ATT: DoJ, EC and Congress: Yahoo!’s own claims should raise alarms about a Google or Microsoft deal

No one should sit by and let either Google or Microsoft carve-up or take-over Yahoo! without a serious examination of the competition, privacy, and other consumer protection issues. This week, Yahoo! ran a four-page ad inserted in Advertising Age. Here’s some of Yahoo!’s own copy for regulators and the public to ponder:

“Yahoo! delivers the largest audience in the U.S.-the most 18-34 year olds, the most 35-54 year olds, the most women….Today, Yahoo! reaches over half the world’s Internet users. And with our growing network of premium publishing partners, including over 625 leading newspapers, we’re working with the other half…Our insights and understanding of our users lead to smarter targeting, so we can connect the right audience with the most relevant message–yours…With more ways to connect to your customers more deeply than ever, the future is wide open.”

From Yahoo! Advertising Age insertion. June 2. 2008 entitled: “What Happens When You Can Connect To More Than 550 million People From Over 170 countries Who Spend 2 Billion Hours Each Month In One Place?”

Digital Marketers Plans for China Emblematic of Global Ambitions

We view the rush to advance digital marketing in China as a key example of how the forces of interactive advertising are being deployed globally. China is more than a “test-bed” for broadband and mobile advertising campaigns, given the growth of its Internet connected population. But we should be concerned about the impact of such marketing campaigns. Here’s an excerpt from a story appearing in Advertising Age China on Procter and Gamble’s (P&G) work there:

“The battleground now is branded entertainment and media innovation,” said Alfonso de Dios, P&G’s Guangzhou-based associate director for media in Greater China. “Globally, we are focusing on digital marketing to build long term and meaningful consumer relationships. We’ve escalated the spending and the quality of what we do online.”

That means going beyond web pages to internet protocol TV, known as IPTV, as well as mobile phones, social networks, search marketing and other high-tech applications. China has become a “learning lab in an ecosystem of providers and platforms,” he said. “We’re following a directive set by [P&G’s Global Marketing Officer] Jim Stengel, who wants the company to go beyond telling and selling, i.e. the 30″ spot, and go towards building more meaningful consumer relationships.”

source: China is P&G learning lab. Normandy Madden. Ad Age China. June 2008 [sub required]

Facebook Fails to Address Privacy Concerns, as Powerful Canadian Complaint Documents

They ought to change the name of a corporate position entitled chief privacy officer to chief data collection protector. That’s our response to the comment from Facebook’s Chris Kelly, who serves as its chief privacy officer. According to the Associated Press, Mr. Kelly responded to the privacy complaint filed by the Canadian Internet Policy and Public Interest Clinic (CIPPIC) with the following comment: “We’ve reviewed the complaint and found it has serious factual errors — most notably its neglect of the fact that almost all Facebook data is willingly shared by users…”

We find such a remark incredibly revealing about Facebook, and it raises questions about how well they have structured the role of its “chief privacy officer.” For example, does Mr. Kelly believe that Facebook users understand, as pointed out in the very important CIPPIC complaint on page 22, that outside developers are given access to a wide range of user information. As the complaint notes:

“(a) Information That May Be Provided to Developers. In order to allow you to use and participate in Platform Applications created by Developers, Facebook may from time to time provide Developers access to the following information: (i) any information provided by you and visible to you on the Facebook Site, excluding any of your Contact Information, and
(ii) the user ID associated with your Facebook Site profile.
(b) Examples of Facebook Site Information. The Facebook Site Information may include, without limitation, the following information, to the extent visible on the Facebook Site: your name, your profile picture, your gender, your birthday, your hometown location (city/state/country), your current location (city/state/country), your political view, your activities, your interests, your musical preferences, television shows in which you are interested, movies in which you are interested, books in which you are interested, your favorite quotes, the text of your “About Me” section, your relationship status, your dating interests, your relationship interests, your summer plans, your Facebook user network affiliations, your education history, your work history, your course information, copies of photos in your Facebook Site photo albums, metadata associated with your Facebook Site photo albums (e.g., time of upload, album name, comments on your photos, etc.), the total number of messages sent and/or received by you, the total number of unread messages in your Facebook in-box, the total number of “pokes” you have sent and/or received, the
total number of wall posts on your Wallâ„¢, a list of user IDs mapped to your Facebook friends, your social timeline, and events associated with your Facebook profile.”

Whoa! Do users really know this and give away their data consciously? We think not. Our friends from Up North have ignited a campaign which will grow throughout the world.