Reid Hoffman, of LinkedIn fame, defends PayPal and eBay against Carl Icahn using an interesting choice of words:
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Reid Hoffman, of LinkedIn fame, defends PayPal and eBay against Carl Icahn using an interesting choice of words:
- Posted from WP Mobile; expect formatting inconsistencies –
GAAP is increasingly not good enough for exec compensation.
That’s the argument behind an article in The WSJ today, which chronicles the rise of non-standard metrics in determining exec compensation.
Consider, for example, Goodwill:
Some observers said goodwill write-downs shouldn’t be stripped out. Goodwill is the intangible asset a company carries to account for the excess of what it paid for an acquisition over the net value of the acquiree’s hard assets. Many observers regard goodwill write-downs as acknowledgment that the company overpaid, and so they shouldn’t be excluded from a measure used to evaluate management’s performance.
Medical-device maker Boston Scientific Corp. had goodwill write-downs in five of the last six years, but granted incentive pay to its CEO each year. The company had a $4.1 billion 2012 loss under standard accounting measures, but after excluding a $4.4 billion goodwill write-down and other charges, it had a $933 million profit used to set short-term incentive pay.
I might be naive here, but given the global competition and bidding wars for talent, isn’t this to be expected though?
More, at http://on.wsj.com/1fsCENr.
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Depending on who you ask, talk to or read, Facebook’s $19B acquisition of WhatsApp provoked three principal emotions since the deal was announced last week – disbelief, fear and envy. Sometimes all three at the same time.
Considering that 235 of the S&P 500 companies, including venerable names such as Southwest Airlines and The Gap have market caps to the south of that magical number, at the heart of the matter lies the question – where did $19B come from?
Here to help us understand this acquisition from a Value vs Pricing perspective (one that makes a lot of sense to me) is Prof Aswath Damodaran, a Professor of Finance at NYU (his blog is eminently worth following; AFAIK, many that are interested in Corporate Finance and Valuations do), who starts off his excellent post by saying:
The first is that there are two different processes at work in markets. There is the pricing process, where the price of an asset (stock, bond or real estate) is set by demand and supply, with all the factors (rational, irrational or just behavioral) that go with this process. The other is the value process where we attempt to attach a value to an asset based upon its fundamentals: cash flows, growth and risk. For shorthand, I will call those who play the pricing game “traders” and those who play the value game “investors”, with no moral judgments attached to either. The second is that while there is absolutely nothing wrong or shameful about being either an investor (No, you are not a stodgy, boring, stuck-in-the-mud old fogey!!) or a trader (No, you are not a shallow, short term speculator!!), it can be dangerous to think that you can control or even explain how the other side works. When you are wearing your investor cape, you can be mystified by what traders do and react to, and if you are in your trader mode, you are just as likely to be bamboozled by the thought processes of investors.
Cash flows, ROE, growth, users and valuation based on comparables (of sorts) all follow before he draws some conclusions:
- If you are an investor, stop trying to explain price movements on social media companies, using traditional metrics – revenues, operating margins and risk. You will only drive yourself into a frenzy. More important, don’t assume that your rational analysis will determine where the price is going next and act on it and trade on that assumption. In other words, don’t sell short, expecting market vindication for your valuation skills. It won’t come in the short term, may not come in the long term and you may be bankrupt before you are right.
- If you are a trader, play the pricing game and stop deluding yourself into believing that this is about fundamentals. Rather than tell me stories about future earnings at Facebook/Twitter/Linkedin, make your buy/sell recommendation based on the number of users and their intensity, since that it what investors are pricing in right now.
- If you are a company and you want to play the pricing game, I think that the key is to find that “pricing variable” that matters and try to deliver the best results you can on that variable.
Go read the full post. And when you do that, don’t forget to read its near-poetic and semi-philosophical final paragraph.
Add your political inclination to the list of things that can be gleaned from your online footprints.
As Elizabeth Dwoskin wrote (paywall) in The WSJ a few days ago, Pandora plans to use your playlists to serve up some very targeted political advertising:
While some might yet again bemoan the growing loss of anonymity and privacy on the Web, I suspect that many of today’s young music listeners (and perhaps some older ones too) will simply see this as the price of “free” music – and wait for the next track on their playlist to start.
The search for CEOs at large global companies – something that is often done under the harsh glare of the media spotlight – has always fascinated me.
How does one downselect candidates? How do some candidates graciously take themselves out of the running? What does the board do when the search seems to go on and on?
For Microsoft-specific answers to these and more, head over to The WSJ for a very interesting look at how Satya Nadella came its 3rd CEO ever – http://on.wsj.com/1dqu4bp.
PS: Of course, good luck to Mr Nadella as he reorients one of the most iconic companies of our times.
Politicians and economists have been noting the growing income inequality in the US over the last couple of years.
Now, businesses are noticing too, says Nelson Schwartz on The NYT, given the consumption-driven nature of our economy:
In 2012, the top 5 percent of earners were responsible for 38 percent of domestic consumption, up from 28 percent in 1995, the researchers found.
Even more striking, the current recovery has been driven almost entirely by the upper crust, according to Mr. Fazzari (of Washington University in St Louis) and Mr. Cynamon (of the Federal Reserve in St. Louis). Since 2009, the year the recession ended, inflation-adjusted spending by this top echelon has risen 17 percent, compared with just 1 percent among the bottom 95 percent.
More broadly, about 90 percent of the overall increase in inflation-adjusted consumption between 2009 and 2012 was generated by the top 20 percent of households in terms of income, according to the study, which was sponsored by the Institute for New Economic Thinking, a research group in New York.
The effects of this phenomenon are now rippling through one sector after another in the American economy, from retailers and restaurants to hotels, casinos and even appliance makers.
For example, luxury gambling properties like Wynn and the Venetian in Las Vegas are booming, drawing in more high rollers than regional casinos in Atlantic City, upstate New York and Connecticut, which attract a less affluent clientele who are not betting as much, said Steven Kent, an analyst at Goldman Sachs.
Among hotels, revenue per room in the high-end category, which includes brands like the Four Seasons and St. Regis, grew 7.5 percent in 2013, compared with a 4.1 percent gain for midscale properties like Best Western, according to Smith Travel Research.
While spending among the most affluent consumers has managed to propel the economy forward, the sharpening divide is worrying, Mr. Fazzari said.
“It’s going to be hard to maintain strong economic growth with such a large proportion of the population falling behind,” he said. “We might be able to muddle along — but can we really recover?”
Businesses adapting to changing consumer spend is one thing, and good for their investors and employees. But…many of today’s large successful American companies built on a vibrant middle class (that emerged following WWII) and the promise of upward mobility. So if that category starts to shrink, what does that mean for the US, businesses and middle-class jobs that these businesses would have created, in the next 2-3 decades?
No one thought turning around Yahoo was going to be easy. But, many thought (and some dissented) that Marissa Mayer was the one to do it (if it could be done).
Based on its recent Q4 earnings report though, it looks like this is very much a work in progress – and any major reversal of direction might take a lot more time to accomplish. As Vindu Goel writes on The NYT, advertising revenue trends – the major source of revenue for Yahoo and its ilk – continue to disappoint:
Under the turnaround plan devised by Yahoo’s chief executive, Marissa Mayer, the company gained traffic and mobile users in 2013 and introduced a bevy of products, like a slick digital food magazine and a mobile weather app.
Yet despite Ms. Mayer’s labors, Yahoo is still falling further and further behind in the race for Internet advertising. The company said on Tuesday that revenue and operating profits declined in the fourth quarter of 2013 and would continue dropping in the first quarter of this year.
Analysts project that Yahoo’s biggest competitors, Facebook and Google, will post big gains — especially in the hot area of mobile advertising, where Yahoo is making so little money that it does not even break out the numbers.
The one bright spot? ”Earnings in equity Interests” = stakes in Alibaba and Yahoo Japan, which contributed $222m of the $348m (which also includes a $49m gain from sale of patents) in net income.
Good for those using Yahoo’s stock as a way to gain exposure to Alibaba I guess. At least until the latter’s IPO that’s expected later this year.
Yes, suggests a WSJ article, blaming an ever increasing number of new media/news sites and programmatic Ad buying – both of which are serving to seriously dent rates for these Ads.
Good for advertisers of course…but what are these media properties to do?
Conferences are one solution. Licensing and newsletters, two others. Not sure that will suffice though…More, at http://on.wsj.com/1frGIcY
The Economist, in its latest edition, goes into some detail on the (continuing and accelerating) rise of Chinese consumerism, what that means to brands (mostly foreign ones) and how marketing to the Chinese is changing.
While the full piece is well worth reading, here’s an excerpt that highlights both the promise and peril for multi-national brands:
Anti-trust regulators in the US typically do a pretty good job (IMO) when it comes to preventing “excessive” industry consolidation and concentration of power – things that would otherwise inhibit “healthy” competition and hurt consumers.
So what then to make of Charter or Comcast’s chances of buying Time Warner Cable?
But David Gelles, at the NYT’s DealBook thinks there are two good reasons why either company might be allowed to proceed with the acquisition:
Antitrust regulators are understandably skeptical about allowing big companies to get bigger. However, there are reasons why Charter, or even Comcast, might be able to prevail in its pursuit of Time Warner Cable.
Cable operators make two arguments in favor of consolidation. The first is that broadcast and cable networks are demanding ever higher fees for their programming. Cable operators are being forced to pay up, and the consumer is getting hit with higher cable bills. A bigger company would potentially have more bargaining power, and cable operators argue that they will be have more leverage with the programmers, allowing them to keep costs down and save consumers money.
Perhaps. But a more compelling argument made by the cable operators is that while there are a few big companies that dominate the market, they have very little overlap when it comes to customers. In most markets, consumers don’t have a choice between Comcast, Time Warner Cable or Charter, or even two of those three. In fact, most big markets have only one of these available, which might compete against other telecommunications firms, like Verizon and AT&T, and the satellite operators DirecTV and Dish Network.
#2 is fine, but as a consumer, it will be really nice if we actually see the beneficial effects of argument #1 post-acquisition.
Large global companies that sell to consumers directly are in the process of making sure that they continue to be relevant to tomorrow’s buyers – the millennials, who will shape their profits and growth for the next two decades. And you can see this not just in terms of marketing and Ads but also products and platforms across diverse industries – cars, electronics, food and so on and so forth.
Marriott, which operates more than 660,000 rooms across 16 brands globally, is no different.
So what is it trying to do? Brooks Barnes writes in a highly readable NYT piece that
To win over younger business travelers — and, even more important, to keep them in the Marriott fold when they travel for leisure, particularly overseas — the energetic Mr. Sorenson (Arne Sorenson, the first non-family CEO at Marriott International – Ed.) is relying on a range of strategies.
Core hotels are getting gussied up. In September, the Chicago Marriott O’Hareunveiled $40 million worth of improvements, including a better bar, historically a Marriott weakness. (Some analysts trace that to the company’s Mormon roots.) The Detroit Marriott at the Renaissance Center begins a similar $30 million upgrade in February. The company has been trying to improve what it calls the “guest-room beauty experience” at Marriott-brand hotels — stocking bathrooms, for instance, with a Thai skin care line.
A new ad push, “Travel Brilliantly,” estimated to cost roughly $90 million over three years, reflects Mr. Sorenson’s focus on younger consumers. TV and web ads, taped at international resorts like the Bangkok Marriott Hotel Sukhumvit, intone: “This is not a hotel. It’s an idea that travel should be brilliant. The promise of spaces as expansive as your imagination.” Marriott also offers Xplor, a free smartphone app combining reservations with games; players win loyalty club points by completing challenges at virtual hotels.
“We want people to be saying, ‘Hey, do you see what Marriott just did?’ ” Mr. Sorenson said.
And it is starting new brands and not explicitly associating them with the Marriott name in some parts of the world. In others, it is trying to explicitly link the Ritz Carlton name to its Marriott owners, etc.
A terrific read, that piece.
The human body is designed to crave sugar, salt and fat. Hence the tens of billions of dollars in sugary, salty and/or fatty foods we all consume day in and out. The price of course, is obesity and attendant health issues.
So we have Stevia, Aspartame, Sucralose, Sugar alcohols, etc., all of which want to give consumers sweetness without calories and guilt. Unfortunately though, none of them can get the taste part quite right.
Which is why, Daniel Engber writes in a longish NYT article, companies like Cargill and others are spending a small fortune trying to create that one sweetener to rule them all – either based on an existing product like Stevia:
Deep inside Cargill’s corporate headquarters in Wayzata, Minn., where it runs its $136 billion business, a technician in a hairnet put out a bowl of strawberries. Melanie Goulson, a food scientist in the company’s corn-milling unit, had taken me to a laboratory kitchen outfitted with frying pans and cleavers and stir-plates spinning fluids with Teflon-coated bars. She waited as I dipped a berry in a sample of white granules and popped it in my mouth.
Truvia felt a lot like sugar on my tongue — much more so than the rival brands — but there was something strange about its sweetness. The flavor dawdled and digressed, until it seemed as if I’d chewed a nub of licorice or soaked my gums in watered-down Campari. This has been stevia’s problem from the start: It has a bitter taste that lingers. The defect may be unobtrusive in small doses — the amount you sprinkle in your cappuccino — but it’s ruinous at the quantities it takes to make a diet soda. “Anybody who tasted stevia in 2008, when it was just about to be permitted in the United States,” Fry says, “would have been painfully aware that this was not an aspartame or a sucralose in terms of sweetness quality.”
Goulson and her team have tried to bolster stevia by blending it with other additives. “We’re trying to understand how sweet this product should be,” she said. “What features do people like? What don’t they like? How can we get the recipe just right?” In a perfect world, they’d find a way to sand down the jagged edges of its flavor, so stevia could match the taste of table sugar. (Sugar is “widely accepted as the gold standard for sweet taste,” Goulson told me.) At the very least they’re hoping to make stevia as appetizing as the chemicals in Diet Coke and Diet Pepsi. “Taste is king,” Goulson said. “I mean, the healthiest product in the world really isn’t relevant if people don’t enjoy the taste.”
or by creating a new sweetener based on a plant, fruit or lab-created chemicals (which might be a problem because there’s a strong desire to create something that can be labeled “Natural”; cue Aspartame) or some combination.
With the global market for non-sugar sweeteners estimated at $9.6B just in 2011, this would seem like a worthy quest.
Product placements in movies are one way companies try to raise awareness, make an impression and hopefully gain or increase marketshare. Another thing companies do is to have celebrities appear in advertisements where they tell the world that Cream X is the secret to their glowing skin. A third way is to have pop culture celebrities – the kind that are always posting selfies, tweeting, get stalked by paparazzi or have a daytime TV show – actually use their products in a visible way everyday.
But how to get the latest gizmo into their hands?
Enter the “super connector”, writes Shane Snow at Fast Company:
The rest of the fascinating piece describes how Samsung, who has been particularly adept at this type of influence-the-influencer marketing, works with Mitch Kanner, the man behind these wildly successful campaigns, to make the magic happen.
Every year, students, alumni and others spend more than $4B (yes, that’s a “B”) on college-themed merchandise in the US. And if some schools have anything to say about it, that pie is only going to get bigger, thanks to college-specific, “theme” perfumes and fragrances.
As Arian Campo-Flores and Meredith Rutland wrote in the WSJ a couple of months ago,
The fragrances are only the latest in a litany of products colleges are hawking under their brands to students, alumni and die-hard sports fans. At Louisiana State University, the list includes garden gnomes, fishing lures and musical bottle openers—not to mention onesies and caskets. “We have licensed products literally from cradle to grave,” says Brian Hommel, director of trademark licensing at LSU, which began selling fragrances by Masik in 2009.
Since, fundamentally, the only thing that makes most people to buy perfume X or cologne Y is the brand, if this works for colleges, especially those with large student bodies and an even larger alumni base, more power to them.
Forget targeting, impressions and CPCs.
Social media will now actually save lives (in the case of Twitter, actually it has, I believe, being as it was, the voice of the people in various uprisings across the world over the last several years).
Facebook, your turn.
Shopping for real books in a “real” store was supposed to go the way of the dodo, as anyone not hiding under a rock these past few years knows.
But interestingly, writes Michael Rosenwald in The WaPo, some bookstores – “indies” no less – are making a comeback of sorts.
Independent bookstores are not dead. In fact, in some of the country’s most urbane and educated communities, they are making a comeback.
In an e-tailing world, their resurgence is driven by e-book growth that has leveled off, dyed-in-the-wool print lovers who won’t (or can’t) abandon page flipping, a new category of hybrid reader (the latest mystery, digital; the latest John Irving, print) and savvy retailers such as the Englands, positioning their stores squarely in the buy-local movement and as a respite from screens.
The American Booksellers Association, which represents independent bookstores, says its membership — it hit a low of 1,600 in 2008 — has grown 6.4 percent in 2013, to 2,022. Sales were up 8 percent in 2012, and those gains have held this year.
Still, as the rest of the article says, their long-term success is far from assured, because of demographics and continuing shifts in consumer behavior.
So what can book and bookstore lovers such as this writer do, to ward off the (eventual?) demise of bookstores everywhere? Vote with their wallets.
How do you compete with “Earth’s Most Customer-Centric Company”?
By going well above, and beyond, the call of duty, as Elizabeth Holmes highlights in a WSJ piece today:
At the “low end” – which probably means anyone buying bags $200 and under – I guess the best bet then is to temper expectations. Or shop at Amazon.
Much to Netflix and audiences’ delight, it looks like binge-watching is here to stay. And, Netflix will continue to create original shows and let them stream all at once as a powerful way to attract new customers and keep existing ones.
That’s my take, based on an article in The WSJ by John Jurgensen about some data released by Netflix earlier this month:
Want further proof that Netflix-associated and Netflix-driven (created too?) “binge”-watching is the future? Consider what, HBO, Netflix’s bete noire, recently tweeted:
Earlier this week, HBO beckoned students to its streaming video platform with a tweet: “After you survive #FinalsWeek, treat yourself to a week of @HBOGO binge watching. You deserve it.”
As Dan Primack wrote in his newsletter today, a couple of researchers released a report via the Rock Center for Corporate Governance at Stanford University last week on the “operational consequences of Private Equity buyouts”.
The paper’s abstract has some nice findings:
Do private equity buyouts disrupt company operations to maximize short-term goals? We document significant operational changes in 103 restaurant chain buyouts between 2002 and 2012 using health inspection records for over 50,000 stores in Florida. Store-level operational practices improve after private equity buyout, as restaurants become cleaner, safer, and better maintained. Supporting a causal interpretation, this effect is stronger in chain-owned stores than in franchised locations — “twin restaurants” over which private equity owners have limited control. Private equity targets also reduce employee headcount, lower menu prices, and experience a lower likelihood of store closures — a proxy for poor financial performance. These changes to store-level operations require monitoring, training, and better alignment of worker incentives, suggesting PE firms improve management practices throughout the organization.
As everyone would agree, that’s a good thing.
In fact, one presumes that such “operational consequences” are probably seen across various other industries too, whenever struggling companies are acquired by PE firms and made healthier away from the scrutiny of public markets. And that would make PE firms pretty valuable in a capitalistic society.
Still, they get a bad rap for a handful of deals where financial (over)engineering caused ruin and bankruptcy. Not sure that’s fair.
For 33 years, Steve Ballmer helped build and then run, Microsoft.
Earlier this year, he decided to retire. So what led to this painful decision? An excerpt from a touching article (paywall) on The WSJ by Monica Langley:
“Maybe I’m an emblem of an old era, and I have to move on,” the 57-year-old Mr. Ballmer says, pausing as his eyes well up. “As much as I love everything about what I’m doing,” he says, “the best way for Microsoft to enter a new era is a new leader who will accelerate change.”
The full article (a 5m read) is recommended reading.
As I said in a post earlier this year, Disney’s model follows this playbook:
Step 1: Create or Acquire Appealing Characters
Step2: Then Make TV Shows and/or Movies, along with Happy Meals & Assorted Junk
Step 3: Success = Merchandising, Sequels and Prequels
Step 4: Huge Success = Rides In Parks and Resorts
Step 5: Go back to Step 1
But in the last year or two, Step 1 = Brand/character Building (not that kind of character building) has been increasingly happening in SmartPhone and tablet games. [Exhibit A: Angry Birds].
Naturally, Disney has been trying to jump on the SmartPhone/Tablet game bandwagon. The road has been bumpy though, writes Brooks Barnes, on The NYT:
Two months ago, Disney released a sequel to Where’s My Water?, a hit smartphone game about a showering alligator. Hopes were high: Disney had pointed to the original game as evidence of overdue traction in mobile gaming.
For the Walt Disney Company — where theme parks, TV, merchandise and films deliver more than $6 billion in annual profit — the failure of one smartphone game, even an important one, has no financial consequence. But mobile games are a major growth opportunity, and analysts say Where’s My Water 2 underscores the degree to which Disney is encountering new challenges in a shifting marketplace.
In particular, mobile game publishers are rapidly moving from apps that cost 99 cents per download to free apps that make money by selling virtual goods and upgrades. This “freemium,” Zynga-style model can be much more profitable. Of the 100 highest-grossing iPhone games in September, analysts note, 94 percent were free with in-game purchases — titles like Candy Crush Saga from King, based in London.
Of course, if anyone has the desire and the muscle, not to mention the need, to succeed, that is Disney. And therefore, IMO, it’s just a question of when, not if, Disney will succeed in this space.
Still this little example highlights the challenges that companies – even large, hugely successful ones – face, in changing or adapting established business models to account for rapidly changing consumer behavior, spurred by the rise of SmartPhones and Tablets.
Paying salesmen and saleswomen commissions is, as we all know, de rigeur pretty much the world over.
But is there a better way?
Not too long ago, a company called ThoughtWorks (and a handful of others) tried something different, as Stacy Perman wrote recently on The NYT:
At the start of 2012, ThoughtWorks, a software company based in Chicago, decided to upend one of the sacrosanct principles of sales. It eliminated commissions and placed its entire sales force, a team of 40 stretching across 12 countries, on straight salary.
Over the years, ThoughtWorks prided itself on developing a culture based on collaboration. But some parties in the sales equation appeared to be operating at cross purposes. “We made the decision to take the individual incentive out of the picture,” Mr. Gorsline said, “and instead focus on the customers and their pain.”
Throughout 2011, the company worked on a strategy. During that time, Mr. Gorsline and his team brought the entire sales force together to discuss the new direction, explain the rationale and provide a forum for discussion. “It was all very transparent,” he said. Next, they met with individual sales representatives to establish a new compensation plan. A start date of January 2012 was set.
According to Mr. Gorsline, the straight-salary structure took into consideration high performers, offering them compensation close to what they had earned with commissions. Still, all of the representatives took pay cuts — although they did gain something: a steady paycheck. “We operate in a cyclical industry,” he said. “This provided them with a sense of security whether it was a good year or a bad one.”
More important, Mr. Gorsline said, the company’s annual growth increased between 18 and 22 percent in each of the last two years. “We still demand revenue generation,” he said. “The only thing that changed is the way they are compensated.”
Of course, as the rest of the article says, this is not for everyone. And, the ultimate success – or failure – of such a compensation model depends strongly on the behavior of customers and competitors. Still, an interesting innovation that might be selectively successful, one assumes.
Well, that depends on who you ask, of course. For shareholders and employees, it is likely a good deal. For some flyers, probably a good deal. For many others, not really.
But the whole thing is quite fascinating, especially to students of economics and business (not to mention government regulation – invisible hand, anyone?). For such readers, here are two such articles I recently read.
Exhibit A, from Steven Pearlstein on The Washington Post, was written in August, when the Justice Dept was suing to block the deal. Some of the reasons why it was doing it:
Then, on November 12, in exchange for a few concessions, the government agreed to let the merger happen.
So what happens next?
Justin Bachman, in Businessweek, talks about 6 of the merger’s implications, the last of which I cite here for your amusement:
6. Is there a winner in this? Yes—the attorneys who will bill the new American Airlines for many, many hours of work.
Enjoy the rest of his article here.
PS: I was wrong, a few weeks ago, when I said this deal wouldn’t go through. So much for predictive analysis…
Consumers are winning the retail wars (a post that I wrote exactly a year ago!). That, we know.
But who’s losing?
A longish article on this subject at Knowledge@Wharton says that other retailers, both large and small, are suffering from collateral damage:
The rest of the article, which veers off into how these two giants are remaking (re-building, actually) retail from a big picture perspective, makes for a good read.
Instead, shoppers may soon be looking at Ads that look right back at them, says Siraj Datoo on Quartz:
The next time you’re waiting to pay at Tesco, the ads you’re watching may be watching you back. Britain’s biggest retailer is rolling out screens with built-in cameras at its petrol stations that can identify people by their gender and approximate age, and customize ads based on who is watching.+
The ads will come from UK digital media company Amscreen, which uses face-tracking technology from French firm Quividi to identify key traits in individuals and relay information back to marketers in real time. The system also measures how long people pay attention to the ads, which could theoretically let companies tweak their ads to make them more effective, much as online advertisers do with Google AdWords.
Maybe, just maybe, this level of Ad “interactivity” crosses a line?