Internet Advertising

The Economist writes that “Google’s new advertising service could make the internet an even more valuable marketing medium.”

This year the combined advertising revenues of Google and Yahoo! will rival the combined prime-time ad revenues of America’s three big television networks, ABC, CBS and NBC, predicts Advertising Age. It will, says the trade magazine, represent a watershed moment in the evolution of the internet as an advertising medium. A 30-second prime-time TV ad was once considered the most effective form of advertising. But that was before the internet got going. This week, online advertising made another leap forward.

This latest innovation comes from Google, which has begun testing a new auction-based service for the more sophisticated advertising of brands, rather than of just individual products. Both Google and Yahoo! make most of their money from advertising. Auctioning keyword search-terms, which deliver, along with their own search results, sponsored links to advertisers’ websites, has proved to be very lucrative. Advertisers like these links because, unlike with TV ads, they pay only for directly measurable results. They are charged when someone clicks through to their own website.

If Google can prove that bidding for display ads works, then its rivals are bound to follow with similar services. This could shake the industry up even more.

Other innovations in online marketing are said to be in the pipeline. Local search and its associated advertising opportunities are one huge growth area. Sites such as eBay, the leading online auctioneer, and Craigslist, which hosts local sites, are soaking up large amounts of classified advertising for everything from used cars to job vacancies that once might have gone to newspapers. Yahoo! is expanding rapidly into entertainment, with film and video clips providing another avenue of advertising. This week, Yahoo! appointed another top executive to its media group, fuelling speculation that the website may start to produce its own entertainment content. That should seriously worry TV broadcasters, who are already losing viewers and ad revenue to the internet. writes that Mary Meeker of Morgan Stanley is bullish on Interneta advertising:

“We think Internet advertising spending has nowhere to go but up,” Meeker said Monday during a keynote speech at the Ad:Tech industry conference here. Meeker added that the Web is the most underutilized advertising medium, garnering only 3 percent of total ad spending in the United States, according to estimates.

But with eBay as a benchmark, she said, the most successful companies could benefit from an ongoing shift online. After all, eBay is in the business of connecting buyers and sellers, much like search-advertising giant Google. And eBay commands 62 percent of the total classified ad market, according to Meeker.

Both eBay and Google “are about increasing the user experience and also increasing the ability of the ecosystem to handle growth,” she said. New tools to improve consumer usage and target ads will be the key to future expansion, she added.

“We’ve got 900 million global customers driving on the same highway,” Meeker said. The only differences in people, she said, are in their access speed, language and access device.

30 Must-Have PC Skills writes about “30 of the most useful tips and skills that, with a bit of practice, will transform a novice into an experienced computer user. ” Among them:

1. Move and copy files
2. Navigate using keyboard shortcuts
3. Use shortcuts in Word
4. Install and remove new hardware
5. Send image files as attachments
6. Search your hard disk
7. Hard disk maintenance (including disk cleanup and defragmenter)
8. System restore and backup
9. Update software online
10. Create desktop shortcuts

IT in Healthcare

The Economist writes about the “failure of the health-care industry worldwide to adopt modern information technology.”

The solution seems obvious: to get all the information about patients out of paper files and into electronic databases thatand this is the crucial pointcan connect to one another so that any doctor can access all the information that he needs to help any given patient at any time in any place. In other words, the solution is not merely to use computers, but to link the systems of doctors, hospitals, laboratories, pharmacies and insurers, thus making them, in the jargon, interoperable.

This may be obvious, but today it is also a very distant goal. According to David Bates, the head of general medicine at Boston’s Brigham and Women’s Hospital and an expert on the use of IT in health care, the industry invests only about 2% of its revenues in IT, compared with 10% for other information-intensive industries. Superficially, there are big differences between countries. In Britain, 98% of general practitioners have computers somewhere in their offices, and 30% claim to be paperless, whereas in America 95% of small practices use only pen and paper. But, says Mr Bates, this obscures the larger point, which is that even the IT systems that do exist cannot talk to those of other providers, and so are not all that useful.

As the Markle Foundation puts it, the technology must be designed in such a way that decisions about linking and sharing are made at the edges of the network by patients in consultation with their doctors, and never inside the network. This goes to the very heart of the matter. For even though it is fine to start hoping for the day when interoperable electronic health records create vast pools of medical information that could be used to find new cures and battle epidemics in real time, their ultimate purpose is to make one simple and shockingly overdue change: to enable individuals, at last, to have access to, and possession of, information about their own health.