Papers from the Eighth ACM Special Interest Group on Electronic Commerce 2007

From June 11th to June 15th, the ACM Special Interest Group on Electronic Commerce (SIGECOM) held its eighth conference in San Diego, California.

There were a good number of accepted papers for the conference, and I was able to hunt a few of them down online.

Budget Optimization in Search-Based Advertising Auctions (pdf)
Cliff Stein from Columbia University; Jon Feldman, S. Muthukrishnan, and Martin Pal from Google

Internet search companies sell advertisement slots based on users’ search queries via an auction. While there has been a lot of attention on the auction process and its game-theoretic aspects, our focus is on the advertisers. In particular, the advertisers have to solve a complex optimization problem of how to place bids on the keywords of their interest so that they can maximize their return (the number of user clicks on their ads) for a given budget.

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Google Janitors Clean Up Facts on the Web

Google described some of its janitors in a recent patent application.

Google has been working on extracting data from a wide variety of sources on the Web, but there are problems with a lot of that information. Some examples:

One site may use a certain format to present information, while other pages use different formats.

Information from one web page may contradict information from others.

Some data may become old and stale.

When Google collects this kind of information, a lot of it needs to be cleaned up, and Google’s “Janitors” spring into action to do that.

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Google’s Place Rank and Interestingness – Ranking Geographic Entities in Maps/Earth for Display

In a digital map system, like Google Earth or Google Maps, it is possible for users to annotate placemarks using brief descriptions relevant to those locations.

The Google Earth Community is filled with examples of such placemarks. It’s also possible to come up with your own custom Google Maps using the Google Map API, or using the Google My Maps feature.

Google Geospatial Placemarks

Google has come up with a way of ranking these custom placemarks in different placemark layers, which they’ve referred to as Place Rank. Click on the image for a larger view of placemarks shown in Google Earth.

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Google Earth & Maps Advertising Patent Application

Imagine owning a baseball related website and sponsoring a layer on Google Earth, where you show all of the major league and minor league ball parks, as well as historically important locations (Babe Ruth’s birthplace, Negro league stadiums, etc.). Consider also including the training camp stadiums.

Seriously, ESPN or CBS or Baseball News, or Major League Baseball, please consider doing all of that.

Sponsorship of a layer in Google Earth is one of the items discussed in a patent application from Google that came out last week at the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO):

Determining Advertisements Using User Interest Information and Map-based Location Information
Published June 21, 2007
Int. Publication No: WO 2007/070358 A2
Int. App. No: PCT/US2006/046782
Filed: December 8, 2006
Invented by Steve Glassman, Joshy Joseph, Bill Kilday, Giao Nguyen, Dominic Preuss, and Sridhar Ramaswamy

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Ask.com on Trends, Freshness, Personalization, and Better Search Results

The Web isn’t a static place, where pages remain the same, as search engines try to index and lead searchers to information.

A new patent application from Ask.com explores this stream of data, and trends within it, and how those can be used to improve search rankings and advertisements, as well as supplying searchers with relevant and up to date content.

I would suspect that similar inquiries into trends and burstiness of information happen at other search engines, too.

System and method for monitoring evolution over time of temporal content
Invented by Antonino Gulli, Filippo Tanganelli, and Antonio Savona
Assigned to Ask Jeeves, Inc.
US Patent Application 20070143300
Published June 21, 2007
Filed: December 20, 2005

Abstract

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Google’s Modular Personalized User Page Patent Applications

Google has come out with four patent applications on the customizable personalized user pages that they offer, with modular applications and informational pieces as the centerpoint of those pages.

The document discuss the use of different approaches, such as iframes, Ajax, RSS feeds, and other ways of presenting information on that page.

Perhaps the most interesting aspect of these is the idea of a software development Kit (SDK) that third parties can use to create additional modules for users of this service.

Creating something interesting and unique, and making it available for people to use on their personalized page might be a nice way of getting yourself noticed.

Here are the patent applications:

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Predictive Queries versus Unique Searches

Last week, Udi Manber, Google’s VP of Engineering, gave a short presentation where he discussed the difficulties that face search engines.

One of the problems he pointed out was that “20 to 25% of the queries we see today, we have never seen before.”

A patent application published for Yahoo on the same day, Interactive search engine, about supplying predictive queries to searchers as they are typing the query terms into the search box, bases a decision to do so on the assumption that

…it is highly probable that a user intends to issue a query in which at least one other person has issued previously.

I’ve written about Yahoo’s approach to predictive queries before, as well as Google’s use of predictive queries.

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Better Business Location Search using OCR with Street Views

Google introduced street views to selected areas of their maps recently.

Not discussed in Google’s Street View help sections is how those views might help Google improve the accuracy of locations for both the maps, and for Google’s business locations databases.

A problem with search engine mapping databases is that the information collected hasn’t always been very accurate, based upon the way that the this kind of information has been collected.

Often, GPS location information for some “anchor” street addresses are known for these systems, and the locations for businesses and buildings between the anchors has been interpolated.

According to the authors of a new patent application from Google, significant discrepancies are sometimes observed between actual GPS locations and interpolated locations, with actual addresses being off by 100 yards or more.

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