Digital Download 7-07-08


Some advertisers may believe the web (from online video to social networking) is the ideal playground for the young adult consumer but there has been emerging data that supports the theory that senior citizens are also internet savvy, if not more so, in this realm. According to the AARP and the Center for the Digital Future at the USC Annenberg School for Communication, 42% of American citizens over the age of 50 check the Web for news daily or several times a day, compared to just 18% of users under 20. Also, there’s a reported increase of this demographic using the Internet for fun and interaction. When it comes to social media, 70% of consumers age 50 and up said that their online community was "very" or "extremely" important to them. In contrast, just about half of all social network members under age 20 said the same. "Baby boomers are the most socially educated population ever," said Davis, a self-defined Boomer. "They may read the paper, or even go on the Web to get their information, but they're constantly networking with people to verify and expand their knowledge, and that's something we're seeing reflected in their activity on our site."


LG Mobile, Ford Motor Co. and Microsoft are a few of the big brands that are using hands-free marketing and advertising campaigns to encourage consumers to stop talking and texting while driving. Their promotions give away everything from free handsets to advice, and are aimed at driving good will during a time when lost jobs and rising fuel and foods costs are curbing personal budgets. LG Mobile gave away more than 1,000 LG Bluetooth headsets last Thursday at the Petersen Automotive Museum in Los Angeles. Experts were on hand to help consumers pair headsets with mobile phones. LG reached out to wireless bloggers to build buzz for the promotion and sent wireless headsets to local TV and radio station traffic reporters. After July 1, Headsets.com will send consumers a free headset if they are cited for driving while talking or texting on a cell phone. A study released earlier this month from ABI Research estimates that 2.4 billion Bluetooth-enabled devices will ship worldwide by 2013. More than half are cellular handsets and a quarter are wireless headsets.


There was a lot of anger in the blogosphere last week over The Associated Press’s assertion that some blogs were infringing its copyright by publishing excerpts of its articles. Jim Kennedy, an Associated Press vice president, said that the news agency now feels its demand was heavy-handed and was rethinking its policies. The current seven blog posts in question emerged on the Drudge Retort and contained short excerpts of A.P. articles. Last week, the A.P. demanded that the Drudge Retort remove the posts because they violated its copyright. Mr. Kennedy now says the news agency plans to create new guidelines for how blogs can use its material, after discussions with representatives of blogging groups and others. Mr. Kennedy said the association hadn’t withdrawn its copyright complaint and even small parts of articles and headlines are valuable and should be protected. In reaction to what Mr. Kennedy said, Michael Arrington declared on TechCrunch: “So here’s our new policy on A.P. stories: they don’t exist.” Jeff Jarvis, on BuzzMachine, wrote: “Back off, A.P. Because we won’t.” More important, the A.P. could well offer bloggers a safe harbor to use its content under certain circumstances without asserting a claim that every use beyond that line is copyright infringement.


Behaviorally targeted advertising, which is expected to grow 60% by 2112, holds the promise of relevant advertising and greater revenues from ad inventory. But consumers are sensitive both to their behavior being tracked online and to the constant influx of marketing messages beamed at them. One way of directly addressing consumer concerns is by making ad targeting truly opt-in rather than opt-out. And for consumers to sign on, marketers will need to offer clear trade-offs, including access to valued media such as movies and prime TV shows, marketing messages that speak directly to the individual's current needs, and downloads and discounts.


The New York Times reports that social networks like MySpace and Facebook have helped Obama's campaign revolutionize the use of the Web as a campaign fundraising tool, as Obama raised more than two million donations of less than $200 each with the help of Chris Hughes who was one of the original founders of Facebook.

 The center of that movement has been My.BarackObama.com, an interactive community site for his supporters. As the candidate himself said in a statement, "One of my fundamental beliefs from my days as a community organizer is that real change comes from the bottom up, and there's no more powerful tool for grass-roots organizing than the Internet." Peter Daou, NY Senator Hillary Clinton's Internet director, recently described Obama's online reach as "amazing," adding that, "their use of social networks will guide the way for future campaigns." Learning from this case study, team Obama is now applying the same strategies to win the general election, but this time, The Times notes, they will need to expand beyond young, Internet-savvy supporters to reach the general public.


As print newspapers' classifieds ad sales drop, more money for auto, real estate, jobs, and garage sale ads grow online. Craigslist still remains at the top of online classifieds. Analysts who follow Web classifieds closely agree the space is in flux. Even Wal-Mart has gotten in the free listings game, and Microsoft recently shut down their version, Windows Live Expo. While most listings on Craigslist are free, the site charges for some real estate listings. "I think they have not known exactly how to position that product," said Sterling of Google. Now, the company seems to be focused on using it as a service for individuals, small businesses, and firms with large listings feeds such as Cars.com and CareerBuilder to post ads or upload data that can then be found on Google's main search site. While Craigslist clearly leads as a destination for all sorts of classifieds, from collectibles to casual encounters, some think a new entry could attract lots of users without necessarily competing with Craigslist. One of the primary reasons for Craigslist's success is its communal sensibility; regular users feel a connection to the site and its other visitors.


A federal judge has ordered Google to turn over information on YouTube users to Viacom as part of the media conglomerate's $1 billion copyright infringement suit against Google. The information will include the Internet protocol addresses and viewing history of YouTube visitors, raising concerns among privacy advocates that the information could be used to identify individual users. The two companies have both said they would take steps to prevent the information from being made public, and Viacom said it would not use the data to target individual users for copyright violation.

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