Whitey - 12:05 pm on Feb 28, 2013 (gmt 0)
we still don't know exactly what factors define a brand in Google's eyes
In some major verticals it's the brands with the largest ad spend / market capitalizations on an international and regional basis. Probably that equals a lot of activity and buzz that might contribute to arms length signals and overides more irrelevant and secondary ranking techniques.
Editorial may play a part also in major verticals.
It may not work exactly like that, but it sure looks and seems someone put a do not disturb sign on certain brands with demotions and penalties. If it fit's the commercial and quality objectives, manipulative techniques appear to be ignored. And for sites to overide the brands with improved UI/quality/authority , there isn't exactly a plethora of success being published out there [ although as i mentioned earlier, reduced resources would have constrained a lot folks].
I guess Google needed to draw a line in the sand and redraw the starting point of what they wanted to see [ not what we wanted to be seen ] as central to their content / product offerings and commercial strategies.
Interflora, clearly irked the heck out of the SPAM team and whoever else at Google was in on the decision [ if at all ].