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Special Columns
Arindam Chaudhuri, Editor-in-Chief, 4Ps B&M Chief Consulting Editor's Desk
Rajita Chaudhuri
K.K.Srivastava Guest Column
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Google gets FTC’s nod but will it suffice?

For almost two years, the US Federal Trade Commission has been investigating allegations that Google unfairly dominates the Internet search market. The end of the FTC’s 19-month investigation did not excoriate the search giant as it took no action on allegations that Google manipulated its search results to favor its own services. Many industry groups and businesses such as Yelp and FairSearch.Org, had made claims of large drops in traffic due to tweaks in Google’s search algorithms. But the FTC’s ruling came as a disappointment for competitors such as Yelp, Expedia and Nextag, who had hoped that the commission would bring an antitrust case against Google based on the commission’s authority to combat “unfair methods of competition.” The European Union’s competition authority, meanwhile, is running a similar investigation and may soon accomplish what the FTC concluded it should not. Google committed to the EU last month that it would outline changes to the way it displays its own services in search results as compared to services of competitors.

Complaints over Walmart’s price-based ad campaign

American retail giant Walmart’s recent price-based ad campaigns, in which it claimed to offer better prices on some products than its rivals such as Best Buy and Toys R Us, has led to the filing of complaints to attorneys general in several US states over the past few weeks. In its filing to Michigan officials, Toys R Us said it has complained about a series of Walmart’s ads over the recent Christmas holidays, citing what it claimed were inaccurate prices on several toy items. Walmart, however, has defended its ad campaign. “We know competitors don’t like it when we tell customers to compare prices and see for themselves. We are confident on the legal, ethical and methodological standards associated with our price comparison advertisements,” its spokesman said. Walmart, which launched the radio and television ads last spring, said the initial ads spurred a 1.2% boost in sales at stores open at least a year and a 1.1% rise in store visits in areas where those ads were aired, compared with similar regions where they did not run.

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