Google's proposed DoubleClick acquisition causing a stir
On April 13, Google Inc. announced a definitive agreement to acquire DoubleClick Inc., a digital marketing technology and services provider, for $3.1 billion in cash. This marks Google's largest acquisition to date.
Both companies declined to comment, but Google is offering up a list of FAQ about the proposed acquisition.
The acquisition—which will combine DoubleClick's ad management technology for media buyers and sellers with Google's advertising platform and publisher monetization services—is sparking a lot of controversy.
One outcry is coming from Microsoft Corp.. According to a Washington Post article, the acquisition raises antitrust and privacy concerns that Microsoft says deserve careful review by authorities.
Microsoft lost its bid for DoubleClick to Google. The company's complaint that the Google-DoubleClick combo would create a dominant force in the online search market is pretty ironic when you think about the company's stronghold with the Windows operating system.
Three other companies—the Electronic Privacy Information Center, the Center for Digital Democracy and the U.S. Public Interest Research Group—have filed a joint complaint with the Federal Trade Commission objecting the acquisition.
According to the complaint: "Neither Google nor DoubleClick have taken adequate steps to safeguard the personal data that is collected. Moreover, the proposed acquisition will create unique risks to privacy and will violate previously agreed standards for the conduct of online advertising."
Both Google and DoubleClick have approved the transaction, which is subject to customary closing conditions, and the companies expect to close by the end of the year.
—Traci Patterson, Web/News Editor - CED, Editor - xOD Capsule
TandbergTV partnering up with Pace, Intel
Tandberg Television is joining forces with both Pace Micro Technology and Intel Corp. for on-demand related endeavors.
With the CableCARD transition looming, Pace is continuing to integrate its newest DVR-based set-tops with VOD systems from a variety of other suppliers. Pace's most recent integration is with TandbergTV.
Pace has integrated its Tahoe HD-DVR and its Vegas SD-DVR with TandbergTV's OpenStream Digital Services Platform. The combination will allow operators to easily deploy on-demand services using VOD servers, applications, billing systems and other system components of their choice. TandbergTV said its system delivers on-demand streams to more than 80 U.S. markets reaching more than 15 million digital subs.
In February, Pace announced a similar integration with C-COR's on-demand platform.
Both Pace boxes are available with CableCARD or embedded conditional access (CA) and can run either native applications or CableLabs OpenCable Applications Platform (OCAP). All of the Pace set-tops can run in either DOCSIS Signaling Gateway (DSG) or legacy out of band mode for network messaging.
Pace Tahoe TDC-775
Pace Vegas TDC-575D
TandbergTV is also partnering with Intel. The two companies are combining products to create a suite of tools that content developers will be able to use to create and distribute - via broadband - video programming to consumer products based on Intel's Core 2 Duo processor.
Intel processors are in fact inside a great many products, yet the company has rarely been able to extend its reach up the stack toward applications. Video being played on PCs is a trend in progress. Since PC technology is Intel's forte, and TandbergTV's tools are already in wide use, both companies have some reasonable expectation for success.
The broadband television publishing solution will combine TandbergTV's content management software with Intel's programming configuration tool.
The tool set includes the custom development of publishing templates for Intel technology-enabled platforms, including pre-programmed consumer interfaces with embedded functions such as online video players and mobile TV front ends.
The templates have the flexibility to include new forms of integrated advertising, live or on-demand television streams, and interactive content and community features that can immerse the consumer in the experience of a brand as well as convey a unique look and feel, the companies said.
"Our goal is to make delivering the Internet TV experience a simple extension to the tools already used today by many top TV broadcasters around the world," said Kevin Corbett, vice president of Intel's Digital Home Group.
Building on its August 2006 acquisition of Zetools, TandbergTV recently formed a new broadband television business unit to advise content owners and distributors in solving key challenges in their transition to TV 2.0 through turnkey solutions for creation, management and delivery of broadcast-quality content for the broadband world. This agreement with Intel expands the business unit's distribution capabilities.
Intel allies with Amino on high-powered IPTV set-tops
Meanwhile, Intel Corp. is trying to insinuate its hardware into set-tops. Amino Technologies said its IntAct IPTV software stack will be ported on to the new Intel CE 2110 Media Processor. The hardware-software combo, incorporated in IPTV set-top boxes, will enable services such as advanced iTV, Web browsing, video calling and communications applications.
Amino said the IntAct IPTV software stack enables IP STBs to support a wide range of IPTV middleware and CASs. Third-party application software can also be ported to add new features for IPTV service providers, thanks to the open software platform architecture.
"Home entertainment is changing, evolving into something beyond the digital television services consumers know," said Karthik Ranjan, vice president at Amino. "Powered by Intel's new media processing platform, this idea will be closer to reality, allowing operators and STB suppliers to offer so much more. IPTV services can now exceed consumers' expectations with the addition of next generation services, which will be available through their televisions."
Comcast joins NBCU-News Corp. venture
News Corp., NBC Universal and Comcast Corp. have entered into a distribution agreement, making Comcast.net and Fancast.com—which Comcast will launch this summer—distribution sites for the News Corp.-NBCU online venture.
The recently announced online video venture will launch this summer and will provide thousands of hours of full-length TV programming, clips and movies from two film studios and more than a dozen networks. It will be distributed via Web sites such as AOL, MSN, MySpace and Yahoo!, and now Comcast's online destinations.
Under the agreement, Comcast—the venture's first non-equity content provider—will provide non-exclusive network content for domestic distribution on NBCU and News Corp.'s site, including E!, Style, G4, Versus and the Golf Channel.
The venture will utilize media management and video distribution technology from thePlatform Inc., a Comcast subsidiary that provides broadband and mobile video publishing solutions.
Fancast.com is a new site that will enable users to view video as well as search, discover and manage both TV and movie content (in YouTube fashion).
fix8 bridges TV-Internet gap with iTV platform
fix8 has launched Auditions, a platform for broadcasting real-time media to support iTV.
Shanghai Media Group (SMG) will offer iTV programming on the platform via Shanghai cable networks targeted at youth markets.
Auditions allows producers to select media content from thousands of Internet users and integrate it into live or produced TV programming, the company said.
"Studies show that TV is losing viewers to the Internet," said fix8's CEO Linh Duy Tang. "Auditions will bridge the gap by integrating TV, Internet and mobile technologies for audience participation across reality, talk, game and dating shows."
But fix8 said reality TV is only the beginning. The platform will soon expand to support an even wider variety of iTV apps, including role playing games (RPGs), blogs, podcasts, karaoke and TV communities.
fix8 recently introduced User-Generated Reality, which offers free, downloadable software combining video, animation and instant messaging (IM).
ViewCast, Multicast pair to deliver streaming content package
ViewCast Corp. and Multicast Media Technologies have signed a reseller agreement.
Atlanta-based Multicast—which delivers live and on-demand video content over the Internet—will bundle ViewCast's Niagara streaming media appliances with its turnkey streaming and service support package. ViewCast will begin shipping Niagara encoders to Multicast for deployment within existing infrastructures and for new customers and apps, ViewCast said.
Multicast will handle the delivery and backroom operations of the small- to medium-sized Internet broadcast productions, and ViewCast will focus on providing new streaming server hardware and software.
Multicast manages more than 3,500 broadcasts per month for nearly 1,000 clients worldwide.
And Terayon goes to . . . Motorola
Motorola Inc. is the top bidder for Terayon Communication Systems, which for the past year or so has been widely considered the company most likely to be bought.
Motorola will acquire all of the outstanding shares of Terayon's common stock for $1.80 per share in cash. The transaction will have a total equity value of approximately $140 million, a little less than double Terayon's preliminary calculation of 2006 sales of $76.4 million. Terayon's annual revenue in 2005 was $90 million.
Terayon was founded to exploit its proprietary Synchronous Code Division Multiple Access (S-CDMA) technology in cable modems and CMTSs. S-CDMA was included as an option in DOCSIS 2.0, but Terayon ended up an also-ran in both markets, and ultimately it shut down both product lines.
Meanwhile, the company's successful CherryPicker video processing products became the new foundation of a transformed Terayon. The company now specializes in digital ad insertion, motion and graphical overlays, channel branding and channel line-up solutions, as well as cutting-edge ad insertion delivery technologies.
Failing in the CMTS and cable modem markets actually made Terayon a more inviting acquisition target for ARRIS, Cisco and Motorola (all three of which were said to have been interested in Terayon at one point or another), who already had those products in their portfolios and didn't need or want duplicate lines.
Upon completion of the purchase, Terayon will become a wholly-owned subsidiary of Motorola and will be integrated into the Motorola Connected Home Solutions business. Motorola said it intends to maintain Terayon's operations in Santa Clara, Calif.
Genesys using ClickFox's CBI software
Genesys Telecommunications Laboratories Inc., an Alcatel-Lucent company, has integrated its Genesys 7.5 customer interaction management suite with ClickFox's Customer Behavior Intelligence (CBI) software. Genesys will also begin reselling ClickFox software.
"Customer expectations are higher today than ever before and are continuing to rise," said Wes Hayden, president and CEO of Genesys. "Companies with actionable data about customer behavior have a clear understanding of how-and where-to make the improvements that impact customer satisfaction the most."
Genesys leverages customer information and analytics models to orchestrate and improve business processes applied to customer service across all channels, the company said. Genesys captures millions of interactions each day, creating an integrated source of web, voice self-service and assisted-service interactions using its InfoMart and customer logs.
ClickFox's CBI software takes large interaction datasets, such as web, IVR and agent transaction logs, and creates visual maps that enable customer service organizations to analyze and improve the overall customer experience, the company said. Through ClickFox's "path analytics," an enterprise can reduce abandoned tasks and repetitive requests.
The key benefit of the integration is that it simplifies access to a complete set of customer interaction data through a single source.
Zodiac, Skyworks pairing for Advergames deployment
Zodiac Interactive and Skyworks Technologies Inc. are partnering up to design, develop and deploy dual-platform Advergames for online and set-top box (STB) distribution.
Advergames will debut to more than 13 million digital STB subs this year, making it the largest iTV ad-supported game network, the companies said.
The games are designed around a specific product, and product placements can appear during pre-roll as the game loads, during the game and at natural pauses in the game. Actions within the game can spark further activities, including behavior off-line such as e-mails related to the product. E-commerce and click-to-call opportunities can also be embedded in a game.
According to an iMedia Connection article, the mass medium of games is tracking to reach $42 billion by the end of the decade. Analysts are predicting a growth curve for in-game advertising that outpaces the growth of online and follows suit with what has already happened: gamer hours surpassing time spent on the Internet, the companies said.
Skyworks said that 40 million of its brand-sponsored games are downloaded each month from its clients' Web sites, and that more than one billion of its Advergames have been downloaded to date.
Skyworks will be demonstrating its games at The Cable Show in Las Vegas, May 7-9. In addition, Zodiac's COO Alexander Libkind and Skyworks' VP of Sales and Business Development Mike Vann will speak on a panel entitled, "Casual Attitude: New Opportunities in a Multiplatform Living Room," on May 9.
GetConnected integrating platform into Sling Media software
GetConnected Inc. (GCi) plans to integrate its commerce engine into Sling Media's SlingPlayer software, which is used in conjunction with the Slingbox.
The Slingbox placeshifts a single, live TV stream from a basic analog cable connection, digital cable box, satellite receiver, or media-enabled PC or DVR to any Internet-connected computer, PDA or smartphone.
The GCi platform will enable Slingbox customers to purchase digital content and services from local area cable, Internet and satellite providers during the installation process of the SlingPlayer software, GCi said.
The combined Sling Media and GCi solution will be integrated into Sling Media's SlingPlayer software in Q2 and will be available for both new and existing U.S. Slingbox customers, the companies said.
Atlas partners with Media Contacts
Atlas, a provider of digital marketing technologies and an operating unit of aQuantive Inc., has signed a global partnership deal with Media Contacts, the interactive arm of Havas, to provide services such as a VOD digital advertising format.
Atlas becomes a Media Contacts' technology strategic partner and will provide services and support to the company's expanding global network, currently comprising 30 cities in 23 countries and providing services to more than 400 clients.
Atlas will also work with Media Contacts to expand the integration of is technology with Artemis, Media Contacts' proprietary data platform.
The Atlas Digital Marketing Suite offers digital advertising formats such as banners, search, rich media, in-stream video and VOD, enabling creativity and improved targeting.
Research and Markets adds mobile advertising
• Research and Markets has announced the addition of "Mobile Advertising" to its offering. The mobile advertising market is predicted to continue increasing globally, reaching more than $1.5 billion in 2007, according to Informa Telecoms & Media.
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• New market opportunities from VOD, broadband and IPTV suppliers in such territories as Hong Kong, Korea and Singapore, as well as an upswing in growth in traditional and emerging markets in Europe and Africa, combined to give MIPTV distributors cause for cheer, according to The Hollywood Reporter.