Monday, May 24, 2010

Google TV and Advertising Commercials

I was pretty excited when I watched the Google TV announcement last week.

Today I read a couple of commentaries about it and they went on about the features etc. but nobody mentioned the advertising. This surprised me as my initial guess is the reason that Google have entered this market is to gain more surface area for their advertising machine. In my opinion this is great news for all of us.

Everybody complains about the commercial breaks and if you ask someone with a Tivo why they like it they almost always tell you it's because they can fast forward through the commercials. If we don't have commercials then there's not going to be anyone to pay for the movies that we watch. That means smaller budgets for the studios and lower quality for us. We have to have adverts or we will end up moving to a subscription based viewing platform such as Netflix and that might kill off competition for great series and movies and lower the quality as well.

The perfect compromise is show commercials that you want to see. This, I believe, can be achieved with Google TV. By registering yourself and your interests on your device you make it easy for Google (or whatever content provider) to target you with relevant adverts. If I'm in the market to buy a car then I can change my profile settings to reflect that. I can give them my location, price range and model types and dealers in my area can then show ads to me during the breaks. The local dealers aren't going to pay much for that ad space because it will only be delivered to a few people like myself who are in the market for their product. National campaigns probably hit deaf ears 95% of the time. Targeted campaigns should be hitting willing-to-buy consumers 100% of the time. In reality this will of course be lower because there will also be car enthusiasts etc. who will be tuned into that type of ad because of their fanatical nature.

Once you have bought your car and are no longer in the market for one you can change your profile and pick something else that interests you. The question "how do we get consumers to change and/or set their profiles?" then arises. Again, this is easy. Constantly remind them that if they want to see adverts about products that interest them then they should update their profiles.


Friday, May 21, 2010

Dropbox File Synchronization

I've been using DropBox for a couple of months now and I'm very impressed. I keep my crucial source code files on there and sleep well at night knowing that they are backed up "off-site." That was my primary goal in using DropBox. However, now, I'm using more of the features and I'm using it to keep my DEV server synchronized with my PROD server with respect to files that have been uploaded by users. This has always been a pain for me to do but now it happens automatically. I've also started investigating the possibility of using it for Continuous Integration in a Cruise Control build environment. I haven't set that up yet but I don't see any reason why that wouldn't work.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Identify duplicate IP address use to the public

The Domain

You have a website that allows the public to add comments.

For example

  1. You have a forum that users can post to.
  2. You have a product listing that visitors can post reviews against.
  3. Any other listing that the public can comment on that would allow shills to manipulate public opinion for or against a topic/product.

The Problem

Public comments can appear to be from multiple independent sources when in fact they are the same person posting multiple times under different user name's or email addresses.

A Solution

Changing your email address is easy. But posting from multiple different IP addresses is more difficult. One solution to the problem is displaying the user's IP address next to each posting. However, this is often considered non-acceptable as IP addresses are sometimes considered private.

You could generate an image for each unique IP address and display that. This would allow people reading comments to link together identical IP images and know that the comments came from the same source. This is fairly easily done by using Gravatar. You can pick any domain to base your naming convention on, Gravatar doesn't care. Let's use If two visitors used the same IP address of say then you would generate a fake email of [email protected] and use the Gravatar algorithm to generate an image URL and display this as an image next to the post. This protects the exposure of the IP address to the public on your web page.

This would have the added benefit of also allowing users (or Admins) to quickly visually spot identical IP addresses being used. If you were serious about this though you would probably just write an admin report that picks out duplicate IP addresses on pages.