Five things worth sharing from the last week (or so), brought to you by a different member of the Browser Media team every Friday.

This week’s My Five is by Katie.

Penguin Update

Over the weekend you may have seen your rankings fluctuate with the confirmation from Google that it updated Penguin. For anyone that needs a reminder, the Penguin update targets sites with a backlink profile that Google feels is in violation of its webmaster guidelines. This latest Penguin is pretty much the most anticipated algorithm update in the history of Google, because people hit by it back in October 2013 will have had to wait until now to see the results of the changes they’ve made. And because of this, Google have suggested that in the future updates will happen on a more regular basis.

Google have also revealed that although the update rolled out on Friday, it is not yet complete and will continue over the next few weeks. They also said that this update will impact less than 1% of English queries, and that this was a ‘refresh’ – from which we can assume that no new signals were added and the algorithm wasn’t changed in any way.


The American author James Frey has been in the UK this week, promoting his new book. ‘Endgame: The Calling’ is the first novel in a series of books by Frey, who has decided to build a massive franchise around it. Usually if a book becomes a big seller then organically films, toys, video games and the like soon follow. However, in this case Frey has a franchise in place before all the books are even completed. Social media feeds, YouTube channels and games are ready to roll out, and the two main characters have been active on their Google+ and Twitter accounts for almost a year. The book also has an offline treasure hunt for readers to take part in, with half a million dollars worth of real gold for the winner.

And how does such an elaborate franchise get off the ground before people even decide if it’s worth it? By getting a big backer – and in this case Frey has Google are handling the online side of it all.

Apple Pay System

This Monday saw the Apple Pay system make its debut in the US. This system will enable users (at the moment just iPhone 6 and 6 Plus but coming soon to iPad and Apple Watch) to make purchases using contactless payment. Participating shops will have sensors by the till that scan both your iPhone and your fingerprint, using the same technology as an Oyster card. To set it up all you need to do is take a picture of your credit card, then verify it. Apple Pay saves your credit card details in Passbook – but doesn’t actually store the details on the iPhone or the Apple servers, unlike Google Wallet which keeps your sensitive info on the Google servers.

More than 220,000 stores or apps will accept this new payment, including McDonalds and the largest American pharmacy chain, Walgreen. Visa, MasterCard and American Express are all on board too, but Wal-Mart Stores (the biggest retailer in the US), corporate credit cards and store cards aren’t included. Aside from making in-app purchasing easier, making newer Apple products more in demand and apparently being more secure than other payment types, Apple Pay will also generate an estimated revenue of $118 million in 2015.

Blah Airlines

Virgin America unveiled a new multichannel content campaign this week that caught the attention of Econsultancy for being “an expert lesson in what not to do on almost every digital channel in existence”. BLAH Airlines is a spoof airline set up by Virgin to show just how terrible an airlines can be.

There’s a six hour advert on terrible air travel on YouTube, which sees Virgin keeping people engaged in the comments section (a brave move considering that YouTube comment trolls are surely lurking), a terrible offline help desk at the end of their hotline number, and a website which takes ages to load and is full of broken links. The website also hosts a number of hilarious FAQs, a live chat option and links to email, social and fax (yes, fax). Just like The Chatsfield by Mills and Boon, the social accounts and email are run brilliantly without breaking character, with some brilliant snaps on Instagram and customer interaction on Twitter.

You can check out the full Econsultancy review here.

Digital Download Decreases

A report released by Nielsen SoundScan last week revealed that from January to September 2014, digital music downloads in the US dropped by nearly 13%. To put this in perspective, the overall figure for 2013 was a drop of just 5.7%. And whereas in 2013 it was mainly singles that suffered, this year albums released in the last eighteen months or older albums still in the Billboard Top 100 Chart saw the biggest decline.

Aside from people just not wanting to purchase the newest Justin Bieber album for keeps, the most likely reason for the drop is music streaming. This week the Global Web Index released a report which showed that everything streaming related is on the rise. They revealed that 8 in 10 internet users say they have streamed music, while half said they’d rather sign up for a membership to a streaming service than pay to own the music. And as the Spotify Guide for artists reveals that “a Spotify Premium user delivers more than 2 x the amount of revenue to the industry (per year) as the average US music consumer currently does”, the music industry clearly isn’t dying under the weight of digital advances as once feared.