10 more things you should know about European ecommerce

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Last month I wrote a blog about the 10 things you should know about European ecommerce , but such a huge topic comprised of dozens of different markets can’t be summarised in just 10 points so here are some more things you need to know about Europe’s online retail industries.
France: €140,000 can now buy you the use of the .paris domain

Fraudulent ecommerce vendors face prosecution in the Netherlands – This may seem like a pretty obvious claim, but until recently there…(read more)

April 16th 2014 Marketing

Katherine Heigl Vs Duane Reade Lawsuit May Serve Up Lesson In How Not To Tweet

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New York pharmacy chain Duane Reade’s social media team might be getting an expensive lesson in how not to tweet. And that means the rest of us get a free reminder about the perils of using celebrity photos in social media. First the news: Actress Katherine Heigl is suing Duane Reade in New…



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April 12th 2014 Facebook, Marketing, Social Media, Twitter

Facebook Moves To Boost The Size Of Ads In The Right-Hand Column

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Facebook is increasing the size of its right-hand column ads. The move, announced today in a Facebook for Business blog post, is intended to make such ads more prominent and visually consistent those appearing in users’ News Feeds. Here’s the new look compared to the current offering:…



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April 10th 2014 Facebook, Marketing, Social Media

Twitter And Facebook Declare #MarchMadness Victories

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Did anyone win March Madness? No question, Shabazz Napier and his Connecticut teammates were the ones cutting down the nets after holding off Kentucky for the NCAA men’s basketball championship. But when it comes to the battle for big event social media supremacy, the clock is still running…



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YouTube Gives Your Video Descriptions More Display Space

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YouTube has made a subtle but welcome change to its video pages, expanding the default display of the description to five lines from two. Here’s how that looks: Previously, savvy YouTube producers jammed as much information as possible into the first two lines of description to ensure viewers…



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April 9th 2014 Google, Marketing, video, YouTube

Trusted Resources for Learning Usability, Marketing and User Experience

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Are you bitten by the website user experience bug?  Do you wonder where to get trusted advice that won’t conflict with SEO strategies?

Student LearningThere are some great deals for online courses and affordable conferences available. In addition, many long-time leaders in linking, copywriting and conversions marketing remain dedicated and provide continued support, while adapting to the ever-changing Internet environment.

Here are a few of my top favorite people and websites for continued education or beginners seeking trusted resources in web site design and search marketing.

Nobody makes content writing for marketing easier to understand and learn than Karon Thackston at Marketing Words .  She provides a constant source of material such as Conversion Techniques for Copywriters, for your Kindle, plus cheat sheets, ebooks and more.

Links master, Debra Mastaler, well known for Link Spiel, has recharged her site to now include tools and more marketing resources.  Look to her for credible, proven advice on any topic she covers.

The Search Engine College  offers a wide variety of tutor-led certification or self-study courses in SEO, PPC, Usability and more.  The fees are extremely reasonable with many perks, bonuses and continued support.

UserFocus provides one of the few newsletters I look forward to because it is always packed with good resources.  Their site has a section of articles and publications loaded with a library of resources.

For a nice list of events, seminars and book covering web design, marketing, user experience, mobile and more, Rosenfeld Media, publishes several books that I have in my library, as well as they are constant source of up to date information on new educational opportunities.

The UXPA Boston one day conference is a one day affordable conference featuring over 30 talks, with 4 tracks, for under $250 per person.

If you have time for self-study and are on a tight budget, Udemy is your paradise.  Courses are offered on a wide range of topics by well-regarded thought leaders and experience professionals.

Search Engine Journal has grown into a vibrant news source.  Their recently updated website is a signal they are committed to continued excellence in providing well written material by credible authors on marketing and web design topics. .

TrustAccessible web sites are still at the bottom of the list when it comes to be site building.  Maybe it is due to the mystery surrounding the guidelines, reasons why they are helpful or fears that the extra time to create accessible sites is costly.  The best website for understanding how to create accessible websites is also an excellent source for WordPress plug-ins.  You will find Joe Dolson to be easy to understand, informative and passionate.

And finally, Internet Marketing Ninjas provides free ebooks such as Advanced SEOs’ 7 Curiously Obvious Rules  and The Secret to Natural Web Site Conversions.  You can also view the talks I have given that were posted to SlideShare by reviewing the list provided under “Presentations by Kim”.

Where are your trusted resources?  Who do you trust to keep you informed and up to date?  Do you have favorite affordable recommendations for events, books, and websites?  Who do you most recommend when someone asks for advice in your field?

The post Trusted Resources for Learning Usability, Marketing and User Experience appeared first on Internet Marketing Ninjas Blog.

April 9th 2014 Design, Marketing, SEO, Usability

The Drop In Facebook Page Reach Is All About The Competition

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One key reason that Facebook Pages are reaching fewer of their fans with posts: the number of Pages Liked by the average Facebook user has increased by more than 50% in the last year. That statistic, provided by Will Cathcart, Facebook’s News Feed director of product management, in a recent…



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April 5th 2014 Facebook, Marketing, Social Media

Supreme Court Changes False Advertising Law Across the Country (Forbes Cross-Post)

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The ruling didn't quite turn standing law on its head. Photo credit: Yoga niralamba shirshasana, head stand pose without hands // ShutterStock

The ruling didn’t quite turn standing law on its head. Photo credit: Yoga niralamba shirshasana, head stand pose without hands // ShutterStock

Last week, in Lexmark v. Static Control, the Supreme Court articulated new standards about who can sue for false advertising under federal law. Because the Supreme Court rejected all of the disparate legal tests currently being used, this ruling will change false advertising law across the country. While it’s not clear who will win and lose from the new rule, it is clear that everyone should benefit from a uniform national rule about who can sue for what.

The Court’s Holding

The Lexmark lawsuit involves a manufacturer’s allegedly false statements about a supplier of components to rival manufacturers. The manufacturer/defendant was not a “direct” competitor of the component manufacturer/plaintiff; but undoubtedly the manufacturer’s statements were likely to suppress demand for the component manufacturer’s product. The component manufacturer claimed that the manufacturer’s disparaging remarks constituted false advertising under the Lanham Act. I explain the lawsuit’s history more in my Supreme Court preview.

The Lanham Act implies, but doesn’t directly say, that not everyone has the right to sue (what’s called “standing”) for violations; instead, it requires some sort of competitive injury. Due to the ambiguities of the statutory language, appellate courts throughout the country had adopted a variety of tests to decide who had standing for a Lanham Act false advertising claim. One test limited standing only to direct competitors of the defendant; other tests permitted a broader range of interested plaintiffs.

In the Lexmark opinion, authored by Justice Scalia, the Supreme Court rejected all of the appellate courts’ existing tests, as well as other tests favored by the litigants and their amici. Instead, the Supreme Court crafted a completely new standing rule requiring that the plaintiff be within the statute’s “zone of interest” and the plaintiff’s injuries be “proximately caused” by the false representation. Thus, Lanham Act false advertising standing requires the plaintiff to allege:

an injury to a commercial interest in reputation or sales…flowing directly from the deception wrought by the defendant’s advertising; and that that occurs when deception of consumers causes them to withhold trade from the plaintiff.

Implications

In some jurisdictions, such as those that limited standing to direct competitors, the Supreme Court’s ruling will probably expand the number of potential plaintiffs over a business’ false assertions. For example, the ruling provides standing for a component supplier if a manufacturer of finished goods bashes the component, even if the parties aren’t direct competitors. The opinion also might mean that a retailer can sue manufacturer A for bashing manufacturer B if the bashing cuts into the retailer’s sales.

However, in jurisdictions that had adopted broader standing tests, this ruling might reduce the number of potential false advertising plaintiffs. Furthermore, the opinion indicates that some plaintiffs categorically lack standing, including consumers, businesses buying for their own account, and service providers to a business harmed by a false representation, such as landlords or power companies. These categorical exclusions aren’t a big change to existing law, but they ensure that Lanham Act false advertising won’t evolve into a general-purpose false advertising law.

The court’s requirement of a proximately caused injury might further restrict who can sue. It won’t be enough for a business to simply point to someone else’s commercial statement, claim it’s false, and run to the courthouse. We’ll have to see how rigorously lower courts interpret this “injury” requirement, but it could lead to further reductions in the number of plaintiffs with standing.

Thus, although the Supreme Court rejected the narrowest standing test and said that standing was possible in this case, the Supreme Court’s holding may, on balance, lead to a net reduction in the universe of plaintiffs with Lanham Act false advertising standing.

Either way, this ruling should eliminate the different regional tests for standing. Instead, it establishes a common legal standard across the nation. That reduces the risks of litigation gamesmanship in deciding where to sue, and it should reduce the litigation costs to determine standing. It helps that this ruling was a single unanimous opinion–a truly remarkable outcome given that the court adopted a test advocated by none of the litigants, and further remarkable because Justice Alito wrote one of the appellate court opinions that this opinion effectively overturns.

It’s worth reiterating that the question resolved in Lexmark v. Static Controls was narrow: standing for Lanham Act false advertising. Other overlapping false advertising laws are not affected. So even if this ruling means a plaintiff now can’t bring a false advertising claim under the Lanham Act, the plaintiff still may have recourse under a myriad of other legal doctrines.

The Supreme Court has a second false advertising case, POM Wonderful v. Coca-Cola, still pending on its docket. I plan to preview that case in a couple weeks. The Supreme Court rarely takes false advertising cases, so having two in one year is a big deal for the advertising law community.

Case citation: Lexmark International Inc. v. Static Control Components, Inc., 572 U. S. ____ (2014) (March 25, 2014)

April 4th 2014 Marketing

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

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This is what your brilliantly drafted online user agreement looks like to a maniacal law school flunk-out with a heart of pure evil. Photo credit: computer gibberish printout - text without sense // ShutterStock

This is what your brilliantly drafted online user agreement looks like to a maniacal law school flunk-out with a heart of pure evil. Photo credit: computer gibberish printout – text without sense // ShutterStock

Even after all of these years, I remain amazed by the bizarre contract misinterpretations that plaintiffs’ lawyers are capable of. Today’s case targeted the eBay user agreement, a document of special interest to me given my contributions to the agreement in the 1990s.

The plaintiffs attacked eBay’s “Automatic Bidding System” (sometimes called “proxy bidding”). Bidders list their maximum bid but only bid an increment above the current bid. As new buyers show up, eBay’s software keeps automatically bidding in specified increments until the bidder’s maximum bid is reached. It’s a pretty intuitive process, and I grasped it fully with my first eBay purchase 15 years ago.

The plaintiffs argued that the automated bidding system violated the following two provisions of eBay’s user agreement:

1) “We are not involved in the actual transaction between buyers and sellers.” The court says this provision doesn’t make any promise. “Rather, the statement is simply a general description of how eBay’s auction system works.” That conclusion is reinforced by the provision’s location in the paragraph where eBay explains it’s a marketplace, not an auctioneer.

The court acknowledges that sometimes user agreements are designed to educate users, not just address legal questions:

Several provisions are written in an informal, conversational style, indicating that the agreement is not simply a set of legally enforceable promises, but also an introduction to the eBay marketplace for new users.

However, fluffy contract language does have some risk, as we’ll see in our LinkedIn post coming shortly.

2) “No agency . . . relationship is intended or created by this Agreement.” Most transactional lawyers include this language in contract boilerplate in virtually every contract they draft–hundreds of times over the course of their careers. So it’s interesting to see how the plaintiffs try to twist the provision around. The language is meant as a shield to eliminate the possibility that the vendor unintentionally created an agency relationship with its customers, but here the plaintiffs try to turn it into a sword. They argue that the automated bidding system is eBay acting as an agent of bidders for purposes of placing bids, so eBay breached the no-agency clause. The court also says that this language doesn’t create a promise, but instead “purports only to limit the relationships created by the agreement.”

While this case reached a good result, it offers a good cautionary tale for contract drafters–especially lawyers drafting contracts for successful online businesses whose bank accounts are like honeypots to plaintiffs’ lawyers with an insatiable appetite for someone else’s cash. Don’t just read your contract drafts using the mental filter of a smart legal thinker (which we know you are). Instead, re-read your contract trying to imagine how it will be (mis)interpreted by a maniacal law school flunk-out with a heart of pure evil. If you draft to thwart the latter, you should be better prepared when the cash-hungry plaintiffs’ class action lawyers come a-courtin’.

Case citation: Block v. eBay, Inc., No. 12-16527 (9th Cir. April 1, 2014).

Related post: Lori Drew Conviction Reflections, Part 3 of 3: Lessons for Cyberlawyers Drafting User Agreements

Note: I still own some of my IPO shares of eBay!

April 2nd 2014 Marketing

Reinventing the Banner Ad

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It’s hard to ignore banner ads. But whether your eyes linger—or if you even remember what the ads were promoting—is a different story. In order to get that much-desired attention, companies are turning those page decorations into a participatory activity.

Macy’s recently launched a banner ad campaign for clothing brand Maison Jules that doesn’t rely on static images and text. Its banner ads allow users to scratch and “peel” to reveal 12 different Parisian-themed outfits. Buttons offer options for variety of activities, including watching a video featuring the clothes and the ability to peruse the lookbook.

Best of all? The user doesn’t have to navigate away from the page he or she was on to enjoy the content. But, if so inclined, the user can head to the Macy’s site to purchase the clothing or share the ad campaign on various social media platforms, including Facebook and Twitter.                          

The banner ad was created by startup BlurbIQ, an interactive video unit company trying to reinvent the space.

“We’re inviting consumers to take part in the advertising, where they are going to touch and discover additional brand material, as well as we’re making sure they have a full immersion experience while staying on the publishing page,” BlurbIQ co-founder and CEO Scott Reese said.

BlurbIQ co-founder and chief strategist Derrick Horner said the company realized that if video can contain overlays of interactive content, images should be able to do the same thing. It didn’t have to reinvent the wheel: The concept has been there since the inception of hotlinking.

Macy’s isn’t the only company using this interactive technique. Crispin Porter + Bogusky created a banner campaign for Kraft that encouraged users to "say cheese" in June 2010. Using the computer’s Web cam, the banner ad recognized when the user was smiling and the Mac & Cheese noodle featured in the ad grinned back in response.

Charles Schwab used its banner ad to interact with its customers during the Schwab Live sessions in February. People chatted with Schwab Trading Services team members during an eight-hour livestreamed session. Users could ask questions through a text box placed in the banner ad, which were then answered in real time.

And, Acura’s TLX upcoming digital campaign will feature push-down banner ads that display live-action March Madness coverage during the Final Four games. Coca-Cola tried a similar technique for its TV, Web and mobile ads during the 2012 Super Bowl.

"The same spirit and passion for performance that inspired the development of the TLX is at the heart of the college basketball tournament experience. For players and fans it's the most thrilling time of the year, and it's an ideal platform to build awareness and anticipation for the TLX,” Mike Accavitti, svp and general manager of Acura, said in a statement.

It seems to be working. BlurbIQ reported that on average, the people who saw the Macy’s 300 X 600 IQLayers unit spent an average of 37 seconds clicking on items within the banner ad, and 18.8 percent interacted with the unit, including hovering over it.

However, only 0.034 percent clicked through to the advertiser site. According to DoubleClick by Google, the average digital image-only campaign featuring an ad of the same size gets a 0.32 percent rate.

Where the Macy’s banner ad social media embed won was on Facebook. The average person spent more than three minutes interacting with the unit, and the interaction rate was 921 percent. A surprising 23 percent of users headed over to the Macy’s site.

“People have learned to ignore banner ads because they blend into the publisher page,” Horner said. “People don’t normally click on them. They don’t see them. We’re trying to change that, not only to open their eyes to the banner spot, but to provide a native experience.”


    





March 27th 2014 Marketing, Technology