GOOGLE is reportedly courting wireless operators to carry handsets customized for Google products. The search leader has spent hundreds of millions of dollars on the cellphone project and developed prototype phones. The phones are said to feature all Google mobile applications and a sophisticated new web browser. The company is not seeking an exclusive provider, but hopes that multiple carriers will get on board. A branded phone would allow Google to plant a strong foothold in the growing mobile advertising space.
DISNEY announced the purchase of children’s social-networking portal Club Penguin. The site allows children to chat, play games, and earn virtual coins under the guise of a Penguin avatar. The site features no advertising, and will remain ad-free, with over 700,000 paid subscribers supporting the venture. Disney paid $350 million, and will pay up to $350 million more based on the site’s performance through 2009.
MYSPACE has formed an exclusive partnership to feature the LONELYGIRL15 season finale this Friday. The finale will take an unusual form — one episode will be released every hour for twelve hours. MySpace will also create a branded, interactive section of its site for fans of the show. LonelyGirl15 claims to have garnered over 60 million combined views so far.
FEEDBURNER has added an advertising option to its Headline Animator, a widget-like banner that helps promote blogs and podcasts. The new service will allow feed publishers to run feed ads on established sites, such as USA Today, Wired, Gawker Media sites. It is a mix of publishing and advertising, which Feedburner calls “pub-vertising.”
MSNBC.com is partnering with Pulse 360 to create a vertical advertising network for TODAYshow.com. Small publishers will be able to insert MSNBC content onto sites, using a widget-like player. Headlines and the latest video feeds will be available, with accompanying ads. Publishers will split ad revenue with MSNBC.