Archive for September, 2009

Internet Advertising Flourishes During Healthcare Debate

Friday, September 18th, 2009

Political interest groups are using search engine advertising as a way to sway users’ views one way or another on a specific issue. Their ads often appear after a search of a topic associated with a political issue.

The recent healthcare debate has brought about an increase in the sales of such ads. A Google search for “euthanasia” yields an ad with a link to moveon.org, a liberal organization. The link leads to a page titled “Top Five Health Care Reform Lies-and How to Fight Back.” It is the only ad that appears on the side of the page.

The interest groups often change the titles of their ads to keep up with new developments appearing the news. The activity has grown significantly in past months, dating back to last year’s election. Peter Greenberger, Google’s Director of Political Advertising, said, “[In] the course of a year or the last 18 months, the way people are using the online medium has dramatically changed.” Last year, Google received over $15 million for advertising from the Obama and McCain campaigns.

The main reason that advocacy groups are campaigning via online advertising is its reasonable price, with some organizations spending only a few thousand dollars for certain entries. As Internet and search engines use continues to increase, online advertising will remain an effective option for businesses.

Yahoo! and Vanity Search

Wednesday, September 9th, 2009

A U.S. District Court dismissed a lawsuit against Yahoo! by a woman who sued the search engine for search results associated with her name.  Beverly Stayart claimed that Yahoo! purposely linked her name to pornographic websites and erectile dysfunction drugs. The court dismissed the case, ruling that Yahoo! was protected under the Communications Decency Act.

Stayart filed her case in February and accused Yahoo! of various trademark violations, claiming that she is the only Beverly Stayart on the Internet. Those allegations failed because if there has ever been a person with her same name, Stayart would have a major problem proving the links were associated with her. Judge Rudolf Randa addressed this by saying: “No one who accessed these links could reasonably conclude that Bev Stayart endorsed the products at issue.

Vanity search or egosurfing is a popular process referring to web users exploring the results of their own name on a search engine. This case shows that while a user may be unhappy with websites that result from a search of their name, little can be done due to the likelihood of someone sharing a same name. In sum, this case sets a precedent that will likely prevent copycat lawsuits from springing up across the country, sapping search engine time and resources.

Italian Antitrust Watchdog Investigates Google

Wednesday, September 2nd, 2009

Antitrust authorities in Italy are examining Google (Italy) after publishers of news websites complained that the search titan was not giving them a fair share of revenue from online advertising.

The accusers claim that Google does not disclose criteria for ranking content on its news site. Consequently, agencies such as newspapers are unable to maximize the amount of money gained from advertising. Search engines such as Google and Bing actually do give some information regarding rankings, but do not give their entire method in order to avoid complications.

Carlo Malinconico, president of the Italian Federation of Newspaper Publishers, said “Publishers provide much of the content on the Internet, but they get nearly nothing for it….This is not fair, in our opinion. Our feeling is we lose more than we gain.” Newspapers also claim that Google Italy discriminates against sites that do not want to be associated with Google News by dropping them from the search engine completely.

According to comScore, Google controlled 68 percent of all search queries in July, a mere 76.7 billion entries. It still owns nearly 90 percent of searches in Italy. As long as Google continues to dominate the search world, similar antitrust claims will remain common. While the allegations are serious, experts don’t see the probe going far.