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Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Put Ad on Web. Count Clicks. Revise.

Slashdot It! ON a recent Thursday, Darren Herman, the president of Varick Media Management, was sequestered in his SoHo office. He wasn’t scrutinizing a television ad or images from a photo shoot. He was combing through graphs and Excel spreadsheets. Mr. Herman had run 27 ads on the Web for his client Vespa, the scooter company. Some were rectangular, some square. And the text varied: One tagline said, “Smart looks. Smarter purchase,” and displayed a $0 down, 0 percent interest offer. Another read, “Pure fun. And function,” and promoted a free T-shirt. Vespa’s goal was to find out whether a financial offer would attract customers, and Mr. Herman’s data concluded that it did. The $0 down offer attracted 71 percent more responses from one group of Web surfers than the average of all the Vespa ads, while the T-shirt offer drew 29 percent fewer. And Mr. Herman didn’t just compare the messages in the ads — he also looked at the sites where they ran, when they ran and what groups of people responded. From the “Mad Men” era until now, advertising has been about a catchy tagline, an arresting image, the Big Idea. But Mr. Herman and his competitors are bringing some Wall Street-like analysis to Madison Avenue, exploiting the huge amounts of data produced by the Internet to adjust strategy almost instantly. “It’s putting numbers to an industry that never had numbers before,” says Mr. Herman, 27, who started and sold three media and technology companies before founding Varick last summer. “It’s nice to be able to tell your brand manager or the chief marketing officer which audience is interacting with the unit, what time of day, what day of the week, and what the response is on certain types of offers. Before, nobody could really tell you that.” This approach turns marketing “upside down,” says Ron Proleika, the vice president of marketing communications at Windstream Communications, an Internet service provider and a client of Mr. Herman’s. “It forces marketers to stay on their toes and think of thousands of small great ideas instead of one great big one." Major advertising holding companies like WPP, the Publicis Groupe, Havas, MDC Partners and the Interpublic Group are starting data practices, hoping to latch onto what is expected to be the fastest-growing category of online advertising in the next five years. Where the data guys were once an afterthought in a marketing presentation, now they are at the core of the online strategy. What’s more, they can help advertisers save money in traditional media by testing different phrases or images online to see what works before producing an expensive television commercial or magazine ad. Who attracts more clicks in a grape juice ad, for example — the blond girl or the brown-haired boy? The shift to data-based campaigns is forcing marketers to learn new skills and drawing a new breed of worker to Madison Avenue. While most data executives now in the field came from media backgrounds, they are recruiting Wall Street math geniuses because the job requires hourly adjustments in strategy based on numbers. Mr. Herman is trying to hire people from Citigroup and Bank of America, and he hopes that the layoffs in the financial industry will help him do it on the cheap. “It mirrors the financial markets in many ways,” he says, so “that’s where we go." Still, getting advertising agency employees to rely on data is difficult, agencies say. And as people trained on Wall Street migrate to Madison Avenue, executives anticipate battles between creative types and wonks. Traditional ad agencies still don’t have budgets that allow for a lot of digital experimentation, Mr. Herman says. He notes that most traditional agencies “make the bulk of their money in print, radio and television.” So even as this area becomes increasingly technology-driven, old ways of doing business and clients reluctant to embrace radically new approaches mean that the advertising culture won’t change overnight. “At the end of the day,” Mr. Herman says, “the entire process isn’t digital because our clients aren’t.” UNTIL the Internet, advertising required heavy research at the front and back ends. Millions of dollars went into television and print ads, so the advertisers had to get the idea right before they produced one. Determining the effectiveness of those ads was hard. It required follow-up surveys and interviews. And once advertisers began a campaign, they were locked into it — they usually booked TV spots four months before the season began, for instance, and even if a show tanked, they couldn’t always abort their plans. Via NYT Get Daily Updates via Email Protect your computer with Windows Onecare

Cellphone Locator System Needs No Satellite

Slashdot It! Wanderers with phones and other devices that have GPS chips can figure out where they are using signals from satellites thousands of miles up, but those are easily blocked by walls or trees. The founders of Skyhook Wireless discovered some alternative navigational beacons: the signals coming from the Wi-Fi network in the coffee shop across the street, or the apartment upstairs. Skyhook uses the chaotic patchwork of the world’s Wi-Fi networks, as well as cell towers, as the basis for a location lookup service that is built into every iPhone, making it easier to pull up a map or find Chinese food nearby. The start-up was founded in 2003 by Ted Morgan and Michael Shean, who traveled frequently for work and noticed the proliferation of wireless signals each time they cracked open their laptops to check their e-mail. “We were amazed by the sheer growth of Wi-Fi,” Mr. Morgan said in an interview in April at the company’s offices here. “We knew there had to be a new model for mapping location using those signals.” Wi-Fi signals travel only a few hundred feet at most, so if you have a map of the Wi-Fi networks in a given area, you can use those signals to pinpoint a phone’s location. Making that map is the tricky part. When Mr. Morgan and Mr. Shean decided to pursue their idea, they started building a database of Wi-Fi access points, along with cellphone towers, which have much more powerful signals. At first they tried paying taxi drivers to carry equipment that silently recorded the locations of networks as they roamed the streets, Mr. Morgan said. Then they hired full-time drivers to cover ground systematically, much as Google does for its Street View service. Skyhook says it has scanned areas containing 70 percent of the country’s population. “It doesn’t seem realistic to drive up and down every street in the U.S.,” Mr. Morgan said. “But you can.” Skyhook now employs a fleet of 500 drivers to feed a database that spans North America, Asia and Europe. The landscape of signals changes constantly as people and businesses set up and take down wireless networks, so the scanning process never ends. Each Skyhook car contains a laptop outfitted with antennas and equipment that sends out short blasts of radio waves, called probe requests, to detect nearby cell towers and Wi-Fi networks. The system calculates the source of the signals based on their strength and the location of the car. That information is logged in the Skyhook database, which includes more than 100 million wireless networks and 700,000 cellular towers. Skyhook’s big break came in August 2007 when Steven P. Jobs, Apple’s chief executive, requested a meeting with the company. Mr. Morgan said he initially deleted Mr. Jobs’s voice mail message, dismissing it as a prank, but soon realized his mistake. Since then, Apple has sold 37 million iPhones and iPod Touches worldwide, all with Skyhook’s software on them. Mr. Morgan declined to detail specifics of Skyhook’s financial agreement with Apple, other than to say that his company collects a commission for each device sold. When an iPhone owner starts up an application that involves location — like the restaurant finder Urbanspoon or the forecast service WeatherBug — the phone calculates whether it is likely to get the best and fastest information from its own GPS chip or from Skyhook’s system. Skyhook says it can provide a fix on location in seconds, versus up to a minute for GPS, although Skyhook is less useful in areas with few Wi-Fi networks. Skyhook checks a list of nearby Wi-Fi access points and cell towers against its database and triangulates the device’s location within 30 to 60 feet. The company says it is not connecting to those Wi-Fi networks, just detecting their presence. (As a backup, the iPhone can also use cell tower information from Google.) Any new access points and cell towers detected by the iPhone are automatically added to the Skyhook database, making it, in Mr. Morgan’s words, “self-healing.” Apart from Apple, Skyhook also has partnerships with AOL to allow people to see the location of their chat buddies, and with Navteq, a maker of car navigation systems. Skyhook is even embedded into Eye-Fi memory cards for digital cameras, where it keeps track of where photos are taken. The company says it handles 250 million location requests a day. Skyhook has raised $16.8 million in venture capital financing from investors including Bain Capital Ventures and Intel Capital. Mr. Morgan said it was not seeking more financing right now and was working on expanding the business. “If we do that successfully, there will be plenty of good choices for us,” he said, perhaps including a public offering. As Skyhook finds success and more gadgets become “location-aware,” competitors are likely to stake out their own share of the market, said Chetan Sharma, an independent telecommunications industry researcher. Mr. Sharma says that Mexens Technology has a system that relies on user contributions to build a signal map. And a Google service called My Location works on many phones and uses a combination of GPS, cellphone towers and Wi-Fi. A Google spokeswoman, Katie Watson, said the company collected its signal data from several sources, including phones running its software. “Skyhook is certainly ahead of the curve with its service,” Mr. Sharma said. “Whether they will sustain their momentum for the next five years remains to be seen. But they have a lot of opportunities to make it work.” Charles S. Golvin, a principal analyst at Forrester Research specializing in mobile devices and telecommunications, agreed that Skyhook was well positioned. “There are so many more phones coming to the market that have GPS and Wi-Fi,” he said. Mr. Golvin added: “Think about all the other devices with Wi-Fi, like the Nintendo DS, Sony PSP, netbooks, digital cameras.” Mr. Morgan and Mr. Shean are trying to get Skyhook onto as many devices as they can. Programmers who want to build location-based applications for phones other than the iPhone can license its software, and several do. The company has deals to put its software into chips made by Qualcomm and Broadcom, and it plans to announce a partnership with a major manufacturer of netbooks by the end of the year. Mr. Morgan is aware of the competition. “There’s always the threat that Google or some other company will just give that information away for free,” he said. To that end, the company has filed for multiple patents, including ones to protect its methodology for updating its database. Several framed patents hang on the walls of its offices. “But we’re hoping that our six years of driving around in cars, mapping out the various countries, will pay off,” he said. “We’ve done more than 2,000 cities. They have a long way to go.” Get Daily Updates via Email Protect your computer with Windows Onecare

Sony Agrees to Provide Its Older Songs to eMusic

Slashdot It! In another example of struggling major music labels and Internet services finding common ground, Sony Music Entertainment has agreed to make its back catalog of songs available on eMusic, one of the largest music retailers on the Web. EMusic, a company based in New York City, has some 400,000 subscribers who pay a monthly fee to download a certain number of songs. Its service is primarily aimed at adults who are fans of music from independent labels. The company plans to announce on Monday that it will add all Sony Music tracks that are more than two years old, including material from artists like Michael Jackson, Bruce Springsteen and Billy Joel. The major labels had long been skeptical of the economics behind eMusic’s proposition to consumers. Subscribers to eMusic’s “basic” plan, for example, pay $11.99 a month to download 30 songs — or about 40 cents a song, far below the prices on Apple’s iTunes. Songs are in the MP3 format and do not have restrictions against copying. As part of the deal, eMusic says it will slightly raise prices and reduce the number of downloads for some of its monthly plans. Danny Stein, eMusic’s chief executive, said he had been talking to the major labels about adding their music for several years. Talks continue with Warner Music, the Universal Music Group and EMI, he said. He added that many of the independent labels had been asking the company to raise its prices. “We have been looking for a catalyzing event to do it, and we think introducing this vast, quality catalog from Sony is that event,” Mr. Stein said. The deal highlights several shifts in the online music landscape. The major labels gave up their objections to selling songs in the unprotected MP3 format in 2007. They also prevailed upon Apple this year to move to variable pricing in its iTunes store. Apple now sells older songs for 79 cents and new tracks for $1.29. The major labels have also been more willing lately to strike more flexible and less expensive deals with start-ups like Imeem that are trying new approaches to online music. Sony Music and eMusic would not disclose the particulars of their deal. An executive at Sony Music, a subsidiary of the Sony Corporation, said the company was interested in seeing multiple models for digital music coexist on the Web. “We think the model of buying a set amount of music each month under an MP3 allowance is an attractive subscription option for consumers,” said Thomas Hesse, president of Sony’s Global Digital Business unit. “We are supportive of offerings that encourage fans to dig deep into the repertoire of our artists and discover the richness of our catalog.” Get Daily Updates via Email Protect your computer with Windows Onecare

Preparing to Sell E-Books, Google Takes on Amazon

Slashdot It! Google appears to be throwing down the gauntlet in the e-book market. In discussions with publishers at the annual BookExpo convention in New York over the weekend, Google signaled its intent to introduce a program by that would enable publishers to sell digital versions of their newest books direct to consumers through Google. The move would pit Google against, which is seeking to control the e-book market with the versions it sells for its Kindle reading device. Google’s move is likely to be welcomed by publishers who have expressed concerns about the possibility that Amazon will dominate the market for e-books with its aggressive pricing strategy. Amazon offers Kindle editions of most new best-sellers for $9.99, a price far lower than the typical $26 at which publishers sell new hardcovers. In early discussions, Google has said it would allow publishers to set a suggested list price, but that Google would ultimately set consumer prices. “Clearly, any major company coming into the e-book space, providing that we are happy with the pricing structure, the selling price and the security of the technology, will be a welcome addition,” said David Young, chief executive of Hachette Book Group, which publishes blockbuster authors like James Patterson, Stephenie Meyer and Nicholas Sparks. Google’s e-book retail program would be separate from the company’s settlement with authors and publishers over its book-scanning project, under which Google has scanned more than seven million volumes from several university libraries. A majority of those books are out of print. The settlement, which is the focus of a Justice Department inquiry about the antitrust implications and is also subject to court review, provides for a way for Google to sell digital access to the scanned volumes. And Google has already made its 1.5 million public-domain books available for reading on mobile phones as well as the Sony Reader, the Kindle’s largest competitor. Under the new program, publishers give Google digital files of new and other in-print books. Already on Google, users can search up to about 20 percent of the content of those books and can follow links from Google to online retailers like and the Web site of Barnes & Noble to buy either paper or electronic versions of the books. But Google is now proposing to allow users to buy those digital editions direct from Google. Google has discussed such plans with publishers before, but it has now committed the company to going live with the project by the end of 2009. In a presentation at BookExpo, Tom Turvey, director of strategic partnerships at Google, added the phrase: “This time we mean it.” Although Google generates a majority of its revenue from ad sales on its search pages, it has previously charged for content. Three years ago, it opened a Google video store, and sold digital recordings of N.B.A. games as well as episodes of television shows like “CSI” and “The Brady Bunch.” This year, Google said it might eventually charge for premium content on YouTube. Mr. Turvey said that with books, Google planned to sell readers online access to digital versions of various titles. When offline, Mr. Turvey said, readers would still be able to access their electronic books in cached versions on their browsers. Publishers briefed on the plans at BookExpo said they were not sure yet how the technology would work, but were optimistic about the new program. Mr. Turvey said Google’s program would allow consumers to read books on any device with Internet access, including mobile phones, rather than being limited to dedicated reading devices like the Amazon Kindle. “We don’t believe that having a silo or a proprietary system is the way that e-books will go,” he said. He said that publishers would be allowed to set list prices but that Google would price the e-books for consumers. Amazon also lets publishers set wholesale prices and then establishes its own prices for consumers. In selling e-books at $9.99, Amazon effectively takes a loss on each sale because publishers generally charge booksellers about half the list price of a hardcover ­ typically, around $13 or $14. Mr. Turvey said that Google would probably allow publishers to charge consumers the same price for digital editions as they do for new hardcover versions. He said Google would reserve the right to adjust prices that it deemed “exorbitant.” Get Daily Updates via Email Protect your computer with Windows Onecare

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Monday, June 01, 2009

Thermaltake Xaser S1000 notebook cooler

Thermaltake has introduced a new notebook cooler into their Xaser brand. This time it is an small footprint aluminium cooler with 2 blue LED fans cooling the laptop. So let us take a look at the cooler that Thermaltake has send us.

Thermaltake Xaser S1000 Notebook Cooler 
Thermaltake Xaser S1000 Notebook Cooler

Thermaltake Xaser S1000 Notebook Cooler

Thermaltake Xaser S1000 Notebook Cooler

Inside the review unit includes only the notebook cooler itself, a USB cable, warranty card and the product information card. A simplistic and neat package.

The notebook cooler has two rubber stripes that enhances the grip between the notebook and the cooler. You can adjust the speed of the fan via a speed knob which changes the speed from 200RPM all the way up to 1200RPM. Also on each side of the cooler is a set of ventilation holes.

Thermaltake Xaser S1000 Notebook Cooler
 Thermaltake Xaser S1000 Notebook Cooler

Thermaltake Xaser S1000 Notebook Cooler
The cooler when it is switched on

This low profile notebook cooler is something I would grab if I want a cooler to just disappear seamlessly into the surrounding. Although I would prefer a cooler with larger fans.