TV stations growing web business faster than newspapers


Web sales growth at broadcast TV stations outpaced newspapers in 2009 as broadcasters gained ground against their principal in-market competitors and posted an 8.7% share of all local online advertising, according to a report released by the Television Bureau of Advertising (TVB).
Total online ad revenue for stations hit $1.1 billion last year, a 10% increase over the previous year. The report forecasts that revenues would grow another 21% in 2010.
“In a year where the IAB [Interactive Advertising Bureau] reported flat Internet revenues, the performance of local TV stations is quite stunning,” said Jack Poor, VP of strategic planning at TVB.
“Benchmarking: TV Web Sites Defy Gravity” examines revenue sources, growth rates, site traffic and other interactive issues and offers benchmarking for stations in large, medium and small markets. The research was conducted by Borrell Associates, which tracks interactive advertising for more than 4,400 local websites in the U.S. and Canada through voluntary submission of data. This is the fifth year Borrell has conducted the benchmarking report for TVB. This year’s report focuses on data submitted by 573 TV stations.
Unveiling the report in New York, Gordon Borrell, CEO of Borrell Associates, noted that the local online advertising is 15 years old and maturing. He said: “But we’re seeing the emergence of a new disrupter: mobile.” According to the report, local mobile advertising surpassed $200 million last year, with TV broadcasters capturing about 12% of the total. “I expect that figure to skyrocket into the billions within two years as the transition from desktops and laptops to hand-held devices takes off,” said Borrell.
The full 43-page report includes appendices listing market-by-market online advertising expenditures for 2009 and mobile forecasts for 2010. Click here to view it.

RBR-TVBR observation: Not only have newspapers had to deal with shrinking demand for their print product, but now have to compete in new media arenas where their advertising sales forces have to deal with something new – aggressive competitors. That kind of competition is nothing new for TV sales forces, so it is not really surprising that they are outrunning the newspaper guys in online ad sales.


Boxee, Roku Announcing Deals for Streaming Live Sports on TV

Watching live sports on television via the Web may have just gotten easier.

Getty Images
Some NHL games will now be shown via Boxee’s Web-to-TV platform.

Starting Monday, Web-to-TV software company Boxee will distribute the National Hockey League’s Game Center Live online video content. In addition, the National Basketball Association is set to announce a similar partnership with Roku, maker of a digital video player that streams Netflix and Amazon Video on Demand via the Web, for the distribution of NBA digital video content, beginning with some of this season’s playoff games.
The NHL’s Game Center Live streams approximately a thousand of the league’s 1,200 games per season, or any games that are not national exclusives on Versus or NBC, the league’s partner networks, for $19.95 a month. No additional fees will be applied for the streaming of NHL Game Center Live content through Boxee’s social-media enabled, web-to-TV platform. Since the NHL is currently wrapping up its 2009-2010 season, the new NHL content available through the Boxee platform is minimal, but a spokesman for Boxee says this should lay the groundwork for a continued partnership into next season.
“We knew the season was ending, but we see the NHL as a marquee content partner and wanted to get this deal out there so people would have Boxee in mind for next season,” said Andrew Kippen, vice president of marketing for Boxee.
Representatives from both the NBA and Roku were unavailable to comment on the details of that announcement.
New content partnerships have spurred competition between the various makers of Web-enabled set-top boxes. The introduction of software like Boxee’s has come under fire from cable industry and network executives concerned about the distribution of unlicensed content, as well as the potential threat of consumers watching video on TVs via the Web rather than purchasing bundled cable packages. Another concern is the amount of bandwidth streaming-video applications require.
The announcements come as more gaming consoles, such as Playstation3, Nintendo Wii, and the Xbox 360, are offering consumers options for streaming Web video on television screens. Boxee plans to introduce a hardware set top box called the Boxee Box, manufactured by D-Link, at the end of the second quarter of this year. Currently, Boxee’s open-source software is available as a free beta download, but users must connect a desktop or laptop computer to their television sets using an HDMI cable to watch Web videos on a TV.
For Roku, this marks the second partnership with a major sports league: Last summer, Roku began streaming premium MLB.TV content from Major League Baseball. Boxee also has an application for live MLB.TV video. UPDATE: Although Roku streamed the MLB channel through the end of last season, it has had a delay in starting this baseball season because of technical changes, a Roku spokesman said. The company plans to deliver the channel to customers this week, he said.

Social Media Use Becomes Pervasive

Social Media Use Becomes Pervasive

Facebook, in particular, is becoming a major attraction for a broad swathe of the population

April 15, 2010


New research shows that social media use has become a regular habit for three quarters of the online population.

In a survey of 1,700 U.S. Internet users, Nielsen Online found that 73 percent engaged in social media at least once per week. Engagement was defined as reading a blog, visiting a social network or reading (and/or commenting on) a message board. The research pegs the total U.S. social media audience at 127 million.

The Nielsen study, commissioned by women-focused blog network BlogHer and NBCU’s iVillage, found that Facebook is becoming a major attraction for a broad swathe of the population, rivaling the reach of traditional media channels. Of the online population, 47 percent visit Facebook daily, according to Nielsen, nearly rivaling the 55 percent that watch TV. Facebook daily use easily beats out other traditional media like radio (37 percent) and newspapers (22 percent).

In fact, social gaming is a daily habit for a huge number of people.

According to Nielsen’s survey, 32.7 million people play social games daily. That is equal to newspaper readership and more than double the readership of magazines in the sample. Social games are polarizing, however, as over 50 percent said they never play them.

For all its buzz, Nielsen found Twitter is still a niche activity for all but a small segment of the online population. Yesterday at its developer conference, Twitter boasted 105 million registered users. According to Nielsen, just 11.4 million (6 percent) use it daily.

BlogHer and iVillage commissioned the research to determine the role of social media in the lives of women versus the general population. It found little differences between the sexes when it comes to social media adoption, with women slightly more likely to tweet and blog while men overindex for watching videos.

Blog reading remains a niche activity for online users, with just 11 percent saying they read them daily. It trailed message board readers (17 percent). BlogHer’s audience, naturally, is more inclined to visiting blogs as a habit, with 77 percent reading them daily and 96 percent weekly. The BlogHer audience sample also identified blogs as trailing only search among ad-supported media in purchasing decisions.

BlogHer COO Elisa Camahort said the popularity of social networking is not stealing time and attention from blogs.

“It’s like any media progress we’ve had,” she said. “Nothing is killing the other media source. Blogs are still where substantive conversations are happening. It’s not on Facebook.”

Mobile Internet Will Soon Overtake Fixed Internet

Mary Meeker of Morgan Stanley isn’t just any Internet analyst. She was covering the sector when the brokerage firm was the lead underwriter for Netscape Communications’ initial public offering in 1995, was dubbed the “Queen of the Net” by Barron’s magazine in 1998 and was covering the space in 2004, when Morgan Stanley helped launch the Google IPO. Now a managing director at Morgan Stanley and head of the global technology research team, she has released her latest massively detailed “State of the Internet” report, which she has been putting out periodically since 1995. She presented the report during an event this afternoon at Google, which was streamed live as part of the Events@Google series (the presentation is embedded below).
And what does Meeker see in her crystal ball this year? Two overwhelming trends that will affect consumers, the hardware/infrastructure industry and the commercial potential of the web: mobile and social networking. Such a conclusion is hardly earth-shattering news to GigaOM readers, for we have been following these trends over the past year or two, but Meeker puts some pretty large numbers next to those trends, and looks at the shifts that will (or are likely to) take place in related industries such as communications hardware. She also compares where the rest of the developed world is in terms of mobile communications and social networking with Japan. Again, not a radically different approach to the one many tech forecasters take, but Meeker has the weight of some considerable research chops on her side.
The Morgan Stanley analyst says that the world is currently in the midst of the fifth major technology cycle of the past half a century. The previous four were the mainframe era of the 1950s and 60s, the mini-computer era of the 1970s and the desktop Internet era of the 80s. The current cycle is the era of the mobile Internet, she says — predicting that within the next five years “more users will connect to the Internet over mobile devices than desktop PCs.” As she puts it on one of the slides in the report: “Rapid Ramp of Mobile Internet Usage Will be a Boon to Consumers and Some Companies Will Likely Win Big (Potentially Very Big) While Many Will Wonder What Just Happened.

Meeker says that mobile Internet usage is ramping up substantially faster than desktop Internet usage did, a view she and her team arrived at by comparing the adoption rates of iPhone/iPod touch to that of AOL and Netscape in the early 1990s. According to Meeker, adoption of the Apple devices is taking place more than 11 times faster that of AOL, and several times as fast as that of Netscape. Helping to drive this is 3G technology, which Morgan Stanley says recently hit an “inflection point” by being available to more than 20 percent of the world’s cellular users (although penetration is only 7 percent in Central/South America and 13 percent in Asia/Pacific — excluding Japan, where it’s 96 percent).

But that mobile boom will take its toll on carriers, Meeker says, because mobile Internet use is all about data. The average cell-phone usage pattern is 70 percent voice, while the average iPhone is 45 percent voice. At NTT DoCoMo, data usage accounts for 90 percent of network traffic. The analyst says her team expects mobile data traffic to increase by almost 4,000 percent by 2014, for a cumulative annual growth rate of more than 100 percent. Such numbers will likely strike fear into the hearts of carriers, but joy into the hearts of equipment suppliers and mobile service companies.
One of the implications of mobile access is a growth in ecommerce, says Meeker, featuring things such as location-based services, time-based offers, mobile coupons, push notifications, etc. In China, the success of social network Tencent proves that virtual goods can be a big business, she says — virtual goods sales accounted for $2.2 billion worth of the company’s revenue in 2009 and $24 in annual revenue per user. Online commerce and paid services made up 32 percent of mobile revenue in Japan in 2008, up from just 14 percent in 2000. Meeker’s report suggests that the rest of the world — which is still below the 14 percent-mark — could see much the same trajectory over the next 10 years.
Meeker says that users are more willing to pay for content on mobile devices than they are on desktops for a number of reasons, including:
* Easy-to-Use/Secure Payment Systems — embedded systems like carrier billing and iTunes allow real-time payment
* Small Price Tags -– most content and subscriptions carry sub-$5 price tags
* Walled Gardens Reduce Piracy -– content exists in proprietary environments, difficult to get pirated content onto mobile devices
* Established Store Fronts -– carrier decks and iTunes store allow easy discovery and purchase
* Personalization -– more important on mobiles than desktops
On the social networking side, Meeker’s report notes that social network use is bigger than email in terms of both aggregate numbers of users and time spent, and is still growing rapidly. Social networking passed email in terms of time spent in 2007, hitting about 100 billion minutes/month globally — it’s now twice that — and passed email in terms of raw user numbers in July of 2009, with more than 800 million. Given the rate at which Facebook has been growing, that number is probably now closer to a billion. Meeker attributes social networking’s success to the fact that it’s a “unified communications + multimedia creation tool/repository in your pocket.” And Japan’s experience makes how crucial mobile is to that equation: Mixi, one of the country’s largest social networks, has seen its mobile page views grow to 72 percent of the total from just 17 percent three years ago.

Value of a ‘Fan’ on Social Media: $3.60

The findings are based on impressions generated in Facebook’s news feed

April 13, 2010

– Brian Morrissey

Brands have rushed to Facebook to build fan bases, with some amassing millions of connections. The nagging question has been: What is the monetary value of these fans?

Social media specialist Vitrue, which aids brands in building their customer bases on social networks, tried to put a media value on such communities.

The firm has determined that, on average, a fan base of 1 million translates into at least $3.6 million in equivalent media over a year.

The company’s findings are based on impressions generated in the Facebook news feed, the stream of recent updates from users’ networks.

Vitrue analyzed Facebook data from its clients — with a combined 41 million fans — and found that most fans yielded an extra impression. That means a marketer posting twice a day can expect about 60 million impressions per month through the news feed.

“It’s important to understand that once you build that fan base, you want to make sure you’re leveraging it,” said Michael Strutton, chief product officer at Vitrue.

Not all brands are created equal. Vitrue found wildly divergent impression-to-fan ratios. Some marketers generated just .44 impressions per fan, while another saw 3.6 impressions. Strutton chalked that up to sexier brands having more engaged connections, giving them access to the news feed more often. The impressions are not unique.

Vitrue arrived at its $3.6 million figure by working off a $5 CPM, meaning a brand’s 1 million fans generate about $300,000 in media value each month. Using Vitrue’s calculation, Starbucks’ 6.5 million fan base — acquired in part with several big ad buys — is worth $23.4 million in media annually.

“It helps [marketers] justify the spend they’re making, especially in acquiring a fan base and engaging that fan base,” Strutton said.

Of course, the figures don’t include perhaps the most powerful incentive for brands building fan bases: social customer-relationship management. Marketers often use their Facebook hubs to inform fans of new products, services and promotions.

“When you start to [add] engagement value, it goes higher,” said Strutton. “We were trying to get an easy-to-understand valuation terminology.”

Adobe makes a big move into ad measurement.

Software firm makes a big move into ad measurement.


Ann Lewnes looked out at a room full of analysts and saw a bunch of men wearing blank stares, scratching their heads.

It was mid-September and just hours after Adobe Systems ( ADBE news people ), where Lewnes serves as chief marketing officer, snapped up Web analytics company Omniture ( OMTR news people ) for $1.8 billion. No one quite understood what Adobe was up to, says Lewnes. The question in every mind: What is a graphic design software company going to do with Omniture?   What wasn’t clear to many then is obvious now. Adobe is in search of sales, and it is looking to Madison Avenue as a main source of revenue. It wants to become indispensable to the advertising industry. Adobe aims to be the company marketers seek out for their multimedia production and editing tools, including Flash, Acrobat and Photoshop. Now, too, it wants to sell information on how many eyes have glimpsed their ads. To do it, Adobe is inserting Omniture’s analytic capabilities into its design products. The next iteration of its flagship product, Creative Suite 5, due out Monday, April 12, will give ad execs the power to blend art and science–the dilemma they have struggled with for years.
How will it work? When a creative director whips up his vision for the next interactive Skittles ad, lets say, his team will use Creative Suite to do something designers haven’t been able to do before: create a single ad that can then be formatted for use across multiple screens–on computers, tablets and phones. And when creating those ads, designers can build in analytic code that lets marketers know which versions of ads pull in more views and which drive the most purchases. What was a clunky, labor-intensive process of first making the creative and then adding in analytic components is now streamlined.ork.

Apple: Over 300,000 iPads sold on first day

We’d heard analysts’ predictions, but until now no one knew for sure how many iPads were sold on launch day. On Monday, Apple announced it sold more than 300,000 of its new tablet computers on Saturday.
That figure included preordered iPads delivered to customers, sales at its retail stores, and deliveries to channel partners.
In addition, Apple said, iPad owners downloaded more 1 million iPad apps and 250,000 e-books from Apple’s iBookstore on Saturday.
Piper Jaffray senior analyst Gene Munster had originally predicted Apple would sell between 200,000 and 300,000 iPads on the first day, though he upped his estimate to 600,00 to 700,000 over the weekend.
Only Wi-Fi iPad models are available right now. Apple will begin selling models with Wi-Fi and 3G in late April.
“It feels great to have the iPad launched into the world–it’s going to be a game changer,” Apple CEO Steve Jobs said in a statement Monday.