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Archive for October, 2009

Lee Clow Retires

leeclow-294x300It seems that we’re never in short supply of TBWA drama lately. As an addendum to this morning’s news of Jason Nichols and (possibly) Joe Shands’ exits, the latest scoop from Chiat LA-la-land is that Lee Clow himself is now stepping in to sort out the Nissan/Infiniti account, leaving GCD Kerry Feuerman “relegated to retail style ads for Nissan” according to tipsters.

We’re hearing that Clow is intent on “cleaning up the lackluster work of the GCD and mass exodus of top Nissan creatives because of lack of confidence.” Apparently the Nissan and Infiniti accounts are “down to only 6 creatives” (though we’re not sure if that means each or combined). Since it seems AgencySpy and Chiat aren’t on speaking terms these days, verification of this is a bit tricky. If you have more info, feel free to hit us up at agencyspy at gmail dot com.

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Radio advertising producer keeps creating



Sam Pond, a fourth-generation San Franciscan, is a radio advertising producer. His great-grandfather Edward Bates Pond was mayor from 1887 to 1891. Pond, 53, lives in the Haight district with his wife, Margaret Tan, a personal stylist, and their 11-year-old son, Henry.

I spend my days writing and producing comedic radio advertising. Basically I spend my morning in my brain and my afternoons twisting the brains of San Francisco’s best actors and comedians.

We hang out in recording studios, play with scripts, throw out what isn’t funny and keep what is. I’ve had my grammar corrected by Sting, been threatened with cannibalism by Mike Tyson, shared a group hug with Siegfried and Roy and spent an afternoon watching a professional whistler drink corn oil between takes.

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Google ups its Ad Ante

Google has made two improvements in its online advertising that will make the lives of local business owners, as well as mobile advertisers, very happy.

The first is that Google has created a simplified ad unit for local businesses to rival Yahoo’s Local Featured Listings. These new ads will appear on’s local results, and on Google Maps, and will consist of the company name, and contact details, as well as a link to the corresponding website (whether Place Pages, or the business’ website).

Though Google did disclose that the ads will be available on a flat-fee pricing system, they would not confirm what these prices would be, since they are still experimenting at that end. However, Search Engine Land contributing Editor Greg Sterling, in his article about the new ad format, speculates that they will cost between $20 and $200 USD, with prices varying according to market and category. The first month, however, is free.

Businesses looking to participate will first have to establish a presence in the Google LBC (local business center). Google Local Listings Ads is a self-service product, and, as with all things Google, it’s ex

tremely user-friendly.  To access the new ad service, users can find a new “Ads” tab in the LBC. Then they just claim the business listing in the LBC, and Google automatically creates the ad.

Google is also offering a tool for companies to know if their ad is generating results or not – with a phone message saying “this call brought to you by Google” before every call received from the Google Local Listing Ad.

Google is only offering the program right now in the San Francisco and San Diego areas, as part of a limited test. Google also said that it doesn’t plan to do any promotion for the new ad program. There had been buzz in the past about Google creating a similar program, meant to be called Simple Ads, which may have been a stepping stone for Local Listings Ads.

Next, Google has just announced that ad-units for mobile phones will be better optimized and larger to keep up with the growing popularity of high-end mobile phones. The new feature will allow AdSense to automatically detect if a user is accessing an ad through a high-end mobile phone, and serve the larger, more optimized ad automatically, to take full advantage of the larger phone’s capabilities.

The new feature has been made available through a new JavaScript snippet that is easier to implement and specifically optimized for mobile advertising.


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Twitter in Google, Microsoft licensing talks

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) – Microblogging service Twitter is in advanced talks with Google Inc (GOOG.O) and Microsoft Corp (MSFT.O) about licensing its data feed to the companies’ search engines, a Web blog associated with the Wall Street Journal reported on Thursday.

Twitter’s discussions with Microsoft and Google are being conducted separately and would allow each company to incorporate the 140-character messages, or “tweets,” that Twitter is known for into their Internet search results.

The ability to cull through the flood of tweets as they are posted, known as real time search, is gaining popularity as an important new way to search the Internet for up-to-the-minute information on the latest news events and happenings.

The AllThingsDigital blog quoted unidentified sources as saying the companies are discussing several types of deals. Details could include Twitter receiving a payment of several million dollars and various types of revenue-sharing agreements to allow Twitter to benefit from the ad revenue that Microsoft and Google generate from search results.

Twitter has emerged as one of the fastest-growing Internet social media services. But the company has yet to generate any significant revenue from its free service. Twitter has cited advertising and premium features as two potential money-making plans.

Last month, Twitter received $100 million in new funding from investors including T.Rowe Price and Insight Venture Partners, based on a $1 billion valuation for Twitter, according to a person familiar with the matter.

Representatives from Twitter were not immediately available for comment. Google and Microsoft declined to comment.


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Venables Bell bounces back

In a rough year for advertising agencies nationwide, San Francisco independent firm Venables Bell & Partners has increased earnings with two huge client wins — Intel Corp. and ConocoPhillips Co. — among other successes.

Revenue for the company in 2009 is running 22 percent above 2008 and is expected to hit $29.5 million for the full year.

“We’re on a roll, and thank God. I think we’ve put ourselves in a position to be fortunate,” said Paul Venables, agency creative director and one of three founders.

Last year, as the economy worsened and large clients delayed and then cut back on spending, Venables Bell reduced staffing from 153 to 129 through attrition and by not renewing contracts. So far this year, the firm has hired 22 people, bringing head count to 151, and it currently has 10 open positions.


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