Category Archives: Marketing

WidgetBucks claims it served over 1B ads in just 3 months, enters behavioral targeting

A tiny start up called WidgetBucks is claiming they have served over 1 billion ads in the past three months. It is a serious claim, aside the fact they also claim to be the fastest growing ad network on web today.

WidgetBucks features pay-per-click shopping widgets that help their customers make money fast. They instantly display the most popular products based on buying trends of 100 million shoppers. Thus they are highly engaging, which means instant dollars for our customers. The company is also claiming their widgets see $3-$6 CPM – pretty good compared to traditional ad networks that deliver less than $2 CPM.

If that’s true and the company had over 1B ads served over the past 3 months and they claim they are seeing $3-$6 CPM (cost per thousand impressions) on average it then turns out the company should have its pay outs made over the last months in the $3M-$6M range.

The site offers the following features and benefits.

  • Self-service, scalable and relevant content that’s free and easy to publish.
  • Dynamic, contextual widgets act as content (vs. ads) that more effectively targets your users, not the masses.
  • Extensive reporting tools and daily updates; Payouts are monthly.
  • Complements existing programs, such as Google AdSense.
  • Over 300 configurations, 256 color schemes and formatted for major IAB standard sizes.
  • Dynamic Ad Yield Management matches the best merchant for each product while offering consumers the best price.
  • MerchSense (patent pending) contextual algorithm automatically targets the right products for your site.
  • Manual configuration also available by category.
  • Product listings from 30,000 merchants including trusted leading brands.

Bloggers can customize what kinds of consumer items they want to appear in the widget (books, movies, computers, musical instruments), then they grab some code and put it on their blog. Or they can let Mpire (Widgetbucks’s parent company) serve up contextually relevant ads based on the topics they write about. WidgetBucks scans your site and tries to match ads to the keywords it finds. The widgets tap into merchandise from 30,000 retailers, including Amazon, Shopping.com, Target, Best Buy, Wal-Mart, and the Gap. WidgetBucks shares the cost-per-click revenue with bloggers.

WidgetBucks comes to you from the folks at Mpire Corporation, the award-winning meta-shopping service. Mpire’s extensive shopping data experience, including its proprietary contextual, analytics and relevancy algorithms, power WidgetBucks. Founded in 2005, Mpire is backed by Ignition Partners and former eBay executive and Pay Pal angel investor Richard Rock.

The parent company is a shopping search engine. Not only will it give you a list of links to where to buy that 32-in. LCD TV, if you click on Show Product Details, it will display a pricing chart that shows whether the price is trending up or down, at both retail and at auction, so you can decide if it’s the right time to buy. The “shopping companion” browser plug-in, a free download, is handy to use when you are shopping at other sites; it shows what other etailers are charging for the item you’re looking at, so you can be sure to get the best deal. Soon it will also show how consumers rated the product on Epinions and Amazon. So far this site has indexed more than 150 million products offered by 55,000 online stores, from mom-and-pop Web shops to major e-tailers like Amazon.com, and it doesn’t accept payment from merchants for top placement in its search results.

The site (Mpire) has won a number of prestigious awards from TIME’s 50 Best Websites for 2007 to t the eBay’s winner of the Star Developer Award 2007.  WidgetBucks has also won the Mashable Open Web Award.

Others in the sector include Farecast that does the chart thing with airfares, TheFind.com, the old player Epinions and the new comer Proximic, which has just signed a deal with both Yahoo Shopping and eBay’s Shopping.com to contextually deliver their product ads to third party sites. There is also Google’s Gadget Ads (AdSense in a widget), AuctionAds, boobox, and even ThisNext.

Today it seems the company is up to something even bigger – the behavioral widget ads.

While WidgetBucks already had MergeSense to help you determine the best products to display on your site’s widgets, the next step was “to test ad placement within the widget,” says Matt Hulett, CEO of Widgetbucks. The new service is called YieldSense, which is quite close in title to another behavioral ad system called YieldBuild, which determines optimal placement of text ads throughout your website.

YieldSense has some basic behavioral ad techniques being applied to the widget ads. Experts claim widget makers with built in networks have a distinct advantage in the amount of data they’re able to pull, from CPM to attention data, along with the passive absorption of the experiences of ad networks that have come before them.

It seems widget builders and companies are poised to become dominant players in the behavioral ads market due to the nature of the widgets being embedded across number of third party sites gathering that way vast amount of information. WidgetBucks perhaps took that step a little sooner than others because its widget network in fact began as an advertising affiliate program.

Mpire Corporation is based in Seattle, WA.

The behavioral ads market is however not going to be a cake walk for most of the companies. Experts in the sector outline several major issues the industry is facing today. Issues like privacy, accuracy and quality, personalization and profiles are just a few of the behavioral targeting concerns today.

An alternative, being proposed, that solves the issues with both privacy and effectiveness is one centered on understanding the user’s intent, instead of their clickpath or profile, and pairing that with specific content, product, and advertising recommendations. This approach relies exclusively on the collective wisdom of like-minded peers who have demonstrated interests or engagement with similar content and context.

The concept of profiles is completely removed in this case, and instead by understanding the user’s expressed or implied intent that user will see the content that is appropriate to their current mindset.

This is the next evolution in user targeting that gets beyond clicks and analytics, and instead rests on a proven foundation of modern social science theory.  The approach is conceptually simple and mimics how we learn and act in everyday life – making choices based on what others who are in the same current mindset as us have done. More about the behavioral targeting can be read over here

The market

Behavioral advertising and behavioral targeting are both lately becoming yet another hot area in the online marketing space, with Tacoda recently acquired by AOL for an estimated amount of $200-300 million. Start ups are trying to analyze every move you do online and try to hook you up with the right ads, products and services. MyBuys is making no exception it tracks user behavior to help online retailers make better recommendations.

Competition in the field is staggering and some of the names include StyleFeeder relying on community recommendations and raised $1M so far, Wunderloop, Baynote, Matchmine, which also raised $10M recently and not last Aggregate Knowledge, which once used to be a hot start-up in the Silicon Valley. The last one that took a massive funding was MyBuys – $10M from Lightspeed Venture Partners and Palomar Ventures.

The demand among online retailers for better behavioral tracking is so high right now that MyBuys and its startup competitors are all able to gather this “low hanging fruit” — Lightspeed Venture Partner’s Peter Nieh explains further.

The market shakeout in behavioral targeting will resemble search engines startup in the 1990’s, Nieh, a Lightspeed Venture Partner, thinks: Many companies were able to search the web, but Google ended up doing it way better than the others, and captured the largest portion of the market.

More

http://www.widgetbucks.com/home.page
http://widgetbucks.blogspot.com/
http://mashable.com/2008/01/16/widgetbucks-yieldsense/
http://mashable.com/2007/10/02/widgetbucks/
http://www.time.com/time/specials/2007/article/0,28804,1633488_1633458_1633489,00.html
http://blogs.mpire.com/?p=135
http://blogs.mpire.com/?p=135
https://web2innovations.com/money/2008/01/19/proximic-lands-deals-with-yahoo-and-shoppingcom-said-to-be-taking-on-adsense-which-is-bad-pr-approach/
http://widgetbucks.blogspot.com/2007/11/widgetbucks-offering-cpm-ads-for.html
http://mashable.com/2008/01/16/widgetbucks-yieldsense/
http://www.techcrunch.com/2007/10/02/a-widget-that-actually-makes-money/
http://www.techcrunch.com/2007/05/09/mpire-launches-widgets-for-ebay-and-amazon-affiliates/
https://web2innovations.com/money/2008/01/11/behavioral-targeting-is-busted-but-marketers-are-barking-up-the-wrong-tree/
https://web2innovations.com/money/2007/12/26/behavioral-recommendation-service-for-shoppers-raises-10-million-market-heats-up/

Proximic lands deals with Yahoo! and Shopping.com, said to be taking on AdSense, which is bad PR approach!

Content-delivery network Proximic, which has a unique contextual matching system, now has ads to sell that can help bloggers and others monetize their sites. The Munich Germany based start-up has signed deals to syndicate product listings from both eBay’s Shopping.com and Yahoo’s Shopping Network as contextual ads on other Websites. What other web sources claim the company is going to have more than 50 million product ad units in its data base coming in from both Yahoo! Shopping and eBay’s Shopping.com. Proximic estimates that Google, in contrast, has an inventory of about one million unique ads. Proximic’s ad network based on this massive inventory will launch at the end of January or early February 2008.

Web publishers are going to be offered with a way to place a widget on their sites, which Proximic is later going to use to serve ads on. Web site participating in the network are going to be later indexed and served up with contextually matching products as text ads along with contextually relevant content links. The ads and contextual links can also appear in a sidebar for anyone who has downloaded the Proximic Firefox add-on.

Proximic is neither matching context based on the keywords nor on the context itself. The company also says it doesn’t use semantic or statistical methodologies to understand the page’s meaning. “Semantic systems are not able to scale,” claims Proximic co-founder and CTO Thomas Nitsche. He also adds “If you hold more than one million documents, you run into a problem,”. Semantic search, he thinks, is too slow at this point for ad serving. Instead of keyword, semantic, or statistical approaches, Proximic uses proximity analysis to determine the page’s context. There is no much information publicly available as to how exactly it works, but from what we know and have read Proximic’s algorithm is translating each body of text into a pattern of characters that then becomes represented by a mathematical vector. Matches are done through traditional vector analysis. The company gives the following explanation:

We look at patterns of letters. We get a profile. The profile is a vector. We compare two vectors, and compute proximity by pattern distance. We can generate proximity between texts. The text can be one word, two words, 15 words, or a complete page.

We have read on other blogs claims of the sort Proximic is taking on Google AdSense, which has provoked us to give our 2 cents too and we think that such claims are, if anything, too boostful and not serious in any way and could be more harmful to the image of Proximic rather than brining anything like positive PR at the end of the day…

Ok, here we go with several potential problems, as we see them, Proximic is going to face and needs to deal with.

First
First off no site running Google AdSense is going to give up on its Google ads and earnings and replace them with an unknown start up that has little to no advertisers on its network. Why? Simply because Google does not allow your site or blog to run third party contextual ads (no matter what technology is used to match the context) on a page where their AdSense ad units run, which leaves little to no chance for Proximic’s contextual ads to stand off the ground any soon or at least not on sites that are currently Google AdSense publishers. There is clearly going to be a conflict of the two contextual ad units and Google is not going to be the one who will be dropped off by the web publishers.

Second
If Proximic is indexing each page, as we read above, that becomes part of its network then they would also need 600,000 servers to get any closer to what Google is today (check the link for more info about the Google’s computation expenditures).

Third
Revenue sharing with web publishers is not going to be very favorable for the web publishers who are going to participate in Proximic’s ad network after eBay, Yahoo! and Proximic itself all get their cut. We have read on Web that Proximic plans on giving participating websites 70 percent of any revenues after eBay and Yahoo! take their cut, which clearly leaves the publishers with a very small piece of the pie. On the other side, if they want to spread around Web, the way Google did, they have to pay web publishers serious money, lots of money, before even starting to think on competing with Google AdSense. Let’s put it that way: we see no way for Proximic to reach the payout Google achieved – $3.5B paid to web publishers in the first 3 quarters of 2007…

Forth
Proximic is not the first third party company to serve ad units from Yahoo! Shopping and eBay’s shopping.com. Even today you can sign up for Shopping.com or Yahoo! Shopping’s developer program and get listings up by next week. There are a number of other shopping engine syndication programs and most of them allow you to target to some extent. One of which is Shopzilla, among others, and Proximic is going to face fierce competition for the love of eBay and Yahoo!.

Fifth
In tests, Nitsche says Proximic is seeing click-through rates as high as 1.5 percent, which is much greater than the 0.25 percent or less that is typical for an AdSense campaign. That’s simply not true. We have been Google AdSense publisher since 2004 and our average click-through ratio has always been way above 1.5%, so speaking for precise targeting we’ll have to wait and see what Proximic is capable of.

Sixth
Proximic claims to be showing relevant results based on the content one is reading by gathering results from multiple sources, including Wikipedia but a weak point here is that they are not maintaining their own index massive, unlike Google. Just like with their third party sources of the information they deliver the same is with their product ads too, they are not theirs, which simply turns Proximic into an affiliate (middleman) company. Either way the company is vulnerable in case any of the third party information/ads providers leaves the game. 

Proximic is a privately funded company based in Munich, Germany and Palo Alto, California. Investors include Wellington Partners and the Holtzbrinck Group, the publisher of numerous publications including Scientific American. The company is said to have 14 employees.

Other players on the contextual arena include Amazon, LinkedWords, Turn, Tumri, Shopzilla, Vibrant Media and Kontera and BlogRovr, among others.

Amazon is also employing the same in-text contextual approach with their in-text linked words where once you mouse over them a JavaScript pop up message appears containing contextual web information and product ads from the huge data base of the shopping company.  

LinkedWords is yet another, already fairly popular, company known to deal with the contextual aspect of Web and is known to be the pioneer of the in-text linked words approach, been around even before Amazon adopted this interesting approach for spreading its products among third party web sites’ context. It runs a massive contextual platform built upon tens of millions of English words and phrases, which web publishers are using to get contextually linked to each other through their platform by using in-text linked words, as the company’s name implies itself. (Disclosure: we are using LinkedWords)

Other ad companies that are known to have tried the same are Turn and Tumri, among others.

More

http://www.proximic.com/
http://www.news.com/8301-10784_3-9850877-7.html?tag=nefd.blgs
http://www.news.com/8301-10784_3-9788569-7.html
https://web2innovations.com/money/2008/01/10/can-google-lead-amid-its-ever-growing-infrastructure-and-computation-expenditures/
http://www.techcrunch.com/2008/01/15/proximic-signs-deals-with-yahoo-and-ebay-to-turn-product-listings-into-contextual-ads-taking-on-adsense/
http://venturebeat.com/2008/01/16/proximic-signs-contextual-ad-deals-with-yahoo-shoppingcom-aims-for-adsense/
http://blog.express-press-release.com/2007/10/02/proximic-takes-on-google-but-overlooks-sphere-linkedwords-kontera-vibranmedia-and-others/
http://www.calacanis.com/2007/12/21/ads-as-content-or-testing-google-and-shopzilla/
 

NetAudioAds kicks off with… spam

A new initiative launched by V2P Communications, a San Diego company, named NetAudioAds is taking clearly wrong PR approach by spamming web site owners and administrators around Web with unsolicited emails and trying to convince them to join their network.

A small army of third party brokers or affiliate workers are sending mass mailing around Web from third party web sites with domain names not associated with or having nothing in common with the main company, and trying to get new web publishers signed up for the service.

I have no idea who is planning the PR campaign of NetAudioAds but this is totally wrong road to take. Their web sites looks and feels somehow like from the nineties with low quality images and poor design and on top of this the site uses boostful marketing language style like those get-rich-quick scheme scammers that we are all fed up with. Their official site that does rank for their official name does not even use NetAudioAds in the page title and is extremely hard to find on Web, which additionally leaves the potential web publishers with the feeling of something fishy. But this is not the worst. Apparently the marketing people at NetAudioAds came up with the genial idea to hire people from all over Web who are using third party web sites to proclaim their services by sending pure spam messages to, probably, sites that they believe are trafficked enough trying to enroll them for the service. When you decide to follow up on these emails you are given with no official site to read more who these people are after all, but you are provided with a funny brand new web site with strange name put up overnight with a page for you to sign your company up with.

To make things even worse those third party people try everything possible to cover up the original site so that you get your site signed up with their, obviously, affiliate site that is being registered just 2 days before the email hit your inbox. Wrong strategy, poor public communications and I see no way for V2P Communications, the company behind NetAudioAds, getting any positive results out of this PR mess.

The service itself is said to launch somewhere during February 2008 and the PR and marketing mess seems to be total. San Diego-based V2P Communications is planning to offer five-to-eight-second audio ads, called NetAudioAds that will automatically play when a visitor lands on a blog or Web site.

The claim is: Using V2P Communications’ coming audio ads, which will pay blog publishers a 25% commission on ad revenue, a site that gets 2,000 unique visitors a day with an advertiser paying $14 per 1,000 plays would earn $7 a day, or $49 a week.

Blog publishers get a 25% cut of the ad revenue. About 25,000 publishers have signed up so far, says Michael Knox, V2P’s co-founder, and several large companies and 2008 presidential campaigns have expressed interest in becoming advertisers through the service.

To make things look even worse, different affiliate sites around Web are claiming from completely out of sense and logic numbers of the web publishers already enrolled to the service to the ridiculous claims that their company will deliver better results than Google AdSense.

For example, and for those of you that do not know yet, Google has paid over $3.5B to web publishers just in the first three quarters of 2007 alone. 

Aside, there seems to be little to no coordination in the claims of the different web sites that try to proclaim the NetAudioAds on Web.

What self respecting web publisher takes only 25% of ad revenue to annoy all of their visitors and readers with audio ads? And how do you keep up your momentum and page views if you annoy everyone who comes across your site?

If the idea wasn’t bad enough, the company behind this ad network is talking to the media to pump their product while…

a blogspot hate site ranks #1 for their official name
their official site that does rank for their official name does not even use NetAudioAds in the page title
they bid on AdWords their core brand name but they are not even bidding on alternate version of their name like Net Audio Ads

 More About V2P Communications

V2P Communications is a Nevada C-Corporation that was established in 2005. V2P Communications Inc. is an Internet web-based company that was constructed to capture opportunities arising from new Internet technology, emerging online markets and ever-changing trends of Internet users.

V2P Communications Inc. has two main Internet audio websites; Voice2Page.com and NetAudioAds.com. The Voice2Page website’s primary purpose is to distribute and sell Record-by-Phone Internet audio monthly subscription services, while the NetAudioAds site places Internet Audio Advertising strategically across the Internet.

We are an Internet-based communications company. The Company’s primary focus is introducing innovative Internet Audio Services to the general public.

How does a network that offer advertising and marketing solutions for others do such a bad job marketing their own products?

I do not want to sound negative but this is not going to work things out for V2P Communications and unless they change their entire PR strategy the chances for them to get buzz quickly is higher but with very negative sign.
More

http://netaudioads.com/
http://www.seobook.com/netaudioads-wasting-publicity-pushing-bad-idea
http://online.wsj.com/article/SB120036638439890355.html?mod=technology_featured_stories_hs
http://voice2page.com/info/v2ppage_advertising.html

Technorati’s total funding revealed – $21.6 to date in 3 rounds

Technorati, the blog search engine, has always been quite secretive about the funding it got over the years leaving people like us, always interested in the money behind the Web 2.0, speculate about the right numbers.  

Things changed the last month when we have read over multiple trusted sources on Web that the company has raised $21M so far in three rounds of financing. Those numbers are believed to be the right ones. Our attempt to dig some more information about what are the different numbers for the 3 rounds yielded some results. Who the Technorati’s investors are, anyway?

Technorati is now known to have raised $4.58M in its series A round of funding. However the particular date and who the investor both remain unknown. In September 2004 the company has already gotten its Series B round of funding, which today is known to be $6.50M from Draper Fisher Jurvetson as the only participant known to date. 2 years later, in June 2006, the company already needed to raise more capital and has closed its Series C round of funding this time raising $10.52M from August Capital, Mobius Venture Capital and the returning investor Draper Fisher Jurvetson. Total funding for Technorati to date seems to be already $21.6M.

The company is most popular with the fact that it was smart enough to be the first one to try and tap into the newly born and rapidly growing trend by 2002 — the blogging and its grown community of bloggers. It then became the first search engine for bloggers and blogs on Web. Today the company is facing huge completion by a number of companies like Google blog search, IceRocket, Feedster, Bloglines, Yahoo! Search Blog, Ask.com’s Blogs, Blogdigger and let’s put it that way – pretty much every other company out there that used to be once a search engine has now added a blog search too. You can here find a basic list of blog search engines.

The rivals were some of the leading Internet companies and it was hard for Technorati not to lose market share. And in December 2006 it happened, for the first time, Google Blogsearch surpassed Technorati in total visits. It then was said that Google Blog Search had passed 0.0025% of total internet traffic, according to Hitwise, versus 0.0023% for Technorati. The reason for the surge seemed pretty straightforward: Google linked their Blog Search product to Google News in October, which had an immediate and significant impact on traffic. Google also added a Blog Search link in the “More” section on the Google main page. It was not enough to take the lead, but a recent Technorati decline in traffic put Google’s Blog Search on top.

Allen Stern from CenterNetworks, by contrast, said by the time that Google blog search is not what Technorati should be compared to anymore. Google integrates blog searches into their main search and so therefore, if anything, the comparison should be between Google search vs. Technorati. The majority of people searching for terms are looking for the summation of all types of results: “standard” web sites, blog, video, image, etc.

Whatever the case is one thing is today for sure, the blog search is already an integrated part of the general search that hundreds of millions of people perform on daily basis on a number of search engines from Google to Ask.com, most of them done on Google, and Technorati cannot anymore claim exclusivity on blog searches, even though it was the first one in the field. That’s why Technorati was forced to evolve too and is now searching for social media too like photos, video and music, posted on online sharing sites, and a tag cloud on the home page shows you the hot topics of the day.

In early 2007 Technorati was rumored to be trying to sell itself. By that time Technorati’s CEO (and founder) Dave Sifry responded “I’ll be very clear about it – Technorati isn’t for sale.” As the practice shows when one claims his company is not for sale it always this company is for sale, but for the right buyers and price. By that time Dave has revealed some more numbers on the site’s usage. Technorati, he said, has had 9 million unique visitors over the last thirty days, up from 3.5 million two months ago. And while he did not disclose the actual page views, he said they increased 53% in March, and 141% over the last three months. Those are quite impressive numbers and are perhaps meant for the eyes/ears of some potential buyers, despite their claims of not selling themselves.

In May 2007, Technorati completely re-designed their home page to respond to their more mainstream users. They now have a single search box instead of using search types like keyword search, tag search and blog directory search. Results are returned in categories like videos, blogs and music.

In few months, in October 2007, Technorati has announced its search for a new CEO was over, with Richard Jalichandra being appointed to the role, some 6 weeks since Technorati’s founding CEO David Sifry stepped down and 5 months since it was publicly confirmed that Technorati was seeking a new CEO.

Several months later, in December 2007, Technorati re-launched again as this time trying to focus, again, on core blogging audience. The recently changed home page, just three months old, is gone. In place of the streaming blog posts is a news aggregator that, like TechMeme and the New York Times’ Blogrunner, uses linking behavior on news sites to determine headline news. In addition to the Front Page news aggregator, Technorati has made two other big additions to the site. The first is a resource page for bloggers called, fittingly, Blogger Central. The second is a new product called Today In Photos.

On the other hand Time magazine has recently named Technorati one of the 25 sites for 2007 they weren’t able to live without.

More recently, Technorati started downsizing staff (9 people have been laid off in August 2007) as the approx. $21 million raised over three rounds started to dry up. We have also discovered some technical details about the current IT infrastructure that backs Technorati up. They have more than 20TB (Terabytes) of core data in their MySQL running on over 20 machines. With replication they add 200TB and 200 machines more. No matter how you look into this, it is for sure adding up a serious burden over the company’s budget.

Well, we have seen a lot of numbers for Technorati’s site usage, from Comscore’s and Hitwise’s to Quantcast’s and Compete’s but how the numbers look like today. This is what we have discovered. According to Quantcast Technorati is presently reaching over 8M unique global visitors per month and only 2.8M of which are Americans. We can take that number for real since Technorati is quantified publisher at Quantcast. We have seen in the past numbers in the 22M/mo range reported for Technorati and if it turns out to be true the present numbers represent a serious decline in Technorati’s site usage.

Nonetheless, we think Technorati worth anything but $100M, at least, as of today.  We know the guys at Technorati won’t like that number and just like Digg (looking for over $300M) they are also thinking their business worth much more and are probably looking for much higher valuation than $100M. Technorati was definitely and unarguable the first one to define the market but is also not anymore the leader in the space. The company has strong brand awareness but everyone knows it is relatively easy (compared to traditional businesses) to make and easy to ruin an online brand. On the other hand Technorati has no strong technology and is facing huge competition and a potential buyer would eventually consider them only because of their traffic and reach. What Technorati needs to convince their future suitors is whether they will preserve and grow their traffic or not. Buyers are interested in what the site would look like in future in terms of traffic and revenues and are not really looking in the past, aside perhaps overseeing trends.

We have no idea what the Technorati’s revenues are as of today but Sifry has said in August 2007 that Technorati is now a revenue stage business – we’ve been hiring up sales folks, as well as building much more detailed roadmaps and product pipelines. Customer-driven needs, pipeline management, operational management, and expense control are now a much bigger part of our life as a company than it was when we were running on a couple of servers in my basement. 

Or in the case with Technorati we talk for valuation without revenue? Great examples from the past of high-profile acquisitions of companies with little to no revenues are both Hotmail (1998) and Skype, the second one managed to drive multi-billion dollar valuation at little to no revenues in its deal with eBay in 2005. Could the Technorati’s case be the same? Don’t forget here the YouTube’s deal.

A proven monetization model over Internet is segmentation. Technorati, especially, needs to ask itself the question: What is my segmentation strategy, around which I can offer my advertisers a compelling marketing vehicle? Technorati has clearly lost its momentum and peak traffic times and is today more declining rather than expanding. Today, Yahoo is a portfolio of haphazardly organized content and services which don’t clearly align with segments desired by advertisers. Neither, for that matter, is Google, although it managed to drive huge sales off its AdWords/AdSense strategy. Technorati, for example, is also having a pretty much generic traffic, which makes the effective monetization a hard task for the company.

We can draw a basic conclusion here. Before everything, Technorati has been a symbolic web site for the blogging world ever since and based on its present traffic of more than 8M unique visitors per month could be a great add on to the Web portfolio on each company from the big 6 Google, Microsoft, Yahoo!, eBay, AOL and Amazon. We would exclude Google from the list. Other potential acquirers would include media companies like New York Times, which once btw was reported to be interested in Digg, and since there are synergies between, it is not completely out of sense. Fox Interactive, IAC (potentially merging with their Bloglines), among others could also be interested in potentially having Technorati part of their web properties. We would take the chance to predict that a potential sale of Technorati this year would command a price in the $100 / $150M range. The given price tag is only valid if Technorati preserves its current traffic of 8/10M unique visitors per month.

More about Technorati

Technorati is currently tracking 112.8 million blogs and over 250 million pieces of tagged social media.

Technorati is the recognized authority on what’s happening on the World Live Web, right now. The Live Web is the dynamic and always-updating portion of the Web. We search, surface, and organize blogs and the other forms of independent, user-generated content (photos, videos, voting, etc.) increasingly referred to as “citizen media.”

But it all started with blogs. A blog, or weblog, is a regularly updated journal published on the web. Some blogs are intended for a small audience; others vie for readership with national newspapers. Blogs are influential, personal, or both, and they reflect as many topics and opinions as there are people writing them.

Blogs are powerful because they allow millions of people to easily publish and share their ideas, and millions more to read and respond. They engage the writer and reader in an open conversation, and are shifting the Internet paradigm as we know it.

On the World Live Web, bloggers frequently link to and comment on other blogs, creating the type of immediate connection one would have in a conversation. Technorati tracks these links, and thus the relative relevance of blogs, photos, videos etc. We rapidly index tens of thousands of updates every hour, and so we monitor these live communities and the conversations they foster.

The World Live Web is incredibly active, and according to Technorati data, there are over 175,000 new blogs (that’s just blogs) every day. Bloggers update their blogs regularly to the tune of over 1.6 million posts per day, or over 18 updates a second.

Technorati. Who’s saying what. Right now

Technorati Management Team

Richard Jalichandra
President & Chief Executive Officer
Richard is a veteran Internet executive whose media experience includes leadership roles across the media spectrum: as a client, at an agency, as a publisher, and with an advertising network. Most recently, he worked as an M&A and strategy consultant for several Internet properties and investment firms, and also served as SVP of Corporate Development for Exponential Interactive, Tribal Fusion’s parent company. Previously, he was SVP of Business Development for Fox Interactive Media, and was the Vice President of Business & Corporate Development at IGN Entertainment (acquired by Fox Interactive), where he led the company’s M&A, business development and international activities. Before joining IGN, Richard led national accounts sales at Lycos, was Vice President of Business Development at Neopost Online, served as Senior Vice President/Managing Director of Answerthink, and founded K23 Creative Services in Singapore. His early career included management roles for Ford, IBM and Siemens, and he has a B.S. in business administration from the University of Southern California and an M.B.A. from the University of Washington.

Dorion Carroll
Vice President of Engineering
Dorion Carroll is a 20-year veteran engineer with deep experience developing product and services in areas including search, email processing, e-commerce, personalization, ad targeting, CRM, data warehousing, order management and financial services. Prior to joining Technorati, Dorion was director of engineering at Postini, Vice President of Engineering and General Manager of Neomeo (which was acquired by Postini), Technologist-in-Residence at Softbank Venture Capital, and Senior Director of Engineering at Excite@Home, among other roles. Dorion has a Bachelor of Arts from Pitzer College, with four years Mathematics / Computer Science at Harvey Mudd College, in Claremont, California.

Peter Hirshberg
Chairman of the Executive Committee & CMO, Technorati Inc.
Peter Hirshberg is an entrepreneur and marketing innovator who has led emerging media and technology companies at the center of disruptive change for more than 20 years. As Chairman & Chief Marketing Officer of Technorati, he oversees the company’s sales, marketing and business development activities as well as its partnerships with the media, entertainment and marketing industries. Previously Hirshberg served as president and CEO of Gloss.com, the online prestige beauty business co-owned by Estee Lauder Companies, Chanel and Clarins; he was Chairman of Interpacket Networks, the global leader in Internet-by-satellite (sold to American Tower in 2000), and was founder and CEO of Elemental Software (sold to Macromedia in 1999). Peter was at Apple Computer for nine years where he held a number of leadership positions, including Director of Enterprise Markets. He is a Trustee of The Computer History Museum and a Henry Crown Fellow of the Aspen Institute. Peter earned his bachelor’s degree at Dartmouth College and his MBA at Wharton.

Joi Ito
Vice President of International Business and Mobile Devices, Technorati Inc.
Joichi Ito is in charge of international and mobility development for Technorati. He is founder and CEO of Neoteny, a venture capital firm which is the lead investor in Six Apart, and is on the board of Creative Commons. He has created numerous Internet companies including PSINet Japan, Digital Garage, and Infoseek Japan. In 1997, Time Magazine ranked him as a member of the CyberElite. In 2000 he was ranked among the “50 Stars of Asia” by Business Week and commended by the Japanese Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications for supporting the advancement of IT. In 2001 the World Economic Forum chose him as one of the 100 “Global Leaders of Tomorrow” for 2002. He was appointed as a member of Howard Dean’s Net Advisory Net during the Dean campaign.

Teresa Malo
Chief Financial Officer
Teresa is a CPA with over 17 years experience in finance and operations, and she’s responsible for Technorati’s financial, legal, and HR organizations. She has worked with technology startup companies such as Calico Commerce and Zambeel, as well as with established companies, including Arbor Software and Silicon Graphics. Teresa started her career as an accountant with Pannell, Kerr, Forster, a national public accounting firm. She holds Bachelor’s degrees in Accounting and Computer Information systems from Arizona State University and the University of Washington.

Technorati Board of Directors

David L. Sifry
Founder & Chairman of the Board, Technorati, Inc.
David Sifry is a serial entrepreneur with over 20 years of software development and industry experience. Before founding Technorati, Dave was cofounder and CTO of Sputnik, a Wi-Fi gateway company, and previously, he was cofounder of Linuxcare, where he served as CTO and VP of Engineering. Dave also served as a founding member of the board of Linux International and on the technical advisory board of the National Cybercrime Training Partnership for law enforcement. He has a Bachelor’s degree in Computer Science from Johns Hopkins University. Dave can often be found speaking on panels and giving lectures on a variety of technology issues, ranging from wireless spectrum policy and Wi-Fi, to Weblogs and Open Source software.

Peter Hirshberg
Chairman of the Executive Committee & CMO, Technorati Inc.

Joi Ito
Vice President of International Business and Mobile Devices, Technorati, Inc.

Ryan McIntyre
Principal, Mobius Venture Capital
Ryan McIntyre joined Mobius Venture Capital in 2000 as an Associate Partner and was promoted to Principal in 2001. Prior to joining the firm, Mr. McIntyre co-founded Excite in 1993, which went public in 1996 and later became Excite@Home (Nasdaq:ATHM) following the merger of Excite and @Home in 1999. There he held the role of Principal Engineer and was a key technological contributor to the company’s search engine and content management systems, and also led the design and implementation of Excite’s community and commerce platforms. Mr. McIntyre holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Symbolic Systems with a concentration in Artificial Intelligence from Stanford University. While at Stanford, he published research on genetic algorithms in the The First IEEE Conference on Evolutionary Computation, and studied at Stanford’s overseas campus in Berlin, Germany.

Sanford R. Robertson
Principal, Francisco Partners
Sanford R. Robertson is a principal of Francisco Partners, one of the world’s largest technology buyout funds. With a focus on structured investments in technology and technology-related businesses, Francisco Partners is a pioneer in the private equity category of Technology Buyouts. Prior to founding Francisco Partners, Mr. Robertson was the founder and chairman of Robertson, Stephens & Co., a leading technology investment bank formed in 1978, and sold to BankBoston in 1998. Mr. Robertson was also the founder of Robertson, Colman, Siebel & Weisel, later renamed Montgomery Securities, another prominent technology investment bank. He has had significant financing involvement in more than 500 growth technology companies throughout his career, including 3Com Corporation (Nasdaq: COMS), America Online, Inc., Applied Materials, Inc. (Nasdaq: AMAT), Ascend Communications Inc., Dell Computer Corporation (Nasdaq: DELL), E*Trade Securities, Inc. (Nasdaq: ETFC), Siebel Systems, Inc. and Sun Microsystems, Inc. (Nasdaq: SUNW). Mr. Robertson received both a B.A. and an M.B.A. with Distinction from the University of Michigan.

Andreas Stavropoulous
Managing Director, Draper Fisher Jurvetson
Mr. Stavropoulos focuses primarily on software investments (enterprise infrastructure and consumer/Internet), wireless networking, and technology-enabled services. Prior to joining DFJ, Mr. Stavropoulos was with McKinsey & Company’s San Francisco office, where he worked with senior management teams of corporate clients with an emphasis on information technology. Prior to McKinsey, he was a Senior Analyst at Cornerstone Research, a financial and economic consulting firm that helps resolve complex issues arising in high-profile business litigation. Mr. Stavropoulos holds Bachelor’s and Masters degrees in computer science from Harvard University, and an MBA from Harvard Business School, where he was a Baker Scholar and graduated first in his class.

More

http://technorati.com/
http://technorati.com/weblog/
http://www.sifry.com/alerts/
http://www.techcrunch.com/2007/12/04/exclusive-technorati-relaunches-to-focus-on-core-blogging-audience/
http://www.crunchbase.com/company/technorati
http://www.niallkennedy.com/blog/2006/12/google-blog-search-technorati-market-share.html
http://www.techcrunch.com/2007/11/05/technorati-drops-content-older-than-6-months-old/
http://www.techcrunch.com/2006/12/28/google-v-technorati-and-hitwise-v-comscore/
http://www.centernetworks.com/why-comparing-technorati-to-google-blog-search-is-not-valid
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Category:Blog_search_engines
http://www.sifry.com/alerts/archives/000492.html
http://www.techcrunch.com/2007/04/03/technoratis-mating-dance/
http://www.sifry.com/alerts/archives/000492.html
http://atomicbomb.typepad.com/
http://www.centernetworks.com/web-apps-customer-service-face-off#technorati
http://www.time.com/time/specials/2007/article/0,28804,1638266_1638253_1638241,00.html
http://www.techcrunch.com/2007/10/01/new-technorati-ceo-has-a-challenge-ahead/
http://www.breitbart.com/article.php?id=prnw.20071001.AQM180&show_article=1&lsn=1
http://www.techcrunch.com/2007/08/16/watching-technorati-and-podtech-fall-apart/
http://www.techcrunch.com/2007/09/30/techmeme-leaderboard-to-launch-attacking-technoratis-last-stronghold/
http://www.linkedin.com/pub/0/2/9a2 (Richard Jalichandra)
http://www.chicagotribune.com/business/chi-thu_tagsjun14,0,3843733.story?coll=chi-business-hed
http://valleywag.com/tech/rumormonger/technoratis-search-247549.php
http://markevanstech.com/2007/04/03/talking-up-technorati/
http://www.guardian.co.uk/weekend/story/0,,1937507,00.html
http://www.time.com/time/globalbusiness/article/0,9171,1565540,00.html
http://sramanamitra.com/2006/02/23/technorati-valuation-without-revenue/
http://www.iac.com/businesses.html
http://mysqluc.com/presentations/mysql06/carroll_dorion.ppt

Behavioral Targeting is Busted; But Marketers are barking up the wrong tree!

Behavioral Targeting (BT) has been around since the first dotcom days. It got really hot again in late 2007 thanks to a few big promoters like Facebook. But what is it and does it really work as it sounds?

BT tracks a web visitor’s browser-click-streams, typically in the last six visits, to predict what he or she may want in the future, and target ads, content or products based on those “personalized” past behaviors. The hope is that BT will show the right ad or product to the right user who is most susceptible to it.  This sounds ideal to advertisers, but, put yourself in the shoes of a user and two huge problems leap out: privacy and quality.

The Privacy Issue
With such a glut of products and information online, the motivation behind behavioral targeting makes sense – it seems to be a good thing for Yahoo to get me a more relevant ad because they happen to know I checked out a Prius in my local dealership. For consumers, however, there is an obvious psychological aversion to behavioral targeting, as they feel they are being personally tracked and watched.

In this age of identity theft and mounting concerns over privacy in general, a practice that proactively profiles a user, perhaps over the scope of many websites and over a period of several months, will sound alarms even among the least conservative of us. And while BT advocates will defend their practice of storing only anonymous data —
which is the proper thing to do — knowing that your likes, dislikes, shopping history, and viewing tendencies are being tracked and possibly shared or sold to advertisers is disconcerting at the least.

In addition, with so much information about us on the web, an anonymous individual on one site can quickly become a known/named user on another site once BT starts to compare and contrast user behaviors across multiple sites. So our private information can spread out very quickly without us even knowing it.

Not surprisingly, many advocacy groups are very concerned about the issues surrounding this type of targeting.  Privacy groups have recently proposed a “Do not Track” list to limit behavioral profiling techniques similar to “Do Not Call” lists that keep pesky telemarketers away. 

Privacy concerns seem to be enough to limit the impact of BT. But there is more.

The Bigger Pitfalls of Behavioral Targeting
Beyond privacy concerns, there are accuracy and quality issues with BT that all online marketers and e-commerce managers may not be aware of.  Traditional BT struggles precisely because it tries to discern what I want now based on my past behaviors. Consider the impact of focusing on historical interests instead of current intent – if I bought a gag gift for a bachelor party, I certainly do not want to be bombarded by ads for similar “products” that might cause embarrassment or make me the butt of the joke around the office.

Another way to think of this problem is the idea of roles or personalization.  Humans have far too many roles in life – or what personalization systems might call profiles – to possibly predict what a given user wants on that day.  A woman shopping for baby clothes, a tie for her husband, and a gift for her sister may appear schizophrenic because she is acting in three different roles – mother, wife, and sister.   What do you show her next?  Tossing ads at her about strollers is not going to appeal to her now that she’s shopping for a new cocktail dress for herself.

This is the pitfall of profiles.  In a given month, an individual will have thousands of roles. Knowing my past is not necessarily a better way to predict my future. In fact, this phenomenon has been known by psychologists and other scientists for years – humans are animals of context and situations, much less so of our historical profiles or roles.

Let’s look at Facebook’s behavioral targeting practices. Alex Iskold recently wrote a good blog in ReadWriteWeb about a little myth regarding how behavioral targeting is going to help Facebook justify their $15 billion valuation. I like Alex’s summation of the myth: “because Facebook knows everything about us, it will always be able to serve perfect ads.” But the reality is very different.

Facebook does not really know much about us, especially anything about our true intent at any given moment when we are on the network.  Their user profiles are historical artifacts and not tied to current intent. In addition, the behaviors that users exhibit on Facebook are about connecting with one another – not about reading, researching, and buying like the rest of the web. And finally, when users connect they’re only acting in one of their infinite roles.

In the end, the ads we get served on Facebook today are the direct result of the lack of understanding of its users.  Those in the ad industry liken these to “Run of Network” ads which are not targeted and are simply designed to get a fraction of a percent click-through.  Unsurprisingly, most ads are about dating.

Enter Intent-based Targeting
An alternative that solves the issues with both privacy and effectiveness is one centered on understanding the user’s intent, instead of their clickpath or profile, and pairing that with specific content, product, and advertising recommendations. This approach relies exclusively on the collective wisdom of like-minded peers who have demonstrated interests or engagement with similar content and context.

The concept of profiles is completely removed in this case, and instead by understanding the user’s expressed or implied intent that user will see the content that is appropriate to their current mindset.

This is the next evolution in user targeting that gets beyond clicks and analytics, and instead rests on a proven foundation of modern social science theory.  The approach is conceptually simple and mimics how we learn and act in everyday life – making choices based on what others who are in the same current mindset as us have done.

Since humans change roles rapidly, intent-based models allow content recommendations, ads, and even search results to change instantly as users act in a new or different role.  Further, because historical actions and profiles are not needed, 100 percent of the new visitors coming to a website can be targeted with precise content before the first click.

Win/Win
Website users care about privacy and usability on the web.  Targeting visitors based on their intent, which is validated by the collective wisdom of those before them with the same intent, is a natural way for visitors to interact with your website – it’s the way humans have been programmed to work.  Most importantly it kills two birds with one stone: users get useful, accurate recommendations and ads while still avoiding the whole privacy mess. 

~~~~~~~~~

Jack is a founder and CEO of Baynote, Inc., a provider of Intent-driven Recommendation and Social Search technology for websites. Previously, Jack served as SVP & founding CTO of Interwoven Inc. with responsibilities across engineering, products, marketing, corporate vision and strategy. Prior to Interwoven, he was a founder and CEO of V-max America. Jack also led operating systems and applications development at SGI, Sun Microsystems, Stratus and NASA. He is a frequent major conference speaker and has appeared on television programs in several countries. He is a contributing author in “XML Handbook, the 4th Edition”, “Online! The Book”, “Content Management Bible”, and writes regularly about key technology issues and trends. He can be contacted at jack@baynote.com.

AOL‘s Platform-A gets the fourth ad company under its umbrella

AOL has finally completed the acquisition of online advertising company Quigo. Quigo is a provider of contextual advertising on third-party publisher Websites, much like AdSense and Yahoo Publisher Network. The company offers a variety of different advertising formats including text, banners, and video, and sells them on a CPC, CPM, or “cost per time” basis. AOL had originally announced its intention to acquire Quigo on November 7, 2007.

Financial terms of the deal were not publicly disclosed, though we’ve found information on Web from different sources claiming the sale is said to be around $340 Million.

According AOL officials, Quigo will operate as a wholly owned subsidiary of AOL within its Platform-A organization, which is focused on unifying the company’s many online advertising divisions, which include Advertising.com, Tacoda, Adtech, among others. The acquisition of Quigo lets AOL expand the use of contextual advertising — which matches ads to the contents of a Web page — across AOL’s own Web pages, as well as its third-party networks, sites and publishers. Quigo is expected to bring in $100 million a year as it stands.

Now that the acquisition is final, and AOL is showing intentions to actually do something with a company it purchased, the unification strategy could actually work to make them a significant player in the online ad world in the face of the present dominant role of Google.
What Quigo basically offers is transparency and control in what can often be an opaque business: advertisers pay Yahoo and Google for contextual ad placement on a wide variety of Web pages, but get little say over where those ads run or even a list of sites where they do appear.

Quigo, by contrast, gives advertisers not only the list of specific sites where their ads have appeared but also the opportunity to buy only on specific Web sites or particular pages on those sites. It also allows media company sites like ESPN.com and FoxNews.com a chance to manage their own relationships with advertisers.

Although Quigo remains a small competitor, with less than 10 percent of the contextual ad business, its growing success has apparently persuaded Google, which is accustomed to calling the shots in all aspects of its business, that it has to change the way it sells the sponsored link ads in the future.

More about Quigo

Quigo – www.quigo.com – recently named Company of the Year by AlwaysOn Media – provides innovative performance marketing solutions for advertisers and premium publishers. Quigo’s AdSonar is a leading network of top-tier websites offering a broad range of advertising solutions. AdSonar’s content-targeted sponsored links are distributed to many of the web’s most recognized sites including CNNMoney.com, TIME.com, People.com, ESPN.com, Forbes.com, TheStreet.com, FoxNews.com, CareerBuilder.com, LonelyPlanet.com and on over 200 local, regional and national newspaper and television sites including those of ABC, Tribune Interactive, Fox, The Hearst Company, The McClatchy Company, Morris Communications, Media News Group, New York Daily News, New York Post, Scripps, Stephens Media, USA Today, and others. AdSonar offers advertisers multiple targeting options for their campaigns; including national and local targeting by vertical category, site, individual page, section, topic, and/or keyword. Quigo’s suite of search marketing solutions, including its flagship FeedPoint product, offers scalable, technology-driven services to help leading e-commerce and directory sites drive traffic, acquire new customers, and maximize revenue and profits.

Founded in 2000, Quigo’s primary venture backers include Highland Capital, Steamboat Ventures (the venture capital arm of The Walt Disney Company), and Institutional Venture Partners.

Management team

Michael Fisher: President. 

As President, Mike is responsible for all aspects of the company’s business. Prior to joining Quigo in 2005, he served as Vice President, Engineering & Architecture for PayPal, Inc. an eBay company. Prior to joining PayPal, Mike spent seven years at General Electric helping to develop the company’s technology strategy and processes. He attended the United States Military Academy in West Point, New York where he received a Bachelor of Science degree in Computer Science. Mike also holds a Master of Science and PhD in Information Systems and a Master of Business Administration.

Kevin Fortuna: Chief Strategy Officer. 

As CSO, Kevin leads AdSonar and PageCast, Quigo’s advertising and video content targeting platforms, as well as the Finance and Marketing teams. Prior to joining Quigo in 2005, he was the founder and Managing Partner of Dedalus Capital, a boutique M&A consultancy and venture firm. Before Dedalus, Kevin was the VP, Business Development at two IPO-track internet companies: Juno Online Services and CNET/Snap.com. He graduated summa cum laude from Georgetown University and is a member of Phi Beta Kappa.

David Sasson: Chief Operating Officer. 

As COO, David leads the FeedPoint division and Quigo’s Product Management team. Prior to joining Quigo in 2004, David was Vice President of Advertising Systems at Juno Online Services, where he developed new advertising technologies and managed client services. David was also co-founder & COO of Advocacy Inc., a leading interactive agency for political campaigns, congressional offices and issue advocacy. David is a Phi Beta Kappa, magna cum laude graduate of Haverford College, where he earned a Bachelor of Arts degree.

Geoffrey Weber: Chief Technology Officer. 

As CTO, Geoffrey oversees the Engineering, Tech Operations, Information Technology and Quality Assurance teams. He has over 25 years of Technology experience, and previously served in several management positions at eBay including: Director of eBay Site Operations and Director of Financial Systems, PayPal. Prior to joining eBay, Geoffrey spent 10 years in an independent consulting practice building highly scalable solutions for clients such as: NEC, Sprint, Sun Microsystems, Sybase, Franklin-Templeton, and Providian Financial. He studied Mathematics and French Literature at the University of California, Berkeley.

About AOL

AOL is a global Web services company that operates some of the most popular Web destinations, offers a comprehensive suite of free software and services, runs one of the largest Internet access businesses in the U.S., and provides a full set of advertising solutions. A majority-owned subsidiary of Time Warner Inc. (NYSE:TWX – News), AOL LLC and its subsidiaries have operations in the U.S., Europe, Canada and Asia. Learn more at AOL.com.

Time Warner’s AOL unit purchased four advertising companies in 2007, including Quigo Technologies Inc. Quigo is the fourth advertising company AOL has acquired during 2007. Earlier in the year, AOL acquired Third Screen Media, a leader in mobile advertising, ADTECH, a leading ad serving platform based in Frankfurt, Germany, and TACODA, a leading behavioral targeting company.

Platform-A is said to be reaching over 90% of the online audience.

In related news Quigo’s CEO Mike Yavonditte will depart the company. He’ll spend the next six months as an adviser to Curt Viebranz, president of AOL’s Platform A advertising division. Instead the Quigo CTO Michael Fisher will become president of the subsidiary.

Michael Yavonditte is a veteran of new media and technology. Prior to being named CEO of Quigo, he served as VP of Sales for USA Networks Electronic Commerce Solutions Group. He managed the e-commerce operations for CBS Sportsline, Nascar.com and the National Hockey League. In 2000, he joined AltaVista, where he negotiated and closed several large, multi-year, multi-million dollar agreements for the company. Mr. Yavonditte started his career at Ziff-Davis Publishing in NY where he held various sales and management roles. In 6 years he took Quigo from a start up to the predominant performance-driven, ad auction-based, pay-per-click advertising company in the industry.

The deal is yet another part of the major shakeout and consolidation that took place within the online ad industry through out the entire 2007 and is one of the web’s biggest deals for the 2007 we have listed and ranked yesterday. 

AOL chairman and CEO Randy Falco stated, “Quigo is an important part of our new Platform-A organization that we announced in September.”  Platform-A is, by all accounts, the future of AOL.

More

http://www.quigo.com/
http://www.quigoblog.com/
http://www.timewarner.com/corp/newsroom/pr/0,20812,1697295,00.html
http://mashable.com/2007/12/30/aols-quigo-acquisition-complete/
http://directmag.com/news/aol-122107/
http://valleywag.com/336627/quigo-ceo-departs-as-aol-completes-takeover
https://web2innovations.com/money/2007/12/31/some-of-the-web%e2%80%99s-biggest-acquisition-deals-during-2007/
http://biz.yahoo.com/bw/071220/20071220005128.html?.v=1 http://www.nytimes.com/2007/02/26/business/media/26adco.html?_r=1&oref=slogin
http://www.tmcnet.com/viewette.aspx?u=http%3a%2f%2fwww.tmcnet.com%2fnews%2f2007%2f12%2f21%2f3181294.htm
http://www.webpronews.com/topnews/2007/12/21/aol-finishes-quigo-acquisition
http://www.businesswire.com/cgi-bin/mmg.cgi?eid=5572035
http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601103&sid=asbgoM.LLJg0&refer=us
http://www.foxbusiness.com/markets/industries/media/article/aol-completes-acquisition-quigo_414972_15.html
http://www.pehub.com/article/articledetail.php?articlepostid=9529

Some of the web’s biggest acquisition deals during 2007

As the end of the year approaches us we would like to briefly sum up some of the web’s biggest acquisition deals for the 2007, as we know them. 

All deals will logically be ranked by their sizes and less weight will be put on the time the deal happened through out the year. Deals from all IT industry sectors are considered and put in the list, from Web and Internet to the Mobile industry as well. The size’s criterion for a deal to make the list is to be arguably no less than $100M unless the deal is symbolic in one way or another or either of the companies involved was popular enough at the time the deal took place. Otherwise we think all deals are important, at least for its founders and investors.

Under no doubt the year we will remember with the number of high-profile advertising company acquisitions for large-scale companies like DoubleClick, aQuantive, RightMedia, 24/7 Real Media, among others. Putting all acquisition deals aside, one particular funding deal deserves to be mentioned too Facebook raised $240 million from Microsoft in return of just 1.6% of its equity. The Honk Kong Billionaire Li Ka-shing later joined the club of high-caliber investors in Facebook by putting down $60M for unknown equity position.  

Other remarkable funding deals include: Alibaba.com raised $1.3 Billion from its IPO; Kayak raised $196 Million; Demand Media took $100 Million in Series C; Zillow totaled $87 Million in venture capital funding; Joost announced $45 million funding from Sequoia, Index, CBS & Viacom, among others. 

Yet another noteworthy deal is the Automattic (wordpress.org) turning down a $200 Million Acquisition Offer. 

And the 2007 Web 2.0 Money winner is… Navteq for its deal with Nokia for $8B. Apparently Microsoft has this year lost the crown of being named the deepest pocket buyer.

Nokia Buys Navteq For $8 Billion, Bets Big On Location-Based Services

Nokia (NOK), the Finnish mobile phone giant with nearly a third of the global handset market, has decided to bet big on location based services (LBS), and is buying Chicago-based digital map company NAVTEQ (NVT) for $8.1 billion. That works out to about $78 a share. This is one of Nokia’s largest purchases to date — the Finnish mobile giant has a mixed track record when it comes to acquisitions. This is also the second megabillion dollar buyout in the maps (LBS) space.

SAP Germany makes its biggest deal ever – acquires Business Objects for 4.8B EURO (around ~$6.8 billion)

SAP, the world’s largest maker of business software, has agreed to acquire Business Objects SA for €4.8 billion euros, which was around ~$6.8 billion at the time the acquisition deal was announced. The deal is amongst the largest for 2007 alongside with Oracle’s Hyperion deal for over $3.3B and the Nokia’s Navteq for over $8B. [more]

Microsoft to buy Web ad firm aQuantive for $6 Billion

Microsoft Corp. acquired aQuantive Inc. for about $6 billion, or $66.50 a share, an 85 percent premium to the online advertising company’s closing price at the time the deal was publicly announced. Shares of aQuantive shot to $63.95 in pre-opening trade, following news of the deal. The all-cash deal tops a dramatic consolidation spree across the online advertising market sparked when Google Inc. agreed to buy DoubleClick for $3.1 billion.

Oracle to buy Hyperion in $3.3 Billion cash deal

Oracle Corp. has acquired business intelligence software vendor Hyperion Solutions Corp. for $3.3 billion in cash. Oracle has agreed to pay $52 per share for Hyperion, or about $3.3 billion, a premium of 21% over Hyperion’s closing share price at the time of the deal. Oracle said it will combine Hyperion’s software with its own business intelligence (BI) and analytics tools to offer customers a broad range of performance management capabilities, including planning, budgeting and operational analytics.

Cisco Buys WebEx for $3.2 Billion

Cisco has agreed to acquire WebEx for $3.2 billion in cash. In 2006, WebEx generated nearly $50 million in profit on $380 million in revenue. They have $300 million or so in cash on hand, so the net deal value is $2.9 billion.

DoubleClick Acquired by Google For $3.1 Billion In Cash

Google reached an agreement to acquire DoubleClick, the online advertising company, from two private equity firms for $3.1 billion in cash, the companies announced, an amount that was almost double the $1.65 billion in stock that Google paid for YouTube late last year. In the last month for this year the US Federal Trade Commission has granted its approval for Google to purchase DoubleClick.

TomTom Bought Tele Atlas for $2.5 Billion

It took $2.5 Billion dollars for TomTom to buy mapping software company TeleAtlas, this will set the stage for TomTom to be big rival of Garmin across Atlantic. Tele Atlas went public in 2000 on the Frankfurt Stock Exchange, and last year, it bought another mapping firm, New Hampshire-based GDT.

Naspers acquires yet another European company – Tradus for roughly $1.8 Billion

Simply put a fallen dot com star with eBay ambitious, once worth more than 2B British pound (around $4B) and collapsed down to £62M at the end of 2000 is now being basically said rescued by the South African media company Naspers that is spending money at breakneck pace. The offered price is £946M (more than $1.8B) based on just £60M annual revenues. [more]

HP acquired Opsware For $1.6 Billion

HP has acquired IT Automation company Opsware for $1.6 billion. Whilst any acquisition of this size is interesting in itself, the back story to Opsware is even more so; Opsware was originally LoudCloud, a Web 1.0 company that took $350 million in funding during the Web 1.0 boom.

AOL acquired TradeDoubler for $900 Million

AOL has acquired Sweden-based TradeDoubler, a performance marketing company, for €695 million in cash, which was about US$900 million at the time the deal took place.

Microsoft acquired Tellme Networks for reportedly $800 Million

Microsoft Corp. has announced it will acquire Tellme Networks, Inc., a leading provider of voice services for everyday life, including nationwide directory assistance, enterprise customer service and voice-enabled mobile search. Although the price remains undisclosed, it is estimated to be upwards of $800 million.

Disney acquires Club Penguin for up to $700 Million

Club Penguin, a social network/virtual world that has been on the market for some time, was acquired by The Walt Disney Company. An earlier deal with Sony fell apart over the Club Penguin’s policy of donating a substantial portion of profits to charity. The company, which launched in October 2005, has 700,000 current paid subscribers and 12 million activated users, primarily in the U.S. and Canada.The WSJ says the purchase price is $350 million in cash. Disney could pay up to another $350 million if certain performance targets are reached over the next couple of years, until 2009.

Yahoo acquired RightMedia for $680 Million in cash and stock

Yahoo has acquired the 80% of advertising network RightMedia that it doesn’t already own for $680 million in cash and Yahoo stock. Yahoo previously bought 20% of the company in a $45 million Series B round of funding announced in October 2006. The company has raised over $50 million to date.

WPP Acquires 24/7 Real Media for $649 Million

Online advertising services firm 24/7 Real Media was acquired by the WPP group for $649 million. The old time internet advertising firm had its origins serving ads for Yahoo! and Netscape in 1994 and was formerly founded the following year as Real Media. After numerous acquisitions it took its current name and grew to have 20 offices in 12 countries, serving over 200 billion advertising impressions every month.

Google bought the web security company Postini for $625M

Google has acquired e-mail security company Postini for $625 million, a move intended to attract more large businesses to Google Apps. More than 1,000 small businesses and universities currently use Google Apps, but ‘there has been a significant amount of interest from large businesses,’ Dave Girouard, vice president and general manager of Google Enterprise, said in a Monday teleconference.

EchoStar Acquires Sling Media for $380 Million

EchoStar Communications Corporation, the parent company for DISH Network, has announced its agreement to acquire Sling Media, creator of the Sling suite, which lets you do things like control your television shows at any time, from their computers or mobile phones, or record and watch TV on your PC or Windows-based mobile phone. The acquisition is for $380 million.

ValueClick acquired comparison shopping operator MeziMedia for up to $352 Million

ValueClick has acquired MeziMedia for up to $352 million, in a deal consisting of $100 million in upfront in cash, with an additional sum of up to $252 million to be paid depending on MeziMedia’s revenue and earnings performance through to 2009.

Yahoo Acquires Zimbra For $350 Million in Cash

Yahoo has acquired the open source online/offline office suite Zimbra. The price: $350 million, in cash, confirmed. Zimbra gained wide exposure at the 2005 Web 2.0 Conference. Recently they has also launched an offline functionality.

Business.com Sells for $350 Million

Business.com has closed another chapter in its long journey from a $7.5 million domain name bought on a hope and a prayer, selling to RH Donnelley for $350 million (WSJ reporting up to $360 million). RH Donnelley beat out Dow Jones and the New York Times during the bidding.

AOL acquired online advertising company Quigo for $350 Million

AOL announced plans to buy Quigo and its services for matching ads to the content of Web pages. The acquisition follows AOL’s September purchase of Tacoda, a leader in behavioral-targeting technology, and comes as AOL tries to boost its online advertising revenue to offset declines in Internet access subscriptions.

eBay bought StubHub For $310 Million

eBay has acquired the San Francisco-based StubHub for $285 million plus the cash on StubHub’s books, which is about $25 million.

Yahoo! Agreed to acquire BlueLithium for approximately $300 Million in cash

Yahoo! Inc. has entered into a definitive agreement to acquire BlueLithium, one of the largest and fastest growing online global ad networks that offers an array of direct response products and capabilities for advertisers and publishers. Under the terms of the agreement, Yahoo! will acquire BlueLithium for approximately $300 million in cash.

CBS to buy social network Last.fm for $280 Million

CBS is known to have paid $280 million for the Last.fm site, which caters to music fans. CBS Corp bought the popular social networking website organized around musical tastes for $280 million, combining a traditional broadcast giant with an early leader in online radio. Last.fm, claims more than 15 million monthly users, including more than 4 million in the U.S.

AOL Acquired Tacoda, a behavior targeting advertising company for reportedly $275 Million

AOL has announced the acquisition of New York-based Tacoda earlier this year, a behavior targeting advertising company that was founded in 2001. The deal size, which we haven’t had confirmed, is likely far smaller than Microsoft’s $6 billion for aQuantive , Yahoo’s $680 million for RightMedia , or Google’s $3.1 billion for DoubleClick. The price might be low enough that it isn’t being disclosed at all.Jack Myers Media Business Report has confirmed the $275 million price tag

MySpace to acquire Photobucket For $250 Million

MySpace has acquired Photobucket for $250 million in cash. There is also an earn-out for up to an additional $50 million. Oddly enough MySapce has dropped Photobucket off its social networking platform. The dispute that led to the Photobucket videos being blocked on MySpace letter also led to acquisition discussions, and the block was removed. They have hired Lehman Brothers to help sell the company. They were looking for $300 million or more, but may have had few bidders other than MySpace.

Hitwise Acquired by Experian for $240M

Hitwise, the company that performs analysis of log files from 25 million worldwide ISP accounts to provide relative market share graphs for web properties, has been acquired by Experian for $240 million.

$200+ Million for Fandango

Comcast paid $200 million or perhaps a bit more. Fandango revenue is said to be in the $50m/year range, split roughly evenly between ticket sales and advertising. Wachovia Securities analyst Jeff Wlodarczak estimated the multiple-system operator paid $200 million for Fandango, whose backers include seven of the 10 largest U.S. movie exhibitors.

Intuit Acquires Homestead for $170 Million

Small business website creation service Homestead, started out in the web 1.0 era, announced tonight that it has been acquired by Intuit for $170m. In addition to Intuit’s personal and small business accounting software, and the company’s partnership with Google to integrate services like Maps listing and AdSense buys, Intuit customers will now presumably be able to put up websites quickly and easily with Homestead. [more]

Naspers Acquired Polish based IM Company Gadu Gadu (chit-chat) for reportedly $155 Million

South Africa’s biggest media group Naspers Ltd offered to buy all outstanding shares in Polish Internet firm Gadu Gadu S.A. ( GADU.WA ), a Polish IM service, for 23.50 zlotys ($8.77) per share. The current majority shareholder of Gadu Gadu has agreed to tender its 55% shareholding in the public tender offer. The price is $155M. [more

Studivz, a Germany Facebook clone, went for $132 Million

German Facebook clone Studivz has been sold to one of its investors, Georg von Holtzbrinck GmbH, a German publishing group, for €100 million (about $132 million). Other investors of Studivz include the Samwer brothers, founders of ringtone company Jamba (sold for €270M) and Alando (sold to eBay for €43M in 1999).

Feedburner goes to Google for $100 Million

Feedburner was acquired by Google for around $100 million. The deal is all cash and mostly upfront, according to sources, although the founders will be locked in for a couple of years.

Answers.com has purchased Dictionary.com for reportedly $100 Million

Question and answer reference site Answers.com has acquired Dictionary.com’s parent company, Lexico Publishing, for $100 million in cash. Lexico can really serve all your lexical needs because it also owns Thesaurus.com and Reference.com.

Yahoo Acquires Rivals for $100 Million

Yahoo has acquired college sports site Rivals.com, reported the Associated Press in a story earlier this year. The price is not being disclosed, although the rumor is that the deal was closed for around $100 million. Rumors of talks first surfaced in April 2007.

UGO Acquired By Hearst for reportedly $100 Million

Hearst has acquired New-York based UGO. Forbes reported the price should be around $100 million. UGO is a popular new media site that was founded in 1997 and, according to Forbes, is generating around $30 million/year in revenue. UGO media is yet another web 1.0 veteran and survivor.

Fotolog Acquired by Hi Media, French Ad Network for $90 Million
 
New York-based Fotolog been acquired by Hi Media, a Paris-based interactive media company for roughly $90 million – a combination of cash and stock, according to well-placed sources. 

Online Backup Startup Mozy Acquired By EMC For $76 Million

Online storage startup Mozy, headquartered in Utah, has been acquired by EMC Corporation, a public storage company with a nearly $40 billion market cap. EMC paid $76 million for the company, according to two sources close to the deal.

eBay Acquiring StumbleUpon for $75 Million

The startup StumbleUpon has been rumored to be in acquisition discussions since at least last November (2006). The small company had reportedly talks with Google, AOL and eBay as potential suitors. At the end of the day the start-up got acquired by eBay. The price was $75 million, which is symbolic with the fact the site had only 1.5m unique visitors per month at the time the deal took place. The company was rumored to be cash-positive.

General Atlantic Has Acquired Domain Name Pioneer Network Solutions

General Atlantic has acquired Network Solutions from Najafi Companies. Network Solutions was founded decades ago in 1973 and had a monopoly on domain name registration for years which led Verisign to pay billions to buy it. Najafi Companies purchased NS from VeriSign in November 2003 for just $100M. No financial terms were disclosed for the deal and no price tag is publicly available, although we believe it is way over $100M, but NS made our list due to its mythical role for the Internet’s development. That deal is symbolic for the Internet. 

MSNBC made its first acquisition in its 11-year history, acquired Newsvine

In a recent deal the citizen journalism startup Newsvine has been acquired by MSNBC, the Microsoft/NBC joint venture, for an undisclosed sum. Newsvine will continue operating independently, just as it has been since launching in March of 2006. The acquired company also indicated there would be little change in the features of the site.  We think the price tag for the Newsvine is anywhere in the $50/$75M range, but this is not confirmed. [more]

Google to buy Adscape for $23 Million

After some rumors of a deal earlier this year, Google has expanded its advertising reach by moving into video game advertising with their $23 million acquisition of Adscape.

Disney buys Chinese mobile content provider Enorbus for around $20 Million

Disney has bought Chinese mobile gaming company Enorbus , for around $20 million, MocoNews.net has learned. Financial backers in the company included Carlyle and Qualcomm Ventures.

BBC Worldwide Acquires Lonely Planet

BBC Worldwide, the international arm of BBC, has acquired Lonely Planet, the Australia-based travel information group. The amount of the deal was not disclosed, but Lonely Planet founders Tony and Maureen Wheeler get to keep a 25% share in the company. We truly believe this deal is in the $100M range, but since no confirmation was found on Web and therefore we cannot put a price tag for the sake of the list. Even though a global brand their site is getting just 4M unique visitors per month.

AOL Acquires ADTECH AG

AOL has acquired a controlling interest in ADTECH AG, a leading international online ad-serving company based in Frankfurt, Germany. The acquisition provides AOL with an advanced ad-serving platform that includes an array of ad management and delivery applications enabling website publishers to manage traffic and report on their online advertising campaigns. No details about the acquisition price were found on Web but we would suspect a large-scale deal and rank it very high. 

Amazon Acquires dpreview.com

Amazon have announced the acquisition of the digital camera information and review site dpreview.com. UK based dpreview.com was founded in 1998 by Phil Askey as a site that publishes “unbiased reviews and original content regarding the latest in digital cameras. Dpreview.com has in excess of 7 million unique viewers monthly. The value of the deal was not disclosed but we believe the purchase price should be in the $100M range (not confirmed).

HP Acquired Tabblo

HP announced the acquisition of Cambridge, Massachusetts based Photo printing site Tabblo this morning. The price was not disclosed.

eBay Gets Stake in Turkish Auction Market

eBay announced yesterday that it has acquired a minority stake in Turkish-based GittiGidiyor.com, an online marketplace structured in a similar manner to eBay. GittiGidiyor reportedly has more than 400,000 listings and 17 million users, which is a considerable percentage of the Turkish population. With the stake in GittiGidiyor, eBay now has the opportunity to enter the Turkish market via a system that’s already similar to theirs in functionality and purpose. Istanbul-based GittiGidiyor.com was founded in 2000. GittiGidiyor is Turkish for Going, Going, Gone. Terms of the deals were not found publicly available. Looking at the size of the Turkish site and the buying habits and history of eBay, the price should be considerably high, at least for the region.

Microsoft Acquiring ScreenTonic for Mobile Ad Platform

Microsoft is acquiring ScreenTonic, a local-based ads delivery platform for mobile devices, for an undisclosed amount. Paris-based ScreenTonic was founded in 2001, and has created the Stamp platform to deliver text or banner links on portals, text message ads and mobile web page ads, that vary depending on the recipients’ geographical location in a so called geo-targeting approach. 

~~~

Oddly WalMart jumps into the search engine marketing business, joins Kenshoo & Fathomonline

In a recent announcement the company seems to be entering the SEM (search engine marketing) business and are offering services to users willing to advertise on Google AdWords through AdSense.

An interesting questions popped up into my mind, does that involve any strategic agreement with Google for reselling their AdWords packages across the country in the brick and mortar stores of Sam’s Club. Does Google have initiated that strategy or it is an idea of Sam’s Club management to offer more services to their more than 47 million members nationwide. Is AdWords becoming a product that you can find in your local stores, groceries and the mall next to you? 

Does that move affect the most recent Sequoia funding for the SEM Firm Kenshoo? Or it legitimates the market and makes the SEM services wider known and popular. Here one can question the Internet experience of an old brick and mortar business like Sam’s Club but no one should underestimate the huge distribution channel Sam’s Club represents for … Google. Nonetheless, retailing SEM services is something new on the market and under no doubt the Sam’s Club’s target users are quite different from the target clients Kenshoo and Fathom Online are running after, which leaves space for all companies involved. 

The best guess is that with AdSense program, WalMart wants to help newbie wares sellers on the internet with their online advertising needs. Your Sam’s branded advertisement can be yours for as low as $100 a month. On the other hand $100 for SEM services on Google is an amount not enough to build and run a decent marketing campaign.

More About Sam’s Club

Sam’s Club is a membership-only warehouse club owned and operated by Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. Becoming a Member at Sam’s Club can either be done online or at your nearest Sam’s Club location.

There are three types of Memberships to choose from:

  • Advantage Membership, which offers two Membership cards for you and a household member.
  • Business Membership, which is available at a slightly lower cost and provides a company Membership card plus two personal Membership cards.
  • PLUS Membership (either Advantage PLUS or Business PLUS), which provides extra benefits above and beyond either of the other Membership types.

You can also shop online at any time for home delivery or Click ‘n’ Pull(r).
 
Sam’s Club Memberships provide the opportunity to save on a complete line of products such as quality jewelry, designer goods, sunglasses, crystal and collectibles, high end electronics, floral, apparel, organic foods and choice meats.

In addition to affordable luxuries and exciting treasure hunt items, Members also enjoy services including — healthcare, business, financial and personal.  Examples include health insurance, web site development and maintenance, cost effective merchant credit card processing services and auto, boat & RV and travel programs.

A typical Sam’s Club stands between 110,000 and 130,000 square feet. Most locations feature Pharmacy, Tire and Battery, Photo, Bakery, Optical, Café and Floral departments. The Sam’s Club division of Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. had total sales revenue of US$37.1 billion for fiscal year ending 31 January 2005. Sam’s primary competitor is Costco Wholesale.

The first Sam’s Club opened in April 1983 in Midwest City, Oklahoma in the United States.

Sam’s Club is named after Sam Walton. To purchase items from Sam’s Club, one must purchase a membership. Many Sam’s Club customers are small businesses that wish to offer customers a limited selection of food without the expense of having it delivered.

In 1993, Wal-Mart acquired PACE Membership Warehouse and converted many (but not all) PACE locations into Sam’s Clubs.

Even though membership is required to purchase at Sam’s Club, a one time day pass may be obtained from many Wal-Mart newspaper ads. A 10% surcharge is added to the prices for non-members. No membership (with no surcharge) is required for Optical, Pharmacy, or Cafe (as available per club), or to purchase alcohol. However the surcharge can be applied to a membership (which is currently $35 for Business members, $40 for Advantage members, and $100 for the Plus membership). All memberships are 100% refundable at any time for any reason, even on the date that it is to be renewed.

Renewal of memberships can be done via online, through the mail, in-club at the Membership Services desk, any cash register, and also at the new ATM/Membership kiosks.

The latest flagship store opening as of September 13, 2007 was in Fayetteville, Arkansas. It is the second largest Sam’s Club store; its largest is located in Utica, Michigan, with over 145,000 sq. ft. of retail space.

Sam’s Club ranks second in sales volume among warehouse clubs behind Costco Wholesale, despite the fact that Sam’s has more retail locations.

After Costco’s announcement on its change of return policy for consumer electronics (now within 90 days) beginning on February 26, 2007, Sam’s Club finds itself now to be tied with Nordstrom for having best, most liberal return/refund policy in the retail business.

In 2006, Wal-Mart acquired The Central American Retail Holding Company (CARHO), which operates ClubCo stores, similar in concept to Sam’s Club, although with a smaller footprint.

In September 24, 2006, Sam’s Club received a new logo. The new logo has a nice font and features a green and blue diamond inside the big blue diamond, found above the word ‘Sam’s’.

Sam’s Club’s previous slogan was “We Are In Business For Small Business” until 2006, Sam’s Club now has no slogan after the redesign of the new logo. The decision to remove the slogan comes as Sam’s Club attempts to remove itself from serving just small businesses and open up to more individual customers. It is possible that the new slogan is “Enjoy the Possibilities” but it’s probably used for Christmas.

There has been much recent talk about a possible sale or spin-off of Sam’s Club from parent company Wal-Mart. If this were to happen, Sam’s Club would either be owned by another company, or be an independent standalone retailer. Two recent Motley Fool articles explore the implications for both divisions. At Wal-Mart’s 2007 annual shareholder’s meeting, management said that Sam’s Club is not for sale, although they didn’t say they are not considering a spin-off.

In related news Wal-Mart shut its movie download service on December 21st. The video service was launched this February with all the major film studios providing content. Taking that web failure into consideration it is no wonder Walmart is now trying to stick with a proven leader on the Internet — Google.

More

http://www.samsclub.com/
http://samsbiz.com/
http://samsbiz.com/page/1dmiu/Online_Advertising.html
http://pressroom.samsclub.com/content/?id=3&atg=524
http://blog.karlribas.com/2007/12/new-at-wal-mart-sem-services.htm
http://mashable.com/2007/12/27/walmart-introduces-search-engine-marketing/
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sam’s_Club
http://www.walmartstores.com/GlobalWMStoresWeb/navigate.do?catg=306
http://www.hoovers.com/costco-wholesale/–ID__17060–/free-co-factsheet.xhtml
http://www.fool.com/investing/value/2007/05/07/spinoff-in-bentonville-revisited.aspx
http://www.fool.com/investing/value/2007/04/17/a-spinoff-in-bentonville.aspx?vstest=search_042607_linkdefault
http://www.dallasnews.com/sharedcontent/dws/bus/stories/060207dnbuswalmart.36d6e74.html
https://web2innovations.com/money/2007/12/18/sequoia-funding-for-search-engine-marketing-sem-firm-kenshoo/
http://www.samsclub.com.mx/
http://www.techcrunch.com/2007/12/27/wal-mart-shuts-movie-download-service-offers-sem-services-instead/
http://www.techcrunch.com/2007/02/06/walmart-officially-enters-movie-download-war/

iPower – the worst hosting company I have ever seen

Having to blog for such ridiculous situation in the light of Christmas is not an easy task to do, but I have to.

One thing seems clear to me today iPower, Inc, is rapidly heading towards the “deadpool” and is on its way to totally disintegrate itself as a hosting company.

We were part of a highly promising start-up company that had the bad luck to be hosted on a dedicated server with the iPower company. Last week the server went down and all of our attempts to have a knowledgeable customer rep on the phone, email or chat to get our problem resolved or at least being told what the problem is have completely failed. The project was very important site (everyone’s site is important) and we were in initial talks with potential investors when the disaster struck us and our nightmares begun.

Simply put, this company has the worst customer service department and approach towards its clients we have ever experienced in our business practice and we can claim we have a vast business experience, more than 20 years in the IT sector and more than 10 years over Internet.

Their live chat support is outsourced with liveperson and the representatives there are absolutely unaware of what we were talking about, copying and pasting pre-made questions and answers and when you ask them concrete questions there are replying with no concrete details and you end up spending an hour or two without any luck to get your issue resolved.

Calling on their customer service telephone is yet another tragedy – normally you end up waiting for at least 50 minutes on the phone until somebody answers on the line. Things are here even worse. First off they ask for your domain name and you are feeling hopeful something will help you out now. After you tell them your domain name and after waiting for 5 minutes more, they are coming back telling you that your domain name is not registered with their system but with GoDaddy (in our case it is true) and they cannot do anything more to help. One second before you freak out, you just calm down and try to explain them that you are on dedicated server there and the domain name is not of particular interest to you. The guy then asks you for your user name and password for their platform; surprise you do not have such ones. You then try to explain that you never had user name or password because you had never used their platform and you had never been given with such a chance to do so. Once you insist further that you are talking about dedicated server and you can provide them with the IP address the customer rep is then saying just OK, give it to me. Fine, we think this time we are on the right direction but not really as it turns out. After yet another 5 minutes waiting on the line the customer rep is returning with surprising news, we did not find your server. While the rep is trying to get rid of us, we are desperately trying to ask what the problem is anyway and how that is possible our server is not found. We are then asked for the last 4 digits of the primary account holder’s credit card and once provided with the rep went off line again for yet another 5 minutes. Upon his return he further asked for our full names and other personal details and when we have in return asked for his surname the customer rep refused to give it to us. He simply asked why and when we have politely explained that we might want to speak with his supervisor he just said he is busy. Anyway we gave up on further chasing the poor guy and start begging him to do something and help us out, we have recommended he reboots our server. His respond to our request something to be done was yet another shocking statement from iPower: it is not his job and he is not rebooting servers. Realizing that we go no where with this guy on the phone we have simply given up and hanged up.

A few days later and after having tried pretty much everything to contact them again and have our issue resolved we are again landing on a customer rep on the phone. After all standard and time wasting questions the tech rep is stating our server is working and everything seems normally according him. Great you may think but you are wrong our server is still down and after telling this guy that we were not able to ping the server he just replied that our office must be behind firewall and that’s our problem, we cannot access our server otherwise it is working fine. While putting efforts to calm down and not go against this guy over the phone we tried to calmly explain him that a web based ping server is reporting that the packages are lost at 100% being tried from 10 different locations from all over the world and our office firewall is our last problem in this moment. The guy then just replied OK, I will open a new ticket for you and when being asked how long it would take for our server to get back to normal he simply put it As Soon As Possible and said he cannot help us anymore.

One day later our server is still down and unreachable. At the end of the day we are seeing a new email from iPower staying that our server has been worked out and should be up and running within 45 minutes. What a happiness for us, we were thinking, almost ready to leave for Christmas with everything settled well down. Well, wishful thinking, 5 hours later our server hence our site is still down.

We have also realized yet another fact that you always speak with different names at their customer service department and when the next time you call them up and want to speak with the same person for the sake of better understanding and skip all the identification questions and the usual crap, the guy you presently speak with is telling you that the person from your previous phone call is not remembering you.

7 days later our server is still down, unreachable, the site is inaccessible and our business is totally harmed, just before the end of the year. Well we admit that technology issues, problems and difficulties are happening all the way, including to RackSpace most recently (great customer support btw). What made us pissed off is the lack of normal customer support to explain what the problem after all is and the way their customer reps were treating their customers being sarcastic, ironic and very impolite in particular moments.

Their support section is filled with erroneous instructions. There are normally 100+ people in line at chat support and at least 1 hour wait by phone. Customer support is virtually non-existent after they make a mess out of your website.

No emails were ever replied and returned to us.

Having a quick research conducted over Internet we find out the shocking reality, we are not alone. It turns out a countless people are furious over iPower and lots of businesses are affected. A number of law suits are promised to be put up against the Arizona company and even a class action lawsuit against IPowerWeb is in preparation.

In another site iPowerWeb and iPower currently has 214 user reviews: 30 positive and 184 negative. So far 14% of the reviews submitted have said they would recommend iPowerWeb and iPower. The reviews go as far as 5 years back in the time as the most recent years and most there are no recommendations at all. It indicates the company is worsening as it grows older.

Yet another group of unhappy customers are doing campaign calling for a boycott by potential new customers of IPowerWeb has been initiated and as well as an organized effort to commence an class action lawsuit against IPowerWeb for business interruptions and monetary losses incurred as a result of IPower’s mandated “transition” to new servers and “hosting platform”.

The ultimate goal is to initiate a class action lawsuit against iPower to recover losses caused by their mandated “transition” and to force them to offer options including remaining on the “old platform” if customer so wishes; and to initiate a boycott against iPower to discourage new customers from contracting with them as a web host.

There have been horrendous and ongoing problems with iPower and their “changeover” to a new “platform”.

“There are no options”, the customer is told. You either allow them to transfer your website and business for you or you pay someone to do it if you can’t do it yourself and brace yourself for multiple and ongoing headaches.

There are nightmare stories of people who have lost their businesses and their income because of iPower, because their website no longer functions and customer support at iPower is virtually non-existent and non-responsive after they “move” your website and business to their new “platform”.

Ultimatum is to initiate class action lawsuit against IPower to recover losses and force changes in customer support/options.

Law firms who are interested in representing IPower/Endurance International customers in a class action lawsuit for business losses and disruption of business are asked to contact news@northcountrygazette.org

Just like it is not enough for the iPower to have the worst customer service on Web but it seems they are involved into hosting a countless number of sites that direct visitors to nasty drive-by installations.

The company’s CEO said in an email the problem has been fixed, but as of blog post time we were still able to identify iPower-hosted sites that were redirecting to malicious servers.

In May, iPower came to the attention of researchers at StopBadware.org, who found more than 10,000 compromised websites were being hosted by the Phoenix-based company.

Later the same week, iPower CEO Thomas Gorny said less than 1 percent of the sites his company hosts were compromised. With company claims of at least 700,000 customers, that would translate to 7,000.

I remember a friend of mine had a bad experience with his email account of a web site he had hosted with iPower and his server’s IP address was listed on spamhaus.org due to bad neighborhood and because of the practice iPower relies on for ongoing emails. Spamhaus tracks the Internet’s Spammers, Spam Gangs and Spam Services, provides dependable realtime anti-spam protection for Internet networks, and works with Law Enforcement to identify and pursue spammers worldwide. On his attempts to resolve the issue with iPower and expose the spammers no body from the Arizona company was responsive and helpful. They later moved out from iPower.

About iPower Inc.

iPower, Inc., founded in October 2001, provides web hosting and web services for small- and medium-sized businesses worldwide looking to build, manage, promote and profit from an online presence. The company, which offers domain registration, web site hosting, e-commerce tools, merchant services, application hosting, online marketing, site optimization services, and web site design, is also famous for the speed and effectiveness of its customer support.

The company’s address:

iPower, Inc.
919 East Jefferson
Phoenix, Arizona
United States
Phone: +1.3103141610
Sales Number:  888-511-4678 
Support Number:  888-511-4678 
www.ipower.com

Founder and CEO of the company is Thomas Gorny (in the middle on the picture) and the company is based in Arizona, US. Thomas Gorny spent the first 14 years of his life in Poland. A move to Germany found him attending a prestigious business college and running his own PC hardware business. Then, two months before graduation, he dropped out and sold his business for very little money to seize an opportunity to immigrate to America. The risk paid off not once, but twice.

Gorny joined one of the very first web hosting companies in 1996 and earned 20 percent ownership. The company was sold in 1998, and when Gorny left in 1999, he was in the money. “I never thought I’d go back to web hosting,” he says. So he jumped into marketing and real estate, but when the bubble burst in 2001, his stocks dropped and his real estate projects suffered. “I just got involved with the wrong people in business,” says Gorny, who lost everything.

“Being on an investor visa, I couldn’t even go to work for somebody because I didn’t have a work permit,” Gorny says. After re-examining the hosting market, he realized there was room for a company offering web hosting and site building for nontechnical users. Armed with his American Express card, Gorny willed iPower into existence in late 2001. “I said to myself, ‘If we can acquire 10 customers a day, I’m going to be in heaven.’” The company garnered 60,000 customers in its first year. Now with more than 500,000, iPower recently moved its headquarters from Santa Monica, California, to Phoenix.

Maggie Kinsley is the company’s Director of Human Resources for iPower.

Just our 2 cents: Thomas Gorny must put every effort to improve his company’s customer service if he wants to stay in the business simply ASAP. Unless this happens, Gorny might be the first to witness how, from business having more than 500,000 clients today, iPower melts down to 10 clients as quick as it has grown, so does his American dream.

For anyone who wants to see iPower’s record with the BBB, go to the Phoenix BBB site below and search for “IPower”.

Phoenix Better Business Bureau
4428 N. 12th Street
Phoenix, AZ 85014-4585
Phone: (602)264-1721
Fax: (602)263-0997
Email: info@phoenix.bbb.org
Web: http://www.phoenix.bbb.org

After all there is only one simple conclusion left. We are strongly recommending anybody out there stop using or never start using iPower for mission-critical projects if you do care of your own business. Another piece of advice from us would be for you to choose Web Host That Values Their Customers, Not iPower. Good hosting companies, based on our personal experience, are both RackSpace and Dreamhost.

Our simple appeal is avoid relying on and using iPower in Arizona, US.

P.S.

In the day of this post our server was still down.

More

http://www.ipower.com/ipower/index.bml
http://www.northcountrygazette.org/news/2007/12/16/boycott_ipower/
http://www.thepoint.com/campaigns/just-say-no-to-i-power-web
http://www.webhostingunleashed.com/ipowerweb-and-ipower?gclid=COuG1eXBuZACFQNhMAodfSphHA
https://www.thepoint.com/targets/ipowerweb-inc
http://www.theregister.co.uk/2007/12/14/latest_ipower_breach/
http://tacit.livejournal.com/
http://blogs.stopbadware.org/articles/2007/05/04/stopbadware-identifies-hosting-providers-of-larged-numbers-of-sites-in-badware-website-clearinghouse
http://www.stopbadware.org/home
http://www.spamhaus.org/
http://www.northcountrygazette.org/news/2007/12/06/stay_away_ipower/  http://www.northcountrygazette.org/news/2007/12/09/ipower_customers/   http://www.northcountrygazette.org/news/2007/12/14/transition_disaster/
http://www.northcountrygazette.org/news/2007/12/17/ipower_fraud/
http://www.yelp.com/biz/ipowerweb-inc-phoenix
http://hostjury.com/blog/page-14
http://hostjury.com/blog/view/27/ipowerweb-ipower-clients-enduring-massive-problems
http://www.vistainter.com/reviews/I/ipower.com/
http://gallery.ipower.com/main.php?g2_view=core.ShowItem&g2_itemId=10
http://www.entrepreneur.com/magazine/entrepreneur/2006/october/167764-4.html
http://forums.devarticles.com/web-hosting-45/ipower-has-no-power-10573.html
http://www.my3cents.com/showReview.cgi?id=30830
http://www.complaintsboard.com/complaints/ipower-c38553.html
http://www.americanbadbusinesslist.com/ipowerweb-complaints.htm

Sequoia Funding for Search Engine Marketing (SEM) Firm Kenshoo

Kenshoo, a search engine marketing firm, has received an undisclosed amount of funding from Sequoia Capital. The end-to-end search marketing solution aimed at advertisers and ad agencies operates on an automated technology for advertising campaigns, and a core feature of the company’s suite of offerings relies on the longtail keyword expansion. It is an exclusive search formula using patented multilingual keyword expansion, automatically identifies thousands of related keywords from real user search terms with no need for manpower and hours of effort. Updates are provided on a constant basis on the campaign ensuring updated information on the exact keywords.

The basic idea behind their concept is to minimize the amount of man power needed to run a successful and informed advertising campaign online. Running an AdWords or related CPC text ad campaign is a time consuming and hard science process

Those advertisers that are savvy into it run up against the mind numbing tasks to entering data over and over again so they can run side-by-sides and constantly improve their dollar efficiency, and changes based on one cent’s move in either direction can sometimes mean the difference between a profitable ad campaign and one that ends up losing tons of money.

So it seems there is a growing need for automated tools in regards to online advertising and marketing, especially with the growing number of ways in which campaigns can be distributed across the web.

Their flagship product is called KENSHOO SEARCH(tm) and provides automated management for campaigns across multiple search engine platforms such as Google, Yahoo and MSN.

KENSHOO SEARCH(tm) is an end-to-end SEM platform, which automates the process of building and optimizing cross channel search campaigns.

Quality Management with KENSHOO SEARCH

Quality Management is a unique approach which automates all aspects of Search campaigns. Bid management is not enough anymore! In today’s search engines arena, creating a successful SEM campaign consists of a wide array of elements;

  • Selecting relevant keywords
  • Updating deep links URL’s
  • Creating effective ads
  • Providing and constantly updating bids
  • Monitoring the traffic
  • Structuring cross platform campaigns
  • Reporting and analyzing data on-time

Long-tail keyword expansion

Kenshoo’s exclusive search formula guarantees every search engine marketing campaign a long tail. By using patented multilingual keyword expansion, KENSHOO SEARCH(tm) automatically identifies thousands of related keywords from real user search terms- with no need for manpower and hours of effort.

Dynamic Sites

Website content perpetually shifts as new and improved products reach the cyber-shelves. The need for updating multiple campaigns is vital in order to keep up with this ever-changing environment. With the unique ability to automatically update itself as web content changes, KENSHOO SEARCH(tm) enables the client high ROI SEM campaigns. By staying in tune with this constantly changing environment, KENSHOO SEARCH(tm) seamlessly index a site and upload the exact model/brands or other keywords and data together with the deep link URL to the search engines. This enables the upload of the merchant’s products onto the Search engines as well as updating it as the site changes. The added bonus is the low cost per click, high CTR, high conversion rates and maximized ROI that result from the highly relevant landing page.

Intelligent Bid Management

Featuring an easy-to-use and configurable Bid Management solution, KENSHOO SEARCH ™ allows your bids to be flexible, applying its’ logic to all major search engines, it even allows you to create your own bid policy. Whether your products require maximum exposure or a positive ROI on any level, KENSHOO SEARCH(tm) follows campaign behavior in real time, detecting changes and reacting to the competition, insuring high ROI on your SEM campaigns.

Click Fraud

KENSHOO SEARCH(tm) offers the invaluable asset of identifying click fraud in real time. With the ability to manage multiple campaigns all at once, KENSHOO SEARCH(tm) reports the detection of Click Fraud immediately, protecting advertisers from over clicking, and allowing clients to obtain a refund. In addition, KENSHOO SEARCH(tm) has ability to pause campaigns when sites malfunction.

Quality Reporting

Stay on track with comprehensive reporting of your campaigns. KENSHOO SEARCH(tm) understands the importance when it comes to reporting. With Kenshoo search, in-depth reports are created that analyze traffic from different networks, displaying click distribution and ROI geographically, daily, and hourly, to take your campaigns to the highest level of success.

Kenshoo’s service enables advertisers and agencies to reach high volumes and optimize campaigns.

To utilize their services you simply give them your URL, and a designated account manager will assist you wit the process. They work hard to understand your targets and goals, analyze your website, assess your campaign, and optimize it to suit your individual needs.

The company is based in Israel. In August 2007, Kenshoo began applying its search engine marketing analytics on behalf of its first large client, AOL-owned IM company ICQ, also based in Israel. It also works with agencies such as McCann-Erickson and AlthogetherDigital. A representative for the company said one-year-old Kenshoo is focused on bringing its business to the UK sometime early next year. Once it’s up and running in Europe, Kenshoo then plans to build a U.S. presence.

Yoav Izhar-Prato, CEO and co-founder of Kenshoo adds, “We are thrilled to be joining forces with Sequoia, a partner with an unsurpassed track record of successful Internet investments such as Yahoo!, Google, Apple, PayPal and YouTube. Kenshoo is determined to be the leading provider of innovative Search Marketing solutions; harnessing our in-depth knowledge of the industry, our clients’ constructive feedback, technological strengths and continuous innovation- I believe we are well positioned to do so.”

Sequoia Capital is the Google backer and it is coming as no surprise they are funding a company that is helping in particular users and customers that are spending their ad money on Google.

Although Moritz sat on the evaluating committee, he is not the investing partner from Sequoia. Yuval Baharav, a partner in Sequoia’s Israeli office, is the one who invested and will take a board seat. This is Kenshoo’s first venture round. Terms were not disclosed, although one report in an Israeli paper puts it at a few million dollars. Previously, the startup raised about one million dollars from angel investors, and has been funding itself from operations.

More about Sequoia Capital

Since 1972, Sequoia Capital has provided startup venture capital for very smart people who want to turn ideas into companies. As the “Entrepreneurs Behind the Entrepreneurs,” Sequoia Capital’s Partners have worked with innovators such as Sandy Lerner and Len Bozack of Cisco Systems, Jerry Yang and David Filo of Yahoo!, Gaurav Garg of Redback Networks, Larry Page and Sergey Brin of Google, Dan Warmenhoven of Network Appliance, T.J. Rodgers of Cypress Semiconductor, Lou Tomasetta of Vitesse Semiconductor, Steve Jobs of Apple Computer and Larry Ellison of Oracle. The companies organized by Sequoia Capital now account for about 12% of the value of NASDAQ.

More about Kenshoo Ltd

Kenshoo is a provider of end-to-end search marketing automated technology for advertisers and agencies worldwide.

The company’s flagship product KENSHOO SEARCH(tm) provides automated Quality Management for cross- platform search campaigns. Kenshoo’s unique technology and approach enables advertisers and agencies worldwide to reach high volumes, optimize campaigns and to boost ROI.

Kenshoo is an innovator in Search Engine Marketing with extensive industry knowledge and a dynamic approach. Kenshoo’s strength is in developing SEM technology to increase ROI on search campaigns.

Kenshoo’s flagship product, KENSHOO SEARCH(tm) is an end-to-end SEM platform, which automates the process of building and optimizing cross channel search campaigns. KENSHOO SEARCH?utilizes Quality Management, the company’s unique approach to search marketing that automates much of the labor intensive search marketing operations.

As a Google Qualified Company, a Yahoo! Ambassador and Microsoft adExcellence, Kenshoo provides its licensed SEM platform and services to publishers, agencies, blue-chip advertisers, and affiliate marketers world wide.

Management Team

Yoav Izhar-Prato, CEO & Co-Founder- As a founder of several start-ups around the globe and former manager of ECI Thailand, Mr. Izhar-Prato brings over ten years of business management to Kenshoo. Mr. Izhar-Prato carries an Executive B.A., Business management from Ruppin College.

Alon Sheafer, VP Marketing & Co-Founder- Mr. Sheafer brings over ten years of internet experience to Kenshoo. Alon has a strong Technological background combined with sales and marketing experience. Formerly founder and CEO of Bazman, a price comparison website. Mr. Sheafer holds a B.Sc in Computer Science from the Academic College of Tel-Aviv Jaffa.

Nir Cohen, CTO & CO-Founder- As former founder and CTO of Bazman, a price comparison website, Mr. Cohen carries years of experience in leading design and development teams for companies such as Demantra and Imperva. Mr. Cohen holds a B.Sc in Physics & Computer science from Ben Gurion University, Israel.

Andrey Shirben, Head of Campaigns- A former VP in marketing with Storewiz Ltd, Mr. Shirben brings a history of technology experience to Kenshoo. As Head of Campaigns, Mr. Shirben’s background lies in business management and computer science with a BA in Management & Computer science from Open University in Israel.

Udi Broyer, CFO & COO- Mr. Broyer brings over ten years of Financial and operational experience to Kenshoo. Mr. Broyer previously served as the Director of Finance of Metacafe a leading UGC Video web site. He held various executive financial positions such as financial consultants for JVP a Venture Capital firm and VP of Finance at Fundtech. Mr. Broyer is a CPA and served as a Senior Audit Manager in the high-tech group at “Ernst & Young” Israel. Mr. Broyer holds a B.A in Accounting and Economics at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, Israel.

The market

SEM (Search Engine Marketing) is the younger brother of SEO (Search Engine Optimization). In general who fails to perform well on the SEO scene is forced later to rely on the SEM. SEO promises organic results and traffic while SEM does that for paid campaigns. On the other hand we think there are thousands of large-scale corporations and millions of small ones that have little to no ideas on how to develop white-hat SEO practices for their web based businesses and are in one way or another going to rely and depend on SEM and companies like Kenshoo for instance.

Otherwise the SEM market is very crowded and the environment is extremely competitive; there are literally thousands of small and mid-level SEM firms in the sector, yet having Sequoia on your side might be one step in the right direction for Kenshoo. I remember one firm in particular called Fathom Online. Fathom Online received $6 million in financing in its first round of venture funding a few years ago. The financing came from Constellation Ventures and private investors. As part of the funding, Constellation managing directors Virginia Turezyn and Dennis Miller have joined Fathom’s board of directors by that time. What we know Former Ask Jeeves executives Chris Churchill and Chris Raniere founded the San Francisco-based search engine marekting firm in 2002. Fathom also helps clients design and run paid search campaigns as clients include Hilton, Covad and Microsoft..

More

[ http://www.kenshoo.com/ ]
[ http://www.kenshoo.com/blog.asp ]
[ http://www.kenshoo.com/news_sequoia_invest_in_kenshoo.asp ]
[ http://www.linkedin.com/pub/0/172/967 ]
[ http://mashable.com/2007/12/13/kenshoo-funded/ ]
[ http://www.venturecapitalupdate.com/node/970 ]
[ http://www.techcrunch.com/2007/12/10/sequoia-invests-in-sem-automator-kenshoo/ ]
[ http://www.paidcontent.org/entry/419-israel-sem-provider-kenshoo-secures-first-round-in-support-of-european-/ ]
[ http://biz.yahoo.com/prnews/071211/uktu014.html?.v=101 ]
[ http://www.fathomonline.com/ ]
[ http://www.webmasterworld.com/forum5/5033.htm ]