Cashing Out: Week of January 15th – 21st 2012 in Online Marketing News

Plug pulled on SOPA, PIPA postponed

Internet companies and users who opposed two bills aimed at stopping online piracy are celebrating two victories this week, with the January 20 withdrawal of the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and the Protect IP Act (PIPA).

ReveNews reported last week that scales were beginning to tip in the debate, but with widespread self-imposed blackouts online January 18, mass support for petitions against the bills, backpedaling from senators, and public protests, the issue has concluded with a decisive triumph for SOPA and PIPA opponents.

Both bills have now been tabled, a situation Mashable likens to “legislative limbo.” So much has happened in just the past few days, that it is difficult to pinpoint exactly what it was that turned the tables in this debate, but Mashable offered a handy timetable of events leading up to its conclusion.

On January 13, the authors of both SOPA and PIPA removed the DNS-blocking provisions in either bill, which had been widely criticized by many of the bill’s detractors, who “claimed that interfering with DNS would destabilize and slow down the Internet while failing to prevent online piracy.” January 14, the White House issued a statement in response to an online petition of SOPA, offering an albeit conservative an guarded opposition to SOPA as flawed legislation:

“While we believe that online piracy by foreign websites is a serious problem that requires a serious legislative response, we will not support legislation that reduces freedom of expression, increases cybersecurity risk, or undermines the dynamic, innovative global Internet.”

Making good on a promise made the previous day, a number of major sites, namely Wikipedia and Reddit, went dark January 18, in protest of the legislation, though they allowed inconvenienced users to read up on SOPA and PIPA and offered information about how to contact elected officials regarding the bills.

Google did not censor its content, but blacked out its logo as a sign of its opposition, and collected 4.5 million signatures for its anti-SOPA petition in just one day.

Meanwhile, the top five trends on Twitter that day were SOPA- or PIPA-related, and 2.4 million Tweets about SOPA were sent between noon and 4 pm. Offline, over 1,000 people assembled for a protest in front of the New York offices of Senators Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand, supporters of both SOPA and PIPA.

The next day, January 19, Congress kept quiet on the issue, though they were perhaps the only ones to do so:

“During the CNN Southern Republican national debate, every Republican presidential candidate took a stance against the bills. When SOPA and PIPA were mentioned during the debate,” wrote Mashable, adding “it was an indication that the issue had gone mainstream.”

Finally, January 20, PIPA’s author, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid announced: “In light of recent events, I have decided to postpone Tuesday’s vote on the Protect IP Act,” which had originally been scheduled for January 24.

And, that same day, SOPA’s chief sponsor Lamar Smith said he would be withdrawing the bill “until there is wider agreement on a solution.” This was accompanied by a full statement, in which Smith stood by the need for legislation combating online privacy, vowing to “continue work with copyright owners, Internet companies, financial institutions to develop proposals that combat online piracy and protect America’s intellectual property.”

Though most are claiming the outright death of these bills, with phrases like “RIP SOPA” and “the week SOPA died,” others, like TechFlash’s Greg Lamm, and Mashable’s Lance Ulanoff warn that issue could be far from over.

Citing the arguments of SUNY Geneseo Political Science Dept. Professor and Chair Jeffrey Koch, Ph.D., Ulanoff writes that:

“SOPA and PIPA are dead, but only in the way a zombie is dead […] They or something like them will rise up again in 12 months. The new bills may even start dragging themselves around the halls of congress right after the November’s presidential election. Future versions will likely try to address the same persistent issue of piracy, and they will be just as hard to read and understand as today’s ‘dead’ versions of SOPA and PIPA.”

Megaupload shut down by F.B.I.

The New York Times (NYT) reported January 19 that one of the world’s leading file-sharing sites has been shut down as “the Justice Department and the Federal Bureau of Investigation seized the Web site Megaupload and charged seven people connected with it with running an international enterprise based on Internet piracy.” Two sites, Megaupload Limited, and Vestor Limited, have been charged.

The Department of Justice (DOJ) issued a statement on the indictment January 19, calling the case one of “the largest criminal copyright cases ever brought by the United States,” and calling Megaupload “an international organized criminal enterprise allegedly responsible for massive worldwide online piracy of numerous types of copyrighted works.”

Among the seven people charged, four have been arrested, including Megaupload’s founder, Kim Dotcom. The other three have not yet been apprehended, but all seven could face 20 years in prison.

Considering all the recent dialogue on the subject of online piracy brought about by the SOPA debate, the case comes at an interesting time. Though, as TechCrunch notes,

“This isn’t completely about piracy […] The Justice Department asserts that the seven individuals and two corporations, Megaupload Limited and Vestor Limited, were involved in other criminal activities. They were charged with engaging in a racketeering conspiracy, conspiring to commit copyright infringement, conspiring to commit money laundering and two substantive counts of criminal copyright infringement.”

Anonymous has also responded to the case, Tweeting January 19: “The government takes down #Megaupload? 15 minutes later #Anonymous takes down government & record label sites. #ExpectUs,” adding that their actions would be “the largest attack ever by Anonymous.” The hacker group claimed responsibility for attacks on the DOJ’s website as well as those of Universal Music, the Recording Industry Association of America, and the Motion Picture Association of America. The group also warned that the F.B.I. would be their next target, according to TechCrunch.

Facebook’s IPO will come in May

Citing “multiple sources,” The Wall Street Journal‘s AllThingsD reported January 19 that we can expect Facebook’s IPO near the end of May, possibly in the third week.

If that’s the case, the company will have to file its documents with the Securities and Exchanges Commission (SEC) within a month. And, provided Facebook doesn’t run into any complications (as did Groupon), their May debut on the stock market could spell one of the largest web IPOs of all time, raising $10 billion for a valuation expected to reach $100 billion.

AllThingsD writes that, unlike some other tech IPOs, “Facebook’s is probably going to hew to a more traditional offering script […] That is likely to include a hefty consortium of irksome investment bankers.”

Apple to publish textbooks on the iPad

In an education event held in New York January 19, Apple announced a new category in its iBook store that the company says will revolutionize the textbook, citing the current disappointing global standing of US students in subjects like math, reading, and science.

According to Mashable, Apple hopes that their new textbook experience for the iPad will eventually cover “every subject, every grade level, for every student,” with features that offer students glossary definitions and interactive reviews, and allow them to highlight sections of text with a fingertip.

For the time being, however, Apple is launching the platform with high school textbooks from publishers Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, McGraw-Hill, and Pearson.

The physical equivalents of the textbooks Apple intends to make available on the iPad can range about $200, whereas two of the digital texts Apple plans to offer will be priced at under $15. This may seem like a good way to make educational material more widely available, though as Econsultancy notes, “not every student can afford an iPad, and schools are broke.”

Lovefilm gets ABC content

After watching competitor Netflix launch in their territory last week, UK-based Lovefilm seems to be amping up their library of movies and TV series.

Earlier this month, they signed an agreement with BBC, similar to one Netflix had made with the content provider. And now, their latest deal with ABC will give users of the Amazon-owned service access to complete seasons of series like Desperate Housewives, Lost, and Grey’s Anatomy, to name a few.

At this point, Netflix and Lovefilm have a lot of overlap in the content they offer and, as Mashable reports, “With such similar content offerings, consumer choice is likely to be dictated by price. A month before Netflix’s launch in the UK and Ireland, Lovefilm cut the price of its streaming-only service to £4.99 per month — a full pound cheaper than Netflix.”

Jerry Yang, Yahoo co-founder, resigns

In a statement to the board January 17, Yahoo founder Jerry Yang announced that he would no longer have any part of the ailing web company.

“My time at Yahoo, from its founding to the present, has encompassed some of the most exciting and rewarding experiences of my life. However, the time has come for me to pursue other interests outside of Yahoo,” Yang wrote, “ I am enthusiastic about the appointment of Scott Thompson as chief executive officer and his ability, along with the entire leadership team, to guide Yahoo into an exciting and successful future.”

Amid speculation as to Yahoo’s future, Yang’s resignation comes just as Thompson, a former PayPal executive, steps into the role of CEO at Yahoo. Though, as the New York Times (NYT) notes, “Mr. Yang did not give a reason for his departure, […] it occurred as the company undergoes a strategic review under a new chief executive, Scott Thompson, on whether the company should sell off its Asian interests and focus on its media assets.”

Opinions are divided as to whether or not Yang’s resignation is a good thing for the company. As quoted by Econsultancy quoted Don Dodge, Developer Advocate at Google referred to Yang’s role in blocking an acquisition by Microsoft in 2008:

“Jerry blocked the sale to Microsoft, and has been an obstacle for other potential buyers. Nothing could get done on deals for Yahoo Japan and Alibaba while Jerry was there. The stock price couldn’t move will all these issues. But from a company perspective, Jerry is the heart and soul of the company. He will be greatly missed.”

Meanwhile, Allen Weiner, a Gartner analyst, told the NYT that, with Yang’s resignation. “Yahoo is losing the last piece of what was viewed by many as a stumbling organization.”

Investors seem to agree with Weiner. Yahoo’s shares gained more than 3 percent in after hours trading following the announcement.

This week in marketing studies and reports:

Smartphone and tablet ad impressions way up in 2011

In their 2011 Mobile Market Review, released January 17, inMobi found that global smartphone ad impressions grew 488 percent from 2010 to 2011. What’s more, tablet ad impressions grew 771 percent. The company also saw ad impressions on its own network increase by 251 percent, a figure which includes both smartphones and tablets. Wrote Econsultancy:

“inMobi’s findings show that mobile advertising is becoming increasingly important. Data included in Econsultancy’s Internet Statistics Compendium reveals that mobile ad spending in EMEA will reach $2bn by 2015, putting it on par with North America,”.

Google, IBM, Microsoft and Intel post quarterly earnings

As TechFlash reported, Google, IBM, Intel and Microsoft all released their fourth quarter reports this week. While Google did not quite meet expectations, it surpassed $10 billion in revenue, a first for the company and an increase of 25 percent compared to their fourth quarter last year.

IBM’s net income was up 4 percent for the quarter, at $5.5 billion, and their revenue was up 2 percent from last year, to $29.5 billion. TechCrunch reports that “analysts expected earnings of $4.62 a share on revenue of $29.7 billion. So basically, sales missed but profits beat expectations.”

For their part, Intel’s profit increased by just 6 percent this past quarter, reported the New York Times, though their revenue “increased 21 percent to $13.9 billion, from $11.5 billion in the year-earlier period.”

As for Microsoft, the company “reported its second quarter 2012 earnings with record revenues of $20.9 billion, an 5% increase from the same period of the prior year,” writes TechCrunch, and likely got a boost from the holiday season.

31 percent of ad impressions are not seen

Findings released this week by comScore show that as much as 31 percent of ad impressions don’t even get seen.

“Of 69 percent of ads that were found to be ‘in-view’, 31 percent of online display ads weren’t seen by users”, writes Econsultancy. “Sometimes the ads appeared below the fold and users don’t scroll down the webpage far enough to see them. Other times ads that are placed above the fold are scrolled past before they have had a chance to load.”

2012’s online ad spend to surpass that of print

According to a report from eMarketer cited by AdAge, online ad spending is expected to eclipse that of print in 2012.

Last year, online ad spend grew 23 percent, reaching just over $23 billion. eMarketer forecasts that, this year, it will grow by 23.3 percent to over $39.5 billion. “That will put it above total U.S. magazine and newspaper spending, which will fall 6.1% to $36 billion this year,” writes AdAge.

Tablet owners spend 21 percent more than other online shoppers

According to Adobe’s Digital Marketing Insights report, among online shoppers, those who use a tablet to make purchases spend more.

Tablet shoppers were found to spend about 20 percent more than users of desktop computers, and spent almost double what smartphone shoppers spend. Econsultancy has posted a comprehensive review of the studies main findings.

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

2 Responses to Cashing Out: Week of January 15th – 21st 2012 in Online Marketing News

  1. Is facebook ipo confirmed ot it is still rumour.

    • The date for Facebook’s IPO is still conjecture, based on information from anonymous sources given to the Wall Street Journal’s AllThingsD blog. 
      Though there’s no reason to doubt the author’s sources, Facebook declined to comment on the matter. 
      And even if they are planning for a May IPO, one never knows what setbacks or complications a company may run into in the three to four months it usually takes for the SEC to review IPO documents. 
      Still, I would say the speculation here is far from unfounded.