Reading List: Will Ad Budgets Shrink?

Each day we provide a roundup of five stories from around the Web that our editors read and found noteworthy. Follow us on Twitter for updates throughout the day @digiday.

Are Ad Budgets Shrinking or Not?: Given the current state of the global economy, it should come as no surprise that ad budgets could shrink at any moment. But as AllThingsD points out, the industry can’t seem to make up its mind just how concerned it should be about that fact. Major ad holding company WPP, for example, has already lowered its growth forecasts for the year citing an “increasingly challenging economic environment.” Meanwhile, Interpublic’s outlook appears much rosier, suggesting spending levels remain consistent despite “macro uncertainty.” Fourth-quarter spending will probably remain strong, owing to the holiday period, but it could be a different situation come January. AllThingsD – Jack Marshall @JackMarshall
Web-Branding Woes: Points to Alan Pearlstein for not beating around the bush in his recent Ad Age piece. He begins it this way: “It’s time to face the reality that the Internet sucks as a branding medium.” Ouch. Pearlstein, CEO of Cross Pixel Media, points to the regular bugaboos, most prominently the lack of a creative unit to rival the 30-second spot. Digiday has explored this subject in detail in its more optimistic series, “Solving the Web’s Brand Challenge.” Pearlstein is certainly right that the Web hasn’t lived up to its promise yet as a branding medium, but it’s hard to believe that this will always remain the case. The author himself allows for this in his conclusion, which notes that TV and the Web will increasingly blur. AdAge – Brian Morrissey @bmorrissey
Invasion of the iPad News Readers: According to AllThingsD, Yahoo’s long-delayed Livestand tablet platform is coming next week, along with Google Propeller. Each app platform represents these companies’ answer to Flipboard, Zite and the rest — indy apps which act as magazine-like custom readers for iPad. Presumably, this is good for Web publishers. While in the past Zite and Flipboard irked some traditional media executives for scraping too much of their content without paying for that. While these apps initially scared some publishers, who worried their content was being exploited, now Flipboard is partnering with companies like USA Today. And CNN now owns Zite. One would assume that Livestand and Propeller would be super-publisher friendly (several publishers at Digitay’s Digital Publishing Summit last week in Florida mentioned they would be part of the announcement. Over the summer, some criticized Yahoo for moving too slowly in this space (Livestand was announced in February) but to be fair, it’s awfully early. Eleven million ipads were sold this last quarter — think those folks have already settled in on Flipboard, if they even know what it is? It’s questionable as to whether social/customizable readers like Propeller are or will become mainstream. But as we’ve seen early on from Apple’s Newsstand, the right content hub can serve as a powerful promotional platform for traditional media on the iPad. AllThingsD– Mike Shields @digitalshields

At Least Someone’s Making Money: According to ABC News, amid the multiple warnings about ad tech bubbles and the global slowing of ad spend, there is one company that is sitting pretty in ad tech: Google. No surprise there, but what it says about the so-called race against Google is telling. It seems everyone else is losing, big time. Yahoo is losing a lot of money in ad revenues, and so is Microsoft. It’s kind of a bloodbath out there, and yet Google has a big vulnerability — 96 percent of its revenue comes from advertising. If Facebook can keep moving forward into Google’s territory – enabling social search and ramping up its ad tech – then every bite from its competitors will hurt the company, a lot. Google might not end up like MySpace, but it may become the next Yahoo unless it can hold off the Facebook army. ABC News– Carla Rover @carlarover

Another One Bites the Dust: BuyWithMe, one of the larger also-rans in the daily deals universe, has been purchased by the Gilt Groupe, the parent of a number of luxury deals sites, including Gilt City and Jetsetter. The purchase seems to indicate that neither company has been able to create and exploit enough of a niche to compete against Groupon and LivingSoclal. BuyWithMe competed head to head with Groupon, offering half-price manicures via email but, because it has a national presence, does offer the Gilt Groupe a much larger footprint that it has currently. In what would seem to be very bad news for BuyWithMe employees, in an unrelated move, last week Gilt laid off about half of its staff.  cnet– Anne Sherber @annesherber