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Author: Meghan Keane

Meghan Keane

Before becoming US Editor at Econsultancy, Meghan was a staff writer at Wired.com. There she wrote about business, technology and advertising for Wired's business blog Epicenter. Prior to that she was a freelance writer and worked as the Deputy Culture Editor at The New York Sun.

Hulu's freemium model is missing the premium part

Rupert Murdoch's News Corp is frantically trying to monetize its digital properties. As part of that plan, popular video site Hulu recently added a premium version that costs $9.99 a month. For consumers looking for high quality video content online, it's an interesting model. But there's one catch.

According to new research from One Touch Intelligence, 88% of the content available on Hulu Plus is already available on Hulu for free.


Groupon and The Gap: Local coupon sites could be a bad fit for national chains

Groupon is one of the e-commerce success stories of the last year. The group buying site's revenues are skyrocketing, and its half price deal with Gap sold 441,000 units last week. That translates to $11 million in sales in one day. Groupon has now announced that more national deals will roll out soon.

This is clearly good news for Groupon. But will it be good for Groupon's partners? Maybe not.

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Nordstrom increases sales by merging inventory

Nordstrom has added a new tool to its well-regarded customer service efforts: a seamless connection between the company's online and offline inventory. According to The New York Times:

"The change works this way: Say that a shopper was looking at a blue Marc Jacobs handbag at Nordstrom.com. She could see where it was available at nearby stores, and reserve it for pickup the same day."

It may seem like a no-brainer to allow customers to purchase any item sold by a single retailer. But the unusual thing about this story is that many traditional retailers aren't already doing it. 

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Case Study: Zecco's 300% lift from Promoted Tweets

Twitter's new Promoted Tweets ad platform may be new, but it's already gotten top ratings from advertisers. Online investment brokerage Zecco announced Promoted Tweets has increased the company's engagement rates on Twitter by as much as 300%. Why is the company so pleased?

According to Zecco CEO Michael Raneri, it has to do with engaging Twitter users:

"I think it's one of the first online brand engagement opportunities out there."


Adobe's latest problem: Privacy lawsuits targeting "zombie cookies"

A new battle is being waged in the online targeting wars. Privacy specialist Joseph Malley filed three lawsuits this month against online ad serving companies that use something called "zombie cookies." Defendants include brands like MTV, Disney and Quantcast.

And while the practice might not be widespread, it could be another blow against Adobe, since it involves advertisers using Flash to track consumers, even after they have deleted their cookies.

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Cord cutting is real. Even if cable companies won't acknowledge it yet.

Cable companies may have some very intricate ways of protecting their television business, but holding media companies to very strict partnership deals isn't going to retain subscribers forever. In addition to competition from telecoms and satellite providers, cable companies are dealing with consumers who don't want to pay their steep monthly TV bills.

But according to The New York Times, Americans are not giving up on their cable. That assessment doesn't account for the latest quarterly estimates. Or the large numbers of people who aren't cutting their cable so much as avoiding it entirely.

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Study: Higher spending small business marketers also spend more wisely

Marketing spend and allocation is a difficult issue for many businesses. But for small and medium size marketers (SMBs), it's even more important. When every dollar counts, you want to spend wisely. But according to a new study from BIA/Kelsey, SMBs that spend the most money on marketing are also allocating their spending more wisely.


Social media lessons from the "Ground Zero Mosque"

A small plot of land near the World Trade Center in New York City has been thrown into the spotlight recently. A Muslim organization called The Cordoba Initiative set out to build a mosque and community center in the space, which has gotten them wrapped up in a national political battle of epic proportions. Numerous politicians have spoken out against the project, leading its supporters to make charges of racism and breaches of freedom of speach and religion. According to a CNN poll, 70% of Americans are opposed to a new mosque being built in the shadows of the World Trade Center.

The issue is full of pitfalls — words like "bigot," "racist" and "extremist" have been flying all week — but one could have easily been avoided. That is the organization's social media debacle. The Cordoba project hired a New York based social media expert to run its Twitter feed. While his snarky Twitter messages might have been fine when his audience was a small group of New Yorkers, Oz Sultan's approach to Twitter did little more than antagonize people and embarrass the group...and himself.


Study: Email marketers are ignoring (and losing) non-responsive customers

Email marketing has suffered some blows recently. But companies that threaten to stop using that marketing channel certainly get noticed. Rumors of Ben & Jerry's killing its email newsletter created a mild tempest online recently. Just this week, The Onion's AV Club stopped email messages, and Pepsi created ire among fans for simply moving some of its messaging from Facebook to Twitter

Now there's a study that says email marketers aren't adapting their marketing emails to customer changes. They're sending messages to unresponsive email accounts, and according to Return Path, only 12.5% of marketers are doing anything about it.


Should Facebook let others check you into "Places"?

Facebook's foray into location-based services launched last night. And while Places borrows heavily from existing services available on Yelp, Foursquare and Gowalla, one difference is the way that Facebook plans to grow its new product.

Facebook Places check-ins will be shared with users' entire network of friends. And if users wish, they can check other people into locations. Perhaps predictably, there are some privacy issues with this approach. But it ensures that people who may not otherwise interact with Places are sure to know it exists. And unless objections arise, Facebook's appraoach should be great for user adoption.


The case against Google house ads

Google has come under fire for its search dominance from competitors, advertisers, publishers and regulators. And now a university professor is taking issue with Google's habit of purchasing house ads.

According to Santa Clara University professor Eric Goldman, Google gets an unfair advantage when it comes to bidding on its own ads. And he has a few points.

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Fast food chains are learning the benefits of mobile

Much has been written about the benefits of location-based services for small businesses, but national chains are no stranger to mobile technologies. And Fast food chains are taking note as consumers adapt to new mobile practices.

With mobile apps, text to order service and location based marketing messages, fast food companies are learning that mobile is very good for business.