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Going Tech Green: Google Files Patent for Floating Data Centers September 12, 2008

Posted by Bill in Ad Serving, Google, Green, Online Advertising, Technology.
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I have to admit, this is truly interesting. Thanks to Joe Tedd for sending to me…

Article from Red Herring

Search giant Google has filed a patent application for a “water-based data center” that would use seawater for cooling and rely on ocean tides, currents, and waves for power generation.

The application, filed last year with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, became public knowledge on August 28. Google envisions “floating platform-mounted” data centers 3 to 7 miles from shore, in 50 to 70 meters (164 to 230 feet) of water.

As the global use of the Internet grows, more large computing facilities, or data centers, are needed to support the demand. But these data centers, many as large as 100,000 square feet, require large amounts of costly real estate and electricity.

Google’s plan strikes at both expenses. Data centers would be housed offshore, presumably where land prices are cheaper, and would generate their own electricity, said Data Center Knowledge Editor Rich Miller.

Miller said annual operating costs for data centers in the U.S. can run as high as $28 million per year in regions with relatively expensive electricity.

Google has been searching for ways to use more renewable energy sources, investing in solar companies and other startups through its foundation.

But schemes for harvesting ocean power from the natural motion of the water are still largely untested in commercial applications. Numerous pilot plants are under development around the world.

Google doesn’t intend to build its own wave energy machines, however. The patent application mentions the use of Pelamis P-750 Wave Energy Converter systems for generating electricity from waves.

The P-750 systems are made by the Scottish company Pelamis Wave Power. The company has built what it claims is the first commercial wave farm off the coast of Portugal. It has a 2.25 megawatt capacity, but the machines are still in commissioning phase.

Google isn’t the only company looking at placing data centers offshore. San Francisco Bay Area startup IDS would like to place them on decommissioned cargo ships, according to some reports. And Google might encounter resistance to its idea from businesses that don’t want important information residing on data centers that are less resistant to man-made or natural hazards, such as hurricanes.

Patent filings typically take 32 months for approval, according to the U.S. patent office. That means Google might not receive its patent on the floating data centers until October 2009.

The system envisioned by Google would be modular, meaning it could easily be scaled up or down depending on the need.

In one example, the patent application describes 40 Pelamis systems spread over a square kilometer to produce 30 megawatts of electricity.

The platform system would also use wind turbines to provide pumping power for the seawater cooling units.

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Traditional Publishers Need to Become Ad Networks Themselves… March 24, 2008

Posted by Bill in ad networks, Ad Serving, exchanges, Online Advertising, Press Mentions, Right Media, traditional advertising.
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A lot is being written about online media not being sold like “pork bellies”, or as a commodity. Those people are missing the point of the importance of syndication in today’s market. Publishers may not opt to send remnant inventory to ad networks, but rather BECOME ad networks themselves. Martha is doing it. Forbes is doing it. Viacom already does it.

Mike Shields of MediaWeek wrote a decent article summarizing this. While I think he missed my main point, the article is a good read….

ESPN Turns Off Ad Nets to Protect Brand, Content

The site recently cut ties with Specific Media and several other unnamed ad networks, and is taking the bold stand that ad selling that relies heavily on arbitrage and algorithms is not for them.

Mike Shields

Top Web publishers are planning a revolt. Even as more prominent sites experiment with selling remnant inventory through online ad networks, and in some cases ad exchanges, ESPN.com is saying thanks, but no thanks.

The site recently cut ties with Specific Media and several other unnamed ad networks, and is taking the bold stand that ad selling that relies heavily on arbitrage and algorithms is not for them.

“We’re heading down a path where it no longer suits our business needs to work with ad networks,” said Eric Johnson executive vp, multimedia sales, ESPN Customer Marketing and Sales. Sources say that ESPN would like to rally support from other publishers behind this move, and ultimately tamp down ad networks’ growth. Turner’s digital ad sales wing is rumored to be considering a similar move, though officials said no decisions are imminent.

“Turner, like a lot of media companies, is currently reviewing all of its media practices, and ad networks are certainly a part of that process,” said Walker Jacobs, senior vp of Turner Entertainment New Media Ad Sales.

ESPN’s decision crystallizes a philosophical debate in the online ad sales industry that has intensified since the Interactive Advertising Bureau’s annual meeting last month, when during a keynote address Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia media president Wenda Harris Millard gave her now famous warning against selling Web inventory like “pork bellies.”

Two sides have formed—those who want to protect traditional, direct selling of premium content brands, and the math-loving crowd which favors automation and data. The math lovers make the traditional sellers nervous.

“There is a genuine concern about commoditization of brand inventory by some of the networks,” said Millard in an interview. She’s concerned that such a debate is happening so early in the Web’s development as a business. “We haven’t even established the value of our medium, and all of a sudden it’s about price. That is very bothersome to people who are brand stewards.”

Of course, there’s a reason that online ad networks, which rose to prominence in the late ’90s by aggregating inventory across thousands of smaller Web sites, are playing a bigger role in Web publishing. Most large sites are swimming in avails they can’t sell. Insiders estimate that 20 percent to as much as 70 percent of inventory can go unsold at a given time. Thus, ad networks offer a monetization alternative.

And in recent years, to differentiate themselves, more of these companies have been touting themselves as ‘premium” ad networks, talking up their associations with the ESPNs of the world when they meet with ad agencies. “Nobody comes into a meeting and says, ‘I’ve got a bunch of lousy sites,’” said Mike Cassidy, CEO of Undertone Networks.

That doesn’t sit well with some publishers, like ESPN, who see networks as profiting on their brand investments and their user data, while also threatening their own marketer relationships. Many just think using networks devalues the power of content.

Several publishers, in conversations with Mediaweek, privately applauded ESPN, and hoped that others would follow suit. But applause doesn’t necessarily translate to action.

“I don’t see it happening,” said John Battelle founder/chairman/CEO Federated Media, a company that represents numerous blogs. “I suppose certain premium brands could say, ‘I’m above the fray. Our inventory is all very valuable.’ With that there are some problems.”

Central among those problems is that in this accountability-driven quarter-by-quarter business climate, it’s hard for any publisher to walk away from revenue, even if it’s not huge.

“Not all inventory is created equal,” said, Peter Naylor, senior vp, digital media sales, NBC Universal. For example, Naylor said iVillage’s Horoscope section generates a lot of traffic, but doesn’t attract many endemic advertisers. Thus, he turns to networks.

According to Pam Horan, president of the Online Publishers Association, most publishers do just that.

For example, MTV Networks recently inked a deal with Microsoft to let the software giant sell its remnant inventory. Nada Stirratt, executive vp, MTV Networks Digital Media (herself a former top sales exec at ad net giant Advertising.com) said that ad networks “absolutely have a place for high frequency, low value impressions.” Plus, she likes tapping into Microsoft’s tech expertise, and is comfortable with the numerous safeguards the deal offers.

Even Tina Sharkey, chairman, BabyCenter.com (and a former AOL exec) who gave a well-received presentation of the value of branded sites relationships with their readers at the IAB meeting, defended the network model. “Ad networks play a vital role in the online advertising ecosystem.”

So can ESPN change the model? “It won’t have the desired impact,” said Adam Kasper, senior vp, director of digital media Media Contacts—unless the top ten or so Web sites followed suit.

The networks themselves don’t seem worried. Tim Vanderhook, co-founder of Specific Media, said he hopes that his company would end up working with ESPN again in the future, and doesn’t believe that big name publishers can afford to ignore networks. down the road.
“Specific Media’s publishing partners come and go in the network throughout the year as we constantly assess the cost and performance of their ad inventory for our advertisers,” he said.
“If several, or even all, big name publishers stopped working with us, it would hurt the publishers themselves more than us…The online advertising business is all about targeting and publishers can’t do it on their own because they don’t have enough data.”

Kasper, and many others, believe that data will be essential to online advertising’s future.
“They’re [ESPN] essentially fighting technology. That’s a hard thing to do.”

But ESPN and other publishers may opt to invest in their own ad targeting technology. In the meantime, they’ve got the option of trying ad exchanges, which promise more control.
“We think of the exchange as a solution to all of these discussions,” said Bill Wise, general manger, global exchange, Yahoo – which acquired the exchange company Right Media last year.

Wise emphasized that since exchange companies don’t purport to be ad sellers, but rather provide a selling platform, they are safer than ad networks. “You take a big risk in letting other people represent your brand,” he said.

As for commodization fears, Wise quipped, “Well, gold is a commodity.”

Google Max Bid For DoubleClick… or Insurance Policy? April 28, 2007

Posted by Bill in Ad Serving, Auction-based media, Google, Microsoft, MSN Search, Online Advertising, online marketing.
11 comments

It has been rumored that Microsoft bid right around the rumored $2 billion for DoubleClick. So the question remains, “Why did Google pay $3.1 billion?”. I have some thoughts; some serious, some just for giggles:

1. With AdWords, “max bid” represents the most an advertiser is willing to pay for a click for a particular keyword or group of keywords. The ACTUAL price the marketer pays is one penny more than the next highest bidder (on an effective CPM basis, which takes into account CTR/ quality score). Meaning, a marketer can bid $50 a click, but may only end up paying $0.50 for the click if that’s what it takes to win the auction. My theory is that Google thought the $3.1 billion was its MAX BID, and insiders say the Google executives were astonished when they didn’t win the auction for $2,000,000.01!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

2. This one is serious… PATENTS! While DoubleClick may claim to be the “central nervous system” to online advertising in their new marketing campaign, they really were the pioneers of online advertising the 90’s, and have really, really, really valuable patents that Google just couldn’t afford Microsoft to get their hands on. After all, they need to protect their 149 BILLION MARKET CAP… an extra billion to ensure it is seemingly a decent insurance policy. Thanks to an awesome write-up at SEO by the Sea below are a list of the patents DoubleClick has.

3. Last, the ability for Google to publicly beat Microsoft yet again was worth a little premium. Dr. Eric Schmidt spent decades at Novell and Sun getting beat up by Microsoft… Time for some pay-back from the Google CEO, who now also sits on the Apple board of directors.

WIPO Patents Assigned to Doubleclick

1. Method and System for Sharing Anonymous User Information
(WO 2002/035314)

Published May 2, 2002
Doubleclick, Inc.

A method and system for sharing online user information in an anonymous manner. The system associates an identifier (100) with anonymized information of the user, and sends the anonymized user information to a receiving party (130). In one embodiment, the system receives a temporary id with personally identifiable information from a Web site, uses the personally identifiable information as a key to obtain the anonymized information from a data source, and sends the temporary id with the anonymized information to the receiving party. the receiving party uses the temporary id, previously received by the Web site, as a key to obtain the anonymized information of the user. In another embodiment, the system receives a temporary id from a Web sit…

2. Automated Online Sweepstakes System and Method
(WO 2001/059656)

Published August 16, 2001
Doubleclick, Inc.

An automated process of conducting an online sweepstakes and marketing to sweepstakes entrants. The software system enables a non-technical individual (e.g., sweepstakes manager, marketer, etc.) to create a sweepstakes entry form that is integrated with back-end data processing systems (figure 2, item 210). The entry form and entry form processing system are kept consistent with sweepstakes rules chosen by the non-technical individual and automatically generated by the system. The system enforces compliance with applicable laws with integrated tools to pick winners, to determine eligibility and to collect winner affidavits. A back-end database is integrated directly with a sweepstakes entry form. Online tools permit a marketer to view entra…

3. Network for Distribution of Re-targeted Advertising
(WO 2000/008802)

Published February 17, 2000
Doubleclick, Inc.

A computer system for automatic replacement of advertisements includes an advertising server for selecting an advertisement based on criteria related to the individual viewer. In particular, advertisements are selected for a given user, based on the past behavior of that specific given user. Advertiser web sites on the network are configured to anonymously report back user activity such as visit dates, purchases, specific product pages visited and the like. Alternative reporting embodiments include email, file transfer protocol and spotlight tags. User activity lists are processed to select candidates for re-targeting. Candidates for re-targeted advertisements are identified based on their own individual past activity, and stored in a list …

4. Method and Apparatus for Automatic Placement of Advertising
(WO 1998/058334)

Published December 23, 1998
Doubleclick, Inc.

A computer system for automatic replacement of direct advertisements in scarce media includes an advertising server for selecting a direct advertisement based on certain criteria. Transaction results of the direct advertisement placement are reported back to the advertising server, and an associated accounting system. In one embodiment, the direct advertiser’s server reports transactions back to the advertising server by email. In a second embodiment, a direct proxy server brokers the user’s session (or interaction) with the direct advertiser’s server, including transaction processing and the direct proxy server reports the results of transactions back to the advertising server and its associated accounting system. A direct proxy provides a…

5. System and method for analyzing website activity
Invented by Jonathan Marc Heller, James Christopher Kim, Dwight Allen Merriman, Andrew Joel Erlichson, Benjamin Chien-wen Lee
Assigned to Doubleclick, Inc.
United States Patent 7,085,682
Granted August 1, 2006
Filed: September 18, 2002

Abstract

A method and system for analyzing website activity. According to an example embodiment, the system receives event-level data representing visitor session activity on a client website; attributes characteristic information of the event-level data associated with each visitor’s session to at least one of a plurality of visitor segments, stores results of the attributed information aggregated according to visitor segment prior to a client-requested analysis of the event-level data, and provides online reports based on the resultant data in response to a client-requested analysis of the event-level data.

6. Method and apparatus for automatic placement of advertising
Invented by Dwight A. Merriman and Kevin O’Connor
Assigned to Doubleclick, Inc.
United States Patent 7,039,599
Granted May 2, 2006
Filed: June 15, 1998

Abstract

A computer system for automatic replacement of direct advertisements in scarce media includes an advertising server for selecting a direct advertisement based on certain criteria. Transaction results of the direct advertisement placement are reported back to the advertising server, and an associated accounting system. In one embodiment, the direct advertiser’s server reports transactions back to the advertising server by email. In a second embodiment, a direct proxy server brokers the user’s session (or interaction) with the direct advertiser’s server, including transaction processing and the direct proxy server reports the results of transactions back to the advertising server and its associated accounting system. A direct proxy provides an independent audit of transactions at a remote direct advertiser’s web site. The feedback of the results of direct advertisement transactions provides an efficient utilization of direct advertising space by way of an automated computer system with a predictive model for selection and distribution of direct advertising.

7. Method of delivery, targeting, and measuring advertising over networks
Invented by Dwight Allen Merriman and Kevin Joseph O’Connor
US Patent Application 20050038702
Published February 17, 2005
Filed: September 10, 2004

(There are 5 versions of this patent application on file at the USPTO)

Abstract

Methods and apparatuses for targeting the delivery of advertisements over a network such as the Internet are disclosed. Statistics are compiled on individual users and networks and the use of the advertisements is tracked to permit targeting of the advertisements of individual users. In response to requests from affiliated sites, an advertising server transmits to people accessing the page of a site an appropriate one of the advertisement based upon profiling of users and networks.

8. Network for distribution of re-targeted advertising
Invented by Dwight A. Merriman and Kevin J. O’Connor
US Patent Application 20020082923
Published June 27, 2002
Filed: February 26, 2002

Abstract

A computer system for automatic replacement of advertisements includes an advertising server for selecting an advertisement based on criteria related to the individual viewer. In particular, advertisements are selected for a given user, based on the past behavior of that specific given user. Advertiser web sites on the network are configured to anonymously report back user activity such as visit dates, purchases, specific product pages visited and the like. Alternative reporting embodiments include email, file transfer protocol and spotlight tags. User activity lists are processed to select candidates for re-targeting. Candidates for re-targeted advertisements are identified based on their own individual past activity, and stored in a list of candidate user ID’s. When a candidate on the re-targeted list is identified at any network affiliate web site, a re-targeted advertisement is delivered to the candidate user.

MicroClick, DoubleSoft… Microsoft/ DoubleClick Merger? March 29, 2007

Posted by Bill in Ad Serving, Auction-based media, exchanges, Microsoft, online marketing, Search Marketing.
4 comments

The Wall Street Journal reported yesterday that DoubleClick is for sale, Microsoft is the most likely buyer, and the two companies are already in talks.  The rumored hypothetical purchase price is $2 billion, which I feel is the “ask” not the “bid”.  People who cover the industry, but don’t work IN the industry, are speculating that the acquisition would make Microsoft much more credible in the minds of advertisers than it has been to date, would give a boost to AdCenter by association, and this marriage would somehow shift dollars away from Google.  The ‘insiders’ of the industry agree this hypothetical positioning will be great to speak of to analysts and press.  However, it is simply not true.  Microsoft is already credible to online advertisers and agencies through their MSN portal and properties.  However, Google owns the search market and will continue to own a vast majority of query share and a DoubleClick/ Microsoft merger will not change that at all.  The reason this makes sense is for Microsoft to be defensible to Google becoming the marketplace for online advertising as it has for search marketing. 

Yahoo! owns a piece of Right Media. AOL owns Advertising.com. Google has been cutting syndication deals for contextual marketing for years, and has recently focused on graphical ads and CPA pricing.  A Microsoft/ DoubleClick merger would make this a much more interesting battle, one that I would have to give the edge to those who already own content and are in this game… my force rankings at this point for the online marketing marketplace (OMM) would be:

1.  Yahoo– top portal on the Web, minority ownership of the best exchange technology in RMX
2.  AOL– best performing online ad inventory in the industry coupled with know-how of Advertising.com
3.  Microsoft with DoubleClick– MSFT still needs to fully embrace the ad-supported model and have an inventory syndication strategy.  If they do, they move to #2 on the Wise List with the DoubleClick assets
4.  Google– graphical ads are very different from text links; fear of Google becoming too powerful will keep them grounded here

The sleepers I would watch out for would include Quigo, Fox Interactive Media, and to a lesser extent, eBay.  It is a shame that IAC Advertising Solutions is not on this list… they once had the assets to make this happen.

 More to come on this…