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The global digital marketing weekly: Thursday 26 2014

In the first of a new weekly series of roundups highlighting digital news from search markets around the world: surveys reveal World Cup habits in Argentina, China and France; Google plans mystery Webmaster Tools feature for multi-regional, multi-lingual sites; German publishers demand 11% of revenue from results pages on which their content is featured; and Skyscanner aim to take on Baidu in China.

Worldwide World Cup viewing trends

With the group stages of the World Cup drawing to a close, digital has once again found itself flooded by analysis of how the world has responded – trends in social interaction and media consumption that provide some interesting contrasts in how football – and non-football loving – nations consume one of the most widely disseminated sporting events.

The return of the tournament to Latin America for the first time in nearly three decades has fuelled interest in the region. 49% of Argentinian respondents from a Mindshare poll suggest they were more interested in the tournament than in 2010. Significantly, 2014 is also the year of the multi-screen viewer, with 96% intending to see the games on television, while 52% will also be using the internet and 21% will use their mobile phones.

Despite the fact that the Chinese national team hasn’t qualified for a World Cup since 2002 (also the only time they’ve ever qualified), the engaged audience in China is substantial: 22 million people followed football-related news on Weibo on the first day of the tournament, and in the first two hours there were 83m posts. Audience demographics were typical of digital engagement in the rapidly modernising nation – 67% were from the ‘post-90s’ generation (1990 to 1999).

On the flipside, a TNS Sofres survey of French intentions suggests that only 9% will use a smartphone to keep updated. A study prior to the tournament by the Interactive Advertising Bureau suggested that internationally this figure was 48%.

Google testing hreflang Webmaster Tools feature

Google’s webmaster trends analyst, John Mueller, recently posted a request via his Google+ profile to webmasters of sites using rel-alternate-hreflang for help testing an upcoming feature that was described as “something neat”.

rel-alternate-hreflang is an attribute that is indispensible for sites operating in multiple regions in multiple languages. It is used to point crawlers to the alternate language version(s) of the current page to help identify international variations of web content. Search Engine Roundtable speculates the feature will allow access to the same functionality within Webmaster Tools, negating the need for the code.

German publishers demand 11% cut of revenue from Google

Google’s relationship with traditional publishers is a strange mix of fear and co-dependency. The latest move by a group of German publishers demanding 11% of the revenue Google makes from linking to and describing its content, is just the latest in a list of actions within the EU.

Notable past action includes Germany’s ‘verpixelungsrecht’ (the right to be pixelated) laws applied in Google Street View and the recent ‘right to be forgotten’ rulings. The current threat of legal action has been made on the basis that Google’s use of excerpts exceeds an ancillary copyright law made last year.

As Search Engine Land suggests (see the link above), not only is the extent to which Google actually earns money on the content it serves in organic listings questionable, but the whole issue seems moot when Google provides plenty of ways to opt out of its listings. Google provides substantial amounts of free traffic, the price it asks is that it harvests all available content for free. Are publishers right to demand the ability to negotiate how search engines profit from their work, or is this simply a case of old media sabre rattling? Tell us what you think on our social media channels.

Skyscanner to challenge Baidu in air travel comparison market

British flight search company Skyscanner has acquired Youbibi, a Chinese air-travel comparison start-up, in an attempt to bring product development and domestic travel knowledge to the company’s existing Beijing-based business. The move is being touted as a challenge to Baidu’s dominance, putting it into direct competition with their Qunar service.

Youbibi focussed primarily on the Chinese domestic tourism market, a sector the government has recently identified as a priority. Chinese online travel spending is forecasted to exceed $75bn per annum by 2017.

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