Razorfish Suitors May Have to Offer More Than Dollars

NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- There are a lot of players talking to Microsoft about Razorfish, among them Publicis, Dentsu, WPP, Omnicom, Interpublic and AKQA's private-equity investor, General Atlantic. But to best the field, the winning suitor will likely have to fork over more than money to the agency's owner, which is looking for "strategic assets," such as a commitment to buy its advertising offerings or use its technologies.

Tracking Makes Life Easier for Consumers

NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- It would be like having the same conversation -- over and over and over again. That's how one digital ad executive describes a world where no one is allowed to collect information online, a scenario the industry is hurriedly -- and worriedly -- trying to keep from happening.

Thanks to Our NewTeeVee Sponsors!

We’d like to thank this week’s NewTeeVee sponsors:

  • thePlatform: Download a free white paper on video syndication
  • Akamai: HD online video increases revenue

paidContent Quick Hits 7.12.09

»  The old Thomson Reuters (NSDQ: TRIN) structure [image] vs the new proposed simplified structure [image]. You (read shareholders) decide. [SEC filing]

»  The new Olympics channel by USOC and Comcast (NSDQ: CMCSA) may offer equity to other players who want to join. [Multichannel]

»  Harvard Business Review reorganizes as industry struggles. [Boston Globe]

»  As Hollywood deals with recession, the message has been dispatched to Tinseltown: spend less money, and do not do anything risky. [Economist]

»  Hundreds of small blue-collar businesses that sustain Southern California’s entertainment industry are struggling badly. [LAT]

»  Augmented reality and the new digital media startups in the sector. [NYT]

Michael Shaw: Reading the Pictures: Malia, Peace Signs and Bottom Feeders (Political as well as Journalistic)


I hope you’ll permit me a little finger wagging in tracking how things like this get started.

First, shame on the Daily Mail for posting images of Malia Obama on Thursday claiming that her wearing this t-shirt (and then one other with a peace sign) while her Dad was negotiating arms control with the Russians meant she was somehow fronting for the anti-nuke movement and the CND. (Other sites, such as Newsday, also took a cut.) This young woman is growing with intense public attention and, along the way, learning to express herself as she develops her own sense of style, along with a political and social consciousness. The best advice to the media in this case is, either keep it to the fashion section, or move on.

Second, double shame on the Vancouver Sun for elevating the photo, along with mindless racist utterances about Malia at the typically paleo-site, the Free Republic into something the media twitterati is now trying to escalate into something, based on this one trashy story, that is supposedly already in the media sphere.

Third, shame on Mediaite, a slick new online media gossip rag for packaging the Freeper trash, the VS story, and the otherwise earth-shattering news of the election of a new hate-loving head of the young Republicans to further escalate the Malia/Freeper “story.”

Fourth, shame on more supposedly respectable journos/tweeters like Matt Cooper and David Shuster for further fueling this non-sense, with Shuster doing three tweets on it today (1, 2, 3) , the last one a promise/threat to elevate the story to the network tomorrow. (Yeah, the Freepers are loving that.)

But overall, someone please save us from a conflict-hungry and gossip-starved media forced to enter this week with no Michael Jackson to pick over and faced with the not-so-juicy prospects of a slam-dunk Sotomayor confirmation. It is arid conditions like these that draw professionals and bottom-feeders alike to elevate their 24/7 circulation, ego and ideological needs at the expense of The First Daughter.

(h/t: KH)

(image: Remo Casilli/Reuters. caption: U.S. President Barack Obama’s eldest daughter Malia, 11, leaves the Giolitti gelato (ice cream) parlour in central Rome July 8, 2009. Leaders of G8 and G5 countries are attending a summit in the city of L’Aquila July 8-10.)

Sluggish TV Upfront Doesn’t Benefit Online

The TV upfront negotiations between agencies and networks appears to be moving forward after a period of paralysis, but you can dismiss any thought of online video benefiting from the recent impasse or from the sudden spurt of deal-making. For one things, sources say, the current system, whether spending is up or down, still tends to view online video as an after-thought or an experiment. And when budgets are tight, experiments are the last thing to be funded.

In particular, cross-platform deals are expected to remain more sidelined than in previous years. Total dollars are down, says Carrie Drinkwater, director of national broadcast for Havas media buyer MPG, and TV/online ad tie-ups aren’t attractive enough to get advertisers to up their spending. “While the slowness of this year’s upfront process gives advertisers and networks gives the parties involved more time to create something above and beyond the traditional banner ad, it’s simply not viewed as crucial,” Drinkwater told paidContent.

“Even though there is not going to be as big a push in terms of spending, I think there will be more creativity. I would expect more branded integration deals on TV and that will certainly be extended to online, as well as the use of sweepstakes and similar promotions. But these deals will not be raising the needle in an perceptive way.”

Bottleneck: Web video is still one of the stronger advertising categories when it comes to spending growth. Some may have thought that the indifference to striking a TV deal could lead to more consideration for online video but that doesn’t seem to be the case. In fact, the bottleneck in TV deals the past few weeks only highlighted the real impediments the space has in terms of doing bigger deals. Even though average CPMs for online videos tend to be lower than what’s offered in primetime, agencies and advertisers are still reluctant to take a chance and invest more of their budgets in digital, said Jordan Levin, the former WB CEO who went on to co-found the multi-platform video production and talent management firm Generate. While Generate’s broadband series The Lake debuts on TheWB.com next month with the backing of what Levin calls a “major sponsor” he says he has agreed not to identify, such deals are not being tied to the upfront season. Levin: “More money should be moving to digital, given that audiences are shifting. But there’s so much legacy investment, coupled with fear and uncertainty, there’s a greater emphasis in the industry in talking up the effectiveness of TV versus online video.”

No upfront for online video: One thing online video doesn’t have going for it is an organizational structure to promote sales—like an upfront market. Every once in a while, someone floats the idea for a marketplace around online advertising, especially for video, which in the minds of many traditional ad industry professionals feels more familiar. Despite individual attempts like Microsoft’s upfront-like presentations for its online programming, Levin doubts that a comparable system can be established for the web. “The upfront was always an artificial marketplace intended to force buying during a specific period of time. Because marketers were more engaged in reach and frequency strategy, as opposed to an efficiency strategy that’s associated with the web, the idea that there are ‘must-buys’ is becoming less and less relevant. There’s no brand marketer screaming at their buyer that they’re going to be shut out.” In general, there are a nearly infinite set of options for advertisers right now. Therefore, the worry of not getting your message out doesn’t exist, and that will continue to degrade the value of an upfront—for both TV and online.

(click to enlarge)

Industry Moves: Twitter Hires Google Lawyer As General Counsel

The latest established executive to fall for Twitter’s luster: Google’s Alexander Macgillivray, who is joining the company as general counsel, according to the NYT Bits blog. As deputy general counsel for products and intellectual property at Google (NSDQ: GOOG), Macgillivray played a prominent role in Google’s $125 million settlement with authors over the scanning of books. The state of that settlement, of course, is now in question since the U.S. Justice Department has launched a formal inquiry into whether it violates antitrust law.

Twitter has legal issues of a different sort, although they also are related to intellectual property. St. Louis Cardinals Manager Tony LaRussa, as well as some other parties, have sued the company for allowing people to hold accounts in their names. Twitter also said recently it was trying to trademark the word “Tweet.”

Macgillivray isn’t the first Googler to head to Twitter. Others include Douglas Bowman, the Google design lead, who joined Twitter in April, after saying his former employer had become too dependent on data in making design decisions. On his blog, Macgillivray is more positive about his experience at Google, describing it as a “dream job.” He does not, however, say why he’s leaving. We’ve reached out to both Google and Twitter for comment.