Twitter launches video ads

The new video ad feature would bring advertising revenue for Twitter, which has struggled to convince investors it is on a path to profitability


Twitter has unveiled a new advertising programme that delivers “promoted videos” to the tweet stream of users of the popular messaging platform.


The new programme adds to the source of advertising revenue for Twitter, which has struggled to convince investors it is on a path to profitability.


“By using Promoted Video, it’s easy for brands to upload and distribute video on Twitter, and to measure the reach and effectiveness of this content,” product manager David Regan said in a blog post.


Regan said the test launch came “after months of experiments and feedback from users and brands.”


Regan said that to make it easier for advertisers, Twitter will offer a “cost per view” model: “This means advertisers only get charged when a user starts playing the video,” he said.


“Additionally, advertisers using Promoted Video have access to robust video analytics,” such as how many people view the entire video, he said.


Twitter accounted for 0.5% of global digital ad revenues in 2013, according to research firm eMarketer, and expects to increase that to 0.8% this year, as digital ad spending grows to $140.15 billion.


Twitter said last month that the number of monthly active users of the platform has hit 271 million, up 24% when compared with the same period a year earlier.


Tata-SIA's 'Vistara' puts other carriers on their toes

The very announcement of Tata-SIA's full service domestic carrier Vistara's entry into the Indian market has put all other operators on their toes


Tata-SIA's full service domestic airline is aptly called, Vistara, to cover the vast territory in India. It expects to travel to neighbouring countries, when the 5/20 rules are expected to be revised. It plans to launch services during the festive season starting in October this year. Its first aircraft is scheduled for delivery in September.


As it stands now, Vistara hopes to obtain Air Operators Permit (AOP) from the Director General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) soon, after which some more formalities will have to be completed before actual passenger flights can start.


Vistara has Delhi as the designated hub from where initial services will cover Mumbai, Goa, Patna, Chandigarh, Srinagar, Hyderabad and Bangalore in its first year of operation. Other destinations that will be included, over the next four years, are Chennai, Pune, Kolkata and Kochi. This will naturally depend upon the volumes and traffic flows.


Vistara, being a full service airline, is expected to meet exacting demand of its passengers and they hope to commence operations with A 320-200. Eventually, they expect to have a fleet of 20 planes, including seven A320 neos by Vistara's fifth year of operation. By the end of 2014, however, they will be serving with five aircrafts to meet their needs.


During a meet with the press, the CEO of Vistara, Phee Teik Yeoh, stated that they shall treat every passenger as a "guest" and make the full service facility in all sectors to their comfort.


The official announcement of the arrival of Vistara in the airline scene witnessed other serious developments in the domestic market. The chief operating officer of SpiceJet, Sanjiv Kapoor, issued a reassurance to its employees that the airline was not headed the Kingfisher way. The public and its employees are aware that the airline's accumulated losses rose to Rs2,189 crore and debt was Rs1,736 crore. The next quarterly results are expected to be announced on 14th August.


GoAir joined IndiGo as the next airline in the country to reach "profitable" status, even if small. IndiGo, India's largest domestic airline has been operating at a profit and may soon go in for an initial public offering (IPO), though details are not yet made public. GoAir is reported to be looking for a foreign airline for foreign direct investment (FDI). "We are looking for a long term strategic partner," said its CEO Giorgio De Roni.


GoAir was established in 2005 and will be getting its 20th aircraft in October. It will by then be able to fulfil the need of 5/20 rule, currently in operation, and may seek permission to fly abroad with the appropriate authorities.


Another major move came from Jet Airways, soon after the Vistara announcement. Jet announced that they would be bring Jet Konnect under its own brand by the end of this year and they would be happy to be able to "serve a meal, post an additional crew member" to make the master brand acceptable to the travelling public. Jet Airways and Etihad Airways announced a strategic alliance in Mumbai with the latter having a 24% stake in the former. President and CEO of Etihad Airways, James Hogan is reported to have said, during the Mumbai meet, that "Jet's India operations will be a stronger threat to other domestic low cost carriers". Since 2009, however, Jet Airways has not reported a profit. They expect to go on cost-cutting measures and launch more international routes in order to return to profitability by 2017.


Thus, the very announcement of Vistara's entry into the Indian market has put all other operators on their toes. In the next few months, one may expect some sort of mutually beneficial route arrangements or even mergers among the low cost carriers in order to secure a good share of the market and reduce capex on buying or leasing new aircraft by utilising the existing seat capacity.


It is only hoped that Vistara does not have hiccups to actually launch its flights which, as it stands now, are scheduled for October, the festive season.


(AK Ramdas has worked with the Engineering Export Promotion Council of the ministry of commerce. He was also associated with various committees of the Council. His international career took him to places like Beirut, Kuwait and Dubai at a time when these were small trading outposts; and later to the US.)


Federal investigators crack down on two Virginia schools’ Use of Restraints

Investigators found that children were being regularly pinned down or isolated and that their education was suffering as a result


Federal investigators have faulted two Virginia schools for pinning down and isolating disabled students improperly, saying the schools used the practices routinely as a "one-size fits all" response to disruptive behavior despite evidence they didn't work.

Rather than focusing on specific incidents, the investigators found a systematic breakdown in how educators at the schools employed restraints and seclusions. The school-wide scope of the findings signals that the federal education department's Office of Civil Rights expects schools to pay close attention to how they are implementing the potentially dangerous tactics.

"It says our default response to misbehavior can't be restraint and seclusion," said Angela Ciolfi, a lawyer with the Virginia Legal Aid Justice Center, which worked on the complaint that prompted the investigation.

ProPublica reported in June that students nationwide were restrained or secluded more than 267,000 times in the 2012 school year. Our analysis of federal data revealed that despite a near-consensus that the risky practices should be used rarely, some schools rely on them regularly — even daily — to control children.

Hundreds of students have been injured — some seriously — as a result.

The civil rights office's July 29 findings come at a time when federal action on the issue appears to be otherwise in a holding pattern. Congressional bills to limit the practices have stalled amid opposition from some school groups and Republicans.

The complaint that started the investigation was filed by a teenager who was sent to PACE East in Prince William County southwest of Washington, D.C., because of unruly behavior. The boy — referred to as M.C. in the complaint — had "significant" mental health problems that included depression and anxiety, said his lawyer, Bill Reichhardt. His family, who is Hispanic, spoke limited English.

Instead of providing the services the boy needed, Reichhardt said, PACE East staff often responded to relatively minor infractions — such as refusing to follow directions — with harsh measures such as physically restraining him.

"In many cases staff put their hands on him," Reichhardt said. "And that escalated very quickly."

One confrontation with staff was so volatile police were called in. The boy said an officer "busted his lip" while handling him, according to the original complaint.

Reichhardt said he noticed while looking into the boy's case that other students had encountered a similar pattern of routine restraints and seclusions — including at PACE East's sister school, PACE West. The two schools function as "last stops" before institutional care for district students with serious emotional and behavioral problems.

Staff got into the habit of regularly using the tactics as a way of controlling children's behavior, Reichhardt said. "That is extremely problematic and, in my opinion, dangerous."

The schools' records contained no evidence of injuries to children. But the decision said restraint and seclusion were "widespread" and "repeated" at the schools, with no indication that staff tried less restrictive alternatives first.

As much as 40 percent of the student body at PACE West experienced a restraint or seclusion in the 2012 school year, according to the federal decision, amounting to 219 uses. PACE East records showed 33 students were restrained or secluded 144 times that year.

Despite the frequent use of restraints and seclusion, the two schools and the district had reported zero instances of either practice to federal data collectors, investigators noted. The schools also failed to "consistently and adequately notify" parents when their children had been subjected them to the techniques.

Children missed out on academics while stuck for hours in a time-out area and more restrictive padded seclusion room, or while being placed in holds, investigators found.


The schools often failed to properly evaluate students' behavior and develop plans to prevent the sort of crises that often bring on restraints or seclusions, investigators found.

Furthermore, administrators and staff viewed school policies differently. The district's director of special education, for instance, told investigators a student screaming threats was not enough to justify restrictive techniques like restraint or seclusion; staff, however, said screaming was disruptive enough to warrant using them.

As a result, the federal investigators found, the schools denied students a proper education. The school district has agreed to a corrective plan in which the district will re-evaluate every student who had been restrained or secluded more than twice over two years. The district will provide additional educational or other types of services to any students who need it.

Prince William County Schools spokesman Phil Kavits said that the district does not agree with everything in the investigators' findings. He declined to offer specifics, and he said the district will make the changes requested.

"Our plan is to move forward by taking a look at a range of cases and ensure that we are indeed following the appropriate procedures," he said. "Our goal is to make sure we are giving students the proper educational and therapeutic services."

The boy at the center of the investigation settled his complaint with the school district and is receiving the services he needs, Reichhardt said.

Through a statement her lawyers translated, the mother of the boy said the decision will help other students who are mistreated — including those who neither speak English nor understand their rights. She said she was happy "knowing that other children will not have to go through what we did."

Read more about restraints and seclusions in public schools across the country, who’s fighting federal limits on the practices, and whether your state law says it’s ok to pin down kids in school.



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