Google threats against Groupon day by day

Since Groupon refused to be acquired by Google, so-called BigG is still playing its chess match in the ‘Coupon arena’ by strategic moves.
Firstly it rolled out its own offers in a few cities like NYC, Boston, San Francisco, Washington DC and Portland.

Then it acquired the Deal Map, a nice aggregator of deals and coupon which locates on the world map all those deals currently available.

Finally a couple of moves happened very close one to another. Few days ago Google acquired the Berlin-based Daily Deals, the Groupon copycat operating in Germany Switzerland and Austria. Curiously, at almost the same time the Chicago Tribune newspaper reports that Marco Georgiadis resigned as chief operating officer at Groupon Inc.and he will return to his former employer: Google again.

I don’t know if, from the legal standpoint,  Mr Georgiadis can operate in Google as President of Americas without falling in grey situations in which he could play an unfair competition against his former employer Groupon. Whatever we might think, it is sure that Google will have a great pawn to play harder its chess match.


M&S vs Interflora. An example of Advertising grey areas

I found an interesting Econsultancy article which resume a curious dispute between M&S and Interflora. It is all about the right of M&S to bid on ‘Interflora’ keyword.

For who is not keen in web advertising you just need to know a couple of things.

Firstly, when you plan to advertise on the web in order to be seen by your potential customers you need to design your banners or your text-ads linked to some keywords. If for example I own a shop called ‘JB’ located in London and I sell flowers, it is normal that I advertise on the web with adverts linked to keywords such as ‘JB’, ‘flowers’ and ‘flowers in London’.

Secondly, if I am ‘JB’ I can even write ads with the keyword ‘Interflora’ inside, like saying ‘JB sells flowers faster than Interflora’. I can do that, but as all other traditional media, this is comparative advertisement and it must follow some additional rules.

This dispute is interesting because well shows some complexities behind advertisement lawfulness.

1) Trademark law features grey areas, especially in advertising.

In advertising any advert should not be ‘misleading’. That’s it. How can you measure the threshold of being misleading? You must refer to the “average person” feelings and perceptions. For example, if I send you the typical banner ‘you will become a millionaire’ and you click, after you have not many reasons you didn’t become a millionaire because the ‘average person’ can understand it is written with the typical exaggerating attitude of advertisers.

Oh! I forgot it! take into consideration that the channel you use to convey the advert may refer to different audiences,  which in turn may be characterized by different ‘average users’. Mmm…

2) Grey areas in trademark law can only expand when the usage of trademarks is connected to the use of internet and all those technologies that are recent and thereby little regulated.

3) In EU you have got a coordinated ‘Community Trademark Law’, which in the case of advertising is mainly constituted by principles and guidelines. However, Member States are in charge of the final application of trademark law country by country.

what’s the problem? The problem is that in each State regulating authority is managed by self-regulated principles, i.e. principles and guidelines are written by all interested parts: advertisers, advertising agencies and media. This whole turns often into dicretional judgment influenced by traditions, culture and whatever other local peculiarities

FINAL POINT: when it comes to COMPARATIVE ADVERTISING it’s…just a whole mess. In this case not only the ad should not be misleading, it should respect some additional rules.

For example, this famous comparative advert of Pepsi VS CocaCola is something that will never be shown in Italy for instance. Simply because the law as well as the commercial culture in US is very different from Italy. Why? Because in EU comparative advertising should be based on well-grounded basis, this example above is instead based on very evocative elements.

In EU a comparative advert should not only avoid to be misleading, create confusion and damage others’ brand reputation. It should address the same needs and compare verifiable characteristics. This is the reason why most of the time in Italy and other countries the comparison is “my brand versus the category” and it considers price, likely the most verifiable feature of a product (not in bank accounts…ehehe).

Then, going back to our case of M&S bidding on ‘Interflora’ keyword, why it may be well considered comparative advertising?

From the legal standpoint, comparative adv is any ad that explicitly or by implication, identifies a competitor, or goods and services offered  by a competitor.

Yes, by implication.

At this point, I would like to discuss if, by simply being in a SERP (Search Engine Result Page) in the area of the Interflora, I may be implicitly considered as a competitor. If yes we have to talk about comparative advertising.

Firstly, as much as the advert copy of M&S does not show the keyword ‘Interflora’ to the public, this cannot create confusion for the average reader in regards to the product origin of M&S and Interflora respectively. Similarly, the advertising function of Interflora trademark is safe as well as its brand image.

Secondly, if M&S bids on Interflora, it means that Interflora brand shows its attraction power and M&S cannot interfere directly on this power just by bidding. M&S may interfere instead into the Interflora power of retaining its customers loyalty at a first glance by redirecting part of Interflora customers into the M&S website. However, if the Interflora product is different enough, its customers will come back. The possibility of a alternative is the essential of a fair competition.

Thirdly, the brand can be diluted because if Interflora is successful all world’s webmasters and online marketers will bid on its brand kewyord. Nonetheless webmasters are not the average customer, so do not bother on this issue.

Finally, please consider that Interflora has got a GREAT peculiarity: it is a network of several point of sales gathered together by a common booking technology. This peculiarity is the main element that let many doubts arose in the European Court. The ‘network’ typology is in fact open to other private companies and this increases the probability that the “average internet user” thinks that M&S is part of the Interflora itself => this generate confusion upon the product’s origin => Interflora odds to win the cause rise as well!

FINAL POINT: if you are bidding on other brands’ keywords don’t worry, you are far from being caught liable from the juridical point of view. This seems confirmed from what stated by the major “search and marketing platform” service provider: Google itself! (at least in Europe and USA).

Which is the best resource for business-related information?

What’s the answer to this very broad question in a very Quora style?

You might think to the Financial Times. no, it’s too financial. Most of their news are focused on big corporations economic performances and financial indexes on the economy. Moreover in these last months half of they are forced to talk about credit rating agencies, toxic sub-prime mortgages followed by toxic sovereign debts, financial crisis and double dip recession. Not to mention the typical necessity of political deep scrutiny for all government who are in difficult financial timeS.

You can also go to the Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg or The Economist and all articles will seem pretty the same.

Put apart the very financial sphere, which newspaper can well inform you on your specific sector such as the “internet economy”. Okey, it is very broad and you can read lots of magazines ranging from the so popular Wired, passing through Mashable and Fast Company, landing to more geek stuff like Engadget and TechCrunch. You are not satisfied? you’ll find thousands of blogs talking, chatting and expatiate on techky corporation leaks.

No, no, no. Let’s say you are a going-to-graduate economy student and then you want to read economic analysis and researches but with a very structural approach? You have all major consulting corporation writing a blog like BCG Perspectives, Nielsen Wire and McKinsey Quarterly.
mmmm, maybe, but what about something more academic? maybe to help me out writing a class presentation or finding data on my thesis? You already know: Harvard Business Review blog, MIT Sloan and some other top biz school have what you want.

For the rest of people interested in a particular industry sector, let’s retail, what can they read to be up-dated? Likely you have many specialized country-based magazines plus one or two well-known brand like RetailWeek. In addition there will be many blogs out there close to your sphere of interest.

But you cannot read them all every morning, just before going to work or during your lunch break on your mobile phone.
You can’t either review all listed news collected by RSS feeds. Neither you can scroll down for half an hour your Twitter account, except you ‘classified’ a bunch of relevant sources on a proper list when you decided to follow them.

Okey, this story is going to be too long and annoying.
For me, at the moment, the best filtered-news tool is simply one: LinkedIn Today . You need only to pick up those 2 or 3 industry sectors you are interested in plus, maybe, a mainstream news network like bloomberg in order to have an idea on the financial markets in general during these very turbulent volatile-market times.

I go there, I see a couple of news per sector, and never happened that some big news was out of their radar. Great work guys!

I still wonder if you manage to do this great work simply having an automated system which bring up there in your LinkedIn Today Wall those news which are the most seen and clicked in the other newspaper, or simply you have a group of hungry bloggers who works day and night for you.

Great Commercials

I really like web marketing, all those graphs and figures you can get from Google Analytics, nerdy web tracking tricks and whatsoever.

However sometimes you just see them, you are captured and you are so focused that you feel you are what you are watching. You get emotionated and you dream about what we are capable of, what is our innate human power. Our soul

In the end they also provide us just a THING, something you always thought you can just get rid of or simply you don’t care about. They put all those stuff on an imaginary and persuasive shelf. they try to make that shine, and they achieve it. You are doubtful and disenchanted…..people call them commercials, advertisements, adverts. Or just  ‘ad’.

this is one

this is another

There are thousands of them on paper, on digital media, radio and TVs. People look at them. They may be considered even on people’s lips sometimes. Like these two examples might be on my lips right now.

When this happen, it means you hate them, or you are grateful to them because they inspired you.

La7 e Mentana per l’Italia che lavora

Oggi, ore 23.50 circa, La7 termina l’ultima versione serale del suo TG , ormai noto per aver rubato importanti quote di mercato in termini di audience ai Tg ben più consolidati di RAI e Mediaset.

Mentana, di certo non un mezzobusto qualunque, è riuscito con compostezza a passare dal 3 e mezzo all’11 per cento di share in un solo anno proprio in quella fascia oraria dalle 20 alle 21 che prepara le basi in termini di pubblico per la successiva e golosissima ‘prima serata’.

Di certo Mentana è alleggerito dai problemi politici che in un modo o nell’altro colpiscono la libertà d’azione dei due grandi network televisivi concorrenti.

Da una parte l’istituzionalissimo Tg1 ha perso costantemente quota grazie anche alla conduzione di Minzolini, il quale viene infatti preso in giro puntualmente dalla Minzoparade del Fatto Quotidiano. Tg2 e Tg3 possono sicuramente migliorare e svecchiarsi, ma è difficile chiedere ai Direttori del Telegiornale di sorpassare quelle logiche inefficienti imposte da un Consiglio d’Amministrazione infestato da politici di seconda mano e amici degli amici.

Dall’altra parte della barricata, si fà per dire, troviamo Tg4 Tg5 e StudioAperto. Studio Aperto è sicuramente debole dal punto di vista accademico  ma allo stesso tempo è forte di una brand equity che è rimasta coerente dalla Folliero passando per Giorgia Palmas e arrivando a Belen Rodriguez . Ovviamente questi valori possono sottendere una strategia mirata a interessare adolescenti e uomini annoiati. Questa cultura un pò gossippara, caratteristica e stereotipo delle reti Mediaset, è però sparsa su tutti i Tg Mediaset in maniera più o meno evidente. Basti pensare allle Meteorine del Tg4…

E allora?

E allora La7 e il Tg di Mentana godono di un punto di differenza: la supposta maggiore serietà e imparzialità nel dare le notizie. Il rischio di essere attaccati come faziosi di sinistra è debole quando si pensa alla lunga carriera di Mentana in Mediaset. Il rischio di essere catalogati come ‘destra’ è facilmente scansabile dall’abissale differenza nell’approccio giornalistico tra Mentana e molti dei suoi colleghi.

Proponendosi come centro pensante e preoccupato per le sorti del paese, La7 in generale e il Tg di Mentana nello specifico vogliono farsi portabandiera di quell’atteggiamento responsabile e ponderato verso la realtà. A questo proposito cade a fagIUOlo l’utlima collaborazione con la Camera di Commercio di Milano. Alla fine del Tg La7 delle 23.50 infatti si propone un video di pochi minuti come esempio di Operosa Italia incarnata da PMI di successo provenienti direttamente da YouImpresa, canale mediatico della stessa Camera di Commercio di Milano.


Consiglio a La7 di allargare la propaganda dell’operosità e del buon lavoro in fascie orarie meno di nicchia, storie di successo reali sono il giusto colpo di morale di cui abbiamo tutti bisogno. Non saranno energetici come un Calendario di Manuela Arcuri, ma di certo il valore positivo si estende ad una fascia di popolazione più ampia.

Avverto invece YouImpresa di verificare che io non sia l’unico utente ad aver incontrato problemi nel visualizzare i video. Ho speso anche più di 5 minuti sul sito senza successo e, se consideriamo che sulla pagina dei risultati di Google  un tempo di caricamento di mezzo secondo in più può far crollare il traffico del 20%, io mi preoccuperei un pò…

How to Check if a website is paying Google for Ads and the like

If your cookies are ‘active’ and maybe you are also using Chrome like me, you surely already experienced this funny show:

” 1. You go to a website, let’s say SAS ( Business Analytics ), because you may be interested in applying for some open job positions.

2. Thereafter you will see SAS adverts every time you watch a video on Youtube ranging from Nirvana’sCome as you are‘ to ‘Italian Politics are funny’ for the following month or two.

3. The End ”

Yes, it is supposed to be marketing even if you are likely a never-to-be-customer for SAS and moreover when you watch a music video on youtube at 11pm is one of the only times you want to chill out.

Yes, mobile marketing has still huge space to grow, improve, integrate with search etc.

Post-it for VEVO and YouTube :  when I listen to Nirvana ‘‘ at 11pm, please show me an advert of Marlboro instead. It might be illegal, but at least it is coherent with my ‘media consumption’ habits and tastes.

puff puff