Bits & Bytes for April 22, 2004

SpamKing Clothing Line Launches

Taking chutzpah to a new level, Scott Richter, who is currently involved in a lawsuit filed by New York’s attorney general for alleged spamming, is launching a line of clothing, the SpamKing line.

The line is launching at the upcoming AD:TECH interactive marketing conference in San Francisco May 24, Richter said. The clothing will be sold online, and three national chains have committed to carry it in their brick and mortar stores as well. Richter, president of of Westminster, Colo., said it was too early to identify the stores.

“We’re going after the hip crowd. This isn’t fashion design wear, it’s surfboard and skateboard, grunge type clothing,” Richter said.

The offerings will initially include hats, shirts and panties aimed at young people. The clothing will feature sayings like, “Just opt out,” “Click it” and “I want my mail.”

New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer, along with Microsoft, filed a $20 million lawsuit against a New York-based spam ring allegedly led by Scott Richter in December. The spam network allegedly sent more than 250 million junk emails daily.

Richter did not comment as to what form of marketing he would use to promote the clothing.

Go Toast Adds New Search Engines, Pricing Package

Go Toast, a marketing technology company, added compatibility for eight international search engines to its paid search management and optimization tools. It also has a new pricing package.

The company, which was acquired in December by Atlas DMT, now supports a total of 37 ad outlets. This includes seven shopping sites and more than 30 search engines.

Also, the company has a new pricing package, “Select 10.” The new package makes it possible for customers to select any 10 of the 30 available search engines for bid management, and choose any or all of the seven shopping sites for listing management.

Go Toast provides technology that lets advertisers manage thousands of keywords and search engine marketing campaigns simultaneously. The company’s tools include a bidding engine, conversion tracking tools, Web analytics and automated search campaign management.

Google May Develop Scholarly Search Tool

The search giant is teaming up with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and 16 other universities to develop a way to search scholarly papers via Google, according to The Chronicle of Higher Education.

The Chronicle spoke with MacKenzie Smith, associate director of technology for MIT’s libraries, for its story, but Google would not confirm its participation in the project

Currently, about 125 academic institutions use DSpace, which is free archiving software created by MIT, to store academic papers. Google is working with MIT and other universities to develop a search function for these resources, the Chronicle said, adding that the new search feature will be available on Google in a few months.

Real Gets Google

In separate Google news, RealNetworks is now distributing the Google toolbar with its free RealPlayer media player.

When a user downloads RealPlayer 10 from the RealNetworks site, he or she is now given the option to download the toolbar. With the toolbar, consumers can search Google from any Web page. They can also use the toolbar to block pop-up ads if they choose.

Google Pressured On Privacy

Yet more Google news: the search giant’s plans to include contextually targeted ads in its still-in-beta free email service, Gmail, have drawn more fire.

The search giant intends to have its technology scan the content of email messages, and target ads accordingly. The plan has generated privacy concerns and widespread criticism.

The free consumer service comes with 1 gigabyte of storage and the ability to easily search through old messages. The price of that is letting the company apply its highly successful keyword-advertising infrastructure to the content of the messages. Privacy International is the latest group to protest on grounds of privacy. The group filed a complaint Monday asking privacy and data protection commissions in sixteen countries to investigate potential invasion of consumers’ privacy.

The international electronic privacy watchdog complained that the proposed service violates several statutes of the European Union’s Data Protection law.

Google says what’s drawing concern is what computers are capable of doing, not what the company does in reality. “We pride ourselves in protecting users’ data and holding ourselves to the highest standard,” said Wayne Rosing, VP of engineering for Google.

“We do not keep that data in correlated form, it’s separated in various ways and we have policies inside the company that do not allow that kind of correlation to happen. We consider any program or programming that correlates user data with user identity to be a violation of trust and we do not do that,” said Rosing.

Susan Kuchinskas of contributed to this story.

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