The Oban Blog

Digital World – Global Digital Marketing News: Thursday 9 April 2015

In this week’s update: Google facing years of antitrust proceedings in European Union; China’s official domain registrar called out by Google; APAC stats and facts; the supposed death of social media in Germany; and puns alive and well in China despite attempts for government control.

Google facing antitrust action in European Union

Google faces fines of up to $6 billion USD according to reports detailed over at Antitrust officials at the European Union are investigating confidential complaints that Google is tweaking its algorithm to favour its own products in search. The European Commission is apparently seeking permission to publish the confidential complaints in order to strengthen its case. The fine – 10% of all revenue – would likely be accompanied by restrictions imposed on Google’s behaviour in Europe, though proceedings are likely to take several years.

The news comes shortly after a class-action lawsuit against Google was withdrawn in the US. The Washington Post notes the similarity between this case (concerning Google’s ubiquity on Android devices) and the antitrust proceedings brought against Microsoft in the 90s over Internet Explorer. However, a judge threw the case out on the basis that Google doesn’t “[prevent] consumers from freely choosing among search products”.


China’s official web registrar struck off Google HTTPS safe-list

Google has announced that it no longer trusts the China Internet Network Information Centre (CNNIC), officially responsible for HTTPS certification in China, to adequately screen secure websites. The action was prompted after it emerged that the CNNIC was delegating certification responsibilities to a company called MCS Holdings. Though such delegation is itself not outside of standard operating, it subsequently emerged that MCS holdings were using a proxy “given the full authority of a public CA (Certificate authority)” amounting to “[a] serious breach of the CA system”.

This breach could have resulted in a serious domain impersonation incident invisible to all browsers and operating systems, though Google doesn’t believe that misused certificates were used outside of the MCS Holdings test network. CNNIC is now obliged to implement technical and procedural changes before reapplying for inclusion in Google’s SSL program. In the meantime, any newly registered Chinese websites will likely display a security warning in Google Chrome and other browsers, warning that the security of user communication with the site cannot be guaranteed.

Econsultancy runs down APAC stats and facts

10 key facts emerge from Asia Pacific this week thanks to an article on Econsultancy. Valuable nuggets of information include rumours of an ecommerce cartel in India keeping coupon discounting below 20%, and the growth of smartphone imports by more than half in Vietnam. Meanwhile in China, 89% find mobile advertising annoying and an infographic reveals the many comparison points between WeChat and WhatsApp.


Is Social Media Dying in Germany?

As reported by, recent coverage in digital marketing publications has postulated that social media is in decline in Germany. The assertion was based on statistics by Faktenkontor that showed the number of visitors to Twitter, Xing and Facebook dropping over the past year.

However, isn’t so sure, citing growth on services such as Pinterest and Instagram as a symptom of a social media landscape that is simply more diverse and dispersed. Facebook is still the market leader, Twitter has never been particularly popular and Xing, a German alternative to LinkedIn, is just one of the social networks showing that doomsayers may be a little premature.


Puns and wordplay survive China’s November purge

In November, China’s media state administrator bizarrely decreed that the use of wordplay, including puns and idioms, should be regulated by radio and television authorities. The declaration was made on the basis that such linguistic innovation is “contradictory to the promotion and continuance of excellent, traditional Chinese culture”. Half a year later, and reports that the predicted purge has failed to materialise.

Examples still in use include: PepsiCo’s annual Chinese New Year campaign called “Bring Happiness Home” (The Chinese names for Pepsi, and crisp brand, Lay’s both include the character for “happiness”); Beats by Dre adverts playing on the dual meaning of the character denoting “wireless” with “no limits”; and a Durex social campaign playing off of Nike’s “Just Do It” slogan by replacing “do” with the character for “du”, as used in Durex’s own brand name.

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Image credits

Outside the European Court of Justice photo by Flickr user katarina_dzurekova

Don’t fall down photo by Flickr user qilin

Folklore 009 – open air photo by Flickr user Martin Fisch

Lay’s Potatofruitchips photo by Flickr user Tine Steiss