Pitty Viewpoint.  They can’t make money.  So now it appears they are expanding into adware (sort of). 

According to an article in ClickZ:

Viewpoint will develop a behavioral targeting product in 2006, execs said during the company’s Q3 earnings call.

It will work by collecting clickstream data on users who have installed the Viewpoint media player, then using that data to target ads and content on the company’s partner sites. Viewpoint claims 120 million users have installed its player.

CEO Patrick Vogt announced the behavioral tech in the wake of a downbeat quarter for Viewpoint and its ad systems unit in particular, which includes Unicast. Viewpoint reported a net loss of $1.5 million on total revenue of $6 million.

Execs blamed the poor earnings on several factors, including weakness in the company’s sales and marketing organization and publisher integration problems with its new Fuse ad management platform.

Now, here’s what Viewpoint says:

AT NO TIME WHATSOEVER does the Viewpoint Media Player or the Viewpoint Manager collect ANY personal data about you or your usage patterns, nor do we install third-party software or access information on your hard drive. The auto-update process happens totally anonymously and happens solely to ensure that your player is up-to-date. Since we do not collect personal data, there is no way – as in the case of ‘spy ware’ – to “traffic” or sell your personal information. We as a company find spy ware to be reprehensible and we are committed to protecting the privacy of all of our users.  Recently, we have begun offering an enhancement called the Viewpoint Toolbar to our users. This component too is designed strictly to improve the online experiences of our users and is not spy ware by any definition. The installation of this tool is completely optional and the application, once installed, does not access personal information. If a user opts-in to receive the toolbar and changes his or her mind, the component can be turned off or de-installed quite easily.  We value each and every one of our users and will continue to promote innovative, next generation experiences without compromising our users’ safety, security or privacy. That is our pledge.  Viewpoint Corporation 

Not entirely sure what was going on, I actually listened to the conference call.  It’s not entirely clear what they they will be doing, but here’s some snippets I jotted down:

Our strategy and action plan is simple.  We will be expanding our current lines of business, adding one new line of business and monetizing our existing products and assets to create new revenue streams… Our search business will continue to focus on our core graphically enhanced toolbar capability…continue to make it more valuable to our users…to that end, we recently launched our Fotomat toolbar…this application provides the stickiness for our toolbar, which should increase the use of search hence generating additional revenues for our customers…

We will also, as part of the search business expansion, begin offering custom toolbars and branded browser-based applications for integration into our customers marketing plans. This will provide customers the ability to dynamically serve one-to-one marketing messaging through a persistent, permission-based marketing tool that resides right in the end-user’s browser.  Reaching customers on an individual and persistent basis with compelling content is the holy grail of marketing. 

Viewpoint will deliver a behavioral product in 2006 that will allow marketers to get the right message to the right customer at the right time.  Behavioral-based marketing has proven to be many times more effective than traditional marketing…

“Behavioral” is often a code word for adware, but it could be simple targeted advertising based off of cookies — quite a difference.  So I’m not sure I’d dump your Viewpoint player just yet.  It’s not entirely clear what they will be doing in the near future, and if it will affect the player itself.  We will certainly be keeping an eye on this company…

You can hear the conference call yourself by clicking here (if it’s not live yet, you’ll have to follow the insturctions in the press release.)

From ClickZ via MarketingVox 

Alex Eckelberry