Digital World is our ongoing weekly series summarising some of the most interesting stories in international SEO, social, content and business. In this week’s update: European mobile phone carriers allegedly install ad-blocking tech at data centres; video tutorials for Yandex.Direct; Baidu’s software-first approach in Indonesia; Google’s Right to Be Forgotten methodology; and the Chinese smartphone market’s first decline in six years.
The Financial Times reports that European-based mobile phone operators – no names are given – are planning to offer users advertising blocking services by the end of 2015. Software technology developed by an Israeli start-up called Shine has allegedly been installed in data centres and will prevent ads from loading in web pages and apps, though in-feed ads on social networks are unlikely to be affected.
The service is currently described as an “opt-in”, though it is not clear whether there will be a related service charge. One executive said that their carrier is even considering blocking Google for all subscribers in an attempt to force the engine to give carriers a cut of its revenue (though this is likely to contradict net neutrality principles, unwise in the European market). The elimination of adverts on mobile networks would have massive implications for digital businesses.
Russian Search Marketing, Yandex’s business development team blog, has recently created a new YouTube channel dedicated to instructional videos regarding its services. The first series, focussing on basic tasks on its Yandex.Direct ad campaign service can be accessed here. Topics covered include: account and campaign setup, ad placement, bidding strategies, payment options and ad rules/requirements.
As big as Baidu is (over 530 million users), it is not yet an engine with a reputation for success outside of China. Search Engine Journal has a write up touching on Baidu’s exit from Japan earlier this year, and some reasons why its venture in Indonesia has the potential to be more successful. Baidu Japan was established in 2007 and was quietly shuttered in March 2015 – SEJ notes that it took a good month for anyone in the industry to notice that it was gone, and Baidu themselves admitted that the site had gone for around two years without an index update.
Their effort in Indonesia is taking an unusual approach: mobile first, supported by apps such as Baidu Browser and homegrown locally developed tools (including DU Battery Saver, an Android power optimisation app). This is done in lieu of an actual search engine – the objective being to become a dominant local player ahead of Google’s engagement there.
The Wall Street Journal has reported on Google’s methodology for Right To Be Forgotten (RTBF) requests – requests for removal of outdated and incorrect information about individuals of a sensitive or otherwise damaging nature available in search results. The article makes it clear that the responsibility for analysing requests falls entirely to Google – the courts provided little in the way of guidance.
In the last year, Google has allegedly handled 250,000 requests for the removal of 920,000 links. The claims on 50% of these links were rejected, 35% removed and the remainder are in the queue. The article notes regional differences. Though the majority of link removals are rejected in all territories, France and Germany have so far seen a better success rate for removed links than the UK and Spain.
In addition to movement in the smartphone market that has put Apple ahead of Xiaomi, China Internet Watch notes that the Chinese smartphone market actually contracted by 4% year on year (98.8 million units shipped in Q1 2015). This is the first time that the smartphone market has declined in six years. The total number of mobile phone users in China is 1.29 billion.
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Raining outside photo by Flickr user Hernán Piñera
Smiley Shutter photo by Flickr user Blek
Forget It photo by Flickr user Jason Eppink