According to Bloomberg, Google's dominance of the Internet-search industry is being considered for a broad antitrust investigation by the FTC. The story cited two people familiar with the matter as sources.
Before proceeding, however, the FTC is awaiting a decision by DOJ about whether it will challenge the search giant's planned acquisition of ITA Software Inc. as a threat to competition in the travel-information search business.
An FTC investigation of Google, the world’s most popular search engine, “could be on par” with the scope of the Justice Department’s probe of Microsoft, Keith Hylton, an antitrust law professor at Boston University School of Law, told Bloomberg.
Google “could fight the FTC, but that’s going to cost a lot of money and time.”
Google's comments to Bloomberg could be summed up as "consumer choice is one click away."
Over the past couple of weeks, Slate's Farhod Manjoo has been taking a look at the future of technology. From Facebook to the cloud to home entertainment, the pieces are insightful and worth a read. Take a look.
As Cox Media searches for a "Social Monetization Manager" to create and manage money-making social media ventures, Mashable calls out some notable social media money makers from Petco to the New York Jets.
According to a recent study by loyalty marketing researcher COLLOQUY, old-fashioned conversation still fosters the most word-of-mouth recommendations.
While social media is known as a venue for brand discussions, social sites, and digital in general, are still not the first choice for shoppers talking brands.
The December 2010 survey found that several more traditional methods of discussion came out far ahead of social networking when consumers were asked how they share information about products and services. Face-to-face conversation was the No. 1 channel, even among young adults.
The digital channel used most for product discussions was mobile—when used for conversations, however, not text messages. Only 35% of the overall population, and 56% of the young adult population, talked about products and services on social sites.
Another of the study's findings: the economic downturn is a key driver making consumers less likely to provide product recommendations to friends and family members.
A study conducted in January by Chadwick Martin Bailey and iModerate Research Technologies revealed that more than half of 1,400 consumers polled reported using their smartphones to assist them with shopping.
The research found that more than 70% of iPhone owners report using applications or their smartphone’s web browser to help them while shopping in-store, and 41% are making purchases directly from their phones.
According to the study released in March, 66% of respondents used their smartphones to conduct price comparisons on a product or service and 58% used them to find the closest store locations. While 41% of those polled said they had made purchases from their smartphones, just 17% said that making a purchase was their reason for using a smartphone.
Retailers have learned the hard way that coupon sites like Groupon Inc. don't always deliver such a sweet deal. This is causing many to be more selective about partners, read the fine print and renegotiate deals to receive a larger cut of the offers' revenues.
Strong consumer demand and a glut of daily deal companies has enabled retailers to negotiate and created doubts that the wildly profitable daily deal business model can maintain its high margins.
Yesterday, the FDA announced that it still plans to release its long-delayed guidance on social media and internet advertising guring Q1 2011. That means the document should hit the street in the next week.
Interesting piece by eMarketer revises estimates of Twitter audience growth down sharply.
“Twitter users are a sizeable and growing bunch, but their numbers are considerably smaller than those disseminated by many media outlets and Twitter itself,” said Paul Verna, eMarketer senior analyst and author of the new report, “Twitter Users: A Vocal Minority.” “In the US, this means tens of millions of users, as opposed to hundreds of millions.”
The study points out that 10% of US female internet users and 7% of US male internet users are active on Twitter. It also concludes that more than half of Twitter users are female and that the audience skews young. There are twice as many users in the 18-29 demographic than in the 30-49 demographic.
While that indicates that Twitter makes a lot of sense for consumer brands, what does it mean for B2B companies and those in the professional services space where decision makers are typically older and male?
Howard Schultz grew Starbucks into the mega coffee chain the world knows today and then stepped aside as CEO in 2000. In 2008, he swooped back in to revitalize Starbucks only to be smacked around and humbled by the great recession. Today, the company is back on track, but only after he learned to trust his gut less and listen to his people more. The story draws out a key question: what is the right time for an owner to begin thinking more like a manager and less like an entrepreneur?
These little squares are popping up everywhere and usage soared more that 1200% in 4Q 2010. From the coffee cups at my office to in-store signage at Macy's and the business cards I am getting at Tradeshows. QR codes are easy to produce, easy to track and a great way to bring the convenience of hyperlinking to the ink and paper world. If it's 2011, you better be using these. The question Ad Age asks is will we be using them in 2012?
Ecommerce growth rates to taper off as online retail matures, but the money will continue to roll in, growing from $165 billion in 2010 to $270 billion by 2015 (figures exclude travel, download and event ticket purchases).
“Two major trends that will fuel online buying growth are mobile commerce and daily deal sites like Groupon,” said Jeffrey Grau, eMarketer principal analyst. “Both opportunities are expected to have strong sales growth over the next five years.”
Facebook is testing a new system that instantly targets ads based on the content of members' wall posts and status updates, as the social network joins a growing list of Internet companies working with advertisers to market products related to a person's interests or online activities at that moment.
For some time, Facebook has used the contents of members' status updates and wall posts to target advertising, but the test is the first time the social network has had the ability to select ads almost immediately, related to content that users are sharing. The service is an example of new technology that increasingly allows advertisers to tailor ads based on what users are doing online at that moment.
"Advertising on Facebook can be more useful for people because they have explicitly shared their interests on the site. We use this information to show people ads that they may be interested in," Facebook said in a statement released to the Mercury News. "We are currently testing a product that helps surface relevant advertising more quickly to people based on the real-time content they are sharing, such as status updates or the Pages they like."
Retail marketers are adjusting their data collection strategies after the California Supreme Court ruled in February that Williams-Sonoma could no longer collect ZIP codes during credit card transactions because that action violated the Song-Beverly Credit Card Act of 1971. Retailers are also concerned that the ruling, which has spawned similar lawsuits, will impact other types of data collection.
Since that ruling, more than 100 similar class action suits have been filed against dozens of other retailers, including online-only merchants Amazon.com and PayPal. Businesses named in the other suits include Big 5 Sporting Goods, Bed Bath & Beyond, Macy's, Lowe's, Office Depot and Walmart.
"We're shocked — we never expected a ruling that ZIP codes were personal information," Bill Dombrowski, president of the California Retailers Association, told DM News.
"If I were a retailer, I'd probably stop requesting the ZIP codes altogether for the time being," said Ron Park, chief strategy officer of the retail vertical at Merkle.”
According to numbers published today by the Internet Advertising Bureau (IAB) and PricewaterhouseCoopers, new spending on interactive advertising in the UK has topped £4 billion for the first time. This represents 12.8 percent growth over 2009. Today, interactive advertising accounts for 25 percent of total UK ad spend.
According to the IAB/PWC report, UK mobile advertising grew 116 percent year-over-year, up from 32 percent in 2009. Advertisers spent £83 million on mobile advertising in 2010.
Link to the story features a video explaingin the findings.
According to a Yahoo Research study, Twitter functions more like an old-school broadcaster than a social network. The study looked at 260m tweets sent on Twitter between July 28, 2009 and March 8, 2010 containing bit.ly-shortened URLs. It found that 50% of all content consumed on Twitter is generated by only 20,000 users. By those numbers, a very small group of "elite" users (0.05% of all users by Yahoo Research's calculation) is producing half of the content that gets consumed.
I can see some problems with the study's construction, but I think it makes a compelling point.
According to a recent study by the Pew Research Center's Internet & American Life Project, 47 percent of American adults use their cell phones and tablet computers to get local news and information. The report should be heartening to mobile marketers, with 37 percent looking up information about restaurants or other local businesses. This was the second largest category after weather information.
I have a feeling this could be the tipping point for QR codes.
DIY giant Home Depot launched a quick response (QR) code initiative on March 22 that will place QR codes on all products. By scanning the code with their phone, consumers will be able to access videos and how-to tips as well as product and safety information. Consumers can also purchase the product right from their mobile device.
A California tour company has sued daily deal giant Groupon alleging that it runs misleading ads in the San Francisco area using keywords and ad copy that do not reflect the nature of the deal being offered. Interestingly, the company also says that it has been harmed by Groupon's behaviors which, it alleges, have driven up top position prices and Groupon's credibility score. The tour company is seeking to have Groupon barred from purchasing certain tourism-related keywords.
While keyword buying and ad copy issues are pretty well ironed out, it will be interesting to see what the courts think of the bid price and credibility score arguments, which could open up a whole new front in PPC advertising litigation.
In a post to All Things D, Peter Kafka says that web sites that write stories about other web sites are writing about Google's stall and Facebook's rise becuase it is true for their sites.
However, a new report from Citigroup’s Mark Mahaney, backed by comScore data shows that Google ranks as the top traffic source for 74 percent of the top Internet properties he surveyed. On top of that, between January 2010 and January 2011, Google’s referral share increased for 69 percent of the sites Mahaney looked at.
Google saw drops in only two categories: health and media sites. the media drop was especially pronounced, with Google's influence dropping at 80 percent of the top media sites over the past year.
The takeaway: Don't forsake search for social, yet.
According to eMarketer, more than half of all Internet users in age groups between 12 and 64 are active users of at least one social network (log in at least once a month). As the population of potential new users shrinks and user population growth slows, social networks will, the report says, have to think more about target audiences and build strong brands and provide value to retain older users.
Yesterday, the White House entered the online privacy fray, calling for an online bill of rights. How this measure will tip the scales as the FTC's desire to legislate online privacy, a number of online privacy bills circulating on the Hill and competing industry self-regulatory programs is anyone's guess.
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