Comscore and Nielsen Netratings to voluntarily have their ratings systems audited by an independent auditor.
On April 20, the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB), which represents hundreds of US web publishers sent a letter to both comScore and Nielsen Netratings, requesting them to submit to a third-party audit of their measurement processes.
In an open letter to both Comscore and Nielsen Netratings, the IAB stated:
"The discrepancies exist between the audience measurements of comScore and NNR (Nielsen Netratings) and those of the server logs of the IAB’s own members. Further compounding these differences are the disparities between comScore’s and NNR’s own measurement results. All measurement companies that report audience metrics have a material impact on interactive marketing and decision-making. Therefore, transparency into these methodologies is critical to maintaining advertisers’ confidence in interactive, particularly now, as marketers allocate more budget to the platform.
"Without these audits, the industry has no way of knowing whether these deviations in measurement result from inconsistent counting or from outdated measurement methodologies, such as the panels developed in the 1930s and still relied on today."
“To persist in using panels that potentially undercount or ignore the diverse populations that are the future of consumer marketing is to deny marketers the insights they need to build their businesses,” wrote IAB President and CEO Randall Rothenberg in an open letter to Magid M. Abraham, the President and CEO of Comscore, Inc., and William Pulver, the President and CEO Nielsen NetRatings. “And it certainly appears to us as if these audiences are being undercounted or disregarded.”
As a web publisher, it seems strange to us that there are still parties prepared to put their faith in statistics gathered from volunteer sample audiences in an era where technology is widely available to track every single visitation to a site.
We would certainly be interested to know the composition of such volunteer samples. What percentage are children, technolophiles, games freaks, business technology users, technology decision makers? What incentives are there for members of these samples to be part of a web analytics firm's panel? How many refusals does an analytics firm get from ordinary web surfers before it finds someone who is prepared to sacrifice their privacy to be part of a panel? Hands up anyone who is or knows someone who is part of a web analytics panel.
The problem of course for the analytics firms that use panel ratings systems is that the advent of the Internet and its associated technology has brought the barriers to their businesses down. Advertisers no longer have to rely on sample audiences when every single visit to a site can be tracked and recorded.
A message to advertisers: Digg definitely gets much more than one or two million visitors a month. We know because we track the traffic Digg sends to us whenever we make it to their front page!
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MySpace Sends Out For Videos

Source: "Just an Online Minute" (from Media Post)

Tuesday, May 15, 2007 by Wendy Davis 

News Corp.'s MySpace has launched a new video section containing clips from media companies like The New York Times, Reuters, and Fox's IGN Entertainment, the company said today.

With the new initiative, material such as the Times' "Vows" videos and episodes of National Geographic's "The Dog Whisperer" will be available on branded news channels on MySpace video.

Of course, with much of this material already available on the Web, the question arises why the media companies are willing to syndicate to News Corp.

One answer probably stems from the difficulty of finding videos online. While all the major Web portals offer some form of video search, the technology still isn't nearly as good as that for non-video search. In many instances, people seeking specific clips need to visit a variety of video sites and/or search engines to find them. So strewing clips around the Web, site by site, might be the only way to make sure that people can find them, at least for now.

The media companies' decision to syndicate clips online also seems driven by the belief that they should go where the eyeballs are. If consumers -- especially the young people who populate MySpace -- aren't coming to newspapers' sites, then the newspapers will go to the consumers. Whether the audience wants this content from MySpace is another matter entirely. 

Source: "Just an Online Minute" (from Media Post) by Wendy Davis 

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TiVo expands search capabilities to encompass Net

NEW YORK — TiVo will narrow the gap between Internet video and conventional TV viewing today by introducing what it calls the first "TV-centric on-screen search tool" to find programming in both realms.

The DVR pioneer's system, called Universal Swivel Search, will let its subscribers who like a TV show or movie search for other programs they might like based on elements in common, including the title, actors and subject matter — as well as suggestions from other fans.

"It's like having all the answers to a television trivia game right in front of you," CEO Tom Rogers says.

It's unlike the current system on TiVo and other TV-based services. They require users to search databases for specific names or key words.

"They tend to be task-based — you already have in mind what you want to find," says TiVo product marketing manager Bob Poniatowski. "Swivel Search allows you to explore things that you don't know are on TV."

Or on the Internet. In addition to prime-time and other frequently recorded TV programs, the search will cover video on websites that now are TiVo service partners.

That video includes about 5,000 movies for purchase or rental via download from Amazon's Unbox service, as well as material on 14 sites, including CNet, iVillage, The New York Times and Rocketboom. TiVo customers download videos to the DVR to view. Rogers says that search tool may prompt more websites to make video available via TiVo.

Poniatowski adds that searches with the new system can easily be expanded for things such as character names. Program data searched will be on a TiVo server, not limited to each user's hard drive. "We want to add more information about the shows, background about the actors, even episode guides, so if you're a fan of Friends or Buffy the Vampire Slayer, you could tell your TiVo: 'The next time Season One comes around, record that for me,' " he says.

The Internet search feature will be rolled out in the next six weeks to nearly 800,000 customers who have a TiVo Series 2 or Series 3 box connected to an Internet home network.

Rogers is eager to highlight Internet video to distinguish TiVo's DVRs from those that cable and satellite companies offer. TiVo had more than 4.4 million subscriptions at the end of January, but growth has slowed to a trickle.

Comcast and Cox have struck deals to offer TiVo software as a premium upgrade on their DVRs. Comcast is testing the software, but, "we don't have a date yet" for a rollout, Rogers says. "We hope it will be relatively near term."

Swivel Search won't be part of TiVo service for cable. Operators want to feature their own video on demand — and TiVo is obliging by including their VOD in the search for the cable version.

"It will be one of the key benefits to get TiVo on cable," Rogers says.

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LIVE FROM STREAMING MEDIA EAST (New York City): Performance metrics for Online Video Advertising

Performance metrics for Online Video Advertising10:30 - 11:30 AM EST session (Track B)

Kate Kaye, Editor, News and Special Projects, ClickZ News

Christine Peterson, Associate Media Director, Carat Fusion
Rob Aitken, Online Video Product Manager, AP
John Ellis, VP, Product Management Valueclick Media
Mort Greenburg, VP of Sales, Metacafe

# # #

(the following are paraphrased dialogues from the panel)

Rob: Having a breaking news event creates a lot of inventory... but we may not have enough ads to serve. Or in some case, like Virgina Tech, it's not appropriate to serve ads. So we try and forecase based on 30, 60, 90-day historical performance.

Christine: The video pricing models we've seen are extremely expensive... There needs to be a way to work with publishers where advertisers can take advantage of these spikes, in a cost-effective way. We should set up some test models...

Fabienne: At metacafe, we find that there is a large user abandoment on everything after 10 seconds. Pre- and post-roll ads can work. We are testing text-based flash overlay which comes up 15 seconds into the video. We are using technology to serve ads that are relevant to the contest based on tagged video content (sometimes referred to as a "ticker)

Christine: There needs to be more flexibility for the length of the spots. We should challenge advertisers to create interactive video content, not just re-purposing tv ads. We might find that if the experience is engaging, the length of the spot might become less and less relevant.

John: Advertisers should leverage the "link-forward" ability of video... because online is an interacive media, not a passive media like television.

Christine: We found that when we serve an ad with a "companion ad unit", this companion ad drove a much higher click through rate then when you're just serving a video ad.

Rob: Yes, we've seen more than a doubling of click-through rate. At first, we saw 60% of our traffic abandon in the first 60 seconds... and now we've seen that drop to less than 30% as a result of shortening the length of our ads.

John: There is a big opportunity for advertisers to reach a really niche audience because of the variety of video content that is available. Today, there is a lot of video content being consumed by consumers, but not enough advertisers ...


John: Beyond impressions and clickthroughs, we look at things like "How many times did someone press the "forward" button?", "How many times did someone watch the ad all the way through?", "How many times has it been forwarded?"... There is also an opportunity to find those clips that are already viral and perhaps relevant to a company's product, to accompany or "insert" an ad into those spots. There is not enough of that going on today.

Fabienne: Behavioral targeting is key to an online campaign. Campaigns should be optimized based on how someone is interacting with your content. Technology allows this today.

Christine: It's important to utilize both qualitatitive and quantitative measurement tools, as well as 3rd party measurement tools like Comscore and Nielsen.

John: Just last week the IAB announced that there needs to be a standard for how we are measuring online advertising. There needs to be agreement between the different parties involved... So that a click is a click is a click.

Kate: And auditing!

John: Comscore has 400,000 people on their panel... but everytime we look at our logfiles, we wonder why their is so much difference between a third party system's numbers like Comscore, versus what we see in on our Omniture reports... If you're on the buying side, and perhaps working with 30-40 publishers, you might be looking at dozens of different formats of data... there needs to be a standard.

Christine: We work with a lot of different systems... Mediaplex, doubleclick's medi avisor, etc... But then it's the job of agencies to create their own system that allows us to take all this data and present it to a client in a single interface that is customized for each advertiser... what's important to an EchoStar is not the same as what Pfizer cares about.


AUDIENCE QUESTION #1: How can you measure brand impact beyond a tool like dynamic impact?

John: Having the ability to let people comment on the ad can be one way. You can work with dynamic logic, [maggot?], and others to measure intent, etc...

Christine: Comscore, insight Express... we've also done mall intercepts to see what's working. We also use visual Max.

John: I think it's important to have a clear offer and compelling call to action.

AUDIENCE QUESTION #2: I am a local broadcaster... how do we get our space bought when people are utilizing big engines like Google, Yahoo!, etc... It seems that advertisers find it much easier to purchase from the big 3.

Christine: Just because the big 3 have a large number of eyeballs, doesn't mean they are the most appropriate channels. Sometimes it's more important to be at a local level with our ads.

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Live from Streaming Media East Conference (New Nork City)

Microsoft's Sean Alexander introduced microsoft's breakthrough video delivery solution during the keynote address at the streaming media east conference held at the hilton towers in new york city. During the keynote microsoft demonstrated this powerful new technology, appropriately called "Silverlight". I have to say, it looks very cool! Especially the interactivity and integrated advertising platform. The video was very smooth, and the integared add-ons were well thought-out. The advertising can even hook into a live data feed, and can hover over the video (vector-based overlay).

At ignite we currently leverage technologies such as brightcove and vitalstream, but i must say the moment i get back to the hotel i will inform our technology team to start exploring microsoft's new platform right away. This might be a perfect solution for a few projects we are currently working on.

The dvd style experience and interactivity is impressive, combined with a chat application (shown as part of netflix's demo) -- wow! Finally the future has arrived. A video platform that integrates live community.


It's cross-platform, cross-browser. IE, safari, firefox ... Etc... Finally a beta that's beyond junk-ware.

Of course, this dream could come crashing down the moment we actually attempt to implement this solution. Bt it can't hurt to try.

Microsoft Expression Studio, launched 2 weeks ago, apparenty works very well with silverlight. The package, comprised of 4 distinct packages (Expression web, design, blend, and media) -- and it looks slick!

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Monday, May 14, 2007

AdAge ranks top Web brands, shows smaller companies often lead

AdAge ranks top Web brands, shows smaller companies often lead

Advertising Age featured an in-depth review of the differences between giant media companies that manage offline media and the new smaller companies that specialize in online media. The biggest difference: At the end of the day, anyone with content can battle for ad dollars. The Web has redefined what a media company is--it is no longer a site that just creates content; it's also one that aggregates it. And it's not only a destination with professionally produced content; it's also one to which thousands contribute, reports AdAge. This definition includes portals, including Google, which often is considered more a platform than a media company, and Lycos, which attracted 21 million unique visitors last month. To view Ad Age's List of top Web brands, click here <>  and click the link below to read the full story.

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AHA survey: Online ed program more effective for heart patients

AHA survey: Online ed program more effective for heart patients

An American Heart Association survey released this month found that patients who used the association's online heart disease education program, Heart Profilers, were more aware of treatment options than Internet-using patients who did not use the association's program. Patients who used the program were 1.58 times more likely than nonusers to know about the four or more atrial fibrillation treatments available and were more likely to ask their doctors about their care. They were also 1.56 times more likely to ask their doctors about medications or treatments that they had heard about outside the doctor's office. More than 260,000 people have used the tool since its launch in 2002. To view the Heart Profilers tool go to the AHA <>  site.

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Study: Advertisers should "panic" about untapped Web potential

Study: Advertisers should "panic" about untapped Web potential

A new GroupM report says that marketers must "urgently harness" the power of the Internet for advertising, according to iMedia Connection. Although the Internet is a daily component of people's lives and media consumption, and marketers have been ramping up their use of the medium, it's not happening quickly enough. The study calls for marketers to "panic a little" because they are not using the Web to its full potential, and to focus on four key goals: reach, engagement, reputation, and transaction. Marketers should replace online the consumers they've lost from traditional media and make campaigns personal in order to engage consumers. The report also adds that product life cycles may be shorter in today's faster-paced world. Last year, GroupM introduced its tool that identifies, defines, and measures consumer engagement (ePharm5, 6/29/06).

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