The importance of social media is reflected in the eagerness of dictators to ban it.
The populist revolution in Tunisia has inspired similar uprisings in the Middle East, and social media have become part of the battleground. After Twitter was used to organize protests in Egypt, the government acted to block Twitter in that country. Some dissidents are still finding ways to get Twitter messages through, while others are communicating via Facebook.
The online ad industry makes progress against click fraud.
The battle against click fraud has seen its ups and downs, but the latest quarter showed progress in bringing down the rate of click fraud. According to Click Forensics, the click fraud rate in the fourth quarter of 2010 was 19.1 percent, down from 22.3 percent in the third quarter. However, this is still higher than the 15.3 percent click fraud rate in the fourth quarter of 2009.
Sign of the times: Google Maps to drop real estate features.
The real estate slump has claimed another victim: Google will discontinue the real estate search and listings features that have been available on Google Maps. Google cited multiple reasons for the decision, but the central theme appears to be low usage volume as Americans continue to show little appetite for home buying.
Demand Media's IPO signals a return to the good old days for new media.
Following its initial public offering, Demand Media's market capitalization has reached $1.5 billion. With this being higher than the market value of the New York Times, it suggests that the marketplace is emphasizing a forward-looking business model more than reputation. This gives Demand Media the highest market cap for an Internet IPO since Google in 2004.
Display ads migrate to Gmail.
Google is experimenting with showing display ads in Gmail. Like other ads in Gmail, the display ads will be triggered by the content of user emails, a practice most users seem to have become accustomed to since it was first introduced in 2004.
The New York Times
Pepsi replaces Super Bowl ads with social media marketing.
In a bold commitment to the power of new media as opposed to traditional advertising, Pepsi has eschewed its usual $20 million Super Bowl ad campaign in favor of an online contest that will put the money into community projects. This will mark the first time in 23 years that Pepsi has not advertised in the Super Bowl.
The New York Times
The DMA steps up its acknowledgement of behavioral advertising issues.
The Direct Marketing Association (DMA) had previously created an icon for advertisers to include in ads which gave users an opportunity to click and see information about behavioral advertising and the opportunity to opt out of such tracking. Now, the DMA is taking the further step of requiring its members to use the icon, and may even publicly expose violators.
Facebook ads get a tepid click response.
The click-through rate of Facebook ads declined from 0.063 percent in 2009 to 0.051 percent in 2010. This puts Facebook at roughly half the standard click-through rate of 0.10 percent, and puts Facebook'sadvertising sales team in the position of having to defend cost-per-click rates that rose from $0.27 to $0.49 last year.