Cashing Out: Week of February 19th – 25th 2012 in Online Marketing News

White House Outlines Privacy Bill Of Rights

The Obama Administration announced its newly outlined Consumer Privacy Bill of Rights February 23. Though the proposed bill is still in the blueprint stage, the White House says it will be working with “companies, privacy advocates and other stakeholders to develop and implement enforceable privacy policies.”

The ideas outlined in the bill are by no means revolutionary; The White House plans to “give users more control over how their personal information is used on the Internet” by addressing six major areas: transparency, respect for context, security, access and accuracy, focused collection, and accountability.

Essentially, users need to know when, why and by whom their information is being collected, and be able to access that information themselves.

But perhaps the strongest point of the announcement is that the Obama Administration will be partnering with Internet companies and ad networks “that represent the delivery of nearly 90 percent of online behavioral advertisements” on do-not-track technology. Among those who have agreed to allow users to easily opt out are Google, Yahoo!, Microsoft, and AOL.

However, there is some skepticism about just how effective the proposed bill will be, and questions as to whether it goes far enough. As Econsultancy noted:

“It’s worth remembering that very few Mozilla users have enabled that browser’s Do Not Track feature, something you can be sure Google, Yahoo, Microsoft and AOL kept in mind when they made their agreement.”

Nevertheless, President Obama feels the time is ripe for government legislation addressing the issue and that it is as important for businesses as it is for consumers:

“American consumers can’t wait any longer for clear rules of the road that ensure their personal information is safe online […] As the Internet evolves, consumer trust is essential for the continued growth of the digital economy. That’s why an online privacy Bill of Rights is so important.  For businesses to succeed online, consumers must feel secure. By following this blueprint, companies, consumer advocates and policymakers can help protect consumers and ensure the Internet remains a platform for innovation and economic growth.”

Twitter Partners With Russian Google Rival On Search

In a partnership described as a “licensing deal,” Twitter has signed an agreement with Yandex, Russia’s largest search engine, in which Yandex will add data from Twitter to its search results.

TechCrunch reported on the deal February 20th, noting that it is “similar to the real-time Twitter search that used to be offered by Google — a partnership that ended last year around the time that Google was launching its own Google+ service.”

While the benefits for Twitter are, in this case, obvious, Twitter Director of Business Development April Underwood underscored the sheer volume of the social network’s timely content as a natural plus for Yandex:

“With more than 250 million tweets a day, Twitter is a valuable information source and the fastest way to find out what’s happening in your world […] Through this partnership, Yandex and Twitter will work together to make it easier for Yandex users in Russia and elsewhere to find real-time content about the people and things they care about most.”

Meanwhile, Yandex’s Blog Search Manager Anton Pavlov agrees that the new deal will help Yandex in social networking search, an area on which they are currently concentrating. “People share news, exchange opinions and discuss all sorts of matters in real time all the time. This kind of information will help us enhance our search results,” says Pavlov.

According to TechCrunch, though Yandex will be licensing the full feed of all public Tweets, it will likely “highlight specifically those tweets that are in Russian, Ukrainian, Belarusian or Kazakh, covering tweets from more than two million users.”

The terms of the deal have not been disclosed, but TechCrunch estimates it to be comparable to a similar one between Microsoft and Twitter, worth $30 million.

Pinterest Addresses Copyright Issues

In response to concerns that it too easily enables copyright infringement, popular  social media site Pinterest released a bit of code February 21 that will give companies the option to block “pinning” of their content to personal pinboards. Meanwhile, WordPress users can also use the “nopin” functionality by installing a nopin plug-in.

The feature comes at a period of rapid growth for Pinterest, which is likely to draw greater attention to the issue of copyright infringement.

Though Pinterest’s terms of service already require that users only pin images of which they are the sole owners or have permission to use, according to Mashable, 99 percent of the pins on the site violate those terms.

Netflix Signs Multi-Year Content Deal With the Weinstein Company

Just in time for the Academy Awards, Netflix has inked a new content licensing deal with The Weinstein Company (TWC), their first with the company and one that’s “multi-year” to boot.

“The deal ensures that the 2012 Oscars’ likely Best Picture winner ‘The Artist’ will make its American debut on Netflix before it airs on any paid television network,” reports the Huffington Post.

In addition, the agreement gives Netflix exclusive access to a slew of “critically acclaimed and commercially successful movies, ” says Netflix’s Chief Content Officer Ted Sarandos, as well as documentaries and foreign films from TWC. The films will become available on Netflix within a year of their theatrical release.

Though the details of the deal haven’t been released, one thing is certain; Netflix is the better for it. As TechCrunch noted, “This was a big win for Netflix […]  Netflix streaming is facing tough competition from Amazon and others. Content is king.”

ACTA Referred to Europe’s Highest Court

The controversial Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) has been referred by the European Union to its highest court, the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) reported February 22.

The proposed legislation, designed to deal with problems of counterfeit goods and copyright infringement online, has faced critics who say it threatens freedom of speech and privacy. Now, as ACTA (which has already been approved by the European Commission) goes under review by the European Court of Justice, it will be determined whether or not those critics are right, and “whether it is fully compatible with freedom of expression and freedom of the Internet,” writes the WSJ.

So far, ACTA has been discussed among the trade committees of various European nations, with 22 countries signing on but has yet to “be subjected to a democratic process,” writes TechCrunch Europe. That will have to wait until June, when it is scheduled for debate in the European Parliament.

The fact that the proposed legislation has largely been dealt with behind closed doors has not done anything to quiet ACTA’s opponents, though EU trade chief Karel De Gucht told Reuters he is as concerned as anyone about maintaining people’s established rights:

“We are planning to ask Europe’s highest court to assess ACTA’s compatibility with the EU’s fundamental rights and freedoms, such as freedom of expression and information or that of protection[…] Intellectual property is Europe’s main raw material, but the problem is that we currently struggle to protect it outside the European Union. This hurts our companies, destroys jobs and harms our economies. ACTA will not censor websites or shut them down.”

Google Backpedals on Web Tracking Issue

Following last week’s Safari-tracking scandal, Google is doing some major backpedalling this week.

For starters, the search giant has signed onto a do-not-track initiative, in line with the Obama Administration’s new Consumer Privacy Bill of Rights, unveiled February 23. Google is allowing a “do-not-track” button to be embedded in its browser, “ letting users restrict the amount of data that can be collected about them,” reports Ad Age.

But that won’t stop the lawsuits that are already being filed against the company over the web-tracking kerfuffle. As Mashable reported February 19, one Illinois resident, Matthew Soble  is taking legal action, and says he knows of two other similar suits already in the works, adding “I know there will be others.”

Neither will Google’s new do-not-track option silence accusations from Microsoft, which says Google has similarly been tracking Internet Explorer users through another loophole. In a February 20 post on the Internet Explorer blog, Microsoft said it was now “actively investigating” the issue.

Amazon will collect sales tax in Virginia

The Washington Post (WP) reports that, in accordance with a deal struck February 22 between Amazon and Governor Bob McDonnell of Virginia, the retailer will now be collecting sales taxes in that state.

Virginia business groups have been calling for a close to the “Amazon loophole” since late last year, says the WP.

In a statement quoted by the WP, Governor McDonnell argued the deal would “ensure that online retailers with a physical presence in Virginia are treated the same as traditional brick and mortar retailers who are already required to collect and remit existing sales taxes on goods sold in the Commonwealth.”

For their part, Amazon remains focused on establishing a nation-wide policy for the collection of online sales taxes.

This week in marketing studies and reports:

Facebook, Google and the display ad race

There’s a race going on in the display ad business and Google and Facebook have emerged as the frontrunners.

According to a February 22 report from eMarketer, Facebook is expected to sell $2.58 billion in online display in 2012 in the U.S. alone, while the projection for Google is $2.54 billion. They’re expected to hold 16.8 percent and 16.5 percent of the market respectively, and combined, will own a third of the U.S. display Market.

It’s projected that two companies will be more or less neck and neck for 2012, though the report also predicts that Google will surpass Facebook in display ad market share in 2013.

The figures on active social media users

A new infographic from social media agency Umpf gives an overview of the number of active social media users in the U.S. across the major platforms. Unsurprisingly, Facebook has the most active male and female users, while YouTube and Twitter, are the second and third most popular.

The infographic segments the findings by both age and gender.

Android ad impressions increased by 504 percent in past year

According to a yearly report on the respective performance of different smartphone operating systems on its network, Millennial found that Android impressions grew 504 percent in 2011. While the OS took a 47 percent share of device OS impressions,  iOS’ share was 33 percent.

“For basis of comparison,” writes TechCrunch, “in 2010, iOS had the top spot with a 41 percent share, while Android made up 30 percent.” Though iPhone impression share dropped by 7 percent year-over-year, it remains the top-ranked of the Top 20 Mobile Phones, with 15 percent of the impression share.

38M Americans use social networks on mobile almost daily

Mashable reported February 24 on a study from comScore that found that 64.2 million Americans visit social networks on their mobile devices, while 38 million do so “nearly daily.”

Naturally, users are most likely to be reading posts from people they know personally, though they’re increasingly reading posts from brands. “Almost 58 percent of U.S. users read posts from companies or brands, and about 32 percent are said to be likely to click on ads while social networking,” writes Mashable.

About Emily Wilkinson

Emily Wilkinson is a Montreal writer and editor who recently joined Her experience comes largely from her work at print publications like La Scena Musicale, where she alternated between positions as content manager, copy editor and journalist.
She believes in the importance of strong writing, be it in journalism or in other media, like blogging or even social networking. Her prerogative: though language will and ought to evolve, a good writer need never sacrifice the communicative power of text that is written with thought and care, whatever the venue.
Find Emily on Twitter @EditorWilkinson

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