Oculus Rift Terms And Conditions Allow Facebook to Deploy Targeted Adverts

Virtual reality headsets have the potential to revolutionize the way we enjoy various entertainment forms and even help train apprentices to learn new skills in a more practical manner. This year has already been significant for developing VR technology and bringing it the consumer market. However, the early adopter pricing for both the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive are well out of the reach of most users. Despite this, VR technology allows developers to start making unique games and there should be a fantastic library when devices become more affordable. Facebook’s acquisition of Oculus raised some questions about the headset’s target audience and possible emergence of social media advertising.

The Oculus Rift’s terms and conditions contains a number of interesting clauses about user data. According to The Guardian, Facebook is able to collect:

“Information about your physical movements and dimensions when you use a virtual reality headset”,

Facebook also added:

“We use the information we collect to send you promotional messages and content and otherwise market to you on and off our Services,” “We also use this information to measure how users respond to our marketing efforts.”

This means Facebook can use location data to monitor your position and collect information on how you use the Oculus Rift. More worryingly, the terms clearly state that your personal information can be passed onto “related companies”. This refers to other parts of the Facebook brand such as WhatsApp. Consumers concerned about their privacy will find these terms rather intrusive and might be enough to deter them from making a purchase. Facebook’s ability to use the data for advertising purposes isn’t ideal and something which many people anticipated when the company took the helm. Admittedly, it’s fairly common for companies to outline similar data gathering policies but this doesn’t make it acceptable.

Are you concerned by the Oculus Rift’s terms or feel they are being blown out of proportion?

Mobile Operator Three to Block Ads at Network Level

Three, the phone network with a focus on mobile internet, has announced that it will begin blocking ads at a network level within the UK and Italy, the first network in Europe to do so. In partnership with Israeli company Shine, Three will introduce adblocking over the next few months, with a “rapid roll-out” to other Three networks to follow.

Three promises that it will not block all ads – “Our objective in working with Shine is not to eliminate mobile advertising,” the statement reads – but those that negatively impact customer experience. “Irrelevant and excessive mobile ads annoy customers and affect their overall network experience,” Tom Malleschitz, Three UK Chief Marketing Officer, said.

Three has outlined, aptly, three “principal goals” for introducing adblocking:

  1. That customers should not pay data charges to receive adverts.  These should be costs borne by the advertiser.
  2. That customers’ privacy and security must be fully protected. Some advertisers use mobile ads to extract and exploit data about customers without their knowledge or consent.
  3. That customers should be entitled to receive advertising that is relevant and interesting to them, and not to have their data experience in mobile degraded by excessive, intrusive, unwanted or irrelevant adverts.

“These goals will give customers choice and significantly improve their ad experience,” Malleschitz added. “We don’t believe customers should have to pay for data usage driven by mobile ads. The industry has to work together to give customers mobile ads they want and benefit from.”

Google is Dropping Flash Display Adverts

Adobe’s Flash is commonly used stream video content on various services including YouTube, DailyMotion and more! However, the software plugin has a fairly terrible reputation for being unstable, and causing web browsers to freeze. As a result, websites began to slowly move towards HTML5 integration which provides a better user-experience. Today, Google AdWords released a statement regarding the future of flash adverts which reads:

“Over the last few years, we’ve rolled out tools to encourage advertisers to use HTML5, so you can reach the widest possible audience across screens (http://goo.gl/nWHctK). To enhance the browsing experience for more people on more devices, the Google Display Network and DoubleClick Digital Marketing are now going 100% HTML5:

– Starting June 30th, 2016, display ads built in Flash can no longer be uploaded into AdWords and DoubleClick Digital Marketing.
– Starting January 2nd, 2017, display ads in the Flash format can no longer run on the Google Display Network or through DoubleClick.

It’s important to update your display ads^ to HTML5 before these dates.

AdWords advertisers who currently use Flash ads in their campaigns have several easy ways to ensure your creative can continue to show on the Google Display Network. Read more here: https://goo.gl/ZBq5DR

^Video ads built in Flash will not be impacted at this time.”

As you can see, Google is really increasing its stance to push HTML5 as the industry standard and making Flash obsolete. This is inevitable and only a matter of time because of the way consumers perceive Flash. It’s no longer acceptable to deal with bugs, crashing and a sub-par plugin on modern browsers. I highly doubt anyone is going to be overly concerned if Flash is completely disposed of and HTML5 is already used as the default format on various websites including YouTube.

Have you experienced problems using Adobe’s Flash?

Image courtesy of Mashable.

Adblock Plus Launches Web Browser For iOS

Recently, Apple announced plans to allow the use of ad-blockers on Safari for the very first time. Granted, this will only be available to users on the latest iOS 9 release, but Eyeo, the company behind AdBlock Plus has pre-emptied this revelation with its own browser designed to detect and block “annoying adverts”. According to the development team, the project has been in production for some time:

“We’ve been developing Adblock Browser for months, long before Apple made the announcement about iOS 9,”

Adblock’s app is a custom-variant of the Kitt browser which gives developers the tools to create a huge scope of unique software. By default, only extremely intrusive adverts are blocked but users can manually select all adverts to be hidden. The advent and acceptance of ad-blocking software on iOS was only a matter of time as consumers can already employ a number of blocking extensions on Android.

Research indicates Adblock’s usage is on the rise and grew by nearly 70% between June 2013 and June 2014. Unfotunately, there’s no concrete data which clearly outlines the percentage of web users installing Adblock. Some studies predict around 10% whilst others have recorded a much higher figure.

Consumers feel the need to use Adblock because of intrusive adverts. However, websites depend on ad-sense to pay for equipment, writers and make their content a professional, full-time job. There needs to be a balancing act where adverts are permitted but done in a very subtle way without detracting from the core content.

Do you use Adblock?

Thank you Venturebeat for providing us with this information.

Amazon Bans Flash Adverts on Its Own Domains

Amazon has updated the terms of its Technical Guidelines to prohibit any advert on Amazon-branded sites using Adobe’s Flash protocol. The change will commence on the 1st September and Amazon explained their reasoning in an introductory post:

“Beginning September 1, 2015, Amazon no longer accepts Flash ads on Amazon.com, AAP, and various IAB standard placements across owned and operated domains.”

“This is driven by recent browser setting updates from Google Chrome, and existing browser settings from Mozilla Firefox and Apple Safari, that limits Flash content displayed on web pages.”

“This change ensures customers continue to have a positive, consistent experience across Amazon and its affiliates, and that ads displayed across the site function properly for optimal performance.”

This is a clear message from one of the leading online giants to universally drop Flash support across web pages, browsers and other applications. Flash can cause a myriad of stability issues and HTML5 has proven to be a far superior replacement. Amazon clearly feels the conflict between browser settings and Flash content is creating a sub-par shopping experience and could deter users from purchasing on the Amazon store. Frustratingly, Chrome embeds Flash by default but you can download Chromium or Firefox as an alternative.

Thankfully, it seems the Flash is now on the target radar of influential web companies and could become obsolete in the near future.

Have you ever experienced any issues with Adobe Flash?

Hulu Planning An Ad Free Subscription?

On paper, the media streaming service Hulu is a great idea, either watch selected shows for free or pay a $7.99 (£5.12) fee to view an expanded array of content. But the problem lies with United States based consumers who pay a subscription but are still subjected to commercials within the lowest tier package, which I think is a cheek considering if you pay a price, you should not have to view ads as well.

Recent reports have suggested that Hulu is planning to respond to this by offering consumers a new subscription package which wipes out adverts altogether. There is speculation that Hulu would be willing to market these new tiers at between $12 and $14 dollars (£7 – £9) approx.

This on paper sounds an improvement, but in order for the rumoured change to be successful, the media streaming service will need to re-think an additional subscription tier by the name of “Showtime”. Which for an additional $8.99 dollars (£5.76) a month on top of the current subscription, consumers can watch a larger library of content which is commercial free.

On top of this there is also another problem, technically, Hulu is only available in the US, Yes we all know where we are going here so I won’t say. So, if Hulu wishes to grow its business model, it will need to offer content to consumers in more countries legally. I do feel Hulu has been dwarfed by Netflix in terms of territories and also notoriety with the most logical outcome being one subscription price for all content.

Will these possible changes be a turn off for consumers? Well here’s the killer, Hulu is owned by many of the TV companies which include-21st Century Fox, Comcast, and the Walt Disney Company. These conglomerates have a vested interest in marketing the product with commercials in order to garner increased revenue. If more people migrate to ad free alternatives and are still able to watch the latest shows at the expense of the traditional TV, what incentive is there for Hulu to move completely away from adverts?

Now, as I write this, I am not condoning or supporting piracy in any way, the facts are this, unless Hulu changes and implements a service which is completely ad free. How will Hulu market the product at new subscribers when said consumers are able to watch the same content, which is available ad free to download illegally or to view on other legal services?

Companies need to drastically re-educate themselves on the effectiveness of adverts in the Internet generation; otherwise there will be a steep decline in revenue as streaming services becomes the prime destination for consumer viewing habits.

Thank you Gamespot for providing us with this information

Image Courtesy of gadget review

Apple Contemplates Targeting Ads Based On Bank Balance

How much do you earn? I expect you to tell me it’s none of my business, and you would be right, this information should be private to each individual. But Apple might see things differently and are contemplating targeting specific adverts which are based on your bank balance.

The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) have awarded Apple a data mechanism by the name of the “targeted ad technology patent” This means that Apple is reported to have devised a way to analyse each user’s available credit in order. This is with the aim of pin pointing said users ability to purchase an advertised product. Basically, Apple is not going to target a Lamborghini at a consumer if they can afford a smart car.

What’s interesting about this patent is how far this ability might go if it’s implemented; would Apple install a tracking piece of software with the aim of analysing each user’s bank balance? Or would it be only confined to own branded services for example Apple Pay etc.

Apples CEO Tim Cook recently gave a speech at a dinner hosted by the Electronic Privacy Information Centre (EPIC) which he stated; “companies are gobbling up everything they can learn about you and trying to monetize it. We think that’s wrong. And it’s not the kind of company that Apple wants to be”. So which Apple will it be, the fun-loving and customer friendly brand, or cash for data and spying on consumers financial affairs conglomerate?

You will know if it’s implemented if you attempt to buy a Rolex and Apple advertises you a Timex.

Thank You Gizmodo and the US Patent and Trademark office for providing us with this information

Image Courtesy of E&T

Man Trying to Smash “All the Ad Blockers” After Google Loses $6.6 Billion in Advertising

Google has lost $6.6 billion in advertising revenue due to third-party ad-blocking software, such as AdBlock Plus. In an effort to tackle the problem and help companies like Google reclaim some of its lost advertising revenue, former Google employee Ben Barokas has set up a new company to smash “all the ad blockers”.

Barokas sold his advertising optimisation company Admeld to Google for $400 million in 2011, subsequently becoming its General Manager of Marketplace Development. He has now left the search engine giant, though, in favour of his new startup, Sourcepoint, which claims to have the technology bypass all ad blockers.

In an interview with Business Insider, Barokas lamented the practice of many ad blocking firms for charging companies to whitelist adverts, saying, “It’s blackmail. It’s extortion. It’s not fair.”

“That being said, [ad blocking] is not against the law, it’s legal in Germany, the US, the UK … but at the end of the day it’s also legal for publishers to give people messages and say you can choose ads. It’s not fair for journalists like you not to have food at your table, it’s not fair not to have a roof over your head. It goes back to transparency and fairness … if users opt-in to having advertising subsidizing the experience, we can serve that ad, [and if an ad blocker continues to block the ads] then that would be illegal.”

Barokas’ Sourcepoint will make the websites of its customers essentially ad block-proof, and even present visitors with ad-based browsing incentives, such as clicking on an ad to unlock an article or section of the site, turning ads into a kind of pseudo-paywall.

Thank you BGR for providing us with this information.

AdBlock Plus Ruled Legal by German Court

Despite being the life-blood of many websites, some internet users understandably find online ads annoying, especially when they are intrusive and impair their ability to engage with a site (for the record, all of eTeknix’s ads are tastefully placed, unobtrusive, and will bring you great wealth, long life, and the adoration of all the cats).

For such users, AdBlock Plus, the advertising blocking software, is like mana, but businesses that rely on revenue from web advertisements are understandably opposed to the application, with many challenging the legality of AdBlock Plus in court, the latest of which has failed. A group of advertisers took AdBlock Plus to court and, after a four-month trial, the Hamburg court has ruled that blocking advertisements is entirely legal.

The plaintiffs, German website operators Zeit Online and Handelsblatt, alleged that Eyeo, the parent company of AdBlcok Plus, were breaking the law by blocking adverts on their websites, since it circumvented their wishes. Had the court ruled in the plaintiff’s favour, the decision would have effectively killed AdBlock Plus, but the judge came down on the side of the users, maintaining that they were free to maintain control over how they enjoy a website.

Ben Williams of AdBlock Plus wrote of the decision on the company’s blog:

It may surprise readers of this blog to know that some advertiser groups believe blocking ads is illegal. They are upset that adblockers impede their multi-billion dollar business (or in this case, euros) of shoveling ads at you whether or not you like it or asked for it. In fact, a group of publishers in Hamburg, Germany was so upset that they actually took Adblock Plus to court.

Today, after a four-month trial, reasonable heads prevailed as the regional court in Hamburg ruled in our favor by declaring that ad blocking is, in fact, perfectly legal. I know, it’s restating the obvious. But it cost us lots of blood, sweat and tears nonetheless.

Thank you Beta News for providing us with this information.

Image courtesy of AdBlock Plus.