Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Burst Media Launches Ad Network for Online Mommies

Burst Media Launches Ad Network for Online Mommies

Burst Media marks the latest company to target 'net-savvy moms with an
ad network.

The Burst Moms Network includes 150 sites identified by Burst as
influential and high-quality. The sites reportedly accumulate 197
million impressions monthly. Standard ad units and rich-media and video
spots will be offered on the sites. Custom sponsorship opportunities are
also available.

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'Big Think' Positioned as YouTube for Thinkers

'Big Think' Positioned as YouTube for Thinkers

Thought up by a Harvard grad, video site Big Think aspires to do for
thinkers what YouTube did for "bulldogs on skateboards."

According to a post on Reuters, the site includes interviews with
"public intellectuals" from a range of disciplines. Cerebrals fielding
questions include Bill McCain, Richard Branson and Moby. In addition to
celebrity thinkers, the site has a network of experts that chime in on a
variety of fields via webcam. Users can get involved by joining
discussions and posting thoughts.


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Vertex Pharmaceuticals Brings Transparency Online

Vertex Pharmaceuticals Brings Transparency Online

Dec 18, 2007

By:George Koroneos

PharmExec Direct Marketing Edition

Vertex Pharmaceuticals, last week, reinvented itself on the World Wide
Web with the relaunch of its corporate site, www.vrtx.com. Not content
to look like most run-of-the-mill pharma sites, Vertex had design firm
Dotglu build a virtual home that allows patients, physicians, and other
visitors to easily peer into the company's pipeline and find out what
drugs are coming down the pike as well as see the faces behind the

"It's a sea of sameness when you look at pharma," Tomas Mendez,
cocreative director at Dotglu told Pharm Exec. "[Other companies] just
show puppies and old people waltzing and say that everything will be OK.
The tag line for Vertex includes the word maybe. It's a lot less
confident, but it gives you goose bumps. There's a humility to it, and
that's about the honesty."

Concept to Creation
Vertex executives never felt the need to have more than a simple online
presence since all drugs developed were in collaboration with other
pharma manufacturers. But with a hepatitis C drug inching towards
completion, the powers that be decided that the company needed to
redefine its presence on the World Wide Web, and it was going to come
out with a site that eschews every concept of a corporate pharmaceutical
Web site.

The site sports a ton of flash, an intuitive navigation system, and an
easy-to-follow description of what the company is working on and how far
along its products are. Although many of the site's individual elements
have been included in other sites, most pharma company sites have a lot
of marketing-oriented material and images on the home page, whereas this
one really favors access to information, putting it in the spot where
you expect promo.

"This is a way of showing who we are, almost separate from having a
product on the market," said Vertex Senior Director of Strategic
Communications Michael Partridge. "This is a good time to introduce the
Vertex brand to people and have that brand positioning grow as we get
closer to market."

The company wanted to push the envelope in terms of how it communicates
through the Web, so it turned to Dotglu for creative direction and
basically let the Web designers have free reign to build the site as
they pleased.

The result is an intuitive site that maps out all navigation using a
timeline chart (designed to look like a sound wave) that runs along the
top of every page. It serves as a navigational tool and guides the user
through the site. Vertex's pipeline stands center stage in the timeline
and jumps to an page that lists all the working products, give the
phases of development, and-if you hover over a point in the
pipeline-displays a pop-up text box that describes what the drug does.

"A lot of companies will bury where their products are in the pipeline,"
Mendez said. "If you are left on the pipeline, there are years ahead of
you and you won't see return on investment for a while and the drug may
tank. Usually, when you are looking around for the inventory of a drug
company, they obfuscate it. And we don't."

Searching through the section about the executive team, visitors will
find multiple images of different team members. As viewers click on
different images, the executive's outfit changes, which is intended to
show the different hats an executive at Vertex wears.

"There's a level of irreverence that completely counters what pharma
does, but it is not irreverence that disrespects the gravity of
pharmaceuticals," Mendez said. "If it's done properly, it won't alienate
anyone and it will seem honest. It will also appeal to different

Mendez shares some advice for other pharma companies looking to overhaul
their Web presence: "Pharma companies need to think of their Web sites
almost as an advertising campaign that really needs a strong point of
view, and not a million mini points of view."

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Congress Questions Jarvik's Lipitor Ads

Congress Questions Jarvik's Lipitor Ads

Source: Pharma Live

House Democrats are investigating whether consumers are being misled by advertisements for Pfizer's Lipitor, featuring Dr. Robert Jarvik , the inventor of an artificial heart. Members of the House Energy Committee, Reps. John Dingell and Bart Stupak, sent a letter to Pfizer yesterday, questioning Jarvik's credibility. "In the ads, Dr. Jarvik appears to be giving medical advice, but apparently, he has never obtained a license to practice or prescribe medicine," the lawmakers said.



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What's a Widget Worth?

What's a Widget Worth?

Software developers say their impact is being underrepresented; comScore hopes a new measurement tool will paint a clearer picture

by Aaron Ricadela <http://www.businessweek.com/print/bios/Aaron_Ricadela.htm>

Online social networks will continue to grab the attention of Web users and the advertisers who want to reach them in 2008, but some software developers who help make the networks popular say they're missing out on the spoils.

Social sites such as MySpace, Facebook, and Google's (GOOG <http://investing.businessweek.com/research/stocks/snapshot/snapshot.asp?symbol=GOOG> ) Orkut could crack $1 billion in ad sales by year's end. Yet makers of the so-called "widget" software, whose programs have helped propel the networks' growth, have yet to see much of that revenue, in part because of a lack of reliable data about how many people use their products. "There are a huge amount of page views in social networking, but no one's figured out how to monetize them properly," says Duncan Davidson, a venture partner at VantagePoint Venture Partners <http://investing.businessweek.com/research/stocks/snapshot/snapshot.asp?capId=23687> , which invests in News Corp.'s (NWS <http://investing.businessweek.com/research/stocks/snapshot/snapshot.asp?symbol=NWS> ) MySpace and smaller social networks Multiply <http://investing.businessweek.com/research/stocks/snapshot/snapshot.asp?capId=22175544> , FanIQ <http://investing.businessweek.com/research/stocks/snapshot/snapshot.asp?capId=36692781> , and Bluepulse <http://investing.businessweek.com/research/stocks/snapshot/snapshot.asp?capId=36546047> . "It's still an experiment."

Who's Using What Widgets?

Market researcher comScore (SCOR <http://investing.businessweek.com/research/stocks/snapshot/snapshot.asp?symbol=SCOR> ) wants to end the mystery. Considered by many to be the industry standard for audience tracking on the Web, comScore will use a revamped yardstick that could give advertisers, software makers, and investors a better handle on just how many people are using the programs. Under the new method of calculating, almost 586 million individual Internet users viewed a piece of widget software in November, 2007, according to an exclusive look at the data comScore provided to BusinessWeek.com. That's nearly double comScore's estimate in July, the last month it measured using an old system. ComScore plans to release the new widget usage data in mid-January.

What's different? For starters, comScore will now include activity on Facebook <http://investing.businessweek.com/research/stocks/snapshot/snapshot.asp?capId=20765463> , one of the fastest growing social networks. The new method can do that because it records how many Web users click on a given widget. ComScore's previous method only tracked the presence of Adobe Systems' (ADBE <http://investing.businessweek.com/research/stocks/snapshot/snapshot.asp?symbol=ADBE> ) Flash software. That's useful since Flash is used to create many of the widgets used today. But the method didn't work for Facebook, which bars the automatic loading of Flash animations.

The new version of comScore's tool will also account for widgets built with JavaScript, a Web programming language, in addition to those based on Flash. ComScore also plans to measure usage of Google's Gadgets software in future surveys. Linda Abraham, an executive vice-president at comScore, says the new data could give software developers, and companies that want to advertise through their applications, a truer picture of who's using what widgets, and how often. "Widgets are looked on as not yet proven," she says. "We talk to widget companies all the time, and it comes up in every conversation."

"Lumpy" Revenue

Two of the biggest agitators are Silicon Valley startups Slide <http://investing.businessweek.com/research/stocks/snapshot/snapshot.asp?capId=24883471> and RockYou <http://investing.businessweek.com/research/stocks/snapshot/snapshot.asp?capId=27691317> . The competing companies make lighthearted software that lets users add pizzazz to profiles on Facebook, MySpace <http://investing.businessweek.com/research/stocks/snapshot/snapshot.asp?capId=120412> , and other sites by creating slide shows, comparing friends, or scrawling messages on each others' home pages. The startups are waging a programming and PR battle for users and advertisers. "It's like Coke and Pepsi," says Jeremy Liew, a general partner at Lightspeed Venture Partners <http://investing.businessweek.com/research/stocks/snapshot/snapshot.asp?capId=471694> , which invests in RockYou.

But both companies say their popularity has been vastly undercounted, holding back their ability to sell advertising. Other executives and investors in social networking and widget software companies say the absence of accurate usage data for widgets has capped growth in the market: Widget ad revenue was estimated at about $20 million in 2007, or about one-thousandth of Internet advertising as a whole. According to the new comScore data for November, Slide claimed almost 144 million unique viewers, for a 16% market share, and RockYou claimed a 11.7% share, with 104 million individual viewers. In July, Slide had 130 million individual users, or a 15% share, while RockYou boasted 96 million users, or 11.1% of the total.

Improved measurement tools are only one of the ingredients software companies will need in order to build lasting businesses on the backs of Facebook, MySpace, and other networks. Widgets present an attractive new market for advertisers-usage of the software has exploded since Facebook began allowing third-party software on its site in May, 2007, and MySpace is developing an advertising system <http://www.businessweek.com/magazine/content/07_45/b4057047.htm> (BusinessWeek.com, 11/5/07) for independent software vendors as well.

Yet competition among different networking sites means it's harder for advertisers to reach a large audience using the medium. Then there's the lack of a standardized widget ad unit: Should you run a "banner" ad across the top of the page rather than a long, narrow "skyscraper" ad along its side? Factor in advertisers' unease with risqué material on users' profile pages, and it's not surprising revenues have been low. "Current revenue is going to be lumpy," says Lightspeed partner Liew.

Other Obstacles to Ad Sales

Not counting Facebook activity "was absolutely a gross omission" by comScore, says Liew, but Web companies' lack of agreement about whether they're selling widget views, clicks, or installations is a larger barrier to ad sales. "This is a great step forward," he says of comScore's revised numbers, "but it's not enough."

Disney (DIS <http://investing.businessweek.com/research/stocks/snapshot/snapshot.asp?symbol=DIS> ), for one, has opted not to advertise on pages associated with widgets for such reasons, according to people familiar with the company's thinking. Coca-Cola (KO <http://investing.businessweek.com/research/stocks/snapshot/snapshot.asp?symbol=KO> ) has held off on advertising through Facebook's Beacon feature, a controversial program <http://www.businessweek.com/technology/content/nov2007/tc20071130_977788.htm> (BusinessWeek.com, 11/30/07) that broadcasts users' online purchases to people in their networks. And while social networks' popularity has attracted sizable investments by some of the computer industry's biggest players-Google spent $900 million in 2006 to place ads on MySpace, and Microsoft (MSFT <http://investing.businessweek.com/research/stocks/snapshot/snapshot.asp?symbol=MSFT> ) in October, 2007, took a $240 million stake in Facebook that valued the company at $15 billion-more serious money from those companies may wait until the networks and widget companies iron out the advertising kinks.

The numbers for social networks are still heady. Traffic is expected to climb 31% in 2008, to 489 million broadband Internet users, according to research company eMarketer <http://investing.businessweek.com/research/stocks/snapshot/snapshot.asp?capId=736862> . Advertisers are expected to spend $1.56 billion on social networks in 2008, up 69% from $920 million in 2007. But that's still less than 6% of all online ad spending, which eMarketer pegs at $27.5 billion for 2008. And only a tiny fraction is likely flowing through widget software. Will Price, a managing director at Hummer Winblad Venture Partners <http://investing.businessweek.com/research/stocks/snapshot/snapshot.asp?capId=21015> , which invests in a widget software exchange site called Widgetbox, estimates advertisers will spend just $20 million to $40 million on advertisements linked to widget software in 2008. Others have put the number even lower <http://www.businessweek.com/magazine/content/07_43/b4055055.htm> (BusinessWeek.com, 10/27/07). "No one knows what a Facebook user is worth," says Price.

House of Cards?

In the interim, widget publishers are looking for creative ways to generate revenue. Slide, which makes applications like FunWall, Top Friends, and SuperPoke, has tried offering users branded slide shows with characters from movies Bratz and Bee Movie. The company also sells online photo frames that look like magazine covers.

RockYou, which publishes widgets including Superwall, Likeness, and X Me, has struck deals to promote other widget software makers, collecting 50¢ each time a user installs one of those applications based on an ad on a RockYou page. The company stopped embedding ads in its slide shows after finding that click-through rates ranged between one-fifth of one percent to a little more than 1%, says founder and CEO Lance Tokuda.

But widget software companies need to be wary of foisting too many ads on their users and of building a house of cards based on promoting lots of small companies that, if history is any guide, will eventually go out of business. Says VantagePoint's Davidson: "Widgets live on Facebook, and can also die from it."

Ricadela <mailto:aaron_ricadela@businessweek.com> is a writer for BusinessWeek.com in Silicon Valley .

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Monday, January 07, 2008

Wall Street Journal: Ad Houses Will Need to Be More Nimble

Ad Houses Will Need to Be More Nimble

Clients Are Demanding
More and Better Use
Of Consumer Data, Web

January 2, 2008; Page B3

The Web's emergence is forcing ad executives to succumb to marketers'
demands that agencies reinvent how ads are created, and forgo their
TV-centric approach. Clients are even calling for changes in the way ad
firms are structured. But until now, few advertisers have spent more
than 5% to 10% of their marketing budgets online. With the growth of
online video and social networking, ad experts expect that percentage to
jump significantly this year.

Softness in the economy also will likely drive more money to the
Internet, which can be cheaper than other media and has a reach that is
easier to measure, which is attractive to advertisers in slower times.
Merrill Lynch predicts overall ad spending in the U.S. for 2008 will
grow 2.3%, while the portion of that spending on the Web will increase
18%. Publicis Groupe's ZenithOptimedia says it expects the amount spent
on Internet advertising to overtake spending on radio in 2008, and
spending on magazines in 2010.

Amid this transformation of the ad industry, here are five trends to
watch in 2008:

* New structure: The Web has fueled marketers' frustration with the lack
of collaboration inside the ad holding companies that dominate the
industry. Specifically, marketers want more cooperation between the
executives who create ads for TV and newspapers and those who craft Web
ads or perform less glamorous tasks such as researching consumer

Many advertisers complain that ad executives too often push agendas that
will most help their own bottom lines and tend to favor certain types of
media, such as TV. Advertisers want a "media-agnostic" approach, one
that picks whatever medium is best for the ad campaign.

Some bigger marketers have taken matters into their own hands during the
past year. Procter & Gamble
<http://online.wsj.com/quotes/main.html?type=djn&symbol=PG> , Dell
<http://online.wsj.com/quotes/main.html?type=djn&symbol=DELL> and
Johnson & Johnson
<http://online.wsj.com/quotes/main.html?type=djn&symbol=JNJ> each have
tried -- working with ad holding companies -- to create new types of ad
groups that blend different functions. In 2008, pressure from marketers
on this issue is likely to intensify, forcing even more change in the
way ad firms are structured.

* Screen wars: As advertisers find it harder to reach consumers in a
fragmented media world, some are turning more often to the outdoors.
Television screens are increasingly popping up in grocery and
department-store aisles, elevators and even gas pumps -- all blaring
clips of TV programs, accompanied by ads. Walt Disney
<http://online.wsj.com/quotes/main.html?type=djn&symbol=dis> 's ESPN and
CBS Corp. each have programming running on 20-inch liquid-crystal
displays at pumps at gas stations around the country. Gas Station TV,
which operates about 5,000 such screens in 300 cities, offers ads from
marketers such as General Motors
<http://online.wsj.com/quotes/main.html?type=djn&symbol=gm> ' Chevrolet
and Sony <http://online.wsj.com/quotes/main.html?type=djn&symbol=sne> .
Last year, CBS inked a deal to have its programming also air in the
waiting rooms of doctors' offices.

* House guest: Over the years, ad makers have tried various methods to
learn about consumers, from focus groups to online polls. But many on
Madison Avenue are skeptical of these methods, believing consumers don't
always share their true feelings in those types of traditional settings.
So a growing number of ad agencies are expected to try a different
approach: having researchers spend long periods of time with consumers
to find out more about how they live.

Some have already tried this. When devising a new ad for J.C. Penney
<http://online.wsj.com/quotes/main.html?type=djn&symbol=jcp> last year,
Saatchi & Saatchi sent staffers to hang out with more than 50 women for
several days. They helped the women clean their houses, carpool, cook
dinner and shop. Rather than pepper them with questions, the agency
employees simply observed the women's behavior and emotions. Their
research became the basis of a new ad campaign; the commercials have won
praise from Madison Avenue's creative community.

"If you want to understand how a lion hunts, you don't go to the zoo --
you go to the jungle," said Sandy Thompson, global head of strategic
planning for Saatchi, which is owned by Publicis Groupe
<http://online.wsj.com/quotes/main.html?type=djn&symbol=13057.FR> .

* Green backlash: Corporate America latched onto environmental marketing
last year, as big companies spent millions of ad dollars promoting their
products and services as eco-friendly. Some people in the ad business
are predicting a backlash this year from consumers who question whether
companies are living up to their promises. "Marketers will be more
intensely scrutinized for their green efforts -- those that don't hold
up will be called out via blogs and elsewhere online, ultimately leading
to consumer skepticism," said Greg Stern, chief executive of the ad firm
Butler, Shine, Stern & Partners.

* The antisocial movement: Privacy issues, combined with the fact that
consumers have only so much free time, could damp the boom in social
networking on the Web. "Nobody has 5,000 real friends," says Tim Hanlon,
senior vice president of Denuo Group, a media and advertising consulting
firm owned by Publicis. "At the end of the day it just becomes one big
cauldron of noise." For marketers, he says, that will mean the sites
will be much more effective as a consumer-research tool than as a venue
to peddle products.

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