Responding to news reports that journalists were able to purchase advertising on Facebook targeted to ethnic groups, Facebook announced several new changes to the company’s advertising products. The move highlights heightened scrutiny of advertising practices surrounding the increasing use of big data in many aspects of marketing and advertising. Facebook’s response grew out of a … Continue Reading
Sci-fi fans will be familiar with the interactive ads featured in the world of the film Minority Report, starring Tom Cruise, where upon entering a shopping mall, shoppers’ eyes were scanned to allow the shops to specifically target ads based on a particular shopper’s previous habits, e.g. "Good afternoon, Mr. Yakamoto. How did you like … Continue Reading
Last year, B.E. Technology LLC filed several suits for patent infringement against a host of companies whose business model depends on advertising. The patents in suit, U.S. Patent 6,628,314 and U.S. Patent 6,771,290, date back to 1998 and are alleged to protect software that serves advertisements based on personal characteristics and behaviors, i.e., targeted advertising. Martin D. Hoyle, the CEO of B.E. Technology LLC, is the sole inventor listed on the patents. On October 8, 2013, Microsoft and Facebook challenged the validity of the patents by requesting "inter partes review" of the patents in the U.S. Patent Office. Clearly, the outcome of this case could have significant ramifications for the Internet advertising community.
Inter partes review is a new procedure, created by the America Invents Act, for challenging patents in the U.S. Patent Office. Inter partes review is less expensive and faster than typical civil litigations, and provides the challenger with the opportunity to demonstrate that a patent should not have been issued because invention protected by the patent was not novel, or would have been obvious, at the critical date - 1998, in the case of the patents in this case. The inter partes review will take about 18 months to complete and, at the discretion of the judge in each case, the civil litigations may be stayed, i.e., put on hold, pending resolution of the inter partes review.… Continue Reading
Television broadcasters have long been able to track their shows' popularity. But a new bill introduced in Congress last week aims to regulate technology that would go even farther by using actual cameras and microphones on TV set-top boxes or DVRs to record viewers' reactions to advertisements.
On June 13, the We Are Watching You Act (H.R. 2356) was introduced by Representatives Walter B. Jones (R-N.C.) and Michael Capuano (D-Mass.). That bill, if enacted, would require companies to obtain viewer consent before using surveillance devices embedded in set-top boxes and DVRs to track people's moods and reactions. The cameras and microphones would send cable companies data on the audience's activities, including comments, facial expressions, food consumption, and general moods, as well as their age and gender. According to Congressman Capuano, such technology is not yet in use--last year, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office rejected one company's patent application for such a system, and other companies have also reportedly explored similar technology. But the two lawmakers hope to put regulations in place preemptively, informing consumers and allowing them to opt out of such surveillance should it become a reality. Said Congressman Capuano, "[t]his may sound preposterous, but it is neither a joke nor an exaggeration. These DVRs would essentially observe consumers as they watch television as a way to super-target ads. It is an incredible invasion of privacy."… Continue Reading
This post was written by Rachel Rubin. Website users have grown accustomed to the quid pro quo of Internet use and advertising: we browse websites, and those same website collect customer personal data or habits that are used to generate targeted advertising. But how far is too far in terms of data collection? Is our current system of … Continue Reading
As regulators push website operators to adopt age verification technology to protect children from inappropriate content and social contact with adults, a new opportunity has arisen for advertisers. Nancy Willard, who calls herself an expert on Internet safety, says age verification companies are using information gained from seeking to verify children’s ages to target them … Continue Reading