Category: Alphabet

May 31, 2019 Off

Targeted ads offer little extra value for online publishers, study suggests

By Jill T Frey

How much value do online publishers derive from behaviorally targeted advertising that uses privacy-hostile tracking technologies to determine which advert to show a website user?

A new piece of research suggests publishers make just 4% more vs if they were to serve a non-targeted ad.

It’s a finding that sheds suggestive light on why so many newsroom budgets are shrinking and journalists finding themselves out of work — even as adtech giants continue stuffing their coffers with massive profits.

Visit the average news website lousy with third party cookies (yes, we know, it’s true of TC too) and you’d be forgiven for thinking the publisher is also getting fat profits from the data creamed off their users as they plug into programmatic ad systems that trade info on Internet users’ browsing habits to determine the ad which gets displayed.

Yet while the online ad market is massive and growing — … Read the rest

May 30, 2019 Off

The Slack origin story

By Jill T Frey

Let’s rewind a decade. It’s 2009. Vancouver, Canada.

Stewart Butterfield, known already for his part in building Flickr, a photo-sharing service acquired by Yahoo in 2005, decided to try his hand — again — at building a game. Flickr had been a failed attempt at a game called Game Neverending followed by a big pivot. This time, Butterfield would make it work.

To make his dreams a reality, he joined forces with Flickr’s original chief software architect Cal Henderson, as well as former Flickr employees Eric Costello and Serguei Mourachov, who like himself, had served some time at Yahoo after the acquisition. Together, they would build Tiny Speck, the company behind an artful, non-combat massively multiplayer online game.

Years later, Butterfield would pull off a pivot more massive than his last. Slack, born from the ashes of his fantastical game, would lead a shift toward online productivity tools that fundamentally … Read the rest

May 17, 2019 Off

Alphabet’s Wing drone deliveries are coming to Finland next month

By Jill T Frey

Slowly but surely, Wing is spreading. Just last month, the one-time Google moonshot started deliveries for select locales in Australia’s capital city, Canberra. Now it’s moving into Finland, taking on that country’s own capital, Helsinki.

Drone deliveries will start next month — which may just make the “spring” time frame it announced late last year. Like the Australian deliveries, this is considered a “pilot” program, with select goods and limited geography. Specifically, things are being test driven in the Vuosaari distract — the city’s most populated.

Wing notes on its Medium page:

Vuosaari is an inspiring locale for Wing in several ways. Helsinki’s most populous district, it is bordered by water on three sides, with significant forestland alongside residential areas and a large international cargo port. The density of Vuosaari’s population makes it a great place to launch our first service to multi-family housing communities as well.

Read the rest
May 13, 2019 Off

YouTube’s Bumper Machine offers an automated way to create six-second ads

By Jill T Frey

After introducing a six-second “Bumper” ad format back in 2016, YouTube is unveiling a new tool that uses machine learning to automatically pull out a six-second version from a longer ad.

It might seem a little ridiculous to try to compress (say) a 90-second video into a six-second message. In fact, Debbie Weinstein, Google’s vice president of YouTube and video global solutions, acknowledged that there was some skepticism when Bumper ads were first announced, with advertisers wondering, “Can we actually tell our story in six seconds?”

However, Weinstein argued, “We learned over time that creatives love constraints. They’ve historically been constrained to 30 seconds, and then 15 seconds, and constrained by whatever dimensions of a particular media format.”

For some advertisers, she said, a Bumper may simply be a short teaser for a longer ad. For others, the format could provide a way to break down a 30-second ad into … Read the rest

April 30, 2019 Off

Eric Schmidt and Diane Greene are leaving Alphabet’s board of directors

By Jill T Frey

Google’s parent company Alphabet announced that two board members, Eric Schmidt and Diane Greene, will not be seeking re-election when their terms expire on June 19.

Schmidt has been on the company’s board since 2001, and also served as Google’s CEO for a decade, until April 2011. He then became the company’s executive chairman, before transitioning into the vague-sounding role of “technical advisor” at the end of 2017. (He said last year that he’s focused on new applications of machine learning and artificial intelligence.)

Alphabet said Schmidt will continue to serve as technical advisor to the company.

Greene, meanwhile, became the CEO of Google’s cloud business after Google acquired her company Bebop in 2015, a role she held for about three years before stepping down in January. She’s been on the board since 2012.

Along with the departures, Alphabet is also announcing the appointment of Robin L. … Read the rest

April 29, 2019 Off

Alphabet cites ‘headwinds’ in smartphone sales, teases I/O hardware announcement

By Jill T Frey

Alphabet’s Q1 earnings were a disappointment for Wall Street, courtesy primarily of ad revenue shortcomings. The hardware team met with some difficulties, as well, owing in part to a stagnating global smartphone market that has impacted virtually all players.

CEO Sundar Pichai cited “year over year headwinds” when referring to the company’s smartphone line, following the release of the Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL last fall. The executive rightly referenced the company’s relatively recent entry as a standalone hardware developer and painted a hopeful picture of the industry’s innovations going forward.

“I do continue to be excited to see 5G coming and the early foldable phones, which Android plays a big part in driving,” Pichai said on the call. Google has notably taken an important role developing an Android UI designed for the foldable form factor, along with working closely beside Samsung on its recently delayed foldable.

CFO Ruth … Read the rest

April 29, 2019 Off

Alphabet misses on Q1 revenues of $36.3B; EPS of $9.50 weighed down by the $1.7B European fine

By Jill T Frey

After warning investors that it would be taking a $1.7 billion (€1.5 billion) charge this quarter due to a fine from the European Commission over anticompetitive advertising practices, today Google parent Alphabet reported its quarterly earnings for Q1. Overall it’s a tough quarter for the company that speaks to struggles with its growth. Alphabet reported revenues of $36.3 billion, with diluted earnings per share of $9.50.

Analysts were expecting Alphabet to report GAAP earnings of $10.17 per share, with adjusted EPS expected to be $13.10, on overall revenues of $37.34, according to estimates from Yahoo Finance.

The company’s stock is down by 7.35 percent in after-hours trading at the moment.

Google’s canned statement in the earnings release struck a positive tone: “We delivered robust growth led by mobile search, YouTube, and Cloud with Alphabet revenues of $36.3 billion, up 17% versus last year, or 19% on a constant currency

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April 25, 2019 Off

Internet connectivity projects unite as Alphabet spinout Loon grabs $125M from SoftBank’s HAPSMobile

By Jill T Frey

Two futuristic projects are coming together to help increase global internet access after Loon, the Google spinout that uses a collection of floating balloons to bring connectivity to remote areas, announced it has raised money from a SoftBank initiative.

HAPSMobile, a SoftBank project that is also focused on increasing global connectivity, is investing $125 million into Loon, according to an announcement from SoftBank made this morning. The agreement includes an option for Loon to make a reciprocal $125 million investment in HAPSMobile and it includes co-operation plans, details of which are below.

HAPSMobile is a one-year-old joint venture between SoftBank and U.S. company AeroVironment . The company has developed a solar-powered drone that’s designed to deliver 5G connectivity in the same way Facebook has tried in the past. The social network canceled its Aquila drone last year, although it is reported to have teamed up with Airbus for new trials … Read the rest

April 23, 2019 Off

Alphabet’s Wing gets FAA permission to start delivering by drone

By Jill T Frey

Wing Aviation, the drone-based delivery startup born out of Google’s X labs, has received the first FAA certification in the country for commercial carriage of goods. It might not be long before you’re getting your burritos sent par avion.

The company has been performing tests for years, making thousands of flights and supervised deliveries to show that its drones are safe and effective. Many of those flights were in Australia, where in suburban Canberra the company recently began its first commercial operations. Finland and other countries are also in the works.

Wing’s first operations, starting later this year, will be in Blacksburg and Christiansburg, Va.; obviously an operation like this requires close coordination with municipal authorities as well as federal ones. You can’t just get a permission slip from the FAA and start flying … Read the rest