The week got off to an interesting start with the US Federal Reserve’s
bailout of ailing investment bank Bear Stearns.

Not surprisingly, most of the technology news that caught my attention in the days following was related to the ongoing economic downturn.

Web ad spending forecast revised with economic woes

Just a few months ago, some suggested that an economic downturn could possibly help internet advertising as advertisers looked to put money into  “accountable” forms of advertising.

That may happen, but research firm eMarketer has still cut its projections for online advertising growth in 2008 and 2009 and does not expect growth rates to return to 20%+ until 2012.

While I always take projections from firms like eMarketer with a grain of salt, the fact there’s a growing perception that the economic downturn is going to have an impact is certainly not a good sign for those who were arguing that internet advertising would thrive when times got tough.

AOL: Many Senior Managers Were Against Bebo Buy

Silicon Alley Insider is reporting that many senior managers within AOL were against the company’s $850m purchase of social network Bebo for the obvious, common sense reasons – AOL’s inability to monetize the social networking ad inventory it already has, flattening traffic on Bebo, questions over how realistic revenue projections were, etc.

Silicon Alley Insider’s sources report that certain AOL managers who were against the deal were “kept out of the Bebo loop” and that some of the key parties, including those AOL divisions that will be responsible for monetizing Bebo, were not consulted on the deal. How convenient.

AOL has denied that the “CEO and COO went out of process on this deal” but given how absurd the acquisition is, I hope this was a case of idiot top management moving ahead without company-wide buy-in. After all, if nobody within AOL has a problem blowing $850m on a social network, AOL is in bigger trouble than we thought.

Yahoo to Microsoft: Make a better offer

If AOL has to buy into patently unrealistic revenue projections in its Bebo acquisition, Microsoft would have to do the same to raise its offer for Yahoo. But that’s exactly what Yahoo is asking Microsoft to do.

Yahoo’s presentation to investors paints a rosy picture of the company’s future. It’s expecting “sky-high growth in display advertising” and is projecting a 47% increase in adjusted cash flow over the next two years.

There’s nothing wrong with trying to negotiate the best deal possible, but frankly, given Yahoo’s struggles over the past several years, Yahoo is starting to push its luck, especially in light of the current economic situation.

Yahoo should take the money and run. Being stupid is one thing – being stupid and greedy is another.

Analyst Calls Apple ‘Recession-Proof’

Investors (and Google management) learned the hard way that Google is not immune to recession, but that hasn’t stopped American Technology Research analyst Shaw Wu from telling his clients that Apple is “recession-proof.”

As reported by Wired, venture capitalist Paul Kedrosky, whose blog is well worth a read, had perhaps the most appropriate response: “The only thing that is recession-proof is recessions.

Digging Deeper into Yahoo’s Buzz

BusinessWeek delves into Yahoo’s news aggregation site Buzz, which has the blogosphere in a buzz.

Although only three weeks old, Buzz is “driving only 10% less traffic to publishers’ sites than three-year-old, according to a Mar. 17 study by research firm Hitwise.

Obviously, that’s not great news for competitor Digg, which has been searching for a buyer for quite some time with no apparent luck.

But in another sign of the return of common sense in a weak economy, BusinessWeek’s Catherine Holahan wisely ponders, “Can Yahoo make money from its Buzz effect?” and asks, “It has always been clear what Yahoo can do for publishers. The question is, what can publishers, and Buzz, do for Yahoo?


Big newspaper publishers join new ad network

Ad networks are hot. Even Martha Stewart launched one last year.

In an effort to offset declining print revenues and leverage their strong online audiences, top newspapers are joining quadrantONE, an online ad network that is representing more than 250 newspapers.

Allowing newspapers, especially smaller ones, to band together to sell advertising while enabling advertisers to more efficiently purchase advertising across multiple newspaper websites seems like a no-brainer, especially with newspaper websites drawing record audiences last year.

We’ll see, however, if it works.