Cashing Out: Week of June 3rd – 9th 2012 in Online Marketing News

Hacker steals LinkedIn, eHarmony passwords, Last.fm breached

This week saw large-scale security breaches at three major sites, with hacks of LinkedIn and eHarmony followed by an attack on Last.fm.

The New York Times Bits Blog reported June 6 that security researchers had confirmed the theft of a file from LinkedIn containing 6.5 million encoded passwords for the site. At the time it was not know “whether the file represents the full extent of the breach.”

Meanwhile, in another (apparently related) attack June 6, eHarmony suffered a security breach in which 1.5 million of the dating site’s passwords were “compromised.” According to Mashable, the same Russian hacker is alleged to be responsible for both the LinkedIn and the eHarmony hacks, and lists of passwords stolen from both sites were posted online.

One would think these two security breaches would be it for the week, but as Mashable reported, two days later, on June 8, internet radio platform Last.fm told users: “we’re investigating a security issue with user passwords. As a precaution, we recommend you change your password.”

It is still unclear whether the possible breach at Last.fm is connected with those that affected LinkedIn and eHarmony.

Facebook considers preteen members

Though many preteens are already on Facebook, according to the social network’s current policy, they’re there illegally. Though, as the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) reported June 4, Facebook may actually be working on an option that will officially allow children under 13 to become members.

The WSJ, which cites “people familiar with the matter,” reported that the new technology being developed for preteen membership would depend on parental supervision, and would connect children’s accounts to their parents’, “allowing parents to decide whom their kids can “friend” and what applications they can use.”

The WSJ also cited a study that found 7.5 million children under 13 had signed up to the social network, as well as a separate study that found “36 percent of parents were aware that their children joined Facebook before age 13 and that a substantial percentage of those parents helped their kids lie about their age in order to sign up.”

These figures probably come as no surprise to Facebook. In fact, judging from the site’s response to questions about the matter, they may actually be the reason behind the new technology:

“Recent reports have highlighted just how difficult it is to enforce age restrictions on the Internet, especially when parents want their children to access online content and services […] We are in continuous dialogue with stakeholders, regulators and other policymakers about how best to help parents keep their kids safe in an evolving online environment.”

The possibility of millions of new Facebook members under age 13 also raises interesting questions about revenue potential and children’s privacy.

Though legislation is already in place that prohibits the collection of children’s personal information, another WSJ article reported on a letter from two congressmen, Representative Edward Markey of Massachusetts and Representative Joe Barton of Texas, who are concerned that Facebook might “collect and sell children’s personal information.”

Addressed to Mark Zuckerberg, the letter reads:

“We acknowledge that more and more children under the age of 13 are using Facebook and this is a problem that needs to be addressed [..] While Facebook provides important communication and entertainment opportunities, we strongly believe that children and their personal information should not be viewed as a source of revenue.”

Google analytics adds browser-size analysis

TechCrunch reported June 4 on a tweak to Google analytics that added a new feature to the product. With the addition of browser-size analysis, users are now able to see to see what portion of their site (i.e. what part of the page) is actually visible to visitors.

A few years ago, this feature might not have been so important, but as new devices with different screen sizes become increasingly available, there’s a greater discrepancy between what individual visitors may see when they arrive at your site. Browser-size analysis, says Google, “is useful for ensuring that important parts of a page’s user interface are visible by a wide audience.”

And, according to TechCrunch, “Conversion rates […] are greatly affected by what your visitors see on your pages without having to scroll.”

Facebook automates mobile-ad buying for “masses”

Buying mobile ads on Facebook is now faster and easier, thanks to newly introduced automation. Ad Age reported June 5 that “as of today, Facebook is opening up its mobile-only sponsored-story placements to both its self-serve tool Power Editor and to third-party Facebook ad sellers.”

What that means is that mobile ads will now be more accessible for SMEs, whereas, when they were first introduced earlier this year, “mobile-ad inventory was mostly accessible to big advertisers buying into premium ad packages.”

Google buys Meebo and Quickoffice

With a seemingly inexhaustible appetite for acquisitions, Google made two new purchases this week, both of which were announced June 5.

ReveNews reported in May that Google could be buying messaging app Meebo, and that deal has has been confirmed, with a rumored price tag of $100 million. According to TechCrunch, the acquisition is most likely an acq-hire and Meebo’s “the product team will be using its expertise to help build out publisher tools for Google+.”

Google’s second deal of the week, its acquisition of mobile productivity software maker Quickoffice, doesn’t have much to do with Google+. Rather, reports Mashable, “the company’s software will be integrated into Google Apps, enhancing their functionality and compatibility.”

In a blog post, Google underlined its reasons for the deal:

“Quickoffice has an established track record of enabling seamless interoperability with popular file formats, and we’ll be working on bringing their powerful technology to our Apps product suite.”

Twitter is rocking mobile ads, says CEO

At  a June 6 event hosted by The Economist, Twitter CEO Dick Costolo more than hinted that his company is starting to do really well with mobile advertising.

As Ad Age reported, Costolo announced that recently, for the first time Twitter’s mobile ads had outdone their desktop counterparts in terms of revenue.

That’s good news for Twitter since, as Ad Age underlined, “Like Facebook, Twitter is under mounting pressure to crack the code on mobile, since 60 percent of its users are accessing the platform through a mobile device (up from 55 percent six months ago).”

But, says Ad Age, unlike Facebook, Twitter had the advantage of  an existing ad format, the promoted Tweet, that needed very little adjustment to be applied to mobile. That, and the fact that Twitter’s overall format and interface are well suited to mobile will certainly help the company succeed with mobile ads.

As quoted by Econsultancy, Costolo himself said as much:

“We’re born of mobile. We have an ad platform that already is inherently suited to mobile, even though we launched our platform on the Web and only started running ads on mobile recently.”

This week in marketing studies and reports:

Square now in 20,000 retail outlets

According to TechCrunch, mobile payment service Square is on quite the tear. The company’s presence in retail stores has doubled since the beginning of 2012 alone, from 10,000 retail outlets to 20,000.

In 5 years, most of the world will have high-speed mobile internet

A report from Ericsson, reported on June 6 by Mashable, projected that, by 2017, 85 percent of the world’s population will have high-speed internet access on a mobile device.

“By 2017, there will be 9 billion mobile subscriptions. Half of the world’s population will have a 4G connection, and there will be 3 billion smartphone subscriptions,” says Mashable.

70 percent of US seniors are online daily

Data from the Pew Internet & American Life Project, reported on by Mashable, found that 53 percent of Americans over age 65 use the internet. And, among those seniors, 70 percent say they go online daily.

Still, only 34 percent of Americans over 75 use the internet.

Social shares related to search rankings

Econsultancy picked up on a study from Searchmetrics that found a close correlation between the number of social shares a site gets and its search ranking on Google.

“Facebook activity appears to have the highest impact on rankings, with a Facebook share the most important factor. Twitter is far behind these values but is still the sixth strongest metric behind Facebook and the number of backlinks,” notes Econsultancy.


About Emily Wilkinson

Emily Wilkinson is a Montreal writer and editor who recently joined ReveNews.com. 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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