theEweekly Wrap: Kindle, Kinect, and government ads

By Rachel Hand topicIcon Manchester
Public information Whitehall published department business models this week as part of a transparency drive, revealing plans for the future of government advertising. As previously reported in the Wrap, the government is confirmed to be seeking sources of free advertising as austerity measures take hold.

The plans also seem to suggest the replacement of the Central Office of Information with a US-style Ad Council. The US council relies on donations of ad space – receiving contributions worth over $2 billion (£1.24 billion) in 2007-8 – and volunteers from the marketing sector. The UK version meanwhile will offer performance-related pay to agencies involved with government campaigns.

Sneak previews The latest Google innovation slipped in unannounced this week after trials in October. Instant Preview, triggered by clicking the magnifying glass to the right of search results, opens a small page-view box in the same window, and highlights the most relevant paragraphs. The feature is currently only available on natural search results and is rolling out in 40 languages over the coming days.

The official Google blog claims the change will "provide new ways to evaluate search results, making you more likely to find what you’re looking for on the pages you visit". Like Instant itself, the changes could have a positive outcome for marketers too; the click-through rate may be lower, but relevant clicks and conversions will improve due to a more engaged searcher.

Kinect kick-off The launch of Microsoft's Xbox Kinect device has caused excitement across Europe. The motion-sensor add-on was available from midnight on November 10th 2010, for around £130. A completely hands-free gaming experience, Kinect promises to be a big hit with families and non-gamers in the run-up to Christmas.

It will face stiff competition from the Playstation Move, but Kinect is already selling out across the UK. The Guardian reported that some of the biggest-selling games playable with Kinect include Dance Central, Sports Active, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, and Kinectimals – which allows users to pet, speak to and play with a variety of virtual pets.

Slamazon Amazon was criticised and boycotted by thousands when it emerged they were selling an e-book entitled "The Pedophile's Guide to Love and Pleasure", by Phillip R. Greaves. The existence of this "how-to guide for pedophiles" was originally flagged by TechCrunch on the 10th, when it was the 158,221st biggest seller. Within hours, it had rocketed to #96.

In response to the myriad complaints, threats to boycott, social media protest groups and pleas to remove the book, Amazon told TechCrunch: "it is censorship not to sell certain books simply because we or others believe their message is objectionable". As TechCrunch commented, "Middle America is about to find out about this thing and it’s not going to be pretty". At the time of writing, the product page for the book was 'not a functioning page'.