A broad coalition of advertising trade groups, ad buyers and sellers from Western Europe and the United States are pushing the industry to stop using annoying online marketing formats that have given rise to use of ad-blockers.
The types of ads the coalition has identified as falling below standard include pop-up advertisements, auto-play video ads with sound, flashing animated ads and full-screen ads that mask underlying content from readers or viewers.
The explosion of ad-blocking tools has launched a prolonged debate within the advertising industry over whether to rein in abusive ad practices or simply freeze out consumers who use ad blocker and still expect access to premium content.
The Coalition for Better Ads said on Wednesday it was publishing the voluntary standards after a study in which more than 25,000 web surfers and mobile phone users rated ads.
They identified six types of desktop web ads and 12 types of mobile ads as falling beneath a threshold of consumer acceptability and called on advertisers to avoid them.
Matti Littunen, research analyst at Enders Analysis focusing on digital media, said the ad formats identified by the coalition “have already been discouraged for years by these bodies and yet are still commonplace.”
The coalition is made up of major advertising associations from Britain, France, Germany and the United States, online ad platforms Google and Facebook, advertisers such as Procter & Gamble and Unilever and news publishers including News Corp, Washington Post and Thomson Reuters, the corporate parent of Reuters News.
“This is an opportunity, with the breadth of our participation, to actually not only capture what the consumer doesn’t want but also to really educate and take action to make that a reality in the online experience,” said Chuck Curran, a lawyer for the coalition, on a call with reporters.
“It’s that measurement of the point where the consumer is not just dissatisfied with the ad experience but actually more likely to use ad blockers and this is what we capture with the better ads standards.”
Ad-blocking, which has surged steadily since 2013, covered 615 million computer or mobile devices in 2016, up 30 percent from a year ago, according to estimates from Dublin-based PageFair, a firm that helps advertisers find ways to overcome blockers. That’s 11 percent of the world’s online populatio
In fact, cars alone are getting connected to cellular networks faster than anything else, according to statistics compiled by Chetan Sharma Consulting for the second quarter of this year. Counting all U.S. carriers, about 1.4 million cars got connected to cellular networks in the quarter, compared with 1.2 million phones and less than 900,000 tablets.
The second quarter, between April and June, isn’t a high point for new phone sales like the fourth quarter, when holiday shopping hits and new iPhone models roll out. But IoT growth has been a long-term trend.
AT&T, the carrier that’s led in connected cars, has already been adding them faster than phones and tablets combined for seven consecutive quarters, says Sharma, a longtime mobile industry analyst. AT&T’s on track to reach 10 million car connections soon, he said.
For now, most of those cars have been tuning in without their drivers lifting a finger, Sharma said. It’s the car companies that are rolling out vehicles with live cellular connections, which can help them do things like monitor the condition of their cars, update the software on board, and learn things that could help them improve future models. Keeping vehicles online may also reduce the need for expensive recalls where cars have to come back into the shop.
It’s taking a little longer for consumers to start using the cell services in their cars. One reason is that people already drive around with a network connection through their cell phones, which can even provide a pipeline for vehicle data through IoT device-and-app combinations like Automatic.
Sharma’s quarterly report also showed how successful mobile data as a whole has become in the U.S. In the second quarter, it accounted for more than three-quarters of mobile carriers’ revenue for the first time. It helps that the U.S. is No. 3 in the world for mobile data consumption per subscriber, per month, according to Sharma.
The Better Roofs ordinance was penned by Supervisor Scott Wiener, who said the measure was needed to fight climate change and reduce reliance on fossil fuels.
“Activating underutilized roof space is a smart and efficient way to promote the use of solar energy and improve our environment,” Wiener said in a statement about the vote. “We need to continue to pursue aggressive renewable energy policies to ensure a sustainable future for our city and our region.”
A federal study released earlier this month revealed that installing solar panels on every roof in the U.S. would supply 39% of the nation’s total power used.
While the U.S. Energy Information Administration doesn’t normally track legislation, a spokesperson for the agency said he was unaware of any other states with laws requiring solar on rooftops. Additionally, the Database of State Incentives for Renewable Energy, a compilation of mostly state-level and significant local-level rules and regulations, had no record of laws requiring all commercial and residential buildings to have solar. That makes San Francisco the first city in the nation to implement such an ordinance.
San Francisco’s new law, however, does follow a state law: California’s Title 24 Energy Standards, which requires 15% of roof area on new small and mid-sized buildings to be “solar ready.” That requires the roof to be unshaded by the proposed building itself, and free of obtrusions. The state law also applies to all new residential and commercial buildings of 10 floors or less.
TransLoc, which builds technology products for public transit passengers and agencies, will integrate Uber into the TransLoc Rider app, a smartphone application that provides real-time bus tracking and route planning.
San Francisco-based Uber’s app allows passengers to order on-demand rides from their smartphones.
The integration will allow passengers to plan trips that combine public transportation with Uber rides and walking, TransLoc officials said. The idea is to offer Uber as a way for passengers to get from home to a transit stop, and from transit stops to their destinations.
Public transit agencies lose many potential riders because they lack options getting to or from the bus or train stop, TransLoc said.
“Such partnerships will enhance the attractiveness of public transportation,” Michael Melaniphy, president and chief executive of the American Public Transportation Association, said in a statement.
Uber and ride-hailing competitor Lyft have been working to find allies among public transit agencies, recognizing that if they are to be truly cheaper than car ownership as each company has touted it is, they must be used in combination with public transit.
A transportation study by the statistical analysis media site FiveThirtyEight showed that completing 85 percent of trips on public transit and 15 percent with Uber roughly equaled the cost of car ownership.
Uber and Lyft have both made progress in befriending public transit agencies. Uber has partnerships in Dallas, Atlanta, Los Angeles and Minneapolis.
Lyft also has a partnership with Dallas, and recently launched the “Friends with Transit” campaign to demonstrate the number of passengers Lyft brings to and from transit stations.
The public will see an uptick in successful cyberattacks against their online health records next year; supercomputers like IBM’s Watson will reduce patient deaths and treatment costs by 10% in 2018; and virtual healthcare will soon become routine.
Those are some of the predictions made by IDC’s Health Insights group in a new report.
The report claims that because of a legacy of lackluster electronic security in healthcare and an increase in the amount of online patient data, one in three consumers will have their healthcare records compromised by cyberattacks in 2016.
“Frankly, healthcare data is really valuable from a cyber criminal standpoint. It could be 5, 10 or even 50 times more valuable than other forms of data,” said Lynne Dunbrack, research vice president for IDC’s Health Insights.
Not only do healthcare records often have Social Security and credit card numbers, but they are also used by criminals to file fraudulent medical claims and to get medications to resell.
Healthcare fraud costs the industry from $74 billion to $247 billion a year in the U.S., according to FBI statistics. Fraudulent billing represents between 3% and 10% of healthcare expenditures in the U.S. each year, Dunbrack said.
The biggest problem is that the industry has been a laggard in deploying security technology. Dunbrack pointed to high-profile examples of healthcare providers who experienced massive breaches this past year, including Anthem and Premera Blue Cross.
Anthem reported that nearly 80 million records had been exposed; Premera suffered a breach of more than 11 million records.
“Part of this increase [in cyber attacks] is because there’s more electronic data than ever before,” Dunbrack said. “Some of the things leading to attacks are good things. For example, digitized formats allow [sharing] patient data among providers.”
Additionally, healthcare networks need to increase the sophistication of their security analytics software so they can identify attacks as they’re happening and head them off by learning their patterns.
The consortium of automobile makers consisting of Audi, BMW and Daimler that owns digital map maker HERE said on Monday it would begin exploring the use of big data to improve the quality of its maps.
HERE currently uses data from more than 80,000 sources for its maps, including static data captured by its 3D mapping cars and dynamic data.
“Now, to further advance its plans to deliver real-time maps, HERE will be exploring the possibility of incorporating anonymized data from Audi, BMW and Daimler vehicles, with a view to entering similar discussions with more industry participants too in the coming months,” the three car makers said in a statement.
By using data from multiple sources, HERE would be able to accelerate the development of the next-generation map needed for automated driving, the companies said.
Facebook announced that it would appeal a court ruling ordering it to stop tracking the online activities of non-Facebook users in Belgium who visit Facebook pages, or face a 250,000 euro ($269,000) daily fine.
Belgium’s data protection regulator took the U.S. company to court in June, accusing it of trampling on EU privacy law by tracking people without a Facebook account without their consent.
At stake is the so-called ‘datr’ cookie, which Facebook places on people’s browsers when they visit a Facebook.com site or click a Facebook ‘Like’ button on other websites, allowing it to track the online activities of that browser.
“We’ve used the ‘datr’ cookie for more than five years to keep Facebook secure for 1.5 billion people around the world,” a spokeswoman said.
“We will appeal this decision and are working to minimize any disruption to people’s access to Facebook in Belgium.”
The Brussels court ordered Facebook to stop tracking non-Facebook users in Belgium within 48 hours or pay a daily fine of 250,000 euros to the Belgian privacy regulator, said Margot Neyskens, spokeswoman for Bart Tommelein, Belgian secretary of state for the protection of privacy.
“Facebook can not follow people on the internet who are not members of Facebook which is very logical because they can not have given permission to follow them,” Tommelein said in an emailed statement.
Facebook says the cookie only identifies browsers, not people and helps it to distinguish legitimate visits from those by attackers.
The company has also argued that since it has its European headquarters in Ireland it should be regulated solely by the Irish Data Protection Commissioner.
Facebook is adding to its benevolence jar with a thing called TechPrep that it expects will help the poor and disadvantaged to embrace and master technology.
The cynics among us would link this to Facebook and the drive for more members, because members mean money, but fortunately they are out of the office.
This has been a good week for Facebook in terms of positive things, including CEO Mark Zuckerberg being crowned the industry’s biggest LGBT Ally, an award that he welcomed.
TechPrep is part of this inclusive side of Facebook, and fittingly it has been introduced by Maxine Williams, global director of diversity at the firm. TechPrep is pitched at technological learners, parents and guardians who need better computer skills, and Facebook is working with the McKinsey Institute on the initiative.
“At Facebook, we’re working on a number of initiatives to widen the pipeline and build an inclusive culture. After looking closely at the data, we realised that one challenge is a lack of exposure to computer science and careers in technology, as well as a lack of resources for parents, guardians and others who want to learn more,” she said.
“In the US, this lack of access is prevalent in a number of under-represented groups, including black and Hispanic communities. Today, we’re excited to introduce TechPrep, a resource hub where under-represented people and their parents and guardians can learn more about computer science and programming and find resources to get them started.”
Facebook will curate training packages to suit needs. The firm also referred to research which found that computer science education can empower people, and that parts of the community are easily disillusioned by training and teaching.
“77 percent of parents say they do not know how to help their child pursue computer science. This increases to approximately 83 percent for lower income and non-college graduate parents or guardians,” added Williams.
“Yet being encouraged to pursue computer science by a parent or guardian is a primary motivator for women, blacks and Hispanics. Lower awareness of computer science in blacks and Hispanics is driven by less access to people in computer science and computer science programs, and is a major driver of black and Hispanic drop-off when pursuing programming as a career path.”
Facebook is already in the process of boosting its in-house diversity, as are many of its peers. The technology industry is currently white man heavy, and this is not a good thing.
That automation will replace jobs is a workforce reality. For instance, in 1949 there were 182,500 people employed as telephone operators. It was the peak year. But by last year the number of operators employed by wired carriers had declined to 2,170, according to federal labor data.
Something similar is on the verge of taking place in back-office IT services jobs, due to automation improvements, with dramatic job cutbacks being forecast, according to a survey done of representatives from about 170 global sourcing firms. This includes the IT services industry.
Nearly a third of those surveyed said they expect job cuts of 25% or higher of their current workforces by 2020, according to a conference poll by the Information Services Group (ISG), a research and advisory services firm.
In this survey, 23% predicted workforce cuts of 15% to 25%, and some 28% said the cuts would range from 5% to 15%. Only 5% of respondents said current employment levels will grow.
Rob Brindley, a director at ISG, said improvements in automation, as well as continuing improvements in the capabilities of people, are bringing higher reliability and stability to IT systems, reducing calls for support. “Automation is going to be working be working in the background, evaluating events and incidents and resolving them before there is a customer impact,” said Brindley.
There also tools being developed, such as IPsoft’s Amelia cognitive engine, that an also be used to either augment or replace workers as time goes on.
In a 1955 Congressional hearing on “Automation and Technological Change” lawmakers and experts discussed the impact of automation on the workforce, and the decline of some types of jobs.
“I see only benefits in the long run,” said Dr. Vannevar Bush, president of the Carnegie Institution, regarding automation.
Facebook has nearly 20 million users in major African markets Nigeria and Kenya, statistics released by the social network revealed on Thursday, with the majority using mobile devices to access their profiles.
Facebook opened its first African office in Johannesburg in June as the continent’s growing population and relatively low levels of internet access present a large untapped market for the social network to earn advertising revenue.
The numbers, the first Facebook has published for Nigeria, Africa’s most populous nation and Kenya, East Africa’s most developed, show the two nations as important entry points on a continent of nearly one billion people.
Nigeria had 15 million monthly active users as of June 30 this year, all of them using mobiles to like, share and upload content on the social network. In Kenya, 95 percent of the 4.5 million monthly active users did so via mobiles.
“Mobile is not a trend; it’s the fastest adoption of disruptive technology in history of communication,” said Nunu Ntshingila, Facebook’s head of Africa, in a statement.
South Africa has 12 million monthly active Facebook users, the data showed, and Facebook says with its strong advertising partnerships in Africa it would use the new office in Johannesburg to expand its business across the continent.
Facebook said its active user population in Africa grew 20 percent to 120 million in June from 100 million in September last year. A large portion of these users were in North Africa.
The Biel, Switzerland-based company is competing with Apple and other watchmakers in the budding smartwatch market.
“Our product is called Touch Zero One and that gives enough room for Zero Five, Zero Nine,” Nick Hayek was quoted as saying by Switzerland’s Tages-Anzeiger newspaper. “The Touch Zero One is not the end of the progression.”
Hayek told the paper Swatch would launch Touch Zero Two at next year’s Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.
The Swiss company’s strategy appears primarily to revolve around including individual tech features in different models rather than going head to head with Apple to create all-in-one smartwatches combining many functions.
On top of its Touch Zero One, which can track the distance the wearer travels and help beach volleyball players measure the power of their hits, Swatch is planning to launch watches with an embedded “near field communication” chip this year.
The changes will apply to Yahoo search on the mobile web in the U.S., in browsers such as Safari and Chrome. Yahoo’s mobile app and desktop site already provide some additional content within results.
A search on the mobile web for Barack Obama, for instance, displays information about him from Wikipedia, such as his height and birth date, as well as links to news, images and YouTube videos. In one search Thursday, the videos included some curious choices, including “Barack Obama is Illuminati.”
Google already highlights a variety of content related to search queries, including news and related tweets, as well as links to other services like Maps. Microsoft’s Bing does something similar.
Because Yahoo is playing catch-up, the changes might not attract many new users, but they could help it retain people who use Yahoo for mobile searches today.
In the last quarter of 2014, mobile accounted for half of Yahoo’s search traffic in North America, up from 32 percent during the same period in 2013, according to research firm eMarketer.
The changes, announced Thursday, come less than a month after Google started prioritizing mobile-optimized sites in its search results. Both companies are looking to attract more users by providing a better search experience on smartphones and tablets.
Microsoft said it expects to roll out the changes in the coming months. Sites that display well on smaller screens will also be flagged with a new “mobile friendly” tag.
In the U.S. last year, Bing had roughly 6 percent of the mobile search market, compared with Google’s 83 percent, according to figures from StatCounter.
The changes don’t mean mobile-optimized sites will necessarily appear at the top of results. “You can always expect to see the most relevant results for a search query ranked higher, even if some of them are not mobile friendly,” Microsoft said.
It considers a variety of elements to decide which sites display best on smartphones and tablets. For example, sites with large navigational elements that are spaced well apart will be prioritized, as well as sites that don’t require a lot of zooming and lateral scrolling. Bing will also favor sites with mobile-compatible content. That means pages with Flash content, which doesn’t work well on iOS devices, might get demoted.
Microsoft highlighted Fandango’s mobile site as one that will be prioritized under the changes, more so than Movies.com.
The company has also developed a tool to help webmasters assess the mobile friendliness of their sites. It will be made available in a few weeks.
Although Microsoft has stated its Windows 10 preview program has some 2.8 million participants, just over half of those are using the early version on a regular basis, according to Web metrics estimates.
For March, U.S.-based analytics company Net Applications pegged Windows 10’s user share, a rough projection of the fraction of online users running the OS, at 0.09%, or nine PC users out of every 10,000.
That represented 0.1% of all Windows PC users, the slight difference due to the fact that Windows does not account for all personal computer operating systems, but instead about 91%.
Windows 10’s user share of all Windows PCs last month was slightly less than Windows 8’s 0.12% in March 2012, seven months before the latter’s official launch. Microsoft ran a preview program for Windows 8 in the year prior to the OS’s October 2012 on-sale date.
This time, however, Microsoft will ship the upgrade at least one, perhaps several, months sooner on the calendar than it did Windows 8: The Redmond, Wash. company has promised to release Windows 10 this summer, a wide window that could mean as early as June or as late as September.
Windows 10’s user share translated into approximately 1.5 million users, assuming about 1.52 billion Windows PCs in operation across the globe.
Microsoft last gave an Insider participant count a month ago, when Stephen Elop, formerly the CEO of Nokia and now the head of Microsoft’s Device and Services division, said there were 2.8 million registered testers.
The gap between 2.8 million Insider participants and 1.5 million Windows 10 users is not unusual in beta testing circles: More people download and try a preview than run it regularly after that.
Cisco has released a long-distance interconnect designed to simplify workload mobility between data centres. Dubbed “stretched fabric” the technology is part of Cisco’s Application Centric Policy Controller (APIC) which allows switches that form a fabric to be located up to 30 km apart.
The big idea is that the technology can provide better integration of environments spread across multiple data centres.
The stretched ACI fabric behaves the same way as a regular ACI fabric and supports full VMM integration. A VMWare vCenter can operate across the stretched ACI fabric sites with ESXi hosts from sites managed by the same vCenter and Distributed Virtual Switch.
Depending on optical transceivers between the data centres, the data can be stretched further. Cisco’s said that the stretched fabric also requires dark fibre links.
All this simplifies the overall network infrastructure and removes the need for all leaf switches to be connected to all spines.