Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images(SAN FRANCISCO) -- YouTube wants to change the way people buy items and is harnessing the power of its videos to help connect consumers and retailers.
Sridhar Ramaswamy, Google's senior vice president of advertisements and commerce, announced what could be a revenue-boosting plan for the video sharing website Thursday during his keynote at Ad:Tech in San Francisco.
Google is adding products to its TrueView advertisements -- the spots that users can skip after watching for a certain amount of time. The hope here is that instead of looking away while the ad rolls, users will click on a product and be taken to the retailer's website to complete their transaction.
"In a world where people want things right away, this is the ultimate expression of a full-purchase journey within an ad," Ramaswamy said. "For the first time, viewers will be able to not only learn about products through video -- they’ll be able to shop for them as well -- seeing product listings within the video itself."
Ramaswamy said Wayfair, a furniture retailer, used the system for shopping advertisements. When compared to other video campaigns, he said they saw their revenue triple per view, along with a 20 percent increase in their view through rate, the number of people who stick with the ad until it ends.
YouTube also announced Thursday an early preview of 60 frame per second live streaming video. While the new frame rate is still in early preview, it could help YouTube make a play for gamers who broadcast their adventures on Amazon-owned competitor Twitch.
ABC News(APPLETON, Texas) -- A family cattle ranch run by a fourth-generation farmer has gone from raising cattle for slaughter into a vegan sanctuary for their herd.
Tommy Sonnen bought his 96-acre farm in Angleton, Texas, 11 years ago and convinced his wife, Renee, to join the ranch life. They got divorced but then remarried one another about six years ago, but not before Tommy’s wife started learning about the vegan lifestyle.
Renee said she couldn’t stand the red trailer leaving every six months to take the next round of calves to the slaughterhouse because of the bonds she made with them.
“I started gaining insight into their souls and naturally started gravitating to the animals in a loving way,” said Renee. “The mother cows would cry into the night and I’d go out and cry with them even at midnight.”
That’s when Renee said she needed her husband to make a change, so she gave him an ultimatum: another divorce or become a vegan.
“I put him between a rock and a hard place,” said Renee. “I made him decide if the cows were more precious than me.”
Renee said her husband offered for her to buy the 29-cow herd from him for $30,000. She raised the money through an online campaign in under four months.
Her once steak-eating husband is now 99.99 percent vegan with the exception of his old leather boots and the occasional “accident” from not reading a food label, according to Renee.
“He did it kicking and screaming but he did it. He’ll finally admit it out loud he feels better,” said Renee, who went fully vegan last October.
They’ve turned their ranch into the Rowdy Girl Sanctuary and submitted paperwork to become a non-profit organization.
The last red trailer left the ranch in February 2014 and Renee said it’s never coming back.
Tor Johnson/Cloud 9(VITI LEVU, Fiji) -- There's a saying that there's no such thing as bad pizza.
Now that that's been established, some places are more enjoyable than others when it comes to enjoying a slice.
Some pizza connoisseurs swear by a red-and-white-checked-tablecloth kind of joint. But we'll take this floating pizzeria in paradise.
Cloud 9, located in the ocean off the Fijian island of Viti Levu, is now serving wood-fired pizza along with a full bar and weekend DJs.
There are a few different options for getting to Cloud 9 -- including a 2.5-hour jet-ski ride -- but it's most easily accessed by a 45-minute speedboat ride from Port Denarau, a major tourist hub, or just 10 minutes from the closest resort: Musket Cove Resort, Lomani Resort & Plantation Resort.
Rather than grab a slice on the run, most visitors choose to make a day out a trip to Cloud 9 and combine swimming, snorkeling, para sailing and sunbathing in the daybeds and hammocks offered with their meal. As many as 100 people can visit Cloud 9 at one time.
iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Google analyzed hundreds of millions of password security questions and answers, revealing how startlingly easy it is for would-be hackers to get into someone else's account.
Case in point: What's your favorite food?
Using one guess, an attacker has a 19.7-percent chance of guessing an English-speaking user loves pizza, according to Google's findings, which looked at hundreds of millions of questions and answers for account recovery claims.
While the questions are meant to provide an extra layer of security, Google found easy-to-guess answers were a problem around the world.
With 10 guesses, an attacker would have a near one-in-four chance of guessing the name of an Arabic speaker's first teacher. Ten guesses gave cyber criminals a 21-percent chance of guessing the middle name of a Spanish speaker's father.
South Korean users were most vulnerable with the question "What is your city of birth?" With 10 guesses, attackers would have a 39-percent chance of getting into a person's account.
While the study shows how alarmingly easy it is to crack a person's password security questions, Google said the solution shouldn't be to add more questions.
Google's security researchers instead recommend users make sure their account recovery information is current by going through a security checkup. Adding a phone number or backup email address can help circumvent the issue of someone trying to penetrate your account via the secret questions.
bizoo_n/iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- One day after Takata Corp. announced a recall affecting a total of 33.8 million inflators -- one in seven registered vehicles in the U.S. -- due to defective airbags, consumers set a record, flooding the U.S. government's recall website to see whether their car was involved.
The problem: None of the 17 million newly recalled cars have been listed yet on safercar.gov.
The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration said on Wednesday it expected to have most of the vehicle identification numbers uploaded on its safercar.gov by early next week.
A vehicle's VIN can be found on the driver's side where the dashboard meets the windshield or on the driver's side door post.
NHTSA said it was waiting for the VINs to come from automakers. Without the VIN, consumers cannot find out whether their car is part of the new recall.
"This is part of what's hard right now," NHTSA Administrator Mark Rosekind told ABC News on Wednesday. "Yesterday, we announced the defect. We are waiting and hopefully shortly we will have all the information from 11 manufacturers so that people can look up their VIN and know if their car is affected. ... It takes a while. We need to get that online and then we have to make sure next, that the parts are going to be available so when you go to your dealer you can get that replaced."
Takata's airbags have been at the center of controversy with the U.S. Department of Transportation and the NHTSA after the company's airbags were linked to at least five deaths, and more than 100 injuries, according to DOT Secretary Anthony Foxx. Takata found that one out of 100 recalled bag inflators ruptured during testing, sending shrapnel flying.
Experts advised consumers not to inspect airbags on their own and not to disable them because they are complex and contain explosive chemicals, so there is some risk.
Rosekind said he was going to look up his car's VIN and suggested that once all the VINs were uploaded onto the site, car owners do the same and then head to a dealer or carmaker.
"I'm a driver. ... I'm going to see if we need to get to the dealer," he said. "I'm going to basically ask, if not demand, that I get a loaner so that if possible I don't have to drive it. I'm going to push them and call as often as I can to make sure that they get the parts as soon as they can, so it gets fixed."
vichie81/iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Investors had a rollercoaster day on Wall Street on Wednesday, as investors waited for earnings reports, and word from the Federal Reserve it won’t raise interest rates in June.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed at 18,285.40 on Wednesday, down 26.99 from its open.
The Nasdaq however was up slightly by 1.71 to close at 5,071.74. The S&P 500 fell by 1.98, to finish the session at a close of 2,125.85.
Stock prices for the do-it-yourself web company Etsy took a drive on Wednesday, down 20 percent after reporting heavy quarterly losses. This was Etsy’s first earnings report as a publicly traded company.
Staples stocks also felt the pinch and a one percent drop after reporting a sharp loss in first quarter earnings.
Drivers may like the cheaper gas prices at the pump, but investors aren’t as sure. Economists were optimistic that plunging oil prices would boost the U.S. economy, but analysts say it may have actually shrunk earlier this year.
Photo by Sean Gallup/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- What's the world's richest man's idea of a good beach read? Something that makes him laugh or think.
Bill Gates is gearing up for some sun and sand by releasing his billionaire-approved summer reading list.
It will come as no surprise that the books aren't trashy romance novels, but Gates said he tried to select "a few more things that are on the lighter side."
Without further ado, here's what the Microsoft founder recommends people read this summer.
Hyperbole and a Half, by Allie Brosh
"I must have interrupted Melinda a dozen times to read to her passages that made me laugh out loud," Gates wrote, referring to his wife.
The Magic of Reality, by Richard Dawkins
What Bill says: "Dawkins, an evolutionary biologist at Oxford, has a gift for making science enjoyable."
What If? by Randall Munroe
"The subtitle of the book is 'Serious Scientific Answers to Absurd Hypothetical Questions,'" Gates said. "And that's exactly what it is."
XKCD, by Randall Munroe
The anthology of posts from the author's blog include "cartoons he draws making fun of things -- mostly scientists and computers, but lots of other things too," Gates said.
On Immunity, by Eula Biss
"Biss, an essayist and university lecturer, examines what lies behind people's fears of vaccinating their children," Gates said. How to Lie With Statistics, by Darrell Huff
Gates loved this 1954 book about how numbers can be distorted with visuals so much that it was one of the few books he said he recommended to everyone at TED this year.
Should We Eat Meat? by Vaclav Smil
"The richer the world gets, the more meat it eats. And the more meat it eats, the bigger the threat to the planet. How do we square this circle?" Gates wrote. "A timely book, though probably the least beach-friendly one on this list."
Christy Buck Team at RE/MAX Top Realty(MANVEL, Texas) -- Have you ever dreamed of owning a large mansion? Then look no further.
Here's a home with 46 bedrooms, 26 bathrooms and a nine car garage. And if you’re willing to shell out $3.5 million, then this large home, located at 2354 County Road 59 in Manvel, Texas, could be for you.
The 60,175-square-foot brick home, also equipped with an elevator, sits on a 15-acre lot with a swimming pool and indoor spa.
Realtor Christy Buck told ABC News affiliate KTRK-TV that the home, which was built by a doctor and his wife in 2001, was intended to be used as a live-in rehab facility for doctor’s patients.
The catch, for anyone interested in buying the home, is the home needs a lot of work.
Mona Miller, of the Christy Buck Team, tells the Houston Chronicle that they’ve had “some inquires for assisted living,” but “whoever buys the property will probably need to take it down to the building shell and the studs."
Michael Yarish/AMC(NEW YORK) — Coca-Cola factored prominently into the series finale of Mad Men on Sunday night. The episode ended with footage of the famous 1971 "I'd Like to Buy the World a Coke" commercial, and the implication that Jon Hamm's Don Draper had a hand in creating it.
Coca-Cola says AMC did not pay it for the use of the ad, dubbed "Hilltop." A spokesperson for the soft-drink company tells Peoplemagazine, "We've had limited awareness around the brand's role in the series's final episodes, and what a rich story they decided to tell."
"Mad Men is one of the most popular TV shows of all time, and 'Hilltop' is an iconic piece of Coca-Cola history. The finale gave everyone inside and outside the company – some for the first time – a chance to experience the magic of 'Hilltop' within the context of its creation and the times," the spokesperson added.
Ingram Publishing/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- Four cancer charities and their operators have been charged with shamefully bilking $187 million from consumers, the Federal Trade Commission announced on Tuesday.
According to the FTC, which worked in conjunction with all 50 states, donors were told that their donations would help cancer patients.
"Those were outright lies," said Jessica Rich of the FTC's Bureau of Consumer Protection.
Instead, the FTC said on Tuesday that the majority of funds went to several charity executives who lined their own pockets and spent donations on cars, vacations, college tuition, gym memberships, Jet Ski outings and dating site memberships. The FTC said that some also allegedly used charity credit cards at Hooters restaurants and to buy lingerie at Victoria's Secret stores.
"Some charities use donations to send children with cancer to Disney World," said South Carolina Secretary of State Mark Hammond. "In this case, the Children's Cancer Fund of America used donations to send themselves to Disney World."
The charities included in the federal court complaint brought by the FTC and all 50 states are Cancer Fund of America in Knoxville, Tennessee; Cancer Support Services, also in Knoxville; The Children’s Cancer Fund of America in Powell, Tennessee; and the Breast Cancer Society in Mesa, Arizona.
Also named in the complaint were Cancer Support Services' president James Reynolds Sr. and chief financial officer Kyle Effler; Rose Perkins, president of Children's Cancer Fund of America and Reynolds' ex-wife; and James Reynolds II, James Sr.'s son and the executive director of the Breast Cancer Society.
According to the FTC, millions of donors -- from all 50 states and Washington, D.C. -- gave an average of $20. From 2008-2012, donations totaled $187 million. The FTC called the charges "one of the largest actions brought to date by enforcers against charity fraud."
The FTC said that consumers were allegedly tricked into donating to the four charities through slick websites, direct mail and phone-drive solicitations.
The Children's Cancer Fund of America and Perkins, as well as Reynolds II, Effler and the Breast Cancer Society, agreed to settle the charges against them, the FTC said. Both charities were also dissolved. Litigation reportedly continues for Reynolds Sr. and the Cancer Fund of America, as well as Cancer Support Services.
ABC News' requests for comment were not returned.
On its website, the Breast Cancer Society posted: "While the organization, its officers and directors have not been found guilty of any allegations of wrong doing, and the government has not proven otherwise, our Board of Directors has decided that it does not help those who we seek to serve, and those who remain in need, for us to engage in a highly publicized, expensive, and distracting legal battle around our fundraising practices."
"I'm pleased that the FTC and our state partners are acting to end this appalling scheme," Rich said.
welcomia/iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- Takata Corporation, a leading global supplier of automotive systems, announced Tuesday that an estimated 33.8 million cars will be recalled due to defective airbags manufactured by a Takata subsidiary.
This is the largest recall of a consumer product in U.S. history, followed by the 1982 Tylenol recall of 31 million bottles of the pain reliever after a poisoning scare.
Takata's airbags have been at the center of controversy with the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) after the company's airbags were linked to at least five deaths, and more than 100 injuries, according to DOT Secretary Anthony Foxx.
Takata has dodged liability of these claims until now. The admission that the airbags were defective is a big win for NHTSA, which has been pursuing the company and demanding it take responsibility since November.
"We are pleased to have reached this agreement with NHTSA, which presents a clear path forward to advancing safety and restoring the trust of automakers and the driving public," Shigehisa Takada, chairman and CEO of Takata Corporation, said in a statement Tuesday.
When an airbag deploys with too much force, it can propel potentially hazardous debris -- the reason linked to Takata's recall. Officials said they believe the problem is directly related to airbags having too much exposure to high humidity and moisture, though Takata has not identified the core cause of the defect, Foxx said.
NHTSA Administrator Mark Rosekind praised Takata for taking responsibility and said that the company is “taking a significant step forward.”
Rosekind also said motorists should continue driving their cars, but also look online to see if a car's VIN number falls under the recall list. If it does, an individual must immediately take their car to their original dealership to get a replacement airbag. They can check their car's VIN online at www.safercar.gov.
However, while officials believe Takata’s remedy airbags are “safer,” they aren't sure they are safe enough for the long-haul, Rosekind said, noting that NHTSA will begin working with Takata to test the new airbags. He also said that some car owners may have to go back to have a second airbag replaced, should the new one not be up to par.
The scope of the problem is “not only large, but also very complex, and NHTSA will do its best to provide clarity to consumers," Rosekind added.
Takata said in March it had boosted production of 450,000 replacement kits per month, up from 350,000 in December, and expects to be producing approximately 900,000 kits per month by September. Takata said it is “confident that newer inflators and those not exposed to prolonged humidity and heat are safe.” Takata said it is also working with other suppliers to further increase the availability of replacement kits for its automotive customers.
Eleven automakers have been affected by the defective products and are expected to release recalls to their customers, and also more information on how many of their cars have been affected.
In April, NHTSA estimated that 12 million vehicles may be affected by potentially defective Takata airbags, and levied about $14,000 a day in civil penalties against Takata for failing to respond to requests for information.
To date, the penalties have accumulated to over $1 million, Rosekind said, but those penalties have been temporarily suspended until they know what the plan is going forward.
Everyone’s ultimate goal is to make sure “that every American gets a safer airbag as soon as possible," Rosekind said.
Dave Newman/iStock/Thinkstock(LOS ANGELES) -- The Los Angeles City Council approved a increase of the minimum wage on Thuesday to $15 an hour for hundreds of thousands of workers to go into effect by 2020.
The minimum wage, which is currently $9 an hour, will be raised gradually over the next five years.
Small businesses with 25 employees or fewer will have until 2021 to enact the increase. The increase is not yet law, as the Los Angeles City Attorney's office has to draft an ordinance that will return to the council for a final vote.
Business owner Kevin Litnwin said on Tuesday the wage increase will be hard on small businesses.
“Think about your own budget at home. How would you raise your costs 50 plus percent over that short of a period without any guarantee that revenue is coming in to offset it?” Litnwin said.
“We're talking about a 50 to 60 percent increase in labor costs over a four to five year period, at most six year period,” Litnwin added.
But supporters of the plan, like Ruben Gonzalez of the Los Angeles Chamber of Commerce, point to the increase as an incentive.
“Wouldn't you be motivated more if you got paid tomorrow, you know, higher than what you're doing right now? So, it goes for any kind of position, any kind of job. I mean, it's definitely a great incentive,” Gonzalez said.