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Thursday, March 13, 2008

Google unveils new Ad management for ad publisher

Web search giant Google Inc plans to unveil a new service that Web publishers can use to manage their online ad sales and serve up ads each time a consumer pulls up a Web page, the Wall Street Journal reported on Thursday.

The new Ad Manager service will provide the ad service free, said the Journal.

Google is hoping that Ad Manager users will agree to carry some ads Google sells in any vacant ad spots on their own Web sites, and Google would take a commission on revenue from any ads it sells, said the report.

Ad Manager , which Google said has already been tested by a few businesses, is designed to streamline how ads are placed on Web sites and generate performance reports detailing how successful those ads are in reaching consumers, including click through-rates and revenue paid by the advertisers for those clicks.

Google said Ad Manager's purpose is to ease some of the problems that come with managing advertisements on a Web site, such as gauging available inventory and how to pick the highest-paying ads. The service is hosted on Google's servers, and Web site publishers can access it through a Web browser.

As of Thursday, Ad Manager entered a beta testing phase, and other publishers may apply to participate. Google makes technology such as Ad Manager available for free to enlarge the circle of publishers that use its advertising technology, bringing it revenue through fees.

Other online advertising specialist companies charge for similar placement and management services, including DoubleClick, which Google bought for $3.1 billion in April 2007. European regulators approved the acquisition earlier this week.

Ad Manager is flexible enough to let publishers sell their own advertising, Google said. For ad space they can't sell, publishers can opt to use Google's AdSense system to fill unsold slots.

Google's AdSense delivers text advertisements that are matched with the content of a Web site. Google will let publishers use Ad Manager in tandem with similar technology from other competing ad placement networks.

Ad Manager can also target ads at specific users. It is capable of delivering ads based on a user's domain, the brand of Web browser and language it uses, the PC's operating system and how much bandwidth is available on their Internet connection.

That information may seen potentially sensitive, but it's automatically revealed when a browser visits a Web site. Increased attention has come around how Internet advertisers target ads to users and how they handle personal information.

Company sues iTunes over alleged patent violations

An Apple Nano and ITunes music card on a computer keyboard in 2007. A small US firm said Wednesday it has filed a lawsuit accusing Apple's online music store iTunes of using its patented technology for distributing digitized music and video.

Apple Inc. was sued Wednesday over allegations its iTunes online music store and iPod music players are illegally using a patented method for distributing digital media over the Internet.

Atlanta-based ZapMedia Services Inc. sued Apple in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas, accusing the Cupertino-based company of violating two ZapMedia patents.

ZapMedia wants royalties on Apple's sales of iPods and iTunes music, which reached nearly $11 billion last year. The success of iTunes has helped make Apple the No. 2 music retailer in the U.S. behind Wal-Mart Stores Inc., according to market researcher NPD Group.

The patents in question cover a way of sending music and other digital content from servers to multiple media players, a broad description that could also apply to a wide swath of other companies selling digital media and the devices to play it.

ZapMedia applied for the patents in 1999. One was granted in March 2006, the other on Tuesday.

ZapMedia said it met with Apple to discuss licensing, but Apple rebuffed the offer.

"When someone takes our vision and our intellectual property without a license after several attempts, we have no option but to protect it through every means available to us," Robert Frohwein, ZapMedia's general counsel, said in a statement.

An Apple spokeswoman said the company doesn't comment on pending lawsuits.

A small US firm said Wednesday it has filed a lawsuit accusing Apple's online music store iTunes of using its patented technology for distributing digitized music and video.

ZapMedia Services Inc. is demanding unspecified damages and royalties from California-based Apple for supposedly using its intellectual property in iPod MP3 players and iTunes.

"The complaint alleges that ZapMedia Services' property is being exploited in a manner which is unlawful," ZapMedia attorney Steven Hill of law firm Hill, Kertscher & Wharton said in a written release.

A lawsuit filed in a US district court in Texas contends ZapMedia began work on a "system and method for distributing media assets to user devices via a portal synchronized by said user devices" in the late 1990s.

ZapMedia contends it met with Apple and "major technology and media companies around the globe" while crafting an online content delivery platform which it eventually patented.

Apple launched its iTunes digital content software in 2001.

ZapMedia said it tried to resolve the alleged patent violation complaint with Apple before resorting to a lawsuit. Apple declined to comment on the lawsuit as per its policy not to discuss pending litigation.

YouTube and TiVo In Promising Partnership

YouTube is expanding on a global scale and plans to go from just being an internet site to becoming a TV destination, as TiVo Inc. made an announcement on Wednesday on a new partnership that plans to bring YouTube videos directly on users’ television sets.

Tara Maitra, Vice President and General Manager for Content Services at TiVo said: “YouTube APIs enable TiVo to provide an extremely rich and highly personalized viewing experience for streamed video on the television.”

This collaboration will enable TiVo users to watch high-quality videos from YouTube right on their television, and with the help of YouTube’s APIs, they will also be able to search and instantly stream videos from YouTube.

The service reminds us of Apple’s initiative last year, when they started Apple TV, which also allowed users to watch YouTube videos on their televisions. The TiVo deal just seems to boost YouTube, which is already a popular Web destination, but could also become a television ‘must see’.

Out of a total of 4 million TiVo subscribers, less than a quarter of them will actually benefit from the new collaboration, as it requires a broadband connection supported only by more recent versions of hardware.

The service is expected to become available later this year, enabling users to rate, flag and share videos, as well as log into their YouTube accounts directly from TiVo and access their favorite channels and playlists.

YouTube has continued to grow in size and popularity over the years, and it became a top Web destination, and not necessarily only for young people. The ‘YouTube on your TiVo’ can only make things better for both, as it could attract even more audience.

“TiVo should be the best experience for all video options, whether it’s coming from cable, satellite or off a server,” said Ms. Maitra as quoted by The New York Times. Ever since it was founded, in 1997, TiVo became a lead provider of superior television experience, and it promises to continue to offer their customers everything they want in the entertainment field.

YouTube getting TV shot from TiVo

YouTube, not happy to be just an Internet site, is expanding to the medium it has helped undermine -- the boob tube.

TiVo Inc., the digital video recorder maker, announced that its customers would be able to watch YouTube videos on their TVs using one model of TiVo's set-top box sometime this year.

Over the last year, it has been possible to watch YouTube videos on the television through other devices, such as Apple Inc.'s Apple TV.

But TiVo, which has more than 4 million subscribers, could make YouTube a television star.

YouTube has been a thorn in the side of traditional media ever since the video sharing website was created in 2005. Now owned by Google Inc., YouTube has faced criticism and legal trouble that it benefited from visitors copying TV shows and putting them on the site.

YouTube has also hastened the fracturing of how people, especially teenagers, get their entertainment, with many turning on their computers instead of TVs.

Monthly, 66 million viewers watch about 2.6 billion videos on YouTube, accounting for about 57% of the 116.7 million monthly online video audience, according to Nielsen Online.

A Harris Poll in December found that 65% of U.S. adults who were online had watched a video on YouTube, compared with 42% the previous year. Among people 18 to 24, 85% watched something on YouTube, compared with 73% the year before.

"Among all age groups, there's interest in more video online, both professionally created and user generated," said Jim Schaffer, vice president of client development for media and entertainment research for Harris Interactive.

"But clearly the younger age groups are clamoring for it more," he said.

Many people already go to YouTube for the same reason they use TiVo -- to be able to watch TV when they want it. But with TiVo, YouTube might finally make it on the main home screen.

"It's possible it could bring people back," said Amanda Lenhart, senior research specialist at Pew Internet & American Life Project.

"But if it's really complicated it probably won't change how people watch their YouTube.

Shuttle docks with space station

Shuttle Endeavour and a crew of seven blasted off Tuesday on what was to be the longest space station mission ever, a 16-day voyage to build a gangly robot and add a new room that will serve as a closet for a future lab.

The seven crew members of the space shuttle Endeavour boarded the International Space Station on Thursday after docking high over Southeast Asia, NASA said.

The space rendez-vous took place 342 kilometers (212 miles) over Singapore at 0349 GMT, two days after Endeavour blasted off from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida, a NASA TV commentator said.

A bell rang on the ISS after docking was complete to welcome the shuttle on board, in a tradition borrowed from nautical practice.

Hatches between the shuttle and the space station were opened at 0528 GMT, and the three ISS residents and seven Endeavour crew members, including Japanese astronaut Takao Doi, greeted one another with hearty hugs.

About an hour before docking, shuttle commander Dominic Gorie guided the spacecraft through a back-flip maneuver while the ISS crew took some 300 digital pictures of the underbelly of the space shuttle.

The pictures were to be sent to Earth and analyzed for signs of potential damage to the shuttle's thermal tiles, a routine procedure since the space shuttle Columbia disaster in 2003.

Columbia disintegrated re-entering Earth's atmosphere, killing all seven on board, because its thermal shield had been damaged when it was struck by a piece of debris during launch.

Gorie then painstakingly guided the shuttle toward the ISS, carefully aligning the two spacecraft with respective masses of 120 and 320 tonnes, hurtling through space at 29,000 kilometers (18,000 miles) per hour.

The crews now begin 12 days of joint operations to include initial work installing a Japanese laboratory that is to become the largest and last research module of the International Space Station.


The shuttle Endeavour docked early Thursday at the International Space Station, completing another picture-perfect part of its mission after a flawless launch, US space officials said. After docking, the station's three-member resident crew and the seven-member Endeavour crew opened the hatches between the craft at 0528 GMT Thursday to begin 12 days of joint operations.

About an hour before docking, shuttle commander Dominic Gorie and pilot Gregory Johnson steered Endeavour through a now routine yet graceful back flip before the space station's cameras to line up the two craft.

The photos, along with those from a self-examination carried out by Endeavour on its way to the space station, are to be studied by ground control to make sure the shuttle's heat shield is still intact after the stresses of Tuesday's launch.

One of the first tasks of the mission is for US astronaut Garrett Reisman to move into the space station while French colleague Leopold Eyharts moves into the shuttle in preparation for his return to Earth after a lengthy stay in orbit.

The crews intend to conduct five spacewalks to install the first part of Japan's Kibo laboratory and the Canadian-built Dextre, a robotic device.

Japan's long-awaited Kibo laboratory - its arrival was delayed by the 2003 Columbia shuttle disaster and the ensuing years of revamping the ageing spacecraft - is to perform about 100 experiments that could aid the development of medications and test new materials in weightlessness.

Japanese astronaut Takao Doi, part of the Endeavour crew, is to help install the Kibo lab.

Two other Japanese astronauts are to fly with missions in May and December to complete construction of the laboratory.

With the addition of Kibo, Japan's Space Station Integration and Promotion Centre north of Tokyo would join other control centres in the United States, Russia and Germany in monitoring components of the space station.

The US space agency, NASA, has an ambitious schedule this year as it hurries to finish construction work on the space station so it can retire the shuttles by 2010.

Russia's Soyuz craft can carry astronauts to the station but only limited amounts of construction material and laboratories because of their small size.

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