Adify Bought for $300 million

30 April, 2008

AdiFY logo

Cox Enterprises, a family run media company with reported $15 billion of revenue, has announced that they are going to purchase Adify, a niche ad network enabler, for $300 million.

Russ Fradin, Adify CEO, has posted some insights into the deal, the main take-away is that Russ and the rest of the management team are sticking around – very different from what happened with Quigo then!

On rumoured revenues of $7 million in 07 and on track for $35 millon in 08, the ticket price is an extreme multiple and one that a lot of attention will focus on. AdViking things actually the deal is very progressive by Cox (probably the benefits of being family run!).

The main reason that AdViking thinks this is that with the consolidation and domination by GYM, having preferred access to an advertising technology will ensure that as the continued growth of digital advertising occurs, Cox are in a great position to protect and extend their revenues.

AdViking is also very interested in the deal as it is further validation of the need for indy players in the value chain, also see the recent investment in Federated Media.

From looking at the recent comScore data on US ad networks, AdViking would put some money on Burst, ContextWeb and some of the others to go. It also does start to put a very interesting spin on what the opportunity for OpenX could be.

Microsoft Deal with FAST is Closed

25 April, 2008

In an interesting week when Microsoft is pushing ahead with the Yahoo attempt, the Ray Ozzie thumbprint is felt in the cloud, the deal to purchase Fast Search & Transfer (disclosure below) has been announced to have been closed.

Now the deal has closed, Microsoft will be able to deliver on the strategy that Bill Gates outlined in his final keynote at the Sharepoint Conference 2008.

Disclosure:  Some of AdViking is employed by FAST and Microsoft.  More details on About.

Interesting Q1 for Yahoo! and Google

23 April, 2008

On the back of Google’s positive Q1 announcement, we had some good news from Yahoo! when they announced a much better than expected Q1.   Seeking Alpha has a good breakdown of both Google and Yahoo but interesting points are that Google’s International revenue (51%) was higher than US and that Yahoo! was bolstered (understatement for $401 million padding) by it’s stake in Alibaba.

Other news is that WSJ reports that the Google/Yahoo AdWords trial has gone well and could find Yahoo an additional $1 billion annually.  Though taking this kind of thinking to it’s logical comparison of what Google has done for AOL and it must be tempting to consider, but once upon a time AOL had 30% of the share market and is now below 5%!

What’s Your PPC Flava: Enable, Disable, Engage?

18 April, 2008

Adviking notes that Google have turned the screw in terms of search-driven PPC. Not only do they have greater search share, but they also earn more per page view. Is this merely down to increased competition within the keywords? We don’t think so.

Think about this: Google offers time targeting, geo targeting, offline editing, publishing of phone numbers on ads, hands-off editorial process, wider range of payment options, tight control over keyword and a much more intuitive UI. Do they do this for the advertiser? Yes and no. Talk to any advertiser and they will tell you that targeting is crucial, they know their target cost per acquisition and Google comes out very favourably. All of the list mentioned either makes targeting easier (= more valuable, = higher spend), or the process of publishing quicker. Google ENABLE.

What about Yahoo! ? They launched their new Search Marketing product with much fanfare, but it pales when matched up to the above list. It sort of has geo-targeting… but that’s about it. Worse, it seems to hamper advertisers: the editorial process can be a real pain, ‘advanced match’ is rather arbitrary and they make odd decisions… For example you could have an offline editor, but access is restricted. Medium and low value campaigns are capped to just 20 ad groups (so clients who would spend more don’t). They could offer time-targeting, but don’t.

AdViking wonders whether the hook-up on ads between Google and Yahoo! is also because Google is so much better at extracting value because it understands advertisers, rather than DISABLING them, like Yahoo! does. Maybe they should take some notes…

Credit must go to MSN, they have tried to catch up with Google. AdCenter started off clunky, but has add good functionality and targeting, including profiling. It’s not quite there, but improving rapidly. However MSN has one giant challenge: low reach! By the time a business has set up Google for a trial, and then moved on to Yahoo!, they omit MSN – some still think that Yahoo! run MSN ads (they used to a couple of years ago). Not only that, but because of the low reach, geo targeting or profiling becomes pointless because it reduces even popular terms to the odd click through a day. So, the challenge for MSN is to ENGAGE – both the public who still don’t use their search much, as well as the advertiser who sees it as ancilliary to business.

Google’s Brain Tsunami Continues

15 April, 2008

In the recent months there has been a decent trickle of news of important Googlers leaving the fold and the main discussion has been if there is or isn’t a brain drain?

Some of the moves have included:

And now, AdViking can confirm with the following news that it’s not just a Brain Drain at Google it’s actually a Tsunami!

Josef DeSimone, the Executive Chef of Google is leaving to become the same at Facebook!

For some further reading check:

  • Wired has a great article that tried to keep up to date with what people from Google have gone on to do (build the next Google maybe?)
  • And Danny Sullivan at SearchEngineLand has an immense analysis of senior management changes from 2000-2008

Eric Dela Cruz: My Life As a Google Chef

Note to Google: You Can’t Please Everyone!

10 April, 2008

AdViking notes that Google has just backed down on it’s full ‘Trademark Protection’ policy in the UK. It had previously allowed brand owners to block anyone advertising on their keywords or using their brand names in their adverts. Google claims that because this change of policy only affects keywords and not advert copy, it will stop passing off… but that depends on how clever the ad copy is!

The reality of the situation is that Google are opening the marketplace back up on these terms and, lets face it, once the competition starts up, then the brand owners are only one position of many.

However, AdViking believes that the takeup of such trademark protection was snowballing as increasing brand owners were taking advantage of it. Reports in the news that AdWords revenues were stalling was affecting share price and, hey, who are Google not to listen to their poor, starved, shareholders?

We also welcome the opening up because Trademark Protection policy was actually being used for price fixing… or at least attempts at price fixing. A few months ago you’d have loads of adverts on ‘cheap peugeot’ on Google UK, now there is only one.

So, bring on May 5th, when the market hots up again! Should be interesting…

Microhoo or is it YahAOL?

10 April, 2008

It’s heating up to end game as there’s plenty of moves on the potential purchase of Yahoo! by Microsoft.

To AdViking the way Yahoo is going about it is a reminder of Wargames and at this point Jerry Yang is making sure that no-one will win, especially his shareholders which they can’t be happy about.

The big three moves are:

  1. WSJ reports that Time Warner and Yahoo are close to making a deal for AOL (minus the access business) to join Yahoo
  2. Yahoo have announced they are going to run a two week trial to run AdSense ads
  3. New York Times reports that News Corp. may have flopped over to joining the Microsoft bid

AdViking thinks the last one as being the most interesting. If you have a combined Yahoo, News Corp and Microsoft then you have a truly viable alternative to Google in the digital ad space and this then creates opportunities through out the digital advertising ecosystem. e.g.: for technologies like OpenX; indy ad networks like adconion; or indy publisher networks like Federated Media.