Good morning, it’s Friday, November 6, 2009, and this is your first early morning digital briefing.
EU lawmakers struck a balance between tough anti-piracy measures such as the so called three-strikes law imposed in France and consumer advocate-backed rights-of-users measures on Thursday, per the NYTimes. Negotiators for the European Parliament, the European Commission and the Council of Ministers reached an agreement that says any decision to cut off internet access of those found guilty of downloading movies and music illegally must be subject to legal review. The decision sets a precedence for recognizing internet access as a fundamental right akin to freedom of speech.
Just in time for the expected boom in online holiday shopping, Google introduced a new search service designed to crawl e-commerce sites for the best deals. Google Commerce Search presents items with photos; filters results by category, price or brand; checks for spelling errors or synonyms; and promises to boost sales to e-commerce sites by eliminating wasted trips to irrelevant sites. The Commerce Search API will allow retailers to customize the search experience on their sites, realigning the design for specific promotions and enabling companies to control product placement on the page.
Taking advantage of the site’s new lists feature, The Wall Street Journal has created new Twitter lists that can now be followed in multiple categories including General, Technology and Deals.
Thumbs up, thumbs down comedy site Funny or Die has launched a channel on YouTube showcasing some of its most popular star-studded videos and Co-Founders Will Ferrell and Adam McKay have agreed to curate its initial selections. For instance, check out The Daily Show’s Rob Corddry exploration of homophobia, “Rob Corddry Has A Broner.”
Editorial plugs can help boost video views immensely. Features on YouTube and iTunes helped Next New Networks‘ fashion-themed ThreadBanger amass 1 million views during a single week in October, according to a NNN analysis. Daily views of ThreadBanger’s YouTube channel spiked from about 33,000 to a peak of 440,000 during Halloween week after YouTube editors spotlighted an episode of the show about how to make a Lady Gaga costume on the homepage. The plug also resulted in another 200,000 views to other episodes on the ThreadBanger channel.
Teen-targeted virtual world site Habbo is conducting a special campaign to promote the next Twilight release, premiering in theaters on Nov. 20. Beginning today, users can visit online rooms decked out with virtual goods from the film, “The Twilight Saga: New Moon.” Also, an unnamed actor (heartthrob Robert Pattinson perhaps?) will conduct a live chat on the site during the coming days.
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Social media management firm Virtue introduced a new social relationship manager tool dubbed Virtue FMS, enabling brands and marketers to manage their presence on Facebook and Twitter through a centralized interface. Entertainment brands such as Warner Bros. have used Virtue this year to build pages for major releases such as “Watchman” and “The Hangover,” conducting sweepstakes and enabling video and photo uploads from each movies’ community of fans. New developments focus on localization and customization features, according to Virtue CEO Reggie Bradford. The interface aggregates data at a regional, national, and global basis to give marketing insight into the impact of the brand’s local marketing efforts on Facebook. “Studios want to release a movie and have an app run on Facebook in 20 different countries, but there’s no way to do that now without having to do a lot of heavy lifting,” he said.
NBC Universal is preparing for its coverage of the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver with a multifaceted multiplatform affiliate ad campaign featuring awareness and retention/acquisition components and HD, free-on-demand, broadband and ITV creative.
Fox Audience Network (FAN) and WPP’s Kantar and WPP Digital units announced a partnership to provide marketers with a new unified set of data to help improve ROI. WPP brands will gain access to FAN’s Audience Segmentation service, which breaks down consumers into customized (yet anonymous) groups based on shared relevant interests such as autos, games, movies or music. Compete, a division of Kantar Media, will integrate FAN Audience Insights data into its Compete PRO offering; WPP Digital’s Media Innovation Group will incorporate elements of the FAN suite into proprietary digital ad platform, ZAP; and FAN will aggregate additional retail and other information on an anonymous basis from Kantar Media into its Audience Insights platform.
Cox Communications signed a deal to share ownership of Travel Channel Media with Scripps Network Interactive, an agreement that has been in the works since June. Scripps will acquire a 65% stake in Travel Channel while Cox will retain a 35% stake. The former will contribute $181 million in cash and the partnership will take on $878 million in third party debt that Scripps will guarantee.
The Seattle area took another hit as RealNetworks announced plans to lay off another 4% of its workforce, amounting to the trimming of 70 jobs from its 1,700 person staff, per AllThingsD.
A class action lawsuit filed by a Lynwood, WA resident alleges that iPhone game developer Storm8 (iMobsters, Vampires Live) has illegally collected the phone numbers of millions of its customers without their consent. The lawsuit states that Storm8 exploited a backdoor to harvest the personal numbers, a practice that Apple expressly prohibits and that the company has since ceased doing.
Comcast posted a 22% increase in Q3 earnings, thanks in part to aggressive pricing on its voice and data bundles. Comcast earned $944 million during the quarter compared with $771 million during Q3 2008. Comcast CEO Brian Roberts declined to comment on the company’s expected acquisition of NBCU during a conference call with analysts, other to say that the MSO will take a “disciplined approach” to M&As.
Clearwire announced the official launch of its 4G WiMAX network in Philadelphia, the hometown of Clearwire investor Comcast.
The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) today announced more than $1.85 million in grants for research that will offer insight into how digital games can improve players’ health behaviors and outcomes. Nine research teams, chosen from 185 proposals across the country, will conduct extensive studies to discover, for example, how the popular dance pad video game Dance Dance Revolution might help Parkinson’s patients reduce the risk of falling or how Wii Active might be implemented in high schools to help overweight students shed pounds.
Verizon Wireless has unveiled a second phone running on Google‘s Android mobile OS, built by Taiwan’s HTC Corp.
EA‘s successful Spore franchise has spawned as a new Facebook app dubbed Spore Islands. Players are charged with populating their own islands with creatures they design; if they thrive in their new environment you earn points that can be used to buy more critters for you or your friends. The game allows you to publish your accomplishments on your news feed and, of course, to invite others to join in.
Cablevision has launched a mobile version of its remote DVR scheduling feature initially launched on Optimum.net. The mobile app, available through the Optimum.net mobile site, enabled users to search for and schedule recording on their home DVRs.
Developer Snackable Media has announced a new mobile game built around Endemol‘s Deal or No Deal franchise. Mobile players open up one case at a time to reveal its contents and decide whether to take the banker’s offer or continue in pursuit of a larger amount. Players earn points which can be redeemed for rewards including Deal or No Deal mobile content and merchandise. The ad-supported version is free and a premium version costs $10/month, charged to your wireless bill.
Best Buy struck a partnership with Google to distribute the Google Mobile App on smartphones sold in-store. Best Buy associates will install Google Mobile App on all compatible smartphones using the Walk Out Working program, a free in-store smartphone setup.
Slingbox CEO Blake Krikorian has joined the Board of Directors of Clicker.com, a start-up founded by former Ask.com CEO Jim Lanzone and backed by Benchmark Capital and Redpoint Ventures, per paidcontent.org.
Former Vibrant Media executive John Sedlak has joined Seattle-based data exchange specialist BlueKai as SVP/Global Sales, a newly created position based in New York City. He reports to Grant Ries, BlueKai’s Chief Revenue Officer.
Executive News Editor of Salon.com, Mark Schone, will join ABC News next month as Managing Editor of ABCNews.com’s investigative-themed Blotter site, which features reporting by Brian Ross.
Clearwire had added a pair of senior executives. David D. Maquera will serve as Clearwire’s SVP and Chief Strategy Officer, charged with technology development, strategic planning and implementation. Thomas Enraght-Moony joins as SVP and GM of CLEAR Online, where he will oversee marketing as well as the company’s online sales and customer management.
One of the biggest bugaboos in the online space continues to be privacy concerns and search/app giant Google has finally taken an important proactive step in enabling users to get a better hold of their personal data stored on Google servers. Google Dashboard provides a straightforward control panel that keeps track of your personal settings and how they read across whichever Google services you use, including G-mail, Calendar, YouTube and Google Docs. To get to it sign into your Google account the click on “Google Account Settings” at the top of the page. It shows data associated with anything you do on Google, including how many emails or messages you’ve sent. The YouTube dashboard stores subscribed to channels and favorites. One of the more encouraging things here is that there are options allowing you to tell Google not to save all of you personal history, including old e-mails or past chats. It’s also useful for removing your information from products you signed up for once and never use.
Later — Wayne
Wayne Karrfalt for Cynopsis: Digital
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