New Media: Online office footie fans get shown the red card

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The Independent Online

Do you remember those dreadful Vitaminic adverts that had paint dripping down them, and the world (or was it just me?) wondering what paint had to do with music? Well, the Italian-based music download website has just acquired UK rival Peoplesound for £20.9m, so at last it's time for a fresh coat of paint.

First out the door and on to the first plane to New York was the chief executive of Peoplesound, Ernesto Schmitt, star of many a dot.com documentary. Schmitt has landed himself a plum role at EMI Group stateside, where he will fill a newly created position of senior vice-president of strategy and business development across the group's recorded music and music publishing divisions.

Bruno Heese, a Peoplesound veteran, has replaced Schmitt and will also be the UK managing director of the new joint operation. So, Schmitt's role of building up Peoplesound into a proper, grown-up business has apparently been done, and he assures us that his departure is not about being upset with the Italians.

One of his responsibilities at EMI will be to look after mergers and acquisitions, and "change management", something those in the dot.com world have become increasingly familiar with. Sadly, Schmitt's role does not include a specific remit to look at new media. How very 21st century.

You're not working anymore

With the footie season well under way, the big news is that football clubs can, for the first time, broadcast delayed matches on their own websites. Judging by the popularity of the big club sites, such as Liverpool's (www. liverpoolfc.co.uk), which attracts 1.5 million visitors a month, this could be a real money-spinner for clubs. But not if some spectatorship-poopers get their way.

For some, the fact that many weekend Premiership matches won't be screened until the following Monday morning, and that most people have faster internet access at work than home, means that employers stand to lose valuable working time from their footie-mad employees.

According to Todd Krautkremer, vice-president of worldwide marketing at the internet performance company Packeteer (and clearly more of a rugby man), online football is the "latest example of non-sanctioned or 'rogue' internet traffic that companies need to be able to identify, control and, in some cases, prohibit".

But of course he thinks this – his company can help worried employers freeze-frame workers' access to the matches in a flexible, non-Big Brother (oops, another employer nightmare) way – ie, by freeing up bandwidth in the evenings and at lunchtimes. He has a point, though, if figures from the internet management company Websense are to be believed. Apparently, internet misuse costs UK businesses more than £9.6bn annually in lost productivity. Ahh, so what's watching a couple of football matches going to matter?

Off their trolley

With many ex-dot.com staff languishing at home in front of daytime TV, it was only a matter of time before the genius that is Supermarket Sweep hit our PCs. No, it's not the launch of a website paying homage to Dale Winton (BTW, why hasn't Pearson TV, which owns the show, given it an interactive dimension, or have I missed something?) but Boots and Granada who are getting their trolleys in a twist.

The two companies' joint online health and beauty venture, Wellbeing.com, is launching what it claims is the first online trolley dash. Rather than going wild in the aisles, as Dale would have put it, the winner (and you have to buy something on the site to qualify) will have 10 minutes to race around the site hoovering up £5,000 worth of products as they go.

Let's hope the winner doesn't have broadband access, and therefore the time to gather more than that, or we could have another major joint venture going down the sink, in the soufflé-collapsing manner of Carlton and Sainbury's Taste Network.

They're all text mad

My pre-holiday diet was cruelly thwarted last week by a lone Double Decker, handed to me by Lars Becker, chief executive of the wireless marketing firm Flytxt. It had on the side an SMS text-message promotion to win various prizes, including £5,000 (who needs a trolley dash?). To enter I had to unwrap the evil confectionery, and in this heat, immediate consumption of the offending item was the only option.

I didn't win a prize, but Becker and his wicked Cadbury case study was further proof that big brands are taking SMS seriously. Last week, four big retailers – HMV, Lush, Oddbins and Superdrug – added their names to the long list of brands embarking on wireless marketing campaigns, this time with Brainstorm Marketing Solutions.

If the idea of your brand being promoted via phones, ring tones and logos leaves you cold, think on. Becker reckons that personalisation is the way forward, and he's not just talking about location-based special offers. For example, magazines like Smash! Hits that target text-mad teenagers will offer their readers personalised phone logos, which will allow them to create their own name on a logo, which will then sit happily on their phone with Smash! Hits branding next to it.

Considering that only a year ago we all had to make do with duff words like Cellnet, it's a market that's come a long way.

Lisa.Simmons@haynet.com

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