theEweekly Wrap: Positions, privacy and presidents

By Rachel Hand topicIcon Manchester
All ads are equal Google has announced in an official blog that the AdWords Position Preference feature is being withdrawn. The tool automatically sets bid levels so that ads will reach a certain position; however, from May onwards, this can only be done by setting up an automated rule.

According to Search Engine Land, Google is now "seeking to dissuade advertisers from putting an emphasis on the position of their ads". This was supported by a report from Google's chief economist Hal Varian, describing the pitfalls and misconceptions around PPC ad positions. He warned: "An ad in a more prominent position on the page will tend to get both more clicks and more conversions than an ad in a lower position, but the conversion rate (conversions/clicks) will tend to be about the same for the two positions".

Tube plans on hold Plans to create provide passengers on the London Underground with mobile and 3G signal have been put on hold indefinitely. Intended to be ready in time for the London 2012 Olympics, the Tube network scheme was backed by firms such as the Chinese mobile giant Huawei, O2, Vodafone, Thales, and of course London Mayor Boris Johnson.

However, this week the plans were shelved as it seems the technical complexity and financial scale of the task was simply too much. Transport for London revealed that the intention to fund the project through mobile operators, with no cost to fare or taxpayers, was not viable. Meanwhile, a separate scheme to introduce Wi-Fi in Tube stations is still going ahead.

Google says Non Google has thrown its weight behind the French Association of Internet Community Services, an organisation set to take the French government to court next week. More than 20 firms, including Google, Facebook, Dailymotion and eBay, are united against a new law obliging websites to gather the personal data of users. If the government, police, or tax authorities should so desire, sites must hand over the names, addresses, telephone numbers and passwords of users.

The case follows drives for improved privacy in other EU countries concerning Google, such as Germany banning Analytics, and Spain requesting that links to censored or libellous articles are removed from search results. Google itself often acquiesces to government requests, for user data to be used in court cases or for the removal of certain web pages.

Presidential tweet US President Barack Obama is using social media as an integral part of his campaign to be re-elected in 2012. For the first time ever, a Presidential election campaign has its own hashtag – #Obama2012 – which is already picking up momentum. A promotional video has also been made, and posted to Obama's official website and Facebook page. The video only features members of the public expressing their support, and has garnered 19 million Facebook 'likes' and 7 million tweets.

Scott Goodstein, a key figure in Obama's 2008 presidential campaign, revealed that social media played an important part in its success; for example, voter questions would be directly answered by campaign staff. Meanwhile, rival Sarah Palin is seriously lagging in the Twitter stakes; @SarahPalinUSA has 474,000 followers compared to @BarackObama with 7,304,000.