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Future of Online Customer Support Looks Like 'Minority Report'

Online shopping can be a pretty solitary endeavor, unless you're shopping at B Reel's 3Live Shop. On the 3Live Shop, shoppers are invited to start video calls with sales reps, who can guide them through their purchases, using touchscreens to drag different products into the frame. According to B Reel, it's a "simple and personal" approach to online shopping -- assuming you're not averse to...

Microsoft Files Antitrust Complaint Against Google in E.U. Court

A decade after fighting a major antitrust lawsuit, Microsoft has filed exactly the same charges against Google. Today, the company will file a formal antitrust complaint with the European Union, joining a collection of small companies that have already made similar charges against the search giant. Microsoft is hoping that the E.U. will take some action against Google, and perhaps convince...

Priority Inbox Algorithm Co-Opted to Make Better Gmail Ads

Google announced today that it'll be instituting some changes to tailor the ads that appear in your inbox to your interests. Using the algorithm set up for Priority Inbox, Google can now better understand what is actually relevant to a user. The company is basically implementing the same technology used to sort your inbox for a more commercial (and probably more profitable) pursuit. For instance,...

Facebook Rolls Out 'Social Ads,' But Here's How to Opt-Out

Facebook has begun rolling out its controversial 'Social Ads' campaign, which allows companies to use your name and profile picture in advertisements targeted to your friends. Under the new service, users who 'like' certain pages, events or apps could have their name and picture displayed in online ads for participating companies. If you 'like' Starbucks, for example, your face may pop up in...

NYTimes Extends Paywall Limit, as Coders Jump Over Wall and Reporters Game System

Either Google pitched a fit, or the New York Times got savvy to the fact that not everyone searches with Google. (Wait, they don't?) Either way, TechCrunch is reporting that the paper decided to extend its five-article-per-day referral limit to all "major" search engines. It's an intelligent-enough about-face from the initial policy, which the Times said would apply only to Google. After...

Groupon CEO: Malfunctioning Brain Responsible for Bad Superbowl Ad

Wait, we're still talking about the Groupon Superbowl ads? Yes, yes we are. In a recent BusinessWeek profile, Groupon CEO Andrew Mason noted that his company had cut ties with Crispin Porter + Bogusky, the agency responsible for the ad (and ensuing debacle). "[We] turned off the part of our brain where we should have made our own decisions. We learned that you can't rely on anyone else to control...

Viral Ads Grow Ever More Subtle -- But Are They Effective?

Remember the video of the mysterious hacker taking over the video monitors in Times Square? The one we were all sure was fake, probably? Well, the cynical among you can strike a smug pose because not only is the video fake, it's a viral ad for the upcoming Bradley Cooper vehicle 'Limitless.' Miss it? Scroll to 1:26, when the hacker tackles the big screen. Oh, whaddya know, that screen is...

Obama Administration Urges Congress to Adopt 'Privacy Bill of Rights'

The Obama administration is pushing Congress to adopt a so-called "privacy bill of rights," in order to offer greater protection for Americans concerned about online data gathering and targeted advertising. Assistant Secretary of Commerce Lawrence E. Strickling is expected to propose the legislation today during a hearing of the Senate Commerce Committee. A source familiar with the matter told...

Number of Malware-Infected Sites Has Doubled Since Last Year, Study Says

Well, this is discouraging. According to new statistics from security firm Dasient, the number of websites infected with malware has doubled since last year, with more than one million sites compromised during the fourth quarter of 2010. Malware-filled advertising, or 'malvertising,' is on an even more meteoric rise. Dasient detected three million malicious ads per day during the fourth quarter...

Teens Not Interested in 'Liking' Brands on Facebook, Report Shows

American teenagers may spend inordinate amounts of time on social networks, but that doesn't necessarily mean they're more willing to 'like' brands on Facebook. In fact, a new report from Forrester Research shows that only six-percent of consumers between the ages of 12 and 17 are interested in interacting with companies on Facebook -- despite the fact that they represent the most active...

Thanks to Targeted Advertising, Now Your TV is Watching You

Targeted ads have long lived online, but nobody's quite figured out how to take advantages of personalized advertising and apply them to other media -- that is, until now. Cable and satellite companies are now testing systems that monitor your TV viewing habits and deliver ads based on that data. Cablevision is already broadcasting different ads to different customers watching the same show...

THQ's 'Homefront' Balloon Stunt Angers San Francisco Residents

Some San Francisco residents are upset about a promotional stunt that, in support of a video game, sent thousands of red balloons drifting across the city on Wednesday, some landing in the nearby bay. According to the San Francisco Chronicle, game developer THQ released the balloons, which had promotional cards from Gamestop attached to them, to promote its new game 'Homefront' at the Game...

Robert Thurman 'Loved' Groupon's Tibetan Super Bowl Commercial

Groupon's infamous Super Bowl commercials caused quite a stir last month, and the company was eventually shamed into issuing an apology. But Robert Thurman, Tibetan Buddhist scholar and father of actress Uma, says he didn't have a problem with the Groupon spot that satirized pro-Tibet activism. "That was great -- I loved that," Thurman told the New York Observer. "Some people in the Tibetan...

Learn Bed Intruder Basics in Gawker TV Editor's 'How to Go Viral' Class

Some say you can learn all you want about art -- technique, history, theory -- but, if you don't have that certain je ne sais quoi, your work won't be exquisite. Viral videos, perhaps, are kinda the same. So when Gawker.TV's Richard Blakeley sets out to teach a class to marketers on "how to go viral," it may be a little pointless. Sure, corporations have most certainly gotten it right, like the...

Oh, Look: Apple a Big Winner in Hit Movie Product Placements

And the Academy Award goes to... Apple. Hollywood, that beacon of liberal elitism, seems to also embrace tech snobbery, so it's no surprise that Apple showed up in 30-percent of the 33 movies that hit number one at the box office in 2010. Impressive, unless you consider that this number has fallen from 2008, when Apple was in 50-percent of number one hits. (Perhaps its cachet was greater...