Cashing Out: Week of February 12th – 18th 2012 in Online Marketing News

Googorola deal gets green light in Europe and the US

The proposed merger between Google and Motorola is moving full steam ahead, following the announcement this week that the deal has been approved by both the European Commission and the US Department of Justice (DOJ).

The news that the deal had been approved in Europe came February 13, though European regulators, who had initially shown hesitance regarding the merger, say they will still be keeping a watch on things. The Commission’s VP Joaquín Almunia said as much himself in a statement on the matter:

“[It] does not mean that the merger clearance blesses all actions by Motorola in the past or all future action by Google [...] Of course, the Commission will continue to keep a close eye on the behaviour of all market players in the sector [...] Particularly the increasingly strategic use of patents.”

Meanwhile, regulators in the US gave the Googorola deal the go-ahead that same day, with a DOJ statement that also announced the DOJ would be closing two other investigations as well – approving Apple’s acquisition of some Novell patents, as well as the acquisition of certain Nortel patents by Apple, Microsoft and RIM.

According to Mashable, “The two major milestones make Google’s acquisition of Motorola all but certain [and] the deal will enable Google to produce its own line of smartphones to go with its immensely popular Android platform.” As it stands, Motorola is among the largest producers of Android-based phones.

Google will also no doubt benefit from the large collection of patents held by Motorola.

Facebook launches Timeline for brands

AdAge reported February 15 that, according to “executives briefed on the company’s plans,” Facebook’s new Timeline format will be available to brands by the end of February.

For obvious reasons, marketers are likely to respond enthusiastically to the new, photo-heavy design, which will probably allow for prominently displayed brand images and logos in the cover photo banner.

Also, says Mashable, brands “they can also take advantage of gestures that go beyond Liking” with custom verbs.

Another consideration, says AdAge, “is that a brand’s Facebook presence no longer must date to when it joined the site but can be represented with content populating its Timeline from throughout its history. (Coca-Cola, for example, could hypothetically add an event for 1892, the year it was founded.)”

Though, as Econsultancy notes, the move to Timeline won’t be without its disadvantages, especially for brands that have already invested a lot of time and money in their existing brand Pages.

AdAge says that Facebook will begin by launching brand Timelines in beta with just a few partners, increasingly releasing them “to more marketers in stages.”

Though Facebook would not comment on the matter, AdAge reported that Facebook is likely to discuss the new brand Timelines at their marketers-only  fMC event February 29.

Twitter self-serve ads available to 10,000 small businesses in March

Twitter launched its new self-serve ad platform back in November. At the time, however, it was only released to a small group of under 20 advertisers, a number that has since grown to about 100.

But the service will soon be rolling out to a bigger number, way bigger. In partnership with American Express, the network announced February 17 that, as of late March, up to 10,000 small and medium-size businesses will have access to the self-serve ads, which enable electronic payments.

For starters, American Express card members and merchants can begin signing up for the service now, on a first-come, first-serve basis. In addition, “American Express will give $100 in free advertising to the first 10,000 eligible businesses to sign up,” the company blog post reads.

“The self-serve approach has worked well for Google and Facebook, so it is no surprise to see Twitter following suit, however it will have to overcome doubts about how effective its platform is,” writes Econsultancy.

That last part is probably the reason Twitter has seen fit to limit the number of users of the service, as it will likely be using this as a “test phase” to determine the effectiveness of ad campaigns on the network.

Google uses loophole to track browsing on Safari

In a story first broken by the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) February 16, Google has been caught using a loophole to track Safari users’ browsing activity, likely for the purpose of ad targeting. However, Google claims they were just trying to add Google +1 buttons to ads.

Though Safari blocks cookies from third parties by default, it appears Google managed to get around “certain types of cookies” by putting “a hidden field in some of its sites that essentially acted as a form, even though the user never filled out anything. That told Safari it was OK for DoubleClick to serve ads to the unknowing, unwitting user,” explains Mashable.

Meanwhile, Apple has addressed the problem and closed the loophole, issuing a statement saying:

“We are aware that some third parties are circumventing Safari’s privacy features and we are working to put a stop to it.”

For its part, following the WSJ‘s report, Google has begun to remove the offending cookies from Safari browsers.

Twitter delaying IPO as long as possible

According to CNNMoney, though Facebook has rushed toward its IPO, Twitter is doing whatever it can to delay one.

In this case, “whatever it can” includes imposing a singular restriction on its shareholders: “No one who holds stock can sell more than 20% of their shares,” the February 14 article reported.

Through emails obtained by CNNMoney, it’s come to the surface that the restriction has been in place for over a year “caus[ing] dissent in Twitter’s ranks.”

The main reason for the stock sale limit appears to be keeping under the 500 shareholder rule, which ultimately helps the company avoid an IPO. This rule, says Econsultancy, “is one of the big reasons Facebook is going public. Facebook, of course, has the financials to go public, but apparently Twitter isn’t as confident.”

Twitter has declined to comment on the matter.

MySpace comeback? 1M new users in one month

According to February 14 article from Mashable, MySpace released data this week that shows the once popular social network may have a fighting chance at becoming relevant again.

MySpace claims to now have “an average of 40,000 new registrations daily,” and to have added 1 million new users in the one month period following the launch of its new MySpace Music Player in December.

Since it was bought last June by a group of investors that included Justin Timberlake, the social network’s new focus has been on music, a strategy that, even by conservative estimates, has been helping MySpace.

In any case, that’s the opinion that MySpace CEO Tim Vanderhook expressed in the following statement:

“The numbers tell an amazing story of strong momentum and dramatic change for Myspace [...] and the one million-plus new user accounts we’ve seen in the last 30 days validates our approach. Myspace is building meaningful social entertainment experience around content, where consumers can share and discover the music they love. Consumers are getting excited about Myspace again – a testament to a great music product.”

Yahoo-Alibaba deal off the table

The New York Times (NYT) reported February 14 that the talks Yahoo had been in with Alibiba regarding selling back its stakes in its Asian partners have “collapsed.”

Citing “people briefed on the matter,” the NYT argues the failure of these talks “raises new questions about the future of Yahoo, which had counted on completing the deal to raise billions of dollars that the embattled online company could use to reshape its operations.”

The proposed deal, which would have seen Yahoo sell its shares of Alibaba of China and Yahoo Japan back to those companies, was supposed to be a tax-free transaction.

Though the NYT says it’s unclear why negotiations ended, a few possibilities were cited, “including breakup fees payable to either side if the tax-free deal fell apart. One person also suggested that the value of Yahoo’s stake, which stood at about $12 billion as of December, may have been another factor.”

ComScore’s Q4 loss due to patent struggle with Nielsen

ComScore released its fourth quarter earnings report February 14, and it appears the pressure of its patent battle with Nielsen has taken its toll.

Though the company posted record revenue of $62.6 million, it also posted a net loss of $3.3 million, for reason that TechCrunch says are pretty clear:

“the company says it includes $7.8 million in costs related to litigation with Nielsen and the related settlement [...] Looking at full-year results, the impact of the patent-related litigation is even more apparent: comScore says the GAAP losses for 2011 ($15.8 million, or $0.49 per share) include costs of $16.5 million related to its litigation and subsequent settlement with Nielsen.”

$3M in funding for nFluence’s anonymous deal targeting

According to a February 14 TechCrunch article, nFluence Media has just raise $3 million in funding for new deal-targeting technology.

First and foremost, the technology will be used for an iPhone app, called dealBoard, that aggregates daily deals. But, says TechCrunch, there’s much more that sets nFluence apart from competitors:

“The company is not necessarily just another player in the overly crowded “daily deals” space. Instead, the technology being funded here is an anonymous self-profiling system that can expand into other verticals, including future uses with mobile carriers, cable/satellite TV operators and shopping mall owners.”

Moreover, dealBoard is itself unique in that its users can make consumer profiles without adding any personal information, though their preferences will be determined by “brand sorter” technology that gets them to detail preferences through a sort of “game.”

“In the future, nFluence Media plans to expand the technology to other companies that want to target consumers, but who don’t need to collect personally identifiable information to do so,” writes TechCrunch.

This week in marketing studies and reports:

20 percent of Valentine’s gifts bought online

According to data from the National Retail Federation and eMarketer, consumers (who were expected to spend $17 billion on gifts this Valentine’s Day) buy 20 percent of their Valentine’s gifts online. Men are reported to spend more than twice as much on Valentine’s Day than women do, and the peak ages for Valentine’s spenders are between 25 and 34.

Mashable ran an infographic detailing these and other projections, as visualized by Monetate.

Digital marketers cite social media engagement as first priority

According to Econsultancy’s Quarterly Digital Intelligence Briefing, marketers rated social media engagement as their top priority, as well as their “most exciting opportunity” this year.

However, as Econsultancy noted, despite marketers’ apparently “ huge appetite for social media programmes” this year, the briefing’s data also illustrated a “worrying lack of commitment to investment in associated analytics and measurement,” as ‘social media analytics,’ ranked ninth on marketers’ list of priorities for 2012.

Smartphones to outnumber humans by end of 2012

Mashable cited a global mobile data traffic forecast by Cisco February 15, which predicts that, by the end of the year, there will be more smartphones on the planet than there are humans. The same forecast also predicts that, by 2016, there will be 10 billion smartphones, or 1.4 per capita.

Almost half of retailers to increase mobile spend in 2012

Research from Stibo Systems, reported on by Econsultancy February 16, indicates that 48 percent of retailers plan to increase their mobile spend by the end of the year. “Of those, 53 percent plan to optimise their desktop sites for mobile use, while 44 percent plan to facilitate mobile transactions,” writes 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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