Cashing Out: Week of May 6th – 12th 2012 in Online Marketing News

Visa, MasterCard want a slot in the digital wallet

One wonders if they planned it together.

This week MasterCard and Visa both announced new digital wallet services, precursors to their planned mobile payments services, according to TechCrunch.

At a conference in New Orleans May 7, MasterCard unveiled its new PayPass Wallet Services, a product the company is touting as “the future of payments for consumers, merchants and partners.”

The service is broken up into three areas: PayPass Acceptance Network, which lets merchants accept digital payments across different networks, PayPass Wallet, a white label product for merchants and banks, and PayPass API, which lets partners use “MasterCard’s check-out, fraud detection and authentication services,” says Mashable.

MasterCard’s PayPass Wallet Services will be available first in the U.S., UK, Canada and Australia as of the third quarter of 2012.

Visa’s new offering,, is designed to make the process of shopping online easier, with fewer steps. Allowing consumers to store the information for their Visa, Discover, MasterCard, and American Express cards, users only have to enter their account email and password – no shipping preferences required.

Though the service is just launching in Beta, Visa has plans of introducing mobile payments soon, as well as of “leveraging NFC, QR codes and ‘other technology,’ which would allow you to tap your phone to a secure reader at the point-of-sale in order to pay for your purchase, scan a QR code or perform some other type of interaction,” writes TechCrunch.

Facebook testing Highlighted Posts, planning paid apps

In a move Mashable described as moving “into Craigslist territory,” Facebook began experimenting this week Highlighted Posts, a feature that allows users to pay a few dollars to ensure more friends see a post.

The feature is designed for individual Facebook users, not organizations or brands. But, according to TechCrunch, only about 12 percent of your friends ever see any given post you make, and the new Highlight feature would come in handy for posts you really want to reach a big number of people, like advertising a garage sale, a gig you’re playing with your band, or announcing that you have a pet up for adoption.

But just because Highlighted Posts aren’t intended for big businesses doesn’t mean the feature doesn’t hold extra monetization potential for Facebook. As Mashable aptly noted, “If the program is successful, it could let Facebook enter the online classified market, a segment that the IAB pegged at $2.6 billion in 2011.”

But Highlighted Posts are just one of the new products Facebook is testing as its IPO, scheduled for next week, looms ever closer. May 9, the company also announced that it’s beginning a beta program that will let app developers charge a flat fee from Facebook users who want access to their products.

“Many developers have been successful with in-app purchases, but to support more types of apps on, we will give developers the option to offer paid apps,” Facebook said in a post cited by TechCrunch. “This is a simple-to-implement payment feature that lets people pay a flat fee to use an app on”

Those interested in Facebook’s beta paid apps program can sign up here.

Facebook at work on mobile

According to a May 12 release from Reuters, Mark Zuckerberg is saying that one of Facebook’s top priorities for 2012 will be to work on its mobile and advertising experience.

Reuters cited Zuckerberg as saying Facebook’s mobile app “is just getting started” at this week’s Palo Alto stop on the Facebook IPO roadshow.

As Mashable noted, regardless of how big the network has become, mobile monetization has been a recurring question since Facebook initially filed for its IPO.

“This has been a major problem for the social network, especially when it comes to competing in mobile-first areas such as location and photo sharing.”

Report: Google may acquire messaging app Meebo

According to a report from the Wall Street Journal‘s AllThingsD, Google may soon be acquiring California-based Meebo.

Though Meebo began in 2005 as a web-based messaging app, it has since developed other apps for social communication, for both publishers and consumers.

Meebo’s last round of financing raised $25 million for the company, reports Mashable,  and it has raised a total exceeding $60 million over its existence. AllThingsD is citing one source who says the deal could be worth up to $100 million

Etsy nabs $40 M for expansion

An online peer-to-peer marketplace for second-hand and home-made goods, Etsy believes in its ability to grow. And, apparently, so do investors. So much so that the company just announced that it has raised $40 million for a planned expansion.

The funding round was led by Index Ventures and also saw participation from participation by Burda, Union Square Ventures, Accel Partners.

As Mashable notes, it doesn’t seem to matter that the term “expansion” isn’t very clearly defined; Etsy simply said they’re looking to become “one-stop shop for creative independent businesses.”

Though the company did give some indication as to what they may be using the new funding for:

“We plan to grow Etsy into an economic force all around the world and we want to provide more products and services to help sellers succeed and build their businesses on the Etsy platform,” TechCrunch cited Etsy CEO Chad Dickerson as saying.

But since so much of Etsy’s strength is tied to how simple its platform is for sellers, and since it’s only logical that entrepreneurs outside the U.S. would adopt the site for the same reasons Americans have, improving services for sellers, and making those services available globally makes sense.

“There’s a huge opportunity for Etsy to grow the opportunities for sellers,” Dickerson told the New York Times.

Google updates Offers

As part of a larger announcement for updates to its Google Maps for Android, Google also announced that some changes are on the way for Google Offers, the company’s Groupon-like product.

Not only will Android users of Google Maps now be able to get free offers from the service, “like a free coffee or dessert,” reports TechCrunch, but U.S. merchants will now have access to a self-service interface to create offers like these on their own.

Though Google is certainly not a revolutionary in terms of the daily deals space, TechCrunch outlines some of the ways in which Google’s new updates  make it different from many of its competitors:

“Until now, Google and most of its competitors in this market have focused on pre-paid offers. With this new free offering […] Store owners can use a new self-service interface to set specific times for when and how long an offer should be valid [and] gives merchants access to stock photography and other tools to fine-tune their messages. The coupons can be for money off, a percentage discount or a free product or gift.”

Bing breaks up search results, now more social

Microsoft’s search engine Bing has undergone a complete makeover, Mashable reported May 10. It’s Bing’s biggest redesign yet, and one that prizes social results without letting them get too deep in the mix.

Because the new Bing separates three different types of results – algorithmic, contextual, and social – into three clearly defined panes, it’s able to show users results that may be relevant for different reasons and still allow them to easily choose which type of results suits them best.

For example, searching for a nearby restaurant, you may want an algorithmic result (you’re looking for the restaurant’s web page and menu), or a contextual one (you want a map or review.) You may even be looking for social results (a comment or check-in from a friend who ate there.)

Bing isn’t the first search engine to work content from social networks into their results, but they seem to be taking on Google by showing it’s possible to do so with a fair, unbiased approach.

As TechCrunch wrote, “Bing aims to frame Google as impure, with its desire to highlight Google+ distorting the quality of search result ranking. If it works it could claw market share away from Google and make search a real two-horse race.”

The update will be introduced across the U.S. in the next few weeks, followed by international implementation.

This week in marketing studies and reports:

More time spent on Facebook mobile than on its site

According to report from comScore, Americans on average spend more time every month on Facebook’s mobile site (441 minutes) than they do on its regular website (391 minutes.)

But, as TechCrunch noted, “that’s actually a big problem fro Facebook [as] Facebook usually shows four to seven ads per page on its website, but only a few ads per day in its mobile news feed.”

Though Facebook announced this week during its IPO roadshow that one of their primary goals for 2012 would be to improve mobile.

Bing gets 30 percent of search market

A report from Experian Hitwise found that, though Google still has the largest search market share, Bing’s is growing and that the search engine accounted for 30.01 percent of all search queries as of April. That’s a 5 percent increase for that period, and 6 percent increase month-over-month.

For their part, Google searches had decreased by 3 percent form the previous month, and 11 percent from the previous year.

The top retailers on social media

An infographic released this week by social analytics firm Campalyst, and reported on by Econsultancy, followed the Internet’s top 250 retailers and what social networks they’re on.

Of the top 250, 97 percent are present on Facebook, 96 percent are on Twitter, 90 percent are on YouTube, 67 percent are on Google+, and 61 percent are on Pinterest.

The report also analyzed which industries were most followed, depending on the social network. For Facebook, mass merchants did best, while apparel and accessories reigned on Twitter, computers and electronics were more popular on YouTube and Google+, and Hardware and Home improvement were most popular on Pinterest.

69 percent of tablet owners buy something on it every month

Econsultancy reported on a new study from InMobi and Mobtext that found that, not only do 69 percent of tablet owners use the device to make purchases, 20 percent say they “shop less in bricks and mortar stores since purchasing their device.”

Which countries are most ready to adopt mobile payments?

MasterCard released a study May 7 ranking the 34 countries they deem most ready to adopt mobile payments. Topping the list in were Singapore, Canada, the U.S., Kenya and South Korea.

Pinterest assists more sales than Facebook

According to a study from Boticca picked up by Econsultancy, Facebook may still be more popular by far than Pinterest, but the latter actually drives more sales and new customers.

The study found that “Pinterest has become its number one social referrer, assisting roughly 10% of sales, compared to 7% from Facebook,” writes Econsultancy.

On top of that, Boticca found that, of the users referred by Pinterest, 86 percent were new to their site, while the figure for Facebook was 57 percent.

Pinterest users also spend more – an average of $180, as compared to the Facebook-referred average of $85.

About half of U.S. consumers use smartphones, about half of those are Android

A study released May 7 by Nielsen and cited by TechCrunch found that, as of March, 50.4 percent of U.S. consumers owned a smartphone. Of that number, 48.5 percent owned an Android powered handset.


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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