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iAds: An Apple Patent Focuses on a New Targeting Ad System

1 Cover - iads - apple details a targeting ad system

On May 20, 2010, the US Patent & Trademark Office published a patent application from Apple that reveals various concepts behind a newly advanced targeting advertising system that is likely associated with Apple's forthcoming iAd service. Apple's patent generally relates to providing dynamically priced advertisements to all manner of electronic devices. The new targeting ad system describes relationships between advertisers, an infrastructure owner and a user that may be the target of advertisements from the advertisers. The heart of the patent details the system itself and then provides us with examples of how it will be implemented. Many of the scenarios involved in the patent are based on a future iPhone with built-in NFC capabilities.

Advertising System: Hot Spot and Local Ad +

In Apple's patent FIG. 2 we're able to see both an advertisement application and a wireless network management application. An advertisement management application is shown below as icon 44. Here, the advertisement management application is designated as "Local Ad +" to indicate to a user that selection of the icon 44 may allow the user to obtain, store, and/or view advertisements for local businesses and more.

Similarly, a wireless network management application is shown below as icon 45. The wireless network management application icon may launch a wireless network management application when selected, which may enable a user to manage connections to various nearby wireless networks and/or any information, such as advertisements, that may be transmitted over such wireless networks.

2 - hot spot and advertisement apps 

As noted above, some embodiments of the iPhone may include the NFC interface 34 in addition to including camera 36 that could be used to obtain a digital image. The iPhone may thereafter employ optical character recognition (OCR) software, barcode-reading software, or matrix-code-reading software to extract information from the image which will come into play later in this patent.

Apple Introduces the Dynamically-Priced Advertising System

Whether this dynamically-priced ad system is actually a part of Apple's forthcoming iAd system is unknown at this time though it would be sufficed to say that the two systems will likely be closely associated with each other. This ad system is the heart or core of Apple's patent.

3 - dynamically priced ad system 

Apple's patent FIGS. 7A and 7B illustrate a dynamically-priced advertisement system 110, which may describe relationships between advertisers, an infrastructure owner or manager, and a user that may be the target of advertisements from the advertisers. Using the dynamically-priced advertisement system, an advertiser may a pay a unique price for an advertisement based on an assessment of characteristics unique to the target recipient.

Turning first to FIG. 7A, the dynamically-priced advertisement system 110 may describe a relationship between a series of advertisers 112 and an infrastructure owner or manager 114. The infrastructure owner or manager may represent any person, organization, or other entity with control over network infrastructure capable of transmitting advertisements to a target user, and the advertisers may represent any person, organization, or other entity that may be granted the right to advertise by the infrastructure owner or manager.

Various Types of Infrastructure Owners

By way of example, the infrastructure owner or manager may be a municipality having a WiFi network and the advertisers may be local businesses acting through a chamber of commerce; the infrastructure owner or manager may be a private WiFi owner or publisher, which may accept advertisements from various local advertisers in a manner analogous to a local printed advertising publication; the infrastructure owner or manager may be a museum or airport providing network access to attendees, and the advertisers may be lessees, tenants, or contractors affiliated with the airport or museum (e.g., a gift store, restaurant, or taxi/limousine service); the infrastructure owner or manager may be a shopping mall or casino, and the advertisers may be restaurants or shops located within the shopping mall or casino; the infrastructure owner or manager may be any owner or manager of a publicly-accessible building providing network access to entrants; the infrastructure owner or manager may be an owner or manager of a wireless broadband network, such as a 3G cellular network, and the advertisers may be any person or entity to wishing to advertise over the wireless network; and/or the infrastructure owner or manager may be a website, search engine, or Internet service provider (ISP), and the advertisers may be any person or entity to submit web advertisements to the website, search engine, or ISP.

The Electronic Advertisement or iAd

In the dynamically-priced advertisement system, the advertisers may submit an electronic advertisement 116 to the infrastructure owner or manager. The electronic advertisement may be any data intended to advertise to a target user. As such, the electronic advertisement may be a text advertisement, a banner advertisement, a video, an interactive advertisement, and/or an electronic coupon. Concurrent with the submission of the advertisement, the advertisers may provide information to the infrastructure owner or manager regarding the subject matter of the advertisement. For example, if the submitted advertisement provides a coupon for food at a restaurant, the submitting advertiser may include an indication that the advertisement is directed to food sales, times of day when meals are popularly served, a GPS location of the restaurant, keywords that may relate to the restaurant in an Internet search, how weather may affect the use or non-use of the coupon in the advertisement, etc.

Apple's patent FIG. 7B illustrates another relationship within the dynamically-priced advertisement system which may include the infrastructure owner or manager and a target user 122. The target user may represent any person targeted by the infrastructure owner or manager to receive one of the advertisements. By way of example, the target user may be a user of an iPhone an iPod touch or an iMac.


The Beacon Transmittal System

4 - beacon transmittal system 
Apple's patent FIG. 18 presents a beacon transmittal diagram 370 which illustrates a manner in which an infrastructure owner or manager controlling a wireless base station 76 may reach target users having an iPhone or iPod touch. In the diagram 370, the base station may transmit a wireless beacon 372 to any number of handhelds. The base station may be in any location, such as the first or second subway stations 346 or 348. The data transmitted by the beacon may be received by the handheld devices and in a variety of ways. For example, the beacon may include a web archive file representing a target advertisement 124 or may represent a link to a website where the target advertisement may be obtained.

When the wireless beacons reach one of the handheld devices, the devices may display various notification icons, as described below with reference to FIGS. 19-20. Such notification icons present a user with the opportunity to view items of potential interest.

Examples of Targeted Ads

Apple's patent FIG. 19A shown below illustrates a home screen 380 with a web browser application icon 43 that may include a message notification icon 382. The message notification icon may denote that messages may have been received in a wireless beacon from a nearby base station. If a user selects the web browser icon 43, the iPhone may display a screen 384, as shown in FIG. 19B. The screen 384 may represent a web archive file received in the beacon or may represent a website displayed from a link received by the beacon. For example, a link to a subway map, and a link to various target advertisements. One such target advertisement may advertise a sandwich shop; another may advertise reserving theatre tickets over the Internet.

5 - target ad example 2 
If the user selects the list item advertising the sandwich shop, the iPhone may retrieve additional information from the Internet or may load additional information from a web archive file received from the beacon. As illustrated in FIG. 19C. The screen 388 may represent, for example, a coupon for a free drink with the purchase of a sandwich at a restaurant called "Sandwich Shop." The screen may include, for example, a matrix barcode 390 encoding a serial number to obtain the stated discount. A button 392, labeled "Send to Friend," may enable a user to forward the advertisement to another friend while simultaneously informing the infrastructure owner or manager that such action has been taken by contacting the base station or an affiliated web service. In addition to providing the matrix barcode, the iPhone may also prepare to transfer the same information encoded in the matrix barcode via near field communication if the user taps the NFC interface of the iPhone to a kiosk or cash register configured to receive such information.

6 - Target iAds 

Tourist Attraction Targeted iAds

The example of FIG. 14 shown below relates to the RFID tag 102 that may be located on an historical marker 282. To learn more about the historical marker and retrieve various advertisements that may be related to the historical marker, the user simply taps their NFC based iPhone on the marker.

7 - Tourist attraction targeted ads 

At that point, an iPhone screen 290 may include various prompts and other screens to follow to obtain the information as shown in FIGS. 15A and 15B.

Target Ads: Restaurants, Sports, Groceries, Movies and More

8 - other example screens related to target ads 

Apple's patent FIG. 25D illustrates a search engine results page on a screen 538, which may be displayed after a user enters a search term into the search bar 534. For example, the user may enter the search term "Sandwich Shop," the screen may display the search term at the top of the search engine screen in addition to a target advertisement.

Apple credits Gloria Lin and Michael Rosenblatt as the inventors of patent application 20100125492, originally filed in Q4 2008.


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Absolutely fascinating, thank you.

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