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Ad-blocking demands new strategies

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The rise of ad blocking shows it’s time to reorient publishing and advertising around the needs of users rather than those of publishers and advertisers, writes RICHARD CLOGG, Senior Technology Consultant at Acceleration.

Since the rise of mass media, there has been an implicit contract between audiences, brands, and publishers. Publishers invest in producing content, to entertain and inform their readers or viewers, largely paid for by advertising from organisations that wish to influence the audience.  That model has undermined by several waves of change since the birth of the web.

It all started when publishers introduced banner ads to monetise their web content, figuring that the digital world would work much the same way as print or broadcast. They soon found that advertisers weren’t willing to pay as much for digital placements as they were for print and broadcast. Brands, meanwhile, were often disappointed in the results they tracked from their digital campaigns.

And end-users, of course, grew to resent digital adverts as they became increasingly intrusive, thanks to roadblocks, pop-ups and pop-unders, self-playing videos, tagging, and other “innovations”. From the user’s point of view, ads slow down their page downloads, track their behaviour and stalk them across the web with unwanted offers for things they Googled earlier in the morning.

Little wonder that the ad-blocking feature in Apple‘s iOS 9 is causing such anguish for the advertising industry – it’s an enormous threat to their revenues in an overtraded market where margins are already thin. As Business Insider’s Paul Berry writes, ad-blocking isn’t just a software feature – it’s a cultural movement.

Meanwhile, Goldman Sachs says that the rise of the social media giants and the backlash against digital advertising will see the ad industry “fundamentally restructured” in the years to come. But given that no one seems particularly happy with the status quo – even the IAB admits the industry has “messed up” – that might not be a completely bad thing.

What might an advertising paradigm for the future look like? It would be focused on user experience first, rather than on automation, efficiencies and data gathering for agencies, brands, networks, and publishers. It would ensure faster loading of content. And rather than steamrolling users with invasive sounds and visuals, it would present them with targeted, interesting experiences that they welcome.

Publishers, brands, and the adtech companies are still shaping the future of advertising. However, the future might include an element of paid subscriptions for users who don’t want to see advertising at all, more use of native advertising as a way of offering experiences that feel natural within the publisher’s environment, and the use of the platforms that the likes of Twitter, Facebook, Apple News, and Medium offer for publishers.

We find it particularly interesting how these new platforms might enable more efficient targeting for advertisers and a better user experience.  On the flipside, content producers risk being sidelined as distributors and aggregators such as Facebook, Apple News, Medium and Twitter control the audience and monetize their content.

We’ll also see some interesting innovations around mobile, for example, the advances offered by Google’s Accelerated Mobile Pages project.

Advertising accounts for around 1.5% of the GDP in the United States – a number that has stayed constant even as spending has spread from print to broadcast and then to digital. This is a large industry everywhere in the world. We don’t see the advertising sector disappearing completely as a result of the ‘adblockalypse’, but it is going to change dramatically. There will be new paradigms in consuming and publishing content, possibly enabled by new tools and technologies.

Against this backdrop of change and transition, publishers and brands face the challenge of ensuring that they can target and engage the audience wherever it goes. To succeed, they will need to create digital frameworks that help them to accommodate a shift in how audiences move around and interact with content. An agile but robust architecture and streamlined business processes will help them navigate the changing the landscape.

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Bring your network with you

At last week’s Critical Communications World, Motorola unveiled the LXN 500 LTE Ultra Portable Network Infrastructure. It allows rescue personal to set up dedicated LTE networks for communication in an emergency, writes SEAN BACHER.

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In the event of an emergency, communications are absolutely critical, but the availability of public phone networks are limited due to weather conditions or congestion.

Motorola realised that this caused a problem when trying to get rescue personnel to those in need and so developed its LXN 500 LTE Ultra Portable Network Infrastructure. The product is the smallest and lightest full powered broadband network to date and allows the first person on the scene to set up an LTE network in a matter of minutes, allowing other rescue team members to communicate with each other.

“The LXN 500 weighs six kilograms and comes in a backpack with two batteries. It offers a range of 1km and allows up to 100 connections at the same time. However, in many situations the disaster area may span more than 1km which is why they can be connected to each other in a mesh formation,” says Tunde Williams, Head of Field and Solutions Marketing EMEA, Motorola Solutions.

The LXN 500 solution offers communication through two-way radios, and includes mapping, messaging, push-to-talk, video and imaging features onboard, thus eliminating the need for any additional hardware.

Data collected on the device can then be sent through to a central control room where an operator can deploy additional rescue personnel where needed. Once video is streamed into the control room, realtime analytics and augmented reality can be applied to it to help predict where future problem points may arise. Video images and other multimedia can also be made available for rescuers on the ground.

“Although the LXN 500 was designed for the seamless communications between on ground rescue teams and their respective control rooms, it has made its way into the police force and in places where there is little or no cellular signal such as oil rigs,” says Williams.

He gave a hostage scenario: “In the event of a hostage situation, it is important for the police to relay information in realtime to ensure no one is hurt. However the perpetrators often use their mobile phones to try and foil any rescue attempts. Should the police have the correct partnerships in place they are able to disable cellular towers in the vicinity, preventing any in or outgoing calls on a public network and allowing the police get their job done quickly and more effectively.”

By disabling any public networks in the area, police are also able to eliminate any cellular detonated bombs from going off but still stay in touch with each other he says.

The LXN 500 offers a wide range of mission critical cases and is sure to transform communications and improve safety for first responders and the people they are trying to protect.

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Kaspersky moves to Switzerland

As part of its Global Transparency Initiative, Kaspersky Lab is adapting its infrastructure to move a number of core processes from Russia to Switzerland.

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This includes customer data storage and processing for most regions, as well as software assembly, including threat detection updates. To ensure full transparency and integrity, Kaspersky Lab is arranging for this activity to be supervised by an independent third party, also based in Switzerland.

Global transparency and collaboration for an ultra-connected world

The Global Transparency Initiative, announced in October 2017, reflects Kaspersky Lab’s ongoing commitment to assuring the integrity and trustworthiness of its products. The new measures are the next steps in the development of the initiative, but they also reflect the company’s commitment to working with others to address the growing challenges of industry fragmentation and a breakdown of trust. Trust is essential in cybersecurity, and Kaspersky Lab understands that trust is not a given; it must be repeatedly earned through transparency and accountability.

The new measures comprise the move of data storage and processing for a number of regions, the relocation of software assembly and the opening of the first Transparency Center.

Relocation of customer data storage and processing

By the end of 2019, Kaspersky Lab will have established a data center in Zurich and in this facility, will store and process all information for users in Europe, North America, Singapore, Australia, Japan and South Korea, with more countries to follow. This information is shared voluntarily by users with the Kaspersky Security Network (KSN) an advanced, cloud-based system that automatically processes cyberthreat-related data.

Relocation of software assembly

Kaspersky Lab will relocate to Zurich its ‘software build conveyer’ — a set of programming tools used to assemble ready to use software out of source code. Before the end of 2018, Kaspersky Lab products and threat detection rule databases (AV databases) will start to be assembled and signed with a digital signature in Switzerland, before being distributed to the endpoints of customers worldwide. The relocation will ensure that all newly assembled software can be verified by an independent organisation and show that software builds and updates received by customers match the source code provided for audit.

Establishment of the first Transparency Center

The source code of Kaspersky Lab products and software updates will be available for review by responsible stakeholders in a dedicated Transparency Center that will also be hosted in Switzerland and is expected to open this year. This approach will further show that generation after generation of Kaspersky Lab products were built and used for one purpose only: protecting the company’s customers from cyberthreats.

Independent supervision and review

Kaspersky Lab is arranging for the data storage and processing, software assembly, and source code to be independently supervised by a third party qualified to conduct technical software reviews. Since transparency and trust are becoming universal requirements across the cybersecurity industry, Kaspersky Lab supports the creation of a new, non-profit organisation to take on this responsibility, not just for the company, but for other partners and members who wish to join.

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