Facebook: New ads know where you are
Facebook (FB) is developing ways to let companies use real-time location data to target consumers with mobile ads. After Facebook’s May IPO, shares fell as much as 32 percent in part because of investor concerns that the social network’s mobile ad revenue wasn’t keeping up with the growing number of users who access Facebook via smartphones. Facebook has been testing new ad products and showed almost a dozen ideas to corporate chief marketing officers and agency executives. While it’s also testing mobile “offers” that let retailers give coupons to customers who are nearby, Facebook trails Google (GOOG), which takes in half of all mobile ad sales.
Pharmaceuticals: No overtime pay for drug reps
Drugmakers don’t have to pay sales representatives overtime, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in a 5-to-4 decision that will save the industry billions of dollars. The court said drug reps are exempt from a federal wage-and-hour law because they are considered “outside salesmen” even though they don’t specifically take orders from doctors. GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), which was sued by two employees, had argued that representatives are salespeople because they’re trained to get commitments from doctors to prescribe drugs.
Ford Motor: Software glitches hurt ratings
Ford (F) says software upgrades to fix glitches in its dashboard touch screens came too late to improve quality scores in the J.D. Power & Associates new-car survey. Ford is now ranked 27th, down from 5th in 2010, in part because of the touch screens. The software upgrade this March, which includes faster touch responses and improved phone controls, didn’t go far enough to please many owners, says Consumer Reports auto-test chief David Champion. He says aside from the high-tech features, Ford’s basic quality is good.
Merck: Marketing a drug with cartoons
Merck’s (MRK) use of cartoon characters from the movie Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted to market the children’s allergy drug Claritin is dangerous and deceptive, say 11 advocacy groups in a complaint filed with the Federal Trade Commission. The FTC restricts drug marketing to kids. The marketing campaign for grape-flavored chewable children’s Claritin includes free Madagascar stickers, a mail-in movie ticket voucher, and film-themed games. Merck says the ads are aimed at parents, not kids.
Mining: IPads help drive demand for lithium
The growing popularity of the iPad (AAPL), Toyota’s Prius, and other devices that use lithium-ion batteries is a boon for miners. Prices for lithium have tripled since 2000 as more products use the technology. About 95 percent of the lithium market is controlled by four companies, headed by the Australian firm Talison Lithium (TLH:CN). Rio Tinto (RIO), the world’s third-biggest mining company, may become a leading supplier if it continues developing a new site in Serbia, which would be the world’s first new lithium mine in 25 years.