The Web might not look like a mess, but the existence of duplicate pages containing identical content throws a wrench in the process of automated search-engine indexing. Google, Yahoo! and Microsoft have announced they will cooperate on a single standard, called the Canonical Link Tag, to prevent the indexing of multiple URLs linking to the same content.
A study of online retail sales in January found that the number of sessions in which consumers completed an order were down in nearly all categories, but there were some promising signs. "Our data suggest that consumers are very nervous about the economy and that an economic recovery fueled in large part by online consumer spending has not happened yet," said John Squire, chief strategy officer for Coremetrics, which conducted the study. "It isn't all doom and gloom, however. Some categories are actually doing a good job of attracting consumers."
The Federal Trade Commission issued a 48-page report outlining a series of principles designed to serve as the foundation for industry self-regulation in online advertising. The principles stress openness and transparency in terms of data collection and targeted advertising. FTC commissioner Jon Leibowitz said, "If the industry doesn't do a better job at explaining what they are doing with consumers' information and giving them a choice, then it could easily move to a more regulatory approach."