Cashing Out: Week of May 20th – 26th 2012 in Online Marketing News

With stock sliding, Facebook under scrutiny

Following its debut on the NASDAQ last week, Facebook has already seen its share of difficulties related to its newborn IPO.

While its first day of trading saw the market close with its stock trading at the same price as at opening, the days to follow brought a steady decline in share price, TechFlash reported May 22. On May 21, their second day of trading, Facebook’s shares dropped almost 12 percent, to $33.76. And shares dropped by another 9 percent, or 18 percent from their original price, the next day, to $31 by market’s close.

Considering some of the legal concerns Facebook is now facing, the decline of their share price seems to be the least of Facebook’s concerns. As Mashable reported, shareholders filed a suit against Facebook, its CEO Mark Zuckerberg, and its lead underwriter Morgan Stanley May 23, claiming they “concealed ‘a severe and pronounced reduction’ in Facebook revenue growth forecasts before the company’s shares were offered to the public.”

According to The New York Times, the Securities and Exchanges Commission has begun an inquiry into the company’s IPO, while informal examinations have been launched by the Senate Banking Committee and the House Financial Services Committee.

Alibaba buys back Yahoo stakes

Yahoo announced May 20 that it had reached an agreement with Alibaba, the Chinese ecommerce business that Yahoo once had a 40 percent stake in.

Mashable reports that Alibaba will be getting back 20 percent of its shares, half the stake previously owned by Yahoo, for “at least $6.3 billion in cash and up to $800 million in new Alibaba preferred stock.”

As Mashable noted, while Yahoo’s revenue growth stopped after it initially bought 40 percent shares in Alibaba in 2005, “On the other hand, Alibaba has been doing great, with $2.34 billion in revenue in the year ended Sept. 30 and a projected 42% growth this year.” And this deal, says Mashable, could help the latter toward an IPO.

According to the Wall Street Journal (WSJ), for the most part, the deal seems to have been favorably received by Wall Street, with Yahoo shares rising by roughly  1 percent May 21, following the news. As BGC Partners told the WSJ:

“We are positive on today’s news of an agreement on a staged exit on its of its Alibaba stake that provides for near term capital returns via a share repurchase program, while also providing for participation of any possible upside generated by a future public offering by Alibaba. We look for monetization of Yahoo Japan stake next.”

PayPal gets 15 new retail partners

PayPal took another big step into mainstreaming mobile payments this week, as it announced new partnerships with 15 nationwide retail chains May 22.

Among PayPal’s new partners are Abercrombie & Fitch, American Eagle Outfitters, Barnes & Noble, Toys “R” Us, Foot Locker, JC Penney, Nine West, and Office Depot. Consumers will now be able to use PayPal at these, and other retailers, to pay at the cash using either a PayPal card or a mobile device.

Though the service is, for the time being, just an alternate payment method, the eventual goal, says Ad Age, “is to integrate those payments with loyalty programs or to message PayPal shoppers before they come into the store, while they’re inside or after they’ve left.”

PayPal’s 15 new partners, all of them major retailers, are certainly a push toward ubiquity in chains across the US. But PayPal says it won’t be abandoning smaller businesses. As cited by TechFlash, the company issued a statement saying:

“In addition to announcing these 15 new major retailers, we were also pleased to announce new deals that will enable us to reach ‘mid-market’ businesses across the US […] This includes businesses with multiple retail locations as well as those that might only have a few store locations but possess more sophisticated payment and inventory management systems.”

Ad block device prompts FOX-Dish legal battle

May 24, Ad Age reported that News Corp.’s Fox has filed suit against Dish Network because of a service called “Auto Hop,” which allows users to record programming all while eliminating the commercials that accompany them.

According to Ad Age “Fox alleged the Auto Hop allows Dish to ‘create a bootleg video-on-demand service for all network prime-time programming,’ that takes the company well beyond its licenses to transmit Fox shows.”

But, though Fox is the first to file suit, they’re not the only network to speak out against Auto Hop, an EchoStar device. Apparently, NBC, ABC and CW have also taken issue with a service that distributes series without their prime source of revenue.

Meanwhile, as Mashable reported, Dish Network responded with a suit of its own May 24, claiming Auto Hop does not violate copyright laws and doesn’t infringe on Dish’s existing content agreement with Fox.

In a statement sent to Mashable, Dish’s senior VP of programming David Shull argued:

“Consumers should be able to fairly choose for themselves what they do and do not want to watch […] Viewers have been skipping commercials since the advent of the remote control; we are giving them a feature they want and that gives them more control.”

Amazon and Paramount partner up

Amazon announced the latest partner on its Amazon Prime Instant Video streaming service May 23, TechFlash reported.

This time, it’s Paramount. And though, as TechCrunch notes, this isn’t Amazon’s biggest content deal to date, it still brings hundreds of new titles to the service – many of them older films that fall under the “legacy” banner. Among them are Braveheart and Forrest Gump, valuable because of critical acclaim and lasting popularity, despite  not having a more recent release date.

The new deal brings the number of title’s in the Amazon Prime library to over 17,000.

Chrome now the world’s leading browser

It’s official.

According to web analytics firm StatCounter, as well as the Wall Street Journal (WSJ), Google’s Chrome is now the number one web browser in the world.

Six months ago, Chrome edged ahead of Firefox, and just recently took over the top position from Internet Explorer. For a full week, says Mashable, Chrome commanded a 31.88 percent share of global web traffic, as compared to  Internet Explorer’s 31.47 percent share.

As the WSJ notes, having its own web browser isn’t necessarily such a big money-maker for Google, but it does help them balance the effect from other companies with competing search engines that use their own browsers to direct users away from Google Search.

This week in marketing studies and reports:

88 percent check reviews before buying

According to a survey of UK shoppers conducted by Reevoo, 88 percent of consumers “sometimes or always” consult reviews before making an online purchase, while 60 percent said they were more likely to make a purchase on a site if it included user reviews.

Econsultancy says Reevoo’s findings are supported by a separate study from iPerceptions, which determined 63 percent of consumers would be more likely to buy from a site with user reviews.

Rumor: Facebook browser coming soon

May 26, Mashable reported on a rumor originating from Pocket-lint that speculates a Facebook browser is “imminent.” Pocket-lint cited a “trusted source” who said Facebook is looking into an acquisition of Opera Software, which runs the Opera browser.

If these rumors are true, Facebook may just be releasing a custom browser, which Mashable says “would be a significant step toward Facebook becoming your web, as opposed to just an Internet site you visit and service you use.”

Facebook declined to comment on the matter.

Only 17 percent in UK understand NFC payments

A survey of UK consumers from eDigitalResearch, picked up by Econsultancy, found that just 17 percent are “completely aware of what contactless mobile payments are,” though 67 percent said they’ve at least heard of them before.

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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