Media Wrapup

Here is a selection of the day’s stories about the media industry:

US TV prepares for $2bn ad shortfall (FT)

“Digital video recorders that allow viewers to skip through commercials have knocked confidence in broadcast and cable advertising while younger, tech-savvy audiences are deserting their TV sets to spend more time online,” writes the Financial Times.

Smartphones, social networks to boost mobile advertising (Reuters)

Reuters reports: “As more consumers embrace new technologies and devices such as smartphones, personified by Apple’s iPhone, mobile advertising is seen growing at an annual average of 45 percent to reach $28.8 billion within 5 years from a current $3.1 billion, according to Ineum Consulting.”

Journalism Rules Are Bent in News Coverage From Iran (NYT)

Brian Stelter writes: “In a news vacuum, amateur videos and eyewitness accounts became the de facto source for information. In fact, the symbol of the protests, the image of a young woman named Neda bleeding to death on a Tehran street, was filmed by two people holding camera phones.”

MSNBC Aims to Raise Profile with HD (B&C)

“If a news network is going to attract casual viewers and turn them into loyal viewers, it helps to be in the same HD neighborhood as their cable news competitors. MSNBC in HD will launch at different times on different MSOs. It will debut on Cablevision on June 29 and on Time Warner in July. By the end of August, MSNBC HD will be available in 11 million homes,” writes Marisa Guthrie.

US: Decline in time spent at top 30 global news sites (Editors Weblog)

“Average time spent per visit decreased for more than half of the top 30 global news websites in May compared to last year, according to the latest Nielsen data. The trend mirrors the drops seen at the top newspaper sites,” writes Liz Webber.

2010 ad spending outlook brightens, no thanks to the U.S.

If you think the advertising market is bad in the United States right now, just wait until next year.

In a new report, GroupM, the media arm of ad holding company WPP, predicts that advertising expenditures in the United States will drop by 4.3 percent this year, then drop by 6.5 percent in 2010.

“We expect a bottoming out on local media spend in 2009 with more stability into 2010. However, we are expecting further contraction on national media, particularly television, as clients adjust budgets to reflect a continued pessimistic consumer spending forecast.” GroupM Chief Investment Officer Rino Scanzoni in New York said in a statement.

Recession? Liver transplant? Nothing bothers Apple

A good day for Apple — or a bad one? Judging from the early reaction in the stock market, investors seem to have already gotten used to the idea that Steve Jobs underwent a liver transplant two months ago,  as reported by the Wall Street Journal on Saturday. Shares of the company opened a touch higher.

One reason might be that — for most investors — certainty is also preferable to uncertainty. Know the risks and you can deal with it. And until this weekend, there was very little information on the nature of Jobs’ health problems, which began in 2004. (Apple, by the way, is not commenting on the WSJ report, other than to say that the company’s leader will return by the end of the month, as planned).

Another reason for the stock strength may be more basic: business looks pretty good. Apple said this morning that it had sold more than 1 million units of its newest iPhone in the first three days of its launch, a big number in the context of the current economy.  The device, which offers faster speeds, longer battery life and the ability to take videos, hit stores on Friday.

Hangin’ with USA Today’s new masthead

Gannett Co Inc has not been too generous lately with making its executives available to media reporters. And why would it? Few newspaper publishers have because there’s little good to say about the business.

Ad sales are tanking, as usual. Debt is looming (what else does it ever do?). Lots of self-styled media experts can’t let a day go by without writing a few blog posts telling publishers that they brought it on themselves and they deserve to die.

With that merry backdrop, I was surprised to get invited to a press conference and an interview with Gannett’s latest picks for editor (John Hillkirk) and publisher (Former Detroit Free Press Publisher David Hunke) of USA Today. Gannett brought them to New York to meet the insular Manhattan media world, which is responsible for writing all those obituaries that you’ve been reading about newspapers lately.

Bearish signs for ad spending

Not much good news in advertising today.

First came the TNS Media Intelligence numbers, which, though dated, paint an awfully grim picture.  First quarter spending fell 14 percent, a big number in its own right, but even more startling when put in context. Take, for instance, the fourth quarter of 2008, when credit had completely dried up and companies were racing to cut marketing, staffing and every other expense. Ad spending then fell just 9 percent. Or how about the fourth quarter of 2001? After the bursting of the dotcom bubble and the attacks of Sept. 11? Spending dropped 11 percent that quarter.

Again, the 14 percent is a backward looking number. The first quarter of 2009 is history. For that reason perhaps the news could be taken in stride — if not for a brief statement by TNS research Jon Swallen that was included in the press release.

“While there are hopeful signs of general economic indicators bottoming out, the advertising sector still appears to be lagging behind. Available data from (the) second quarter shows ad expenditures tracking on a comparable plane to recent months.”

First Bing ad airs tonight

Microsoft launches the first wave of the publicity campaign for its new search engine Bing tonight, with a prime time ad linking the recent financial chaos with small animals tapping on keyboards. At least that’s what it looks like:

The reasoning is questionable, but Microsoft won’t care as long as it gets people talking about its new product — which is fully available from today at — and ultimately gets them to utter the word ‘bing’ as a verb.

The first spot, made by ad agency JWT, is called ‘Manifesto’ and will hit in the middle of top shows such as CSI:NY tonight.

As GM files for bankruptcy, Madison Ave gets to work

“This is not about going out of business. This is about getting down to business.”
So says the latest advertisement from General Motors, which hit the automaker’s web site and YouTube just hours after it filed for bankruptcy protection.

The theme is reinvention (“General Motors needs to start over to get stronger”) and it is the first glimpse of what the folks over at the Interpublic Group agencies that work on GM have planned post-bankruptcy.

Keep an eye on:

    Microsoft offered a look into a future where the Xbox 360 console is the centerpiece of any living room (Reuters)
    DirecTV Chief Executive Chase Carey may be headed back to News Corp (Reuters)
    Lions Gate Entertainment posted a wider-than-expected fourth-quarter loss (Reuters)

New Internet ad technique can warn of emergencies

Location, Location, Location.

The World Wide Web has never had it, because there was no ordinary way for advertisers to know where someone was sitting as they surfed. That has made it impossible for the local hardware store to advertise to its neighborhood, or for national advertisers to target their ads geographically. It has also meant that cities did not have the means to warn residents surfing the web of a broken water main, an approaching storm, a forest fire, or a flash flood.  That may be about to change.

Feeva, a Silicon Valley start-up, has invented a way for advertisers to pay for “geo-demographic” placement. In effect, that means advertisers can choose their own zip or postal code — just as they do for mailers.

“What you get in your mail is all based on zip code,” said Miten Sampat, Feeva’s chief architect. “Zip code defines your income level, whether you have kids, how urban your environment is. But you can’t do this on the web, because geography is tough to guess.”

Make way for AOL

Today marks the beginning of the end of what is probably one of the most disastrous media mergers in recent corporate history — AOL and Time Warner. In 2000, AOL shelled out nearly $150 billion for Time Warner, but things didn’t quite work out as planned.

The folks at Time Warner have given ample hints that a separation from AOL was inevitable, especially as part of a strategy shift that will (hopefully) result on the media conglomerate returning to its core business. Hiring former Google executive Tim Armstrong to head AOL had created even more speculation that the split was coming soon.

Now that the spin-off has happened, what lies in store for AOL as an independent company? In January, AOL said it will focus on three areas: content, advertising and social networking. But things haven’t exactly been rosy at AOL, revenue-wise. So for the time being, it gets to hold on to the access line business, which loses value day by day as more people move to broadband, but still generates enough cash to make it an asset worth coveting.

At The CW, it’s all about supernatural, soaps and the 90s

Upfront week is winding down, with the CW having rolled out its lineup. As Entertainment Weekly points out, the schedule is straight out of the early 90s. A quick look:

(New series in bold)


8-9 pm: Gossip Girl

9-10 pm: One Tree Hill


8-9 pm: 90210

9-10 pm: Melrose Place


8-9 pm: America’s Next Top Model

9-10 pm: The Beautiful Life


8-9 pm: The Vampire Diaries

9-10 pm: Supernatural


8-9 pm: Smallville

9-10pm: America’s Next Top Model (Encore)

(Reuters photo of “Gossip Girl” star Blake Lively)