Facebook and Google Expand on Social Shopping

I don’t think of shopping as a social experience, unless it’s a day at the mall with my friends. But when I’m online trying to fill a particular need, I’m not all that interested in sharing my choices with those who follow me on Facebook. Apparently, I’m alone in this because Google and Facebook are both working hard to make shopping a big part of their business.

Back in November, Google bought Boutiques.com. This site groups high-ticket fashion items by celebrity then uses a Likes and Dislikes algorithm to determine which tops, dresses and shoes are good for you. There’s an option to follow each of the celeb boutiques and every item has a share button so you can show those sweet $800.00 shoes to your boss on Facebook to explain why you need a raise.

Foursquare Hands Out a Holiday Gift: Photos and Comments

Foursquare has a gift for all of their users, a shiny new, souped up version of the app that will allow you to add photos and comments.

The ability to add comments turns this app from a trendy toy into something really useful. You can send a comment to a friend confirming your meet at a restaurant or send one to yourself to say, “don’t forget to use that coupon!” You can send comments through the website, Facebook or Twitter so it’s easy to access no matter where you are.

Online Ad Spending Beats Newspapers by Year End

We’ve seen it coming but the day is finally here, by the time we ring in the new year, spending on online ads will have passed newspaper ad spending for the first time ever.

According to eMarketer, print advertising in newspapers will fall to $22.8 billion while online ad spending will rise to $25.8 billion. They expect the difference to be even more significant by the end of 2011.

This past October, the Associated Press published a report that noted a 5% drop in newspaper circulation and an 8.7% drop the year before that.

Says the report:

Circulation declines hurt newspapers financially not only because they are losing revenue from subscriptions, but also because the bulk of newspaper advertising revenue is still generated by printed editions rather than their websites.

Don’t Let Bad Service Negate a Great Campaign

My hobby is entering giveaways. It’s probably akin to a gambling addiction but it doesn’t cost me a penny and I win some pretty cool stuff. Last week, I won a $25 gift certificate to a gourmet food company that I had never tried.

Last Friday was free shipping day, so it was the perfect day to get the best out of my win. Except for the fact that the system they use sees a gift code as a discount code so I could only use my gift certificate or get the free shipping, not both. Why? A gift certificate is money, not a discount. Determined to fix this, I called the company’s toll free number in the early evening, California time. I was directed to the “customer service” line which was a recording saying they were closed. Hmmm.

DirecTV Close to Rolling Out Targeted TV Commercials

I don’t have a pet and I have no interest in male enhancement products, yet during an average week, I’ll see plenty of commercials for kitty litter, dog food and ExtenZe. DirecTV says that’s going to change and it may happen as soon as the summer of 2011.

According to an article in the Wall Street Journal, DirectTV has a $10 – $20 million dollar commitment from Starcom MediaVest, a company that buys ad time on behalf of heavyhitters.

Under the new program, the ad buyer would list the characteristics of their target household and DirectTV’s system would search the data pools to find a match. A variety of commercial options would then be loaded into the box and the box itself would decide on the most appropriate commercial for each occasion.

Free the Internet! Time for the Net Neutrality Vote

On Tuesday, December 21, the FCC will vote on a proposal that will allow internet providers to better manage bandwidth by charging more to those users who use more and less to those who don’t. Sounds simple, doesn’t it? Apparently, it’s not.

I spent an hour this morning reading over a variety of articles on the subject from the factual pieces from Reuters to the techie take at Crunch Gear to the twists and turns of The Washington Post. My favorite piece was written by Al Franken for The Huffington Post. Yes, SNL’s Al Franken who is now a Senator from Minnesota.

Commerce Department, Ma’am. Privacy Division

I can see it now. The black screen, the ominous ba bum sound and then the words, Law & Order: Privacy Division. They’re federal agents who put their lives on the line every day so that you, the internet user, can surf without fear of being molested by targeted Old Navy ads and free lunch coupons on your birthday. Sure they’re making it hard for the small business marketer to sell his wares, but hey, that’s the way the browser cookie crumbles. Get over it.

So, maybe it won’t be on next fall’s TV schedule, but it may be coming to a computer near you, if the federal government gets their way. Yesterday, the Commerce Department released the Internet Policy Task Force Privacy Green Paper which is loaded with recommendations “aimed at promoting consumer privacy online while ensuring the Internet remains a platform that spurs innovation, job creation, and economic growth.”