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Brier Dudley offers a critical look at technology and business issues affecting the Northwest.

May 31, 2012 at 12:03 PM

D10: Google execs grilled on piracy, ad quality, Chrome

RANCHO PALOS VERDES, Calif. — Two Google senior vice presidents began their appearance at All Things D playing defense.

Co-host Walt Mossberg started the interview of Susan Wojcicki, senior vice president of ads, and Chrome SVP Sundar Pichai by asking why Google can’t find and filter copyrighted material.

Mossberg was echoing concerns voiced Wednesday by Hollywood mega agent Ari Emanuel, who said the YouTube operator filters child pornography, but not pilfered media content.

“The problem is identifying which copyright belongs to who is very complicated,” Wojcicki said, explaining that it’s not a technical problem but a business issue.

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“At the end of the day, in order to know what to do with that content, we need to hear from the copyright owner,” said Wojcick.

Mossberg also asked about the apparent low quality of ads that Google’s system chooses to display, saying it seems crude and doesn’t match his interests.

Wojcicki said the company continues to work on its machine-learning system, which is internally dubbed the “smartass” system.

Pichai said targeted ads are “in the very early stages of evolution.”

Most of the ads are now based just on IP address of the user’s computer and software cookies.

Mobile phones are improving results because they give Google “a lot more signals” such as the time of day, location and place users are in when they search and connect with Google.

Mossberg asked Pichai about a recent report that Google’s Chrome browser had overtaken Microsoft’s long-dominant Internet Explorer.

Pichai didn’t provide Google’s internal market-share data but said he believes Chrome is in first or second place in “almost all countries” in the world.

“There are some differences but in general I think we have gained substantial mindshare over the last three years since we launched the product,” he said.

Chrome is also the name of Google’s PC operating system, first launched a year ago. New laptops and a desktop running the software were announced Tuesday.

Mossberg asked why the Chrome OS hasn’t taken off.

“Ecosystems take time to build,” Pichai said.

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