Facebook’s Future: Video, Search, Messaging and VR

No Comments »
http://www.xseo.com.au/wp-content/plugins/sociofluid/images/digg_48.png http://www.xseo.com.au/wp-content/plugins/sociofluid/images/reddit_48.png http://www.xseo.com.au/wp-content/plugins/sociofluid/images/stumbleupon_48.png http://www.xseo.com.au/wp-content/plugins/sociofluid/images/delicious_48.png http://www.xseo.com.au/wp-content/plugins/sociofluid/images/google_48.png http://www.xseo.com.au/wp-content/plugins/sociofluid/images/facebook_48.png http://www.xseo.com.au/wp-content/plugins/sociofluid/images/sphinn_48.png http://www.xseo.com.au/wp-content/plugins/sociofluid/images/twitter_48.png

Facebook’s goal is to connect with everyone, yes every single person in the world. Not just that, but Facebook wants to connect to everyone at all times, in every waking moment. Facebook envisions a future where you will always be engaging with some part of the Facebook ecosystem, whether it’s on its mega social platform at Facebook, using it’s search engine, messaging a business associate or communicating on video or via a virtual reality environment.

But first lets talk business.

“I often talk about how when we develop new products we think about it in three phases, said Zuckerberg. “First, building a consumer use case. Then, second, making it so that people can organically interact with businesses. And then third, on top of that, once there’s a large volume of people interacting with businesses, give businesses tools to reach more people and pay. And that’s ultimately the business opportunity.”

During the earnings call yesterday, Mark Zuckerberg opened the curtain into Facebook’s plans, strategies and dreams for the future. He first provided the latest metrics illustrating Facebook’s continued success, 1.7 billion people now use Facebook every month, and 1.1 billion people use it every day. He said that Facebook revenue grew by 59% year-over year to $6.4 billion, and advertising revenue was up 63% to $6.2 billion.

Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook said that Q2 ad revenue grew 63% and mobile ad revenue hit $5.2 billion, up 81% year-over-year, and was approximately 84% of total ad revenue. Facebook is now truly a mobile app rather than a desktop experience for the vast majority of its users.

Zuckerberg said that they continue to see excellent growth and over the past year Facebook has added over 200 million people using Facebook on a monthly basis. Time spent per person increased double digit percentages year-over-year across Facebook, Instagram and Messenger. And that doesn’t even include WhatsApp yet.

Facebook is still growing rapidly and that’s because it has continued to evolve. It’s evolution has happened because of increased bandwidth, technological advancements, acquisitions of new platforms like WhatsApp and Instagram and most importantly continuing to be on the cutting edge of what people want in a social network. All of this while simultaneously building a successful business model that pays for this evolution.

What’s really interesting however, is how Zuckerberg sees Facebook transforming in the future. “Our results show our progress as we work to make the world more open and connected across our three-, five- and ten-year horizons,” he said. “Over the next three years we are focused on continuing to build our community and help people share more of what matters to them. The next five years are about building our newer products into full ecosystems with developers and businesses. And over the next ten years we are working to build new technologies to help everyone connect in new ways.”

Facebook is seeking to be the world’s business platform, not just the peoples. More on this below in the Search section on a Facebook future where it is competing with LinkedIn.

“We’re excited to announce that we now have 60 million monthly active business Pages on Facebook,” said Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg. “We also continue to grow the number of active advertisers on our platform. This shows that both our free and paid products are providing value to marketers of all sizes around the world. We continue to focus on our three priorities — capitalizing on the shift to mobile, growing the number of marketers using our ad products, and making our ads more relevant and effective.”

Trust me, this is just the beginning of Facebook’s morphing into both a personal and business platform in the future.

The Future of Facebook is Video

Facebook used to be mostly text and over the years they changed to be photo centric, with many people using Facebook as their family photo album. People still do that but Zuckerberg envisions a huge change coming. “We see a world that is video first, with video at the heart of all of our apps and services.”

“Over the past six months we have been particularly focused on Live video. Live represents a new way to share what’s happening in more immediate and creative ways,” Zuckerberg said. “This quarter Candace Payne’s Chewbacca mask video was viewed almost 160 million times. Live is also changing the way we see politics, as news organizations and delegates go Live from the Republican and Democratic conventions. And we have seen in Minnesota and Dallas how Live can shine a light on important moments as they happen.”

At Fortune‘s Most Powerful Women International Summit in London, Nicola Mendelsohn, VP EMEA at Facebook, predicted that the Facebook newsfeed will be all video in 5 years. “It will definitely be mobile. It will probably be all video,” Mendelsohn said. “I just think if we look, we already are seeing a year on year decline in text. We’re seeing a massive increase as I’ve said on both pictures and video. So yeah, if I was having a bet, I would say video, video, video.”

“When you think about what’s happening on video on our platform we’re really excited by the production and consumption of video and we’re seeing the full range from people posting the things in their personal lives; the power of what a mobile phone can produce and distribute now is pretty incredible when you compare it to just a few years ago to some of the most sophisticated content producers in the world producing for us,” added Sandberg.

Facebook Focuses on Search

Facebook is moving into the search space aggressively, definitely to help it compete with Twitter and perhaps even Google in the future. Facebook launched true keyword search in late 2014 that allows users to search not just profile names or just your friends posts, but also everyone’s public posts. And, if you didn’t know, all postings default at public, which means that anyone can search for your posts.

The first goal for Facebook with search is to become more like Twitter, where people post their thoughts, feelings and most importantly news reports, especially the on-the-scene kind. When the next plane lands in the Hudson, Facebook wants the survivor standing on the wing to use their platform to post about this breaking news, not Twitter. More precisely, Facebook wants you to use Facebook Live to stream your personalized live news coverage.

“We’re making good progress on core services within the Facebook app, like Search,” Zuckerberg stated. “A growing way people use search is to find what people are saying about a topic across the more than 2.5 trillion posts in our network. Now, people are doing more than 2 billion searches a day, between looking up people, businesses and other things that they care about. Continuous, steady improvement to services like search are an important part of helping people connect and realizing our mission.”

He also said this in minimizing their true plans, in my opinion.

So I’d say we’re around the second phase of that in search now. We have a pretty big navigational use case where people look up people and pages and groups that they want to get to and look at and search. One of the big growing use cases that we’re investing a lot in is looking up the content in the ecosystem and that is an area that we’re very excited about which helps people find more content.

But certainly there’s a reasonable amount of behavior in there which is looking for things that over time could be monetizeable or commercial intense and at some point we will probably want to work on that but we’re still in the phase of just making it easier for people to find all the content they want and connect with businesses organically.

But what’s their next goal? Facebook has certainly focused on the business use of their platform as they continue to look for monetization opportunities. My guess is that Facebook will seek to compete with LinkedIn as the business platform of record.

Over the last few years LinkedIn has certainly moved from a glorified directory of business professionals to a platform for business related news, conversation and connection. Facebook has the platform but would need to figure out how to easily separate family life from business life, which could be done rather easily. With Microsoft buying LinkedIn, Facebook will be highly motivated to compete.

Next up for Facebook Search would be to compete with Google. Why… you ask? Because Google has a market cap of $520 billion, with the majority of that credited to its search business, while Facebook has a market cap of $362 billion. More importantly, it’s about revenue and profit. In 2015, Google had $75 billion in revenue and $16 billion in net income while Facebook had $17 billion in revenue and $3.6 billion in net income.

Google tried to compete with Facebook with Google+ and it failed miserably, but that’s because it’s harder to get people to change their social habits than it is their search habits. You don’t need your friends to use Facebook Search in order for you to find it useful, but you definitely need your friends to move to a new social platform to make it work for you. That was Google’s dilemma, but it won’t be Facebook’s.

“Since it refocused on keywords, Facebook is now seeing 2 billion searches per day of its 2.5 trillion posts,” stated TechCrunch writer Josh Constine. “That’s compared to 1.5 billion searches per day in July 2015, and 1 billion in September 2012. That’s a 33% climb in just 9 months.”

That’s lets than half a reported 3.5 billion searches per day on Google. The difference is that Google’s searches are monitizable, while Facebook searches, not so much. However, this must scare the heck out of Google because it shows how ingrained people are to use Facebook for search. Therefore, over time I predict that Facebook will add web indexing to it’s search engine. They already have 3.5 billion searches, why not open up search to everything and in the process open up a huge monetization opportunity.

One other prediction, Facebook will disconnect its search app from just Facebook.com, just like they did Messenger. Then, voilà, Facebook is competing with Google.

Making Instagram Stronger

Instagram was purchased by Facebook for $1 billion while it was just getting off the ground. It is now center to its plans on connecting with everyone in the world on a constant always on basis. That’s why Instagram is so important to Facebook, it has a foothold with younger people and its active user base is not a clone of Facebook’s, so it expands the corporate Facebook’s universe of connectivity and engagement.

“Over the next five years we are working hard to build ecosystems around some of our newer products,” said Zuckerberg. “Instagram now has more than 500 million monthly actives, with more than 300 million daily. Now we’re working to make the experience more engaging.”

He said that when Instagram, despite user pushback, began to rank its feed in order to improve the experience, that they are already seeing a “positive impact” with people spending more time and share more content within the platform.

As always, business is important to Zuckerberg as well. “We’ve also introduced our advertising tools on Instagram and we’re seeing marketers engage with people in creative and innovative ways.”

Messaging with Messenger & WhatsApp

“In the two years since we separated Messenger from the main Facebook app — which was a controversial decision at the time — we’ve improved performance and given people new ways to express themselves,” commented Zuckerberg. “Now, for the first time, more than 1 billion people are using Messenger every month.”

Facebook sees a huge opportunity with messaging because it moves them closer to their goal of connecting everyone on a constant always on basis. That’s why they paid $22 billion for WhatsApp, which is a service that barely had a business model.

“I’m also happy with the updates we’re making to WhatsApp — which also has a community of more than 1 billion people,” said Zuckerberg. “This quarter we launched new desktop apps and end-to-end encryption, and millions of people are using WhatsApp’s voice calling features.”

Facebook has big plans for messaging because not only does it help them bring even more people into Facebook’s universe, but it moves them into the business space, where Facebook desperately wants to be, because that’s where the money is.

“The scale we’ve achieved with our messaging services makes it clear that they are more than just a way to chat with friends,” Zuckerberg noted. “That’s why we’re also making it easier for people to connect with groups and businesses as well. We are going to keep focusing on this over the next several years.”

Facebook owned messaging has now taken over standard text messaging according to Zuckerberg.

“Between Messenger and WhatsApp I think we’re around 60 billion messages a day which is something like three times more than the peak of global SMS traffic.”

It’s incredible to think that Facebook now owns the messaging space. Who would have thought that 3 years ago?

New Technologies

“I’m also excited about the early progress we’re making on our 10-year initiatives. We are investing in new technologies to give more people a voice — including the 4 billion people around the world who aren’t yet online — and helping more people take advantage of the opportunities that come with the internet.”

Facebook is seeking to connect everyone in the world, regardless of any obstacle. It’s a long term plan, but Facebook is on it.

“One of the biggest opportunities to grow our community is in developing countries where connectivity is less advanced than what we take for granted here at home,” Zuckerberg said. “So over the past couple of years, we’ve began making steady improvements to our apps to make them work regardless of the device or connection people are using. We also built a light-weight version of our Android app, called Facebook Lite, that is tuned to work on 2G networks and is now used by more than 100 million people.”

Virtual reality is another huge area of investment for Facebook, especially with their $2 billion purchase of Oculus. They see VR as an extension of connecting and sharing. Know one really knows the future of VR, but it will be deeply engrained in advertising in the future and since all of Facebook’s revenue comes from advertising, they need to be in this space.

“We believe that virtual reality can help people share richer experiences and help everyone understand what’s going on around the world,” said Zuckerberg. “It’s really early for us in VR but we’re hitting some important milestones. As of the second quarter more than 1 million people a month are using Oculus on mobile phones through our Gear VR 4partnership with Samsung.”

Zuckerberg also commented on the potential revenue importance of their investment in VR:

“More than 300 apps are already available at the Oculus store for Gear VR, we’ve filled all of our pre-orders for Oculus Rift and we are seeing increasing demand from retail as stores plan for the holidays. While it’s still early for augmented reality, we’re doing AR research and are seeing lightweight versions of AR technology today in mobile apps like MSQRD.”

Facebook is Just Getting Started

“So that’s a recap of the progress we’re making in our 10 year plan,” said Zuckerberg. “We have a saying at Facebook that our journey is only 1% done — and while I’m happy with our progress, we have a lot more work to do to grow our community and connect the whole world. That means making big investments and taking risks — focusing not just on what Facebook is, but on what it can be.”

The post Facebook’s Future: Video, Search, Messaging and VR appeared first on WebProNews.

Want An Enforceable Online Contract? Don’t Use A Footer Link Called “Reference”–Zajac v. Walker

No Comments »
http://www.xseo.com.au/wp-content/plugins/sociofluid/images/digg_48.png http://www.xseo.com.au/wp-content/plugins/sociofluid/images/reddit_48.png http://www.xseo.com.au/wp-content/plugins/sociofluid/images/stumbleupon_48.png http://www.xseo.com.au/wp-content/plugins/sociofluid/images/delicious_48.png http://www.xseo.com.au/wp-content/plugins/sociofluid/images/google_48.png http://www.xseo.com.au/wp-content/plugins/sociofluid/images/facebook_48.png http://www.xseo.com.au/wp-content/plugins/sociofluid/images/sphinn_48.png http://www.xseo.com.au/wp-content/plugins/sociofluid/images/twitter_48.png

This lawsuit involves the purchase of items I don’t understand. Let’s just call them “thingies.” The buyer Zajac needed thingies with an appropriate rating. It bought the thingies from a distributor, Walker, then realized the thingies didn’t have the appropriate rating. Recriminations and a lawsuit ensued.

The thingies’ manufacturer, Turck, sought a venue change based on the “terms of use” section of its website. The buyer had reviewed the manufacturer’s website to confirm the thingies’ rating. The manufacturer took the position that the buyer’s website review incorporated the terms of use into the transaction. But what did the manufacturer do to draw the buyer’s attention to these terms of use? Apparently, bupkis:

the terms of use page could be accessed by clicking on a small link at the bottom of Turck’s website entitled “Reference.” Users were not prompted to read or affirmatively agree to the terms of use.

I screenshotted Turck’s home page on July 26, 2016. Look at the bottom footer block for the almost-invisible “reference” link:

turck homepage

The court is totally unimpressed with the manufacturer’s arguments (yes, the court calls the TOU a browsewrap but I’ll overlook that transgression):

Merely including terms of use on a website is not sufficient to incorporate those terms into legal relations between the website operator and the user, even where the user purchases an item or downloads software from the operator’s website….

it does not appear that Zajac was on constructive notice of the terms of use of the Turck website. The applicable link on Turck’s homepage was inconspicuously placed in small font at the bottom of the homepage, located amongst several other small links. Notably, the link was not named “terms of use” or any synonymous phrase, but was rather titled “Reference.” It is plain to the Court that the word “Reference” does not intuitively indicate to a user that clicking on that particular link will reveal terms of use. The Court is aware of nothing in the design of the website or the content of the product-specific pages that would provide a more evident signal of the terms of use posted within the website….Here, the link was not given a title intuitively related to the terms of use contents, the link was not proximate to buttons a user would click to initiate a purchase, and no purchase was made through Turck’s website.

“Reference” as the link description for an online contract is about the worst I can recall seeing litigated in court. Calling the link “Terms of use” or similar contract appellations shouldn’t change the analysis much, but the court indicates that would have been slightly better. What would users expect to find at the terminus of a “reference” link? I have no clue.

(Please recall that I am the son of a reference librarian, so “reference” has a special and personal meaning to me. But I’ll admit that no one assumes there’s going to be something exciting associated with “reference”).

What should the manufacturer done differently? Just about everything. But mostly, if your argument is that you formed a contract with a buyer because they visited your website during the shopping process before making the purchase somewhere other than the website, my vote is that you save your dollars and don’t even litigate the issue.

Case citation: Zajac, LLC v. Walker Industrial, 2016 WL 3962830 (D. Maine July 21, 2016)

July 29th 2016 Marketing

Comic for July 27, 2016

No Comments »
http://www.xseo.com.au/wp-content/plugins/sociofluid/images/digg_48.png http://www.xseo.com.au/wp-content/plugins/sociofluid/images/reddit_48.png http://www.xseo.com.au/wp-content/plugins/sociofluid/images/stumbleupon_48.png http://www.xseo.com.au/wp-content/plugins/sociofluid/images/delicious_48.png http://www.xseo.com.au/wp-content/plugins/sociofluid/images/google_48.png http://www.xseo.com.au/wp-content/plugins/sociofluid/images/facebook_48.png http://www.xseo.com.au/wp-content/plugins/sociofluid/images/sphinn_48.png http://www.xseo.com.au/wp-content/plugins/sociofluid/images/twitter_48.png

Dilbert readers – Please visit Dilbert.com to read this feature. Due to changes with our feeds, we are now making this RSS feed a link to Dilbert.com.

July 28th 2016 Uncategorized

Priceline Avoids Liability For Resort Fees Due To Its Onsite Disclosures–Singer v. Priceline

No Comments »
http://www.xseo.com.au/wp-content/plugins/sociofluid/images/digg_48.png http://www.xseo.com.au/wp-content/plugins/sociofluid/images/reddit_48.png http://www.xseo.com.au/wp-content/plugins/sociofluid/images/stumbleupon_48.png http://www.xseo.com.au/wp-content/plugins/sociofluid/images/delicious_48.png http://www.xseo.com.au/wp-content/plugins/sociofluid/images/google_48.png http://www.xseo.com.au/wp-content/plugins/sociofluid/images/facebook_48.png http://www.xseo.com.au/wp-content/plugins/sociofluid/images/sphinn_48.png http://www.xseo.com.au/wp-content/plugins/sociofluid/images/twitter_48.png

Screen Shot 2016-07-26 at 8.54.34 AMThis is a lawsuit alleging that Priceline improperly failed to disclose “resort fees” in connection with its Name Your Own Price service. The service allowed consumers to name a price (bid a dollar amount) for a hotel in a given geographic area and a particular star level (e.g., two nights in downtown Seattle at a four star hotel). The named plaintiff alleged that he was willing to pay $107.00 per room per night in Puerto Rico. Prior to confirming his bid and his card being charged, he was presented by Priceline with the summary screenshotted above.

The webpage with the disclosure included the following disclaimers under an “Important Information” heading:

  • If priceline accepts your price, priceline will book your reservation in a property with an equal or higher star level than you requested. The hotel that is selected may or may not be one that you have seen during a hotel search on priceline. Any sorting or filtering options previously used will not apply to this Name Your Own Price request. Priceline will immediately charge your credit card the total cost of your stay. Rooms purchased through priceline cannot be cancelled, changed or transferred and refunds are not allowed. If your offer is not accepted, your credit cardwill not be charged.
  • The reservation holder must present a valid photo ID and credit card at check-in. The credit card is required for any additional hotel specific service fees or incidental charges or fees that may be charged by the hotel to the customer at checkout. These charges may be mandatory (e.g., resort fees) or optional (parking, phone calls or minibar charges) and are not included in your offer price.

Below this disclosure, the plaintiff had to initial a box next to the following text: “I have read, accept and agree to abide by priceline.com’s terms and conditions and privacy policy.” The terms, which contained the following (possibly relevant) language:

“Additional Restrictions”

All hotel reservations are non-cancelable, non-refundable, non-changeable and non-transferable by you. Once you purchase a reservation, your method of payment will be charged for the amount shown – regardless of whether or not the reservation is used. Credit will not be given for any unused reservations and cannot be used toward any future purchases;

Once a priceline.com Request is submitted, it cannot be modified by you; and

Upon check-in, guests must present a valid ID and credit card . . . in their name that is consistent with the transactional details provided to priceline.com (the amount of available credit required will vary by hotel). . . .

You agree that if a hotel accepts your offer, priceline.com will confirm the reservation and charge the entire amount of the stay, including applicable Taxes and Fees (as described below) disclosed to you before submitting an offer, to your method of payment. The price you name is per night and does not include priceline.com’s charge to you for Taxes and Fees.

“Charges for Taxes and Service Fees”.

In connection with facilitating your hotel transaction, we will charge your method of payment for Taxes and Fees. This charge includes an estimated amount to recover the amount we pay to the hotel in connection with your reservation for taxes owed by the hotel including, without limitation, sales and use tax, occupancy tax, room tax, excise tax, value added tax and/or other similar taxes. In certain locations, the tax amount may also include government imposed service fees or other fees not paid directly to the taxing authorities but required by law to be collected by the hotel. The amount paid to the hotel in connection with your reservation for taxes may vary from the amount we estimate and include in the charge to you. The balance of the charge for Taxes and Fees is a fee we retain as part of the compensation for our services and to cover the costs of your reservation, including, for example, customer service costs. The charge for Taxes and Fees varies based on a number of factors including, without limitation, the amount we pay the hotel and the location of the hotel where you will be staying, and may include profit that we retain.

Except as described below, we are not the vendor collecting and remitting taxes to the applicable taxing authorities. Our hotel suppliers, as vendors, bill all applicable taxes to us and we pay over such amounts directly to the vendors. We are not a co-vendor associated with the vendor with whom we book or reserve our customer’s travel arrangements. . . . For transactions involving hotels located within certain jurisdictions, the charge to your debit or credit card for Taxes and Fees includes an additional payment of tax that we are required to collect and remit to the jurisdiction for tax owed on amounts we retain as compensation for our services.

Depending on the property you stay at you may also be charged (i) certain mandatory hotel specific service fees, for example, resort fees (which typically apply to resort type destinations and, if applicable, may range from $10 to $40 per day), energy surcharges, newspaper delivery fees, in-room safe fees, tourism fees, or housekeeping fees and/or (ii) certain optional incidental fees, for example, parking charges, minibar charges, phone calls, room service and movie rentals, etc. These charges, if applicable, will be payable by you to the hotel directly at checkout. When you check in, a credit card or, in the hotel’s discretion, a debit card, will be required to secure these charges and fees that you may incur during your stay. Please contact the hotel directly as to whether and which charges or service fees apply.

The miscellaneous terms also had (1) an entire agreement provision but it said these terms may be superseded by site-specific statements to the extent they are “adequately brought to [the user’s] attention; (2) a statement that the captions are for convenience only.

Breach of contract: Citing to the website disclaimer, the court says that the contract expressly envisions additional charges which the user would be separately required to pay. The court also says that the contract “[breaks] down the “Total Charges” into “Offer Price Per Room, Per Night” and “Taxes and Service Fees.” On this basis the court says it’s clear to the customer that the offer price may not be the final price. The court also dismisses the unjust enrichment claim on the basis that the subject matter is addressed by an express contract (i.e., the terms and conditions and the website disclaimer).

Breach of Duty of Good Faith: The court says that the duty of good faith comes into play where there is a term that is capable of discretionary application or effectuation (in one party’s control). In order to constitute a breach the breaching party must deprive the other party of benefits to which he or she is reasonably entitled; this usually means deception on some level. The court says the claim for breach of the duty of good faith fails. First, plaintiff could not reasonably expect to have the resort fee included because the disclaimer dispels any expectation to the contrary. Plaintiff also advanced the argument that Priceline should not have listed hotels who charged a resort fee among its choices in the first place. The court says that Priceline never represented to the contrary that its options would differentiate between hotels that don’t charge a resort fee and those that do. Again, coming back to the language of the agreement, the court says that plaintiff could not have understood priceline to make this representation.

__

We’ve frequently blogged about the online contracting process (see part 1 and 2 of TOS Arbitration Day at the blog). The question in these cases is whether the customer had read and assented to online terms, and courts typically enforce those terms where the customer is forced to manifest assent before completing the transaction (i.e., checking the box). The court here notes that Priceline required the customer to initial that he or she read and agreed to the terms. While it’s unclear what “initial” means in this context, it provides the requisite indication of assent, so this should be sufficient to support contract formation. Priceline, being a repeat terms of service litigant, has buttoned up its contracting process. Interestingly, the court notes in passing that “[t]he Priceline website did not require a customer to click through the hyperlink to the Terms & Conditions in order to place a bid.” This is the equivalent of a consumer not being forced to scroll through terms to reach the end before expressing assent. Courts have not focused on this in terms of service cases, leaving it to the consumer to ensure that he or she has read terms that the consumer has indicated assent to. The court never discusses in detail plaintiff’s argument that he did not read and agree to the terms, perhaps because it was such an obviously difficult argument.

The case raises a tricky situation for a company that deploys online contracts: how to incorporate statements on the site into the transaction terms (without the downside). Here, the priceline terms said that it may be supplanted by terms located on the site to the extent they were “adequately brought to [the customer’s] attention.” This could have raised the question of whether the disclosure at the point of purchase was sufficiently conspicuous and whether the consumer indication of assent applied to the terms and the hyperlink or the terms at the point of purchase. Customers have raised ambiguity in the manifestation of assent with some success. (See Sgouros v. TransUnion.) The user also had a plausible argument that the point of purchase terms conflicted with the statements in the online terms that carved out only “taxes and fees” which appeared to cover fees paid by the hotel to third parties (government taxes and fees) rather than those the hotel itself charged. The disclaimer also only highlighted to the consumer that the consumer may be required to pay extra charges directly to the hotel, which seems slightly different from what occurred here. Priceline is playing with fire by relying on website terms that may or may not conflict with the default terms of service. Surely it has consumer-friendly marketing copy on its site (e.g., in the form of guarantees). I could see a court easily saying that if the disclaimer in this case formed a part of the parties’ contract, so too did favorable marketing copy that contained consumer-favorable terms. It dodged a bullet here.

Ultimately, I could see how the transaction would not conform to the expectations of the consumer. The point of bidding is to get a deal. If you have to pay $488 for two nights for a hotel room that is advertised as $107 per night, that does not seem like such a great reason to use priceline.

Eric’s Comments: “Resort fees,” and any other similar mandatory hotel-imposed fees that are not included in an upfront reservation fee quoted to consumers, are an abomination. If the FTC doesn’t take action on them, then we need a federal law banning the practice. Otherwise, as we’ve seen over and over, all industry players eventually get sucked into imposing hidden fees to keep their quoted prices comparable to their less scrupulous peers, in which case consumers can no longer do meaningful price comparisons and the marketplace becomes less efficient.

In this case, Priceline used best practices to properly form a contract with users, but the question is whether the resort fee disclosures were properly incorporated into that contract. Normally, buried boilerplate can’t undo a site’s multitudinous sales efforts to leave consumers with a different impression. Here, the court allows Priceline’s onsite disclosures (buried boilerplate plus the reference in the call-to-action) to trump the many ways in which Priceline educated consumers that they get to “name their own price.” It’s easy to see how Priceline’s sales pitches left some consumers confused about the price they’d actually pay.

I’m not planning to sue Priceline, but as Venkat indicates, I no longer use blind bidding systems like Priceline and Hotwire for travel arrangements because of the risk of mandatory hidden costs that I cannot anticipate in my bid. (While mandatory fees are unconscionable, differences in a hotel’s optional fees can also affect my satisfaction with the total price I pay, e.g., parking fees can be $50+/night and therefore a significant chunk of my overall expense. Even things like paid wifi, which other hotels may offer for free, can eat into or eliminate any savings I achieve from bidding down the rack rate). For Priceline and Hotwire to wash their hands of resort fees speaks very poorly about their dedication to their customers’ experience, and this in turn squanders consumer trust and undermines long-term consumer demand for their services. If Priceline or Hotwire really want to create a well-functioning auction system, they must standardize the auctioned offerings so consumers can bid apples-to-apples. Given how the dot com utopian ideal of travel service auctions seems to have largely passed, I’m not expecting the auction sites to make any aggressive consumer-friendly moves in the foreseeable future.

Case citation: Singer v. Priceline, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 95617 (D. Conn. July 22, 2016)

Related posts:

Online Marketplace Isn’t Liable for Bad Conduct by Merchants It Certifies–Englert v. Alibaba

Courts Approve Terms of Service-Based Arbitration Clauses for Uber and Groupon

“Modified Clickwrap” Upheld In Court–Moule v. UPS

Ninth Circuit Rejects Plaintiffs’ Bad Misreadings of eBay’s User Agreement–Block v. eBay

eBay Not Liable for Technical Glitch When Seller Doesn’t Set Reserve Price — D’Agostino v. eBay

July 28th 2016 Uncategorized

Changes in Google Ranking Factors – 2016

No Comments »
http://www.xseo.com.au/wp-content/plugins/sociofluid/images/digg_48.png http://www.xseo.com.au/wp-content/plugins/sociofluid/images/reddit_48.png http://www.xseo.com.au/wp-content/plugins/sociofluid/images/stumbleupon_48.png http://www.xseo.com.au/wp-content/plugins/sociofluid/images/delicious_48.png http://www.xseo.com.au/wp-content/plugins/sociofluid/images/google_48.png http://www.xseo.com.au/wp-content/plugins/sociofluid/images/facebook_48.png http://www.xseo.com.au/wp-content/plugins/sociofluid/images/sphinn_48.png http://www.xseo.com.au/wp-content/plugins/sociofluid/images/twitter_48.png

What is and isn’t a ranking factor in search? Here are the latest thoughts by industry experts on search ranking factors and particularly Google Ranking Factors as they are in 2016.

Content & Links Are the Two Most Important Ranking Signals

Eric Enge noted in a post that he participated in a Hangout with Google’s Andrey Lippatsev, Search Quality Senior Strategist, who was asked about the top 3 ranking signals, noting that RankBrain was announced as the third most important. “I can tell you what they are. It’s content and links going into your site,” answered Lippatesev.

“When you aren’t facing page relevance or quality issues, links can, and do, continue to significantly impact rankings.” said Enge.

“Backlinks remain an extremely important Google ranking factor,” said Brian Dean founder of Backlinko in a recent blog post on Google Ranking Factors. “We found the number of domains linking to a page correlated with rankings more than any other factor.” Read more on the Backlinko Ranking Study at the end of this article.

RankBrain – Third Most Important Factor

Danny Sullivan of SearchEngineLand wrote an interesting piece on how RankBrain has now become the third most important ranking factor behind content and links. According to a report onBackChannel RankBrain is being used on almost ALL search queries helping determine the most relevant results and their order:

Google is characteristically fuzzy on exactly how it improves search (something to do with the long tail? Better interpretation of ambiguous requests?) but Jeff Dean says that RankBrain is “involved in every query,” and affects the actual rankings “probably not in every query but in a lot of queries.” What’s more, it’s hugely effective. Of the hundreds of “signals” Google search uses when it calculates its rankings (a signal might be the user’s geographical location, or whether the headline on a page matches the text in the query), RankBrain is now rated as the third most useful.

 
Click-Through Rate (CTR) is Not a Ranking Factor

“I think we can establish that CTR is not a direct ranking signal for Google. At the same time, it can have an indirect effect,” said Eric Enge in a recent video (below) they posted on their marketing website Stone Temple Consulting. “Lots of people clicking on a certain result might indicate a real interest in it, and that might mean it’s a better result than the result above it. Notice I said might there. That will be important later. Anyway, many people have assumed that search engines like Google would use such a signal, of course, bouncing it off against other signals that it uses in ranking.”

So with that answer, one wonders why isn’t then CTR a ranking signal? Primarily because Google has told us they don’t, commented Enge. He noted that it’s simply too easy to game and that it doesn’t necessarily mean the user was satisfied with the result. Google uses it internally for studying search behavior but it is not a ranking signal. He provided this chart in a recent blog post. Enge wrote another article about CTR as a (non) ranking factor here.

Screen Shot 2016-07-27 at 10.24.57 AM

Google Confirms 301, 302, 3xx redirects Do Not Lose PageRank Value

“30x redirects don’t lose PageRank anymore,” Google’s Gary Illyes said in a tweet yesterday. Eric Enge asked Illyes in a Twitter reply if the redirects are “not even a dampening factor?” Illyes replied, “@stonetemple for PageRank, no.” Barry Schwartz of Search Engine Land has more.

Local Business Ranking Factors

2016 Quantitative Local Search Ranking Factors Study: If you want your business to rank better in local search results, focus on building popularity for your business, as the results of the study indicate that business popularity seems to outweigh all other factors, most importantly in the form of reviews and quality backlinks to your site. Google Review and Profile View are by far the two most important local business ranking factors.

Dan Leibson, Vice President of Local & Product at Local SEO Guide, made a presentation on this study at SMX Advanced 2016:

Mobile-Friendliness – a Ranking Signal on Mobile Searches

Last year, we started using mobile-friendliness as a ranking signal on mobile searches,” said Klemen Kloboves, a software engineer at Google, in a Google Webmaster blog post. “Today we’re announcing that beginning in May, we’ll start rolling out an update to mobile search results that increases the effect of the ranking signal to help our users find even more pages that are relevant and mobile-friendly.”

Google Now Ranks Mobile Page Speed Separately

Jennifer Slegg of The SEM Post noted that Illyes mention of this at Search Marketing Summit Sydney was the first time that Google confirmed that it indeed plans to make page speed a factor in its next mobile friendly update. Illyes told Jennnifer that the update will be in a matter of months. Illyes has been hinting at mobile friendly sites ranking higher for months.

Google Updates Search Quality Guidelines

“We recently completed a major revision of our rater guidelines to adapt to this mobile world, recognizing that people use search differently when they carry internet-connected devices with them all the time,” said Mimi Underwood, Sr. Program Manager of Google Search Growth & Analysis. “You can find that update here (PDF).”

More Causes for Lower Ranking

Enge also says that there are other factors contributing to less appearance of a site on the first page of a Google search result, which is in effect a lower ranking:

  1. More real estate allocated to paid search
  2. More content from other sources, such as image search, YouTube, and the other factors I mentioned above
  3. Some pages that have less than 10 web results
  4. Portions of the web results that are clearly less driven by links, such as local web, query deserves diversity, and in-depth article results

Backlinko Study

The Backlinko Study is unbelievably helpful in understanding all ranking factors, not just the new ones that happened in 2016. Backlinko analyzed 1 million Google search results to answer the question: Which factors correlate with first page search engine rankings?

Backlinko identified 11 main ranking factors that I’ve summarized below:

  1. Backlinks are still the number one factor in determining search ranking.
  2. Site Authority correlates to ranking.
  3. Tightly focused content ranks better.
  4. Longer content ranks higher.
  5. Sites using HTTPS do better than equal sites using HTTP.
  6. Schema markup doesn’t help.
  7. An image in content raises ranking.
  8. Small correlation with title tag keyword optimization and ranking.
  9. Speed is now a huge ranking signal. It matters a lot.
  10. Exact match anchor text has a strong influence.
  11. Low bounce rate  improves ranking.

The post Changes in Google Ranking Factors – 2016 appeared first on WebProNews.

July 28th 2016 Search, SEO

Google Play Family Library: Share what you love with the ones you love

No Comments »
http://www.xseo.com.au/wp-content/plugins/sociofluid/images/digg_48.png http://www.xseo.com.au/wp-content/plugins/sociofluid/images/reddit_48.png http://www.xseo.com.au/wp-content/plugins/sociofluid/images/stumbleupon_48.png http://www.xseo.com.au/wp-content/plugins/sociofluid/images/delicious_48.png http://www.xseo.com.au/wp-content/plugins/sociofluid/images/google_48.png http://www.xseo.com.au/wp-content/plugins/sociofluid/images/facebook_48.png http://www.xseo.com.au/wp-content/plugins/sociofluid/images/sphinn_48.png http://www.xseo.com.au/wp-content/plugins/sociofluid/images/twitter_48.png

Friday night is movie night at our home, and my wife and I look forward to our weekly ritual of putting the kids to bed, getting some takeout, and catching up on our movie wishlist. Whether it’s making the BLUE STEEL face from Zoolander, swapping tips on playing Monument Valley, or reading Dragons Love Tacos to the kids at bedtime, these shared moments bring us closer together.

For families like mine, who bond over shared entertainment, we’re introducing Family Library, a way for up to six family members to share purchases on Google Play. When you buy an eligible app, game, movie, TV show, or book in the Play Store, you can now share it with your family—across devices—with no additional sign-up fee.

Share across your family’s devices
Today’s families have a lot of devices, and it should be easy to share content no matter where we are or what we’re doing. Everyone in my family loves the Star Wars movies and we all want to be able to watch them, on our phones, tablets, laptops, or TV. All purchases added to Family Library are available across Android devices, and movies, TV shows, and books can be enjoyed on iOS devices and the web.

Easily manage sharing and family purchases
As with most family matters, flexibility and choice is important. With Family Library, you can choose which items you want to share and which to keep to yourself—for example, I’ll probably keep my collection of comic books in my personal library. Flexibility is also built into your purchasing options. When you sign up, you’ll select a credit card to share as your family payment method, but your family members will always have the option of buying stuff with their personal credit cards or gift cards. And for your younger family members, you’ll have the option to approve each of their purchases.

Share a Music subscription with your family
Finally, if your family loves music, you can also subscribe to the Google Play Music family plan. On this plan, up to six family members can stream millions of songs on demand for $14.99 a month. We launched the family plan late last year, and today we’re expanding it to Ireland, Italy, Mexico, and New Zealand. And you can now sign up on the web, in addition to your Android device.

Starting today, Family Library will be rolling out over the next few days and will be available in Australia, Brazil, Canada, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Mexico, New Zealand, the United Kingdom and the United States. To get started, sign up in Google Play, invite your family members, and start sharing what you love!

https://1.bp.blogspot.com/-3j_0lZ3pI-w/V5ejW8jcoJI/AAAAAAAAStw/ht0F9TZzSeM5ssT7p3rZSoJCiIWb7LReACLcB/s200/FamilyPlay.jpg

Links for 2016-07-26 [del.icio.us]

No Comments »
http://www.xseo.com.au/wp-content/plugins/sociofluid/images/digg_48.png http://www.xseo.com.au/wp-content/plugins/sociofluid/images/reddit_48.png http://www.xseo.com.au/wp-content/plugins/sociofluid/images/stumbleupon_48.png http://www.xseo.com.au/wp-content/plugins/sociofluid/images/delicious_48.png http://www.xseo.com.au/wp-content/plugins/sociofluid/images/google_48.png http://www.xseo.com.au/wp-content/plugins/sociofluid/images/facebook_48.png http://www.xseo.com.au/wp-content/plugins/sociofluid/images/sphinn_48.png http://www.xseo.com.au/wp-content/plugins/sociofluid/images/twitter_48.png

July 27th 2016 Uncategorized

Flok wants to bring chatbots to the small business masses

No Comments »
http://www.xseo.com.au/wp-content/plugins/sociofluid/images/digg_48.png http://www.xseo.com.au/wp-content/plugins/sociofluid/images/reddit_48.png http://www.xseo.com.au/wp-content/plugins/sociofluid/images/stumbleupon_48.png http://www.xseo.com.au/wp-content/plugins/sociofluid/images/delicious_48.png http://www.xseo.com.au/wp-content/plugins/sociofluid/images/google_48.png http://www.xseo.com.au/wp-content/plugins/sociofluid/images/facebook_48.png http://www.xseo.com.au/wp-content/plugins/sociofluid/images/sphinn_48.png http://www.xseo.com.au/wp-content/plugins/sociofluid/images/twitter_48.png

Company’s app enables bots to interact with consumers on behalf of SMBs.



Please visit Marketing Land for the full article.

July 27th 2016 Uncategorized

Interpublic Group PR Agency Golin Appoints Three CEOs

No Comments »
http://www.xseo.com.au/wp-content/plugins/sociofluid/images/digg_48.png http://www.xseo.com.au/wp-content/plugins/sociofluid/images/reddit_48.png http://www.xseo.com.au/wp-content/plugins/sociofluid/images/stumbleupon_48.png http://www.xseo.com.au/wp-content/plugins/sociofluid/images/delicious_48.png http://www.xseo.com.au/wp-content/plugins/sociofluid/images/google_48.png http://www.xseo.com.au/wp-content/plugins/sociofluid/images/facebook_48.png http://www.xseo.com.au/wp-content/plugins/sociofluid/images/sphinn_48.png http://www.xseo.com.au/wp-content/plugins/sociofluid/images/twitter_48.png


After serving as CEO of Interpublic Group’s Golin for 13 years and working at the agency since 1986, Fred Cook will shift to the role of chairman as the shop moves to a new leadership model next year with three chief executives.

On Jan. 1, 2017, Matt Neale, president of Europe, Middle East and Africa and co-president of New York; Gary Rudnick, president of Americas; and Jonathan Hughes, international president, will take on the positions of CEO+Vision, CEO+Operations and CEO+International, respectively. The trio will report to Mr. Cook on people and client matters, and IPG’s CFO Frank Mergenthaler on financial and operational issues.

The CEO+ concept emerged from Golin’s six-year-old g4 structure that divides employees into four specialist categories, including explorers, formerly known as strategists (insights and analytics), catalysts (account management and execution), connectors (media and social engagement) and creators (content development and conceptual ideas).

Continue reading at AdAge.com

July 27th 2016 Uncategorized

Apple earnings: company beats with $42 billion, iPhone SE above expectations

No Comments »
http://www.xseo.com.au/wp-content/plugins/sociofluid/images/digg_48.png http://www.xseo.com.au/wp-content/plugins/sociofluid/images/reddit_48.png http://www.xseo.com.au/wp-content/plugins/sociofluid/images/stumbleupon_48.png http://www.xseo.com.au/wp-content/plugins/sociofluid/images/delicious_48.png http://www.xseo.com.au/wp-content/plugins/sociofluid/images/google_48.png http://www.xseo.com.au/wp-content/plugins/sociofluid/images/facebook_48.png http://www.xseo.com.au/wp-content/plugins/sociofluid/images/sphinn_48.png http://www.xseo.com.au/wp-content/plugins/sociofluid/images/twitter_48.png

Device sales were down across the board but analysts had expected worse.



Please visit Marketing Land for the full article.

July 27th 2016 apple