Web Overtakes TV In UK Ad Spends

UK Internet Advertising Bureau says TV was eclipsed by the internet in the country s total ad spend for the first time. Reported by Reuters, the study covering the first half of 2009 says web ads accounted for 23.5 percent of all advertising compared to 21.9 percent for television.  The UK ad market saw a slump overall, with the broader media sector including television, print and outdoor display falling 17 percent in the period.

The rate of growth in online advertising declined, measured at 4.6 percent compared to 21 percent a year ago. Bureau chief Guy Phillipson believes there will be further online growth in 2010 with a jump to double digit growth in 2011. Search accounted for 60 percent of all online advertising in the UK. Online growth is in-part being driven by cheap broadband. Read more at Reuters.

Funcom Announces Layoffs And ‘The Secret World’ Delay

Funcom is laying off 20 percent of their work force. The company operates offices in Norway, Switzerland, China, Canada and the US. Reporting the story, Industry Gamers says that of the more than 300 people employed across those offices, the staff in Norway is expected to take the brunt of the layoffs. As part of cost-cutting moves the company is also seeking to move more staff into its Quebec office, where it even expects to hire 100 to 150 new Canadian employees over the next year and a half.

The force reduction will delay Funcom’s upcoming MMO The Secret World but will not affect the Age of Conan expansion Rise of the Goldslayer.

The Next Merchandising Frontier, Maybe

HBO seemed to be entering the sugar water category this July when it rolled out Tru Blood, the blood-red drink originally seen on the network s eponymous vampire show. While the drink is available for purchase online, in reality HBO enlisted reverse-branding and defictionalization specialist Omni Consumer Products to create it. Fast Company has gathered a list of recent attempts to market so-called fantasy products. It turns out this variation on merchandising has precedence.

As Fast Company traces it, the practice started with a disastrous Disney and Hasbro partnership to market a real version of the gooey toy Flubber from its 1963 film Son of Flubber. Skin rashes and a small setback for the environment highlight that effort. More recent attempts have been strictly promotional, for instance the Simpsons movie promotion turning 7-11 Slurpees into Apu-endorsed Squishies. Others have taken a crack at creating a niche, such as Jelly Belly s Harry Potter flavor jelly beans. Overall, and Flubber aside, none have come close to being a mass marketed product.

In addition to the Tru Blood drink, Omni has developed products from films Idiocracy and Anchorman. Available at their site: Sex Panther cologne. Just in time for Christmas. Check out the media rich feature at Fast Company.

Mediaweek 2010 Media Outlook

Mediaweek spoke to analysts and industry executives to get a bead on ad revenue for 2010. The outlook for the coming year seems to center on the fact that everyone is bidding a fond farewell to a dismal 2009. Yet as the magazine moves from sector to sector, what it paints is a picture evoking a New Year’s party where the most somber guests might be in the VIP section.

Broadcast TV is one such VIP. The giant of the media sector, made up of the five major networks, saw 20 percent less ad money in its upfront marketplace this year. It’s expected to end up 11 percent down for the year before looking forward to several more down years. Yet its slump reads like a subplot. More and more evidence is mounting that the traditional TV ad model needs to adjust to changing viewing habits. For years we’ve been seeing studies about viewers flocking from TV to games, web and other distractions. In a stroke of irony a device designed to enhance TV watching is taking the latest lead role as a direct threat to the medium. Much noise is being made about a study by TiVo, released last week and picked up by [a]list daily, that found time-shifted DVR viewing accompanied by likely ad-skipping for popular shows. In one figure from the study, three-quarters of people watched NBC’s hit show 30 Rock on DVR last year and two-thirds of them skipped ads. As staggering as that sounds, the average person has to wonder why the other third are sitting through ads. That’s the reality TV executives are facing. Analyst PriceWaterhouseCoopers tells Mediaweek they see TV’s valley getting deeper, with ad revenues slumping until 2013, but they believe the money will flow back as networks get serious about using technology to advance the way they target and engage with their ads.

The outlook says Digital is looking at a promising 2010. How promising varies from component to component, and even analyst to analyst with eMarketer forecasting 9.4 percent growth in online advertising overall while PwC pegs it at only 3 percent. That uncertainty could reflect what Mediaweek calls out as a 2009 replete with revised budgets and late spending. The report predicts very modest growth for display ads, which are still struggling with poor metrics. Search and online video on the other hand are seen as digital darlings, both forecast for healthy growth as the economy continues to recover next year. So is mobile. You can call the market size for mobile ads a frozen rock floating among gas giants, and that s how advertisers looking ahead to their 2010 revenues may see it. Yet the sector is getting one the most bullish forecasts. PwC sees it more than doubling in 2010 to $2.9 billion, driven by more mobile sites able to deliver rich media. Brand marketers should take note. While TV clearly struggles with changing habits and the internet deals with growing pains in measuring ads effectively, mobile s third screen is shaping to be the one with the sweetest growth curve ahead of it.


Mediaweek’s 2010 outlook also looks at cable TV, print, radio and out-of-home. Read the full analysis at Mediaweek.

Sony Shutters Part Of ‘Uncharted 2’ Twitters

Sony has turned off the chapter update Twitter function for its PS3 title, Uncharted 2: Among Thieves. 1up reports the move is not surprising given the expectation that the volume of Tweets would be cumbersome for everyone involved once the game hit shelves. Even before it got there, Sony got a taste of just what that volume would be as the game started to reach reviewers in the press. As a result Sony decided to shut down the frequent chapter updates only, leaving the rest of Twitter functionality going for now. Read more at 1up.

Schafer Sees ‘Brutal Legend’ As Heavy Metal’s ‘Lord Of The Rings’

Anthony Bruno of Billboard interviewed Tim Schafer on what it took to bring together his upcoming title Brutal Legend. The game is a labor of love for the heavy metal fanatic, one that has had its lumps on a road from now defunct Vivendi Games through Activision litigation threats to getting published by EA. With its October 13 release on the horizon, Schafer primarily talks about what went right in creating an epic game he believes the heavy metal genre has always deserved.

Schafer calls getting Jack Black on board an early step that gave the project needed credibility. That gave them leverage to approach the bands and license the music that would make or break the game. One of the first musicians signed was Motorhead’s legendary lead man Lemmy. With more than 100 classic metal tunes licensed, Schafer sees Brutal Legend as yet another sign that musicians and labels recognize the game market as a place they want to be. Read the full interview from Billboard.

Can The Element Of Surprise Sell 2.5 Million Units?

Kris Graft at Gamasutra recaps the messaging and PR lead-up to this summer s surprise seller Batman: Arkham Asylum. Talking to Rocksteady game director Sefton Hill, an element of surprise against an environment of low expectations for the licensed game helped the title wow reviewers and ultimately blaze up the charts.

Rocksteady and publisher Eidos tried to walk the fine line between under and over hyping, even as they began to realize they had a quality game on their hands. Eidos UK marketing head Jon Brooke may have toed the line when in April he called the game as close to perfection as we’ve come. Says Gamasutra, given that it was not only another licensed game but a follow-up to a string of severely disappointing Batman games, fortunately no one believed him. Read more at Gamasutra.

CNN Launches Paid App For IPhone

CNN launched its mobile app for iPhone today. In a widely watched move, the network decided to charge $1.99 and break the free to read mobile content model used by competitors such as NY Times and USA Today. CNN’s angle in how it’ll overcome the barrier is quality of content. CNN says the app provides the same breaking news feeds as the network and gives access to local coverage through Topix. The app’s real ace in the hole could be how it takes advantage of what the iPhone can do to facilitate CNN’s serendipitously named iReport. CNN iReport has become a popular TV and web feature, where publicly submitted photos, videos and commentary of live news events are broadcast by the network.

CNN’s move follows a similar decision by Wall Street Journal last week, which decided to start charging $1-2 per week for its content on the go. The major outlets who aren t currently charging are watching. They want to see if the free news content model is indeed as entrenched in consumers minds for mobile as it has become on the web. On the free side of the coin there s a lesson to learn from AP, which launched a Blackberry app at $2.99 to tepid reception. Downloads of the AP app surged once it was free. Read more from AP.

Live Ads In ‘Dead To Rights’

Double Fusion has signed with Namco Bandai to bring dynamic ads into the PS3 version of the upcoming title Dead to Rights: Retribution. Slated for release in 2010 for both PS3 and 360, the game is the third installment in the action franchise launched by Namco (sans Bandai) in 2002. Industry Gamers reports that the Double Fusion deal only covers PS3 as Microsoft’s own in-game ad service Massive will most likely handle the 360 version.