This Week in Digital Marketing & Media

Amazon’s Kindle Bypasses Affiliates and Then Some
Andy Beard asks if Amazon is looking to bypass its affiliates with its new Kindle eBook reader. Sure seems that way and affiliates aren’t the only ones being bypassed! Wireless, digital downloads of books are made possible by Amazon Whispernet, a proprietary wireless delivery system that uses the same national high-speed data network used by advanced cell phones. Kindle users shop the Kindle store via the reader, and download books and other content without even having to find a Wi-Fi hotspot, according to Amazon.

The Ironic Future of Affiliate Marketing: MLM
Inspired by an upcoming Revenue Magazine article discussing Social Media affiliates, this piece tackles affiliate marketing’s big opportunity in social media — in particular monetization of social networks/spaces. Surprisingly MLM companies like Amway are jumping in head-first to Web-based affiliate marketing. As well eBay is launching its own RadicalBuy program which turns Facebook-ers into eBay style affiliates!

Facebook Retreats on its Buying Beacon
ZDNet’s Steve O’Hear: BusinessWeek is reporting that Facebook executives have been contemplating a backtrack on the social networking site’s new advertising play, Project Beacon. The system automatically publish interactions users make on any of the 44 participating sites (from Blockbuster, Joost, to Overstock.com) onto their Facebook mini-feed, so that Facebook “friends” are able to track those interactions, such as making a purchase or renting a movie. As it stands, however, users are opted into Beacon by default, and only have the option to opt-out on a per site or per interaction basis.

Molson: The Latest Social Media Blunder
Molson brewing company has pulled a promotion on Facebook after complaints that they promote binge drinking. They ran a photo contest targeting 19-24 year old college students. Called the The Molson Canadian Nation Campus Challenge the ad said, “Be the #1 party school in Canada” and says that the school with the most pictures uploaded would win a trip for five people to spend spring break in Cancun, Mexico. The next line said: “Show everyone how you and your crew get the party started!” Then it listed the top 10 party schools.Universities and parents both contacted the company to complain. Xavier University administrator Joe MacDonald, who is the dean of students said: “This is not something that is welcome within our campus community.”

The Federal Trade Commission has reached a settlement with Adteractive
The FTC is settling with Adteractive for its alleged use of “deceptive” spam e-mails and online advertising to draw people to its Web sites. The settlement, filed on behalf of the FTC by the Department of Justice, requires that the San Francisco-based company pay $650,000 in civil penalties. While doing business as FreeGiftWorld.com and SamplePromotionsGroup.com, Adteractive allegedly sent e-mail spam to consumers advertising free gifts such as flat-screen televisions and laptops. For example, one e-mail subject line used by the company stated, “Congratulations! Claim Your Choice of Sony, HP or Gateway Laptop,” according to the FTC. However, when consumers went to Adteractive’s promotional Web sites, they discovered that these items weren’t free, said Stephen Cohen, senior attorney for the FTC.

TV Stations to Sell Google AdWords
What this means is that Hearst-Argyle will now sell more comprehensive advertising solutions to its clients. Instead of just print and television, now they can also leverage online – helping to increase control over a client’s advertising budget. Hearst-Argyle Television and Google have entered a new strategic agreement today where Hearst-Argyle, operator of 29 TV stations and more than 30 Websites, will become an official reseller and will use its Web sales force to provide marketers in its 26 local markets access to Google AdWords.

Rumor: News Corp to Buy LinkedIn
VentureBeat ran a follow-up story, also claiming a “well-placed” source. The post adds to Butcher’s theory: News Corp. would incorporate LinkedIn into its various newspaper properties around the world. “News Corp.’s strategy, from what we understand: Somehow integrate LinkedIn’s network with the Wall Street Journal as well as its other newspapers around the world, hopefully figuring out how to recoup News Corp.’s newspapers’ declining classified ad revenue in the process.”

Research: Social Media Spending to Zoom
A survey of 260 senior marketing PR and marcom professionals by the Society for New Communications Research found that two-thirds plan to increase spending on social media during the next 12 months and 81% expect to spend at least as much on social media marketing as on traditional marketing in five years. Someone is figuring this out.

Yahoo Stores Down on Cyber Monday
Ouch. There’s already movement among marketers to sue Yahoo.

Google and Yahoo Will Turn eMail and Personal Pages into Social Networks
Ignore Orkut, OpenSocial, Yahoo Mash and Yahoo 360. These are just the beginning. Google and Yahoo have come up with new plans to respond to the challenge from MySpace and Facebook: They hope to turn their e-mail systems and personalized home page services (iGoogle and MyYahoo) into social networks. Web-based e-mail systems already contain much of what Facebook calls the social graph — the connections between people. That’s why the social networks offer to import the e-mail address books of new users to jump-start their list of friends. Yahoo and Google realize that they have this information and can use it to build their own services that connect people to their contacts.

The New York Daily News Joining Yahoo’s Newspaper Alliance
This is the fifth-largest circulation newspaper in the US. The consortium launched last November with Belo, Cox Newspapers and Hearst Newspapers as premier members, and membership has since tripled to include nearly 400 newspapers from 21 publishing groups. The Daily News, with a reported weekly online and print readership of 4.5 million, is the largest to join Yahoo’s year-old group. Consortium partners use Yahoo’s HotJobs to amp up their job listings and send out local ads to a national audience. HotJobs has launched 160 newspaper co-branded sites to date, serving 377 newspapers. In return, Yahoo is allowed to sell national ads on individual newspaper sites.

Google Readying for ‘GDrive’ Launch
Google is reportedly preparing to roll out its previously-dubbed “GDrive” online storage service in as early as a few months, according to sources cited in a Wall Street Journal report. While online storage services are already available from third-parties (including from rivals Microsoft and Yahoo!), Google’s potential offering is of interest because of high expectations the company can offer a simplified, reliable service with tie-ins to its Apps suite. However, Google faces a number of obstacles in creating a service that meaningfully challenges Microsoft’s long dominance of the way people access and store files. Key concerns are privacy, which is partially related to whether advertisements will be displayed as a part of using the service, and copyright issues related to the capability of sharing files, including media files. Also of importance is the reliability of the service and it having a simple on/offline user interface, which makes using the storage similar to accessing a local hard drive.

Fox Interactive to Power Other Web Sites Too
TechCrunch: Fox Interactive Media (FIM), the online arm of News Corp has plans to become a full service online advertising agency that provides advertising to non-News Corp sites. Peter Levinsohn said that the service, known internally as “FIM Serve” was originally built to serve advertising on MySpace, which would be presumed to be part of, or the same service announced by MySpace November 4. He also noted that the service focuses on graphical advertising and would not conflict with the Google/ MySpace search listings deal.

Google Puts SEO in the Hands of USERS!
Google is experimenting with Digg style voting features on search results that allow users to vote up or bury search results they see. The program, part of Google Labs, works like this: This experiment lets you influence your search experience by adding, moving, and removing search results. When you search for the same keywords again, you’ll continue to see those changes. If you later want to revert your changes, you can undo any modifications you’ve made.

WebTrends joins forces with Silverpop
Analytics firm WebTrends Inc. has partnered with e-mail marketing services firm Silverpop to integrate analytics into e-mail. The combined platforms will give marketers the ability to track Web site visitors and to schedule automated e-mail communications around their behavior.

PPC Spending on the Increase but Satisfaction in the Crapper
Retailers are spending more on PPC and will continue to — but their satisfaction is nil. Go figure. Kinda like cel phones — we ALL pay lots of money for lousy service… and accept it.

Trademark Office Rejects Hormel’s Claim Against Spam Arrest
In a stinging loss, meat company Hormel’s effort to have anti-spam firm Spam Arrest’s trademark registration canceled has been dismissed. This is a huge letdown for a company that has rigorously defended its SPAM trademark against dozens of firms. However, because of an odd accompanying decision, what this means to all the other technology firms battling Hormel over use of the word spam is unclear. A three-judge panel on Nov. 21 unanimously decided in favor of Spam Arrest, which argued that the word spam in relation to e-mail is a generic term that is not likely to dilute Hormel’s Spam trademarks.

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