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Link of the Day – The Official End To Privacy?

How far would you go for free phone calls? Would you let someone eavesdrop on your calls so they could send you advertising related to your discussions? It sounds totally creepy to me, but that’s the big idea behind Pudding Media’s latest project. Here’s their explanation:

Pudding Media is focused on monetizing voice services through smart, targeted ads. Pudding Media’s platform is designed to maximize ad revenue for communication providers and provide complementary revenue streams to operators of mobile networks, voice-over-IP networks, voice-over-IM networks, Web widgets, and traditional carriers.

Using demographic data, location information, or our patented VoiceSense™ technology, we provide tools for effective targeting and delivery of ads for voice services. Advertisers have full control of their message, and they can now influence conversations.

Pudding Media enables advertisers and Web publishers to deliver real-time advertising and content that is immediately relevant and valuable to consumers. By creating a personalized, immersive and engaging experience, Pudding Media’s platform promotes quantifiable brand benefits, increased brand awareness and sales.

Here are excerpts from wire service stories about the new service:

A startup has come up with a new way to make money from phone calls connected via the Internet: having software listen to the calls, then displaying ads on the callers’ computer screens based on what’s being talked about.

For instance, a caller talking about going for dinner might see ads to local restaurants and restaurant review sites, while someone pondering whether to buy a new computer might see ads for computer stores. Relevant unsponsored links also appear.

“Sometimes crazy things pop up. It actually enriches the conversation, which is very cool,” said Ariel Maislos, chief executive of Puddingmedia.

The company’s aim is not to be an independent provider of ad-financed Internet phone calls, but to license its speech-recognition service to other companies that use Voice over Internet Protocol, or VoIP. Puddingmedia said it was talking to several possible partners but can’t name any yet.

Outfits like eBay Inc.’s Skype unit would be possible partners. Skype provides free calls between computers but charges for calls to phone numbers so it can recoup connection fees charged by phone companies. Those costs could possibly be offset with an advertising model like Puddingmedia’s.

The actual speech recognition is performed at Puddingmedia’s servers in Fremont, Calif., not on the user’s computer.

Maislos stressed that the calls are not stored in any way, nor does Puddingmedia keep a record of which keywords were picked up from a particular call.

“Have you talked about mountain biking? We wouldn’t know,” Maislos said.

The advertising model is similar to that of Google Inc.’s Gmail, which shows ads based on scans of the user’s e-mail correspondence. That idea initially raised privacy concerns, but those have abated as users have become comfortable with the system.

Eventually, Maislos hopes to be able to expand the service to cell phones. In that case, ads would pop up on the caller’s screen after the call.

Bob Kraft

I am a Dallas, Texas lawyer who has had the privilege of helping thousands of clients since 1971 in the areas of Personal Injury law and Social Security Disability.

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