What Marketers Can Expect From LinkedIn in 2017

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With the backing of Microsoft, LinkedIn has big plans to increase its effectiveness for marketers in 2017. Russ Glass, LinkedIn Marketing Solutions’ Head of Products, was interviewed by LinkedIn Account Executive at Vivek Venugopal:

Venugopal: What about LinkedIn has kept you excited about being here? What gets you up in the morning and into work everyday?

Glass: I think LinkedIn Marketing Solutions specifically. It’s also very exciting because our mission is to be the most effective platform for marketers to reach professionals. It’s one of those issues you can actually accomplish. We’ve got this global network of professionals, this incredible platform that they come to on a frequent basis, that has great content and great information.

We have an opportunity now to take all of those assets and put great capabilities around it for marketers to be successful. Every day we are a little better than we were the day before and I think we are going to continue to see that kind of growth.

Venugopal: Can you tell us a little bit about what marketers can expect to see out of the LMS platform in 2017 and talk a little bit about the Microsoft acquisition and how that might impact the roadmap?

Glass: I could talk a long time about what we’re doing next year and all the opportunities with Microsoft, but maybe I’ll focus on the most important stuff, the stuff I’m most excited about. The first half of 2017 we will launch more product than the entirety of 2016.

We’re focused on a couple of key areas, the first of which is data. How do we allow marketers to bring their own data to LinkedIn so that they are targeting audiences more effectively and then combine that with LinkedIn datasets in order to do things you just can’t do on any other platform? Such as bring their own email data, bring their own account lists, connect with their CRM systems, connect with their marketing automation systems and use website pixels so they can retarget visitors on the LinkedIn platform. Then layer LinkedIn’s unique understanding of a professional and who they are in their business life so that you can get in front of exactly the right audiences and you can put content in front of exactly right audiences.

The second big area is reporting and analytics. We have a ton of analytics and reporting efforts that we’re going to start rolling out early next year including website audience analytics and conversion tracking, which we started to roll out and will continue to iterate on.

The third big area is return on investment. How do we help marketers, particularly lead-gen marketers, that are trying to convert our members into the buyer’s or download case studies or register for events. How do we let them do that more effectively? We’re launching products like our lead-gen form product where without leaving LinkedIn and without having to go to a landing page a user can submit their LinkedIn profile information to a marketer. It goes right into their CRM system and right into their marketing automation system. It’s an incredible product particularly for the B2B marketer.

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January 17th 2017 B2B, Marketing

2H 2016 Quick Links, Part 10 (Marketing, Uber, Airbnb, Taxes & More)

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Marketing/Advertising

* Danny Sullivan: Facebook’s racial targeting isn’t new, bad or always illegal despite renewed attention

* In re Sling Media Slingbox Advertising Litigation (SDNY Aug. 12, 2016). Sling isn’t liable to consumers for adding its own ads to recorded videos without telling buyers that would happen.

* AdWeek: AdBlock Plus Is Launching a Marketplace for ‘Acceptable’ Ads, but Will It Just Infuriate Everyone? Also, NY Times: Adblock Plus, Created to Protect Users From Ads, Instead Opens the Door

* Digiday: Breitbart declares war on Kellogg’s after brand pulls advertising

* Bloomberg: “With the right guidance, he said, almost anyone could Instagram professionally. To prove it, he made me an offer: He’d help me become an influencer myself.”

* Bloomberg: FTC to Crack Down on Paid Celebrity Posts That Aren’t Clear Ads. Instagrammers, the FTC is COMING FOR YOU. More from TINA.org: EXPOSURE WITHOUT DISCLOSURE: CASHING IN WITH THE KARDASHIANS

* New York Law Journal: Schneiderman Announces More Astroturfing Settlements

* WSJ: Incredulous Judge Tosses Lawsuit Accusing Starbucks of Putting Too Much Ice in Cold Drinks. See Forouzesh v. Starbucks Corp., 2:16-cv-03830-PA-AGR (C.D. Cal. Aug. 19, 2016)

* Wurtzberger v. Kentucky Fried Chicken complaint. Allegations that the KFC “Family Fill Up meal” promotional photos show an overflowing bucket of chicken, while the actual product only contains a half-bucket of chicken. (Raising the obvious: maybe KFC should use a smaller bucket?)

* Amanda Scardamaglia & Angela Daly, Google, Online Search and Consumer Confusion in Australia, (2016) 42(3) International Journal of Law and Information Technology 203:

Australian consumers lack understanding about the operation and origin of the different elements of the Google search results page. They are best able to understand and identify ads, as compared to their understanding and identification of organic results and results from subsidiary services. There is particular confusion in relation to the operation and origin of Google’s Shopping service.

* Search Engine Land: Why are payday loan ads still showing on Google after the ban?

* Maureen K. Ohlhausen, Administrative Litigation at the FTC: Effective Tool for Developing the Law or Rubber Stamp, 10 J. Comp. L. & Econ. 1 (2016)

* CNN: Russian ‘methbot’ fraud steals $180 million in online ads

* TINA.org’s Worst List: 6 Class-Action Settlements That Missed the Mark

* TPW Management, LLC v. Yelp Inc., 2016 WL 6216879 (N.D. Cal. Oct. 25, 2016). No preliminary injunction against Yelp for the phrase “We Know Just the Place”

* In re Lenovo Adware Litigation, 2016 WL 6277245 (N.D. Cal. Oct. 27, 2016). Certifying two classes of buyers (indirect purchasers and CA purchasers) against Lenovo for pre-installing Superfish’s VisualDiscovery software.

* Adweek: How AT&T Benefited From Getting Out of the Way of Content Creators

* Vox: Why most cereal brands are discontinued within 5 years

Uber

* XYZ Two Way Radio Service, Inc. v. Uber Technologies, Inc., 2016 WL 5854224 (E.D.N.Y. Oct. 6, 2016):

No doubt, these statements are intended to convey the impression that Uber takes the safety of its passengers seriously. But they do so in terms that clearly fall within one or more of the accepted definitions of puffery. The overall tone is boastful and self-congratulatory. Many of the statements are couched in aspirational terms—“committed to,” “aim to,” “believe deeply”—that cannot be proven true or false….Others are vague and hyperbolic; if Uber literally set the “strictest safety standards possible” at the outset, it could not “improve them every day.” In sum, the Court concludes that the challenged statements cannot reasonably be understood as specific representations of objective facts.

* The Verge: How Uber secretly investigated its legal foes — and got caught

* NY Times: How Uber Drivers Decide How Long to Work

Airbnb

* MediaPost: Airbnb Drops Challenge To New York Advertising Law:

“Home sharing company Airbnb has dropped its attempt to block a New York state law that imposes fines of up to $7,500 on people who post ads for illegal rentals. Airbnb’s move came after New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman agreed that he wouldn’t seek to hold Airbnb liable for violations of the law….”

* NY Times: Airbnb Adopts Rules to Fight Discrimination by Its Hosts

* S.F. Chronicle: As city lowers boom, Airbnb and rivals thrive

* Cracked: 5 Apps That Have Rampant Discrimination Built In

* FTC: The “Sharing” Economy: Issues Facing Platforms, Participants & Regulators

Commerce

* Fortune: The Ugly Unethical Underside of Silicon Valley. Quoting Dave McClure as saying: “You know the saying ‘There’s a fine line between genius and insanity’? There’s probably a fine line between entrepreneurship and criminality.””

* Law.com: After Feds Drop FedEx Case, Watchers Say More Companies Might Gamble on Trials

* NY Times: Amazon Is Quietly Eliminating List Prices

* Bloomberg: Hampton Creek Ran Undercover Project to Buy Up Its Own Vegan Mayo

* NY Times: How Scalpers Make Their Millions With ‘Hamilton’

* Congress enacted the BOTS Act to suppress technological trickery in the distribution of event tickets.

* Rory Van Loo, The Corporation as Courthouse, 33 Yale J. REG. 547 (2016). From the introduction:

Although legal scholars have written thousands of pages about arbitration in recent years, they have largely ignored businesses’ internal processes for resolving consumer disputes.7 Yet these unexamined processes are pushing the bounds of dispute resolution beyond anything seen in courts or arbitration. The result sometimes conflicts with traditional notions of justice. For example, Bank of America recently developed big data software that considers the wealth of family members in deciding how to handle a customer’s request for a fee waiver.8 At the same time, new internal business processes are advancing societal goals in numerous ways, such as by making it ever more possible to obtain low-cost redress that preserves the relationship between the parties. Rolled out over hundreds of millions of disputes each year, the design of companies’ internal processes can influence efficiency, the distribution of wealth, and fairness on a massive scale….

In this largely private order, the corporation plays three key dispute resolution roles. The first is the customer service department handling disputes about its own products….The second main dispute resolution role is largely absent from the literature: when the corporation serves as a judge for disputes between its own consumers and independent, third-party sellers….The corporation plays a third key dispute resolution role as a reputation-based enforcement mechanism….

Taxes

* NY Times: San Francisco Considers Tax on Tech Companies to Pay for Boom’s Downside

* Techdirt: 46 California Cities Join Rush To Impose ‘Netflix Tax’

European Union

* Reuters: “Germany’s Justice Minister says he believes Facebook Inc. should be treated like a media company rather than a technology platform, suggesting he favors moves to make social media groups criminally liable for failing to remove hate speech.”

* NY Times: Europe Presses American Tech Companies to Tackle Hate Speech. Also, Facebook Runs Up Against German Hate Speech Lawsb

* NY Times: Google, Trying to Endear Itself to Europe, Spreads $450 Million Around

* Washington Post: 7 reasons why some Europeans hate the E.U.

Contracts

* Ars Technica: TOS agreements require giving up first born—and users gladly consent

* Wired: The EPA’s Fuel Efficiency Testing May Not Work. Like, at All. Government-mandated disclosures are expensive to produce but are supposed to be justified by being trustworthy for consumers. If they aren’t, that’s bad news for everyone.

* Oddee: 9 Weirdest Tattoo-Related Offers. My 2005 contracts exam and sample answer.

January 15th 2017 Marketing

We Don’t Sell Products, We Sell Change

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“I actually believe that we don’t sell products, we sell change,” says Tiffani Bova, Customer Growth and Transformation Evangelist at Salesforce. Bova was interviewing legendary speaker and author Seth Godin when she made that comment.

“What great marketers and great sales people and great organizations do is only one thing, as Michael Schrage has written about, we make change happen,” responded Godin. “My favorite example of this is Harley Davidson. Harley turns disrespected outsiders into respected insiders. That’s what they do. They make half of their revenue licensing their logo, because the logo, the totum, the uniform is a symbol of the change. You don’t even have to have a motorcycle to be changed by the brand.”

This is the company’s internal marketing positioning statement that illustrates the point that Bova and Godin are making:

The only motorcycle manufacturer
That makes big, loud motorcycles
For macho guys (and “macho wannabes”)
Mostly in the United States
Who want to join a gang of cowboys
In an era of decreasing personal freedom.

Per Inc. Magazine

Godin also talked colorfully about sales, marketing and social media:

“It all comes down to what story does the sales person tell himself when he shows up at work every morning. Trust and awareness are the two key things here. What we want isn’t email, we want me-mail. What we want isn’t to hear about you, we want to hear about us. We want to hear about our dreams, where we are going. Salespeople who get that, who show up at work everyday intent on making that happen, they don’t have a social media problem.”

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January 4th 2017 Marketing

2H 2016 Quick Links, Part 4 (Counterfeits and Olympics)

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“Counterfeits”

* Gucci v. Alibaba, Case 1:15-cv-03784-PKC (SDNY Aug. 4, 2016) (cites omitted):

Plaintiffs have failed to plausibly allege that the Merchant Defendants engaged in anything but independent conduct, without coordination and for their own economic self-interest. Indeed, the Merchant Defendants’ relationships with one another are not alleged to be any different from their relationships with the millions of other merchants operating on the Alibaba Marketplaces. True, the SAC alleges that each Merchant Defendant—and not legitimate merchants—engaged in fraudulent conduct with the purpose of profiting from the sale of counterfeit products, but it does not allege that they “‘associated together for a common purpose of engaging in a course of conduct.’” Nor does the SAC plausibly allege that these competing Merchants “work[ed] together to achieve such purposes.” The fraud perpetrated by each Merchant Defendant could be accomplished without any assistance from any other Merchant Defendant. The Merchant Defendants all operate from China and happen to sell counterfeit goods bearing Plaintiffs’ Marks. But there is no indication that the Merchant Defendants, “located in different parts of the country, came to an agreement to act together—or even how they knew each other.” Plausibly read, the SAC alleges only that each Merchant Defendant engaged in a pattern of racketeering activity “independently and without coordination.”

Plaintiffs argue that the existence of a relationship between and among the Merchant Defendants can be inferred from the Merchant Defendants participation in the Alibaba ecosystem. Plaintiffs contend, for instance, that the Merchant Defendants were aware of each other’s existence by virtue of operating within the Alibaba ecosystem. But the Alibaba Marketplaces consist of “millions of merchants.” Moreover, the Merchant Defendants operated on different Alibaba Marketplaces—some operate on Alibaba.com, and others operate on Taobao.com or AliExpress.com. In any event, a generalized awareness of the existence of a competitor does not establish the existence of an “interpersonal relationship.”

Plaintiffs also argue that the Merchant Defendants’ awareness of one another is evident from the fact that some Merchant Defendants sold counterfeit raw materials (i.e., leather emblazoned with Plaintiffs’ Marks), which they contend other Merchant Defendants could purchase to produce counterfeit products. But nowhere in the SAC do Plaintiffs allege that those raw materials were marketed to other Merchant Defendants. Nor do Plaintiffs allege that other Merchant Defendants’ purchased those raw materials. In fact, the SAC asserts that the two Merchant Defendants who sold raw materials indicated that North America was one of their “main markets,” rather than other producers in China. Alleging that the Merchant Defendants were aware of one another based on the fact that Merchant Defendants could have sold or purchased raw materials from another Merchant Defendant, especially where all the Merchant Defendants did not operate in the same Alibaba Marketplace, amounts to little more than a “‘naked assertion’ devoid of ‘further factual enhancement.’”

Nor does the fact that all the Merchant Defendants obtained common benefits from the Alibaba ecosystem demonstrate that a relationship existed between and among the Merchant Defendants. The Merchant Defendants obtained the benefits of the Alibaba ecosystem—such as marketing and shipping services—from the Alibaba Defendants, not from one another. While such allegations may imply a relationship between each Merchant Defendant and the Alibaba Defendants, one cannot infer that the Merchant Defendants acted in a coordinated manner by receiving common benefits. The Merchant Defendants did not “act in certain ways ‘to benefit’ one another,” rely on one another to accomplish their activities, or otherwise “function as a continuing unit.” Nothing about receiving benefits from the same source makes “it plausible that the Court is confronted with something more than parallel conduct of the same nature and in the same time frame by different actors in different locations.”

Plaintiffs also argue that the Merchant Defendants benefited from one another as a result of “self-reinforcing network effects that benefit” all participants in the Alibaba Marketplaces. The Merchant Defendants benefit, Plaintiffs argue, through “online retail clustering because . . . ‘more merchants attract more consumers, and more consumers attract more merchants.’” But the benefit that the Merchant Defendants received from one another as a result of selling counterfeit goods is no greater or different than the benefit that merchants selling genuine goods receive by operating in the Alibaba Marketplaces. Furthermore, these allegations still fail to show that the Merchant Defendants engaged in anything more than parallel conduct. Two stockbrokers, for example, both of whom engage in similar acts of securities fraud, are not bound by an interpersonal relationship just because their conduct targeted the same stock on the New York Stock Exchange. Boyle’s relationship requirement demands more—it demands plausible allegations that individuals operating within the ecosystem coordinated their conduct to accomplish a common purpose. Such allegations are missing in the present case.

* CNBC: Amazon’s plan to fight counterfeiters will cost legit sellers a ton

* Washington Post: This car company ripped off Land Rover. Here’s why it might get away with it.

The cars are basically indistinguishable unless you hone in on the exact stitching of the seats or the fine arrangement of the headlights. Even then, changes are so minuscule, it’s nearly impossible to realize one of these vehicles costs $41,000, and the other just $21,700.

British luxury carmaker Jaguar Land Rover and Chinese carmaker Jiangling will go to court this summer in China to settle their dispute over what exactly is fair game in the auto industry. Can Chinese companies continue to get away with “shanzhai” — a Chinese term for prideful counterfeiting — of car designs?

Olympics

* AdWeek: Here Are the Many, Many Ways Your Business Can Get in Trouble for Tweeting the Olympics

* NY Times: Olympic Cover-Up: Why You Won’t See Some Shoe Logos

* Adweek: 10 Ways Brands Are Talking About the Olympics Without Saying ‘Olympics’

December 31st 2016 Marketing

More Evidence Why Keyword Advertising Litigation Is Waning

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A venerable and classic Internet Law question: when a consumer uses a trademark as a search term, what are they looking for? If they are seeking the trademark owner–and only the trademark owner–then competitive keyword advertisers may encroach on the trademark owner’s goodwill and “steal” the trademark owner’s customers (and the search engine/ad network may be profiting from this “theft”). In contrast, if consumers have heterogeneous search objectives when using a trademarked search query, trademark law would overreach–in ways that would significantly harm social welfare–if it prevented ads from parties other than the trademark owner.

Nearly a decade ago, I argued–without empirical proof–that searchers had heterogeneous search objectives when using trademarks in search queries, which made competitive keyword advertising both permissible and desirable. Since then, some empirical studies have supported this argument, especially the Franklyn/Hyman study; see also the Tucker/Bechtold study.

A new empirical study, Jeffrey P. Dotson et al, Brand Attitudes and Search Engine Queries, 37 Journal of Interactive Marketing 105 (2016), provides further support for this conclusion. The study is based on a rich dataset: a time-series of actual Google search queries in the cellphone and automotive categories by opted-in consumers. The authors don’t consider the legal questions, but their conclusions buttress the perspective that consumers have heterogeneous motivations when they use trademarks in their search queries.

The authors say:

there are many reasons a user might submit a brand search query. Users who are shopping in a category are more likely to search for any brand in the category; users are more likely to search for brands for which they hold positive attitudes; users who own a brand are more likely to search for the brand; and users who are category enthusiasts are more likely to search for all brands in the category.

They provide some additional details:

We also find evidence that that customers who are actively shopping are more likely to search for any brand in the category. Customers who indicated that they made a purchase or intended to make a purchase (“In-Market”) during the observation period were significantly more likely to search for any brand (1.4 times more likely for both categories). Similarly, customers who indicated that they “always pay attention to the category so that they know when to buy” are more likely to search for all brands in the category (1.4 times more likely for smartphones and 1.2 for vehicles.)…

We also find that owning a particular smartphone or vehicle brand is a very strong predictor of brand search, with the odds of searching being 2.5 times greater for brand owners versus non-owners in the smartphone category and 3.5 times greater in the vehicle category. This large increase in brand search among owners (regardless of whether that user is actively shopping), could be partially due to owners searching for information about how to use the product….

customers who are highly engaged in a category are more likely to search for brands in that category, even when they are not in market. The two categories that we studied, smartphones and automobiles, are categories where a high percentage of the population has enduring product importance and would be expected to continue to engage in product search even when they are not actively shopping (Bloch and Richins, 1983). For these types of categories, brand managers should keep in mind that a substantial volume of search is coming from these “enthusiasts,” whose interest in brands many not reflect the larger community of potential shoppers…

The authors also note that technological innovation will continue to shape consumer search behavior:

In the future, search behavior is likely to evolve as technology and search engines evolve. Search engine providers are constantly innovating to make search results more useful and this could lead to major shifts in brand-search volume that have nothing to do with how consumers perceive those brands….

Overall, this study provides further evidence that consumer motivations behind search queries are complex and diverse. Because of this, the evidence is making it provably false that a searcher using a trademark in their search query is looking only for the trademark owner. So if you still hope to argue that consumers searching for the brand want only that brand, bring some citations.

I’ve repeatedly declared that the keyword advertising litigation wars are over, and the primary reason is that we have scant evidence that competitive keyword ads confuse consumers in a way that trademark law recognizes (or should recognize). The Dotson et al study provides more reason to believe that searchers want a broad range of information in response to a trademark search query, and trademark law should support, not thwart, that outcome.

Blog Posts on Competitive Keyword Advertising

* Court Dumps Crappy Trademark & Keyword Ad Case–ONEPul v. BagSpot

* AdWords Buys Using Geographic Terms Support Personal Jurisdiction–Rilley v. MoneyMutual

* FTC Sues 1-800 Contacts For Restricting Competitive Keyword Advertising

* Competitive Keyword Advertising Lawsuit Will Go To A Jury–Edible Arrangements v. Provide Commerce

* Texas Ethics Opinion Approves Competitive Keyword Ads By Lawyers

* Court Beats Down Another Competitive Keyword Advertising Lawsuit–Beast Sports v. BPI

* Another Murky Opinion on Lawyers Buying Keyword Ads on Other Lawyers’ Names–In re Naert

* Keyword Ad Lawsuit Isn’t Covered By California’s Anti-SLAPP Law

* Confusion From Competitive Keyword Advertising? Fuhgeddaboudit

* Competitive Keyword Advertising Permitted As Nominative Use–ElitePay Global v. CardPaymentOptions

* Google And Yahoo Defeat Last Remaining Lawsuit Over Competitive Keyword Advertising

* Mixed Ruling in Competitive Keyword Advertising Case–Goldline v. Regal

* Another Competitive Keyword Advertising Lawsuit Fails–Infogroup v. DatabaseLLC

* Damages from Competitive Keyword Advertising Are “Vanishingly Small”

* More Defendants Win Keyword Advertising Lawsuits

* Another Keyword Advertising Lawsuit Fails Badly

* Duplicitous Competitive Keyword Advertising Lawsuits–Fareportal v. LBF (& Vice-Versa)

* Trademark Owners Just Can’t Win Keyword Advertising Cases–EarthCam v. OxBlue

* Want To Know Amazon’s Confidential Settlement Terms For A Keyword Advertising Lawsuit? Merry Christmas!

* Florida Allows Competitive Keyword Advertising By Lawyers

* Another Keyword Advertising Lawsuit Unceremoniously Dismissed–Infostream v. Avid

* Another Keyword Advertising Lawsuit Fails–Allied Interstate v. Kimmel & Silverman

* More Evidence That Competitive Keyword Advertising Benefits Trademark Owners

* Suing Over Keyword Advertising Is A Bad Business Decision For Trademark Owners

* Florida Proposes to Ban Competitive Keyword Advertising by Lawyers

* More Confirmation That Google Has Won the AdWords Trademark Battles Worldwide

* Google’s Search Suggestions Don’t Violate Wisconsin Publicity Rights Law

* Amazon’s Merchandising of Its Search Results Doesn’t Violate Trademark Law

* Buying Keyword Ads on People’s Names Doesn’t Violate Their Publicity Rights

* With Its Australian Court Victory, Google Moves Closer to Legitimizing Keyword Advertising Globally

* Yet Another Ruling That Competitive Keyword Ad Lawsuits Are Stupid–Louisiana Pacific v. James Hardie

* Another Google AdWords Advertiser Defeats Trademark Infringement Lawsuit

* With Rosetta Stone Settlement, Google Gets Closer to Legitimizing Billions of AdWords Revenue

* Google Defeats Trademark Challenge to Its AdWords Service

* Newly Released Consumer Survey Indicates that Legal Concerns About Competitive Keyword Advertising Are Overblown

December 28th 2016 Marketing

Instagram Beginning To Look A Lot Like Snapchat

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Instagram announced today the ability to add stickers to your posts, just like Snapchat. The stickers will be both for the consumer like Snapchat, but more importantly will also be targeted at businesses which are looking for creative ways to promote their products and services.

“Now you have new ways to turn any business moment into something you want to share with your followers,” posted the Instagram blog team. “No matter where your business is or what you’re up to, you can add context to your story with stickers.”

Instagram also announced that on iOS you can now save your entire business story from the past 24 hours to your camera roll as a single video.

How to Use Stickers on Instagram

Simply take a photo and video and then click the new stickers button which is right next to the text and drawing buttons. They say you can “tap the smiley face to find customizable stickers for weather, the current time and even your location.”

December 21st 2016 Marketing, Social Media

How Chrome Digital Signage Drove Traffic to The Statue of Liberty Website

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I ran across a story on Google’s Connected Workspaces blog how digital signage powered by Google Chrome was used to drive website traffic to the Statue of Liberty and to make the store underneath it more engaging.

Evelyn Hill, the gift shop under the Statue of Liberty on Ellis Island, wanted to emulate a photo contest they saw promoting a remote national park in Florida called Dry Tortugas. They were told to contact BlackDogscreen-shot-2016-12-13-at-5-35-36-pm Advertising based in Miami, Florida, which created a cool kiosk in their visitor center showing photos where people were vying to win a $500 prize. The Evelyn Hill gift shop wanted that too.

“We took on the challenge of transforming Evelyn Hill’s gift shop and restaurant, the Crown Cafe, into a visitor destination, and driving traffic to thestatueofliberty.com,” says John W. Penney, creative director and CEO of BlackDog Advertising.

Evelyn Hill was interested in replicating the photo contest. “This time, we’d be creating a live photo feed so visitors could see images as they were uploaded” Penney said. “My company had a great experience using Chrome devices before, so we decided to use Chrome digital signage devices because they are easy to deploy, cost effective and make content management a breeze.”

screen-shot-2016-12-13-at-5-34-42-pm

Penney says that “the photo contest has driven incredible engagement” with over 21,700 photo votes cast, both in person and online. The website saw a 270% increase in traffic but more importantly, the kiosk itself has become a very engaging part of the visitor experience. Because of this the store is looking at ways to expand the photo contest to more locations on Ellis. Best of all, it’s a very inexpensive way to increase website traffic and also make the visit to their Ellis Island store more fun.

How To Do It For Your Business

To drive high engagement, we created live-updating digital signs to draw visitors into the Crown Cafe and engage them in the photo contest. Monitors are powered by Google Chromebits that are remotely operated using Chrome Device Management, so the cafe can easily display contest results. Meanwhile, visitors can use the #PictureLiberty hashtag to share their photos on the Statue of Liberty website and encourage their friends to vote for their submission.

The flexibility of Chrome lets us optimize signage solutions. With Chrome Device Management we were able to easily install WooBox, which collected contest photos from social media, on all of our managed devices (in this case, Chromebits). We don’t want to deliver cookie-cutter solutions to our customers, and Chrome enables us to build solutions that stand out from the crowd.

Using Chrome also helped keep the campaign cost effective. Since Chrome Sign Builder is free to use and the photo content is user-generated, hardware was the only cost. Each of Liberty Island’s four units cost just $109, including access to Chrome Device Management, which allowed us to easily install apps on the Chromebits. Achieving this low cost would have been impossible with any other digital signage solution.

Read more of the post by BlackDog Advertising’s John W. Penney on Google’s Connected Workspaces blog.

The post How Chrome Digital Signage Drove Traffic to The Statue of Liberty Website appeared first on WebProNews.

December 19th 2016 Google, Marketing

Backpage Executives Defeat Pimping Charges Per Section 230–People v. Ferrer

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When Kamala Harris’ office filed pimping charges against three Backpage executives, I wondered: why now? why pimping? After all, in 2013, California AG Kamala Harris signed a letter to Congress saying that Section 230 “prevents State and local law enforcement agencies from prosecuting” Backpage, and California’s pimping crime was available to Harris’ office in 2013. So when the California AG’s office nevertheless prosecuted Backpage’s executives, surely the office lawyers had some clever tricks up their sleeves to get around Section 230…right?

Nope. A California Superior Court confirmed that Harris was right in 2013, and indeed Section 230 clearly prevents the prosecution. I’m not a malicious prosecution expert, but how should we handle a situation where an AG’s office publicly declares that it cannot successfully win a prosecution, brings it anyway, and the court dismisses the prosecution for exactly the reason the AG’s office publicly predicted?

The Sister Sites

The AG’s biggest “reveal” was that Backpage’s executives were implementing two sister sites, Big City and Evil Empire, both of which republished information from listings placed at Backpage. I still don’t fully understand either site, but I believe one site sought to optimize ad searchability by cellphone number (apparently a popular way to find prostitutes), and the other was intended to sanitize Backpage ads enough to get an iPhone app approved by Apple. Both efforts suggest that the Backpage executives sought to expand their monetization of Backpage’s database of prostitution ad listings (indeed, the email conversations included in the state’s exhibits read like typical dot com entrepreneurial chatter), a move that clearly aggravated the prosecutors.

But from a legal standpoint, these sites were just another syndication outlet for the third party ads, and the court flatly says “Republication is entitled to immunity under the CDA,” citing the California Supreme Court case of (Barrett v. Rosenthal). Moreover, the court reiterates that third party content always retains that status, no matter where or how it is republished. Citing Kimzey, the court adds “courts have repeatedly held that an online service provider is protected whether he publishes third‐party content for the first time, or republishes it for the nth time. To find the source of the liability for the unlawful or actionable content, one must trace the pedigree of the statement.”

If the AG’s office thought Backpage’s syndication to its sister sites was its big “gotcha,” I question how well it critically assessed the weaknesses of its case.

Reframing the Big City/Evil Empire republications as a slicing-and-dicing/remixing of third party ads would not change the outcome:

the only “manipulation” would be in the act of extracting the content from the original ad and/or from the act of physically posting the extracted content on a new site. This is not prohibited activity. Indeed, it generally falls within the scope of protected editorial functions. [cites to Doe v. Backpage, Fields v. Twitter, Jones v. Dirty World]

Backpage’s addition to the ads

The fact that Backpage added one line to each Big City profile (“Interested in men,” “Interested in women” or “Interested in everyone”) “was not a material contribution to the offensive nature of the material.” [cites to Phan v. Pham and Kimzey v. Yelp]. The court adds:

assuming that the People’s assertion is true; that the ad went from expressing intent to advertise prostitution to express a desire to “date,” the People are essentially complaining that Backpage staff scrubbed the original ad, removing any hint of illegality. If this was the alleged content “manipulation,” the content was modified from being illegal to legal. Surely the AG is not seeking to hold Defendants liable for posting a legal ad; this behavior is exactly the type of “good Samaritan” behavior that the CDA encourages through the grant of immunity.

I like where the judge is going, but the reasoning seems almost too clever. If Backpage converts prostitution ads into ads for “legal” dating, then Backpage added falsity to the ads and is sending interested daters unwittingly into a network of prostitutes. Perhaps that creates a claim for false advertising, not pimping, but the court seems to be saying that Backpage created “false legal ads,” which should be an oxymoron.

Other Arguments

Scienter

Let’s assume everyone, including the Backpage executives, “knew” that prostitution ads were on Backpage with Backpage’s encouragement. The court says knowledge is irrelevant to Section 230 (cites to Barrett and Jones v. Dirty World), and there is no “encouragement” exception to Section 230 (cite to Jones, Ascentive v. Opinion, Roommates.com and Black v. Google).

Publicity Rights

To get around Section 230, the AG’s office tried a mockable argument that Backpage violated the victims’ publicity rights, so Section 230 didn’t protect Backpage. I can’t believe the AG’s office tried this argument; it’s so specious that it should have been left on the cutting room floor. Among other obvious problems, the AG’s office wasn’t prosecuting the defendants for publicity rights violations or a crime where publicity rights violations are a predicate. It was prosecuting for pimping, which has nothing to do with publicity rights. The court says that the AG’s office lacks standing to assert the victims’ publicity rights, and Section 230 protects efforts to expand the reach of third party content (cite to the Asia Economics v. Xcentric case, and there are several other cases in this line, such as Obado v. Magedson and Roca v. Opinion).

Profiting from Prostitution Ads

Backpage’s advertising revenue from the illegal ads does not affect the Section 230 analysis:

Providing a forum for online publishing is a recognized legal purpose that is generally provided immunity under the CDA. This immunity has been extended by the courts to apply to functions traditionally associated with publishing decisions, such as accepting payment for services and editing….In fact, the People acknowledge that the mere act of accepting money for postings is permissible.

The Bollaert case

I previously mentioned that this summer’s ruling in the Bollaert revenge porn operation case might have contributed to the AG’s decision to sue now. Not surprisingly, the AG’s office made a big point about the Bollaert case in its briefing. The court distinguished it:

Bollaert required the entry of unlawful information by the user, which fell into the narrow exception to immunity recognized by Roommates….Here, there are no allegations that Backpage required a third‐party user to provide any protected information when the original ad is placed. As the information posted on EvilEmpire and BigCity is mostly taken from the original ad, Defendants did not “design to solicit” protected content as a condition to placing the ad. In fact, according to the exhibits attached by the People, Backpage moderators were instructed to look for offending material and remove it.

Implications

Fundamentally, the AG’s office failed to persuade the judge that it was prosecuting Backpage for its first party conduct rather than for the third party ads. The court concludes:

the prostitution took place as a result of an advertisement placed by a third party. Backpage’s decision to charge money to allow a third party to post content, as well as any decisions regarding posting rules, search engines and information on how a user can increase ad visibility are all traditional publishing decisions and are generally immunized under the CDA. In short, the victimization resulted from the third party’s placement of the ad, not because Backpage profiting from the ad placement.

This court doesn’t discuss the Airbnb v. San Francisco ruling, but it dealt with similar issues. That case also addressed ads for illegal services, but San Francisco imposed liability only when Airbnb takes a cut of the illegal transaction. The court said imposing liability there successfully regulated Airbnb’s first party conduct rather than holding Airbnb liable for third party ads, so Section 230 didn’t protect Airbnb. (We’ll see how that ruling fares on appeal to the Ninth Circuit). In this case, the analogy would be if Backpage acted as the payment service provider for the illegal prostitution transaction and kept a cut for itself. In contrast, the Airbnb court implies that running a classified ad service that contains illegal ads is still covered by Section 230 (Airbnb “may consider charging fees for publishing listings, rather than for facilitating transactions — a measure San Francisco concedes is lawful”), and that reasoning seems to help Backpage.

The Backpage court reaches essentially the same result by concluding that the AG’s office is seeking to hold the defendants liable for third party ads, no matter how the AG’s office articulates the pimping complaint:

This Court finds it difficult to see any illegal behavior outside of the reliance upon the content of speech created by others. The whiff of illegality is detected only when considering the alleged content of the statements contained in the ads. Indeed, the theory of prosecution requires the presumption that illegal content was contained in the ads, i.e., that the ads were explicitly for prostitution.

The court summarizes its holding:

The People of the State of California have a strong and legitimate interest in combating human trafficking by all available legal means. Moreover, any rational mind would concur that the selling of minors for the purpose of sex is particularly horrifying and the government has a right and a duty to protect these most vulnerable victims. The State’s legitimate interest is not absolute, however, and must be constrained by the interests and protections of the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution….By enacting the CDA, Congress struck a balance in favor of free speech by providing for both a foreclosure from prosecution and an affirmative defense at trial for those who are deemed an internet service provider.

Kamala Harris issued a statement in response to the ruling:

I am extremely disappointed and disagree with the court’s ruling. The Communications Decency Act was not meant to be a shield from criminal prosecution for perpetrators of online brothels. The evidence is clear — these defendants are responsible for personally creating and publishing the content that was used to pimp and traffic victims on their websites. I remain undeterred in my commitment to fight human trafficking and pursue every avenue under the law to hold them accountable. We will not turn a blind eye to the defendants’ exploitative behavior simply because they conducted their criminal enterprise online rather than on a street corner. To all those who have been victimized by pimps online and trafficked through ‪Backpage.com, you are not alone and the fight for justice is not over. We are exploring all legal options and will continue to advocate for all victims and to aggressively prosecute those who prey on and exploit the vulnerable.

Disappointed? Sure. But undoubtedly not surprised, and definitely embarrassed. I’m thrilled that Kamala Harris and the AG’s office remains committed to fighting sex trafficking. I’m less thrilled that prosecuting Backpage’s executives was probably a diversion of resources from that goal. Still, as the statement strongly suggests, I anticipate the AG’s office will appeal the ruling before Harris’ departure. (Indeed, it would only make sense that, when the AG’s office decided to bring the prosecution, they anticipated they would appeal an adverse lower court ruling). We’ll have to see how zealously Harris’ replacement, Xavier Becerra, pursues the appeal he inherits.

Meanwhile, incoming U.S. Senator Kamala Harris now has the power to attempt a direct modification of Section 230, just as she requested in 2013. Congress already passed the SAVE Act to shut down Backpage. Will that be enough for her? Or will she prioritize Section 230 reform, even if that jeopardizes the Silicon Valley economic engine that supports a large percentage of her constituents?

Case citation: People v. Ferrer, Case No. 16FE019224 (Cal. Super. Ct. Dec. 9, 2016)

Case library:

* Trial court’s final ruling granting the demurrer
* California’s Supplemental Brief in Opposition to Defendants’ Demurrer to Felony Complaint and defendants’ response
* Trial court’s tentative ruling dismissing the charges
* Reply to the opposition to the demurrer
* California’s opposition to the demurrer
* Demurrer, statement of Lacey and Larkin, and letter to AG Harris
* Criminal Complaint
* Declaration in support of arrest warrant and warrant
* Press Release, Attorney General Kamala D. Harris Announces Criminal Charges Against Senior Corporate Officers of Backpage.com for Profiting from Prostitution and Arrest of Carl Ferrer, CEO
* Press Release, AG Paxton: Arrest of Backpage.com CEO Shows Texas Doesn’t Tolerate Human Trafficking
* My blog post: Some Comments on the CA/TX Attorneys’ General Prosecution of Backpage’s Executives

December 16th 2016 Marketing

LinkedIn Makes Spamming Contacts Easy With Conversation Starters… Fun!

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LinkedIn added Conversation Starters to their messaging platform, making contacting people you never speak to so easy, even a fifth grader can do it! Let’s get started:

Let’s say you’re a salesman and you want to contact someone you have never talked to before about buying your product. This is always a dilemma, right? Hmm… what should be my opening line? Well, LinkedIn has now made this easy by giving me handy conversation starters.

All I have to do is click the lightbulb. Great!! ”</p

December 8th 2016 Marketing, Social Media

5 Reasons Adding a Number to Your Blog Post Titles Increases Page Views

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You should add a number to at least half of your blog posts according to a successful small business marketing blogger. What he really means is that list formatted posts, such as 4 Best Ways to Make Money Blogging, 10 Incredible Gmail Tricks and Tips or 4 Best Ways to Make Money Blogging… are extremely effective in driving social sharing which also leads to linking which is great for search ranking.

“Over the past three years, I’ve crafted titles for over 5,000 blog posts and have received over 58 million unique visitors to date,” said Brandon Gaille in a guest post on Google’s Inside AdSense blog. “With that many titles and that much traffic, it’s allowed me to identify what types of titles get the most traffic.”

Gaille has been on a tear over the past 3 years, founding business advice site BrandonGaille.com which now has over 2 million monthly visitors. Galille has since parlayed that success into offering a course called The Blog Millionaire for others to learn how to make millions too. “The overwhelming success of his blog system led Brandon to create an online course to guide bloggers and businesses down the same proven path of success that his clients pay him up to $100,000/year for,” said Galille on LinkedIn. There is currently a waiting list to join the course!

5 Reasons Adding a Number to Your Article Titles Increase Traffic

1. Placing a Number Gives Users What They Are Used To!

Call it the BuzzFeed effect, but lists drive traffic and a number in the title signifies a list. It’s really that simple.

“Titles that begin with numbers are proving to drive traffic,” says Gaille. “This is largely due to the increased consumption of users reading list posts more than any other type of blog post. A list post typically has anywhere from seven to forty key points, which are listed out numerically.”

2. List Posts Are Shared the Most on Social

People love to share List Posts on social media like Facebook and sharing can supercharge your traffic. Why not play into the social media game and give them what they want, short, easy to digest sharable content.

3. Odd Numbers in Titles Are 20% More Effective

“Although no one has figured out exactly why this happens, the odd numbered titles get more clicks than the even numbered titles,” said Gaille.

I think it’s probably because it sounds more legit, not made up. For instance, if somebody posts the 10 best ways to drive traffic, people will inherently think that the writer thought of 10 points and stopped thinking. However, if it was the 7 best, it sounds as if these are actually what the author thinks are truly best.

4. People Love to Link to Lists Which Makes for Great SEO

Search engine optimization is driven by links and what better way to get links than to get your content shared on social. So part of your SEO strategy should be to write content that people want to link to and then not only will they link in their own blogs but they will also get the word out by sharing your posts on Twitter, Reddit, Facebook and many other places.

5. Gaining a List Site Reputation Will Cause Repeat Traffic

Just like Brandon Gaille has discovered, writing lots of list style posts and including a number in the title gives you traction as a place people want to go. People like simple straight forward easy to read advice and that’s what Gaille delivers. Those who are looking for something to share on social or for inspiration on an article (like this one) find list sites a great destination source.

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December 6th 2016 Facebook, Google, Marketing, Search, SEO