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17

Jul

Babies in the Office

Reality documentary following an experiment by minicab firm Addison Lee to help its employees manage their work/life balance by putting their babies right next to their desk

13

Jul

BBC News - Facebook 'likes' and adverts' value doubted

A BBC investigation suggests companies are wasting large sums of money on adverts to gain “likes” from Facebook members who have no real interest in their products.

It also appears many account holders who click on the links have lied about their personal details.

A security expert has said some of the profiles appeared to be “fakes” run by computer programs to spread spam.

Facebook said it had “not seen evidence of a significant problem”.

"Likes" are highly valued by many leading brands’ marketing departments.

Once a user has clicked on a link the company it belongs to can then post content on their news feed, send them messages and alert their friends to the connection.

Facebook makes money by charging companies a fee to show adverts designed to attract new “likes”.

Some companies have attracted millions of “likes”.

But the BBC has been contacted by one marketing consultant who has warned clients to be wary of their value, and carried out an experiment that backed up his concerns.

The vast majority of Facebook’s revenues come from advertising and its performance will be scrutinised when it releases its financial results on 26 July - the first such report since its flotation.

Puppet masters

Earlier this year Facebook revealed that about 5-6% of its 901 million users might be fake - representing up to 54 million profiles.

Graham Cluley of the security firm Sophos said this was a major problem.

"Spammers and malware authors can mass-produce false Facebook profiles to help them spread dangerous links and spam, and trick people into befriending them," he said.

"We know some of these accounts are run by computer software with one person puppeteering thousands of profiles from a single desk handing out commands such as: ‘like’ as many pages as you can to create a large community.

"I’m sure Facebook is trying to shut these down but it can be difficult to distinguish fake accounts from real ones."

A spokesman for the social network said: “We don’t see evidence of a ‘wave of likes’ coming from fake users or ‘obsessive clickers’.”

But Mr Cluley said it was in the firm’s interest to downplay the problem.

"They’re making money every time a business’s advert leads to a phoney Facebook fan," he said.

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P&G’s Directors Said to Discuss Need to Replace CEO McDonald

Procter & Gamble Co. (PG) board members are dissatisfied with Chief Executive OfficerRobert McDonald’s performance and are discussing a possible leadership change, according to people familiar with the situation.

Some P&G directors are talking about contacting former executives to potentially take the top job, said one of the people, who declined to be identified because the matter is private. James McNerney, who is chairman of the board’s compensation and leadership development committee, has told other members of the board he is unhappy with McDonald’s performance, especially after the company cut forecasts three times this year, another person said.

The board’s discussions in part come as activist investor William Ackman takes a stake in P&G. Ackman plans to press for management changes and is seeking more investors to join his push, the people said.

The moves increase pressure on McDonald, 59, who has been CEO for about three years and came under fire from analysts earlier this year when P&G lost market share to competitors. The stock had fallen 8 percent this year through July 11, giving the Cincinnati-based company a market value of about $168 billion. The stock rose 3.8 percent in regular trading yesterday, its largest gain in more than two years, and gained 0.2 percent to the equivalent of $63.84 at 10:13 a.m. in Frankfurt today.

Former Executives

“This is a really good company with some serious problems,” said Ali Dibadj, an analyst at Sanford C. Bernstein & Co. in New York. He has recommended P&G consider a breakup if earnings don’t improve this year. “A lot of those problems have been driven by management.”

Directors don’t see a clear internal candidate to replace McDonald, one person said. A.G. Lafley preceded McDonald as CEO, while other former executives include Paul Polman, the CEO of Unilever, who ran P&G’s European business until 2006.

Paul Fox, a spokesman for P&G, declined to comment. McNerney, who is also the CEO of Boeing Co. (BA), wasn’t available for comment through his spokesman.

P&G, the maker of Tide laundry detergent and Duracell batteries, most recently cut its profit forecast last month, citing currency fluctuations and rising commodity costs, even as competitors reaffirmed their projections. In February, McDonald announced a $10 billion cost-reduction plan that included 5,700 job cuts.

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