A Few More Turow Data Points

Using Infrared Sensors to Measure Aisle Eyeballs

Some of the biggest names in retail and consumer goods—including Wal-Mart, Kroger, Walgreens, Procter & Gamble, Coca-Cola, Disney, Kellogg’s and Miller Brewing—have gotten together to make a sort of Nielsen Ratings for retail aisles.

The concept, which has been the subject of a major trial with 10 stores, is not especially cutting-edge. Using no more than a dozen sets of wireless bidirectional infrared sensors, each store would count the number of people who entered and exited each shopping aisle, according to Peter Hoyt, executive director of In-Store Marketing Institute, which was involved in the trial.

[…] There are many other retail tech tactics to get at this kind of information, projects ranging from smart carts that report back their location, the elaborate use of video cameras to constantly track customers and smart shelves paired with item-level RFID. But the infrared sensor approach isn’t merely less expensive and easier to deploy than those alternatives. It’s also a lot less threatening.

“The general public will perceive [other techniques] as being invasive. This technology is attractive because it’s so benign,” Hoyt said. “If you tell people you’re tracking them with video or with RFID, they freak out.”

The main objective of all of this, however, has little to do with IT and everything to do with marketing.

A Couple of Articles from Findlaw’s Modern Practice

  • Court Rules Google’s Use of Trademarks As Keywords Is Non-Infringing

    A federal judge in New York has just ruled that Google’s practice of selling trademarks as keywords that trigger links to particular Web sites other than those of the trademark holders does not constitute infringement because Google does not actually “use” the trademarks within the meaning of the law.

  • Broadband Users Can’t Sue Comcast for Alleged Privacy Violations

    Users of Comcast’s high-speed Internet service cannot sue the company for allegedly violating a law that protects the privacy of cable television customers, a federal appeals court has ruled.

    Broadband Internet access is not “cable service” even if it is provided by a company like Comcast that also provides cable television service, a panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit said.

  • Sixth Circuit Clears Lexis Nexis of Copyright Infringement

    The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals has affirmed a district court’s dismissal of copyright claims by a Michigan law firm against Lexis Nexis regarding legal forms and the software for filling them out. The decision cleared Lexis of infringement, but re-instated a breach-of-contract claim that the district court had dismissed on the pleadings.

A Trend? Or An Isolated Event?

Some youth rethink online communicationspdf

For some, it would be unthinkable — certain social suicide. But Gabe Henderson is finding freedom in a recent decision: He canceled his MySpace account.

[…] Across campus, journalism professor Michael Bugeja — long an advocate of face-to-face communication — read Henderson’s column and saw it as a “ray of hope.” It’s one of a few signs, he says, that some members of the tech generation are starting to see the value of quality face time.

As the novelty of their wired lives wears off, they’re also are getting more sophisticated about the way they use such tools as social networking and text and instant messaging — not just constantly using them because they’re there.

Double-Dipping?

Gadget makers fear new copyright levies hurt salespdf

Top executives of Nokia and Philips Electronics in an open letter published on Friday said that the tax on blank media, designed to compensate artists for private copying, was out of date and that many consumers were already paying twice as they purchase digital content legally on the Internet and subsequently store it on a recordable compact disc.

Nokia Multimedia chief Anssi Vanjoki, Philips Consumer Electronics head Rudy Provoost and others urged the

European Commission to reform the “antiquated system of rough justice” as the law comes up for evaluation this year.

Network Access and Media Control

YouTube as media conduit: Anti-U.S. Attack Videos Spread on the Internet

At a time when the Bush administration has restricted photographs of the coffins of military personnel returning to the United States and the Pentagon keeps close tabs on videotapes of combat operations taken by the news media, the videos give average Americans a level of access to combat scenes rarely available before, if ever.

Their availability has also produced some backlash. In recent weeks, YouTube has removed dozens of the videos from its archives and suspended the accounts of some users who have posted them, a reaction, it said, to complaints from other users.

[…] Russell K. Terry, a Vietnam veteran who founded the Iraq War Veterans Organization, said he had mixed feelings about the videos.

“It’s unfortunate there’s no way to stop it,” Mr. Terry said, even though “this is what these guys are over there fighting for: freedom of speech.”

Media Experiments

Living the Promotional Life

CAN an affable 30-year-old conceptual artist turned comedian sell cars to his generation by using nontraditional media like blogs and Webisodes?

That is the multimillion-dollar question Nissan North America is asking as an unconventional campaign gets under way to stimulate interest in the 2007 Nissan Sentra among a target audience of youthful urbanites. Six agencies are collaborating on the campaign, which takes the fanciful tack of asking the comedian, Marc Horowitz, to spend seven days in a Sentra to bring to life the theme: “The next generation Sentra. You could pretty much live in it.”

[…] The Nissan campaign, with a budget estimated at $40 million to $50 million, is emblematic of the growing efforts by marketers to remake their media choices to reflect the changing behavior of younger consumers, a prized demographic group because they spend freely and are mostly still figuring out their brand preferences.

AllofMP3 Targeted in WTO Talks

U.S. pushes Russia in WTO talks to close mp3 Web site

“I have a hard time imagining Russia becoming a member of the WTO and having a Web site like that up and running that is so clearly a violation of everyone’s intellectual property rights,” U.S. Trade Representative Susan Schwab told reporters after a speech to a services industry organization.

Schwab’s call for the allofmp3.com Web site to be closed came as the United States and Russia are trying once again to reach a deal on Moscow’s 13-year-old bid to join the WTO.

Those talks failed in July, primarily because of agricultural issues and U.S. concerns that Russia was not doing enough to stop piracy and counterfeiting of American goods.

We’re Watching For Your Safety

Or something like that. Software Being Developed to Monitor Opinions of U.S.

A consortium of major universities, using Homeland Security Department money, is developing software that would let the government monitor negative opinions of the United States or its leaders in newspapers and other publications overseas.

Such a “sentiment analysis” is intended to identify potential threats to the nation, security officials said.

[…] “We want to understand the rhetoric that is being published and how intense it is, such as the difference between dislike and excoriate,” [program coordinator Joel Kielman] said.

Even the basic research has raised concern among journalism advocates and privacy groups, as well as representatives of the foreign news media.

“It is just creepy and Orwellian,” said Lucy Dalglish, a lawyer and former editor who is executive director of the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press.

With its retrospective testing, it will be interesting to see what the software tells us about the “dangers” of the Administration’s posturing on Iraqi WMDs.

Uses of Dataveillance

Healey campaign uses data strategypdf

Massachusetts Republicans appear to be out-flanked at every turn this year. Democrat Deval L. Patrick boasts an unprecedented grass roots coalition. Polls show him leading big. Registered Democrats outnumber Republicans 3 to 1.

But Republican nominee Kerry Healey has a secret weapon: data. Lots of it.

Building on a model that Governor Mitt Romney used successfully in 2002, her campaign has been quietly identifying and courting likely supporters around the state through a sophisticated, niche-marketing strategy designed to cultivate a base of GOP, unenrolled, and even conservative Democratic voters who will pull the lever for her on Nov. 7.

It’s called “micro-targeting,” a computer-based method that allows the party to home in on individual voters and determine — based on their backgrounds, voting records, and consumer habits — whether they’re worth pursuing as potential supporters. Healey staffers and volunteers ignore households they know they’d never win, instead of trolling for support street by street like before.

[…] The master voter database is called Voter Vault and exists on the servers of the Republican National Committee; party operatives in each state have access to it. The Healey campaign may know, for example, that an unenrolled voter living in Chelmsford drives a certain car, subscribes to a certain magazine, and has voted for Republicans in the past. So they pitch a certain message — selling Healey’s position on wanting to create more charter schools, say — and log what they learn in a database.

The goal is to build profiles of all those voters, make sure they understand the distinctions between Healey and Patrick, and get them to the polls on Election Day. Healey’s campaign can even customize the information for volunteers at 14 regional offices around the state.