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Publication numberUS20060168664 A1
Publication typeApplication
Application numberUS 11/150,001
Publication dateJul 27, 2006
Filing dateJun 10, 2005
Priority dateNov 15, 2004
Also published asCA2526588A1, EP1659530A1, US7421413, US20060105739, US20060165005
Publication number11150001, 150001, US 2006/0168664 A1, US 2006/168664 A1, US 20060168664 A1, US 20060168664A1, US 2006168664 A1, US 2006168664A1, US-A1-20060168664, US-A1-2006168664, US2006/0168664A1, US2006/168664A1, US20060168664 A1, US20060168664A1, US2006168664 A1, US2006168664A1
InventorsAlexander Frank, Bohdan Raciborski, James Duffus
Original AssigneeMicrosoft Corporation
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Profitable free computing resources leveraging the advertising model
US 20060168664 A1
Abstract
Computer executable modules and an associated method for delivering computer resources using an advertising based model may use a local database of advertisements and locally collected user profile data for selecting targeted advertisements for delivery to a user. A user may be allowed to select what or how much user profile information to share with an advertising provider. The local database of advertisements may then be downloaded corresponding to the amount of user profile data shared. For example, when less user profile data is shared a larger database of advertisements may be downloaded. The advertising database may also be attached to a software update. Presentation of targeted ads may be verified and reported to an advertising provider allowing revenue-sharing to compensate the computer resource provider.
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Claims(20)
1. A computer-readable medium having computer-executable modules for execution on a client computer in association with advertising delivery comprising:
an opt-in module, comprising support for selecting an advertising delivery mode;
a user profiling module for collecting user profile data; and
an advertising delivery module for presenting a targeted advertisement corresponding to information in the user profile data according to the selected advertising delivery mode.
2. The computer-readable medium of claim 1, wherein the opt-in module requires presentation of the targeted advertisement unless an associated license is installed.
3. The computer-readable medium of claim 1, further comprising a communication module for receiving targeted advertisements into a local advertising database for display by the advertising delivery module.
4. The computer-readable medium of claim 3, wherein the advertising delivery module selects from the local advertising database corresponding to information in the user profile data.
5. The computer-readable medium of claim 4, wherein a number of advertisements sent to the local advertising database decreases corresponding to user profile data being transmitted to an interested party.
6. The computer-readable medium of claim 4, wherein the local advertising database is delivered separately from an activity associated with presentation of the targeted advertisement.
7. The computer-readable medium of claim 6, wherein the database of advertisements is delivered with an update of the operating system.
8. The computer-readable medium of claim 1, wherein the advertising delivery mode comprises one of always on, intermittently on, and off.
9. The computer-readable medium of claim 1, further comprising a display controller module wherein the display controller module receives a signal from the advertising delivery module indicating the display mode.
10. The computer-readable medium of claim 1, wherein credit is accrued to a user account corresponding to the presentation of the targeted advertisement.
11. The computer-readable medium of claim 10, wherein an amount of credit accrued corresponding to the presentation of the targeted advertisement is displayed to a user.
12. The computer-readable medium of claim 10, wherein the opt-in module comprises levels of targeted advertising presentation wherein the amount of credit accrued corresponds to a level of targeted advertising presentation selected.
13. The computer-readable medium of claim 1, wherein the user profiling module collects data from at least one of an operating system setting, email content, music files, system hardware configuration data, usage patterns, or application software settings.
14. The computer-readable medium of claim 1, wherein the user profiling module analyzes data from a camera attached to the computer while collecting user profile data.
15. The computer-readable medium of claim 1, wherein the advertising delivery module presents the targeted advertisement during a login operation.
16. The computer-readable medium of claim 1, further comprising a local value account module, wherein a value packet is embedded in the targeted advertisement and the local value account module accrues usage credit when the targeted advertisement is presented.
17. A method of delivering targeted advertising to a computer comprising:
collecting user profile data from information stored on the computer;
storing a plurality of advertisements on the computer, each of the plurality of advertisements having corresponding metadata comprising classification data;
selecting a targeted advertisement from the database of advertisements by associating the user profile data with the classification data;
presenting the targeted advertisement; and
reporting the presenting the targeted advertisement.
18. The method of claim 17 further comprising:
sending the user data to an advertising provider.
19. A method of compensating a service provider using targeted advertising comprising:
providing at least one of a computer system or a component thereof;
collecting user profile information available at the computer system;
providing a plurality of advertisements stored on the computer system;
selecting a targeted advertisement from the plurality of advertisements corresponding to data from the user information;
monitoring a presentation of the targeted advertisement;
reporting the presentation of the targeted advertisement;
receiving compensation from an advertiser associated with the targeted advertisement; and
crediting at least a portion of the compensation toward the underwriting of the least one of the computer system or the component thereof.
20. The method of claim 19 further comprising:
sending a subset of the user profile information available at the computer system to an advertising provider, wherein the plurality of advertisements corresponds to data in the subset.
Description

This application is a continuation-in-part of U.S. patent application Ser. No. 11/092041, filed Mar. 29, 2005 and is a continuation-in-part of U.S. patent application Ser. No. 11/006,837 filed Dec. 8, 2004 which is a continuation-in-part of U.S. patent application Ser. No. 10/989,122 filed Nov. 15, 2004, all of which are incorporated by reference for all purposes.

BACKGROUND

Attempts to create targeted delivery of advertising using Internet-based servers is known. U.S. Pat. No. 5,948,061 discloses compiling statistics on individual users and networks on an Internet-based server to permit targeting of advertisements to individual users. The disclosure includes formulas describing a satisfaction Index which is used to calculate run schedules for advertising.

As discussed in the above-mentioned patent, current art Internet-based advertising uses information collected about a user by capturing user interaction with web sites. Search queries and click through data is used to formulate a user profile for use in selecting targeted advertisements.

Other prior art service providers, such as Internet service providers and e-mail providers, have offered free or reduced charge services when users are willing to accept advertising in a portion of the window space allocated to the process supporting that service. Advertising delivery was restricted to the time when a user was connected to the particular service and only on display elements, such as a browser window, associated with that service.

SUMMARY

According to one aspect of the disclosure, a service provider such as a telephone company, an Internet service provider, or a leasing company may provide computer systems or components to users at a reduced charge or for free in exchange for targeted advertising delivery. Resources on the computer system itself, such as the operating system, identify user characteristics and interests based on information stored on the computer. A user profile may be developed using information such as music preference, language, and game usage. User profile data may be shared with an advertising provider, either directly, or through the service provider, to allow development of targeted advertising for presentation on the computer system when the computer system is both online and off-line.

In an alternate embodiment, only certain information about the user may be shared. Only data such as geography and music preference may be shared, protecting the user's identity and personal information. The advertising provider may then deliver to the computer a focused database of potential advertisements. Targeted ads may then be selected from the database by an advertising delivery module running locally on the computer system using the full complement of user profile data. Because specific personal data may not need to be shared outside the local computer, privacy concerns can be minimized.

According to another embodiment, no information about the user is shared with the advertising provider and an untargeted database of advertisements may be downloaded to the computer system. The advertising delivery module, using the same full complement of user profile data may then select from this database to deliver targeted ads to the user. Because no information was provided about the user, the database may be quite large to accommodate a range of possible users. But, because the users personal information is not shared, accepting a large database may be viewed as an acceptable, if not desirable, trade-off.

Viewing or other interaction with advertisements may be reported to the service provider or the advertising provider to satisfy a contractual obligation associated with receiving the computer system at a reduced price or for free. The service provider, by selling targeted ads to advertisers, may recover the cost of the computer and associated resources, such as peripherals, the operating system, and application software.

According to another aspect of the disclosure less than the entire computer system may be provided by the service provider. For example, an operating system may be provided by an operating system developer for free. Users may then receive advertisements for use of the free operating system. User who do not wish to view advertisements may purchase a full license. Users willing to receive ads but desire less obtrusive advertising delivery, may opt to purchase a limited license or subscription for the operating system.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is a simplified and representative block diagram of a computer network;

FIG. 2 is a block diagram of a computer that may be connected to the network of FIG. 1;

FIG. 3 is a representation of targeted advertising data;

FIG. 4 is a representative block diagram of software modules and related assets; and

FIG. 5 is a flow chart of a method for delivering targeted advertising to a computer.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

Although the following text sets forth a detailed description of numerous different embodiments, it should be understood that the legal scope of the description is defined by the words of the claims set forth at the end of this disclosure. The detailed description is to be construed as exemplary only and does not describe every possible embodiment since describing every possible embodiment would be impractical, if not impossible. Numerous alternative embodiments could be implemented, using either current technology or technology developed after the filing date of this patent, which would still fall within the scope of the claims.

It should also be understood that, unless a term is expressly defined in this patent using the sentence “As used herein, the term ‘______ ’ is hereby defined to mean . . . ” or a similar sentence, there is no intent to limit the meaning of that term, either expressly or by implication, beyond its plain or ordinary meaning, and such term should not be interpreted to be limited in scope based on any statement made in any section of this patent (other than the language of the claims). To the extent that any term recited in the claims at the end of this patent is referred to in this patent in a manner consistent with a single meaning, that is done for sake of clarity only so as to not confuse the reader, and it is not intended that such claim term by limited, by implication or otherwise, to that single meaning. Finally, unless a claim element is defined by reciting the word “means” and a function without the recital of any structure, it is not intended that the scope of any claim element be interpreted based on the application of 35 U.S.C. §112, sixth paragraph.

Much of the inventive functionality and many of the inventive principles are best implemented with or in software programs or instructions and integrated circuits (ICs) such as application specific ICs. It is expected that one of ordinary skill, notwithstanding possibly significant effort and many design choices motivated by, for example, available time, current technology, and economic considerations, when guided by the concepts and principles disclosed herein will be readily capable of generating such software instructions and programs and ICs with minimal experimentation. Therefore, in the interest of brevity and minimization of any risk of obscuring the principles and concepts in accordance to the present invention, further discussion of such software and ICs, if any, will be limited to the essentials with respect to the principles and concepts of the preferred embodiments.

FIGS. 1 and 2 provide a structural basis for the network and computational platforms related to the instant disclosure.

FIG. 1 illustrates a network 10 that may be used to implement a dynamic software provisioning system. The network 10 may be the Internet, a virtual private network (VPN), or any other network that allows one or more computers, communication devices, databases, etc., to be communicatively connected to each other. The network 10 may be connected to a personal computer 12 and a computer terminal 14 via an Ethernet 16 and a router 18, and a landline 20. On the other hand, the network 10 may be wirelessly connected to a laptop computer 22 and a personal data assistant 24 via a wireless communication station 26 and a wireless link 28. Similarly, a server 30 may be connected to the network 10 using a communication link 32 and a mainframe 34 may be connected to the network 10 using another communication link 36.

FIG. 2 illustrates a computing device in the form of a computer 110. Components of the computer 110 may include, but are not limited to a processing unit 120, a system memory 130, and a system bus 121 that couples various system components including the system memory to the processing unit 120. The system bus 121 may be any of several types of bus structures including a memory bus or memory controller, a peripheral bus, and a local bus using any of a variety of bus architectures. By way of example, and not limitation, such architectures include Industry Standard Architecture (ISA) bus, Micro Channel Architecture (MCA) bus, Enhanced ISA (EISA) bus, Video Electronics Standards Association (VESA). local bus, and Peripheral Component Interconnect (PCI) bus also known as Mezzanine bus.

The computer 110 may also include a cryptographic unit 125. Briefly, the cryptographic unit 125 has a calculation function that may be used to verify digital signatures, calculate hashes, digitally sign hash values, and encrypt or decrypt data. The cryptographic unit 125 may also have a protected memory for storing keys and other secret data. In addition, the cryptographic unit 125 may include an RNG (random number generator) which is used to provide random numbers. In other embodiments, the functions of the cryptographic unit may be instantiated in software or firmware and may run via the operating system or on a device.

Computer 110 typically includes a variety of computer readable media. Computer readable media can be any available media that can be accessed by computer 110 and includes both volatile and nonvolatile media, removable and non-removable media. By way of example, and not limitation, computer readable media may comprise computer storage media and communication media. Computer storage media includes volatile and nonvolatile, removable and non-removable media implemented in any method or technology for storage of information such as computer readable instructions, data structures, program modules or other data. Computer storage media includes, but is not limited to, RAM, ROM, EEPROM, FLASH memory or other memory technology, CD-ROM, digital versatile disks (DVD) or other optical disk storage, magnetic cassettes, magnetic tape, magnetic disk storage or other magnetic storage devices, or any other medium which can be used to store the desired information and which can accessed by computer 110. Communication media typically embodies computer readable instructions, data structures, program modules or other data in a modulated data signal such as a carrier wave or other transport mechanism and includes any information delivery media. The term “modulated data signal” means a signal that has one or more of its characteristics set or changed in such a manner as to encode information in the signal. By way of example, and not limitation, communication media includes wired media such as a wired network or direct-wired connection, and wireless media such as acoustic, radio frequency, infrared and other wireless media. Combinations of any of the above should also be included within the scope of computer readable media.

The system memory 130 includes computer storage media in the form of volatile and/or nonvolatile memory such as read only memory (ROM) 131 and random access memory (RAM) 132. A basic input/output system 133 (BIOS), containing the basic routines that help to transfer information between elements within computer 110, such as during start-up, is typically stored in ROM 131. RAM 132 typically contains data and/or program modules that are immediately accessible to and/or presently being operated on by processing unit 120. By way of example, and not limitation, FIG. 2 illustrates operating system 134, application programs 135, other program modules 136, and program data 137.

The computer 110 may also include other removable/non-removable, volatile/nonvolatile computer storage media. By way of example only, FIG. 2 illustrates a hard disk drive 141 that reads from or writes to non-removable, nonvolatile magnetic media, a magnetic disk drive 151 that reads from or writes to a removable, nonvolatile magnetic disk 152, and an optical disk drive 155 that reads from or writes to a removable, nonvolatile optical disk 156 such as a CD ROM or other optical media. Other removable/non-removable, volatile/nonvolatile computer storage media that can be used in the exemplary operating environment include, but are not limited to, magnetic tape cassettes, flash memory cards, digital versatile disks, digital video tape, solid state RAM, solid state ROM, and the like. The hard disk drive 141 is typically connected to the system bus 121 through a non-removable memory interface such as interface 140, and magnetic disk drive 151 and optical disk drive 155 are typically connected to the system bus 121 by a removable memory interface, such as interface 150.

The drives and their associated computer storage media discussed above and illustrated in FIG. 2, provide storage of computer readable instructions, data structures, program modules and other data for the computer 110. In FIG. 2, for example, hard disk drive 141 is illustrated as storing operating system 144, application programs 145, other program modules 146, and program data 147. Note that these components can either be the same as or different from operating system 134, application programs 135, other program modules 136, and program data 137. Operating system 144, application programs 145, other program modules 146, and program data 147 are given different numbers here to illustrate that, at a minimum, they are different copies. A user may enter commands and information into the computer 20 through input devices such as a keyboard 162 and cursor control device 161, commonly referred to as a mouse, trackball or touch pad. A camera 163, such as web camera (webcam), may capture and input pictures of an environment associated with the computer 110, such as providing pictures of users. The webcam 163 may capture pictures on demand, for example, when instructed by a user, or may take pictures periodically under the control of the computer 110. Other input devices (not shown) may include a microphone, joystick, game pad, satellite dish, scanner, or the like. These and other input devices are often connected to the processing unit 120 through an input interface 160 that is coupled to the system bus, but may be connected by other interface and bus structures, such as a parallel port, game port or a universal serial bus (USB). A monitor 191 or other type of display device is also connected to the system bus 121 via an interface, such as a graphics controller 190. In addition to the monitor, computers may also include other peripheral output devices such as speakers 197 and printer 196, which may be connected through an output peripheral interface 195.

The computer 110 may operate in a networked environment using logical connections to one or more remote computers, such as a remote computer 180. The remote computer 180 may be a personal computer, a server, a router, a network PC, a peer device or other common network node, and typically includes many or all of the elements described above relative to the computer 110, although only a memory storage device 181 has been illustrated in FIG. 2. The logical connections depicted in FIG. 2 include a local area network (LAN) 171 and a wide area network (WAN) 173, but may also include other networks. Such networking environments are commonplace in offices, enterprise-wide computer networks, intranets and the Internet.

When used in a LAN networking environment, the computer 110 is connected to the LAN. 171 through a network interface or adapter 170. When used in a WAN networking environment, the computer 110 typically includes a modem 172 or other means for establishing communications over the WAN 173, such as the Internet. The modem 172, which may be internal or external, may be connected to the system bus 121 via the input interface 160, or other appropriate mechanism. In a networked environment, program modules depicted relative to the computer 110, or portions thereof, may be stored in the remote memory storage device. By way of example, and not limitation, FIG. 2 illustrates remote application programs 185 as residing on memory device 181.

The communications connections 170 172 allow the device to communicate with other devices. The communications connections 170 172 are an example of communication media. The communication media typically embodies computer readable instructions, data structures, program modules or other data in a modulated data signal such as a carrier wave or other transport mechanism and includes any information delivery media. A “modulated data signal” may be a signal that has one or more of its characteristics set or changed in such a manner as to encode information in the signal. By way of example, and not limitation, communication media includes wired media such as a wired network or direct-wired connection, and wireless media such as acoustic, RF, infrared and other wireless media. Computer readable media may include both storage media and communication media.

FIG. 3 illustrates representative data that may be present in a targeted advertisement. Advertising data 302 may include graphics, sound, motion video, text, etc. beyond the advertising data content 302. The targeted advertisement 300 may also include header data 304 for routing and file management, metadata 306, advertisement classification data 314, and an optional value packet 316. The metadata 306 may include information useful in verifying and reporting presentation of the advertising content. For example, a URL 308 may specify where presentation reporting data may be sent. Presentation data start and end 310 may be used by the graphics controller 190 to determine start and end points over which a digital signature 312 may be verified. The use of the metadata 306 for verification and notification of advertising delivery is discussed in more detail in parent application Ser. No. 11/092,041. The use of ad classification data 314 and the optional value packet 316 are discussed more below.

Referring to FIG. 4, modules that may be present in a computer readable medium and their functions as well as associated entities are discussed and described. A computer readable medium 402 present, for example, in computer 110, may have software modules associated with normal operation (not depicted) and may have further modules associated with targeted advertisement delivery, notification and valuation. A user profiling module 404 may develop user profile information 406 and store the user profile information in a memory or database. An advertising delivery module 408 may use information from the user profile data 406 and information from an opt-in module 416. The opt-in module 416 itself may receive data from a license database 418. The advertising delivery module 408 may extract individual advertisements from an ad database 410 to develop a targeted ad 412 for delivery to the computer 110, for example, a display controller module 414. A communication module 415, for example, network interface 170, maybe used to send and receive data with outside entities. A local value account module 424 and a local value account 426 may be used to capture value associated with display of the targeted at 412. A provider 420 may receive user profile data 406 and direct advertisements to be downloaded from ad database 422 to the local ad database 410. An advertiser 428 may supply advertisements to the ad database 422 and may also transfer value to a value account 430 when ads are displayed.

In operation, the user profiling module 404 may collect information about a user from a variety of internal sources including, but not limited to, operating system settings, e-mail content, music files, system hardware configuration data, usage patterns, application software, and application settings. Operating system settings may include language, time zone, display themes or styles, and display settings. E-mail content may be examined for keywords such as business names. Music files may be analyzed for favorite artists or music style preferences. System hardware configuration data may be used to indicate computer system preferences, peripherals, computer age, and manufacturer, for example. Usage patterns may indicate activity patterns at different times of the day or different days of the week. Application software and settings may be examined to determine the age of applications and the kind of work or leisure activities performed on the computer. Because it is not necessary in every case to share user profile data with any outside entity, profile data may be requested or extracted beyond that normally tracked. For example, education level, expertise at various computer-based tasks, or user reaction to specific ads may be captured or analyzed. In another embodiment, a camera, such as camera 163, may capture images of the user which may be analyzed to determine characteristics about the user, such as gender and age. The camera 163 may also be used to determine when a user is present during the display of a targeted advertisement 412. Presence of a user may be a factor in determining the value associated with presentation of a targeted ad 412.

Once a user profile has been developed, the user profiling module 404 may then store the user profile data 406 in a database. An advertising delivery module 408 may use the user profile data 406 to select an advertisement from ad database 410 by matching user profile data 406 to ad classification data 314. The ad database 410 may be periodically refreshed from the advertising database 422. The update of the ad database 410 may be done online, for example, when reporting advertising activity. In an alternate embodiment, the ad database 410 may be part of an update to another portion of the computer 110, for example, the ad database 410 may be included in an operating system patch or update. The latter update method allows changes to be incorporated to the ad database 410 even when the computer's connectivity is limited or nonexistent by including the ad database 410 on distribution media containing the update, for example, a CD or DVD. In another embodiment, the ad database 410 may be delivered separately, as a standalone delivery or update, either via a data connection or removable media.

Because the delivery of a targeted ad 412 does not rely on connectivity to an Internet site or a web browser interface, the targeted ad 412 may be delivered any time the associated modules are available. For example, advertising may be delivered during login operations, document editing, printing, or other activities when online connectivity may not be required, or even available. The targeted ad 412 may be a pop-up, a border, a side pane, a game or any advertising display technique.

An opt-in module 416 may supply data to the advertising delivery module 408 specifying ad content and delivery format. The opt-in module 416 is discussed in more detail below. The selected targeted ad 412 may be delivered to a display controller module 414. As discussed in the priority application Ser. No. 11/092,041, the display controller module 414 may verify the advertising data 302 using information from the metadata 306, such as, the digital signature 312.

When the delivery of an ad is confirmed, for example by the display controller modules 414, a signal may be sent to a provider 420 confirming the delivery of the targeted ad 412. In one embodiment, and delivery confirmation may be cached, or grouped, and sent periodically, for example, at low traffic periods or in the case of a computer that is mostly off-line, when connectivity exists. The confirmation may be used by the provider 420 to signal the advertiser 428 that an ad has been delivered and that an agreed to value may be transferred to the provider's value account 430. In other embodiments, the exact financial transactions may vary.

In an alternate embodiment, the display controller 414 may be able to use the value packet 314 to determine a base value associated with the advertisement, as well as any corollary factors, such as time of day, click through, number of plays, or user demographic. The final value may be calculated and processed by the local value account module 424 and added to a local value account 426. To provide an incentive to users, the final value may be displayed during or after the processing by the local account value module.

The provider 420 may share user profile data 406 with the advertiser 428. The advertiser 428 may use this information to populate the advertising database 422. Similarly, the advertiser 428 may share information with the provider 420 related to the value associated with particular targeted ads 412 and particular user profiles. The advertiser 428 may also provide criteria for advertising selection that may be downloaded to the advertising delivery module 408.

The opt-in module 416 may give the user the ability to make at least three selections that influence delivery of advertisements or other downloaded media. The first selection is a choice whether to pay for the provided hardware or software or service. In one exemplary embodiment, if the user chooses not to pay, they may be required to receive advertisements and may not have a choice regarding how the ads are displayed. Should the user choose to pay, but pay less than the full license price, they may be given more choices, e.g. they may be allowed to select ad display characteristics or frequency. For example, when no license 418 is present the opt-in module 416 may specify that a banner ad should be present on the screen at all times, but if a limited license 418 is present a banner ad may be presented only when a new window is activated and for a limited time. If the user chooses to pay the full license price, they may be allowed to eliminate targeted advertising entirely.

The second selection may be a choice of how much personal information to share, that, in turn, may influence the quality of the ad targeting and may also determine the value placed on viewing the targeted ads. When a user chooses to not share any user profile data 406 and the provider 420 may have little or no information regarding the user's preferences, a large quantity of advertisements may be downloaded from advertising database 422 to the local ad database 410. When the user chooses to share more information, such as language and geographic location, a smaller, more focused, database of advertisements may be downloaded to ad database 410. Should the user choose to share all their personal data from the user profile data 406, only a small local database 410 may be downloaded. In another embodiment, a local advertising database 410 may not be required at all, and targeted advertisements 412 may be downloaded in real-time.

The third selection that may be made using the opt-in module 416 may be a choice of how much data to share about what ads are actually selected and displayed. Particularly when a user has chosen not to share personal data, the user may also choose not to share what ads are selected from the local ad database 410. An advertiser 428 and, in turn, the advertising provider 420 may be willing to increase the amount paid for a targeted ad when feedback is sent regarding the ad, for example, what ad was displayed, when, and what criteria were used to select the ad.

FIG. 5, a method for delivering targeted advertising to a computer is discussed and described. A computer, such as computer 110, or another computer asset, such as an operating system 144 or an application program 145 may be provided 502 to a user. The computer or computer asset may be explicitly provided by a service provider, may be delivered by a retailer, or may be obtained by the user directly, for example in the case of software, by pirating a copy. That is, the user may obtain the computer or the computer asset with or without the direct knowledge of the owner or licensor of the computer or the computer asset.

A program, for example, the operating system 144, may collect 504 user profile data as described above. Advertising, or other presentation media, may be stored 506 on the computer 110. The nature and type of the advertising stored 506 on the computer 110 may correspond to the type and quantity of user profile data 406 shared with an advertising provider such as provider 420. As described above, more detailed user profile data 406 may allow smaller, more targeted advertising data to be stored 506 on the computer 110.

The program may then analyze the user profile data 406 and select 508 a targeted ad 412 according to a match between ad classification data 314 and user profile data 406. The presentation of the targeted ad 412 may be monitored 510. Monitoring 510 may include verification that the actual targeted ad 412 presented is the targeted ad prescribed by an advertiser 428. This may be done by confirming a digital signature 312 or another method such as an analysis of steganographic information embedded in the targeted ad 412. Monitoring 510 helps reduce fraud associated with displaying substitute media content for the targeted ad 412. Monitoring 510 may also include generation of data corresponding to display factors such as size of the displayed ad, the amount of time on the screen, and when using a camera, whether a user was actually present. More sophisticated monitoring may include determine the identity of an observer or that the observer's identity matches the current user profile.

The presentation of the targeted ad 412 may be reported 512 to an interested party, such as, provider 420. Reporting 512 the presentation of the targeted ad 412 may be linked to compensation from an advertiser 428. When the advertiser 428 receives an indication that the targeted ad was actually observed, depending on contractual terms, the advertiser 428 may compensate 514 the advertising provider 420. When the advertising provider 420 is not the same as an underwriter of the computer or the computer asset, the advertising provider. 420 and may, in turn, credit 516 at least a portion of the advertising revenue to the underwriter. In one exemplary embodiment, the underwriter may then credit 518 the user's account to allow the user to ultimately “purchase” the computer, or the computer asset:

By following a process such as that described above, not only is the user given an opportunity to choose between free use of computer resources by receiving and viewing advertising or making a payment to reduce advertising, but software developers and other providers are given an opportunity to recoup some costs that are currently associated with pirated software.

Although the forgoing text sets forth a detailed description of numerous different embodiments of the invention, it should be understood that the scope of the invention is defined by the words of the claims set forth at the end of this patent. The detailed description is to be construed as exemplary only and does not describe every possibly embodiment of the invention because describing every possible embodiment would be impractical, if not impossible. Numerous alternative embodiments could be implemented, using either current technology or technology developed after the filing date of this patent, which would still fall within the scope of the claims defining the invention.

Thus, many modifications and variations may be made in the techniques and structures described and illustrated herein without departing from the spirit and scope of the present invention. Accordingly, it should be understood that the methods and apparatus described herein are illustrative only and are not limiting upon the scope of the invention.

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Classifications
U.S. Classification726/27
International ClassificationG06Q50/00, H04L9/32, G06F17/30, G06N99/00
Cooperative ClassificationG06Q30/0284, G06Q30/06
European ClassificationG06Q30/06, G06Q30/0284
Legal Events
DateCodeEventDescription
Aug 12, 2005ASAssignment
Owner name: MICROSOFT CORPORATION, WASHINGTON
Free format text: ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNORS INTEREST;ASSIGNORS:FRANK, ALEXANDER;RACIBORSKI, BOHDAN;DUFFUS, JAMES S.;REEL/FRAME:016393/0471;SIGNING DATES FROM 20050610 TO 20050811