Reading List: Brands Aren’t Startup Banks

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.

Brands Want More From Startups: Startups often have a dysfunctional view of brands. On the one hand, many expect they will fund their businesses once they achieve a large number of users. But deep down, from the most successful companies in Silicon Valley on down, they view advertising as a necessary evil. The real game is in achieving mass-consumer adoption, and that happens by focusing on users, not advertisers. Shiv Singh, head of digital for North America at PepsiCo Beverages, thinks the Valley needs an attitude adjustment. Brands no longer want to be treated as a bank. They want to have a say in product development, he writes. This makes sense. A brand like Pepsi has the sort of distribution that startups crave. It only stands to reason partnerships will develop that allow startups to tap into this distribution in exchange for giving Pepsi a say in their development. AdAge — Brian Morrissey @bmorrissey 
Fox To Take Digital Seriously?: So Fox has brought on former Paramount digital head David Wertheimer to become the company’s first president of digital. This move is long overdue, as Fox — other than participating in Hulu — has been nowhere in digital. That’s despite a young, male-centric core audience (“Family Guy,” “The Simpsons”) that is perfect for the digital space. Fox has lacked a central digital leader for a long time; the network has never been as focused as it should be on the space, and the last two digital leaders, Ross Levinsohn and Peter Levinsohn (unrelated) were more responsible for properties like MySpace and Photobucket than anything network related. Fox and parent company News Corp.’s digital presence has dwindled since MySpace was sold. It’s the perfect time to map out a new strategy. Perhaps first on the docket for Wertheimer: What is the status of Fox’s Digital Studio, which has produced next to nothing tangible? Variety— Mike Shields @digitalshields
Tablet News Users Favor Web, Not Apps: Publishers have invested heavily in iPad applications to help distribute content, but research from the Pew Research Center suggests most tablet users now turn to the browser, not apps, to access news content. Are they doing so to circumvent publishers’ attempts to charge for content? Or is browser-based news consumption just familiar and easy? Either way, the data suggests the market for tablet news apps could be smaller than publications such as The Daily might have hoped. Pew Research Center— Jack Marshall @JackMarshall

Is Groupon Looking a Little Amazonian?: The New York Times weighs in on Groupon’s insistence on forging ahead with an IPO, even as the company’s valuation drops by the day. Despite comparisons between naysayers taking potshots at Groupon and the negative press that Amazon received during its IPO 10 years ago, the Times piece, which comes on the heels of similarly themed pieces in the Wall Street Journal, Businessweek and the Huffington Post, suggests that even at the now-reduced price of $11 million, the company is overpriced. That $6 billion offer from Google that Groupon spurned earlier this year is probably looking pretty good right about now. NYT — Anne Sherber

Zynga Plays the IPO Game: Zynga may be set to launch the mother of all overblown IPOs, if it goes through with a rumored bid for Silicon Valley immortality a week before Thanksgiving. Zynga’s key appeal to investors is that it offers a massive audience via Facebook, as well as what passes for successful advertising these days: a roster of online games connected to the portable social graphs of engaged consumers. Zynga might not have an enduring business model if it can’t expand beyond faddish games, but it does boast a seamless connection with Facebook and highly brandable content with a wealth of real-time data on users. Add a few billion to that, and Zynga might end up outgrowing the Facebook farm. Reuters — Carla Rover @carlarover
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