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What to Expect from Social Media in 2012

January 2nd, 2012 9:42AM by Brendon Kensel

Social media is experiencing exponential growth in the U.S. and worldwide and this growth is expected to continue in 2012. Social networking sites now reach 82% of the world’s online population and account for about 20% of time spent online according to comScore. In the U.S. 98% of the online population uses social media. As mass social networks such as Facebook and Twitter are nearing saturation points in the U.S. it is leading to new user behavior and new social platforms that are focused on particular topics and market segments.

Mobile Social Activities Among Mobile Social Networking Users” width=

Source: comScore, December 2011

Social media user behavior seems to be changing as saturation points near. People are becoming less engaged in creating content and instead are increasingly sharing existing content according to a recent report from GlobalWebIndex. The report notes that a huge exception is the growing propensity for consumers to post images and video to their social media profiles. Consumers are also increasingly using mobile devices to access social networking sites. comScore notes that in 2011 80% of consumers used their smartphones to check posts by people they knew, and 70% posted a status.

The lifecycle of social media often follows a path of from niche market to mass market. Facebook went from targeting college students to allowing the general market to sign-up. MySpace has gone full circle by launching as a social network focused on the music niche, morphing into mass market site, and now returning to its music roots under the stewardship of Justin Timberlake. LinkedIn is a scaled example of a social network that launched with a focus on a niche audience, business professionals, and retains that focus today.

As mass social media platforms mature it is expected that new entrants will emerge and focus on particular topics and market segments. While Google’s G+ is focused on the mass market, consumers appear to be picking their favorite platform and spending their social media time there. Consumers also appear to be seeking out specialized social communities. Niche audiences of highly active participants will continue to emerge as consumers seek more tailored experiences and advertisers look for specific audiences.

New niche social media sites to keep an eye on in 2012 include: Chime.in, an interest network, where people share, connect with others, and build communities around their favorite topics; Pinterest, an online pin board to organize, share and follow collections of shared items and interests; and Jock Talk, a social media publishing platform that provides professional athletes and fans a single location to post conversations, videos and photos, and enable richer engagement.

Smartphones will also play a large in how consumers use social media in 2012. While Facebook and Twitter are forces in mobile social networking there a few emerging companies worth noting. These include: Path and Milk with its first app, Oink. Several additional specialized mobile networks that will ride on top of Facebook are expected to appear this year.

Social media will be fun to watch and socialize about in 2012!

Acquisitive vs. Organic Growth

September 13th, 2010 8:07PM by Brendon Kensel

Digital media and marketing companies have slogged through the recession and are now hoping to see a rebound in 2011. While there is still macro-economic uncertainty, trends in the digital media and marketing sectors are moving in the right direction. Next year marketing expenditures on digital and online media in the U.S. is expected to surpass the marketing budget allocated to print for the first time.

As senior executives at digital media and marketing companies begin to plan their corporate strategy for 2011 many are trying to determine the right growth strategy — acquisitive or organic. Many CEO’s are now recognizing that their optimal corporate growth strategy will likely include a combination of acquisitive and organic growth. While most companies in the media and marketing sectors have been growing organically, now may be a good time to accelerate growth through acquisitions.

Successful corporate strategies incorporate organic growth fostered by the pursuit of operational and financial strategies along with select acquisitions that dovetail to the company’s key strengths. Executives that decide to pursue acquisitions should be able to identify the strategic reasons why they want to acquire a particular target.

The primary drivers of an acquisition typically include one or more of the following: a) acquire new distribution channel/customers; b) acquire key technology; c) expand or add a product line; d) gain executive/technical/creative talent; e) gain expertise and entry in a new market; f) gain a time-to-market advantage; and/or g) increase profitability.

Ultimately, acquisitions are made because companies believe it is a more effective means of meeting a strategic need and increasing shareholder value than organic growth. While any of the above attribute will enhance value, capturing proprietary technology or products with a significant competitive advantage, or gaining market leadership in a fast-growing market segment can dramatically enhance value. The merger and acquisition market in the media and marketing services sector has been brisk this year. Recent examples include:

In June GSI Commerce (NASDAQ: GSIC) acquired FetchBack, an advertising startup that specialized in retargeting, for about $40 million according to reports. This acquisition is very complimentary to GSI’s other marketing service offerings since retargeting will allow GSI to drive customers back to their clients’ websites.

Broadcaster and publisher Meredith Corp. (NYSE: MDP) acquired mobile agency The Hyperfactory in July. This acquisition provides Meredith with a strong mobile foothold and enhances its marketing services group.

Google (NASDAQ: GOOG) acquired social applications developer Slide for $182 million in August. The acquisition gives Google a seasoned team that knows social, something Google is working diligently to get right.

This month blog network Glam Media acquired German men’s online media company Fantastic Zero. This acquisition expands Glam’s efforts to reach males and will help broaden its overall demographic and geographic reach.

To further fuel your creative M&A juices check additional deals at CruchBase.

Is it Time to Invest in Online Advertising Firms Again?

July 10th, 2010 7:11PM by Brendon Kensel
U.S. Online Advertising Growth 2009-2014E” width=

Source: Barclays Capital Internet Deal Book, April 2010

The U.S. turned in a fairly robust quarter in Q1 2010, with a GDP increase of 3.2%. Personal consumption expenditures also increased 3.6%. In May 2010 the unemployment rate decreased to 9.7% and personal consumption expenditures increased $24.4 billion, or 0.2%. Greater consumer activity is typically a prime motivator for greater advertising spending. Online advertising revenues in the U.S. were $5.9 billion in Q1 2010, representing a 7.5% increase over the same period in 2009, according to Interactive Advertising Bureau.

Online advertising is the fastest growing segment of the advertising industry. Online advertising spending in the U.S. is expected to reach $24.9 billion in 2010, representing 8.9% growth over last year according to Barclays Capital Internet Data Book. Economic gains, increased broadband Internet access, along with the continued shift of advertising budgets from traditional to digital media is expected to drive online advertising revenues in the U.S. to $37.5 billion by 2014, a 10.5% compound annual growth rate (CAGR) from 2009, which totaled $22.8 billion.

In 2009 online media represented 14.0% of the total U.S. advertising spending while average consumers spent about 22.0% of their media time online. This gap represents a significant opportunity for acquirers and investors of online ad firms as online advertising budgets are increased to bring them in-line with online media consumption. The popularity of social media is increasing this consumption – three of the world’s most popular brands online are social-media related: Facebook, YouTube and Wikipedia.

While online advertising did not fully escape the impact of the recession, its decline in the U.S. was much less severe than that of other advertising media. Online advertising expenditures are expected to surpass newspaper advertising for the first time in 2010

U.S. Ad Spending Across Media 2009-2012E” width=

Source: Barclays Capital Internet Deal Book, April 2010

Search marketing has continued to fuel the growth of online advertising. Search revenues are expected to increase from $11.0 billion in 2009 to $21.3 billion in 2014, a 14.1% CAGR. The $12.8 billion marketers will spend on search in 2010 represents 52.0% of the total online ad spend.

Online video advertising and mobile advertising are expected to further drive digital advertising growth in the coming years. Online video advertising is expected to reach $3.7 billion in 2014, a 32.7% CAGR from 2009 revenues of just under $1.0 billion according to Barclays Capital.

The mobile advertising market also is poised for growth as wireless networks are upgraded and more Internet-enabled smart phones arrive in the market. Mobile advertising in the U.S. is expected to grow from $414 million in 2009 to $1.6 billion in 2014, a 32.0% CAGR.

It is time for investors to update their investment thesis for online advertising firms.