Nielsen Quantifies 2008 Ad Spending Decline

ad-spending-2008.jpgThe overall ad industry was off in 2008. There’s no surprise there. With banks and “big auto” in trouble, there were fewer dollars passed around.  New data from Nielsen released Friday quantified the extent of the decline.  According to the preliminary data from Nielsen Monitor Plus, 2008  US ad spending was off 2.6 percent.   Total spending was down $3.7b to $136.8 billion.

Among Nielsen’s initial findings, by the numbers:

2008 sector ad spending• The bright spot for the year was Cable TV.  It showed 7.8% growth in 2008.  Hispanic Cable TV was also strong with a 9.6% gain.

• Ad supplements for Sunday newspapers were hit hard. Spending in the sector dropped 11%.  National papers were down 9.6%.  Local papers saw a 10.2% decline.  National Magazines fell 7.6%. Local Magazines dropped 3.7%.

• Internet display ads were off 6.4%.  (Pay for click ads, text, search and other performance based campaigns were not counted in the survey).

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Shuffling the Executives: News Corp and AOL Shift Org Charts

Thursday was a busy day in the executive wings at AOL and News Corp. Both companies made changes to their org charts.

News Corp
With the announcement of Peter Chernin’s departure in February, Rupert Murdoch hinted News Corp would shuffle around some executives to “streamline.” Today, in a memo to staff (reprinted below), the first of these changes were announced. 

At the top, News Corp’s LA-based creative businesses will be combined and report to Jim Gianopulos and Tom Rothman, co-chairmen and CEOs of Fox Filmed Entertainment. 

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Apple Launches Talking Shuffle

new shuffleUntil recently when Apple geared up to launch a new product it was lights, camera and action; the full-on spectacle.  Lately though, the theater’s dark.  With recent launches, the company’s opting to use a simple press release instead of a big stage show.   To start the conversation, Apple’s letting products speak for themselves.  The approach suits the newly announced iPod Shuffle just fine.  The device speaks plenty, literally.

Announced today, the new generation of Apple’s tiniest iPod is billed as “the first music player that talks to you.” 

The tiny device features a Voice Over feature that acts like something of a virtual DJ.  Push the control button and it will call out the track name and artist of the song playing. Push it again and it can provide battery status information or even identify the names of different playlists.

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Earnings Watch: Take Two Beats Street in Q1

A year ago, all eyes watched as Take Two Interactive began to fight off EA’s hostile takeover bid.  Today, stock watchers checked back in to see how the company was performing months removed from leaving that challenge behind.  The result was mixed.

In earnings announced after the close of markets, the game publisher reported higher than expected sales for the first quarter but set second quarter guidance below analyst targets.

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YouTube Pulls Music Videos in The UK Over Lincensing

record-rights-issue-sm.jpg Music videos are among the most popular clips on YouTube but the battle to keep them there is getting more and more contentious.  Back in December, faced with failing licensing negotiations, Warner Music, pulled its programming off of the site.  Monday, it was Google playing the role of the aggressor. The company took a hard-line stance with the UK’s royalty collecting body.

After failing to reach an agreement with Performing Rights Society for Music (PRS), Google said it would block UK users from watching premium music videos on its YouTube site.

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Applevine Report: Netbook Rumors? U2 Leaving Apple for RIM?

apple rumors netbookApple’s said it again and again: it has little interest in the netbook category of computers at this time.  As recently as October, Steve Jobs called it a “nascent” market segment.  Still, no matter the denials or rejections, the rumors just won’t quit.   They’ve been trailing the company for months and they’re back at it again.

The latest batch took flight Monday when DigiTimes published a report saying Taiwan-based Wintek had been contracted to deliver touchscreen panels for a new netbook. Click to Read More

Amazon Tests Video Game Trade-in Program

games recycle smallGameStop proved buying and selling used video games is a lucrative market. When earnings are reported later this month, the company is expected to announce more than $2b in fiscal year revenue came from second hand goods, and all at higher margin than primary sales.  (see attached chart).  Still, opportunity notwithstanding, other retailers have generally shied away from entering the space. Between managing the quality of products, the risks of alienating suppliers (many of whom pay “market development fees” to the retailers), or even the risks of cannibalizing primary sales, it’s just not been worth it.   But now sales are down and times tight. Consumers are looking for bargains.  That has some retailers rethinking their choices. 

Recently, Toys R Us launched a limited New York area pilot to allow customers to trade in used game titles for store credit.  Best Buy is rumored to be considering doing similar and Thursday, Amazon launched a beta of its own.

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