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theEweekly Wrap: Google, BBC advertising and AdWords court case

Coalition Transmission The BBC may be about to embark on the “unthinkable”, as talks open regarding the possibility of showing government adverts for free. Francis Maude, the driving force behind Whitehall’s austerity measures, said that Labour spent £450 million on advertising during their last year in government.

The idea has met with indignation from other television providers as well as advocates of the BBC’s long-standing “no advertising” rule and independence from government. Meanwhile, the BBC revised editorial guidelines on product prominence, and apologised for the “cumulative effect” of product prominence in 2009’s ‘Harry Potter Day’.

War of the Roses Interflora has taken Marks & Spencer to court over their use of Google AdWords. Earlier this year saw Google make the decision to let marketers buy brand names as keywords for PPC campaigns, in theory to allow retailers to advertise which brands they stock.

However, M&S is the latest brand accused of trying to ‘piggy-back’ on another company’s reputation. Allegedly, they have purchased ‘Interflora’ as a keyword so that a sponsored link for the M&S Flowers shop appears in the same box as the link for the 180-year-old florist. M&S described the purchase of branded keywords as “industry wide practice” and “not unlawful”.

Google domination Google are continuing to change the world with a string of innovations and investments. This week saw the testing of a self-driving car, as well as the launch of Sony’s Google TV hardware. A Blu-ray player and a 24-inch LCD HDTV will set you back $1,000 (£620), whilst the remote control features around 80 buttons.

This week also saw Google making a major investment in wind power company Atlantic Wind Connection, currently building a 6,000-strong network of offshore turbines stretching from New Jersey to Virginia. Another exciting product on the horizon is the automatically-translating telephone, which was discussed by Eric Schmidt at the TechCrunch conference in September, and given a demo (in English-German only) at IFA by Product Management Director Hugo Barra.

Dangerous.ly URL shortener vb.ly was seized last week by the Libyan authorities, who operate the .ly domain. The Libyan domain registry NIC.ly clarified that the landing page image of vb.ly founder Violet Blue bare-armed and drinking beer was considered too offensive to be hosted by the country’s domain, but most importantly, vb.ly was a self-proclaimed ‘sex-positive’ site. Although they hosted no adult or risqué material, the decision to be open and non-discriminatory about gender and sexuality was deemed inappropriate.

Sexless domain users such as bit.ly and ow.ly can therefore breathe a sigh of relief, although they will have to be careful with what content they host in future to avoid falling foul of the same moral code. Of course, the recently-launched goo.gl URL shortener could soon dominate the market anyway, and it’s unlikely that Greenland will be easily offended.

Written by Rachel Hand

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