Jan.-Feb. 2012 Quick Links, Part 5 (Advertising, Consumer Reviews & Search Engines)

By Eric Goldman

Advertising and Marketing

* CLRB Hanson Industries, LLC v. Weiss & Associates, PC, 2012 WL 20539 (9th Cir. Jan. 5, 2012). Ninth Circuit rejected a challenge to the CLRB Hanson v. Google settlement over AdWords budget caps. Prior blog post.

* Facebook is rolling out Sponsored Stories in users’ newsfeeds, while making the disclosure incredibly opaque by calling it “featured” (with an additional disclosure that shows when users mouse over the word). Between this spamming of users’ newsfeeds and the MySpace-ification of Facebook via its Timeline UI, Facebook is making it harder and harder to actually use the site to communicate with each other (which, Facebook might have forgotten, WAS THE WHOLE POINT).

* Facebook v. Adscend Media complaint over “likejacking.”

* Rebecca on the injunction in the Fresh Step kitty litter case.

* The FTC’s settlement with Upromise is a deja vu to the old adware wars of the last decade. Prior blog post on the adware wars.

Consumer Reviews

* Britain’s ASA says TripAdvisor can’t make claims “”Reviews you can trust”, “… read reviews from real travellers”, “TripAdvisor offers trusted advice from real travellers” and “More than 50 million honest travel reviews and opinions from real travellers around the world”” because it has fake reviews on its site.

* EFF brought a declaratory judgment action for LawyerRatingz based on 47 USC 230.

* Law firm sues the BBB over an adverse rating. Compare CHW Group, Inc. v. Better Business Bureau of New Jersey, Inc., 2012 WL 426292 (D.N.J. Feb. 8, 2012) (dismissing a Lanham Act false adverting claim against BBB for an allegedly bogus letter grade).

* Rebecca on a litigation battle over fake consumer reviews.

Search Engines

* Danny Sullivan: 2011: The Year Google & Bing Took Away From SEOs & Publishers

* Google is bundling Gmail and Google+ accounts; is this a way of padding the number of Google+ accounts, or forcing people to take Google+ accounts who don’t want them?

* The “Focus on the User” website provides some evidence that the Google+ integration into search may not be in users’ best interest.

* PandoDaily: “Larry Page to Googlers: If You Don’t Get SPYW, Work Somewhere Else”

* Search Engine Land: An Interview With A Google Search Quality Rater. Prior blog post.

* A Microsoft-sponsored event to attack Google sours one European member of Parliament.

* Bing presents integrated results similar to Google’s Universal Search, even though Microsoft fronted groups have raised antitrust concerns about Google doing so.

* Reagan-era FTC chairmen (and Google consultants) tell the FTC to back off Google.

* Polls like this are interesting and probably unreliable:

87 percent agreed with the statement “I feel I can easily switch to a competing search engine if I’m not happy with the results I receive;” just 8 percent said they were “stuck with using a particular search engine and don’t have the ability to switch.”

Respondents were then asked whether “the federal government should regulate the content and appearance of search engines and their results.” A whopping 79 percent strongly or somewhat disagreed with this idea, compared to 12 percent who strongly or somewhat agreed. The depth of opposition was striking – 64 percent strongly disagreed versus just 3 percent who strongly agreed.

Participants were presented with arguments about more enforcement of federal antitrust laws, and then asked to choose which statement was most true. A massive 76 percent agreed that “More government involvement and regulation will make the Internet worse for consumers,” while just 8 percent thought that such involvement and regulation “will make the Internet better for consumers.”

* Custom Led v eBay complaint: alleges that eBay didn’t give the promised priority in search results for eBay Motors “Featured Plus” listings.

* Scroogle is dead. I tested on Scroogle in my 2005 Internet Law exam (see also the sample answer).