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Longstanding investor in Looksmart (and a 69 yr old ex-tradesman), who has a passionate interest in the problems of newspapers along with their success in all their monetisation attempts made, on the web. For the "times are indeed, a changin", I feel. [17th of Aug, 2011 - Print media... More
  • The Looksmart Conspiracy Theory (In Part) 10 comments
    Sep 6, 2012 12:25 AM

    For mine, Michael Onghai's (President - and beneficial owner of some 863,312 [5.0%] of Looksmart shares -Snowy August Management LLC) Open Letter to Shareholders reeks of nothing more than my initial thoughts in regards to the $1.00pps PEEK 'offer' or PEEK 'affair'.

    This is so typical of being what is known as a 'False flag' or, simply a diversionary kerfuffle that is being enacted for many reasons-including the buying up of cheap shares from unsuspecting shareholders.

    Hey, Im telling this story. - So, read on.

    I am now wondering if the above linked letter is being supported by the other partner of PEEK Investments LLC-being Platinum Management (NYSEARCA:NY) LLC -- as it doesn't appear to have been on any announcements made after the PEEK Extended Tender Offer and Announced Updates.

    "If we had known they couldn't be trusted to do the right thing, we would have reached out to you sooner. We intend to make up for lost time."

    Yet I do agree with a lot of Michael Onghai's sentiments expressed and do feel that generally, Looksmart's shareholders have (for so long), been sitting on the 'rough end of the pineapple'.

    Back in March 2010 was when Brian Horey (from Aurelian Management, in no uncertain terms) had flatly told Looksmart's CEO that shareholders expect much more than is being given.- All to no avail. - As it has only meant more of the same being handed out (since), and in spades.

    For it not to be the case PEEK have shown just how 'greedy' they are or, how little they understand about Looksmart and or, the amazing global evolution of programmatic media buying - that they and the other shareholders (the owners of the 42% of the shares not owned by Peek and as have been tendered) actually know about- and or, of the global disruption that will be caused, and that it's evolving quickly, daily.

    The planning of it all has been meticulous. With no stone left unturned. There is no doubt in my mind that many (who are involved) have a full understanding of where it is all heading. In a previous post I had made mention of dodgy "News embargo" arrangements -- And of about the kind of favourable or unfavourable 'spin' that's churned out, daily.

    But will it really become a case of all's well that ends well?

    For a number of those involved (the chosen few?), there have already been millions of $$$'s made in a procession of M&As, with many more likely still planned for, on the road ahead. Yet for Looksmart's patient shareholders I'm not so sure now if there's ever going to be 'that pot of gold'-a reward for a long held belief in the company. We'll soon find out, no doubt.

    A need to go back in time

    To get some understanding of or, see maybe the 'tip of this iceberg', we need to go back to 2 Mar 2010 and an AdExchanger Q&A had with both Frost Prioleau and Paul Harrison who are CEO and CTO (respectively) of a small company in Simpli.fi - two men who (at the time), both clearly had bold ambitions, with a lot of early understanding of what I feel is to soon become - my own much talked of, intersection of Search and Display.

    Blog mentions made: [tiny.cc/wh06jw]

    Frost Prioleau explains that Simpli.fi is a Demand Side Platform (DSP) specially built for search marketers and "We are self-funded to date". On or, around March 17, 2011 it appears Simpli.fi did raise $2.13MM just one year after raising their first $500,000.

    He went on to tell us that .."we are allowing advertisers [to] upload the same keyword lists that they use for search campaigns & to bid [on] display inventory that is seen by users .........who have recently searched on their specific keywords.

    By doing this they can reach users who have never clicked on their organic or paid search results, and leverage the knowledge that they have built from their search campaigns."

    Not bad at all. it would seem that (already) Simpli.fi had aligned itself with Looksmart's own (now) new model - as is in line with my own basic understanding. Hey........Looksmart (they have told us) receive 'over 5 Billion search queries' a day from the search engines that provide (in Real Time) 'keywords' or 'keyword phases' as they are typed in by searchers. (Mentions made, here: tiny.cc/myoddw)

    Looksmart explain that they target the users:

    How does it work?

    At the time of the query, the ad server determines the physical location of a web site visitor using the IP address provided by the publisher. .... The ad server then uses the location information to deliver ads targeted to the users geographic location and search type. bit.ly/Lbx0uZ

    AdExchanger then asks a final question:

    One year from now, what are you some key milestones that you would like to have achieved?

    Prioleau: One year from now we would like to be working successfully with some of the largest and most sophisticated search marketers, we would like to be well known as a brand that connotes knowledge and industry-leading technology, and....... we would like to have 100% reach…evaluating all available RTB bid requests on all exchanges.

    Recent announcements (note the last comment, too) would almost tell us they Simpli.fi have now almost achieved that, too!

    ["We work with over 12 exchanges, some of which include:

    Appnexus, Rubicon, AdBrite, Doubleclick and Right Media. We also have direct integrations with the SSPs and exchanges we work with."

    "...performance is impacted by advanced algorithms making data connections faster than the brain can think and act, approximately 6 trillion decisions per millisecond, to give you a more accurate idea. The secret sauce is that we can optimize and report on the most granular element level." - http://bit.ly/TXhOpE]

    China, India, S.E. Asia and Australia?

    Today we announced the availability of the Simpli.fi platform in Asia. With this launch, advertisers looking to target Asian consumers can do so directly through the Simpli.fi interface. Press release is here:

    Readers would surely have to agree that Simpi.fi have done remarkably well with (known) funding, of less than $3 million.

    Conclusions? (There are so many to consider. Make up your own?)

    "Out of damp and gloomy days, out of solitude, out of loveless words directed at us, conclusions grow up in us like fungus: one morning they are there, we know not how, and they gaze upon us, morose and gray...Woe to the thinker who is not the gardener but only the soil of the plants that grow in him." - Friedrich Nietzsche

    Always, only an opinion.

    LOOK: $0.92 Down 0.02 (- 2.14%) Sep 5, 3:59PM EDT

    LC

    Disclosure: Long LOOK and....

    .

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Comments (10)
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  • LookingConfident
    , contributor
    Comments (847) | Send Message
     
    Author’s reply » .
    From within my above post Looksmart virtually explains how it's (exclusive) marketplace will not only work but becomes that very 'intersection of search and display' that I have been on about in recent times.

     

    I mean....

     

    Looksmart virtually explain that they target the users: [Albeit told as being that global system it is, that delivers ads targeted to the user's geographic location.]

     

    How does it work? (Looksmart ask as linked: http://bit.ly/OYAELk )

     

    "At the time of the query, the ad server determines the physical location of a web site visitor using the IP address provided by the publisher. .... The ad server then uses the location information to deliver ads targeted to the users geographic location and search type."

     

    Is this the future? ABSOLUTELY! This completely eliminates all/any Privacy issues and or, concerns. Read on.

     

    (From this article today)

     

    ##...Google now generates revenue from Product Listing Ads [or, across the marketplace search ads], leading Adlucent CTO Michael Griffin to predict that PLAs [or, these across the marketplace search ads that will get to be anonymously delivered by Looksmart] will soon replace paid-search ads at the top of queries because consumers prefer to click on text with images...##

     

    ##..Griffin said some brands double conversion rates for less than the price of paid-search ads. Online photography site Adorama, supported by Adlucent, saw PLA click-through rates (CTR) rise 176% and conversion by 100%. Revenue from PLAs grew 63% in Q2 2012. PLA clicks impacted nearly half of its non-brand revenue...##

     

    Read more: http://bit.ly/QpnKZV

     

    More about ....."the intersection of Search and Display"??

     

    http://bit.ly/OYAELk

     

    Is all only my opinion, of course!

     

    LC
    .
    6 Sep 2012, 05:58 PM Reply Like
  • LookingConfident
    , contributor
    Comments (847) | Send Message
     
    Author’s reply » .
    Call it whatever? ('A rose is still a rose, by any other name'?)

     

    AdCenter: “We Have DMAs Now, Too”

     

    "DMAs, created and maintained by Nielsen, are the default method of designating the boundaries of metropolitan areas for television, and, now, they’re becoming the gold standard for search advertising. Many display ad servers, such as Google’s DoubleClick, have long offered targeting by DMAs.

     

    The change to targeting by DMAs is no surprise, as adCenter has made no secret of the fact that it wants advertisers to be able to easily import campaigns from AdWords."

     

    http://selnd.com/OYNQ2y

     

    And....

     

    Was That A Google Update Or Wasn’t It?

     

    "I emailed Google for confirmation or more information and Google has not responded.

     

    Google normally responds to us within 24-hours with a confirmation or denial of an update. ........The lack of communication makes me suspect Google is testing something and is not ready to comment."

     

    http://selnd.com/RHjjKM

     

    LC
    .
    6 Sep 2012, 07:18 PM Reply Like
  • LookingConfident
    , contributor
    Comments (847) | Send Message
     
    Author’s reply » .
    From within my above linked post Looksmart virtually explains how it's (exclusive) marketplace will not only work but soon becomes that very 'intersection of search and display' that I have been on about in recent times.

     

    I mean....

     

    Looksmart virtually explain that they target the users: [Albeit told as being that global system it is, that delivers ads targeted to the user's geographic location.]

     

    How does it work? (Looksmart ask as linked: http://bit.ly/Lbx0uZ )

     

    "At the time of the query, the ad server determines the physical location of a web site visitor using the IP address provided by the publisher. .... The ad server then uses the location information to deliver ads targeted to the users geographic location and search type."

     

    Is this the future? ABSOLUTELY! This completely eliminates all/any Privacy issues and or, concerns. Read on. [Now read the story and comments added, why don't you?)

     

    :)
    6 Sep 2012, 08:30 PM Reply Like
  • swanson1
    , contributor
    Comments (91) | Send Message
     
    I love your positivity.

     

    However, how can you criticise the board in one respect and then expect them to deliver on another.

     

    You admit that CEO has been evasive - yet then you expect him to make Looksmart a success.

     

    Looksmart are going to succeed if the management are good and dynamic and well placed to make them a success.

     

    Forget the opportunities for a minute - are the current board going to deliver this given that they have taken this business from a small loss making one to a massive loss making one.
    7 Sep 2012, 07:42 PM Reply Like
  • swanson1
    , contributor
    Comments (91) | Send Message
     
    I will give you an instance - they left me in an 80k loss through the chargebacks of their traffic, I can only guess what happened to their big partners (over $8 million to a major partner).

     

    However my business is good and has lots of potential, more net profit than Looksmart has ever made.

     

    Why not invest in my business that makes profit every month?

     

    For every 100k you can make another 100k - I just don't get it with the investment in a struggling outfit like Looksmart.
    7 Sep 2012, 07:46 PM Reply Like
  • LookingConfident
    , contributor
    Comments (847) | Send Message
     
    Author’s reply » '
    < " they left me in an 80k loss through the charge-backs of their traffic, I can only guess what happened to their big partners (over $8 million to a major partner).">

     

    And the 'cost' in actual lost revenue to Looksmart for the same? The prospect of this occurring now or, in the future- has been eliminated.

     

    Looksmart''s new model (as I am seeing it unfolding) is one where (and in real time), the advertiser is able to access and is finding search based 'user intent' - at that very moment a search is being conducted by any individual user.

     

    Where advertisers or, their representation (in house media buyers, DSP's or, even self serve) get to then blindly bid against each other in a ONE open marketplace.

     

    With only a one (standard) percentage-d commission to be paid to Looksmart (a management payment - by advertisers) on the winning bid. Advertisers who will now be provided massive scale of reach & who know exactly how much of their spend will be actually reaching their target impressions- and this then must result in higher payment percentages for publishers on a macro basis? (Looksmart then pay the search engines a % for the 'user intent' on each chargeable click.)

     

    In both the above instances-and by cutting out that further middle-man 'dip' or, payment (like your 80k), in all instances, all the advertisers & publishers are being better served.

     

    I've pointed out (in the above link), that Looksmart explain it as:

     

    < "At the time of the query, the ad server determines the physical location of a web site visitor using the IP address provided by the publisher. ....... The ad server then uses the location information to deliver ads targeted to the users geographic location and search type.">

     

    I've played around with this (on Yahoo Finance's LOOK board), as follows:

     

    Looksmart have mentioned (in recent times) of having EXCLUSIVE use of this. - It's clear there can only be a ONE (end-to-end) marketplace for both advertisers to access (from many and various points) and publishers, who will be providing the location information to be interconnected accordingly. (It's when Search meets Display?)

     

    "At the time of the query"? (As it is made on a search engine?)

     

    "The ad server determines the physical location of a web site visitor using the IP address provided by the publisher."? (Coming from the search engine that has the real time query, then given to Looksmart? (Its important to remember that Looksmart have told of receiving over 5 billion sets of 'user query' keyword data daily- as coming to it from its partner search engines.)

     

    "The ad server then uses the location information [derived from the IP address?] to deliver ads targeted to the users geographic location? [or, the user?] and search type."? [And of a same or, similar product or, service and, thereby directly targeting the user in real time on the SERP/s and or, on the next landing page across the entire publisher base?]

     

    Now isn't this what I'm often calling a ONE, and clearly anonymous RTB buyer/seller (user intent based) global marketplace?

     

    And Microsoft’s adCenter (itself) has just announced it’s adopting DMAs as its method for targeting metropolitan areas.

     

    http://selnd.com/OuHjNM

     

    Tell me that this is any different to what I feel Looksmart is providing within it's own AdCenter (marketplace.)?

     

    Again, where all approved advertisers can then get to then blindly bid against each other (on search based user intent), in what becomes a ONE open marketplace. One that will almost undoubtedly - eliminate any future chance of click-fraud ever occurring.

     

    Is how I see it all evolving.

     

    LC
    .
    7 Sep 2012, 11:22 PM Reply Like
  • swanson1
    , contributor
    Comments (91) | Send Message
     
    I get all that potential - what I am saying is how is the current management going to deliver it?

     

    It seems to me there are some major issues that aren't going to go away - which is why PEEK have got involved, much more to come I feel.

     

    http://yhoo.it/TGim66

     

    It doesn't matter what market opportunities there are if there are serious issues with the running of the business.
    9 Sep 2012, 08:22 PM Reply Like
  • swanson1
    , contributor
    Comments (91) | Send Message
     
    You criticise the CEO for being less than transparent and then say Looksmart are poised to take on the market.

     

    With those current revelations about the CEO plus your criticism of him - how do you expect the business to act on those market opportunities?

     

    How do you expect the board to deliver on creating shareholder value when the aim is to create cash in the pockets of the CEO.
    9 Sep 2012, 08:26 PM Reply Like
  • swanson1
    , contributor
    Comments (91) | Send Message
     
    Simple questions.

     

    Is the current CEO and board going to make Looksmart a player in the current market?

     

    Has the current CEO and board improved the position of Looksmart over the past 2 years?
    9 Sep 2012, 08:30 PM Reply Like
  • LookingConfident
    , contributor
    Comments (847) | Send Message
     
    Author’s reply » .
    Hi swanson1...... You post: "I get all that potential - what I am saying is how is the current management going to deliver it?"

     

    Thanks. For such a long time I feel that I have been almost talking to a brick wall. Yet I also feel that I have made it clear that (to me) PEEK is simply a distraction away from the main game of (as you your-self have put it), just how well is the CEO and his current management positioned to deliver on the potential that's there.

     

    At this stage of my trying to answer your question (in reply), I feel the Co has covered all bases in it's Aug. 30, 2012 stated reply to PEEK.

     

    Looksmart have advised all, that:

     

    < ..."Consistent with its fiduciary duties, after receiving additional indications of interest at valuations exceeding Peek's offer price, the Board unanimously adopted a short-term stockholder rights agreement in order to protect stockholders from Peek's tactics and ensure that the Special Committee and LookSmart's stockholders have adequate time to properly assess any and all indications of interest or other strategic alternatives without undue pressure.

     

    The stockholder rights plan is intended to safeguard LookSmart stockholders' opportunity to realize the maximum value of their investment.

     

    The Special Committee has engaged Victory Park Securities, LLC as its financial advisor with respect to the maximization of stockholder value and the Special Committee's evaluation of all indications of interest and other strategic alternatives.

     

    Peek remains eligible to submit a proposal that will be evaluated by the Special Committee, with the assistance of the Committee's financial advisor, on the same terms as other indications of interest.">

     

    In my own recent post (http://tiny.cc/cgcekw) it was pointed out that Victory Park Securities, LLC had acted on behalf of nRelate when it was purchased by IAC Interactive's Ask.com

     

    What's pretty important to note here is that within a past Looksmart 8-K Current Report - Filed May 12, 2010 (http://tiny.cc/fqcekw) and, headed as: "The Ad Center Platform –A competitive advantage", the company advise all that it's Ad Center [marketplace] Platform was:

     

    .< .........Developed with MSN and Ask.com until in-sourcing >

     

    I'm confident that Victory Park Securities, LLC would be familiar with all of this (certainly by now --and as will have since been fully advised of, by Looksmart) and will then see the full 'potential' you and I both know exists for shareholders and with (most importantly) any/all of those indications of interest and [those] other strategic alternatives.

     

    So with the appointment of Victory Park Securities, LLC (I feel), it's now not simply a case of............is the current CEO and or, his management good enough to deliver or, ensure a full, maximization of stockholder value. .... They (Victory Park), are clearly 'expert' in this field.

     

    There's the proviso (of course) that this process doesn't become a proverbial Pontius Pilate-King Herod 'like' decision - that would see the company being 'handed over on a platter' (and at only a marginally better value than that of the PEEK offer), I'll remain most contented in though of a realistic and fair result unfolding - from that point of time.

     

    My opinion.

     

    LC
    9 Sep 2012, 10:19 PM Reply Like
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