Yahoo Seeks Patent on Method of Recommending Advertising Services

Yahoo! Inc., headquartered in Sunnyvale, CA, is one of the most recognizable names in the area of American computing corporations. The company’s flagship website, with its various search engine, mapping, news, finance and social media software tools, services millions of Internet users every day. This summer, the company may be looking to ramp up its activity in video sharing services; there has been a lot of talk in various technology publications surrounding the company’s plans to unveil an online video service to rival YouTube in terms of better ad rates and contracts for content creators. The upcoming IPO for Chinese e-commerce company Alibaba, of which Yahoo! owns a minority stake, may net the corporation $10 billion to $15 billion.

The Companies We Follow series here at IPWatchdog has focused on this multinational corporation a couple of times in the past, and we’re returning again for another look at some intriguing developments in Internet-based technologies. The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office is regularly issuing patents to as well as publishing patent applications filed by Yahoo! every week. What we found in our most recent search includes some incredible innovations which a variety of businesses and individuals will likely soon be able to use through Yahoo!’s online website.

We start today’s check into Yahoo!’s innovations with an in-depth look at one patent application describing an online marketplace for advertising services which can be bought for business purposes. This marketplace enables advertising services to bid for rates and can analyze consumer interactions with a business website to suggest effecting online marketing tools. Other patent applications describe various other software tools for business purposes, including one system for providing advertisements which are optimized for mobile device screens.

Yahoo!’s recently patented technologies cover a wide variety of novel Internet technologies. One patent we discuss establishes a new method of ranking search engine results based on how interesting some content may be for a user. A sidebar for community updates within online networks comprising many members, and a method for recommending e-mails for others to read, are also discussed below.



Online Marketplace to Facilitate the Distribution of Marketing Services…
U.S. Patent Application No. 20140143067

Advertising products and services effectively to increase sales is a central goal in many companies, and online advertising offers incredible ways of targeting potential customers. With people spending more time on the Internet than ever before, it’s even more important to capture the right audience with a marketing campaign. Businesses can pay for a number of online advertising services as part of a marketing campaign, such as keyword advertisements through search engines.

Although companies have attempted various techniques for augmenting marketing campaigns through online advertising services, there is a major investment of time and resources that goes into finding a useful service. In addition, there may be other advertising services that a business may not be aware of which may provide a better return on investment. Businesses may also find it difficult to stay on top of new developments in online advertising.

Yahoo! filed this patent application with the USPTO in November 2013, which describes a system of recommending effective advertising services to a merchant. The system analyzes e-commerce data collected from interactions with consumers through a merchant’s website to determine characteristics which suggest that a certain marketing action would be effective. In addition, the system allows marketers to offer bids for online advertising services, creating an online marketplace through which these services can be bought and sold.

This system could present recommended marketing actions to merchants through various channels, such as e-mail. E-commerce data collected and analyzed for making suggestions include website traffic, product information, inventory and recent e-commerce orders. Third-party marketing providers who submit bids are presented with other bids for similar services and a quality score for their system to better judge their rates.

As Claim 1 states, Yahoo! filed this patent application to protect:

“A system comprising one or more processors and a non-transitory storage medium comprising program logic for execution by the one or more processors, the program logic comprising: a recommendation engine that: receives e-commerce data from a merchant regarding interactions of customers with a website of the merchant; identifies one or more characteristics of the e-commerce data; based at least in part on the one or more identified characteristics, selects a plurality of marketing actions that are potentially effective for the merchant; ranks the selected marketing actions based at least in part on one or more of a quality score and one or more bids associated with each of the selected marketing actions; and provides, to the merchant, a ranked list of the selected marketing actions.”


Other Patent Applications 

From U.S. Patent Application No. 20140114762, titled “System for Providing Mobile Advertisement Actions.”

As our recent search into Yahoo!’s innovations recently filed with the USPTO through patent applications shows, today’s featured application isn’t the only one tied to online marketing services. In fact, many of this company’s recently assigned patent applications are directed towards advertising services designed to benefit business goals. For example, U.S. Patent Application No. 20140114762, which is titled System for Providing Mobile Advertisement Actions, describes a system designed to enable business to utilize advertisements optimized for mobile devices with mobile consumers. Upon receiving a request from a browser using a mobile device, the system returns advertisements which are better sized and proportioned for mobile screen displays. Internet users may be a bit relieved to hear about the technology described in U.S. Patent Application No. 20140114770, entitled Online Techniques for Providing Offers Based on Social Activity. This invention involves a method of determining an online user’s measure of conversion, or likelihood that they’ll engage with an advertisement, based on social activity. Ideally, this would reduce the amount of irrelevant advertisements displayed, which can make Internet users feel inundated with ads.

Better methods of presenting retail inventory in online stores is also a development focus for Yahoo!, as is evidenced in U.S. Patent Application No. 20140122469, titled Ranking Products Using Purchase Day Based Time Windows. This system ranks search query results in online stores through the use of purchase day based time windows, essentially an analysis of various times at which a specific item is more likely to be purchased. We also noticed a system that enabled businesses to better purchase advertising packages, similar to the spirit of the innovation captured in today’s featured patent application, in U.S. Patent Application No. 20140108158, entitled Methods for Augmenting User-Generated Content Using a Monetizable Feature. This computer-implemented method of ad insertion embeds metadata tags with ad content which allow for the application of various payment methods for ad services, such as cost per click, advertisement revenue sharing and more.



Issued Patents of Note

Yahoo!’s intellectual property portfolio may pale somewhat in comparison to computing industry giants such as Google or Apple. However, Yahoo!’s long line of Internet-based services represents some of the most interesting social applications of online innovation. Many of these consumer-based Internet services are discussed in patents recently issued to the corporation by the USPTO, showing that Yahoo! is always interested in protecting its improvements to online news readers, social media software and more.

The option to forward messages to interested parties through electronic mail services has existed for years, but users now have the ability to rate the content of those e-mails thanks to the technology protected by U.S. Patent No. 8738637, issued under the title Generating Shareable Recommended and Popular E-Mails. In this system, users could share e-mail content with contacts without forwarding an entire message; the system also creates a popularity measure for e-mail content based on user activity. Better methods of encouraging social activity in online shopping environments are protected by U.S. Patent No. 8719258, which is titled Information Sharing in an Online Community. This system analyzes the search queries of a first browser in an online store to determine other users who are searching for similar items, and then providing real-time browsing info to either party.

Other patents recently issued to Yahoo! protect a couple of computing innovations designed to present various pieces of useful and interesting content to Internet users. Members of online communities will be able to view lists of updates about other users’ activities thanks to the technology protected by U.S. Patent No. 8732585, which is titled Community Information Updates in a Sidebar. This technology would provide a sidebar displaying updates for social media sites, photo sharing sites and other community web pages. Other methods of providing information to Internet users are discussed in U.S. Patent No. 8732234, entitled Providing Relevant Non-Requested Content to a Mobile Device. In this system, digital content of relevance to a person can be forwarded to mobile terminals based on profile data about the user’s activities on third-party websites or services. The original patent application for this technology was filed in June 2006, after which it faced four final rejections from the USPTO examiner. The final rejection issued by the examiner cited obviousness of claims under previous patents, especially one protecting a method of providing relevant, non-requested content to mobile device users based on purchasing habits.

We wanted to wrap up our analysis of Yahoo!’s intellectual properties with one patent protecting a new and very intriguing form of metrics for ranking search results online. U.S. Patent No. 8732175, titled Interestingness Ranking of Media Objects, protects a system of ranking search results using “interestingness” as a measure of relevance. This is derived from metadata applied to content by other users, such as when other users select a video or audio file online as a favorite, as well as personalized information like a user’s location. The original application for this patent was also filed in 2006 and faced five final rejections, with another non-final rejection following the fifth. This non-final rejection, issued in April 2013, also cited obviousness caused by the filing of a patent application featuring similar methods of using metadata to refine search engine results and rankings.

From U.S. Patent No. 8732175, titled “Interestingness Ranking of Media Objects.”


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