Bad ads. New research shows that 5% of the people visiting Google-related websites are using computers infected with programs that insert illegitimate ads onto web pages; as a result, these web surfers see ads that site operators haven’t been paid to run and that may even be promoting products or services that are objectionable to such site operators. Known as ad injectors, these programs are often bundled with other software that Internet users download for free. Ad injectors inconvenience Internet users in several ways: They sometimes place ads over a website’s text or otherwise make websites unpleasant to read; they can put web surfers’ cybersecurity at risk; and they can negatively affect a computer’s performance. Moreover, ad injectors also deprive website operators of ad revenue, and undermine the ability of advertisers to control where their ads are running (as a result of the complicated system of intermediaries in the Internet ad sales business, advertisers often don’t know that their ads are being injected). For these reasons, Google has disabled 192 Chrome extensions that resulted in illegitimate ad launches affecting 14 million users. According to TechCrunch, however, “unless Google and other browser and advertising vendors find a technical solution to this problem, chances are it’ll never fully go away.”
Hot button. Well, the future is officially here. Amazon has introduced the Dash Button, a wireless, WiFi-enabled, doorbell-like button that Amazon customers can depress to order products ranging from smartwater to Bounty Paper Towels. Each Dash Button bears a single brand’s product logo. Consumers are meant to stick the buttons—they have adhesive on the back—near the products themselves (in the pantry or, in the case laundry detergent, for example, the laundry room) so that they can order more product the second they realize their supply is low. The button makes purchasing even easier than the one-click-to-buy feature on Amazon’s app—consumers don’t have to use their devices—and is part of Amazon’s effort to become a player in the Internet of Things market, a world in which network connected devices anticipate consumers’ needs. Critics are split on whether the Dash Button is brilliant or a bad (if inevitable) idea. Here at Socially Aware, we’re waiting for a version that allows for pizza delivery.
Bon app-e-tip. New payment platforms are making the act of tipping more awkward and more expensive. Popping up everywhere from taxis to hair salons, these payment platforms often make it easiest for the customer to choose from among a few pre-selected percentages, the lowest of which is usually higher than the gratuity the average tipper would otherwise add to the price of the item or service. (In New York City taxicabs, for example, a “large portion” of riders tip 20%, 25%, or 30% because those are the percentages suggested on the automatic tipping buttons on the payment platform displayed on a screen in the taxis’ back seats.) These platforms also make it difficult to skip the tip altogether—unless you’re not easily embarrassed. Ignoring the tip jar on the counter at your local coffee house was one thing, but clicking “no tip” on the screen that the cashier turns toward you is quite another. Now, in an effort to appease the consumers who are fed up with these new tipping trends, some higher-end restaurants have banned tipping, and start-ups are introducing apps that automatically calculate the bill and a preset tip. These apps, which include Reserve and Cover, allow diners to “simply walk out at the end of the meal” with their card being charged through the app, according to the New York Times. Only time will tell whether the seamlessness of this technology will make automatically paying an extra 20% more palatable for restaurant patrons.