Yahoo Search Ads To Get More Annoying

A new patent filed by Yahoo at the USPTO wants to make sponsored listings on the search results pages all the more annoying. According to this filing, Yahoo has sought the rights to slide the advertising box down whenever the user scrolls down the page and move it up when the user gets back to the top of the page.

Yahoo says

“Since the online advertisements are visible to the user for a longer time, there are more opportunities for the online advertisements to get the user’s attention, and consequently more opportunities for the user to click on an advertisement. As a result, the efficiency of online advertising may be improved.”

While compromising user experience for better efficiency of online advertising might not make much of a sense, we hope Yahoo’s search deal with Microsoft would mean this “invention” will never get to see the light of the day.

Yahoo Planning Ads On “Search Via SMS” Feature?

Search via SMS‘ has been tried before though it has not really caught on. However, a patent recently filed at the USPTO by Yahoo indicates that the company could still be looking at SMS-search as an option to look at in the future.

In the patent, the inventors talk about a system where users may send their search query as a text message to a specific number. This search query shall be processed and the results delivered along with contextually targeted advertisements. The inventors write

“The system may allow a user to submit a search from a mobile device through a mobile message, such as a short messaging service (“SMS”) message. The user may send a mobile message containing a search query to a service provider. The service provider may retrieve the search results and an advertisement targeted to the search results. The service provider may transform the search results and advertisement into a mobile message, such as a wireless application protocol (“WAP”) push message. The service provider may encode each search result and advertisement in the mobile message with a service indication. The service indication may cause the mobile device of the user to perform an action, such as open a browser to a related mobile web page, when the user clicks on the search result or advertisement within the mobile message. The service provider may send the message, with the search results and advertisement, to the user. The user may click on a search result or advertisement to view a related mobile web page.”

Yahoo Search via SMSYahoo Search via SMS

Targeted towards developing countries

The idea of search via SMS can appeal to people in the developing world including countries such as India where mobile phone penetration has boomed but internet has not. Keeping with this theme, the inventors claim that the advertisers need not have a web page of their own to advertise and the system will generate a dynamic WAP page that will list their contact information. They write

“If the revenue generator A 110A does not have a mobile site URL for the MNO A 115A, the revenue generator A 110A may still bid on a keyword for the MNO A 115A. In this case, the service provider 130 may dynamically create a “WAP ad.” The “WAP ad” may be an offer landing page containing the phone number of the advertiser and/or the logo of the advertiser. “

It is not clear if Yahoo has serious plans to bring this product to life or is just another patent for posterity. Whatever the case, the intentions seem clearly on monetizing through a lucrative channel that has hitherto remained untapped.

Yahoo’s Predictive Technology Will Display Ads Depending On Your Travel Destination

Exciting. Location-based advertising is not exactly new. But a new patent filed by Yahoo takes it a step further which will help to make advertising a lot more targeted and useful.

Imagine that you are in San Francisco and are driving to Los Angeles. A search query for “Best hotels” would normally pick your location and display advertisements from San Francisco based hoteliers. However, according to a new patent titled “SYSTEM FOR PROVIDING LOCATION PREDICTIVE ADVERTISING” filed by Yahoo at the US Patent and Trademark Organization (USPTO), the algorithm may be able to study the direction you are traveling to determine your destination and deliver ads accordingly. Thus a search for “best hotels” from San Francisco while traveling to Los Angeles might actually get you results for Los Angeles based hotels.

Explaining about this technology on their patent, the inventors write

“a system may include a memory, an interface and a processor. The memory may be operatively connected to the processor and the interface and may store an advertisement. The interface may communicate with an electronic device. The processor may determine a first geographic location of an electronic device which is travelling in a direction. The processor may identify a first geographic region which may encompass the first geographic location of the electronic device. The processor may determine a second geographic region which is located in the direction of travel of the electronic device. The processor may determine an advertisement associated with the second geographic region in accordance with the electronic device being located within the first geographic region. The processor may provide the advertisement to the electronic device. ”

Yahoo says this technology can be used at an intra-city, inter-city as well as international level. They further claim that advertisers who spend a lot of their budget purchasing inventory from untargeted sources (Eg: Hoteliers in Los Angeles purchasing inventory in San Francisco) may now save money on such a wasteful expenditure.

Do you think that’s possible?

Augmented Reality Coming To Flickr?

Imagine these scenario : You have just been from a trip to New York and have shared pictures on Flickr. One of the pics is of a burger shop that you loved and want to share the same with your friends on Flickr. It is normal for people to write such things on the image description area.

However, Yahoo has a better plan. In a patent filed by the company, the inventors explain the concept of a “virtual note” that can be overlaid across pictures that you have taken so that description of places captured in a photo as well as subsequent comments can happen inside the photo itself.

This is not all. The inventors talk of more embodiments. With geotagging already possible on Flickr, users may also browse across such virtual notes from a map view.

However, the most significant aspect of the invention is the use of augmented reality. The inventors describe that since these virtual notes are geotagged, accessing the service from a mobile device will gather all virtual notes geotagged to locations within a particular radius from the location of the mobile device that can be displayed to the user.

Flickr Augmented Reality

There appear to be a variety of use-cases to such an invention. Primarily this can simply serve as a tagging tool for Flickr users. However, such a tool can also grow to be a local-review feature (like Yelp?)where user reviews of places within localities can be accessed at a press of a button. And the worst use-case of all?Advertisers can use the virtual note feature to promote their places to people in the vicinity; much like Google’s ads on maps.

Yahoo Interested In Yelp?

After Google walking away from the Yelp deal (or the other way round?), it appears like Yahoo could possibly be wooing the local reviews website. In a recent interview with Brian Womack from Business Week, Carol Bartz, the CEO at Yahoo hinted at the possibility.

Bartz was asked whether her company was looking at acquiring Yelp, to which she replied

“Local is extemely important. People do some outrageous percentage of their commercial spending five miles from their home.”

That is still not an emphatic “Yes”. But then it is not a “No” either and for the moment, we will just assume that Yahoo is interested.

[Business Week via WebProNews]

Yahoo Bringing Real-time Parking Space Availability On Maps

Yahoo is working on a technology that will enable visitors to get real time parking space availability information on the internet or mobile phone. According to a patent filed by the company at the US Patent and Trademark Office, the invention will make use of sensors attached to the individual parking lots which will be tracked real time on Yahoo Maps.

In the filing, the inventors write

“[A] parking availability determining system includes a sensor system and a parking availability determiner. The sensor system is configured to monitor a plurality of parking spaces. The sensor system includes at least one sensor element that generates a sensor data output signal. The parking availability determiner receives the sensor data output signal and generates parking availability information.”

The inventors make a concluding statement about how the parking space availability information may be used

“Note that parking availability determiner and/or map generator may include hardware, software, firmware, or any combination thereof to perform at least a portion of their functions. For example, parking availability determiner and/or map generator may include computer code configured to be executed in one or more processors. Alternatively, parking availability determinerand/or map generator may include hardware logic/electrical circuitry.”

Is Yahoo planning to enter GPS navigation market?

Yahoo To Announce Sale of Zimbra Today

Two years after acquiring Zimbra Open source email unit for $350 million, it is rumored that Yahoo has sold off the property to VMWare. The announcement is expected to be made today. This follows the strategy the company has taken since Carol Bartz took over as head of the company – that of selling or shutting down properties that do not make strategic sense.

All Things Digital point out the sale price of the transaction to be over $100 million but less than the $350 million that was paid for the initial acquisition in 2007.

As always, the spokesperson for Yahoo has declined to comment on the impending annoucement saying they do not comment on rumors and speculations.

[via All Things Digital]

Yahoo Devises Site-Sequence Algorithm To Improve Behavioral Targeting

Ad networks have all along tried to understand user behavior in order to be able to deliver the most relevant ad to the visitor. However, one big problem is that most users who agree to be behaviorally targeted are the more tech-savvy ones; consumers who use a lot of internet. This means that their behavior cannot be generically applied to the rest of the users – those who use internet minimally.

In order to counter this, Yahoo has devised what is known as a Site-sequence value. In a patent published by Yahoo, the company has elaborated on what they mean by site-sequencing and how it will help them in targeting ads better.  The inventors write

“the site-sequence values indicate a sequence from a first site to a second site for at least one user identified with a corresponding engagement level;determining cumulative site-sequence values from the site-sequence values for combinations of pairs of sites and distinct engagement levels;determining likelihood values from the cumulative site-sequence values, wherein the likelihood values characterize probabilities for sequences between sites at distinct engagement levels”

To tell it in simple words, Yahoo studies visits from Site A to Site B from a variety of users to study the general engagement level. It also studies visits from Site B to Site C to see the engagement level. Doing so will let Yahoo know whether or not visitors to Site A be interesting in advertisements related to Site C.

Looks like an interesting concept. What do you think?

Video CAPTCHA Codes Coming, Thanks To Yahoo

In order to make it much more difficult for spammers and bots to decipher CAPTCHA codes, Yahoo is working on a technology that will replace the current CAPTCHA with a technique whereby characters are superimposed on streaming videos or animations. These codes shall also come with a timer in order to validate the presence of a human.

In a patent published at the US Patent and Trademark Office, Yahoo has revealed a technology that will do just this. The inventor of the patent, Scott Preece writes

“A server may compose a streaming captcha by superimposing a captcha character string on a video. A timer may be set and the streaming captcha may be streamed to the client device. The streaming captcha may be displayed on the client device, and a character string input by a user may be received in response to display of the streaming captcha.”

“For instance, a streaming captcha may be composed by superimposing a captcha character string on a video stream so that the character string appears in the foreground part of the video stream. In an embodiment, the background part of the video stream may vary. Moreover, a character may change progressively into the next character in the sequence of characters in the captcha character string. Or an animation may be generated to display the sequence of characters from the captcha character string.”

It is an interesting technique that can possibly reduce the spam count at least for sometime to come; until the spammers find a way out of this again. But one concern is with countries where high bandwidth broadband is yet to take root. In such places, video streaming CAPTCHAs can highly bring down user experience. What do you think?