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How Not to Get Duped by Invisible Display Ads

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When an employer strikes. If you've ever thought of spying on an employee you suspect might be working with a competitor, the story of Kathy Lawlor may make you think again. The Chicago Tribune has the cautionary tale of a Chicago company's multi-million-dollar mistake.

Twitter CEO Still Not Focused on Revenue. During an on-stage interview at the Web 2.0 conference yesterday Evan Williams was grilled about possible revenue sources for his fast-growing startup, Twitter. But he generally demurred, reports Business Insider's Dan Frommer who posts his notes from the interview. Williams told the crowd that the company was spending the vast majority of its time and money working on Twitter as a product, with the hope that revenue will eventually come. He said that right now Twitter makes some money from cell phone carriers and marketers. Wired's Stephen Levy, in an article that appears this month, pegs the number at $4 million or so. Levy also helps explain why Williams is ignoring revenue growth in the short term: "[T]he company expects to have 25 million active users by the end of 2009 and 100 million by the end of 2010. In 2013, it hopes to become the first Internet service to sign up 1 billion users."

Obama announces increased credit for small businesses. Obama plans to announce a proposal today that will encourage more lending to small businesses - an undertaking that the administration has been touting since May. Without constraints on borrowing, the thinking goes, small businesses will be empowered to drive employment growth and help turn around the economy. The package of initiatives will include increasing the cap on SBA loans, and allow smaller banks to have more access to Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) funds, reports Reuters.

Everything you need to know about invisible display ads. Advertisers have been in a tizzy since the Wall Street Journal piece's last week on how brands like Kraft, Greyhound, and Capital One were duped into thinking that their display ads were showing up on websites like MyToursInfo.com, when, in fact, no visitors could see them. Relying on the fact that these brands don't always audit their campaigns, and the fact that display ads are purchased based on the number of times they are loaded onto a page rather than click-throughs, scammers have been adding the ads on pages called iframes that pop-up when you click on site, but coding them as invisible. In one case, clicking one corrupt site opened 46 invisible iframes. That way multiple advertisers pay for their display ads being loaded, even though the consumer can't see them. If you're curious how to tell a real display ad from an invisible one--or how to avoid paying for ads consumers can't see, check out MediaPost's primer on what they are, how they work, and how to protect your company.

Facebook gets a Hollywood upgrade. West Wing creator Aaron Sorkin (we'll always think of the him as the guy behind Sports Night) has confirmed much of the cast of the upcoming Facebook movie and Gawker has the details. Nebbishy Jesse Eisenberg, currently seen battling the undead in Zombieland, will play Mark Zuckerberg. Justin Timberlake will play Napster co-founder and Facebook advisor Sean Parker. Melanie Griffith's daughter has a confirmed part, possibly as a Victoria's Secret model Zuckerberg allegedly escorted away from a San Francisco party one time, at least according to Ben Mezrich's book, The Accidental Billionaires. Says Gawker, "If only Silicon Valley were this good looking."

The real history of Monopoly. Hasbro, which makes the perennial bestselling board game Monopoly, claims the game was invented by an impoverished salesman named Charles Darrow during the Great Depression. But the Wall Street Journal reports on an 83 year old economist and inventor who says otherwise. Ralp Anspach was disappointed with the message of Monopoly and in the 1970s devised an alternative version, Anti-Monopoly, "in which players compete to break up existing monopolies rather than create them," the Journal writes. Hasbro sued and Anspach, who, while defending himself, began researching the history of the game. He claims that Monopoly was really invented by Elizabeth Magie in 1904 and called "the Landlord's Game." Hasbro and Anspach eventually settled the case--agreeing to disagree about the history. Anti-Monopoly is now sold under license.

Raising $12 million on the slyTracked.com may have been flying under the radar for the past year and a half, raising $12 million without generating much buzz, but now the more important question is not whether they're on your radar, but whether your company is on their radar. TechCrunch billed the new service as "LinkedIn meets Yahoo Finance, on lots of steroids." The site, which launched today, allows users to view everything from public financial data to company overviews and counts Fred Wilson as an investor and an adherent. Check out our recent article on another site that answers all your SMB questions.

One business's battle over taxes and a pink flamingo. Interesting story in today's Baltimore Sun over how the neighborhood of Hampden is divided over one small business owner's decision to take down a giant pink flamingo that adorned her restaurant for years rather than pay a tax on the big bird. Denise Whiting, owner of Cafe Hon, has hung the over-sized flamingo from a fire escape above her cafe for over seven years, over which time it has become somewhat of a neighborhood landmark. But when a city inspector said Cafe Hon must get a "minor privilege permit" for the sculpture, similar to an outdoor dining permit, Whiting chose instead to disassemble the pink landmark. The move has ruffled some feathers and stirred a debate amongst other area businesses. One side blames the city and sympathizes with Whiting. "The city of Baltimore makes it hard to be a small business owner in so many ways," said one business owner. Others were less sympathetic. Said the owner of a local wine store, "Were it me, I'd pay the fine and move on. You pay your taxes and you run your business."

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Last updated: Oct 21, 2009




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