In 2013 the postal service will continue promotional initiatives designed both to entice marketers to integrate mobile technologies into their direct mail pieces.
Congress is looking into the practices of database marketing firms—and it's causing a schism between lawmakers, privacy advocates, and marketers.
On July 24 the House Judiciary Committee convened for a hearing on the Marketplace Equity Act, one of three bills empowering states to compel online merchants to collect sales tax.
W3C has been in talks about "Do Not Track" (DNT), but little, so far, has been resolved.
Spam — unsolicited and untargeted marketing messages that have long been the scourge of email — is becoming an increasing problem on social media sites.
The controversy surrounding the collection of online sales tax isn't new, but the renewed fervor buzzing around it is.
As the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) — which reported in February losses totaling more than $3 billion — struggles to stay solvent, it is using a number of promotions to try to keep shippers shipping.
The embattled U.S. Postal Service (USPS) faces a host of new challenges, several of which threaten to directly impact marketers. However, many who rely on direct mail say that in spite of the tumult, they'll wait and see how things pan out before altering marketing strategy.
Although Oracle's lawsuit against Google for infringing on Java patents to develop the Android operating system has the potential to drive up costs for marketers who use the platform, most are keeping their concerns to themselves as the litigious saga continues.
Marketers have expressed skepticism about whether a new data security bill introduced in the U.S. Senate would be effective in solving what Wes Nguyen, head of marketing at Privacy Data Systems, said is a common problem for companies in an age where most information lives online.
While consumers may think of interest as the only cost of paying with plastic, retailers have long been burdened with "swipe fees" the credit card companies charge them for every transaction. The Federal government instituted a cap on swipe fees on July 21, limiting them to 7 to 12 cents per transaction.
E-commerce retailers and wireless companies are teaming up to lobby Congress to simplify the taxation process for digital goods, such as MP3s, e-books, mobile apps and games. Working with various industry groups, the companies are supporting legislation that would simplify the tax code for digital items.
The US Postal Service literally guaranteed the effectiveness of integrating direct mail into marketing campaigns when it launched a postage-back assurance program in mid-May to attract the business of large marketers.
The financially struggling US Postal Service distributed its first round of "Sample Showcase" mailings last month, helping marketers reach a target audience of mothers in Austin, Texas, Chicago and Denver. Brand marketers reacted positively to the program's initial results.
Retail marketers are adjusting their data collection strategies after the California Supreme Court ruled in February that Williams-Sonoma could no longer collect ZIP codes during credit card transactions. Retailers are also concerned that the ruling, which has spawned similar lawsuits, will impact other types of data collection.
The threat of federal consumer privacy regulation has spurred marketers to take online privacy into their own hands.
Industry experts said the Restore Online Shoppers' Confidence Act, passed in December, will protect some consumers by curbing dishonest practices, but it won't affect most ethical marketers.
Marketers reacted with weariness to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) proposal to implement an online "Do-Not-Track" option that would allow consumers to opt out of all third-party tracking and behaviorally-targeted advertising.
American voters sent a clear message about government spending last month when they voted in a new House of Representatives class dominated by Republicans.
Marketers are hoping that online advertising self-regulation initiatives announced last month will increase trust and transparency with consumers, and government.
Retailers are again rallying to fight state initiatives to tax merchants who do business with residents without a physical presence in their states.
Merck, the manufacturer of painkiller Vioxx, has settled deceptive advertising charges for $58 million and agreed to submit all new television commercials for its drugs to the Food and Drug Administration for review for the next seven years. The agency had challenged Merck's direct-to-consumer television ads, which began in 1999.
The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has agreed to review a case, in which ad-supported freeware company Zango sued spyware removal company Kaspersky Lab in 2007, alleging that Kaspersky interfered with Zango's relationships with its customers by deleting Zango's pop-up serving program.
The US District Court for the Northern District of Illinois ordered Bernard Fromstein and Judy Provencher to pay more than $49 million for their role in the 2006 Datacom Marketing Inc. case. The Canada-based scheme allegedly used telemarketing call centers to scam American businesses into paying for business directories and listings they did not order.
MySpace has claimed $230 million in damages — the largest anti-spam judgment ever — from Sanford Wallace and Walter Rines for allegedly stealing passwords through "phishing" scams on the social networking site.
Web-based classifieds giant Craigslist has countersued its minority owner, eBay Inc., for allegedly violating federal and state antitrust laws. It claims eBay attempted to use information from its 28% stake in Craigslist to benefit its own classifieds site Kijiji, which launched last year in the US.
Google is being sued by David Almeida, a private investigator who is using Google AdSense to promote his business. Almeida filed charged against the Web giant in federal court last Tuesday claiming the company deceived him and charged for ads displayed on third-party Web sites, a service he claims not to have requested — Almeida alleges that he left the "optional" box blank.
The Federal Communications Commission has conducted two hearings on network management, following Comcast Corp.'s claim that it sometimes delayed file-sharing traffic for subscribers as a way to keep Web traffic flowing. FCC chairman Kevin Martin said that his agency has all the authority it needs to prevent Internet service providers from discriminating against Web surfers and that new legislation is unnecessary.
California state lawmaker Charles Calderon is proposing a tax on music purchases made online. The proposal, AB1956, seeks to tax music downloads by adding sales tax to music purchases made online — increasing the price of the average iTunes download from 99 cents to $1.08.
EBay filed a lawsuit in the state of Delaware against community classified site Craigslist last Tuesday. The online auction site, which bought 28.4% of Craigslist in 2004, claims that Craigslist's two directors, founder Craig Newmark and chief executive Jim Buckmaster, unfairly diluted eBay's economic interest in the company in January.
Canada Post Corporation and FedEx Canada have teamed up to develop Priority Worldwide, a new international express service. The service will be delivered in Canada through Canada Post's retail and commercial networks, and worldwide through the FedEx international delivery network, beginning in Fall 2008.
According to the quarterly Bellwether Report from the UK-based Institute of Practitioners in Advertising, the direct marketing sector is showing its biggest decline in eight years. Budgets dropped 6.3% in the last quarter, the report said, spurred by weak sales and ongoing economic concerns.
The Do-Not-Call Fee Extension Act of 2007 has been enacted, setting the annual fees telemarketers will pay to access the registry in fiscal year 2009 at $54 for each area code of data accessed or $14,850 for access to every area code in the registry, whichever is less. More than 157 million phone numbers are currently enrolled in the National Do Not Call Registry.
The Federal Communications Commission may amend its rules on how phone and cable companies can use customer information when competing for business. It is expected to look further into whether customer retention efforts between phone service and cable providers are pro- or anti-competitive.
A US District Court judge in Northern Illinois ruled that the Communications Decency Act of 1996 protects Internet service providers from being held liable for mistakenly blocking permission-based e-mail. Dave Linhardt, CEO of 360 Insight, lost a case, in which he accused broadband cable provider Comcast of unfairly blocking messages that he claimed were permission based. The judge ruled that Comcast had acted in good faith when it blocked e360's messages.
The US Postal Service has published its changes to Shipping Service standards in the Federal Register. They will take effect May 12. Express Mail prices will be zone-based prices, taking into account weight and distance. Priority Mail retail prices are increasing by 6%, while Parcel Select prices are increasing by 5.7% on average.
Charles Farrugia, a defendant in a Federal Trade Commission lawsuit alleging a scam involving telemarketing lists and American businesses, has settled FTC charges for his role in the May 2006 Datacom Marketing case. Farrugia, who was acting as the corporate defendants' president when the case was filed, was added as a defendant in November 2006.
UPS lowered its first quarter earnings expectations to 86-87 cents per diluted share from a previously anticipated range of 94-98 cents. According to the company, lower volume trends were experienced and are expected to continue as a weak US economy causing a reduction in domestic package volume and a shift away from premium products.
The Interactive Advertising Bureau released digital video ad format guidelines for in-stream, overlay and video companion ads to simplify specs and make creative submissions more efficient. The guidelines deal with linear formats such as pre-, mid-, or post-roll ads, as well as non-linear units such as overlays or product placements. The trade group is seeking comment on the guidelines throughout this month.
Google, MySpace and Yahoo have partnered to create a nonprofit OpenSocial Foundation with the goal of supporting neutrality in the development of social network widgets. Google launched its OpenSocial network last November at a time when Web applications on social networks such as Facebook were gaining popularity. In other news, Facebook suffered a security breach last week. Users' restricted photos were available for public viewing for about an hour.
EBay Inc. said last week it would cut 125 jobs in Europe and North America, including 70 positions at its headquarters in San Jose, CA. The online auction site said the cuts are aimed at streamlining operations. It currently employs about 15,500 people.
A two-year-old case between the Federal Trade Commission and Impulse Media Group Inc. was settled in the US District Court in Seattle last week, finding Impulse Media not responsible for sexually explicit e-mail spamming by its affiliates.
In an investor presentation detailing its three-year financial plan and strategic initiatives, Yahoo's board of directors unanimously determined that Microsoft's January 31 unsolicited acquisition proposal substantially undervalues Yahoo.
Alliance Data Systems Corp. has released a statement alleging a breach of the May 17, 2007 merger agreement between Alliance Data and The Blackstone Group. The notice demands that Blackstone affiliates, Aladdin Solutions and Aladdin Merger Sub, cure the breaches and consummate the transaction.
The USPS has launched a pilot Mail Back program that allows customers to recycle small electronics and inkjet cartridges by mailing them free in envelopes available in 1,500 post offices. Postage is paid by Clover Technologies Group, a remanufacturer of inkjet cartridges, laser cartridges and small electronics. Nineteen other companies bid for the contract.
Yahoo Inc. amended its company's bylaws last week, extending the deadline for nominations to Yahoo's board of directors from March 14 to 10 days following the public announcement of the date for Yahoo's 2008 annual meeting of stockholders. As of press time, this date had yet to be announced. A company statement said, "the amendment will give stockholders who want to nominate one or more directors, including Microsoft Corporation, more time to do so."
Time Warner Inc.'s Internet service provider Road Runner began blocking images in e-mail by default in a move to protect subscribers from spam. Road Runner has about 7.7 million subscribers. Other e-mail inboxes that switch images off by default include AOL, Hotmail/WLM, Yahoo!, Gmail, Outlook 2007, and Outlook 2003.
A dispute over preferential URL legislation has surfaced in the Florida courts. Chris McElroy has filed a class action suit against Network Solutions LLC and the Internet Corp. for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN).
Experian filed a lawsuit against identity theft insurance company Lifelock in a California district court last week. It alleges Lifelock has illegally put fraud alerts on credit files managed by Experian, flooding its system and reducing the effectiveness of legitimate credit freezes. Lifelock executives have stated the suit is "frivolous" and a ploy to attack a competitor.
Arbitron and Nielsen Co. cancelled further development of their joint Apollo Project, a research tool that aimed to track purchase influencers and metrics across multiple media channels in a single database. The companies said that despite interest from Procter & Gamble and six other clients, there was not enough interest to justify the cost of a national rollout.
Company of the week
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