Are advertisers giving Olympics the cold shoulder?

Are the Winter Olympics getting frozen out? Not exactly, but drumming up advertising and sponsorship dollars isn’t as easy as it used to be. Here’s how Andrew Benett, the global chief strategy officer of Euro RSCG, described what’s happening:  “You have a confluence of many factors happening here. One, winter versus summer. Two, a hangover from Beijing. And three, the economic times.”

Of those, the economic situation is the one that’s drawing away most of the money. Bank of America, General Motors, and Home Depot are just some of the big names that have dropped their sponsorship of the U.S. team.

But experts we spoke to also pointed to some broader problems facing the Winter Games. For one thing, behind the scenes, they say the IOC and USOC haven’t always been accommodating with the advertising community. For another, younger audiences (and thus advertisers) just aren’t that into some of the classic winter sports. It’s not that they don’t want to see athletes competing on the mountain — they would just prefer to watch them competing in newer, thrill sports like those of the X Games.

So, while the ugly economy — and Beijing hangover — may only be temporary problems, there are longer terms issues that must be tackled. And the stakes are high. Recall the International Olympic Committee, alone raises an estimated $4.5 billion from the combined sponsorship and global TV rights deals for every four-year period.

Keep an eye on:

    The Beatles take a step closer to selling their music online on Wednesday with the simultaneous release of the band’s re-mastered catalog and the MTV video game The Beatles: Rock Band (Reuters) Hollywood may have seen near record revenue from the box office this summer, but attendance was down and there were as many notable flops as hits (NY Times) AOL has appointed former Yahoo executive Brad Garlinghouse as president of its Web and mobile communications group (Reuters)

Is Google’s message on YouTube starting to get through?

YouTube executives and spinmeisters have been pushing back more aggressively at the perception that the video site is a great big drain on Google’s bottomline, probably  losing $200 million to $500 million a year by some estimates. These execs say that hundreds of major advertisers are taking spots on YouTube against “hundreds of millions” of video views every week.

The problem with this is the lack of precise details. How much revenue is YouTube generating from these monetized videos exactly (even approximately)? And how much does it cost to stream and store those hundreds of millions of videos every week? Google and YouTube decline to provide any numbers other than to say things are moving in the right direction. Wall Street and investors are yet to be convinced.

Goldman Sachs analyst James Mitchell is the latest to have a shot at a respectable estimate for YouTube. He says it will generate around $300 million in 2009. He also thinks the best is yet to come from YouTube — and that Google will see some benefit.

CBS and Pepsi bring you video ads — in your magazine

CBS and Pepsi have teamed up to roll out the first ever video advertising in a print magazine next month. It will appear in the September 18th edition of Entertainment Weekly.

The mini video screen is packaged into an fixed magazine insert in the middle of the magazine. But only magazine subscribers in New York and Los Angeles will be able to see the video ads in their magazines.

The campaign, which is backed by the Pepsi Max brand, aims to promote CBS’s Monday night comedy lineup and new dramas. The ad uses video-in-print technology developed by Americhip, and features five different clips totaling 40 minutes.

Financial Times: Pay to play

I stumbled across this headline on Wednesday morning:

FT Bosses Launch PR Offensive For Paid-Content Model

I thought: “Launch? Don’t you mean ‘Launched’?” The Financial Times brass has been arguing for months that the only newspapers that will survive the tough times they have been through lately are those that stop giving away the news online, and can do it without sacrificing the advertising money they earn on the Web.

Here’s an excerpt from the blog that produced that headline, courtesy of digitalarmm:

Editor Lionel Barber tells Channel 4 in an interview that there is now “an inexorable momentum behind charging for content” and he urges other national papers only considering introducing paywalls — essentially all of them — to act now (See the video link inside the digtalarmm blog post)

What’s hot (and what’s not) in media – study

Veronis Suhler Stevenson is offering a look into its crystal ball.

The private equity firm, a leading one in the media and communications business, came out today with its 2003-2013 forecast, which essentially says the global recession will speed up needed changes in the media world. In other words, things like branded entertainment and mobile advertising are going to get even hotter, even faster.

And things like newspapers, radio, and yellow pages? Well, don’t ask.

Jim Rutherfurd, Executive Vice President and Managing Director at VSS, summed it up like this in a prepared statement: “The prolonged economic downturn has accelerated changes already underway in the communications industry. Notwithstanding significant declines in traditional media, the industry taken as a whole will continue to show relatively solid performance compared to the overall economy.”

Here’s a quick hit of some key takeaways from the VSS study:

    Total communications spending will decline 1 percent in 2009 to $882.6 billion.
    However, total communications spending will grow 3.6 percent per year over the next five years to $1 trillion.
    That will make communications the third fastest growing sector of the U.S. economy.
    Alternative marketing segments will grow at 12.6 percent annually from 2008-2013.
    Here’s what’s looking good over the coming years: Internet media, professional information, business information, education, direct marketing, event marketing, public relations, e-books, word-of-mouth marketing, subscription television, mobile advertising, video games, trade shows, digital out-of-home. And not so good: Newspapers, consumer magazines, broadcast television, radio, traditional out-of-home, yellow pages, home video, recorded music, traditional consumer books.

(Photo: Reuters)

Ballmer skeptical of Apple share gains

Never one to let an opportunity pass to tweak a competitor, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer got off a few zingers at long-time rival Apple at the software giant’s analyst meeting on Thursday.

“Share versus Apple, you know, we think we may have ticked up a little tick, but when you get right down to it, it’s a rounding error,” he said. “Apple’s share change, plus or minus from ours, they took a little share a couple quarters, we took share back a couple quarters. But Apple’s share globally cost us nothing. Now, hopefully, we will take share back from Apple, but you know, Apple still only sells about 10 million PCs, so it is a limited opportunity.”

Shipments of Apple’s Mac PCs rose 4 percent in the June quarter, while the global PC market shrank 5 percent, according to Gartner.

Microsoft and Yahoo: The morning after

Ah, the morning after.

Microsoft and Yahoo have finally come to an understanding, putting to rest what seemed like an endless back-and-forth (As Barry Diller said yesterday,  “We’re not going to have to talk about whether or not it’s going to happen anymore).

In case you were at the beach, on the golf course, riding your bike, or hiding out in a cave yesterday, here are the very basics: It’s a 10-year Web search deal; doesn’t include display; Microsoft will the guarantee revenue per search for the first 18 months; Yahoo expects deal to boost income by $500 million and save about $200 million in capex; Microsoft will pay traffic acquisition at an initial rate of 88 percent; Yahoo will act as the global sales force for both companies’ premium search advertisers; etc. etc.

Just about everyone has weighed in on the deal, and more analysis is certain to come in the days ahead. In the meantime, here’s what we see as a few key questions about the deal.

Microsoft-Yahoo: whither the boatloads?

It takes a deft touch to vanish a boatload of cash, but Yahoo seems to have done it.

Disappointed investors voted with their feet initially when the Microsoft-Yahoo deal, announced in the early hours of Wednesday, came with reams of detail on search, revenue-sharing, technology and advertising tie-ups — but no anticipated upfront payment, which some had put at around $1 billion. Yahoo prompty lost about a 10th of its market value.

“This agreement comes with boatloads of value for Yahoo, our users, and the industry, and I believe it establishes the foundation for a new era of Internet innovation and development,” Yahoo Chief Executive Carol Bartz said in a press statement released jointly with Microsoft on Wednesday.

Microsoft and Apple — a momentary peace

Well, that’s one less controversy to worry about. As CrunchGear reports, Microsoft has apparently tweaked the “Laptop Hunter” commercial that ruffled feathers over at Apple. Ah peace, for now.

Here’s the latest version:

Friday media highlights

Here are some of the day’s stories on the media industry:

Movie studios try to harness “Twitter effect” (Reuters)
“Audiences are voicing snap judgments on movies faster and to more people than ever before on Twitter, and their ability to create a box office hit or a flop is forcing major studios to revamp marketing campaigns. The stakes are especially high this summer season when big budget movies like “Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince,” which opened on Wednesday, play to a core audience of young, plugged-in moviegoers,” writes Alex Dobuzinskis.

Sun-Times chief optimistic about sale of company (Chicago Tribune)
But, Michael Oneal writes: “In a court filing last week, creditors in the Sun-Times’ bankruptcy case raised concerns about the sale efforts, noting that the company has “limited time” before it “can no longer sustain the losses being incurred from operations.” They warned that unless a buyer is found soon, “time could run out, or a buyer could be located that would only pay a fire-sale price.”

Goldman makes peace with blogger in trademark case (Reuters)
“The agreement required blogger Michael Morgan to post a disclaimer on his website, saying it has no affiliation with the financial firm. Morgan, a Florida investment adviser, uses his blog — whose name combines Goldman’s name with numbers used to evoke connotations with the devil — to criticize the bank and its large profits,” writes Martha Graybow.