theEweekly Wrap: SXSW, bad ads and the Beeb

By Rachel Hand topicIcon Manchester
BBC store The BBC director general announced this week that shows will soon be available to buy for download in an iTunes-style online shop. Mark Thompson revealed that the plan (nicknamed Project Barcelona, for some reason) will be put before the BBC Trust later this year, but will also require the support of programme producers. Shows will be available to download for a "relatively modest charge" minutes after the first broadcast has ended, but the BBC will also be opening up their archive so the public can download television gems from the company's 75 year history. Third party content providers may also be able to purchase rights to shows and offer them to download elsewhere.

Ownership of the purchased content would be permanent, as long as the buyer is a licence payer – which many have criticised. However, speaking at the Royal Television Society on Wednesday, Thompson explained: "This is not a second licence-fee by stealth or any reduction in the current public service offering from the BBC – it's the exact analogy of going into a high-street shop to buy a DVD or, before that, a VHS cassette." The intended cost of programmes and the predicted launch date of the service have not been discussed.

Google vs bad ads Google announced in an official blog post on Wednesday that the company is waging war against bad ads. The blog revealed that Google uses "a combination of sophisticated technology and manual review" to screen PPC ads and their landing pages; "millions of dollars" has been invested in improving the screening technology, illustrated by a twee video (pictured). As a result, in 2011 130 million ads were removed and 150,000 bad accounts were shut down. Furthermore, this was a 50 per cent reduction in so-called bad ads compared to 2010, and 95 per cent of transgressors were detected by Google.

Of course, ads for fake tickets, counterfeit products, guns, drugs, cigarettes, ads making implausible or misleading claims or that spread viruses have long been banned in the Google AdWords PPC system. But in recent months, the company has been widely criticised for failing to catch all the bad ads – most notably the Canadian pharmacies ads that resulted in a $500 million fine, and the ads for Olympics tickets that turned out to be fake.

SXSW round-up The annual geekfest South by Southwest (SXSW) Interactive was held in Austin, Texas this week. With keynotes, panels, a trade show, start-up showcases and an awards ceremony, it has become the must-attend event for anyone who's anyone (or wants to be someone) in Silicon Valley. The award for best social media project went to, while Pinterest was crowned Breakout Digital Trend. Meanwhile, the start-up that garnered the most attention was Highlight, an iOS app that allows users to share a snippet of their Facebook profile with other users nearby (which sounds a bit like a clean version of Grindr). A new version of Angry Birds also made its debut.

Google attended the show in typically all-out fashion, opening four houses in the Google Village showcasing current and new products. The graffiti-scrawled Android house promoted the new Google Play service, Google Discovery was all about marketing, advertising and cocktails, the Maps house featured demos of Google Maps, and the Developer house was an orgy of coding, hacking, and Lego. Google's Vic Gundotra also hosted a discussion on Google+, while there was a Google+ bootcamp for beginners in the Discovery house.