theEweekly Wrap: Canadians, copycats and kids
|Just say no||Google was in trouble with the law this week after it emerged that illegal products were being promoted through its AdWords PPC system. The US Department of Justice (DoJ) was investigating adverts promoting Canadian pharmacies; companies that illegally ship prescription drugs into the US. By using methods such as bidding on misspellings of popular drugs, pharmacies could circumvent Google’s restrictions and make their ads appear in search results.
In order to prevent a criminal prosecution, Google has paid a $500 million (£306 million) fine. This represents the revenue generated for Google by the ads, and what the pharmacies earned from selling drugs. According to the DoJ, Google was “aware as early as 2003” of Canadian pharmacies and their illegal AdWords practices, but continued providing “customer support” and advice to these advertisers until 2009. Meanwhile, Google issued a statement claiming they had banned such adverts “some time ago”, while a pharmacy accreditation programme was launched at the beginning of the year.
|If you can’t buy ’em, copy ’em||The New York Times reported in a blog post on Wednesday that Facebook intends to introduce photo filters to its mobile application. Filters are a way of changing the appearance of a photo, usually to make it look a bit retro; the technique has been popularised recently by mobile apps including Instagram and Hipstamatic. The report cites two unnamed Facebook engineers, who say about twelve filters will be released.
The mysterious insiders also claimed that Facebook recently tried to buy Instagram, but was refused. A recent leak led to speculation that Facebook would be releasing a standalone photo sharing app very similar to Instagram, but with the ability to tag friends or locations. Combining this with a creative aspect could certainly be a recipe for success, although Gizmodo.com voiced the opinion that bringing filters to the masses would “ruin it for everyone”.
|The junior consumer||A new study has revealed how children respond to online advertising. The research, published by Turner Media Innovations and the Internet Advertising Bureau (IAB) UK, is the first of its kind and concluded that children are much more ‘considered’ and ‘deliberate’ in their online behaviour than adults. Using eye-tracking technology and focus groups, it was found that children aged between six and 12 do not want to be interrupted in their “mission for fun”, and are therefore unlikely to be distracted by or spontaneously click on an advert. Furthermore, the children surveyed were able to recognise different online advertising formats.
Interestingly, TV channels, shops and toy brands that the child’s parents trust in the offline world were viewed as more trustworthy by the children themselves; advertising on these sites was consequently viewed as more credible. Meanwhile, according to UKOM stats the most visited site among all 6-12 year olds was Club Penguin (pictured), a Disney-owned “virtual world for kids guided by an unwavering commitment to safety and creativity”. 8 per cent of all children surveyed regularly visited the site, which contains no third-party advertising.