The battle for the tubes

As video downloads become more and more popular with services like Netflix, we’re going to see plenty of battles like this.

Level 3 Communications Inc., an Internet backbone company that supports Netflix Inc.’s increasingly popular movie streaming service, complained Monday that cable giant Comcast Corp. is charging it an unfair fee for the right to send data to its subscribers.

Comcast replied it is being swamped by a flood of data and needs to be paid.

Level 3 said it agreed to pay under protest, but that the fee violates the principles of an “open Internet.” It also goes against the Federal Communications Commission’s proposed rules preventing broadband Internet providers from favoring certain types of traffic, it said.

“Comcast is effectively putting up a toll booth at the borders of its broadband Internet access network, enabling it to unilaterally decide how much to charge for content,” said Level 3′s chief legal officer, Thomas Stortz, in a statement.

Comcast called Level 3′s position “duplicitous” and said a previous deal for the companies to handle traffic for each other had become unbalanced in Level 3′s favor.

Stay tuned . . .

Penny auction sites

Penny auctions have been getting plenty of buzz, as some users are getting incredible deals for things like iPads and cars, while others are complaining that they aren’t winning the auctions. Here’s an article where penny auctions are explained. If you’re going to play, you have to understand the system. Research penny auction tips and come up with a strategy, but remember that not everybody wins . . .

Bloggers pitching products

The shift from old media to new media is accelerating, and now more companies are using bloggers to help deliver their brand messages. Here’s an interesting example from Vaseline.

If you’ve been complaining about dry skin on the Internet, Vaseline may have heard you. With winter just around the corner, the brand is announcing a new advertising campaign for its Vaseline Intensive Rescue skin cream product, sold by Unilever. The campaign represents the first time Vaseline has used crowdsourcing to find product spokeswomen.

“The core of the idea here is to find women where they talk about this problem,” Anne Jensen, the senior brand building director for beauty care in the Unilever personal care division, said of the company’s decision to the scour the Web looking for women who were talking about their dry skin.

Vaseline worked with the New York office of the agency Bartle Bogle Hegarty on the campaign to restage the brand with things like new packaging and product improvements and to find women bloggers who could represent the campaign.

“Most Vaseline campaigns are rooted in real stories by real people. That’s what makes it authentic,” said Ashley Bekton, group business director at Bartle Bogle.

The agency worked with a subcontractor to crawl the Internet for conversations around words like “dry skin,” “lotions” and “skin issues,” and to scan blogs and social media sites like Twitter and Facebook for conversations people were having about those topics.

The company ended up selecting three bloggers who will write about their experiences and be spokespersons for the brand. Interesting stuff.

At least the approach is methodical. Some companies think they can hire a couple of interns to run Twitter and Facebook and all will be well . . .

Avoiding financial scams

Here’s a good video about financial scams, which are now going beyond the Internet to the mobile world as well. Be careful of smishing, which is a new scam where you get a text and a prompt to call. Don’t follow the link!

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