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Wang H.,Quantcast | Rouskas G.N.,North Carolina State University | Rouskas G.N.,King Abdulaziz University
Computer Networks | Year: 2014

Traffic grooming is concerned with the design, operation, and control of networks with multigranular bandwidth demands. As the number of resources in a multigranular network increases rapidly with the network size, wavelength capacity, and load, a scalable framework for managing these entities becomes essential. Hierarchical traffic grooming facilitates the control and management of multigranular WDM networks. In this paper, we present a survey of traffic grooming schemes for optical networks that make use of architectures, algorithms and design techniques that impose a hierarchical structure on the network topology. © 2014 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

The 9th Annual Crunchies are almost upon us. On February 8, people from some of the best and brightest startups around will descend upon San Francisco’s War Memorial Opera House to take part in an event that’s best described as the Oscars of startups and technology. Up for grabs are highly coveted Crunchies in 12 categories, and today we’ll be taking a look at the finalists for the Fastest Rising Startup of 2015. This award goes to the company that has risen from the depths of obscurity to become a household name. There are several amazing startups up for the award this year, so let’s take a look at those startups and the ones who have won this highly coveted award. Postmates is an on-demand delivery service that provides users access to a system of couriers who deliver food from local restaurants and goods from various stories within an hour. The service is aggressively expanding its reach into various markets, with services available in various cities across 24 states and the District of Columbia. Slack is a team communication and sharing app that is trying to help change the way we work. It features real-time communication and collaboration tools, letting users collaborate and share files easily. And, everything shared is searchable to team members can always find what they need, when they need it. TransferWise is a money transfer service that lets people send money anywhere in the world at rates that are much cheaper than bank rates. The company’s exchange rates follow the actual mid-market rates instead of the marked-up rates banks tend to charge customers, and all of TransferWise’s fees are presented to customers up-front. New York City-based live social network YouNow is a service that connects broadcasters with an audience in real time. Anyone can be a broadcaster on YouNow, and unlike some other live broadcasting platforms, broadcasts can be as long as users want, and broadcasters can engage with users in real time via comments. Zenefits is a startup that’s looking to revolutionize how companies work by streamlining the HR payroll and benefits processes. Companies can connect their HR, benefits, payroll, paid time off and several other HR systems with Zenefits and manage them in a sleek online dashboard, or purchase these services directly from the company if they don’t have them in-house. The Fastest Rising Startup award was introduced with the 6th Annual Crunchies in 2013. While it’s only been around a few years, the award has been won by some pretty prominent startups. At its core, Snapchat is a service that lets users take photos and video, annotate and draw on them, and send them to their contacts. These photos and videos disappear forever after a brief period of time. The company has also longer-duration stories, live stories and a Discover channel that connects users with content from brands like ESPN and CNN, and it to this day continues to grow at a solid pace and change the way its mostly younger users communicate. Upworthy is a company that will totally blow your mind while simultaneously restoring your faith in humanity. The news service aims to tell shareable stories with a social impact, and it does so with meaningful stories and catchy headlines that beg users to click on them, to the tune of about 17.6 million unique visitors per month, according to Quantcast. Yik Yak is an anonymous social network that, unlike competitors such as Whisper or Secret, focuses on proximity. Yik Yak users have a feed that shows them the most recent messages — or, yaks — from users near their location, making it a truly local anonymous network. Which of the companies up for the Fastest Rising Startup award will join Snapchat, Upworthy and Yik Yak in the winner’s circle. The winner will be announced at the 9th Annual Crunchies on February 8, and you’re definitely going to want to be there in person. Tickets to the show are still available starting at $115, and you can pick up your ticket to the event that’s best described as the Oscars of Startups and Technology on our ticketing page. Our sponsors help make the Crunchies happen. If you are interested in learning more about sponsorship opportunities, please contact our sponsorship team at sponsors@techcrunch.com.

News Article | November 2, 2015
Site: www.fastcompany.com

Quick: When’s the last time you noticed an ad on a website? This question may not even apply to you, because you already have a program like Adblock Plus that wipes them all away. But if you do see ads, perhaps you barely notice them now because they are pathetically irrelevant, like that one for a product you just bought. "Frankly, our industry today has taken the easy step, which is showing ads to people who have just gone to that website or just seen that product," says Jag Duggal, head of product for online audience measurement and realtime ad placement company Quantcast. If only online ads were more targeted, Duggal says, everyone would be happy. "We believe that if we can show more relevant ads, it’ll be more useful for users. They will be less inclined to block them, we will have to show fewer ads, advertisers will be willing to spend more for each ad. And the revenue for publishers and data providers like us will go up." Duggal’s everybody-wins worldview is not surprising: That’s the promise Quantcast and companies like it are selling to advertisers and content sites such as BuzzFeed and The Wall Street Journal. Quantcast has just boosted the promise by introducing a new system called Audience Grid. This open platform can absorb more information from many more data sources than before. Audience Grid is now pulling in data on what people buy, what they drive, what they watch, and more. It brings in 14 new data companies such as TiVo Research (for customer viewing habits), Kantar Shopcom (a purchase database of more than 231 million U.S. consumers), Relevate (info on the cars that millions of people drive), and PlaceIQ (which tracks people’s mobile-device movements with accuracy down to squares of 100 x 100 meters). Quantcast plans to keep pursuing more sources. (It had already been tracking general interest, demographic information, and political interests before launching Audience Grid.) If the hairs on the back of your neck just stood up, you’re not alone. A March 2014 survey of 1,000 Americans by market research firm GfK (which later became part of Audience Grid) reported that "almost 80% of respondents feel that there should be more regulations preventing organizations from repurposing personal data to third parties." Those "third parties" include advertisers. This attitude doesn’t change when you remove the older consumers. A full 80% of millennials felt that way (versus 73% of gen-Xers). Just 25% of all respondents (and 33% of millennials) said they mostly or completely trust how marketers and advertisers handle their personal data. Those marketers and advertisers would counter that this data isn’t really personal, or at least, not "personally identifiable," as the term of art describes it. Quantcast knows that somebody with particular shopping and TV interests also happens to be on a specific webpage or mobile app screen for participating media companies including BuzzFeed, Demand Media, The Economist, Federated Media, Gawker Media, NBC Universal, OpenTable, The Telegraph, Vox Media, Yelp, or The Wall Street Journal—all of which use Quantcast’s measurement and ad-placement technology. That helps it serve an ad targeted to at least some of those interests. (Note: Fast Company, its sister site Inc., and parent company Mansueto Ventures are not Quantcast clients.) According to Quantcast, there are no laws that specifically prohibit it or competitors such as Alexa, Compete, comScore, Criteo, Localytics, and RocketFuel from collecting personally identifiable information (PII). But it’s actually easier, the company says, to use only anonymous data, as that saves the headache of navigating a host of laws that do regulate use of personal info, such as the U.S. Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act and the California Online Privacy Protection Act. Quantcast also maintains that preserving anonymity is one of its company values. "We’ve deliberately built our entire data-management and modeling approach to not use PII," says Quantcast’s CEO and cofounder, Konrad Feldman. Instead, Quantcast hires services such as LiveRamp, Datalogix, Drawbridge, or Tapad, which specialize in "de‑identification" of consumer information, stripping names, email addresses, or other personal info out of its marketing data before sending it to Quantcast. Here’s an example of how the anonymizing process works: TiVo knows what you watch and has the email address you used to register for the service. Other companies, such as Evite, may also have your email if someone has sent you an invitation—and because you have to visit Evite’s site to RSVP, it can add a cookie (a small text file) to a cache in your web browser. Quantcast also drops cookies, which links them to viewing preferences on sites of clients like The Wall Street Journal. Now along comes LiveRamp. It links the TiVo data and Evite cookie using the email address. LiveRamp also links Evite and Quantcast in the case of web browsers that hold cookies from both companies. So now Quantcast knows what you watched on TiVo and what you read on the Journal's site, but LiveRamp has stripped out the name and any other info that can be traced back to a particular human. From that, Quantcast can not only tell advertisers that people who read the Journal also watch, say, The Good Wife, it can also place ads for shows similar to The Good Wife on WSJ web pages that Good Wife fans read. The WSJ gets lucrative ads, and readers might get suggestions for a show they actually want to watch. Another example from Quantcast's research: People who visit both ThinkProgress.org and Eater.com tend to like the show Sleepy Hollow on Fox. "We don’t know who you are," says Feldman. "We only have essentially a random number that we’re able to synchronize at some point with our other random number." In other words, Quantcast is associating the random number of the eVite cookie, which is now linked with TiVo viewership, from the above example to the random number of the Quantcast cookie, which is connected to readership on a "Quantified," or Quantcast-enabled site. All of this assumes anyone is even seeing the ad. As of the second quarter of this year, 16% of online Americans, about 45 million people, had installed ad-blocking software, according to an August 2015 report by PageFair, a company that helps websites use ads that blockers will allow through. That’s a doubling from the year before. Meanwhile, 77 million Europeans are blocking ads. Globally, $21.8 billion worth of ads won’t make it to eyeballs this year. Quantcast’s vision also requires that you hold onto cookies long enough for it, LiveRamp, and others to work their under-the-hood magic. "Many of those identifiers [including cookies] are deleted from time to time, or even frequently," says Feldman. Web browsers tend to accept cookies by default, but offer options to block and delete them, especially the "third-party" cookies that don’t help you use a site better (such as automatically logging you in) but that are placed by marketers and ad companies such as Quantcast. The traditional model of online advertising is ads in computer web browsers. But readership is moving to mobile fast and now accounts for 38% of all web browsing, according to that PageFair report. BuzzFeed’s mobile traffic had already outstripped its computer-based readership back in 2013, according to Quantcast. The switch to mobile is somewhat good for advertisers. Like their computer versions, mobile browsers also allow people to block or delete cookies, but mobile apps don’t rely only on easily flushed browser cookies. Instead, advertisers access device identifiers, known as IDFA for iOS and AAID for Android. "Identifiers in the mobile space tend to be more durable," says Duggal. (Quantcast is also expanding into smart TVs, providing device identifier capability to Roku’s ad-supported apps.) Online advertising’s nemesis is chasing it onto phones and tablets. PageFair’s study found that only 1.6% of ad blocking was happening on mobile devices, but that was before Apple released iOS 9, which for the first time allows ad blockers on Apple’s mobile devices. One of them, Been Choice, even blocks ads inside apps. (Apple has intermittently banned Been Choice from the App Store due, it says, to concerns about it collecting user data.) In short, there is no escaping ad blockers, so if publishers and advertisers can’t beat them, perhaps they can join them. Adblock Plus’s parent company, Eyeo, has developed acceptable ad guidelines for ads that it will allow through its blocker. These ads have to be "whitelisted" with Adblock Plus as acceptable prior to running. The guidelines include requiring that ads aren’t animated and don’t appear as pop-ups that cover the webpage. (Users can still elect to block all ads.) Given the dominant role of Adblock Plus in the market (with more than 300 million downloads), it has the power to determine if and in what form online advertising survives. The promise by Quantcast and others to come up with more relevant ads that are more valuable to advertisers and users seems to jibe with Eyeo’s mission. Eyeo states on its home page that the company has " . . . learned that most users wouldn’t mind seeing better, more informative ads." That seems to contradict what web surfers have said in surveys, but Duggal thinks the critical factor is just how targeted those ads are. "Taken too far, it is creepy," he says. "You don’t do advertising for sensitive categories or sensitive topics that is hyper-relevant." People won’t get wigged out by an ad for a new soda, he says, or even for products that target them by age group. But Quantcast steers clear of many pharmaceuticals. Duggal then keeps hinting about "the obvious one," without naming it, until I finally ask if he means highly targeted ads for erectile dysfunction medication. "That," he says, "is both annoying and creepy."

Ovsiannikov M.,Quantcast | Rus S.,Quantcast | Reeves D.,Google | Sutter P.,Quantcast | And 2 more authors.
Proceedings of the VLDB Endowment | Year: 2013

The Quantcast File System (QFS) is an efficient alternative to the Hadoop Distributed File System (HDFS). QFS is written in C++, is plugin compatible with Hadoop MapReduce, and offers several efficiency improvements relative to HDFS: 50% disk space savings through erasure coding instead of replication, a resulting doubling of write throughput, a faster name node, support for faster sorting and logging through a concurrent append feature, a native command line client much faster than hadoop fs, and global feedback-directed I/O device management. As QFS works out of the box with Hadoop, migrating data from HDFS to QFS involves simply executing hadoop distcp. QFS is being developed fully open source and is available under an Apache license from https://github.com/quantcast/qfs. Multi-petabyte QFS instances have been in heavy production use since 2011. © 2013 VLDB Endowment.

News Article | November 2, 2015
Site: www.fastcompany.com

This past summer, when Caitlyn Jenner was the story of the moment—on the cover of Vanity Fair and every other gossip website and magazine—she penned a series of essays on WhoSay.com. The essays were a way for Jenner to talk about her sexual transformation seriously and to engage the transgender community in a way that the tabloids didn't. In short, they allowed her to control her message and tell her story herself. The first entry began, "Hello friends. Caitlyn Jenner here." This type of direct-to-fan relationship that feels less publicist-controlled than most celebrity interactions—not that Jenner was going totally rogue; someone from WhoSay worked with her on the pieces—was one of the reasons WhoSay was founded five years ago within the halls of power agency CAA. The idea was to create a platform where celebrities could feel safe and in control of their images and thoughts, as well as one that was easy to use. (This idea has caught on—last year Derek Jeter launched a similar platform for athletes called The Players' Tribune.) With just a few clicks, WhoSay users such as Tom Hanks and Eva Longoria can post items across social media, as well as to syndicated outlets like People.com and the Huffington Post. Today, however, that piece of WhoSay's business is just that—a piece. Over the last two years, the company has evolved into a much broader business, one that now has a "religious focus," according to cofounder and CEO Steve Ellis on "generating media revenue for ourselves and our clients." The way WhoSay has been doing that is through content creation: specifically, working with brands to create online advertising campaigns built around stars like Alec Baldwin and comedian Michael Ian Black. Last April Fool's, when Chevrolet was looking to run an online spot for its "Best Day Ever" campaign, WhoSay connected the car company with Baldwin, who dressed up like Abraham Lincoln and showed up at Occidental College as a surprise guest lecturer. And for AT&T's "It Can Wait" campaign (a call to end fiddling with your phone while driving), WhoSay worked with Black to create a video showing the comedian at home, his eyes glued to his smartphone as he does laundry and makes dinner. Only when he gets in his car does he put his phone away. Those are just two of the 70 campaigns that WhoSay has crafted over the last year or so, for companies like Diet Coke, Nestle, and Bank of America. The result is a 500% spike in revenue, according to the company. Ellis doesn't like to say that WhoSay has pivoted from its original business model. There is still WhoSay.com, which in September attracted a modest 2.6 million unique visitors a month globally, according to Quantcast, and the company has put out two apps. "We still have the desire to be the trusted voice of our celebrity clients, and an outlet that allows them to tell and distribute their stories," he says, pointing to Jenner as an example. But he readily admits that when people ask him what his company does, his reply is: "We connect brands to superstars." So what brought on this shift? Ellis says that part of it was just responding to the fast-changing Internet ad business and seizing an opportunity. After spending the first few years building out its product and growing its celebrity user base—there are over 2,000 stars on the service—in 2013, Rob Gregory, a media veteran and the former president of Newsweek and the Daily Beast, was brought on as the company's chief revenue officer. He was tasked with launching WhoSay's advertising model. The only problem was, the online ad market was in the midst of a major shakeup. "The ad business is no longer really in search of a dotcom with traffic," Ellis says. "It's in search of content marketing that can be distributed across multiple platforms rather than a media company's money going into a single place." In other words, relying on big, splashy display ads—as WhoSay had been doing—was no longer a wise option. With the rise of mobile, people were getting most of their information on their phones, via services like Twitter and Facebook. No one was going to home pages anymore. Throw in the proliferation of ad-blocking services and it was clear that WhoSay needed to find a new path. That path became creating celebrity-driven videos that can be sent out across social media, taking advantage of Facebook, Twitter, and other platforms' ability to target specific demographics on a huge scale (soccer moms who live in the Southwest; teenage girls who like horror films). WhoSay's own third-party data that it has been collecting for years allows it to refine this targeting even more. Having monitored the social media activity of so many celebs, it now knows as much about them as their fans, and has amassed a database of 400 million email and social media addresses of all those followers across multiple networks, including Instagram and YouTube. "Obviously, you can just send [a video] out and target on Facebook," says Ellis. "But we have an added layer of intelligence around what people like that allows us to put together a good graph of whom to target across the web." Some say that one of WhoSay's challenges is that it is focussed on traditional celebrities, as opposed to, say, YouTube and Vine stars, who are in general much savvier about engaging their fans online. Says Brendan Gahan, whose company Epic Signal pairs social media stars with brands, "Celebrities that aren't 'digital celebrities' don't translate as well online. They don't know how to really activate and cultivate those audiences." According to a recent study, teens perceive YouTube stars to be 90% more genuine, 17 times more engaging, and 11 times more extraordinary than mainstream celebrities. WhoSay is also effectively, if not competing with, then offering a service that talent agencies themselves are growing more aggressive about giving their clients. WME, for one, has a partnership with the ad agency Droga5 that allows the talent firm to create celeb-driven ads from the ground up. But WhoSay's added level of social media intelligence and efficiency is drawing in major brands. Last year, AT&T hired WhoSay to create a series of videos for its "It Can Wait" campaign. Before, AT&T had primarily been creating TV spots to raise awareness. "The beauty of WhoSay is that it's primarily a social activation," says Heather Bern, director of It Can Wait. "And when you're [advertising] in social media, there's this advocacy, because people can actually share and chatter about the message." She further praised WhoSay, which operates as a soup-to-nuts firm, wrangling the talent, and handling all video production and paperwork, for being "turnkey." "You give them a brief, they hit the nail on the head. They make it easy for the client. And then the quality is amazing and they're pushing it out to all social channels with one click, essentially." According to WhoSay, the "It Can Wait" campaign—which also featured videos starring actors Peter Facinelli and James Maslow— delivered 13 million targeted impressions across multiple social networks and WhoSay.com, and a nearly 10% overall engagement rate. That latter number, which Ellis says is more than three times the engagement rate of a direct Facebook campaign, is what he's most revved up about. "If you're a brand spending money and you've got your choices of where to spend it, one of the choices is XYZ dotcom or Facebook or us. With us, you're going to get the same number of impressions. But you're going to wake up at the end having got more for your money, because we have better engagement rates. And when you add that to today's world, where interrupting people with advertising is getting poorer and poorer results—that's why we've seen such great results." Of course, the real secret sauce, and what WhoSay claims is setting it apart from its competition, is what Ellis calls "great content." In other words, videos that are truly entertaining and don't feel overly scripted and rehearsed. Seeing Baldwin don an Abe Lincoln outfit is amusing enough. Seeing him stroll into a college classroom and start lecturing on American history is perhaps worth a few minutes of even a cynic's time. As for the AT&T ads, they feel more like short films than ads, but with a seemingly homemade quality that draws the viewer in. "We don't want it to be meticulously scripted," says Ellis. "You can tell from most of what we've done, celebs are not being asked to do stiff endorsement-type campaigns. People don't want to see that stuff. They don't want to be interrupted, they want to be engaged. So it's a creative challenge, first and foremost." He circles back to his theme that at its core, WhoSay is still what it always was. "To be really clear on the Hollywood aspect," he says, "we made millions of dollars a year this year for our clients from campaigns with brands. We are trying to be what we set out to be, which was a media business by, with, and for our clients." "And also which delivers a really effective ad."

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