Welcome to Brandsmart 2010!

Attend the Chicago AMA Conference on June 24

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Top Internet Brands in the News & Two Top Trends

It’s easy to get lost in the details of the daily news churn as it relates to today’s top internet brands like Google rated #1 brand globally and Facebook.

The top Internet brands*, according to a key ranking on unique visitors are:

Compete's Top 10 Sites Ranked By: Unique Visitors - April 2010

Domain & Unique Visitors

1 google.com 145,646,954

2 Facebook.com 135,375,036

3 yahoo.com 128,239,023

4 Youtube.com 90,780,604

5 msn.com 85,656,793

6 amazon.com 72,195,127

7 live.com 71,490,935

8 ebay.com 67,715,471

9 wikipedia.org 62,762,314

10 bing.com 50,122,089

Each of the top Internet brands faces similar privacy and open content issues as they are challenged to grow. Here are some updates:

There is a constant barrage of invasion of privacy issues.

* Facebook has repeatedly been the target of privacy controversies. When Facebook started sharing personal data and online behavior with outside websites, an advocacy group filed a complaint on May 5 with the Federal Trade Commission about the misuse of personal information. Some 31,000 users, less than 1% of total Facebook users, banded together to create the Quit Facebook Day website. Although the site attracted attention, it did not make a dent in decreasing Facebook users.

* Congress has asked Google and Facebook for cooperation into inquiries regarding privacy practices. Google had a snafu with WIFI data that was mistakenly collected in Luxembourg.

2. Foreign countries are challenging the open content concept.

Youtube and Facebook have had numerous incidents. Facebook is banned already in Syria, China, Iran and Vietnam. Just recently, both Facebook and Youtube were banned from Pakistan due to inappropriate Muslim content. They have since been allowed to be reinstated by censoring out content inappropriate to Muslims. Bangladesh followed Pakistan’s lead and banned Facebook as well.

• Italy is threatening Google’s open content premise and business model.
Three Google executives were convicted of violating Italian privacy laws because the Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi wants to control Internet content. He believes that the Google leadership is responsible for third-party text, photos and videos and if the conviction is upheld, Google’s business model of advertising and searching based on open access to all will be at peril.

As these top Internet brands continue to grow and attain more market share, power and revenues, you can expect to read more news regarding yet undiscovered privacy issues. Just remember that you can have a voice through collective groups online, through social media campaigns and our government and politicians if you want to speak your mind.

You can also expect additional foreign countries, be it Western Europe or third-world countries, to be questioning and censoring the Internet to suit their politics, policies or religions. The overall nature of the Internet may look very different from country to country in the future. Each of the Internet brands may look very different overseas vs. the US version of the same brand. It is not unusual for the global expansion of any US brand to face serious issues unique to each country. It will be necessary for the management to be in close touch with their foreign consumer insights and constituents in order to succeed. What are your thoughts?

What’s next for these top Internet brands?
I guarantee there will be a lot of change, aligning of powers (Yahoo’s online search deal with Microsoft), some further company consolidations and product/service brand expansions. For instance, although Google started out as a pure search engine business, they have expanded into more software-like enterprises with Chrome OS, Docs and Android. Google is even entering the media industry with its “Internet TV” deal with Sony this fall. What do you think is on the horizon?

* Note that I am including only pure-play internet brands (but not for long) and not brands that have brick-and-mortar, multi-channel or manufacturing components.

(For the curious, here are some additional rankings based on: Best Global Brands, Great B2B sites, Top E-retailers, Top website designs, and on and on depending on what criteria or industry you want to look at).

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