Tag Archives: brand extension

And what rough beast…

Google slouches out of the Internet and into radio.

Google has re-confirmed its ambitions to move beyond its core internet-search business and into traditional media by announcing a deal to acquire a radio-advertising group for up to $1.2bn (£680m). The agreement follows a deal struck last year when Google bought up space in technology magazines to resell to its online advertising clients. The company said it is buying the privately held dMarc Broadcasting for an initial $102m in cash. If certain performance targets are hit over the next three years, Google could pay an additional $1.14bn, the company said.

Google is committed to exploring new ways to extend targeted, measurable advertising to other forms of media

said Tim Armstrong, vice-president of advertising sales at the search engine. Google aims to integrate the business with its AdWords platform. AdWords places relevant advertising on Google search results pages as well as on partner sites, such as the New York Times online and Earthlink. The company said the addition of dMarc would provide AdWords advertisers with an additional outlet to promote their goods or services.

They’re serious folks. Watch out:

There are already fears that the move could spell the end of the media buying industry. (Brandrepublic)

Story from Mediaguardian. With apologies to W.B. Yeats.

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New Balance launches TV Channel

The trainer brand moves into on-demand programming with ‘Exercise TV’.

USA Today reports that New Balance will join cable companies Comcast and Time Warner and workout expert Jake Steinfeld in creating Exercise TV, an on demand network that will be available on both operators’ cable systems. New Balance won’t need to run any advertising on the channel — there’s no point as on-demand viewers can speed past them. Instead, New Balance clothing, shoes and equipment will be both featured and endorsed heavily in the content. New Balance will also sponsor graphic overlays that will run during the videos, giving viewers advice on subjects such as the best way to warm up for a workout.

“[The deal] will give birth to the next generation of cable networks” by signaling “the beginning of a shift of advertising to new, non-linear platforms,” says Matt Strauss, Comcast’s vice president of programming and content development.

New Balance has got the jump on its rivals Nike and Adidas in this area mainly because company’s much smaller marketing budget has forced it to finely tune its marketing. For the first ten months of 2005, New Balance’s ad spending was $17.3 million compared with Nike’s $141m. The company will not disclose how much it has invested in the deal but is happy to admit that it has diverted funds from traditional TV and magazine advertising. According to Strauss, ever keen to talk up the viability of on-demand, New Balance’s “multimillion-dollar” investment in Exercise TV is “the most significant sponsorship agreement we’ve ever seen exclusive to VOD (video-on-demand).”

On-demand is rapidly growing as a platform. About 45% of cable subscribers in the States pay about $15 a month extra for the digital tier required to access on-demand. And while viewers still have to pay to watch recent movies on-demand, companies like Comcast and Time Warner have greatly increased the amount of free content on their services (no doubt to compete with the burgeoning threat from online). More than 12 million houses use on-demand more than once a month and that figure is expected to rise to 30 million by the end of 2009, according to Leichtman Research Group. At the same time, methods of proving ROI are getting increasingly sophisticated. Last year Comcast and Rentrak, an information-management company, began making monthly usage reports available to programmers providing on-demand content. Nielsen Media Research — also looking for a way to justify its existence in the new media landscape — plans to start measuring on-demand audiences later this year.

Other major advertisers are beginning to get with the program(ming). General Motors, Ford and Chrysler are involved in ‘drivertv’, an on-demand network that was launched last year. Meanwhile, RipeTV, which targets the lucrative 18-34 year old male demographic, also launched in 2005 with the involvement of brands such as P&G and DaimleyChrysler.

Meanwhile, Amazon — never slow to get with the program — has now announced plans to produce its own online TV show.
Brandrepublic reports that the 30-minute programme will be called ‘Amazon Fishbowl with Bill Maher’, the US political humourist and author, and will be streamed live every Thursday night, US time. The shows will include live performances by musicians and interviews with authors, directors and actors, all of course handily driving shopping traffic and preference data to the site. Amazon plans to preview the programme at this weekend’s Sundance Film Festival, where Maher’s guests will include the writer Armistead Maupin and Collette, who is promoting the film The Night Listener. Such is Amazon’s clout that legendary horror author Stephen King will be interviewed ahead of the January 24 launch of his new novel, Cell.

Kathy Savitt, vice-president of strategic communications at Amazon.com, said: “We believe that Bill Maher’s interviews with some of the world’s most renowned and up-and-coming artists and entertainers will offer customers unique insight into the motivations and inspirations behind the books, films and music they love.” In other words, ‘Amazon recommends’ writ large.

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The Long Strand

Hello Magazine is to broadcast a celebrity news service to hairdressing salons.

Talk about knowing your audience … The project launches in association with Vision TV and the headlines will be fed to plasma screens in more than 250 hairdressers across the UK, including the Redken chain in London. The service will be enabled by Vision TV by means of an RSS feed, which is already used to direct headlines from hellomagazine.com to computers. The headlines will appear on the screen alongside the website’s selected celebrity picture of the day.

Via Marketing Week.

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Dotcom’s back #5

Dating site Gaydar has set up an online travel company. So far, so ghetto – there are loads of gay holiday companies, right?

gaydartravel.jpgUntil you realise that Gaydar has 2.1 million subcribers in the UK alone, it’s a global site and that Gaydarers already hook up with fellow gaydarers on their travels. Suddenly, it’s an inspired idea. Brandrepublic (subscription required) reports that the company behind Gaydar Radio and Gaydar.co.uk is launching Gaydartravel.com with a £1m marketing budget. QSoft Consulting, owner of the group, said research conducted by Gaydar Radio showed that a quarter of Gaydar’s audience were interested in purchasing global travel packages online.

The survey’s respondents took an average of 2.5 holidays a year, with city breaks and beach holidays topping the list. Gaydartravel.com will offer tailored packages to destinations including the UK, South Africa, Europe, the US and Australia.

Darren Cooper, Gaydartravel travel manager, said: “With many of the mainstream travel companies now actively chasing the gay and lesbian market, we are in a great position to negotiate better deals for our customers.”

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I Can See Your House From Here

Fancy a quick virtual flight anywhere in the world?

uk from spaceMaps are one thing. A zoomable satellite globe showing pretty much everything on the planet down to a small few metres in size is something else. Once the toys of CIA cold warriors and Bond supervillians, the average punter now has a choice of not just one, but at least two such systems.

Nasa’s WorldWind is the educator’s choice, showing all kinds of cool true- and false-colour images, weather systems and much more, but suffers slow load times due to high demand. For instant gratification and amazement (‘is that really my beautiful house? Whose car is that outside?’) download Google Earth, which like most other Google toys is snappy and responsive. A 30 second ‘flight’ from New York to a few hundred metres above Canary wharf is both spectacular and smooth.

With both systems, the detail of images depends largely on how many satellites cover an area, and how much interest there is in what they show — detail in London is down to a few metres, whilst images from Tokyo seem razor sharp down to a couple of feet. The Siberian Steppes are, unsurprisingly, shown in less detail.

Both systems require newish PCs and fast broadband, but if you want a God’s eye-view of the world, are worth the download and some play time.

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New Maps are Streets Ahead

Forget (just for a minute) online music: there’s a new battle underway between two of the biggest dotcom survivors. This one’s being fought over maps. The winners? Everyone.

map showing location of Tayyab Kebab HouseBoth Google and Yahoo have recently released online mapping services — given an address, they will show you the location, how to get there, and allow you to search for nearby businesses. Yahoo’s service covers just the US and Canada, whilst Google already has the UK online as well, with plans for global coverage. Want to find a curry in London E1? Easy.

So far, so dotcom — these services may look like Streetmap on steroids, but the business model is the same old same old — show some search results, and hook in some relevant ads as a revenue stream.

But shortly after the launch of Google Maps, something important happened. Hackers took the code apart, analysed how it worked, and started building their own services using Google’s data. We’re not talking just sending a friend the link to the map co-ordinates for a party, we’re talking fully-functional, complex applications based around the Google data and (gorgeous) Google Maps interface. Early efforts include Paul Rademacher’s housing map, which hooked into the Craigslist database of available rental properties across the US, and the (in)famous Chicago Crime Map, which is searchable down to individual police beats. A nice way to find a safe route home (or as a cynical acquaintance would have it, ‘a neat way to locate a dealer’).

Hackers have exploited online services in this way before — in the UK there has been a long-simmering dispute between Streetmaps and coders about the reappropriation of their data. Such repurposing has generally stripped out the ads which create Streetmap’s revenue stream. The understandable response of a traditional business to seeing its profits eroded? Call in the lawyers.

But Google and Yahoo did something altogether untraditional — impressed by the creative work being done without their permission, they formally published the programming interfaces to their mapping systems, and officially opened the system to hackers under reasonably accomodating free licenses. Crucially, they’ve done so in such a way that they can still place ads and make money from systems developed by others. It’s win-win: coders get to make cool new services, and Google and Yahoo still make a profit: a ‘very now’ business model.

But why are people so fired up about free access to good maps? In the UK at least, the answer is simple: maps cost money. Lots of it. The official UK map data is copyrighted and maintained by the Ordnance Survey. Commerical use of their data is expensive. As a reaction against such mapping monopolies, there is a worldwide movement for the development of copyright-free, grassroots-maintained cartographic data. Understandably, it’s a slow process. So the sudden availablility of excellent map data, with the bonus of complete working programming tools to harness it simply for all manner of new applications, is a godsend to developers. The only real concern is articulated by the ‘open maps’ activists: that Google and Yahoo are, after all, commercial services, and as such reserve the right to change the terms of service, or even pull them completely at any time. This is a powerful argument in favour of the grassroots approach, but for many developers, its a moot point: they have a cool idea and they want to do get it online today, not years from now when the openmappers have finished pacing out London street by street.

So far, there has been little sign of UK-specific applications built on Google’s or Yahoo’s systems. The UK is an epicentre of the open mapping movement, and many of the most impressive UK-based projects, such as Heath Bunting’s Skateboarders’ Map of Bristol are already built on free data. But as new developers get on the mapping bandwagon, that’s sure to change — ethical concerns aside, the newly licensed commerical services are easy to use, pretty to look at, and have already picked up impressive momentum.

Today you might not have access to a continuously-updated anti-gridlock site, or an at-a-glance map which will help you find an affordable property in a high-ranking school catchment, but don’t blink — give it a couple of months and the way we look at our city will probably have changed forever.

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A short film about the future.

According to the Financial Times, media moguls such as Rupert Murdoch are paying attention to the (rather gloomy) prediction of this short film. ‘Epic’ envisages a future in which online brands google and amazon will both create and own the media:

In the year 2014, The New York Times has gone offline.

The Fourth Estate’s fortunes have waned.

What happened to the news?

And what is EPIC?

Think this is far fetched? This week Google overtook Time Warner to become the world’s most valuable media company:

After its shares hit an all-time high on the New York markets on Tuesday, Google is now worth $80bn (£44bn). This takes it ahead of media leviathan Time Warner, which is valued at $78bn. The valuation comes in spite of the fact that Google’s annual sales total just $3.2bn, a fraction of Time Warner’s $42bn.

See the full story here.

The ‘Epic’ film is here.

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