It's Official: Modem Media, Poppe Tyson Merge


Modem Media of Westport, Conn. and New York's Poppe Tyson finally announced their merger yesterday in a move that seems anticlimactic after months of speculation. Rumors about the consolidation started last year when Modem Media's parent, True North Communications, bought Poppe Tyson's parent, Bozell, Jacobs, Kenyon & Eckhardt. "I know people thought we should have done this earlier, but we wanted to do it right," says Modem Media co-founder and chairman, G.M. O'Connell, in a meeting with MC yesterday morning at Poppe Tyson's Manhattan offices. The new entity, Modem Media . Poppe Tyson, will be headquartered in Westport, Conn. and O'Connell will serve as chairman and CEO with the mission to strengthen strategic services as well as lead creative development and marketing efforts. Poppe Tyson's chairman and CEO Kevin Clark assumes the role of vice chairman charged with business development. Modem Media president Bob Allen serves as president of the new firm and heads day-to-day management.

The result of the combination is "the world's No.1 digital marketing communications" firm, suggest O'Connell and Clark. "We have established a new standard that far outpaces our competition," O'Connell says. Hyperbole? Perhaps. The company offers clients--including AT&T, Compaq and Kodak--a range of services from strategic consulting to digital advertising and e-business systems. Although both firms separately offered many of the same services, the consolidation brings more depth. Modem Media, for example, will strengthen its research services with the addition of the Decision Tree resource Poppe Tyson has developed. And more services will come. This fall the firm plans to roll-out migration services in which it will help clients build customer management systems.

Competitors are also offering a broader array of services but it will be difficult to match the new firm's size. The combined company now has more than 400 employees and brought in $58 million in 1997 revenues, according to Adweek estimates. The company would not disclose revenues. The merger, apart from the parent consolidation, points to the rising trend of more firms offering more services. However, Clark downplayed the ongoing acquisitions of competitors such as the CKS Group, claiming his firm's strategy is superior. "We're focused on service expansion, not market expansion like some of our competition," Clark says. "We're not buying [firms here and there] to be in more markets. Be in them to do what? We want to be in the top markets and to work with the top clients globally on a long-term basis."


Acknowledge Sets Rich Media Standard

If web advertising is ever going to move past the banner ad and become a viable option for all types of advertisers, then web sites must support rich media format ads and advertisers must exploit them. So you've heard many make their rallying cry. Palo Alto, Calif. web advertising services company AdKnowledge has stepped up to give the rich media ranks some direction. It's devised the Rich Media Advertising Standard (RichAdS), a mechanism that will allow advertisers to use any rich media format for their web ads through AdKnowledge's ad serving services. The company defines rich media advertising as anything that isn't .GIF based. An ad can be rich if it includes a Java-based game, incorporates audio or video clips, or offers some degree of interactivity with viewers.

Bob Filice, product manager at AdKnowledge, estimates that about 1,800 web sites support advertising. And Acknowledge works with more than 1,200 of them, including portal sites such as Yahoo!, Infoseek and Excite. Thus, the standard the company is pushing already carries some weight. Acknowledge, of course, will need to foster acceptance outside its own network. Thus, it's worked with rich media companies AudioBase, @HomeNetwork's Enliven business unit, RealNetworks, InterVU, Unicast and Thinking Media to develop RichAdS. In order for RichAdS to fly, however, those companies must adopt the RichAdS format as do AdKnowledge's competitors such as MatchLogic, DoubleClick Dart, NetGravity and AdForce, says Jupiter Communications analyst Marissa Gluck.

"It's a good first step, but it's going to need to be adopted by more people than just AdKnowledge. I'm skeptical about that happening," says Gluck. In its most recent report on rich media, last November's The Rich Media Imperative, Jupiter projected that one-third of all ad spending would be on rich media ads by 2002 but warned that the vast majority of publishers and agencies remain extremely unprepared for the rapid growth in demand for rich media ad forms. The increasing acceptance of broadband Internet capabilities should drive rich media advertising, says Dave Zinman, vp of product marketing at AdKnowledge. "As broadband makes rich media more acceptable, a lot of new formats will be designed. The industry needs to be open to those formats so that they're used. [RichAdS] is a stake in the ground," he says.
And as rich media advertising takes off, web advertising will hold opportunities for brand advertisers, such as McDonald's and Miller Beer, who tend to shy away from static web banner ads, says Zinman. However, Jupiter's Gluck cautions that rich media is no "panacea" for brand advertisers. "There's no substitute for good creative," she says. "On the other hand, rich media is a more compelling format for brand advertisers than animated banners."

Intelligent Turns to GMO

San Francisco systems integrator intelligent Group has awarded its first-ever advertising assignment to Goldberg Moser O'Neill without a formal review. Intelligent approached GMO to build a strong brand identity, says Fred Goldberg, chairman and CEO of the San Francisco ad agency. The company was formed in 1996 when four regional software professional services firms merged. intelligent has since acquired 20 companies and grown to $250 million in sales, but its advertising has remained fragmented. It was time to create a national message.

"Advertising at this stage of intelligent growth is imperative," Goldberg says. "The challenge is to start off with the right personality and positioning." Advertising, he says, will reflect intelligent entrepreneurial spirit, as well as the fact that it is an aggressive professional organization.

intelligent provides IT and system support services to corporations, including project management, systems integration, network services and application software development. GMO is looking at a number of media vehicles, but the most important will be print--specifically business magazines targeted at upper-level management. The campaign, which Goldberg says will bill about $4 million, will be an overall branding thrust with a national message.

The company differentiates itself from its competitors, namely EDS, by providing network solutions, as well as local expertise, through the acquisition of local subsidiaries. "The big giants don't know the smaller offices and regional differences that intelligent does," Goldberg says. Of course, that regional focus also means the companies under the intelligent Group are primarily known regionally. Intelligent advertising was previously done at the local level by individual companies with their own marketing programs and direct mail campaigns.

According to the IDC report

Year 2000 computability spending, marketplace confusion and low perceived benefits will stifle adoption of Microsoft's Windows 98 operating system, according to new research from Framingham, Mass.-based IDC. However, analysts say the new OS, scheduled for launch June 25, will ultimately overtake Win95 in the year 2000.

According to the IDC report, shipments of Win98 will total 12.8 million this year, about one-third fewer than the 19.5 million copies of Win95 that shipped during its launch year. IDC predicts that during its first 18 months on the market, Win98 shipments will fall short of the mega-hyped Win95 by about 15 percent. In 2000, though, global shipments of new computers are expected to drive Win98 shipments to 66 million copies, compared to the 53 million copies of Win95 shipped in its third year.

The main drag on shipments will be low adoption rates among business, according to IDC research manager William Peterson, who prepared the new research. "Our research shows that, in general, organizations are taking from six months to a year to make an OS upgrade," he says, pointing to costly "service pack" fixes and multiple upgrade paths as the main culprits for that hesitation. "When they're confused, they decide to wait. More and more, we see that the people making these decisions are not the tech people, they're the business people. As one of my colleagues says, Dilbert isn't the one deciding, it's Dilbert's boss."

The IDC projections, based mainly on PC and OS shipment data from vendors, the channel and particular vertical markets, sharply contradict a survey published last month by Windows Magazine that found the upgrade to Win98 would greatly outpace adoption of Win95 (see MC News story). "My question would be, how many of the people surveyed were consumers?" asks Peterson, pointing out that Win98 is the final iteration of the Win9X line and thus presents a fairly unattractive future for businesses. "If you're the CIO of a large organization, are you going to go through the capital expense to install the last iteration of an OS? Doubtful. You will wait for a solid version of NT to come out and, oh yeah, your Year 2000 problem will be solved then, too."


  • Whether large or small, found object piece can revitalize discarded “junk” and give it new life as thought provoking art. Is it art? The beauty is that you get to decide.

  • Whether large or small, found object piece can revitalize discarded “junk” and give it new life as thought provoking art. Is it art? The beauty is that you get to decide.