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Friday, December 30, 2011

New York Times Email Disaster to Millions

Story first appeared in the Associated Press.
The New York Times accidentally sends an email to millions offering a 50 percent discount.

In today's digital age, it's easy to send out an email by mistake — even for a company that's in the business of communication.

The New York Times thought it was sending an email to a few hundred people who had recently canceled subscriptions, offering them a 50 percent discount for 16 weeks to lure them back.

Instead, Wednesday's offer went to 8.6 million email addresses of people who had given them to the Times.
That was the first mistake. The second came when the Times tweeted this: "If you received an email today about canceling your NYT subscription, ignore it. It's not from us."

But the Times did send the original email.

This email should have been sent to a very small number of subscribers, but instead was sent to a vast distribution list made up of people who had previously provided their email address to The New York Times. The NYT said they regret the error.

The damage had already been done, however.

Many people called or wrote in. The newspaper initially honored the discount, even to people who were already paying full price and had no plans to cancel. Murphy said the newspaper stopped giving out discounts to people who received the email in error by early afternoon. She did not say how much the gaffe cost the company or specify how many people contacted the newspaper.

A parody Twitter account called (at)NYTSpam amassed 152 followers by Wednesday afternoon by making fun of the slip-up. The account's description of itself says: "Parody account. Not affiliated with (at)NYTimes or actual spammers -- just sick of bad digital strategy."

The newspaper has made big strides in raising revenue from digital subscriptions. It says it has gained 324,000 digital subscribers since restricting full online access to paying subscribers in March.

Friday, December 09, 2011

Google Receives AdMeld Aquisition Approval

Story first appeared in USA TODAY.
The Justice Department approved Google's acquisition of online advertising service Admeld after concluding the deal wouldn't diminish competition in one of the Internet's most lucrative marketing niches.

The decision announced Friday clears the way for Google (GOOG) to take control of Admeld six months after the companies agreed to the deal. Google said it plans to take control of Admeld within the next few days, although the two companies' products will remain separate for a while longer.

It's the fourth time since 2007 that that the U.S. government has taken a close look at a Google acquisition to determine if it would stifle competition or drive up prices. Google has gained regulatory approval in each instance. In 2008, though, Google backed out of a proposed partnership with Yahoo (YHOO) to avoid a legal battle with the Justice Department.

The Justice Department is still reviewing Google's proposed takeover of cell phone maker Motorola Mobility Holdings (MMI). That $12.5 billion deal is the biggest in Google's 13-year history.

The Federal Trade Commission is in the midst of a broader inquiry into whether Google has been abusing its dominance of Internet search to make it harder for people to find rival services and apply pressure on advertisers to pay higher prices. Google has consistently predicted that investigation will be resolved in its favor.

Google hasn't disclosed how much it is paying for Admeld, a New York company that works with websites to help them figure out how to make the most money from the amount of space they have available for display ads. It's a steadily growing field of advertising that emphasizes photos, video and illustrations instead of Google's specialty of distributing text-based commercial links alongside search results.

The Justice Department said that privately held Admeld, formed in 2007, raised about $30 million in 2010 to help fund its operations.

Google generated revenue of about $29 billion last year and analysts expect it to surpass $38 billion in revenue this year. Most of Google's revenue still comes from search advertising.

In an attempt to diversify beyond search advertising, Google bought DoubleClick for $3.2 billion in 2008. That deal is turning display advertising into a major moneymaker for Google, but the company's market share in the segment still lags behind Facebook and Yahoo, according to the research firm eMarketer Inc.

That apparently helped sway the Justice Department to approve the Admeld deal.