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As .XXX Goes Live, ICANN Ushers in Virtual Red-Light District

Posted by Sheila Shayon on December 7, 2011 11:02 AM

The Internet got a lot smuttier yesterday as 100,000 plus websites in the newly approved ICANN .XXX top-level domain went live.

Proponents, along with the ICM Registry which owns and regulates the .XXX top-level domain, argue the move makes it easier to avoid adult content as the X’s are clear signals about the content.

Critics, however, claim the lack of requirement for providers of adult content to use the .XXX TLD will encourage sexually explicit material to flourish anew in other domains, making it more difficult to restrict, and might even lead to legislation mandating the new triple X domains for ‘sexually explicit’ content, leading to further litigation about free speech and jurisdiction.

Luxembourg-based Manwin, which manages Playboy.com, YouPorn, xTube, and other sites, recently filed suit against ICANN arguing that .XXX creates a virtual monopoly and adds unnecessary costs to doing business in that space.

“We oppose the .XXX domain and all it stands for. It is my opinion that .XXX domain is an anticompetitive business practice that works a disservice to all companies that do business on the Internet,” said Fabian Thylmann, managing partner, Manwin.Continue reading...

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StumbleUpon Stumbles Forward, Brands in Hand

Posted by Sheila Shayon on December 6, 2011 03:33 PM

The eponymous discovery engine, StumbleUpon, just unveiled a major redesign including improvements in recommendations, a streamlined user interface with a new logo and the launch of brand channels.

“Really this is the biggest refresh in terms of look and feel that we’ve ever had on the web,” StumbleUpon CEO Garrett Camp told Mashable.

Key to the site's redesign, its channels feature  is a dedicated, non-invasive feature for brands (about 250 at launch, Fast Company notes), celebrities and publications to promote themselves in an environment that previously eschewed such accounts.

“Users had the expectation that they would see an individual acting on good will to share a piece of content rather than a for-profit company promoting a piece of content for selfish reasons,” Camp says. “Now we have a place where it’s OK for users to publish their own things.”Continue reading...

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U.S. Senate Committee to Review ICANN's gTLD Proposal on Thursday

Posted by Sheila Shayon on December 5, 2011 03:02 PM

A tsunami of opposition to ICANN’S January 2012 expansion of top level domains has resulted in a U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation full committee hearing to “examine the merits and implications of this new program and ICANN’s continuing efforts to address concerns raised by the Internet community.” 

The hearing will be held Thursday, December 8, at 10:00 a.m. EST. Press will be welcomed on a first-come, first-served basis, while the public can virtually attend the Senate Commerce Committee hearing via a webcast.

The opposition of the 100+ brands and organizations in CRIDO (the Coalition for Responsible Domain Oversight) will be presented by the Association of National Advertisers exec team of Bob Liodice, President and CEO; Dan Jaffe, EVP of Government Relations; and Doug Wood, general counsel.

The growing alliance views the gTLD program as "harmful," allowing organizations and companies to apply for generic or branded top level domains (the names to the right of the ‘dot,’ e.g. .com, .net, .org.), with brands such as Ford, GE and HP concerned about cybersquatting and related issues.Continue reading...

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ICANN on the Hot Seat as Domain Debate Gets Heated

Posted by Shirley Brady on November 30, 2011 11:14 AM

As the January 12th opening of gTLDs (top-level domain names) looms, the Association of National Advertisers president and CEO Bob Liodice is stepping up the organization's campaign against ICANN.

That's the body which is preparing to expand URL names from the current list of 22 approved top-level domains (such as .com, .net, .org, .edu and country suffixes) to include generic .anything names such as .nike, .google, .pepsi, etc.

In a video released this week, Liodice takes issue with ICANN's claim that it has gone through a "laborious process" to gain consensus for its generic top-level domain expansion program, which is facing mounting criticism not just in America.

Liodice (whose views are opposed by Forrester) counters that there are more than 100 organizations and brands standing with the ANA in opposition to what he calls a "harmful program," with brands such as Ford, GE and HP concerned about cybersquatting, among other issues. ICANN, still stinging from the .xxx domain debacle, is recruiting an "independent objector" to assess gTLD applications in a position that would commence in April.

Click here for more on the pros and cons of ICANN's dotbrand URLs initiative from a branding and naming perspective, and tell us what you think: Should brands fear gTLDs, or does it represent a great opportunity to solidify branding on the web?Continue reading...

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Google Sets a New Bar with Redesign

Posted by Shirley Brady on November 29, 2011 06:31 PM

Google revealed the next stage of its cross-product redesign today, with a video and blog post that commented:

Six months ago we started rolling out a new look and feel for Search, News, Maps, Translate, Gmail and a bunch of other products. Our goal was to create a beautifully simple and intuitive user experience across Google. We’re now ready for the next stage of our redesign—a new Google bar that will enable you to navigate quickly between our services, as well as share the right stuff with the right people easily on Google+.

Instead of the horizontal black bar at the top of the page, you’ll now find links to your services in a new drop-down Google menu nested under the Google logo. We’ll show you a list of links and you can access additional services by hovering over the “More” link at the bottom of the list. Click on what you want, and you’re off.

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Amazon’s Soap.com Entering Grocery Biz

Posted by Mark J. Miller on November 9, 2011 02:10 PM

You don’t think Amazon is dominant enough in the online-retail world? Well, neither did they, so they are getting into the online grocery-delivery service.

Soap.com, an online retailer of health, cleaning and beauty products that happens to be owned by Amazon's Quidsi division, is getting into the grocery business.

Soap.com is adding “more than 10,000 nonperishable food items — including coffee and tea, cereal and pasta — for purchase on its website,” AP notes. Offering free shipping for orders over $39, all deliveries happen within one or two days of order.

The AP points out that Soap.com is entering an already growing field with Fresh Direct and Peapod already doing battle along with such traditional grocers as Safeway that provide online-ordering opportunities, while “Wal-Mart Stores Inc. announced in April that it would test home grocery delivery in San Jose, Calif., with its ‘Walmart To Go’ business.”

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AOL's Armstrong Aims to Leverage Cross-Brand and Cross-Platform Reach

Posted by Sheila Shayon on November 3, 2011 04:04 PM

AOL CEO Tim Armstrong was comparatively upbeat on this week's Q3 earnings call, citing the web giant's February acquisition of The Huffington Post, the growth of the Patch network of hyperlocal community websites and increased mobile content as key drivers. As of September 30, 2011, AOL had $444.1 million of cash.

With a third quarter net loss of $2.6 million, or 2 cents a share on revenue of $531.7 million, down 6% from a year ago, ad revenue is up 8% from 2010 to $317.7 million. "Amazingly," Business Insider commented, some 3.5 million AOL users still access the brand via dial-up. On paper, CNN Money observed, AOL's financials may look "dismal," but its "quarterly revenue declines were the lowest in 5 years (while) search ad sales fell by the smallest amount in 2 years."

Since July’s changes in AOL’s ad operations, which saw Jeff Levick ousted (to land at Spotify as chief ad officer) and Ned Brody upped to the top spot, Armstrong said they’ve been tightening their focus and offering to marketers and advertisers.Continue reading...

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Yahoo Livestand Goes Live on the iPad

Posted by Shirley Brady on November 2, 2011 05:02 PM

Yahoo, which has been expanding its premium content partnerships, is bringing that content smorgasbord from its media and brand partners to the iPad with Livestand, described as "a personalized living magazine designed for iPad." More details in the press release below.Continue reading...

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