Nielsen Announces New Ad Measurement Tool for TV and Internet

  • The new Nielsen Cross-Platform Campaign Ratings service will offer clients a way to measure cross-platform traffic over TV and the Internet to aid media planning and advertising campaigns.
  • “The goal is to overcome challenges posed by separate media planning, buying and analysis processes for TV and the Internet, and to answer a growing demand by advertisers for cross-platform measurement tools that help them streamline their marketing strategies,” said Nielsen and partner GroupM, a media agency.
  • “Cross-platform metrics are essential to both buyers and sellers of advertising,” said Steve Hasker, president of media products and advertiser solutions for Nielsen.  “Every day, we’re hearing from advertisers, online publishers, TV networks and agencies that a better system of measurement is required.”
  • The service may also add more data from additional media platforms in the future, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

Hewlett-Packard to Combine Printer and PC Groups in Restructure

  • Sources say that HP will be combining its printing and PC businesses into one unit. The core profit-earning Imaging and Printing Group (IMG) will be consolidated with the struggling Personal Systems Group (PSG), which HP had considered spinning off.
  • “HP sees the two business groups — IPG sells printers both to consumers and businesses and PSG sells PCs to consumers and businesses — as making more operational sense combined than apart the source said. The plan is to have their line of business more readily integrated so they can approach customers together and with unified product offerings,” reports AllThingsD.
  • The executive VP of IPG, Vyomesh Joshi, will leave the company in the reorganization and Todd Bradley, the executive VP of PSG will take over the joint venture.
  • The combination of the groups is an effort to cut costs. The PSG has been struggling in the PC market and IPG saw a drop in sales and earnings in the last quarter.

Study: Are Ad Libraries in Android Apps Putting Your Privacy at Risk?

  • A study conducted by North Carolina State University found that more than half of the apps on Google Play market have “ad libraries” that put users’ security and privacy at risk.
  • The more aggressive ad libraries on some of the apps make users vulnerable to malware by downloading and running code from remote servers. These ad libraries also enable third parties and hackers to download harmful code.
  • They are also used to track users’ location using GPS for targeted advertising. Some ad libraries access personal information like phone numbers, call logs and lists of all the apps stored on the phone.
  • “The current model of directly embedding ad libraries in mobile apps does make it convenient for app developers, but also fundamentally introduces privacy and security risks. The best solution would be for Google, Apple and other mobile platform providers to take the lead in providing effective ad-isolation mechanisms,” said Dr. Xuxian Jiang, assistant professor of computer science at the university and co-author of the paper.

Tablet Users Opt for Wi-Fi: Data Plans Shared Across Multiple Devices Soon?

  • Analyst Chetan Sharma released a report that found 90 percent of tablets are using Wi-Fi, not cellular networks even if they are capable.
  • “One key reason is that U.S. carriers don’t allow users to share a data plan with other devices, something that Sharma said should change this year,” reports AllThingsD. “Those that offer such shared data plans will fare better than those that stick to a plan for each device, Sharma said.”
  • The report also found that smartphones are using more and more data, up 19 percent in the last quarter from a year ago. Today, data accounts for 39 percent of overall revenue in the U.S. cellphone market.
  • “However, monthly revenue per customer — a key industry metric — is tailing off. Data continues to grow, but is no longer offsetting the decline in voice revenue. The U.S. industry saw average monthly revenue per customer drop by 43 cents, as a 52-cent per customer gain in data was more than offset by a 96-cent per customer decline in voice,” the article states.

Survey: Are App Developers Losing Interest in the Android Platform?

  • A survey from Appcelerator found that developers’ interest in the Android platform has declined, with those “very interested” now under 80 percent compared to the 89 percent who are supportive of Apple’s iOS.
  • On the Android platform, developers have to take into account the various formats of different manufacturers.
  • “Our thought is a lot of developers are unhappy with the fragmentation of the platform as well as the fragmentation of the monetization platform,” said Mike King, Appcelerator’s principal mobile strategist. “Those things make it very difficult if you’re a developer to make money on Android.”
  • This negative trend by developers could spell trouble for Google’s Android.
  • “If programmers continue to lose interest in OS, major apps could start to disappear from the Android Market and show up in competitors’ mobile stores, making other platforms more attractive to handset and tablet users,” suggests Mobiledia.

Insiders Say Beats Electronics Ready to Purchase MOG Music Service

  • The deal has not been finalized and the details are uncertain, but sources close to the matter suggest headphone maker Beats Electronics is acquiring the subscription music service MOG.
  • Phone manufacturer HTC is the majority owner of Beats. The company is interested in MOG’s deals with the major music labels and its music service, which could be offered on HTC handsets.
  • “MOG raised a reported $25 million over the course of its corporate history, and $15 million in the last few years, as it bolted a music service onto an ad network, its original business,” reports AllThingsD. “Last spring, it went looking for another $25 million to $30 million, and apparently ended up with this deal instead.”
  • MOG doesn’t have a strong following with only 500,000 active users, but its collaboration with Facebook and its “frictionless sharing” program has resulted in 130,000 people using the service at least once a month. However, insiders say the subscriber base isn’t the focus but rather the deals with the labels.

Google Defends Digital Locker Service Hotfile and Internet Freedom

  • The Motion Picture Association of America has accused the digital locker service Hotfile for promoting piracy, attributing it’s rapid success to the sponsoring of digital theft.
  • Google has stepped in, supporting Hotfile and Internet freedom. The company said that no Internet company, Hotfile included, is required “to affirmatively monitor their services for possible infringement,” and it is not their job to report users for potential copyright violation.
  • “Google bases its defense of Hotfile on the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, which provides a ‘safe harbor’ for sites like YouTube, Facebook and Wikipedia when they’re accused of directly supporting copyright infringement,” Mobiledia reports.
  • Hollywood will continue to search for ways to protect their content, even after the failure of SOPA. Mobiledia suggests that studios work on their own practices — reducing problematic “windowing” schemes and building support for their digital storage locker UltraViolet — rather than target Internet companies.

Ready for Take-Off: Google Flight Search Now Includes Global Destinations

  • Since September, users have been able to conduct searches with the Google Flight Search app for flights to/from any U.S. destination and the search engine would show flight results, competing with travel sites like Priceline and Expedia.
  • The search giant recently took Google Flight Search one step further, adding comparisons for some global destinations like Amsterdam, Buenos Aires, and Venice.
  • “Since we launched Flight Search, we’ve heard from many globetrotters eager to use the feature to search for destinations outside the U.S.,” Google wrote on the company’s blog. “Starting today, you can find flights, including international destinations, from the U.S. quickly and conveniently.”
  • “Flight and travel search competitors such as Expedia, Priceline, and Kayak have expressed frustration with Google Flight Search,” notes VentureBeat. “Since travel sites rely on Google for some of their traffic, any time Google places its results at the top, it’s likely taking traffic and sales away from those sites.”

Intel Invests $21 Million in Eye-Tracking Technology from Tobii

  • Tobii’s eye-tracking technology enables computer users to scroll and select items with their eyes. It’s compatible with Windows and could very well expand into the gaming arena or even Android. Intel sees potential for the technology and is investing $21 million.
  • “That $21 million buys Intel a 10 percent stake in the 12-year old Swedish company. Right now the plan is to continue testing the technology on a small scale, such as in laptops. Later on, they plan to shift to a larger focus, aiming at cars, or perhaps smartphones,” reports SlashGear.
  • The investment could help Intel gain ground in the mobile market where they’ve fallen behind ARM processing.
  • For the time being, Tobii’s technology is pricey ($7,000 for its eye tracking sensor bar for PCs) and the company is focused primarily on research and development.

Google Faces Privacy Probes Regarding Use of Advertising Cookies

  • Google is now under investigation by the FTC for its use of a computer code that bypassed Apple’s Safari privacy settings to track users’ online activity for targeted ads.
  • “The investigations — which span U.S. federal and state agencies, as well as a pan-European effort led by France — could embroil Google in years of legal battles and result in hefty fines for privacy violations,” the Wall Street Journal reports.
  • “We will of course cooperate with any officials who have questions,” a Google spokeswoman said. “But it’s important to remember that we didn’t anticipate this would happen, and we have been removing these advertising cookies from Safari browsers.”
  • Last year, Google made an agreement with the FTC to not misrepresent its privacy practices. The trade commission is looking into whether the use of the code violated this agreement. If Google is found at fault, the company could face hefty costs — up to $16,000 per violation, per day.

Sprint Cuts Ties with LightSquared: FCC Says No to GPS Interference

  • It’s official: Sprint has ended its agreement with wireless startup LightSquared, saying it “continues to be supportive of LightSquared’s business plans,” according to a statement released on Friday.
  • Sprint has returned $65 million in prepayments to LightSquared, but would be open to a deal in the future if LightSquared can work with the FCC to resolve potential GPS interference issues “impacting its ability to offer service on the 1.6 GHz spectrum,” explains the release.
  • The startup recently hired a high-powered legal team to challenge regulators who aim to shut down the company due to interference concerns. According to AllThingsD, the team is led by former Bush administration solicitor general Ted Olson, and Eugene Scalia, son of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia.
  • “We will do all we can to ensure that LightSquared does not lose billions of dollars in investments due to a precipitous, arbitrary reversal by the government,” Olson said in a statement.

Is Apple Taking On Ultrabooks with Slimmer, Air-Like MacBook Pros?

  • Apple is reportedly combining its Macbook Pro and MacBook Air lines with its latest 13- and 15-inch Macbook Pro models becoming much thinner, according to a report from Chinese tech blog Digitimes.
  • The source said the Pros have gone into production and are also dropping their optical drive support.
  • The new design has multiple advantages. “Specifically, it would allow Apple to bring the quick boot and instant-on capabilities of the MacBook Air to its wider notebook lineup, and it would also significantly improve battery life,” according to VentureBeat. “It could also help Apple gain an advantage over Intel and the many Ultrabook manufacturers trying to mimic the MacBook Air design.”
  • For those customers looking for a powerful production machine, a preferred alternative may be the 17-inch MacBook Pro model, “which likely won’t get the ultra-thin treatment,” adds VentureBeat.

Google News Adds Enhanced Integration with Google+ Sharing Feature

  • Google has updated its Google News, adding more integration with Google+. The +1 icon now enables commenting by opening a small sharing box.
  • As is the case with all Google+ posts, the sharing box can be set for public view or only for the individuals or circles a user creates on the social network.
  • It also remains possible to not add any comment at all, but rather simply “+1” the news story as before.
  • In a related article, The Verge reports that Google has integrated Google Docs for all Google+ hangout conversations.
  • “The change is the latest example of Google’s evolving social strategy, as the company attempts to better integrate Google+ into its more established products,” reports SlashGear. “Earlier this month, senior VP of engineering Vic Gundotra described the social network as part of a greater strategy, dismissing claims that it had been a failure and instead arguing that it was a type of glue that could better draw together different elements of Google’s range.”
  • “Whether streamlining sharing directly from the Google News page increases adoption of the social network is enough to boost usage remains to be seen,” adds the post.

Turntable.fm Goes Legit with Licensing Agreements with the Major Labels

  • Social music service Turntable.fm has reached licensing agreements with Warner, Universal, EMI and Sony, allowing the site to stream music legally.
  • The announcement was made this week by Turntable.fm founder Billy Chasen and co-founder Seth Goldstein during a South By Southwest panel.
  • Less than a year old, Turntable.fm saw 207,000 unique Web-based visitors in its first full month, but hasn’t driven as much traffic since. “Of course, the comScore numbers don’t include mobile, which is a recent area of growth for Turntable.fm since it launched an iPhone app in September,” notes The Hollywood Reporter.
  • Compared with Pandora’s 17.4 million visitors in one month, the service is still relatively small — but Stephen Bryan, Warner’s VP of digital strategy and business development says the site has the potential to raise revenue.
  • “We see it as a sort of funnel to attract more lean-back customers into the digital space and figure out how to monetize them over time,” he told Billboard.biz.
  • “This feels like an all-time record speed launch — when we launched we really didn’t come at this from the music industry, it was all new to us,” said Goldstein. “Our model is unique — we’re not a radio service, not an on-demand service. We have interesting aspects that really require some out-of-the-box thinking. We felt that from the get-go the labels were absolutely different from what I’d been led to believe. They gave us a lot of time and attention. Compared to their user base, we’re a tiny service in the broad scheme of things.”

UltraViolet: Walmart to Launch In-Store Disc-to-Digital Conversion in April

  • Walmart announced the planned April 16th launch of its in-store disc-to-digital conversion service that will be offered at more than 3,500 locations.
  • For $2, consumers can convert their DVDs or Blu-ray Discs to digital copies on Vudu. It will cost $5 to upgrade DVDs to HD.
  • The Walmart service also helps customers create their free Vudu accounts and purchase UltraViolet-enabled titles from Vudu.
  • “Now, with the launch of this pioneering service, Blu-ray and DVD buyers are afforded both the opportunity and the affordability to future proof their movie collections and assemble their own digital libraries that can be easily stored and accessed through their own UltraViolet cloud for viewing anywhere, anytime,” said Craig Kornblau of Universal Studios, a partner in the project.
  • Engadget suggests this is “easily the biggest news” for UltraViolet, but adds there is still a need for single sign-on and a standard downloadable common file format.

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