Yahoo Staffs Up in Click Fraud Prevention

By Kevin Newcomb


March 22, 2007

Yahoo
has taken steps to bolster its click fraud detection and prevention
efforts today, with an executive-level appointment focusing on
marketplace quality.

Reggie
Davis, who has served as an attorney for Yahoo for the past seven
years, has been named the company’s new VP of marketplace quality. His
most recent role was as associate general counsel managing litigation,
including Yahoo’s click fraud litigation. Davis is based in Burbank,
Calif., and will operate within the marketing products division of
Yahoo’s recently-formed Advertiser & Publisher Group, led by Susan
Decker.

"This
is an opportunity for me to get into an area where we’ve shown
leadership in the past, and expect to continue to show leadership in
going forward," Davis said. "I’m especially excited by the commitment
of resources. Previously, I’ve seen a disconnect between how hard the
company is working on these issues and outsiders’ perception. Now we
can help remedy that."

Davis
will be given resources to hire a dedicated staff to focus on
marketplace quality efforts across several product and click protection
teams, which are currently operating independently. His team will focus
on click fraud, traffic quality, network placement and other
marketplace quality issues, including working closely with advertisers
and publishers on quality-related matters.

Davis
will have operational, reporting, and communications functions within
his role, as well as strategic and tactical ones. He will begin by
driving the consolidation of several existing quality efforts at Yahoo,
and creating new teams to address network quality issues.

Davis
stressed the importance of addressing advertiser concerns about click
fraud, which Yahoo has done in the past and will continue to do. He
said the improved geo-targeting controls in the new Panama platform,
which help advertisers block traffic from countries where they believe
invalid clicks are originating, were one of the top requests from
advertisers.

The
next two most frequent requests were for discounted pricing of certain
types of traffic and domain-blocking capabilities, both of which are in
the works and expected to be released to advertisers in coming months.
Quality-based pricing will aim to price traffic in a manner that is
consistent with the quality it delivers to advertisers, so traffic will
be priced at different tiers. Domain-level blocking will allow
advertisers to identify individual domains from which they do not wish
to receive traffic.

Davis
said that Yahoo is planning on continuing down the path it has
undertaken. "We’re focused on the concerns of our advertisers. We’re
really committed to providing visibility, control, and transparency on
behalf of our advertisers. We want to put them in a position to ensure
they’ll be getting quality traffic," he said.


Google Tests Pay Per Action Call

Google today
announced a limited beta test of pay-per-action advertising, a new
pricing model for certain AdSense ads on its content network that pits
the company squarely against affiliate programs.

Under the new
pricing model, advertisers will decide what kind of action they are
willing to pay for, such as a sale, newsletter sign-up, or other
conversion. The advertiser can set a value for that action that
publishers will be paid. Google will monitor the conversions through
tracking codes on the advertiser’s site.

Although a
pay-per-action model shifts more risk to publishers, since they don’t
get paid unless a visitor clicks and completes the pre-defined
conversion, the payoff will usually be higher than CPC commissions,
said Rob Kniaz, product manager for Google’s ad products.

"It
does shift the burden of conversion to the publisher, but it’s a higher
value ad unit," he said. In addition, publishers have more flexibility
in encouraging users to take advantage of the offer being presented, by
recommending or describing the advertiser’s service, he said.

Google has been testing various forms of these pay-per-action ads since June.
Advertisers can sign up now to participate, and Google will begin
inviting U.S. advertisers to test the program over the next few weeks.

AdSense
publishers can select individual ads, a "shopping cart" of ads, or
search for ads by keyword. The new ad units are separate from the CPC
and CPM ads Google offers, and must be selected and placed separately.
Publishers can review the details of the offer from the advertiser
before agreeing to show the ad on their sites.

Advertisers can
create text or image ads, or use Google’s new text link ad format to
create brief text descriptions that appear in the style of a
publisher’s page

Travel Sites Strive To Differentiate Via Value-Addeds

by Karlene Lukovitz, Friday, Mar 23, 2007 5:00 AM ET
PRICELINE’S ANNOUNCEMENT THIS WEEK THAT it’s
adding free-access Zagat hotel reviews to its site is another sign of
value-added escalation in the fiercely competitive online travel
bookings market.

Competitive pricing remains a given–"It’s what I call ‘the ticket of
entry,’" acknowledges Randy Wagner, CMO for Orbitz Worldwide. But while
continuing to go head-to-head on pricing via a cornucopia of deals and
methods, the major third-party/consolidator sites–plus a growing
number of specialized and meta search sites, not to mention stepped-up
branded hotel and airline sites–are increasingly employing value-added
services to get consumers beyond the dollar signs and hooked on using a
favorite site.

Click here to read more.

Ritz-Carlton Launches New Luxury Brand

According to the WSJ

Upscale-lodging operator Ritz-Carlton Hotel Co.,
hoping to take further advantage of the booming luxury travel business,
will launch a new hotel brand called "the Reserve" that the company
hopes will attract guests to smaller resorts and more out-of-the-way
locales.

Ritz-Carlton, a subsidiary of Marriott International
Inc. of Bethesda, Md., is planning to open the 125-room "Molasses Reef"
on the island of West Caicos in the Caribbean sometime next year.

Unlike the majority of its current 62 hotels and
resorts that generally exist in popular tourist and business
destinations, the locations for the offshoot brand will likely be
focused in largely undeveloped areas — "places in the world where not
everybody has been," says Vivian Deuschl, Ritz-Carlton spokeswoman.

To that end, the company will continue to compete with
longtime rival Four Seasons Hotels & Resorts Inc. and other luxury
operators that run small, expensive resorts like Kerzner International Ltd.’s
"One&Only" brand. But the new brand’s focus will shift away from a
heavy focus on corporate travelers and group-meeting business that many
of the existing Ritz-Carltons depend on for a large chunk of their
business.

While the company uses the word "boutique" to describe
the Reserve brand, Ritz-Carlton officials insist that the service
element — long decried as the Achilles’ heel of the boutique hotel
industry — will, in fact, be enhanced. Indeed, as the luxury travel
industry has remained strong in the past few years and shows few signs
of cooling, the highest-end travelers continue to look for more
exclusive options outside traditional resort destinations. Ritz-Carlton
officials say they hope to open new Reserve properties elsewhere in the
Caribbean and in Asia.

Starwood Launches Auction Site

Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide,
Inc. (NYSE:HOT) and its Starwood Preferred Guest(R) program is
introducing a new online auction website where members can use their
Starpoints(R) to bid on exclusive, once-in-a-lifetime experiences.
Moments by Starwood Preferred Guest lets members transform their
Starpoints into extraordinary lifestyle events – giving them insider
access to red carpet movie premieres, closed rehearsals with today’s
top music artists, private dinners with world-renowned chefs, rounds of
golf with PGA TOUR pros and more. Starting today, members can visit www.spg.com/moments and bid on a full range of specially curated experiences not available anywhere else.

It’s Better on the Inside…

Sit in on a private pre-show sound-check with Justin Timberlake or
watch Gwen Stefani rehearse unscripted before taking a front row VIP
seat at their concerts. Attend the premiere of Showtime’s original
series The Tudors and mingle with the cast on the red carpet, tour
renowned artist Georgia O’Keeffe’s private residence or sit ringside at
the upcoming Oscar de La Hoya/Floyd Mayweather fight and celebrate at
the private post-fight party. These are just a few of the exciting
happenings that are now available for bidding. The auction site will be
updated regularly and upcoming events include a private dinner with
Jean-Georges Vongerichten at his signature, namesake restaurant in New
York City, red carpet access to upcoming Hollywood premieres and more.

According to Robin Korman, Vice President of Loyalty Marketing for
Starwood, during a three month pilot for the new auction site several
events created a bidding war among members. A Justin Timberlake private
sound-check session and VIP concert tickets started with a minimum bid
of 20,000 Starpoints and was auctioned for more than 120,000 – the
equivalent of a 12 night stay at The Westin St. Maarten or Le Méridien
Cancun. A Superbowl package, including tickets to the game and access
to several private pre-game events, started bidding at 250,000
Starpoints and ultimately sold for more than 500,000.

‘Moments by Starwood Preferred Guest give our members access to
once-in-a-lifetime events that go beyond just offering tickets to a
concert or sporting event,’ said Korman. ‘We want to make an emotional
connection with our members that extends outside of our hotel doors by
providing them with rich experiences that go beyond the world of
upgrades and free flights. Moments is designed to play to people’s
passions with amazing events that are available only to our members.’

To make sure members don’t miss out on the experience of a lifetime,
Moments will introduce a cash and points option to the site shortly –
allowing bidders to use a combination of cash and Starpoints for
auction events. For more information about Moments by Starwood
Preferred Guest please visit www.spg.com/moments. For more information
about Starwood Preferred Guest, including enrollment, please visit
www.spg.com.

Orbitz IPO

Travelport Limited (Blackstone Group) is selling a portion of it’s interest in Orbitz to the public. The transaction is to be completed Q3 2007. See the full press release here.

More on Travelport:
Travelport is one of the world’s largest travel conglomerates. It operates 20 leading brands including Galileo, a global distribution system(GDS); Orbitz, an on-line travel agent; and Gulliver’s Travel Associates, awholesaler of travel content. The Company has 8,000 employees and operatesin 130 countries. Travelport is a private company owned by The BlackstoneGroup of New York, Technology Crossover Ventures of Palo Alto, California and One Equity Partners of New York.

Socializr – Could It Turn Into A New Way To Plan A Hotel Event?

As founder of Friendster Inc., Jonathan Abrams helped
touch off the social-networking craze. Now he’s trying to make
connections for a new venture.

Mr. Abrams today plans to unveil Socializr Inc., a San
Francisco-based Web site designed to help users plan events. The
category was pioneered by Evite, a site owned by IAC/InteractiveCorp.

Mr. Abrams, 37 years old, says he intends to
incorporate sophisticated features he had hoped to add to Friendster
before he left in 2005. "I never really finished Friendster," he says.

Socializr plans, for example, to let people view their
friends’ social calendars, create personal pages that pull information
from their other social-networking profiles, and design more
personalized invitations. For now, the site’s revenue will come from
text advertisements sold through Google Inc.

Mr. Abrams, a Toronto native, moved to Silicon Valley
during the height of the dot-com bubble and founded Friendster in 2002,
after the bubble had burst. The Web site introduced an idea that was
then novel: Give people a place on the Web to build profiles with
details about themselves and photos, and to connect with each other via
those profiles.

Millions of
Web users flocked to Friendster, and Mr. Abrams became a poster boy for
the dot-com recovery. Friendster hired dozens of employees and took
close to $13 million in venture-capital funding from Kleiner Perkins
Caufield & Byers and Benchmark Capital.

Then, in 2004, Friendster began having technical
problems that slowed down the site. Users left Friendster for new
sites, such as MySpace, now owned by News Corp., and Facebook
Inc. In June 2004, Friendster’s board brought on a new chief executive,
succeeding Mr. Abrams. Mr. Abrams stayed on as chairman but left the
following year.

This time, Mr. Abrams says he is treading carefully,
keeping tighter control of his company and its expenses. He says he has
accepted about $770,000 in funding last year from Rembrandt Venture
Partners and several angel investors, including Web executives he
describes as friends.

The company has two other employees, a programmer and
an office manager. Mr. Abrams has kept Socializr mostly under wraps so
far, showing it only to a few people, including some DJs and event
promoters.

The Socializr site is sprinkled with rueful jokes
about Silicon Valley culture. The company’s motto is "Don’t be boring"
— "because Google already took ‘Don’t be evil,’" the Web site notes.
The title on Mr. Abrams’s business card is "junior computer programmer."

"With these things, you have to have a sense of humor," Mr. Abrams says.

Auren Hoffman, a Silicon Valley Web executive and
Socializr investor who has known Mr. Abrams since 1998, says,
"Jonathan’s extraordinarily innovative, and he’s learned from his past
companies."

Mr. Abrams says he wants to start fresh with Socializr
and is engineering the site to make sure it doesn’t have hiccups as it
grows, as Friendster did. But there is a framed newspaper clipping on
his office wall, with a smiling photo of him from the Friendster days.

"It’s embarrassing," he says, but he figures it helps
give him credibility with potential business partners who visit his
office.

And if the name Socializr sounds familiar, it’s
because "I’d like to benefit from my notoriety from having created
Friendster," he says.

You Tube Going Legit!

According to the WSJ today:

NEW YORK — Google Inc.’s YouTube and CBS
Corp. announced a deal under which YouTube will show highlights,
postgame news conferences and other clips from the TV network’s
telecasts of the NCAA basketball tournament.

The deal underscores the allure of YouTube’s huge and
passionate audience for the television networks, whose core viewership
is aging and more fragmented then ever.

"There’s a growing demand for professional content
owners to have a presence on YouTube and to have that dialogue with the
[YouTube] community," Chris Maxcy, YouTube’s director of content
partnerships, said in an interview.

CBS, General Electric
Co.’s NBC and other media giants have experimented with adding their
content to YouTube. The latest deal, however, comes after media giant Viacom
Inc. sued Google and YouTube earlier this week, alleging that the
video-sharing Internet site engages in "massive intentional copyright
infringement." CBS split from Viacom last year.

The deal for the NCAA tournament will add a CBS
"channel" on YouTube. CBS and YouTube will share revenue from an
exclusive advertising sponsorship from General Motors
Corp.’s Pontiac division. The companies didn’t detail expected revenue
from the partnership or how they would split the ad money.

Keyword Conundrum

Keywords are the key to
reaching a huge Internet audience! Search
engines are where the majority of consumers go today for information that
influences their hotel selections. To be
effective in gaining and holding a good organic ranking on the leading search
engines, especially in a highly competitive market, you need a clear search
engine optimization plan. Search engine
optimization is the management of your keywords and other elements that are
tracked by the search engine spiders (a search engine program that scans
website links and text) to determine the relevance of your website content to
the search term used by the shopper. 

Click here to read more and other White Papers.

Viacom Sues YouTube, Google for $1 Billion

It had to happen sooner or later. Someone is suing Google via YouTube for $1 billion for massive copyright infringement.

Viacom filed a suit against them in New York court today, asking not
only for the money but an immediate stop to the copyright infringement.
The legal complaint claims over 160,000 Viacom clips are on YouTube and
have had over 1.5 billion views.

Viacom issued the following press release after filing the papers.

"YouTube is a significant, for-profit organization that has built a
      lucrative business out of exploiting the devotion of fans to others’
      creative works in order to enrich itself and its corporate parent
      Google.  Their business model, which is based on building traffic and
      selling advertising off of unlicensed content, is clearly illegal and is
      in obvious conflict with copyright laws.  In fact, YouTube’s strategy
      has been to avoid taking proactive steps to curtail the infringement on
      its site, thus generating significant traffic and revenues for itself
      while shifting the entire burden – and high cost – of monitoring YouTube
      onto the victims of its infringement.

      This behavior stands in stark contrast to the actions of other
      significant distributors, who have recognized the fair value of
      entertainment content and have concluded agreements to make content
      legally available to their customers around the world.

      There is no question that YouTube and Google are continuing to take the
      fruit of our efforts without permission and destroying enormous value in
      the process.  This is value that rightfully belongs to the writers,
      directors and talent who create it and companies like Viacom that have
      invested to make possible this innovation and creativity.

      After a great deal of unproductive negotiation, and remedial efforts by
      ourselves and other copyright holders, YouTube continues in its unlawful
      business model.  Therefore, we must turn to the courts to prevent Google
      and YouTube from continuing to steal value from artists and to obtain
      compensation for the significant damage they have caused."