Friday, 29 January 2010

Predicted trends for mobile in 2010

A recent article from Advertising Age's blog looks at some key trends that are predicted for the mobile advertising market in 2010. The underlying theme is how mobile technology is rapidly changing lifestyle and business behaviour, with the future trends for the next decade being hard to predict as the market is developing quickly with new functionality and opportunities for advertisers.

The five main trends covered here are: the opportunities becoming available for local advertisers to target their market; the growth in mobile shopping applications and point-of-sale technology; the role of branded applications and display advertising opportunities; the linkage between mobiles and outdoor advertising for targeting; and the importance of social networking and crowdsourcing from mobiles to influence market activity.

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Monday, 25 January 2010

Twitter develops 'Power of Suggestions'

The Twitter blog has posted an article about some new enhancements to help users find other people to follow based on topic or themed groups. They have always used some level of suggestions when users sign up for the first time and with the amount of data and activity now going through Twitter, you would imagine that they can now continually improve the relevancy of these lists.

Twitter says that they have "a number of algorithms to identify users across a variety of clusters who tweet actively and are engaged with their audiences. These new algorithms help us group these active users into lists of users by interests. Rather than suggesting a random set of 20 users for a new user to follow, now we let users browse into the areas they are interested in and choose who they want to follow from these lists."

The blog post also says that these lists will be refreshed frequently as the algorithms identify new users who should be suggested in these lists and some that are not as engaging to new users will be removed. Many tend to be A-list users who are highly active and followed, but this isn't a bad thing for new users to see how this micro-blogging service is being used.

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Friday, 22 January 2010

Google reports big growth in net profits

There is widespread press coverage concerning Google's latest quarterly financial statement, such as this article from eWeek. The figures for the last quarter of 2009 were above most analysts' expectations, with net profits of US$1.97 billion on sales of just under US$5bn. This profit figure is nearly 5 times higher than the same period a year ago, when Google made US$382 million. profit for the year rose by 54% to US$6.52 billion.

Google's CEO, Eric Schmidt said that the digital economy remains very strong and the company would be continuing to develop new commerce and social initiatives in 2010. There would also be a plan for more acquisitions in different areas, following the acquisition of On2 Technologies, Recaptcha, AdMob, Gizmo5, Teracent and AppJet in 2009.

In the latest financial statement, Google also reported that its traffic acquisition costs - the portion of revenues that Google shares with its ad partners - accounted for 27% of the revenues in Q4, totaling $1.72 billion. Paid clicks for ads served on Google sites and those of its AdSense partners increased 13% from Q4 2008 and 9%% over Q3 2009.

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Tuesday, 19 January 2010

IE browser faces security concerns from Europe

The recent news that Google is considering ending its operation in China following a cyber-attack in December has led to protests from the US Government and further concerns and issues being raised about attacks on various government websites worldwide.

In Germany the government has now issued a statement warning web users to find an alternative browser to Internet Explorer to protect their security. As reported by the BBC, this comes after Microsoft admitted IE was the weak link in recent attacks on Google's systems. However, Microsoft rejected the warning, saying that the risk to users was low and that the browsers' increased security setting (which is not the default level used by most users) would prevent any serious risk.

However, this warning has now been repeated by France, which - if heeded - will cause significant damage to the reputation and market share of Microsoft's browser. In reply, Microsoft have tried to downplay the concerns but clearly wants to get more users upgraded to the newer, more secure version of Internet Explorer. However, according to Australian security experts quoted by the Sydney Morning Herald, the European concerns are 'overblown'.

Regardless of all this - and despite their issues with China - Google must be taking a secret delight at the problems Microsoft are now having to fend off which were, presumably unwittingly, caused by the original China story. If many people do move away from using Microsoft's browser, the main alternatives are Mozilla's Firefox and Google's Chrome product.

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Thursday, 14 January 2010

Google considers pulling out of China

The BBC website reports that Google is considering ending its operation in China following a "sophisticated and targeted" cyber attack which appears to have originated from the country. Although Google hasn't directly accused the Chinese government of being involved in the attack, the implication is there since Google is now saying they are no longer willing to censor its Chinese search engine (www.google.cn) which was launched in 2006 under an agreement to censor some of the search results, as required by the Chinese government.

The main issue now, according to Google, is that the Gmail accounts of Chinese human rights activists have been targeted by the hacking during December. The BBC report says that Google will now hold talks with the government in the coming weeks to look at operating an unfiltered search engine within the law in the country, though no changes to filtering had yet been made. The company will also be considering its future position in China.

This is likely to become a big issue for Google, as the massive Chinese market has long been a target to grow their online business - nearly 340 million Chinese people are now online, compared with 10 million only a decade ago. However, local-based rival Baidu holds 60% share of the market, compared to Google's 30%, and this remains a core challenge for Google to gain more share, although this latest attack on their service will be a significant concern.

However, Baidu has called Google's move "hypocritical" and claims it is financially driven. The chief architect of Baidu has claimed in a blog that Google's plans to quit are for financial reasons, rather than a human rights issue, as Google had failed to dominate the Chinese search market. The BBC also reports that Chinese authorities will be infuriated that Google has gone public with their decision whether to pull out of the country, before negotiations with officials get under way.

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Monday, 11 January 2010

France considers taxing Google ads

A report by Reuters says that France is considering ways to tax Google for their advertising revenue, which is currently by-passing the tax system through the billings being made through Eire. French President Nicolas Sarkozy has apparently asked tax authorities to explore whether online advertising revenues of major search engines could be taxed in France as well as their home countries. He also said he wanted the French antitrust body to determine whether Google enjoys a dominant market position in online advertising.

These issues are nothing new and France has a long-held concern about the dominance of the US-owned Google search engine and several years ago had looked at developing a more Euro-centric search engine. The tax issue is also a concern in countries such as the UK and Australia, where the revenue from AdWords advertisers is billed through Eire and therefore avoids the local tax systems.

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Thursday, 7 January 2010

Google launches Nexus One phone

Extensive news coverage has been given to the launch of the new Google Nexus One phone (such as this BBC report). This is the company's first own-brand smartphone, although it has been providing the Google Android operating system through other phones to date. The new Nexus One phone is designed to compete with the Apple iPhone and has been developed with Taiwanese manufacturer HTC using the Android operating system.

The phone is initially available in the US and is being sold directly from Google's website. It can be purchased 'unlocked' so that any chosen mobile carrier can be used, but clearly Google wants to gain a bigger share of the mobile phone market to capture more mobile search activity and to provide another advertising platform as a revenue stream in this growing market. An article by ComputerWorld takes a make detailed look at Google's likely strategy to develop a greater foothold in this market.

The latest market share figures reported from Gartner indicate that the Android operating system has about a 3.5% share of the global smartphone market, in comparison to Nokia, which has a 39% share and Apple with 17%.

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Monday, 4 January 2010

Web marketing newsletter published for January

The latest issue of the monthly Web Marketing newsletter has been published for January, covering some of the recent stories on web search and online marketing trends.

As with the previous January newsletters, this issue attempts to predict what might happen over the next 12 months with the main trends that might be expected in web search and online marketing, as well as look back at the predictions we made a year ago.

The past year has seen some continuing product and service developments by Google, as well as the launch of Microsoft's Bing search engine and their acquisition of Yahoo's search service. The full launch of this combined search tool is likely to be one of the main developments in 2010, which should also bring advantages to web users and advertisers as Google and Microsoft compete for search share and advertising spend. In addition, the social networking scene can't be ignored, particularly the recent growth of Twitter, but 2010 will be a notable year in terms of how this media will be used and how it will be developed.

If you want to sign up for future issues of this newsletter, please do so by using the form at the bottom of this page. To view back issues of this regular newsletter you can see the archive by date or by subject.

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