Friday, December 14, 2007

Facebook Advertising

I know class is over, but I thought that I would share my Zappos/Facebook experience. I just ordered a pair of shoes on, and on the order confirmation page, this popped up:

What would you like to notify your friends on Facebook about?

I guess this is how they are trying to get people to opt in!


Sunday, December 09, 2007

The dark side of file-sharing (LimeWire)

Many of the hundreds of millions of people around the world who swap music, movies and other digital content on their personal computers over the Internet have inadvertently put themselves at risk of identity theft.
Users of popular file-sharing services such as LimeWire have found themselves victims of identity theft when their personal information was inadvertently shared on a so-called peer-to-peer network. And recent high-profile breaches via these networks have put thousands of people's financial information at risk. The problem typically arises when users set up file-sharing software and create a folder for their downloads in the same location as their personal files.
Precise data on the incidence are hard to come by, in part because personal information can be accessed many different ways, and victims may not think to blame their file-sharing activities. But identity-theft experts say the problem is real and growing.
The risk from file-sharing "will get worse before it gets better," says Don McGillen, executive director of Carnegie Mellon CyLab, an initiative of the university in Pittsburgh that develops computer-security technology.
In the latest incident, a Seattle man this week pleaded guilty to charges of identity theft for using LimeWire to steal tax forms, credit reports and student-loan applications from the computers of more than 50 people. He used the information to set up phony credit accounts to buy merchandise online.
Citigroup in September confirmed that it was looking into a data breach where the names and Social Security numbers from 5,200 customer accounts were inadvertently leaked by an employee using LimeWire. And in June, Pfizer said the names and Social Security numbers of 17,000 current and former employees were leaked after the spouse of an employee downloaded file-sharing software onto a company laptop. Both companies say they aren't aware of any identity theft linked to the breaches, but they have offered the affected employees or customers free credit monitoring.
In another case involving charges of identity theft, computer crime and racketeering against a group in the Denver area, the final defendant pleaded guilty last week to racketeering. The group had used LimeWire to access several financial records and used the money from their practices to buy methamphetamine, according to the indictment.
"Once the meth addicts have discovered it, it is in widespread use" for identity theft, says Tom Sydnor,director of the Center for the Study of Digital Property with the Progress and Freedom Foundation in Washington, D.C.
Regulators, identity-theft experts and the file-sharing services themselves acknowledge the growing risk and are taking steps to address it. Last month, the House Oversight and Government Reform committee sent a letter to the Federal Trade Commission urging it to expand its focus on file-sharing to protect users from identity theft. At least one company, Tiversa Inc., Cranberry Township, Pa., is offering products to monitor the sharing of files online. And LimeWire and other file-sharing services say they are seeking to limit how files are shared. Many identity-theft experts, however, say the steps are inadequate or confusing.
File-sharing allows users to swap personal files on their hard drives -- from music files and videos to documents and PDFs -- via a peer-to-peer network (often called a P2P). Users download software from one of a number of services that operate on these networks, with names like BearShare, Kazaa, Morpheus and LimeWire. The software then lets users access one of several P2P networks. Once users are connected to the network, they can search for and download copies of files that other users have shared from their hard drives -- even users of other software that use the same network.
P2P networks are often disparaged by critics for enabling users to illegally download copyright material. P2Ps first came to national attention in the late 1990s and early 2000s, when the original version of Napster battled litigation from the music industry. The possibility of identity theft wasn't really on the radar then. But now, the newer applications such as LimeWire -- which unlike Napster don't house a database of files on their own servers, in an attempt to avoid copyright litigation -- have led to a surge in popularity. At any given time, as many as 12 million people world-wide are logged on to P2P networks, according to Tiversa, and 450 million copies of P2P software have been downloaded.

Here's how inadvertent file-sharing often starts: When a user sets up the software for the P2P service, one of the first steps is to create a folder for the files the user will be downloading. Often, the user will place that folder within the computer's "My Documents" folder -- where people also typically put their personal files, including tax returns or other financial documents. Depending on how the user set up the program, all the files in the "my documents" folder or whatever convenient host folder was chosen -- and all of the subfolders -- are then available to others in the network.
Someone who searches a network for, say, "tax return" may be able to download a copy of those personal files off other users' computers. If a user has a company laptop, or has access to company files on their home computer, these files can get leaked, too -- even from the corporate server, Tiversa says.
Even tech-savvy users often don't have a clear understanding of how this works and how to protect select files on their computers, say identity-theft experts. The P2P services' software can be confusing, these experts say, and sometimes users think they have limited the sharing of their files, when in fact, they haven't.
Each service requires different steps. Consumers can try to consult with their software provider, but some are located overseas, identity-theft experts say. And even some experts disagree on the correct steps to use. A recent report from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office reviewed several online sources that offered instructions on how not to share files on P2P networks, and said most of the instructions were dated and inaccurate.
But for people who do want to use P2Ps, some experts advise reserving a separate computer just for file-sharing.
LimeWire -- one of the most popular P2Ps with an estimated 50 million users -- says confusion is mainly a problem for neophyte users. Mark Gorton, chairman of LimeWire, says the company doesn't track how much inadvertent sharing goes on, but he says the company has been tweaking the software to make it easier for people to avoid inadvertent sharing. For instance, he says that in the latest version of LimeWire, users are no longer able to share their entire C drive. The company has also added a warning icon that tells users how many files they are sharing and will show them a list if they click on it.
Another popular P2P service, BearShare, has had trouble in the past with users inadvertently sharing files. In 2006, BearShare was bought by a unit of iMesh Inc. as part of a larger settlement between the Recording Industry Association of America and BearShare creator Free Peers Inc. Talmon Marco, president of iMesh, says that the current iteration of BearShare helps to curb inadvertent sharing: Users can swap only media files, such as those for music or movies. Other files, such as PDFs, Word documents or text documents can no longer be shared.
Marty Lafferty, chief executive for the Distributed Computing Industry Association, questions the significance of file-sharing in the total cases of identity theft. Still, he says, the organization is developing best practices for the industry with regards to inadvertent file-sharing. For example, the DCIA is advising its members to rework their programs' warnings to make it clearer when users are sharing files that they might not intend to, says Mr. Lafferty.
Tiversa offers a consumer product that monitors customers' file-sharing, for an annual charge of $24.95. If a group of files that might contain sensitive information has been designated to be shared, the company will alert the customer and explain how to stop the sharing. Tiversa can also tell the user whether a shared file has been downloaded by another user.



Facebook backs off (at least a bit) on violation of users privacy. Interestinlgy enough, the CEO chose to comment on this development in a Facebook BLOG. Below is an exercpt fm a WSJ of Dec 6th, which also discusses the possible ramifications on the valuation of the company (recently estimated at 15 billion when MS acquired a 1.6% stake) and on the satisfaction of target-advertisers:

"In a Facebook blog, Mr. Zuckerberg yesterday wrote, "We've made a lot of mistakes building this feature, but we've made even more with how we've handled them. We simply did a bad job with this release, and I apologize for it." He added that Facebook users can now adjust their privacy settings to opt out of the Beacon program entirely.
Before the change announced yesterday, it would take as many as four clicks on settings to stop Facebook from sharing information. Beacon critics said it should be easier to opt out.
Beacon's success is crucial for Facebook, of Palo Alto, Calif. Third-party sites, working in conjunction with Facebook, use Beacon at no cost. Facebook benefits because, when a Facebook user shares information with his friends, Facebook can use that information to learn about the individual and send him targeted ads.
Advertisers typically pay a premium for targeted ads that reach users who are likely to be most interested in their product or service. That is key to Facebook's effort to increase its revenue, which will be slightly more than $150 million this year, according to people familiar with the matter.
Facebook is trying to raise as much as $200 million in the next few months, on top of the $300 million it has raised in a round of funding that values it at $15 billion. Potential investors will likely look closely at Beacon's prospects in determining Facebook's value. Last week, Hong Kong billionaire Li Ka-shing closed a deal to acquire a 0.4% stake in the site for $60 million. Inc., a Facebook partner, stopped using Beacon late last month because it wasn't satisfied with the way Facebook handled the program's start. The online retailer, based in Salt Lake City, says it doesn't plan to start using Beacon again until it knows Facebook users are happy with it.
"It's off, and it will stay off until we're satisfied that Facebook has better explained to its users what's going on," says Jonathan Johnson, Overstock's senior vice president for corporate affairs and legal.
Criticism over Beacon surged late last month, when Civic Action formed its group to protest. The group represents a little more than 0.1% of Facebook's 57 million active users but has been highly vocal and has attracted considerable blog and media coverage. The number of people in's group is also significant compared with the number of users who have encountered Beacon, which is in the "low six figures," according to Facebook.
Adam Green, a spokesman for Civic Action, said his organization is satisfied with Facebook's changes. "Facebook's policy change is a big step in the right direction, and we hope it begins an industrywide trend that puts the basic rights of Internet users ahead of the wish lists of corporate advertisers," he said.


Saturday, December 08, 2007

A New Product In The Video Search Space

A new video search site is launching and for those intereted in seeing what it does read the blog entry below or visit the website for ClipBlast. The blog also gives a handy list of the leading video search engine sites as a point of comparison.



So I take it we didn't earn enough money on ads to have a pizza party...

Everyone click on ads in the blog!! MUHAHA!!


WiFi on Airplanes...Finally!

Many of us have been waiting for the day when we could finally feed our Blackberry addiction on flights, when there is nothing else to do and you've already seen the movie they're showing. That day is here - albeit with strings attached. Starting December 11, JetBlue will offer Yahoo! Mail and Yahoo! Messenger, and Crackberry users can also check their mail/messenger. The service is free and there is some affinity between Yahoo! users and JetBlue fans, so it's a step in the right direction. The service is still limited though. If JetBlue could offer unlimited free Web access, this could help build their brand loyalty just like DIRECTV made them hip and different.

American Airlines and Virgin will both start offering Web access n Spring 2008, but of course there is a catch - $10 a flight for access. The business travelers will take the bait since they can expense it. The leisure (i.e. grad student) travelers like me aren't as likely to bite - it feels like yet another way the airlines are nickel-and-diming us - but then again, I'm already spending $5 on a magazine. So maybe the airlines just need to market and frame it the right way...



The Internet to Benefit From the Writer's Strike?

With the writers on strike, some believe that advertisers will turn to the Internet...

Who Would Benefit From Writers Strike? The Portals?

By Rafat Ali - Fri 07 Dec 2007 05:00 PM PST

So thinks Doug Anmuth, the Internet analyst from Lehman Brothers, in his weekly Friday note. Among his points:
-- Given that remaining TV inventory available in the “scatter” market is limited and reports suggest scatter ad rates which are 30%-40% above upfront rates, we believe advertisers may turn to where they know audience levels are growing and mass reach is still somewhat cost effective--the Internet.
-- We estimate a shift of 1% of total 2008 broadcast advertising revenue to the online channel could result in $491 million of incremental spending, potentially bringing our U.S. online advertising growth forecast from our current ‘08 estimate of 24% up to 26%.
-- We believe the primary online beneficiaries would be display-based sites such as Yahoo!, (NSDQ: YHOO) AOL, (NYSE: TWX) and MSN, along with advertising networks able to replicate broad reach.
-- While viewers are typically not alerted when a particular week’s episode is in fact a re-run, given the notable press coverage of this year’s writers strike we believe viewers are more keenly aware of the lack of new episodes and are therefore more likely to change viewing patterns.


The Mid-tail?

As I was catching up on reading email newsletters from the past couple of weeks I came across this interesting advertising analysis that further segments the Pareto curve beyond the Head and the Long Tail. Based on comScore data, the market of over 100 million web properties breaks down into four distinct sets, each with its own unique features and benefits: the 4 Portals, Top 50 Properties, 1000 Mid-tail properties, and the 100mil+ Long-tail sites.

Definitely informative for anyone in the online advertising space. Seems like the Mid-tail sites offer a great compromise between cost, reach and creative execution.



Friday, December 07, 2007

Classmates first social network to go public

Everyone is trying to cash in on social networking these days. The latest attempt comes from Classmates Media, which just filed to go public at a valuation of $600 to $700 million. That is a smidgeon of Facebook’s still-private $15 billion valuation, but Classmates is no Facebook.Its site,, is more a competitor of (which raised $25 million last April). While Facebook’s U.S. visitors grew 129 percent in September to 31 million (according to comScore),’s shrank 12 percent to 13 million. (Even managed an 18 percent gain).
Before buying this IPO, investors should look at who is selling. That would be United Online, which is spinning off 20 percent of its Classmates subsidiary and taking $50 million of the expected proceeds as payment for a loan (apparently, United Online didn’t want to simply invest in the business). United Online will keep the other 80 percent, and United Online CEO Mark Goldstone will also be the CEO of Classmates Media, and he is personally getting 2.8 million options at the IPO price. United Online’s current market cap is $1.2 billion. If it can price the IPO where it expects, at $10 to $12 a share, that would imply that half its value is attributable to Classmates.
Here’s what we learn from a quick perusal of Classmates’ S1:
—Revenues the first nine months of 2007 weer $140 million. (Full-year 2006 revenues weer $139 million; 2005 revenues were $85 million).—Net income the first nine months was $1.6 million. ($1.9 million loss in 2006; $8.2 million loss in 2005).—50 million registered users as of September, 2007. Only 12.8 million of which are active and 3 million of which pay on average $3.33 a month to email and connect with old friends directly.—Monthly churn of 4.6 percent
Classmates makes money primarily from those people willing to pay a subscription. It also operates MyPoints, a loyalty awards marketing service, and owns a French social network, Trombi, and Sweden’s Stayfriends.
Here was the doozy from the Risk Factors section:
If our social networking members do not interact with our Web sites, our business and financial results will suffer.
Our success is dependent upon our social networking members interacting with our Web sites. Currently, the network effect on our social networking Web sites is limited, and the vast majority of our member activity is within our high school communities. Our members do not visit our Web sites frequently and spend a limited amount of time on our Web sites when they visit. In addition, only a limited number of our social networking members post photographs and information about themselves, engage in message board discussions, view other members’ profiles or participate in the other features on our Web sites. If we are unable to encourage our members to interact more frequently with our social networking Web sites and to increase the amount of user generated content they provide, our ability to attract new users to our Web sites, convert free members to paying subscribers and attract advertisers to our Web sites will be adversely affected. As a result, our business and financial results will suffer, and we will not be able to grow our business as planned.
Oh, and the FTC is investigating its membership subscription auto-renewal policy, where it just keeps charging your credit card until you tell it to stop. (Imagine what its churn rate would be if it didn’t resort to that sleazy tactic?). Maybe the FTC should try to find out why anyone would pay to be part of a social network when there are so many others out there that let you keep up with your high school or college friends for free.


Thursday, December 06, 2007

The Long Tail - Making the World a Better Place

The “Long Tail” - I’ll begin at the end; the “Long Tail” concept is a true embodiment of democracy; a consumer democracy, in which we the consumers have the greatest possible selection to choose from, while not being limited by the offerings that companies want to “feed” us. The Long Tail concept talks about the elimination of hits from being our main consumption source, as more niche products get a stage with the elimination of the wall that the retailers put between consumers and freedom of choice.

As the internet becomes more and more prominent in society, consumers can purchase almost any product if not digitally, via digital retail outlets, which are not limited by shelf space and rental fees. In some cases a product can be produced on the spot, for example custom printing of books. The digitation of products, i.e. Amazon Kindle, which enables us to download books onto digital format, eliminates the need for brick and mortar marketing and distribution. Of course, retailers are losing their competitive advantage as the market relies heavily on digital technologies due to elimination of the fixed costs, which used to be the driver of barrier to entry in many industries, especially in consumer goods industries.

Companies like Google can benefit from the Long Tail concept, as they become brokers in the sale of almost any possible product. Any retailer that pays Google in the CPA pricing model actually pays Google a commission for every purchase the consumer makes. When thinking of music, Napster does not hold shelf space and as it does not actually develop talent and doesn’t pay for recording studios, the company can enjoy the revenue generation, while holding no inventory and not paying rent. Amazon’s Kindle could revolutionize the book industry, as it provides consumers a convenient and inexpensive way to purchase any book immediately, while eliminating the need for shelf space.

When thinking of the artists and authors that are the drivers behind the media industry, there is much more room for unexpected stars to shine, as their voices may be heard. If traditionally, only records, books or movies with blockbuster success, or at least minimum expected sales volume, were actually published, in the digital age, the voices of these creators can be heard cheaply online, with the ability to test the products for free online. Word of mouth marketing plays an important role here, as one satisfied consumer can promote the book of an obscure writer who otherwise would have never been published. The snowball effect can take place and lead to the birth of an online bestseller. This way the consumers, not the publishers, determine the next bestsellers.

Netflix, which is about to drive Blockbuster out of business, using the internet as its marketing extension, is now holding online inventory, which can be downloaded instead of ordered on hard format. What Netflix failed to consider was that as Blockbuster’s competitive advantage was eliminated but the incorporation on video rental services online, the same is happening to it. As the video renal business is not one with high customer captivity, many other player are entering this online market and cutting Netflix’s margins perpetually. If Netflix finds a way to push away competitors like iTunes and other subscription based services, it may exist in this market. I view this scenario unlikely to happen.

In summary, the Long Tail concept thins the fat corporate cats, that have lost their competitive advantage and leaves much more room for alternative products that are now cheaper to market than ever before. The Long Tail is about the consumers gaining the power that capitalism intended them to have from its inception.


New technology to track website visits

An article on the first page of the Marketplace section of today's WSJ reports that CenturyTel Inc., a phone company providing internet access, is using a technology developed by NebuAd that can keep track of every website its users visit.  This is an improvement (of sorts) over current trackers monitor only certain sites.  It does however allow users to opt out.  And it reports that it protects privacy by not tracking visits to sites related to sex, health, and politics.  Still, they could discover your obsession with Barry Mannilow, so be warned.


Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Facebook now lets users opt out

Facebook said it would now let members completely opt out of Beacon, its controversial advertising product that shares information about its users' purchases with their friends.


Worried about Beacon?

Don't be. There's a firefox plug in that blocks data transmission between Facebook and external sites. Get it here, and if you're worried your Christmas will just be ruined, better tell your friends too.

Oh, and here's how to do it.


Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Why consumers open E-mails

I found this article interesting because I have seen many articles writing how we make consumers open E-mails, but not why consumers open E-mails.

Discussions so far has been a kind of "product out" thinking rather than "customer in" way of thinking. This analysis is just an first step to understand why consumers open e-mails, but this type of further analysis would lead to know consumers much better.


LA Times adds Mixx

Since we were talking about newspapers online I thought it would be interesting to note how they are connecting to social bookmarking sites to drive more traffic. LA Times just announced that it will incorporate Mixx (similar to Digg) into its website. Wall Street Journal has already started using Digg buttons on its website. I think it is interesting how these newspapers are trying to incorporate the social trend. I personally think there is too much social networking surrounding us, I would not mind a break when I read my news.


Facebook Privacy

I found an interesting article on the privacy issues of facebooks new Beacon Program. Thought it might be of interest to people.

'The more details that emerge about Facebook's Beacon platform, theworse an idea it seems.It's glaringly obvious that the new program -- which alerts people'sfriends of their online purchases -- violates users' privacy. And,while Facebook argues that the program poses no threat because userscan always opt out of it, it's now come to light that the opt-outmechanism itself is seriously flawed.The Associated Press reported last week that Facebooks users who makepurchases at sites participating in the program have just 20 secondsin which to opt out of having that information published. That'sbecause the opt-out mechanism consisted of a small pop-up thatvanishes 20 seconds after it appeared. After the window disappears, sodoes the user's chance to opt out.At launch, 44 companies are participating in the Beacon program,including movie ticketer Fandango, travel company Travelocity andonline shoe retailer Zappos.Consider, this roster of participants means that people's Facebookfriends can now know details of their lives ranging from what moviesthey watch to how much they spent on a new pair of boots -- unlesspeople can act quickly enough to keep that information frompublishing.But one reason people like online shopping at places like Zappos isbecause they offer speed and convenience -- including the convenienceof not needing to scrutinize the terms and conditions with vigilance.At many of these sites, people enter their credit card information andbilling address once and don't worry about it again. Unless they'vebeen following the business pages, they certainly have no reason tothink that their purchases are about to become common knowledge.Given that, it's clear that the Beacon program has the potential toblindside users; it's not even slightly surprising that a protestgroup started by MoveOn has drawn 20,000 members in less than a week.Companies don't choose default settings by accident. Facebookexecutives had to have known requiring opt-outs would result in farmore participation than requiring users to affirmatively opt in to theprogram. Still, if the company cares about protecting users' privacy,it should immediately revamp this poorly thought out program.'


For You Holiday Cyber Shoppers Out There

these two websites will allow you to track those holiday sales prices


Wikipedia Contributors to be Paid?

Well, not just yet. However MIT professor and online community pioneer Philip Greenspun has given the Wikipedia Foundation $20,000 to start paying "artists who create 'key illustrations' for the site". While $20k might not be a big start financially, it might be a turning point in how contributors are recognized. To facilitate this distribution, Wikipedia will layout an infrastructure that could in the future allow all contributors to be paid for their contributions.


Apple drops NBC's Heroes and The Office, among others...

Apple, having yet to renew its content distribution agreement with NBC Universal, began pulling all television programming produced by the network from its iTunes digital download service this past weekend.

The ongoing dispute between Apple and NBCU stems from the pricing of the content within iTunes.

Apple claims that NBCU wanted to more than double the price per episode from $1.99 to $4.99. Meanwhile, NBCU maintains that it was only trying to keep the door open to more flexible pricing methods and was hoping to price Heroes at $2.99 on a trial basis.

Given how the music industry power structure has shifted to Apple, this zinger of a quote from NBCU CEO Jeff Zucker is hardly surprising:

We know that Apple has destroyed the music business -- in terms of pricing -- and if we don’t take control, they’ll do the same thing on the video side."

For more, click here:


Monday, December 03, 2007

facebook: - Privacy Troubles

facebook is toeing a dangerous line.

Apparently, some of its major advertising partners are getting cold feet, including Coca Cola, Overstock & Travelocity, over privacy issues! Thank goodness someone cares...

This is just more backlash against facebook's Beacon program that tracks user purchases and displays them on a user's network newsfeed. This backlash is happening even after facebook changed its Beacon program from an Opt-Out program to an Opt-In.

You'd think facebook would be a little less aggressive in attacking its users with this new ad-based revenue model. If the backlash continues, and facebook doesn't let up, there are leaving room for a competitive attack, in my opinion.


Online Dating meets YouTube??

Yes, the two have sparked an interesting, fledgling relationship! Say hello to "Say Hey Hey!"

"Say Hey Hey!" is currently in Beta phase, but aims to become the YouTube of online dating services. Although videos on online dating sites is not unique, WooMe and SpeedDate use video media to create matches between users, "Say Hey Hey!" is approaching it in a pretty creative way by enabling users to post wacky, "not appropriate for work" videos meant to woo other singles into contacting them and, hopefully, sparking a romantic match.

Single? Click here --> Say Hey Hey



"A picture is worth a thousand words, especially when those words are passwords you can’t remember."

This is the tag line for a new web business trying to solve a problem that many of us are faced with day to day. A dilemma exists for people who find themselves signing on to more and more password protected sites and services everyday - signing on to social networking sites, bank account and credit card statements and everything in between. The dilemma is whether or not to stick to one password for every site, thereby putting not one but all of your accounts at risk of being compromised in an identity theft situation, or to create multiple, unique passwords for all of ones online accounts at the risk of spending 15 minutes typing in 100 different username/password combinations every time you want to check in on your bank balance.

Vidoop offers a password "keychain" for all of the accounts you log into online! Vidoop then protects your passwords by creating an image based authentication system (obviously not another username & password combo!). In other words, Vidoop provides "a visual grid of images that fall into particular categories. When you first create a myVidoop account, you pick 3-5 types of images (e.g. birds, skyscrapers, flowers, cars). Then whenever you need to authenticate with myVidoop, you simply type the letters of the images in a randomly generated grid that fall into your chosen categories."

And of course, this approach is way more secure than your traditional online password process as it is impossible for a computer to distinguish between the encrypted pictures.


New spam-blocking technology?

There's an article in today's NYT about a new technology developed by Steven Kirsch (who founded Infoseek) to block spam.  According to Kirsch the technology will be much more effective than current spam blockers, though its effectiveness depends on the number of people who use it.  Below I've pasted how the article says it works.

 I don't get it.  Can anyone explain to me what the reputations of recipients are?  Or how this works?  I understand that it doesn't simply scan emails for signs of spam.  But that's about it.

Any help would be greatly appreciated.


Sunday, December 02, 2007

Has AOL Figured Out Video Advertising?

AOL recently announced plans to introduce a new ad format to integrate into online videos. Advertisers know that users hate pre-roll ads but these are much more valuable than post-roll ads since viewers can't skip them. Nevertheless, the ad industry is eager to find the best way to include advertising in video without alienating consumers.

AOL's new ad format is a way to address the issue and it may be a real leap forward. Basically AOL will be offering "video ticker ads," a graphic banner ad that is integrated directly into streaming video content. The ads will appear for a short time and disappear if the user doesn't click on it. If the user does click on it, the video will pause while the a full ad (e.g. - video or Flash) is launched.

The real beauty of this new format is that it could also be adapted in the future for interactive television advertising. We are already accustomed to tickers (aka - "lower thirds") that contain information or network promos. The next step could be advertisements that could be triggered by pushing a button on your cable remote that would pause your program and launch an interactive ad.

Sounds promising. Here's a link to the full announcement from a couple of weeks ago:


Black 20

Prof. Kagan highlighted as a content site, sponsored by AXE.

I recently came across this site,, that creates it own content and posts new material every day. The founders were formerly of NBC Digital Studios but left to form their own broadband content company. See this article from the New York Times for more:


Saturday, December 01, 2007

Google Maps Adds Locator

Google Maps Adds Locator, But Not For iPhone

Google has updated its Google Maps application adding a new feature called My Location.

Google has updated its Google Maps application adding a new feature called "My Location." While the new feature is available for many phones, Apple's iPhone is not among them.

My Location approximates your location by using the surrounding cellular towers instead of GPS data, which is often associated with such features.

"It's not GPS, but it comes pretty close (approximately 1000m close, on average)," said Google. "We're still in beta, but we're excited to launch this feature and are constantly working to improve our coverage and accuracy."

To find your location, you simply press the "0" button while in Google Maps. Your approximate location is shown with a blue dot on the map.

Google said the My Location feature is available for most web-enabled mobile phones, including Java, BlackBerry, Windows Mobile and Nokia/Symbian devices.

User interest in the discussion area for an iPhone version seems high, but the feature is not compatible with the iPhone

>> Comments from Sanne: I installed the update on my Blackberry and am surprised by the accuracy. At most, it locates you in the next street. I estimate that the accuracy is in the range of 100m


More Privacy from Google Street View

Google Street Views Hides Your Face. What Took So Long?
November 30, 2007
— 05:35 PM PST — by Kristen Nicole

Finally, Google’s thinking about making its Street Views map completely anonymous, to protect the privacy of people that show up in the photographs. For its Europe Street Views version, Google will be modifying all photos to ensure that faces and license plates are not visible. It may do the same with the US version, which launched months before Street Views in Europe.


So what took so long? Privacy advocates were all over Street Views when it first came about. And while Google made a few concessions to appease those with privacy concerns by offering to alter images upon request, it looks like Google may finally be doing the right thing when it comes to these Street Views maps.

This could be in part because of the increased amount of pressure being placed on Google as it expands globally. Other countries are far more strict about privacy standards than the US. Thankfully, Google’s announced that it will be thinking about making changes accordingly to the US version as it takes these steps for meeting privacy standards across the world. This will be something that other services, like EveryScape, will have to keep in mind for their own expansion as well.

A possible downfall of modified street views images–getting slightly less funny pictures to poke fun at. What do you think: good for Google, or waste of time?