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The Year In Pictures, In Review

Luminate CEO (and my boss) Bob Lisbonne debuted his Forbes column, Visual Approach, with a look back at “the most widely photographed year in history” and the major developments across the imagesphere in 2012: The Year In Pictures, In Review.

The year in images dawned with an explosive start when Facebook announced it would acquire Instagram. While many fixated on the $1 billion price tag, implications for Facebook’s mobile strategy, or whirlwind negotiations, I found it fascinating that a company whose essence revolved around relationships between friends, would find irresistible a network whose connections centered on pictures.

It was a year of significant hardware innovations, pictures from Mars, break-through interactive galleries and the first skirmishes in a battle of the Internet titans over who will dominate the future of photography. Full column here.

Should Google Ban Itself for Paid Link Violation?

Google’s recent online ad campaign for its Chrome browser appears to violate its own policy around buying links that might affect a company’s rank in Google’s search results. Google blames its agency, the aptly-named Unruly Media.

From Search Engine Land:

The arrow points to a link leading to the Google Chrome download page. This is a straight link, not blocked with nofollow. It only appears in this post because the post is part of a sponsored campaign by Google, as noted at the bottom of the page. Therefore, both the author and Google itself are in violation of Google’s guidelines and risk being banned by Google….

Paid links drew much attention last year, after Google penalized JC Penney, as well as Forbes and Overstock for using them. Google even banned BeatThatQuote, one of its own companies last year over the issue. In 2009, Google penalized Google Japan for its own search results for the same issue, not removing it but reducing its ability to rank for 11 months.

Potentially, all this means that Google will have to ban the Google Chrome download page over paid links. That would suck for Google, since it’s busy running ads for Google Chrome, which will in turn prompt people to search for it. Right now, the page appears at the top of results for searches on google chrome….


UPDATE 3:26pm 1/3/2011. From All Things D:

Google, which says it had no idea it was paying bloggers to promote its Chrome browser, is punishing itself for doing so. The search giant tells Danny Sullivan it will penalize the “pagerank” of for “at least 60 days.”

Seth Godin: Quality v. Volume; Humans v. Spam

Seth Godin has an odd — though perhaps too common — encounter with the robots that are building ad networks all over the internet. The robots in question, in this case, are employed by Forbes.

“A woman named Jennifer Rosini at Forbes sent a note that read:

Hi , You are invited to join the new community of the high quality business and financial bloggers from Our community – the Business and Financial Blog Network, will launch shortly.

“I wrote her back, pointing out that she hadn’t even bothered to pretend it was a personal note… just a mail merge missing my name.

“She responded (this is the entire note):

I’m not sending these out. I have people working for me that send out 500 a day. Are you interested in joining, Seth?

“The juxtaposition of the third sentence with the second just highlighted the inanity of the entire enterprise. It’s a high-quality network, but 500 people a day are being asked to join, and it’s okay to spam people but do I want to join anyway?”

“The end result of spam (email spam, blog spam, Twitter spam, Squidoo spam, comment spam, phone spam, politician spam) is that it eats away at your brand. If you don’t have a brand, you might make some short term cash but it gets tiresome creating annoyance everywhere you go. If you do have a brand, a brand like Forbes, say, you don’t notice the brand erosion… until it’s too late.”

Needless to say, brand marketers don’t want to be associated with distressed brands — so what’s the point of this approach?