Olympic Advertisers Falter at the Social Media Hurdles

Over the past week, I’ve spent anywhere from 2 hours to 5 hours a night watching Olympic coverage. I’ve seen our women’s gymnastics team get the gold. I’ve seen Misty May play more volleyball than I ever thought I’d see in my lifetime, and I now understand how a headwind can affect a pole vaulter’s performance.

I also understand the struggle of Olympic moms (Thanks P&G), and I learned that Olympic boxers eat at McDonalds and that Matthew Perry and a monkey both have new shows coming up on NBC. Those last three things, I’ve learned over and over and over again to the point where I want to run screaming from the room when the commercials air for the 59th time in one week.

It’s an Open House: Pinterest Removes Invite Requirement

Pinterest has removed their invite requirement! Now everyone who wants a Pinterest account can sign up and get one instantly. Exciting news, right?

At least half of you are now scratching your head saying, ‘funny, I didn’t know you needed an invite to get on Pinterest.’

Technically, you did. But unlike other soft launches, you didn’t have to get one from a friend on site or wait weeks to have your request approved. You requested, you were approved – no muss, no fuss. Now, I’ve heard from others that this wasn’t always the case. I’ve heard reports of waiting weeks for an approval and that might have been the case when I built my first Pinterest site. Honestly, I don’t remember, so the process couldn’t have been too painful.

Google Gets Hit With Big Fine For Serving Up Cookies

Google Inc. has been ordered to crack open the wallet and pay a $22.5 million civil penalty for misrepresentaion of privacy policies.

The FTC says Google told users that the Safari browser was set to block cookies by default. Taking their word for it, users continued to surf the web, believing they were free of prying eyes. Not so. The FTC says that for a few months between 2011 and 2012, Google created a work around that placed tracking cookies for their DoubleClick network on millions of Macs, iPhones and iPads.

As if lying to the public wasn’t bad enough, the FTC says Google violated an agreement they had with the government agency that specifically forbid them from misrepresenting privacy options.

Call Out the Urban Spelunkers, Google+ is Officially a Ghost Town (Infographic)

It’s only August, but I’m ready to give out my award for the best infographic graphic of the year. It’s the header from the Umpf’s examination of one of life’s great mysteries: Is Google+ really popular or is it a ghost town?

Google is cagey about releasing stats on Google+ and when they do, it’s often hard to distinguish general Google users from those actually on the social network. The current estimate is 170 million Google+ accounts, which would make it the second most popular social network after Facebook. But, as we all know, having a lot of signups does not an active community make. For marketers, it’s interaction that counts, so Umpf counted it.

Amazon eBook Sales Surpass Print Book Sales in the UK

“Amazon said it had sold 114 ebooks for every 100 print books in the UK so far this year.”

That news comes from ZDnet and it’s very good news for content marketers. Here in the US, ebook sales topped print sales in May 0f 2011. But Kindle EU chief Jorrit Van der Meulen said that it took four years after the release of the Kindle to hit that mark in the US. It only took two years to get there in the UK.

What it means is that more and more people are ready to make the switch to digital assets and not just in books. Digital music has nearly replaced the CD. Digital movie downloads are now taking a bite out of the DVD market and when was the last time you bought a hard copy of a piece of software?

Facebook Gives App Developers a Boost with Subscriptions and Mobile Ads

Facebook has announced beta tests on two new options that will help app developers raise their profit margin.

First up is Mobile Ads for Apps. Finding a way to monetize Facebook Mobile has been a problem but this sounds like the perfect solution.

This new ad unit takes advantage of the natural connection between mobile and apps. Facebook users will see an ad with a list of suggested apps. Click through and you’re taken directly to the App Store or Google Play where you can download the app instantly.

The app dashboard allows you to target users based on region, age and gender. Set your budget and go.

Currently, the ads are only available to select partners but you can sign up to be a beta tester right here.

Almost Half of All US Smartphone Owners Use Shopping Apps

Shortly after I bought my iPhone, I discovered shopping apps and after that, I never left home without it. My original favorite was Shopkick. Walk into a store, tap the bubble, get coupons and accumulate gift certificate points. Why not? I was going to shop at that store anyway, so Shopkick was a bonus. Then a weird thing happened, I let Shopkick tell me where to shop for holiday gifts. I went into stores I wouldn’t have visited otherwise and at that moment, I became the perfect user.

According to new numbers from Nielsen, 47% of American smartphone owners used a shopping app in June 2012 and they accessed these apps an average of 17 times during the month. What’s really interesting is the mix. Take a look at the top 10 shopping apps from June and I’ll meet you on the other side.