Q&A: AKQA's Ajaz Ahmed on internet marketing

Ajaz Ahmed of AKQA Ajaz Ahmed co-founded the agency AKQA some 12 years ago. Last week AKQA revealed that private equity group General Atlantic had bought a majority stake, for a rumoured $250m.

We caught up with Ajaz to ask him about the investor situation and also to chew the fat on a range of internet marketing issues and trends.

Read on for the full interview...


Vinny Lingham's incuBeta bags funding, eyes USA

Congratulations to Vinny Lingham and the team at incuBeta, the Cape Town-based internet marketing group, which has secured a £1.75m investment from HBD Venture Capital.


Bebo embraces European Safer Internet Day

Bebo has announced that it is conducting a series of workshops to raise understanding among teachers and schools staff about social networks and the internet.

These 'Knowledge Transfer Workshops' are part of the campaign to highlight the risks of internet use, and coincide with today's European Safer Internet Day.


Yahoo! launches Panama in quest for relevance

Yahoo late last night flipped the switch on a new search marketing system it hopes will help it close the gap on sector leader Google.

Codenamed "Panama", the new model gives sponsored ads higher billing based on keyword matches to page content. In the old approach, ads were ordered only by which marketers bid most.

A new user interface and dashboard was already being tested by customers before Yahoo! yesterday launched what senior engineer Awa Awadallah called the "quality-ordering marketplace".


Apple vs Apple: Jobs and McCartney bury hatchet

All they needed was love. Now Apple and The Beatles have kissed and made up - and it could see The Fab Four's catalogue added to iTunes.

The band's Apple Corps. label last year lost a High Court lawsuit in which it had claimed Steve Jobs' computer company had reneged on a prior agreement not to confuse matters by entering the music business using the "Apple" name.


The Times unveils £10m website redesign

The new look Times Online site launched yesterday, ditching the old black and white design, in favour of colour-coding, though the site has been experiencing teething problems so far.

The Times' website, which was redesigned in-house by Tomaso Capuano and Jon Warden, now features lime green in the masthead, and green, blue and grey throughout the rest of the site. The information architecture was designed by Melissa Fleck.

Times Online revamps website

Obvious font issues aside, we think it looks pretty good...


Sales of virtual goods stopped by eBay

Auction giant eBay has prevented the sale of virtual goods for online games such as  EverQuest  and World of Warcraft on its site.

All listings related to these virtual goods, which include currency, characters, weapons, and online game accounts are being removed by eBay due to legal concerns.


Location networking startup Plazes raises £1.8m

Plazes, a social networking site based in Berlin, has announced that it has raised £1.8m in a first round of founding led by Doughty Hanson Technology Ventures.

Plazes is a social network site with the added dimension of location tracking. Plazes automatically detects your location and connects you with people or places nearby.


Mobile networks 'mull new-build search engine'

European mobile phone networks could start their own mobile search service as they consider how to increase revenue from search advertising, according to a report.

The companies will use the 3GSM World Congress, the world's largest mobile industry exhibition and conference, in Barcelona next week to consider a joint initiative aimed at replacing lost revenue from falling access costs with that from on-the-move ads.


Google Earth takes local AdSense 3D

Google AdWords customers can now place sponsored local ads inside Google Earth. The new feature lets advertisers place contact details and a logo on a map marker in the 3D environment.


Viacom asks YouTube to remove 100,000 clips

Viacom, the parent company of MTV and Comedy Central, has requested YouTube to remove 100,000 clips of its programming.

Viacom had been negotiating with Google over a deal that would allow the clips to be shown on YouTube in return for a share of ad revenues, but pulled out of talks after failing to reach an agreement.


Bloggers get paid for video product placement

PayPerPost, the company that caused controversy by paying bloggers to write about clients' products, is to roll out the same model in the video blogging arena.

Advertisers in the network's client base will next week begin paying bloggers to create videos about their goods, according to a report.

They will also get to place their own messages at the start or end of clips, ensuring a positive message even if the blogger offers a bad product review.