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The global digital marketing weekly: Friday 11 July 2014

Once again, it’s Oban’s global digital marketing weekly, your source for the international digital marketing news affecting businesses and users around the world. This week; California repeals a law, legitimating Bitcoin and other virtual currencies; Google+ is now second place in Norway; an intriguing look at advertising in rural China; Google takes action against Polish link networks; and American filmmaker threatens legal action over search visibility.

California legalises virtual currencies

California has repealed a law dictating that only the “lawful money of the United States” could be used in the state, specifically to remove all barriers to the use of virtual currencies such as Bitcoin. As quoted by, governor Jerry Brown noted that “modern methods of payment have expanded beyond the typical cash or credit card transactions” and also made reference to other “alternative currencies” such as retailer points and coupons.

The move will help Bitcoin achieve a greater degree of mainstream acceptance, and may help encourage the US’s online retailers to experiment with accepting the currency. California – a state long-associated with the big technology businesses and innovative start-ups of Silicon Valley – is often ahead of the curve on emerging technologies (it was the third state to legalise the testing of driverless cars, for instance).

However, the new law will not make the notoriously fluctuating currencies legal tender or compel individuals to accept them as such.

Google+ now second place in Norway, but Facebook is clear first

In Norway, around 3.1 million people – 77% of all internet users – have a profile on Facebook, according to data from Ipsos MMI, highlighted by In turn, 77% of these accounts are visited daily, with only 7% likely to visit less frequently than a month. However, while broadly in-step with western social media usage, Norway is notable for the growth it is experiencing among media-lead social media, including Snapchat, Instagram and the YouTube-attached Google+.

In fact, Google+ is now the second biggest social network in Norway, with 1.2 million people (30% of internet users) having an account there. By comparison, Twitter has just 0.9 million users (23%), enjoying less of a boost from the 18-29 year old group fuelling growth for Google+, Instagram and Snapchat.

China Internet Watch reveals internet advertising in rural China

Rural China internet mural

Offering unique cultural insight, this post from China Internet Watch highlights the advertising murals of China’s rural cities, complete with the idiosyncrasies of their phrasing (the example above reads “Everyone uses Yixin; every village becomes rich”).

Google serves Polish link networks with severe penalties

Google’s webspam team has taken manual action against several link networks operating out of Poland, according to Search Engine Land. The depreciated tactic had temporarily found new life in Polish SEO, where rather than turning towards natural linkbuilding tactics, the fashion has been to brute-force with lazy tactics on a massive scale. The networks promised hundreds of thousands of low-quality links, though they inevitably turn highly toxic after a matter of months.

Film-maker threatens legal action against Google over showtimes feature

America, a new documentary by conservative author Dinesh D’Souza and (confusingly) sequel to the equally critically panned 2016: Obama’s America was recently denied the “showtimes” treatment. The feature, rolled out for films currently showing in US cinemas, provides local cinema showing times based on their location at the top of Google’s search results pages. D’Souza’s response? A strongly worded letter from his lawyers to Google’s chief legal officer, David Drummond.

The letter claims that Google is “misdirecting many users who mistakenly believed the film was not playing in theatres”. It goes on to demand “statistics on searches from the time the misdirection began until resolved so that we might ascertain the number of users who could not find the film as a result of this mix-up.”

SERP for America Movie July 2014


The implication of a claim for damages for algorithmically failing to provide a free service to promote the movie (which has currently earned “only” $4.4m at the box office) has prompted Google to fix the issue. As can be seen in the image above, the showtimes feature is now in place on the term “America movie”.

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Bitcoin photo by Wikipedia user AntanaCoins.