Monday, November 29, 2010

Alloy Digital wins a a Media Vanguard award for original web video series

Media Vanguard Awards 2010

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Most Innovative Use of Original Web Video for Merchandising

'First Day' Web Series

Published: November 29, 2010

--> In "First Day," Cassie Mitchell can't get it right. She's a new student starting high school, and in a "Groundhog Day"-esque twist, she has to keep repeating her first day at school over and over again. "Each day," per the comedic web series' synopsis, "she is able to experiment with her look, as she learns about herself as a person and tries to win over her new crush." As it happens, the entire series -- an eight-episode arc of four- to six-minute shows -- is "Styled by Kmart."

It could be cheesy, but instead it's incredibly winning (and as smartly produced as anything you'd see on Nick or Disney Channel). And given that the fashion-as-self-expression angle is integral to the plot, the Kmart branding -- and the "Featured Products" sidebar -- feels servicey, not overbearing. It's like reading Lucky magazine if Lucky had a plot.

Produced by Alloy (the company known for its "Gossip Girl" and "Pretty Little Liars" book series) and distributed through the massive Alloy Digital Network, "First Day" drew a remarkable 8 million episode views by the time the series was over -- at which point, thank God, the calendar finally advanced for sweet Carrie.

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We're very excited to share the news: Alloy has won a Media Vanguard award from Ad Age for our branded entertainment show First Day. Congrats to the team and please check it out for yourself at

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Sunday, November 28, 2010

Follow-up on The Upside of Irrationality - Kindness: Why we help others, not always not everyone

Someone took the time to summarize chapter 9 (why we help others) in a neat little slideshow - easier for me to share than to write. Enjoy!

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From Philip Roth to El Bulli and from subprime mortgages to Hedonic Adaptation

Here's my roundup of Thanksgiving reading - all of it in paper this time, no kindle, no ipad.

For the first time in a long time I actually read 5 books (courtesy of the NYPL) over the last few weeks, especially last week on the beach in Mexico. For starters, two of Philip Roth's latest books - I admire his clean, crisp writing, descriptive language and concise storytelling. I read Indignation and The Humbling and enjoyed both stories and the dark endings (death) in both cases. I'd probably recommend Indignation over the Humbling, it's a quick read (4 hours) and has some vivid descriptions of Jewish Newark in the 1950ies and college life in Ohio at a conservative school.

Next I read the latest Ferran Adria book that proclaims the Catalan chef to be not only a gifted chef but a creative genius and credits him with having changed the face of Haute Cuisine by pushing the envelope and elevating an "anything goes" approach and an experimentation approach to his food. The book is somewhat repetitive but nonetheless a worthwhile read for foodies and aspiring chefs. Being of the several million applicants who never got to eat at El Bulli I've decided to identify his top alumni in New York and will scout for those restaurants shortly (I believe WD-50 is on top of the list).

The next recommendation is Dan Ariely's latest called The Upside of Irrationality which takes the reader on a tour of the mind's not-always rational ways of thinking when it comes to popular business themes such as bonus payments (in summary: low to mid-sized bonuses are great, large bonuses will lead to the wrong sort of results), the power of NIH (not-invented-here) and how you can use it to your advantage (hint: plant your ideas with your boss as if they were his), why sense of ownership is a powerful motivator and how you should take a deep breath before reacting to perceived unjustice and plot your revenge. 

The second part of the book is of a more personal nature and the key chapter is on Adaptation, especially hedonic adaptation - the concept of human beings being able to rather quickly get used to positive things (a new TV, a higher salary, the dream apartment). Ariely analyses the issue using experiments and comes up with an interesting recommendation: when faced with positive experiences, interrupt them frequently as you will enjoy the more. In the case of tedious tasks, force yourself to complete them rather than taking breaks - that would only prolong the pain. Overall this is an interesting read although it does require some attention to detail and is at times a bit verbose; recommended to all fans of behavioral psychology and business psychology; also pay attention to his entertaining analysis of the online dating market and his tests around "virtual dates" - which as far as I know, none of the dating sites haven't yet adapted.

The final read of the month was The Big Short by Liar's Poker author Michael Lewis. This is the second summary of the subprime mortgage crisis I've read after The Greatest Trade Ever and was fairly repetitive in terms of storyline. Lewis looks at a few of the same players as Gregory Zuckerman and comes up with a lot of the same conclusions. The Big Short is a quick read but not as detailed as Greatest Trade Ever - if you're in for the more fictional approach, go for Michael Lewis, if you're a bit of a finance geek yourself, pick Greg Zuckerman.



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Friday, November 19, 2010

Shoeboxed Business Card Scanner for iPhone saves you time and helps connect.


Never lose a contact again with the Shoeboxed Business Card Reader and Business Card Scanner!

Digitize business cards and auto-share your contact information with your new contacts. Simply snap pictures of business cards with your iPhone and Shoeboxed does the rest. Important contact details are extracted with OCR and human-verified for accuracy.

• Free and unlimited business card submissions—no paid Shoeboxed account required
• Contact details including name, title, company, email address, phone numbers, city, state and zip (mailing address optional) extracted with OCR and human-verified for accuracy
• Add new contacts directly to your iPhone address book and flag duplicates
• Export contact info to BatchBook, Google Contacts, Outlook, Evernote, Salesforce, CSV, Constant Contact and dozens of other contact management and email marketing programs free at
• Auto-share your contact info with all your new contacts

All of the contact info extracted from your cards is reviewed by highly trained and qualified Shoeboxed operators to ensure accuracy. Contacts stored in the iPhone app are also backed up in your secure online account. transforms receipts, business cards, invoices and other paper documents into a secure, searchable, IRS-accepted online database. Send paper clutter to Shoeboxed via mail, email or mobile phone and say goodbye to scanners, data entry and paper cuts forever. Tax preparation, expense reporting, bookkeeping and contact management are all easier with Shoeboxed.


My friends at Shoeboxed have come up with a great new business card utility - the app lets you scan business cards for free and connect with the people you've just met. It's a free app - so go ahead and download it now!

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Monday, November 08, 2010

The online advertising ecosystem for Startups by @dherman76 - great overview

Great overview by Darren Herman on the ecosystem. Highly recommended.

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Tremor-Scanscout Merger: the consolidation in the video ad network space continues


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Tremor-Scanscout Merger Creates Web Video Ad Player on Par With Hulu's

Wave of Consolidation in Space Driven by Advertiser Demands for Reach

by Michael Learmonth
Published: November 08, 2010

NEW YORK ( -- Lots of advertisers want to buy online video -- they just don't want to buy it in dribs and drabs from a bunch of different places. That quest for scale is leading to a swath of consolidation in the fastest-growing segment in online advertising.

Tremor Media, the largest independent network, reached a deal last week to acquire Scanscout, one of its smaller competitors, in a bold attempt to consolidate the market, and create a scaled competitor to Hulu and YouTube. Separately, Undertone Networks is expected to announce a deal Monday to buy Jambo Media, a video syndication and ad platform. Two weeks ago, Specific Media snapped up BBE, one of the first pure-play video networks in the market.

Bill Day, Scanscout CEO

Bill Day, Scanscout CEO


The latter two deals are about display ad networks attempting to add video capabilities, just as AOL added video inventory when it bought 5Min earlier this fall. The Tremor deal is about creating the largest independent source of video ad inventory, in hopes it can better compete for the TV budgets moving online.

TV advertisers are the ones moving most aggressively into web video, looking to achieve similar goals through it. "I think that has been one thing that has been missing for advertisers is the ability to deliver mass reach," said Chris Allen, VP-video innovations at Starcom USA. "A lot of our clients are married to the reach metric, and TV delivers reach as fast as possible. The only way to achieve that reach online is through a network."

While traditional display ads have slowed way down, video advertising is just revving up, growing an estimated 48.1% in 2010 off a relatively small base and another 42.7% to $2.1 billion in 2011, according to eMarketer.

"If you look at agencies and their motivation they are looking to buy the strongest and the biggest; this creates a must-buy against that," Jason Glickman, CEO of Tremor Media, said.

His play is to create a scaled player in the mid-market, something below Hulu, but above the mix of content available on YouTube. As it is, there isn't a whole lot of differentiation in either scale or offerings between Tremor or Scanscout, and other providers such as Brightroll or Yume. "You might see some price variations but most will come in at the same CPM range depending on the targeting you use," Mr. Allen said.

The combined Tremor/Scanscout served a collective 667.5 million video ads in September, according to ComScore, a close second to Hulu's 794 million and well ahead of No. 3 Brightroll with 476.4 million. Google served 242.5 million in September.

Tremor has raised nearly $80 million over the past four years. Its 2010 revenue is said to be in the $70 to $75 million range and is expected to grow to $110 million on its own in 2011. Scanscout has raised $17.5 million and has revenue of $20 to $25 million. Scanscout CEO Bill Day will become CEO of the combined company to be called Tremor Media and Mr. Gickman will become executive chairman.

Both companies, based in New York City, are profitable or near-profitable, given they are both still investing heavily in technology, said Mr. Glickman.

The combined company will look to complete an IPO in the next 18 months, giving investors the only pure play on the growth of video advertising, provided Hulu doesn't go public first.

Tremor's backers also won't rule out more deals to further consolidate the market. "You are going to see further consolidation," said Warren Lee, a partner at Tremor investor Canaan Partners. "After this deal we will still have a very strong balance sheet and there will be other things we can acquire in terms of products, services and technology."

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A number of deals in the last few months (BBE, Joost, Jambo, 5min) point to a quick consolidation/ concentration in the video ad network market; not surprising given that there's no real differentiation here (think display ad networks years ago) and that the exchanges are continuing to push into this area. The video ad networks currently operate with low margins as it's all about building scale for that desired IPO. Let's hope they get there on time and don't get into a situation of overraising/ underdifferentiating like some of the display networks.

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