Good morning. It's Monday, July 9, 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.
Amazon is developing its own smartphone that would compete with Apple's iPhone as well as devices running on Google's Android operating system, reports Bloomberg. Foxconn International Holdings, Ltd., a mobile phone manufacturer based out of China (which also has ties to Apple), is said to be working with Amazon on the device. According to Bloomberg, the online retailer is also looking to secure some patents that cover wireless technology in order to offset any potential patent fights that may arise from developing and selling such a product. A smartphone from Amazon would complement its current entry in the tablet market, the Kindle Fire, and would give a boost to the services the company offers for purchasing and accessing digital movies, TV shows, books, and music.
Warner Premiere has teamed up with producer/filmmaker Bryan Singer (X-Men, The Usual Suspects), via his production company Bad Hat Harry Productions, and Dolphin Digital Entertainment to announce H+ The Digital Series, a new live-action web series that is scheduled to debut on YouTube on August 8. The series takes place in a post-apocalyptic future where humans have installed a chip into their nervous systems that allows them to connect to the internet by just thinking about it. After a virus takes out a third of the global population, the show focuses on the aftermath and the search for those responsible. It stars Alexis Denisof (Buffy the Vampire Slayer), Amir Arison (Law & Order: SVU), and David Clayton Rogers (Jane By Design), and is directed by Stewart Hendler (Sorority Row). Users can immediately subscribe to the H+ The Digital Series channel on YouTube. In the coming weeks, the page will publish promotional videos offering further insight into the series. The series will also be previewed at a YouTube Comic-Con event on July 13 in San Diego.
E! has rolled out a second-screen app for Opening Act, its new TV show that features and follows musicians who are opening for top artists in the music industry. The app, which is available for both iOS and Android devices, is highlighted by the Backstage Pass feature, which brings forth behind-the-scenes videos, photos, and other information in real-time, synced to the episode airing on TV. If viewers are watching the show after it airs, they can still access the Backstage Pass feature via a replay function. Other features include a Twitter integration, which allows users to interact with the "Artist Development Team" and "Opening Act" appearing in that episode; unaired video footage; and shareability across Facebook, Twitter, and email.
Vevo has made it slightly easier for mobile users to access its expanding library of premium music video content by launching a new, platform-agnostic mobile website. With the launch, users have full access to Vevo's library of 50,000 music videos and can retrieve video playlists as well as share clips with friends, without needing to download any of its native apps. The new mobile web offering is also compatible with social apps -- users who click on a video link via Facebook or Twitter will be directed to the mobile website. And that's not all of the news from the company as several reports indicate that Vevo is looking to raise $100 million or more in new funding in an effort to finance its global expansion. To that end, it has enlisted Allen & Co. to find new investors.
Over the coming weeks, Google will introduce a [x] button in the corner of some display ads on the Google Display Network that will allow users to mute that ad as well as potentially not receive ads from that campaign again. Initially, Google is placing the button on ads that are based on remarketing and interest categories. The company says this service works toward giving consumers more control over the online ad experience, and giving advertisers and publishers more consumer-based information so that they can deliver better-performing (and thus more valuable) ads. However, Google does note that the muting option is not a 100% guarantee consumers won't see a particular ad; different ad companies may deliver the same ad or the marketer could run a different campaign targeting specific content on the web.
Facebook is planning to launch a new advertising feature that would allow marketers to target users based on which apps they use, according to The Wall Street Journal. The report says that the social network has been tracking app usage through its Facebook Connect service, which allows users to access many websites or apps via their Facebook username and password. Sources tell the WSJ that the company will announce and launch this new option as early as next Monday or near the end of the month.
TubeMogul has integrated Innovid's iRoll interactive ad unit into its real-time media buying platform for digital video advertising. The iRoll unit allows marketers to include various engagement tools, such as social sharing, store locators, product carousels, and shopping carts, right into the video player. With this partnership, the companies say marketers will be able to access the iRoll feature, as well as engagement metrics derived from its use, via a single dashboard, allowing clients to gauge the effectiveness of the interactive tools side-by-side with that of pre-roll ads and other video formats. Nielsen GRP metrics will also be available.
Here's an interesting way to entice mobile users into watching video ads: Several big name brands in the UK are using the Samba Mobile broadband service to deliver video ads to users, who in return for watching said video ads get access to free mobile internet, according to a report from Mobile Marketer. Brands who have already signed up for this service include Dell, Paramount Pictures, Xbox Kinect, Volvo, and more. Here's how it works: iPad owners buy a Samba SIM card and set up an account; users choose which ads they want to watch as well as when they want to watch them; watching the video ads build credit, which can be used to access the mobile web. Samba has also inked retail deals with iTunes and PriceGrabber. So consumers who click through on an ad and purchase items from those retail sites can attain even more credit toward mobile web access. Samba tells Mobile Marketer that watching 2.5 minutes of ads per day is the enough to accrue enough data to cover an average consumer's monthly usage.
That misguided patent battle Yahoo began with Facebook came to close late Friday evening. The two companies struck a wide-ranging deal to not only end all pending patent claims against each other, but also launch a new advertising partnership as well as extend and expand existing distribution agreements. Per the release: "The parties will work together to bring consumers and advertisers premium media experiences promoted and distributed across both Yahoo and Facebook. Yahoo and Facebook will also work together to bring Yahoo's large media event coverage to Facebook users by collaborating on social integrations on the Yahoo site." Since the launch of the original multiyear partnership, and before this patent brouhaha, Yahoo has integrated the "Social Bar" feature on more than 100 of its properties globally. In addition, Yahoo says over 90 million users have implemented it, making it a top social news application on Facebook.
Synacor's TV Everywhere solution will power the authentication services for 35 video distributors that are carrying NBCUniversal's multiplatform, wall-to-wall coverage of the coming Olympics. According to Multichannel News, the white-label solution will verify CNBC and MSNBC subscribers who want to access NBCU's planned 3,500 hours of streaming Olympic coverage for those cable channels. To be available on computers, tablets, and smartphones, the content will include live streams of competitions as well as "attendant content from London." Synacor's TV Everywhere distribution clients include Dish Network, Charter, Mediacom, and Suddenlink, among others.
Last week, The Weather Channel Companies (TWCC) entered into an agreement to purchase Weather Underground, a provider of web-based weather data. Per the announcement, Weather Underground's portfolio of web and mobile properties will continue to operate, now as another brand within the overall TWCC portfolio. In addition, the online weather service's San Francisco headquarters will become a regional office for TWCC and its employees will also become a part of TWCC. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed, but it is expected to close in the coming weeks.
A CYNOPSIS MESSAGE
The latest numbers from comScore's MobiLens service, covering the US smartphone market over a three-month period ending in May 2012:
NASCAR has promoted Jon Schwartz to Senior Director/Business and Brand Communications. He will have day-to-day oversight over NASCAR's Integrated Marketing Communications team and efforts across several business units, including Broadcasting, Digital Media, Entertainment Marketing, and Productions; Brand, Consumer, and Series Marketing; and others. The expansion of Schwartz's role is complemented by the appointment of Sabrina Macias as Director/Brand and Consumer Marketing Communications and Chris Tropeano as the company's new Senior Manager/Business Communications. Both will report to Schwartz and be based in NY.
Online news publisher Newsmax operates four websites covering news, money, health, and global intelligence. The flagship, Newsmax.com, receives an average of 8 million unique visitors per month, while the Newsmax brand overall reaches an additional 3 million users via email alerts and its monthly magazine. Newsmax, which publishers video interviews with prominent newsmakers and personalities, including the likes of Donald Rumself, former NY Governor George Pataki, and Steve Forbes, says video content is becoming "increasingly important" at the company. With that in mind, the publisher has opened up a new studio at its NY bureau, featuring state-of-the-art production equipment and amenities, including a remote-controlled Ready Cam, which will allow Newsmax to beam live interviews to broadcasters both in the US and abroad. Newsmax says it also plans to rent out the new studio, which is located in Midtown Manhattan, to other organizations and businesses in the area.
Later - Sahil
Sahil Patel, Associate Editor for Cynopsis Digital
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