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Online advertising spending hits record high

From wire reports

Online ad spending reached a record high last year, driven largely by growth in keyword ads that appear in results from online searches.

Revenues totaled $9.6 billion last year, a 33 percent increase from $7.3 billion in 2003. Search-related ads accounted for 40 percent of the revenues last year, up from 35 percent the year before.

The previous record was set in 2000, when online ad spending reached $8.1 billion. Since then, the dot-com economy tanked, then rebounded.

“Interactive advertising has clearly become a mainstream medium and one that can no longer be ignored as a critical piece of any marketing mix,” said Greg Stuart, president and chief executive of the Interactive Advertising Bureau, which commissioned PricewaterhouseCoopers to conduct the report.

Gore to get lifetime award for Internet

Al Gore may have been lampooned for taking credit in the Internet’s development, but organizers of the Webby Awards for online achievements don’t find it funny at all.

In part to “set the record straight,” they will give Gore a lifetime achievement award for three decades of contributions to the Internet, said Tiffany Shlain, the awards’ founder and chairwoman.

“It’s just one of those instances someone did amazing work for three decades as congressman, senator and vice president and it got spun around into this political mess,” Shlain said.

Vint Cerf, undisputedly one of the Internet’s key inventors, will give Gore the award at a June 6 ceremony in New York.

“He is indeed due some thanks and consideration for his early contributions,” Cerf said.

Army troops to get flex plastic solar

The Army is bringing to the battlefield flexible plastic sheeting that converts light into energy — technology that could someday find its way into the casing of laptops or even clothing to power portable devices.

Konarka Technologies Inc. has signed a $1.6 million contract with the Army, which hopes to lighten the load for troops who must lug around batteries to power everything from night vision goggles to GPS units.

Troops could recharge devices by connecting them with energy-converting plastic sheets, replacing disposable batteries and easing logistical requirements in remote settings, according to the Army’s Natick-based Soldier Systems Center.

The sheeting also could be woven into sunlight-soaking tents, reducing the need for diesel fuel for noisy, polluting generators.

Lowell-based Konarka is among the developers of next-generation photovoltaic technology that seeks to improve on rigid, glass-panel solar cells. Advances in semiconducting materials allow for lower-cost production of lightweight solar cells that can be woven into plastics and textiles — including camouflage-patterned materials Konarka is developing for the Army.

Konarka is working with partners on commercial applications, said Daniel Patrick McGahn, an executive vice president. He offered no predictions when such products would reach the market.

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