Let's be honest. The real reason that Neilson Boxes track TV watching patterns is to ultimately report Advertising reach to they people paying for the TV programs - the advertisers. Neilson reports to the stations what shows were watched and when. This data is correlated with the commercials and fancy charts are produced when the station is wooing a new advertising client.
The problem with the internet is, while we know a lot more about advertising impressions, we also know a lot less. When a commercial comes on the TV, consumers watch only the commercial. It's eyeball monopoly. When an ad is placed on a webpage, the ad is competing with the content on the page for attention. Eyes bounce over advertising with great ease.
But what if you could track a person's eye on the webpage? This would be valuable information. It would not only give feedback to the effectiveness of the placement and layout, it would also provide another valuable metric - eyeball attention.
There are two ways to track eyeball movement:
- indirect using the movement of the mouse. People read with their mouse, so just track the movements of the mouse
- Use the computer's built in iSight to track the person's eye movements on the page.
All Mac computers bought over the last few years come pre-equipped with a webcam facing the user. iSight is the colloquial name for this webcam. The webcam is present not just on Macs these days, but also on Dells, Lenovo's and most other home computers.
Why not pay users a small fee to watch them as they surf the net?
Sure it's more intrusive than a Neilson Box, but the information would be immensely valuable. Even today we don't know if the person was actually in the room when the ad played on TV. Tracking eye movement on a webpage (and correlating it to the window position and the contents of the viewport) is a relatively simple computational task. The big challenge will be getting user adoption.
Would you allow a third-party computer program to watch you as you surfed the net?
Over the last 50 years, the average life expectancy of a person has been increasing at a rate of 5hours per day. Tomorrow you are expected to live 5 hours longer than you were expected to live today.
Today, my life expectancy is supposed to be around 80 years of age. Once you adjust it, my average life expectancy is around 100 years. If I'm above average by even one standard of deviation I could easily expect to live to 111.
The problem with projecting life expectancy is that we don't have very many data points. The people that are dying now, are people that lived through the depression, usedÂ asbestosÂ for their table clothes, and smoked like a chimney.
However, I'm willing to bet that the average increase in life is not a regular average, but an increasing average. Meaning, that I might very well expect to live until well past 120 years.
So what? If I can reasonably expect to live to well past 100, or 120 years old, then:
- I can't retire at age 50 or even at age 65 and have enough money to hold me out
- I should plan to work well into my late 70s
- I have another 45 years of my career ahead of me
- Retirement is not an option. I should be plan mini-retirements throughout my life now.
- While I might live longer, my risk of neurological degeneration dramatically increases! (near 100% chance)
- I should be "investing" my donations into research into Parkansans, alzheimer's, etc.
- The rate of global population growth is underestimated.
- A significant boom in the health care industry (especially palliative care) is set to boom.
Some interesting Ted Talks on the subject:
I've asked before: can we fund public transit without Tickets, Tariffs, or Taxes? The obvious follow up question is: how can we reduce the cost for public transit?
The challenge for many of the old subway systems is that the technology has changed, and they are left with an infrastructure that must be maintained. For example:
- Boston, London and Toronto (to name a few) used to use coal engines. This meant that the tracks could not be enclosed in glass because the space was needed for ventilation.
- Without enclosed tracks, you can't automate the trains with robotics for safety reasons
- The ventilation system is based on the movement of the cars. Enclose the tracks and each subway stop needs to be redesigned and equipped with new HVAC systems. Very Pricey.
Unfortunately, public transit is typically built after the need is causing pain. Municipalities start with buses until they get overloaded, then they move to trolly cars, and then finally to rapid transit.
But if you were to build a new rapid transit or public transit system in a budding city, how would you build it? Here are my suggestions:
- Developers should band together and build corridors through new developments. In the short term it could be used for public parks. When the city grows, it can be resold to the city - at a premium - to make easy access to the suburbs.
- Focus on skytrains instead of underground subways. This makes it more subject to the elements, but substantially decreases in the implementation cost
- Use smaller cars of various sizes (2 person, 4, and 6 person) that are queued at each station and can be introduced into the transit system on-demand. This requires robotics and queue planning (so that empty cars are available at source stations at all times). The result is higher variable cost, and lower fixed cost.
Any other suggestions?
Is there another way to pay for public transit? Could we even make it free?
There are three ways that most municipalities pay for public transit:
- Tickets - where each rider pays per trip
- Tariffs - where the people who don't use public transit pay a fee (see London, UK)
- Taxes - where everyone pays a portion whether you use the system or not
Unfortunately, public transit has a very inflexible cost structure:
- huge setup cost (sometimes >$20 million per km)
- large fixed cost - the buses and subways run on a schedule, regardless of ridership
- very low variable cost - a very small incremental cost for fuel per rider
This means that whether people use the system or not, the municipality has to pay the bills -including labour, fuel, and maintenance. Therefore, the public transit system needs to be efficient and valuable to attract the maximum number of riders.
This leads me to wonder: Are there other ways to pay for public transit other than Tickets, Tariffs and Taxes?
For example. While people pay for tickets to go to the movies, the revenue hardly flows to the movie theater - it goes straight to the producers. Instead movie theaters make their money on the value-ad, on the popcorn and soda sales.
Further, could you give away public transit for free and make money via another revenue stream? (Much like advertising to Google's free search).
These are just questions for now with no real answers. Some possible answers could include:
- targeted or focused advertising (such as forcing people to watch tv commercials)
- up-selling for cellphone or wifi coverage during the trip
- selling comfort or convenience on longer trips (such as padded chairs, etc)
- integrated restaurant ordering systems so your table is ready for you when you get to the restaurant or your pizza is waiting at your door by the time you get home
This is just the tip of the iceburg. What other ways can public transit be funded - without asking riders to pay more for each trip?
Ideas. And lots of them. They're locked away in my head. Soon, these Ideas about life, business, technology and society will find a home here.
No filler. No Bull. Just Ideas.
Take 'em. Use 'em. Make them you're own. These Ideas are for everyone. Open to the public domain.