Good morning. It's Wednesday, June 27, 2012, and this is your first early morning digital briefing. If you would like to read this or any other Cynopsis editions online, click here.
Shazam has inked a deal with the NBC Sports Group to provide NBC Olympics with interactive, social TV experience for viewers of the 2012 Olympics in London. Per the deal, US viewers watching Olympic coverage across all NBCUniversal television properties will be able to use the Shazam mobile app to tag whatever they're watching in order to unlock an assortment of extra content, such as athlete bios and photos, the latest information on results, and the medal count. Other features include the ability to participate in polls and interact with others on Facebook and Twitter, as well as download the NBC Olympics app for access to more content. The Shazam for TV service will be incorporated into NBC's coverage from the Opening Ceremony on July 27 all the way to the Closing Ceremony on August 12.
Brightcove has unveiled the App Cloud Dual-Screen Solution for Apple TV. The solution is designed to enable media publishers to develop content apps for the iPhone and iPad that can link up with the connected HDTV in order to control the content that is presented on the television screen as well as display synchronized content on the companion mobile device. In other words, a way for publishers and developers to turn the iPhone or iPad into a remote control as well as build dual-screen viewing/social TV experiences across Apple's connected devices. The new solution taps into Apple's AirPlay technology, which allows users to connect their iPhone and/or iPad to the Apple TV and stream content from one device to another. Brightcove says the new solution will be included in the App Cloud platform's SDK and is also going to make it available to the open source community. Here's a demo from Brightcove of the type of dual-screen, interactive apps that can be built using this solution.
As part of E!'s coverage of the upcoming 2012 Olympics in London, E! News is set to produce a daily webcast (Live from E!) for E! Online. It will focus on providing viewers with a daily scoop of what is going on in terms of pop culture, news, and entertainment surrounding the Olympic Games and its host city. It will feature interviews with athletes, reporters, and attending celebrities.
MSNBC.com is launching What the World Thinks of U.S., a new series of digital reports that aim to examine the current global perception of the United States. The reports include videos, stories, and interviews from journalists such as Richard Engel, Ayman Mohyeldin, Amna Nawaz, and more. The series launched yesterday with reports from Nawaz in Pakistan and NBC News producer, Bo Gu, in China. MSNBC.com says new reports will run through July 4.
HealthiNation has inked a distribution agreement with PumpOne, a provider of exercise image, video, and workout libraries. Per the agreement, HealthiNation has exclusive rights to distribute PumpOne's fitness and workout classes across multiple platforms and screens, including online, mobile, and digital cable television. PumpOne's fitness video content ranges from step-by-step workout plans to hour-long classes. Distribution of its videos on HealthiNation's network will begin in July.
NYC-based video recommendations provider Taboola has completed a $10 million Series C round of funding led by Marker LLC. Existing investors such as Evergreen Venture Partners and WGI Group also participated in the round. According to Adam Singolda, Founder and CEO of Taboola, the funds will be used toward implementing the company's international growth strategy and investing in Taboola's product suite for its digital publisher partners. The company says its recommendations platform, Taboola EdgeRank, creates 500 million recommendations every day and serves it to more than 130 million users per month. Online publishers who use the platform include The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, CNN, The Hollywood Reporter, Bloomberg, Hearst, Gannett, and USA Today.
Mobile Posse has closed $5 million in Series C funding, led by Harbert Venture Partners, with the rest coming from Softbank Capital, Court Square Ventures, Columbia Capital, and several individual investors. Mobile Posse powers a platform designed for wireless carriers that delivers full-screen CRM messages, content, and interactive ads directly to the mobile device's home screen. The company's clients include Verizon Wireless, MetroPCS, US Cellular, and Cricket. The services/apps that it builds for wireless carriers are opt-in and free for consumers, who can also access information such as weather forecasts, local gas prices, and deals from both local and national advertisers. Alongside the funding announcement, the start-up reports that it now reaches more than 15 million mobile consumers, one third of which are Android users. In addition, according to Mobile Posse, its mobile messaging and ad services foster high levels of engagement with consumers, achieving click-through rates of 8-10% for ads, 12-15% for content-based messages, and 27-30% for CRM messages.
Hearst Digital Media has launched the Hearst Audience Exchange, a private ad exchange powered by online advertising company PubMatic. Of note, Hearst says it's launching this exchange with Core Audience, which is the company's owned and operated data management platform (DRM), all in order to help advertisers make more informed purchasing decisions. The platform will encompass both programmatic buying and targeted brand display advertising across Hearst's portfolio of 25+ digital brands. "Our primary focus in the design of the Hearst Audience Exchange was to increase the value of our audience through greater targeting and segmentation," said Kristine Welker, CRO at Hearst Digital Media.
Microsoft Advertising has announced that Atlas, its ad measurement tool, has become an approved ad-tracking provider on Facebook. Advertisers who choose to use Atlas will be able to independently track the delivery and measure the performance of ads on the social network. Specifically, Geoffrey Coco, Group Partner and Channel Marketing Manager, Microsoft Advertising, writes in a blog post that Atlas advertisers will be able to measure impressions, clicks, and user interactions on their Facebook ads, along with the rest of their media campaigns.
Yahoo and Spotify have signed a new content and distribution deal that will enable Yahoo to integrate and promote Spotify's music service across Yahoo's Media Network, which has a reach of almost 700 million unique users per month. The terms indicate that Spotify will initially roll out to Yahoo Music and then will later be "contextually integrated globally" across the rest of Yahoo, including other entertainment sites from the company such as Yahoo Movies omg!. This means that Spotify's play button will show up on Yahoo sites, enabling users to access music from the service (provided they have a Spotify account). In turn, Yahoo will create a branded app for Spotify consisting of Yahoo original entertainment content, ranging from artist profiles to music programs, designed to reach the music service's current active user-base of 10+ million. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.
Digital video solutions provider Imagine Communications has signed up Falcon IP/Complete to become a technical partner and reseller of its transcoding solutions for multiscreen IP video. Under terms of the deal, Falcon will sell and install Imagine's full range of ICE Video Platform transcoding solutions to cable, telco, and OTT video service providers. Imagine says its video processing platform currently serves "thousands of live streams" to over 20 million North American households.
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According to the 2012 Beta Research Cable Network Interest Study, 31% of adult multichannel subscribers in the US have a "high interest" in viewing television content on a smartphone or a tablet, up from 22% in 2011. When broken down by age group, 50% of adults age 18-34 have a high interest in watching television content on a smartphone or tablet (up from 39% in 2011), and 47% of teens age 12-17 feel the same way (up from 43%). Beta Research defines "high interest" as a "4" or "5" answer on a five-point scale. In addition, the study also finds that 19% of adults surveyed said they actually watched television on a smartphone or tablet in the past 30 days. The Beta Research Cable Network Interest Study is a syndicated online survey, conducted in March 2012, among a national sample of 4,900 multichannel subscribers. Half of the respondents were asked about emerging TV networks and HD networks, while the other half were asked about basic networks and a selection of VOD networks.
Vizio has unveiled the Co-Star Stream Player, a new Google TV-powered set-top box that will allow users to access apps from Google Play, video services such as Netflix and Amazon Instant Video, and browse the web via Google Chrome, as well as connect it to a cable or satellite box. This way, Vizio says users can watch both live and streaming entertainment via an integrated connected TV experience. That's not all on the integration front, as the Co-Star Stream Player will also allow users to demo, watch, and play "hundreds" of video games on-demand via the cloud-based OnLive Game Service. Other components of the product include a universal Bluetooth remote with a touchpad and a QWERTY keyboard; built-in Wi-Fi capabilities; ability to connect the TV to DLNA-enabled smartphones, tablets, or computers; and picture-in-picture technology. The Co-Star Stream Player is priced at just under $100, and will be available for pre-orders in July 2012 on the device-maker's website.
Blip, an online independent video network, has expanded its management team with the appointment of Doug Ferguson as its new Head of Product & Creative. Blip says Ferguson will be responsible for creating new products to enhance the overall experience for brands, producers of original content, and audiences of online video. He will be tasked with developing updates and enhancements for Blip's web, mobile, and OTT distribution platforms over the next several months. Ferguson will report directly to Blip CEO Kelly Day. That's not all for Blip in terms of executive moves, as Jason Rapp of educational mobile app publisher Mahalo has agreed to join the company's Board of Directors.
Mobile marketing company Globys has named Dr. Olly Downs as SVP/Data Sciences. In this capacity, Dr. Downs will manage the analytics strategy, technical approach, and algorithm design and development for Globys' Contextual Marketing solution suite. Based in Seattle, he will report to Duane Edwards, Co-Founder and SVP/Product Development at Globys.
Fergus Mellon has been named the new VP/Pricing and Planning, National Sales for Gannett. In his new role, Mellon is responsible for sales pricing, planning, and operational leadership and strategy of the National Sales Team at the company. He reports to Mary Murcko, Gannett's President/National sales, and is based in New York City.
News Distribution Network (NDN), which offers an online video platform featuring an array of news, finance, travel, entertainment, and sports content, has hired former Forbes executive Kevin Gentzel to be its new Chief Revenue Officer. The company says Gentzel will look to elevate NDN's national advertising sales and marketing efforts as it aims to expand its relationships with online news publishers and media websites. Aside from the premium news content itself, NDN also offers a video syndication and ad serving solution as well as analytics to more than 4,500 web publishers.
HealthiNation has appointed Seth Solomons, Global CEO of CRM365, a CRM agency within Publicis' Vivaku unit and former Global CMO at Digitas, to its Board of Directors. The company says Solomons' experience in working with global companies at the level of American Express and Pfizer will help HealthiNation as it develops strategies to build and enhance relationships with a broader group of partners.
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Earlier this year, Google introduced Project Re: Brief, describing it as an "experiment to re-imagine online advertising" by taking some of the most popular ad campaigns from the 1960s and 1970s and molding them to fit the digital age. The company did this by bringing in the art directors and copywriters who authored the original ads and working with them to recreate the famous campaigns, using the technological tools that are available to brands and agencies today. As part of the project (forgive the pun), Google produced an hour-long documentary following these creative individuals as they came out of retirement to give famous ads like Coca-Cola's "Hilltop" or Volvo's "Drive it like you hate it" another crack. The documentary premiered last week at the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity, and has also been made available for viewing on YouTube. It can be accessed via the link above; enjoy.
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Later - Sahil
Sahil Patel, Associate Editor for Cynopsis Digital
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