Cashing Out: Week of July 29 – August 4 2012 in Online Marketing News

Facebook tackles accusations of click bots by Limited Run

On Monday, CNET reported that startup Limited Run was quitting its Facebook Advertising:

…alleging it had paid the social network for a shocking amount of automated ad clicks. In its examinations, Limited Run charged that at least 80 percent of the clicks came from invalid traffic, or clickbots.

This prompted several responses from other companies, VirtualBagel, professional PPC campaign manager Bryce Hanson, and others reported that they were also the victims of click bots. Facebook stated on Friday to Wired that they’ve looked into the reports of click bots and can’t find any. “Facebook says its investigators haven’t received any evidence for those claims, despite an ongoing effort to get to the bottom of the ad mystery.”

According to Wired, Limited Run’s co-founder Tim Mango Facebook’s investigation is ongoing. “We have been in contact with a number of people at Facebook since this started, They are researching the issues we had. This is all I can say.”

Google+ now offers businesses page verification

Friday Google+ announced that business owners can verify their own pages. Google had this to say:

Now you can verify your Google+ page in the Local Business or Place category. This will unify your business’s online presence across Google Search, Maps, and Mobile and ensure that your customers get the right information about your business, wherever they are looking for you! Verification will enable you to update your business address and hours, respond to reviews, and more — from the the same Google+ page where you currently share posts with your customers.

Google also added that they are hoping in the future to give more benefits for Google+ to small and local business owners. According to The Next Web, “By having a verified account on Google+, consumers know that they can trust the source of the information you’re sharing. It’s much like it works for brands and personalities on Twitter.”

Facebook doubles down, now releasing new code twice a day

Facebook announced on its developer blog that it will be updating its site twice a day. This will be a considerable change, from once a year to twice daily. This has been made possible by new hires in New York. These are big changes for a company that, in the past has been slow to change.

Chuck Rossi, Facebook’s Release Engineer Manager stated that Facebook is making these changes “to keep [its] release process as quick and efficient at 1000 engineers as it was at 100.” According to Rossi the developers are producing six times the amount of code per week as Facebook was in 2008.

“It’s exciting and I think it crushes what anyone else of our size and impact is doing. Ship early and ship twice as often,” he added.

Google now connecting online political ads with local congressional districts

You can tell it’s an election year here in the U.S. Not only can voters now be swayed on TV, radio, and through political websites, but Google is now getting into politics. Google announced that they are now working on AdWords to connect online political ads with voters in their respective congressional districts. It means that politics can be local now for you, too.

In addition to Google showing you your local restaurants, maps, and businesses, now they will also show you ads for your local Congressional election. Google currently brings in money from 400+ races for congressional seats and their advertising. Thanks to recent redistricting many districts have changed. Google is hoping to alleviate the confusion and help candidates reach their voters. Google’s new tool allows political campaigns to select their district and ensure that their ads are shown only within their district. According to TechCrunch:

This tool, says Google, allows campaigns to “quickly and easily target their search, display, mobile and video ads solely within that particular district’s border.

It remains to be seen whether or not voters can stomach more election advertising, or whether this will be seen as overkill by campaign managers.

Zynga takes another hit with lawsuit by Electronic Arts

Zynga was hit with a lawsuit this week by game maker Electronic Arts (EA). EA alleges that the new Zynga game, “The Ville,” is a ripoff of the popular Sims series by EA. EA filed the suit in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California. Zynga fired back, through General Counsel Reggie Davis,  stating:

‘The Ville’ is the newest game in our ‘ville’ franchise — it builds on every major innovation from our existing invest-and-express games dating back to YoVille and continuing through CityVille and CastleVille, and introduces a number of new social features and game mechanics not seen in social games today,. It’s unfortunate that EA thought that this was an appropriate response to our game, and clearly demonstrates a lack of understanding of basic copyright principles. It’s also ironic that EA brings this suit shortly after launching SimCity Social, which bears an uncanny resemblance to Zynga’s CityVille game. Nonetheless, we plan to defend our rights to the fullest extent possible and intend to win with players.

Zynga’s “The Ville” was introduced in June 2012. The Sims Social was introduced a year earlier by EA’s Maxis Label. Lucy Bradshaw, General Manager of Maxis retaliated by stating:

Zynga’s design choices, animations, visual arrangements and character motions and actions have been directly lifted from The Sims Social … scores of media and bloggers have commented on the blatant mimicry.

According to Mashable, and anyone who plays these games with any frequency can tell you

…it’s going to be a breeze for EA’s lawyers to show a longstanding pattern of game-copying behavior on Zynga’s part. Several former Zynga employees have stated in the past that the company’s breakout hit — FarmVille — was a blatant copy of a game called Farm Town. Mafia Wars is Mob Wars, Ruby Blast is Bejeweled, Pioneer Trail is Oregon Trail … and the list goes on.

Ripping off from other games seems to fit Zynga’s pattern, and right now was an opportune time for EA to sue. It seems the sharks are circling Zynga. Recently Zynga was sued by several law firms charging senior management with insider trading. Zynga’s stock has also been dropping rapidly.

Facebook now lets advertisers target based on gender, age, education, and relationship status

For more direct and relevant advertising, Facebook is now allowing advertisers to target their ads, based on gender, age, education, workplace and your relationship status. In the past, Facebook only allowed ads to be targeted by language and location. This offers up a whole lot of options for advertisers now. This change came a few weeks after Twitter announced a similar change, allowing for targeted tweets based on location, device, and platform.

According to InsideFacebook:

Page post targeting will only apply to News Feed distribution. All posts will remain visible from the page’s Timeline. This will allow the friends of fans who don’t meet the targeting criteria to see stories about their friends Liking or commenting on the post.

Whether this helps Facebook make its advertising more relevant or usable remains to be seen. Facebook’s advertising results have disappointed both advertisers and investors, so it will be intriguing to see if this boosts Facebook’s ad revenue.

Microsoft details developer payments for Windows 8 apps

Microsoft went into detail this week about how developers for apps in Windows 8 will be paid. According to The Next Web:

…you can’t publish paid apps unless you do so from a copy of the RTM build of the operating system. For developers, that means waiting until the 15th, at the earliest.

Basically you will need an I-9 form for U.S. citizens and an I-8 for everyone else. Depending on your location, your payment will be sent via electronic funds transfer, SEPA transfer, or wire. You will pay different fees dependent on the method you use. Sales are generally not able for payment until 30 days after purchase and you must reach $200 in sales.

The lowest priced apps are set at $1.49, which is up from the $0.99 cents most customers who use iOS or Android apps are used to. The key difference with Windows is that customers are allowed to try out free trials of apps for seven days prior to purchasing the app. Apps using trial periods have sold better than apps that don’t allow for trial periods. According to ZDNet

A higher base price instantly provides developers more revenue, and the cut in Microsoft’s take after the $25,000 sales threshold gives them incentive to create successful — and therefore even more lucrative — apps. The big question, though, is whether users will balk at the higher base prices having been conditioned to buy 99-cent apps on their mobile devices.

Apple spends over $1 billion on advertising since launch of iPhone and iPad

CultofMac is reporting that in last week’s Apple v. Samsung trial, Apple has spent over $1 billion on advertising since they launched the iPhone and iPad. Apple has spent $647 million to advertise for the iPhone and $457 million for the iPad. That’s a lot of advertising. It remains to be seen whether it was the product quality or inundation of advertising that led to Apple’s success.

Congress blocks UN takeover of the Internet

As of Friday, Congress unanimously opposed more UN control over the Internet. Congresswoman Mary Mack stated:

Today’s unanimous vote sends a clear and unmistakable message: the American people want to keep the Internet free from government control and prevent Russia, China and other nations from succeeding in giving the U.N. unprecedented power over Web content and infrastructure…

In December the UN’s International Telecommunication Union (ITU), will consider transferring control to member countries from its current “multi-stakeholder” structure of nonprofits. While many powerful countries worldwide want a more egalitarian way of controlling the web, many countries also still fear that the world isn’t ready for democratic control of the web.

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