Digital World is Oban International’s weekly series of updates summarising some of the biggest and most interesting digital marketing news stories from around the world. In this week’s edition: Yandex describes its crackdown on paid links; German publishers fail to bring legal action against AdBlock Plus; 14 Chinese brands are now among the world’s most valuable names; Hispanic social media usage analysed; and security breach exposes millions of user credentials on Indian music streaming website.
Yandex’s digital marketing blog, Russian Search Marketing, has offered up some interesting background details and statistics to its recent Minusinsk algorithm change. Rolled out on May 15 2015, Minusinsk combatted “black hat” SEO on Russia’s number one search engine, with the main target of action being link buying and paid links. Websites are penalized based on “the absolute amount of paid links and the percentage of paid links going to a website”. Natural links can offset paid links to a certain extent.
Of 8,890 webmasters notified ahead of the action that they would need to address their paid link issues (via Yandex.Webmaster), 37% took satisfactory action and were not demoted in Yandex’s SERPs. 488 websites of the remainder were the first to see penalties, and lost 20 positions on average. The article linked above offers timelines for a website that complied with cleanup activity and one that didn’t, with a massive and sudden drop in traffic and visibility resulting in the latter case.
German publishers RTL and ProSiebenSat1 recently attempted to bring a lawsuit against Eyeo, parent company of AdBlock Plus, a popular piece of ad-blocking software that operates an “acceptable ads” whitelist. The publishers argued that the software was “anti-competitive”, a claim that has been thrown out by court officials on the basis that it is users who choose to install the software. Courts also argued that AdBlock plus usage is not yet widespread enough to have a significant impact of ad revenue.
Eyeo recently won a similar victory against Zeit Online and Handelsbatt, and is likely to triumph in similar action being brought by Axel Springer (owner of Bild). The number of people using ad-blockers reportedly jumped 70% year-on-year in 2014. Quoted in the Drum, Richard Eyre of IAB UK cautions that “the level people would pay if the ads went away could not possibly support the quality of services they have come to expect for ‘free’”.
The 2015 BrandZ top 100 list has been published, describing the 100 most valuable global brands. With the list in its tenth year, it’s an interesting time for a retrospective look at how the list has changed. Most significantly, in 2006, the only Chinese brand in the entire list was China Mobile. There are now 14 brands, and while 10 of these are state-owned, four are technology powerhouses that digital marketers will be intimately familiar with: Tencent, Alibaba, Baidu and (to a lesser extent) Huawai.
Tencent is the seventh highest riser in the list this year, and Baidu the 10th, with brand value changing 43% and 35% year on year respectively. In fact, Tencent is now the 11th most valuable brand in the world, valued at $76,572 million. Alibaba, the highest new entry, is 13th ($66,375 million) and Baidu is 21st ($40,041 million). The influx of Chinese companies is said to be at the expense of many well-establish European names (35 brands were in the 2006 top 100, there are now just 24). The full report is available at Brandz100.com.
A new eMarketer report goes into depth on Hispanic internet usage in the US, with some headline figures provided in an article on their blog. The post notes the stereotype of the Hispanic social network overindexer, but claims that it’s more a case of social networking playing “a distinct role in their digital activity”. For starters, in terms of percentage of population, Hispanic users do not actually use social networking more than the wider US internet (56.5% vs 56.1%) – despite the higher numbers when the figures used are based on internet users (76.6% versus 69.4%) .
Distinct in their usage is the use of social networking to keep in touch with family members inside and outside the US. One survey suggested that the average Hispanic Facebook user’s family accounted for 48% of their Facebook friends – in the wider US, this number was just 36%
Used by 7.5 million users per month, Gaana is a music-streaming service similar to Spotify that serves the Indian market. Thenextweb.com reports that Gaana has taken its site and database down after the entire user information database was exposed. A hacker based in Pakistan, going by the name of MakMan, reportedly used an SQL injection-based exploit allowing access to 12.5 million use accounts, inclusive of names, email addresses, social profiles and password – though the latter is at least MD5-encrypted.
The hacker also posted images of the service’s admin panel, suggesting they had especially deep access to the site’s inner workings. The breach is a reminder that robust security policies are needed worldwide, especially considering the depth and complexity of security issues are only going to increase as internet penetration improves in highly populous countries such as India.
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Night City, Ekaterinburg, RU photo by Alex Alishevskikh
EZB Protest: Out with the New photo by Jonas M Luster
Baidu cup photo by bfishadow
Hispanic Americans, A Proud Heritage photo by USMC Archives