GB2411257A - Secondary market in and associated routing of communications traffic - Google Patents

Secondary market in and associated routing of communications traffic Download PDF

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Publication number
GB2411257A
GB2411257A GB0403477A GB0403477A GB2411257A GB 2411257 A GB2411257 A GB 2411257A GB 0403477 A GB0403477 A GB 0403477A GB 0403477 A GB0403477 A GB 0403477A GB 2411257 A GB2411257 A GB 2411257A
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traffic
targets
data
network
source
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GB0403477D0 (en
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George Osborne
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George Osborne
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    • GPHYSICS
    • G06COMPUTING; CALCULATING; COUNTING
    • G06QDATA PROCESSING SYSTEMS OR METHODS, SPECIALLY ADAPTED FOR ADMINISTRATIVE, COMMERCIAL, FINANCIAL, MANAGERIAL, SUPERVISORY OR FORECASTING PURPOSES; SYSTEMS OR METHODS SPECIALLY ADAPTED FOR ADMINISTRATIVE, COMMERCIAL, FINANCIAL, MANAGERIAL, SUPERVISORY OR FORECASTING PURPOSES, NOT OTHERWISE PROVIDED FOR
    • G06Q30/00Commerce, e.g. shopping or e-commerce
    • G06Q30/06Buying, selling or leasing transactions
    • G06Q30/08Auctions, matching or brokerage

Abstract

There is provided a trading system (101) for providing a secondary market in communications traffic, where users of the trading system can buy or sell traffic from one or more traffic sources (202) to plural target sites (203), e.g. on the internet. There is also provided a traffic router (201) which on the basis of trading in the secondary market can redirect portions of traffic which is sent from a consumer to a first destination, the traffic source (202) and then to plural target sites (203) according to the current ownership of the traffic from that source (202).

Description

241 1 257 Communications Traffic Routing This invention relates to the

field of the routing of communications traffic.

Particularly, but not exclusively, the invention relates to a form of trading in communications traffic and to the consequential routing of the traffic between internet websites.

For an internet website with goods or services for sale, every visitor is a potential customer. A central part of any online business is to maximize the volume of visitors, referred to as traffic, to their site. On the other hand there are many other websites, for example web portals and search engines, which have a surplus of traffic and a need to generate extra revenue to cover the cost of receiving that volume of traffic. The result of this situation is a thriving business in the trading of traffic between such sites. The mechanics of the internet allow traffic to be easily redirected from a source site to a target site through the use of linking codes placed on the source site.

In the constantly changing structure of the internet, new trends and business methods, as well as increasingly inventive fraudulent practices, have led to a rapid evolution of the way in which this business occurs. There are at present three main methods of trading in traffic: Fixed rate systems, negotiated price systems and, more recently, auction systems.

In fixed rate systems, a traffic buyer pays a fixed rate for traffic on a cost per impression (cpm) or cost per click (cpc) basis. Here a banner ad for the target site is placed on the traffic source site and a fixed price is paid by the buyer for each visitor impression of this banner or each click made on it.

In negotiated price systems, generally used for larger transactions, the terms of payment are often subject to negotiation with respect to price, trade duration and various ! other parameters. This is often an involved process and is frequently outsourced to online media booking firms as part of a more general advertising campaign.

The recent application of auction systems to the problem has offered a more efficient means of traffic trading. Reference can be made to US 6, 285,987; US 2003/0,135,460; US 2003/0,22O,866; US 2002/0,128,959; US 2003/0,185,837. These documents disclose the principle of a central auction site where traffic sellers and buyers come together to arrive at an efficient market price for a given volume of traffic from a given source. This process usually starts with a trial period in which interested buyers may sample a particular source site's traffic to assess its value, as seen in US 2002/0,128,959 and US 2003/0,185,837. The sale price for this traffic is then decided by a process of competitive bidding carried out by interested buyers. The seller then concludes the sale by selecting the most competitive bidder. Linking information and payment is then exchanged through the auction site, and traffic is transferred.

In the case of fixed rate affiliate schemes, the cost-per-impression and cost-per- click methods face the problem of fraudulent behaviour on the part of the traffic seller through the sending of artificial traffic. To offset this cost the prices offered are often much lower than the true value of the traffic delivered.

In negotiated price systems, manual linking and price negotiation is slow, costly, inefficient and inflexible. Time is wasted by both buyer and seller searching for appropriate partner sites, contacting them and negotiating a sale arrangement. The staff and resources required to achieve are also expensive. Traffic delivery contracts often have a fixed minimum time duration which often results in the traffic buyer losing money should market conditions change or the seller adopts bad practices.

Auction systems address a number of the above shortcomings, but they do not fully exploit the potential of the free market principle to efficiently price and exchange traffic.

There are two chief drawbacks to the auction approach. Firstly it does not take into account the fact that the value of traffic will change continuously over time, through either market conditions, traffic composition or fraudulent behaviour on behalf of the seller. Secondly, the ownership of traffic is inflexible as only the seller can determine when a sale is made and, in general, only the source site owner can sell.

The result of this is that should the buyer find the value of the traffic purchased decrease, there is usually little room for terminating any agreement other than a negotiated settlement between the two parties. Likewise there is no direct way for the new owner of the traffic to benefit from an increase in its market value.

There is also the problem of market liquidity. If no buyers are present, or if the seller is unwilling to sell at a low enough price, that there will then be no transactions.

The purpose of the present invention is to overcome these problems.

Accordingly, the present invention provides a computer program for operating a secondary market in the trading of consumer originated communications traffic on a network comprising the steps of: storing user accounts for multiple users of the secondary market; storing data relating to each of a multiplicity of traffic sources from which traffic is to be redirected, the data including the identity of the associated user and a unique address on the network for each traffic source; storing data relating to each of a multiplicity of traffic targets to which traffic is to be redirected, the data including the identity of the associated user and a unique address on the network for each traffic target; receiving bids and offers from the users for the traffic as a liquidated commodity and operating the secondary market in that traffic by matching the received bids and offers; settling agreed transactions in accordance with the matched bids and offers; and outputting data for the redirection of traffic on the network in accordance with the transactions.

The present invention also provides a system for operating a secondary market in the trading of consumer originated communications traffic on a network comprising: means for storing user accounts for multiple users of the secondary market; means for storing data relating to each of a multiplicity of traffic sources from which traffic is to be redirected, the data including the identity of the associated user and a unique address on the network of the traffic source; means for storing data relating to each of a multiplicity of traffic targets to which traffic is to be redirected, the data including the identity of the associated user and a unique address on the network of the traffic target; means for receiving bids and offers from the users for the traffic as a liquidated commodity and operating the secondary market in that traffic by matching the received bids and offers; means for settling agreed transactions in accordance with the matched bids and offers; and means for outputting data for the redirection of traffic on the network in accordance with the transactions.

The present invention further provides a method of operating a secondary market in the trading of consumer originated communications traffic on a network comprising: creating user accounts for multiple users of the secondary market; storing data relating to each of a multiplicity of traffic sources from which traffic is to be redirected, the data including the identity of the associated user and a unique address on the network for each traffic source; storing data relating to each of a multiplicity of traffic targets to which traffic is to be redirected, the data including the identity of the associated user and a unique address on the network for each traffic target; receiving bids and offers from the users for the traffic as a liquidated commodity and determining if the received bids and offers overlap; settling agreed transactions in accordance with the overlapping bids and offers; and outputting data for the redirection of traffic on the network in accordance with the transactions.

The present invention also provides a computer program for routing consumer originated communications traffic on a network comprising the steps of: loading data relating to each of a multiplicity of traffic sources from which traffic is to be redirected, the data including the identity of the associated user and a unique address on the network for each traffic source; loading data relating to each of a multiplicity of traffic targets to which traffic is to be redirected, the data including the identity of the associated user and a unique address on the network for each traffic target; loading transaction data for transactions in a secondary market in the trading of the consumer originated communications traffic whereby traffic has been agreed to be redirected from one of said traffic sources to any number of said traffic targets; and executing the redirection of the traffic to the traffic target or targets in accordance with said transaction data, said data being used to determine the distribution of the traffic between the traffic targets in the event that there are two or more traffic targets.

The present invention further provides a system for routing consumer originated communications traffic on a network comprising: means for loading data relating to each of a multiplicity of traffic sources from which traffic is to be redirected, the data including the identity of the associated user and a unique address on the network for each traffic source; means for loading data relating to each of a multiplicity of traffic targets to which traffic is to be redirected, the data including the identity of the associated user and a unique address on the network for each traffic target; means for loading transaction data for transactions in a secondary market in the trading of the consumer originated communications traffic whereby traffic has been agreed to be redirected from one of said traffic sources to any number of said traffic targets; and means for executing the redirection of the traffic to the traffic target or targets in accordance with said transaction data, said data being used to determine the distribution of the traffic between the traffic targets in the event that there are two or more traffic targets.

The present invention also provides a method for routing consumer originated communications traffic on a network comprising: loading data relating to each of a multiplicity of traffic sources from which traffic is to be redirected, the data including the identity of the associated user and a unique address on the network for each traffic source; loading data relating to each of a multiplicity of traffic targets to which traffic is to be redirected, the data including the identity of the associated user and a unique address on the network for each traffic target; loading transaction data for transactions in a secondary market in the trading of the consumer originated communications traffic whereby traffic has been agreed to be redirected from one of said traffic sources to any number of said traffic targets; and executing the redirection of the traffic to the traffic target or targets in accordance with said transaction data, said data being used to determine the distribution of the traffic between the traffic targets in the event that there are two or more traffic targets.

The present invention further provides a computer program for operating a secondary market in the trading of consumer originated communications traffic on a network and routing the traffic accordingly comprising the steps of: storing user accounts for multiple users of the secondary market; storing data relating to each of a multiplicity of traffic sources from which traffic is to be redirected, the data including the identity of the associated user and a unique address on the network for each traffic source; storing data relating to each of a multiplicity of traffic targets to which traffic is to be redirected, the data including the identity of the associated user and a unique address on the network for each traffic target; receiving bids and offers from the users for the traffic as a liquidated commodity and operating the secondary market in that traffic by matching the received bids and offers; settling agreed transactions in accordance with the matched bids and offers; and outputting data for the redirection of traffic on the network in accordance with the transactions; further comprising the steps of: loading data relating to each of a multiplicity of traffic sources from which traffic is to be redirected, the data including the identity of the associated user and a unique address on the network for each traffic source; loading data relating to each of a multiplicity of traffic targets to which traffic is to be redirected, the data including the identity of the associated user and a unique address on the network for each traffic target; loading transaction data for transactions in a secondary market in the trading of the consumer originated communications traffic whereby traffic has been agreed to be redirected from one of said traffic sources to any number of said traffic targets; and executing the redirection of the traffic to the traffic target or targets in accordance with said transaction data, said data being used to determine the distribution of the traffic between the traffic targets in the event that there are two or more traffic targets.

The present invention also provides a system for operating a secondary market in the trading of consumer originated communications traffic on a network and routing the traffic comprising: means for storing user accounts for multiple users of the secondary market; means for storing data relating to each of a multiplicity of traffic sources from which traffic is to be redirected, the data including the identity of the associated user and a unique address on the network of the traffic source; means for storing data relating to each of a multiplicity of traffic targets to which traffic is to be redirected, the data including the identity of the associated user and a unique address on the network of the traffic target; means for receiving bids and offers from the users for the traffic as a liquidated commodity and operating the secondary market in that traffic by matching the received bids and offers; means for settling agreed transactions in accordance with the matched bids and offers; and means for outputting data for the redirection of traffic on the network in accordance with the transactions; further comprising: means for loading data relating to each of a multiplicity of traffic sources from which traffic is to be redirected, the data including the identity of the associated user and a unique address on the network for each traffic source; means for loading data relating to each of a multiplicity of traffic targets to which traffic is to be redirected, the data including the identity of the associated user and a unique address on the network for each traffic target; means for loading transaction data for transactions in a secondary market in the trading of the consumer originated communications traffic whereby traffic has been agreed to be redirected from one of said traffic sources to any number of said traffic targets; and means for executing the redirection of the traffic to the traffic target or targets in accordance with said transaction data, said data being used to determine the distribution of the traffic between the traffic targets in the event that there are two or more traffic targets.

The present invention further provides a method for operating a secondary market in the trading of consumer originated communications traffic on a network and routing the traff c comprising: storing user accounts for multiple users of the secondary market; storing data relating to each of a multiplicity of traffic sources from which traffic is to be redirected, the data including the identity of the associated user and a unique address on the network of the traffic source; storing data relating to each of a multiplicity of traffic targets to which traffic is to be redirected, the data including the identity of the associated user and a unique address on the network of the traffic target; receiving bids and offers from the users for the traffic as a liquidated commodity and operating the secondary market in that traffic by matching the received bids and offers; settling agreed transactions in accordance with the matched bids and offers; and outputting data for the redirection of traffic on the network in accordance with the transactions; further comprising the steps of: loading data relating to each of a multiplicity of traffic sources from which traffic is to be redirected, the data including the identity of the associated user and a unique address on the network for each traffic source; loading data relating to each of a multiplicity of traffic targets to which traffic is to be redirected, the data including the identity of the associated user and a unique address on the network for each traffic target; loading transaction data for transactions in a secondary market in the trading of the consumer originated communications traffic whereby traffic has been agreed to be redirected from one of said traffic sources to any number of said traffic targets; and executing the redirection of the traffic to the traffic target or targets in accordance with said transaction data, said data being used to determine the distribution of the traffic between the traffic targets in the event that there are two or more traffic targets.

The present invention also provides a method of operating a secondary market in the trading of consumer originated communications traffic on a network which allows suppliers of goods or services to be addressed uniquely on the network, comprising: receiving bids and offers from the suppliers of goods or services for portions of the traffic as a liquidated commodity; settling trades between the suppliers on the basis of the bids and offers; and executing those trades by routing the traffic accordingly.

The present invention further provides a system of operating a secondary market in the trading of consumer originated communications traffic on a network which allows suppliers of goods or services to be addressed uniquely on the network, comprising: means for receiving bids and offers from the suppliers for portions of the traffic as a liquidated commodity; means for settling trades between the suppliers on the basis of the bids and offers; and means for executing those trades by routing the traffic accordingly.

The present invention also provides a computer program for operating a secondary market in the trading of consumer originated communications traffic on a network which allows suppliers of goods or services to be addressed uniquely on the network, comprising: receiving bids and offers from the suppliers for portions of the traffic as a liquidated commodity; settling trades between the suppliers on the basis of the bids and offers; and executing those trades by routing the traffic accordingly.

With the benefit of the present invention, the exchange of traffic between websites over the internet, for example, can be viewed in terms of the supply and demand of a commodity. Here a demand for customers, i.e. a demand for traffic, is created by any site with goods or services to sell and any site with a surplus of visitors, i.e. a surplus of traffic, may act as a supply through the placement of target site linking code. An advantage of the present invention is in providing a more efficient way of matching this supply and demand by allowing traffic from a given source to be traded continuously on a secondary market.

The secondary market allows flexibility in the ownership of traffic from a traffic source. In particular it may be offered for resale once purchased from the source site owner. Everyone in the marketplace is free to sell or buy traffic from any given source by making a bid or an offer for a given volume of traffic at a chosen price. The market thus consists of a collection of bids and offers of different volumes at different prices.

When a bid and offer overlap in price, a sale is made and ownership transferred. This may be contrasted to previously described auction systems which are primary market systems - traffic only being sold by the source site owner.

The continuous trading of traffic on the secondary market allows traders to enter and exit traffic exchange at any time. As such they are able to respond to changes in market conditions as they occur. Trading may occur even while the traffic is being delivered: this can be viewed as analogous to trading in a spot market of more conventional commodities. This is also extended to trading in a forward market with delivery dates in the future to allow an uninterrupted flow of traffic from source to target.

The present invention thus overcomes the limitations of auction systems, while retaining their strengths of providing a centralised system and of competitive valuation.

If at any time the owner of a traffic supply finds its value decrease, it may be offered for sale in an attempt to exit the market at the current market price. Likewise, should the market price for the source rise beyond the price paid for it by the new owner, it can be sold on at a profit. The ability to post bids and offers in real-time provides a continuous valuation of the traffic source.

To function efficiently, a secondary market requires sufficient activity in the market to allow trades to be made freely, known as market liquidity. To achieve this, the traffic from a traffic source is preferably divided up into a collection of lots, each priced and traded individually. This allows a single source to have a number of different owners of its traffic, which must then be divided up and sent to multiple targets.

To physically support real-time trading requires a mechanism to direct traffic from its source to its targets according to the trades made at the time they happen. This is provided by a traffic routing system that, in the preferred embodiment, uses trading data to build a traffic routing table in real-time. All source traffic is sent to this router which physically redirects it to the target sites. This router may be located at a central server or distributed out to the traffic source servers.

The centralised routing system, according to the preferred embodiment of the invention, allows a simple but flexible linking mechanism in which a traffic source is connected to an arbitrary target using a single, static url and identification code combination. A traffic source can then provide access to third party content through a url embedded in the source media content. Examples include clickable hyperlinks embedded in a web page, web page pop-ups loading third party advertisements, and Uris embedded in e-mail messages, network newsgroup postings, internet relay chat, chatroom advertisements, online games and media viewers and players. A traffic source may thus be any user interface to the internet that allows access to third party content via a url. Similarly, a target for traffic may be any form of media content accessible by a url that may be delivered through the internet. Examples include websites, downloadable executables, plug-ins or other deliverable content such as music, movies, images or banner advertisements.

Further features and advantages of the invention will become apparent from the claims, to which the reader is referred, and from a consideration of the following description of preferred embodiments of the invention and variations thereof, made with reference to the accompanying drawings in which like reference symbols indicate the same or similar components, and wherein: Figure I is a block diagram showing the trading system connected via a communications network to a group of user terminals; Figure 2 is a block diagram showing the traffic router, several unique visitor terminals, several targets and a traffic source; Figure 3 is a block diagram showing the trading system of figure I in more detail; Figure 4 is a flowchart detailing the bidding process; Figure 5 is a flowchart detailing the operation of router; Figure 6 is a flowchart detailing the offer process; Figure 7 is a flowchart detailing the selection of the target; Figure 8 is a flowchart detailing the mechanism by which a target is selected.

The preferred embodiment of the present invention provides a system designed to support the real-time secondary-market trading in internet traffic and to facilitate its delivery from source to target according to trades completed. It comprises a web based trading engine with a frontend to set up user, or supplier, accounts and to provide a secondary market for trading in traffic and to provide user support and information, shown in Figure 1. It also comprises a traffic routing system that physically directs all traffic from source to targets according to trades made, shown in Figure 2. The trading engine and router can be integrated, or can operate independently on different servers.

With reference to Figure 1, an electronic trading system according to an embodiment of the present invention includes a trading system 101, connected through a communications network 100, such as the intennet. Also provided are several tenninals, for each user of the trading system, connected through the communications network 100 to the trading system 101. It is also envisaged that each terminal can connect directly with the trading system, rather than through a communications network.

The trading system 101 is shown in more detail in Figure 3, and provides a graphical user interface to each user terminal 102 and a trading engine 300. The trading engine 300 is provided using a computer program that can be written in many different languages, but in the preferred embodiment is written using PHP. The trading engine 300 is connected to a database storage system 301 and the engine 300 provides the means for users at each terminal 102 to participate in the market.

Before any trading can begin, a registration process has to be completed. This involves the submission of a user-name, password and contact details. Each individual may only register once and is given a unique user identification code. This is used to identify all the traffic sources and targets the user may later register. User details are open to alteration by the user at any given point, as is the closure of the account. These details are stored in the database storage system 301.

To be able to bid for and buy traffic, it is preferable that a minimum amount of money has to be deposited by the user in the user account. This transfer can be canted out directly, or through a third party. To withdraw cash from a user account a request can be made by the user, and arrangements made to send a cheque or other form of payment. Once funds are deposited in the user account, the user is free to purchase traffic up to a limit set by the amount of cash available. Withdrawal of cash can be limited to arbitrary sums above, for example, 50 to reduce costs associated with performing small sum transactions. This would also discourage very poor traffic sources, as it is unlikely that such sources will be able to generate significant sums. The trading system 101 can record details of any such transactions in the database storage system 301.

There exists a second account- an "open bid" account which stores the funds allocated to a fund an open bid. When a bid is made, the cash value of the bid is debited from the bidder's cash account and credited to the open bid account. As bids may only be made according to the funds available in the bidder's cash account, this arrangement safeguards against the bidder spending more than the funds available. Should an open bid be matched with an offer, then cash in the open bid account is diverted to the offerer in payment for traffic. If, however, an open bid is deleted the value of the bid is debited from the open bid account and credited into the bidder's cash account.

Once logged in, a user may register any number of traffic sources 202,traffic from which may then be offered for sale. This involves entering the url of the main traffic source 202, though this may only be one constituent of any particular registered source. A traffic source 202 is not restricted to the use of internet websites but may use any user interface that allows access to third party content over the internet. Examples include pop-up advertisements, email messages, postings to network newsgroups, internet relay chat, chatroom advertisements and online games. A profile of the traffic associated with a traffic source 202 can be required, including details of its language and geographical origin as well as the subject matter of the traffic source, providing a category and a site type. A set of filters may additionally be added to the traffic source 202 restricting the types of target allowed to buy traffic from it, based on the target profile. A default url - for example a sponsor or related site - is added to which all unsold traffic from the traffic source 202 is sent. The volume of traffic the user anticipates to send in a trading period is entered, measured in unique visitors 201. The number of lots the traffic is to be divided into for trading is also entered along with a suggested number based upon the anticipated traffic volume. Upon completing the registration process, a unique source identification code is issued and a linking code provided. This linking code is used to direct traffic to the traffic router 201 which uses it to identify the source traffic and redirect the traffic according to trades made. This linking code can take the form of an http hyperlink pointing to the traffic router with the source id as a query. For example, if the source identification code is 12345, the linking code may take the form: http://www.trafficrouter.com/?12345. This url may be placed on the source site homepage or opened automatically in the form of, for example, a popup or exit window. In this embodiment of the invention, source traffic is sent "blind", meaning there is no linking information from the target site 203 displayed on the source.

Each traffic source 202 is responsible for providing a banner, text or other arrangement to help direct appropriate traffic through this link, or this may be provided by a traffic target 203.

The unique source identification code can be used to identify traffic from a source comprising a group of websites, as well as identifying traffic from only a single site. For example, a group of websites can make up a single traffic source, and so all use a single linking code. Alternatively, a linking code can be embedded in a bulk e-mail as a clickable advertisement, the resulting traffic from any recipients clicking on the advertisement being identified by the traffic router as coming from the same registered traffic source.

The details of a traffic source 202 may be updated at any time, or deleted providing there are no delivery obligations in place. In this case, new trading commitments are prevented from alteration for the traffic source 202 and any alterations and deletions are only actioned when existing commitments are fulfilled.

Filters may be added for a source 202 according to the parameters of a given target such as: language, type, category, user and target id. In this way, the source owner has a degree of control over the content accessible from the traffic source 202.

Filters are composed of a list of discrete rules consisting of a pattern to be matched for the parameters and an action to take if there is a match for a given target, and are stored in the database storage system 301. The action parameter either explicitly allows or disallows a matching target to trade with the source. Once a bid is made for a given source, the source filter list is checked rule by rule against the target characteristics.

Any matches made trigger the rule action to be carried out - and the target dropped or accepted.

A user may register any number of target sites 203 to receive traffic. A target site 203 in this example is an internet website; in other embodiments, the traffic targets could include any form of uniquely addressable media content that may be delivered through the internet, or any other network. Examples include downloadable executables, plug-ins or other deliverable content such as music, movies, images or banner ads. A target site 203 must be specified for any bid, and registration is required before any bidding by the user is permitted. Registration involves entering the url of each target site 203 or target content and a profile of the target site 203 including its language and geographical origin as well as the subject matter and any other details. A further feature could be that the user may additionally upload any linking information or graphics for display in source sites in the case that the traffic target wishes to buy non- blind traffic. Here non-blind traffic is click-through traffic to which the target website has been identified prior to clicking. Upon completing the registration process, a unique target id is issued used to identify the target in any future trading carried out by the user, and the details are stored in the database storage system.

The user is given the opportunity to search the source site database stored in the database storage system 301 in order to select an appropriate source for a given user owned target. This search may be carried out by source category, type, language, country or credit rating or combinations thereof. The results returned provide information on the current market condition for each source, including the latest bid and offer prices and the volume available for sale. More details are available for a given source including its price and volume history as well as credit rating and any additional information. From the search page it is possible to enter the market for any given source to begin the trading process.

The market operated by the trading engine 300 is the central part of the trading engine, and displays the trading state for any traffic source 202 for a given delivery date, as well as providing a user interface to execute trades. The delivery date and trade duration are specified in the form of a contract type for any given market. It is a feature of the present invention that delivery dates for future time periods are possible, in the form of forward contracts, as well as immediate deliveries, in the form of spot contracts.

The delivery contract must be selected as well as traffic source before trading can begin.

For any given market, the market view display centres on three columns of numbers; bid volumes, a common price and finally offer volumes. The bid columns indicate the volume of bids made by all the users active in the market for that source/contract, and the price in the central column indicates the price at which these bids are made. Similarly the offer column contains all the offer volumes at the given prices made by any user in possession of source traffic. These columns are joined by the price column and the table ordered by decreasing price such that all bids are lower than the offers.

An example illustrating the layout of a market view is given in Tables I and 2.

Table I shows the market view for three lots offered at 100, one lot offered at 101, a bid for two lots at 99 and a bid for four lots at 98.

Table 1: Diagram showing an example market view before a trade Bid price Offer 101 I 100 3 2 99 4 98 To buy traffic, a user must first select a source. A bid volume and price are then entered for the selected source. The trade is checked by the trade engine to verify that the buyer has sufficient funds to cover the bid cost, given by equation 1, and that the target is allowed to purchase the traffic according to the source filters.

Cost = volume price (Equation 1) If this check is passed, the user's cash account is debited by the bid amount and stored in a bid account awaiting the completion of the trade. The database 301 is then checked by the trading engine 300 for offers at a lower or equal price than the bid for matching source/contract. If such offers exist, a trade is executed - the offers are matched with bids volume for volume, starting from the offer of lowest price, and both the bid and offer reduced by the matching volume. The required funds are then transferred from the bidder's bid account to the offerer's account, and an equal volume of source traffic is switched from the seller to the buyer for that contract. This bid- offer matching process continues up to the point at which: 1. The bid volume has been reduced to zero and the trade completed.

2. There are no remaining offers at a price lower than or equal to the bid.

In the second case, what volume remains of the original bid is stored in the database 301 and displayed in the market view awaiting offers. The bid process is illustrated by the flowcharts in Figure 4 and Figure 5.

Selling traffic is the same process but in reverse - a user selects a source and contract for which source traffic is owned, i.e. is being directed to. An offer volume and price are then entered and the offer checked by the trade engine to verify that the buyer owns source traffic in sufficient volume and uncommitted to other offers, to cover the offer. If this check is passed, the database is checked for bids at a price higher that or equal to the offer for matching source/contract. If such bids exist a trade is executed - the bids are matched with offers volume for volume, starting from the bid of highest price, and both the bid and offer reduced by the matching volume. The required funds are then transferred from the bidder's bid account to the offerer's account and an equal volume of source traffic is switched from the seller to the buyer in the traffic routing table for that contract. This bid-offer matching process continues up to the point at which: 1. The offer volume has been reduced to zero and the trade completed.

2. There are no remaining bids at a price higher than or equal to the offer.

In the second case, what volume remains of the original offer is stored in the database and displayed in the market view awaiting bids. The offer process is illustrated by Figures 5 and 6.

Table 2 shows the market view after an additional offer for three lots at 99 is made, matching the two lots bid and leaving one lot offered at 99. A trade is now completed with the bidder or bidders matched - 198 is transferred from bidder to seller and two lots of traffic exchanged in return. This example also illustrates how the price of a source reacts as trades are filled.

Table 2: Diagram Showing An Example Market View After A Trade Bid Price Offer 101 = 100 3 99 I 4 98 The market view displays all relevant information to the market including the user's cash account status, the traffic owned for the source and the contract type.

The traffic account shows a list of all user owned traffic sources and their respective targets. Details of the trades are shown including the volume of traffic traded and delivered, the time of trade, the contract period and the current market prices of the traffic. A link is given to the market for each source allowing it to be traded - either increasing the trade by buying more or decreasing it by selling.

The open bids view shows the unfilled but still active bids made by the user, indicating the source, contract and target. The current market state is also indicated showing the high and low bid/offer as well as the user's bids and volume. Links are provided to access the market for each source as well as a delete button to drop the bid and re-credit the user's cash account from the bid account. Similarly, the open offers view is as the bid view but with open user offers displayed.

The present example consists of two main parts: a trading system 101 including a database manager 302 and database 301, and a traffic router 201. The database manager 302 performs the slow, time intensive functions including rolling over contracts and updating the database as well as generating statistical information from the traffic routed. The traffic router 201 is a fast, lightweight process that takes incoming http traffic from the traffic sources, looks up their respective routing tables and redirects the traffic using an http redirect header. It may be either of two types depending on the type of traffic being traded. For blind traffic it takes the form of a central server; however, if target linking codes are being displayed on the source then a distributed traffic router is used with each router being placed at the source server.

The database manager 302 is a persistent database management process written in C and interfacing to an SQL database. It has three main functions: firstly it reads traffic data from the database and generates daily statistics; secondly it handles the roll- over of contracts as one contract expires and the next becomes active and finally it is responsible for database integrity, providing backups and deleting out of date data.

Statistics generation is also provided for. Each redirect made by the traffic router 201 is recorded in the database 301, and the database manager 302 periodically reads these data and tabulates them to generate a daily record of traffic movements and other data. This is re-entered into the database 301 and made accessible through the trade engine 300. An analysis of these historic data assists the trader in pricing the traffic source before trading.

Source traffic is only delivered over a fixed time period specified by the contract type. Although trading can occur in any contract, delivery of traffic is only possible when the contract is active i.e. its starting date is before the actual date. When a contract period passes its expiry date, the database manager is charged with "rolling over" the delivery process to newly active contracts. This involves deleting all traffic forwarding data for expired contracts as well as clearing all the open bids and offers in the same manner.

Contracts which have newly active dates are flagged as active so they may be loaded by the traffic router to form a routing table.

More general database management carried out includes deleting traffic delivery statistics that are old, deleting data related to deleted source and target sites and performing data backups and integrity checks.

The Traffic Router 201 is a persistent, fast, reliable and lightweight process written in C and interfacing to an SQL database. In the present embodiment it is based upon an http server and to an external internet connection it behaves in the same fashion as a standard http server, accepting standard http connections and requests on port 80 and responding with standard http headers. This configuration makes it very easy to interface with external traffic sources by adding an http hyper- link addressed to the traffic router coupled with a unique id placed at the source site or embedded in source media content. Each time a visitor clicks on the link or the link is activated as a pop-up by a visitor, a request is made to the traffic router for redirection to the target. This redirection is achieved in practice by sending the visitor an http redirect header encoding the target url. This target url is determined by looking up a routing table for the source, previously loaded from the database.

To allow real-time trading, the traffic router 201 responds to signal events sent from the trading engine 300 when a new trade occurs. On this trigger, the traffic router 201 reloads the completed trade data from all active contracts, builds the routing table and starts to direct traffic accordingly. There is also a flow of information from the traffic router 201 to the database 301. All redirected traffic is counted and periodically uploaded into the database 301 for use in determining historic delivery data.

The routing table is built from trades made for each target/source pair in active contracts. The ratio of volumes owned by each target for a particular source is used in the routing table to determine the ratio of traffic to direct from that source to the target.

The routing table thus consists of a list of target sites for a given active contract source and the ratio of traffic owned by each target. Internal counters maintain the flow of source traffic to the targets according to these ratios. For any given individual redirection the target chosen from the routing table is selected at random; this is to prevent any manipulation of traffic delivered by the source owner.

A market for any traffic source is characterised by a contract type. Each contract specifies a start date at which traffic will begin to be delivered, and how long traffic will be delivered for. The type of contracts possible is flexible; however in the present embodiment there are just two contract types: a spot contract and a forward contract. These are designed to be analogous to spot and forward markets in more conventional commodities.

The duration of the spot and forward contract is 1 week, meaning that, once active, source traffic sold according to this contract will be delivered for I week. The spot contract is always active, as its start date has always passed. The forward contract has a start date matching the spot contract's expiry date. When there is a roll-over, the spot contract is deleted, the forward contract made active - becoming the new spot contract - and a new forward contract is created for each traffic source. By trading in the spot market a trader may acquire an immediate delivery of traffic. By trading in the forward market a delivery of traffic may be reserved for later delivery at a price fixed at present prices. Used together these may allow a continuous flow for traffic to a target.

Additional contract types are possible reflecting other conventional market products such as futures and options or contracts of much longer durations.

The price of traffic from a source is determined by market forces and there are a number of tools to assist a trader in determining a price for source traffic. There is a profile of the traffic source along with its main source url. Its subject matter, the type of visitors it sends and the means by which they are sent are all provided. The price history of the source is also available, showing the volume and price traffic has been exchanged for the source over time. A long history of price stability can be taken as an indication of a stable and reliable traffic source in the future. A credit rating system can be put in place in which the exchange itself provides a measure of the stability and quality of the traffic source. This rating is derived from many factors outside the scope of the price history such as fraudulent activity.

Dividing traffic up into lots or elements allows a multitude of owners simultaneously to share traffic from one source, and adds liquidity to the market allowing it to function efficiently. The size of the lots is determined by the seller prior to selling. Hence, the price per lot of a particular source is determined by a combination of the number of lots available, the total volume of traffic available and the value attributed to the source traffic by the market.

A large number of lots relative to the volume of traffic gives a low price per lot, increasing affordability and a wider ownership base. This allows a target owner to sample traffic from a variety of sources to find the best match. As each target site will have a different sales response to a given traffic source this is a desirable feature. It is also possible to consider the trading in traffic measured by actual unique source site visitors rather than lots, however the actual amount of visitors a site will receive will vary from any prediction. By trading in lots, it is the proportion of traffic from a given source that is being traded.

A typical series of actions required to register and sell source traffic is described below.

1. A user account is created.

2. The details of the new source site are added by the user. The title, default url, traffic country of origin and language, the type and category of the source, anticipated volume of source traffic measured by unique source site visitors in clicks and the lot size are added.

3. Filters for the source are defined.

4. A default credit rating is assigned to the new source.

5. A unique source id number is created and presented to the user along with linking code pointing to the traffic router with the source id embedded.

6. The user places this linking code into source sites or source media content at user determined positions.

7. Requests via this linking code are sent to the traffic router and redirected to the source specific default url.

8. The user makes an offer to a sell a specified volume of traffic at a specified price in the source market for the spot contract and/or the forward contract.

9. If a bid exists or is made of matching or greater price for the offer, a trade is made, the user is credited the sale amount and traffic is redirected from the default url to the bidding target for the volume traded.

10. The new owner of the traffic is now free to make an offer in the source market.

A typical series of actions required to register a target site and buy traffic is described below.

1. A user account is created and money deposited into the user account.

2. The details of the new target site are added by the user. The url, title, type, language and category are added.

3. A unique target id number is created and presented to the user.

4. The user makes a search in the database of suitable traffic sources for this target.

5. The price history, credit rating and market state of retrieved sources are examined and a suitable source selected.

6. The user makes a bid to a buy a specified volume of traffic at a specified price in the source market for the spot contract and/or the forward contract.

If the source filtering rules allow this, the bid is accepted.

7. The user's cash account is debited an amount given by equation I and the open bid account credited.

8. If an offer exists or is made of matching or lower price for the bid then a trade is made, the seller is credited the sale amount, the user open bid account is debited and traffic is redirected from the old target to the bidding target for the volume traded.

An example of the traffic routing process will now described. The function of the traffic router mechanism can be understood by considering how target media content is directed to an individual source site visitor as part of the source traffic supply. There are four elements to consider: Source media content (S) - this can be a web page, movie, executable, etc with the ability to provide a link over the network to third party media content, located on an arbitrary server (A) which may or may not be controlled by the content owner.

Target media content (T) - this can be an image, web page, movie, text, etc - located on a specific central server (B).

A typical element of the source traffic (C) taking the form of a source site visitor browsing the world wide web on a personal computer.

The traffic router central server (TR) is located on a dedicated server machine.

A typical traffic routing event would consist of the following:: 1. (C) starts a media viewing client, for example a web browser.

2. A request for source media content (S) from server (A) is made by (C) by typing or activating the appropriate URL of (A) in the client.

3. The request is received at (A) and the corresponding source content (S) is sent to (C) and displayed in the client.

4. The linking code embedded in (S) is then activated by (C). This may occur explicitly, for example through clicking on an embedded hyperlink in a downloaded web page, or may occur automatically through a mechanism such as an automatically loading pop-up window.

5. This activation causes a request to be sent from (C) to (TR) for target media content.

6. This request is recorded and decoded by (TR) and the source (S) identified from the source identification code encoded in the URL request.

7. The internal routing table for source (S) is accessed by (TR) providing a list of potential traffic targets and the volume of source traffic each has purchased. From this table a target (T) is selected at random using a distribution that matches the volumes of source traffic purchased.

8. The URL (B) corresponding to target (T) is looked up and encoded, typically but not strictly, as an http forward header.

9. This header is sent from (TR) to (C) 10. The media viewing client at (C) decodes the header and makes a further request from media content (T) at the URL location (B).

11. The request is received at server (B) and the appropriate media content (T) is sent back for display at (C).

Each time a visitor clicks on the link or the link is activated as a popup by a visitor, a request is made to the traffic router for target media content. This redirection is achieved in practice by sending the visitor an http redirect header encoding the target URL. This target URL is determined by looking up an internal routing table for the source identification code. Each source has its own routing table consisting of a list of all target sites that have successfully purchased traffic from that source and the volumes of traffic owned. For each individual forwarding request, a target is selected at random from this table using a ratio of these relative volumes. In this way, the traffic is redirected, by the routing program, to the target or targets in accordance with the volumes in the transaction data recorded in the internal routing table; and the distribution of the successive elements of traffic between the targets is set, to give a random selection of one of those traffic targets for each successive element of traffic, weighted to give statistically a ratio between the traffic targets required by the transaction data.

The above-described embodiment is merely illustrative and numerous modifications and variations are possible within the context of the invention.

For example, there are two drawbacks of the centralised traffic router system currently employed by the above embodiment: firstly it is vulnerable to localised network disruption or attack and secondly it only exchanges blind traffic. Accordingly, to address these problems, a distributed traffic router system is proposed. This replaces the single centralised traffic router with a multitude of non-local ones, located and managed at each traffic source. To allow the trading in non-blind traffic required a mechanism to transfer target linking code and graphics out to source traffic suppliers.

The display of these graphics and links has to be coordinated with the trades as they happen to deliver traffic according to how it is traded. This coordination makes this distributed system more complex to implement than the centralised server version. The actual traffic router can take the form of a client-side CGI script connecting to the Database Management System through periodic connections over the communications network, for instance using TCP/IP over the internet or similar. Through these connections it downloads the appropriate routing table and any link and graphic updates. These graphics and their corresponding links are then rotated on display so that traffic flows to targets in the ratios given in the routing table.

Another application for the system is a secondary market in the trading of of fline media advertising content slots. The principle of secondary market trading developed above can be extended from internet traffic to viewers and listeners of conventional media. Here the listeners and viewers of a given media broadcast can be described as traffic for that broadcast. Drawing an analogy with internet traffic, the broadcast content is a form of source media content such as a web page and the listeners canbe understood as website visitors. Within a given broadcast, advertising slots can be viewed as a means of linking this traffic to third party media content in the form of a conventional radio or TV advertisement. Advertising slots can therefore be viewed as a means of routing listener traffic to third party content in the form of a conventional radio or TV advertisement. Advertising slots can therefore be viewed as a means of routing listener traffic to third party content. By trading the ownership of a collection of advertising slots for a given broadcast, an advertiser may but or sell that broadcast traffic in the same manner as for internet traffic.

A further application of the present invention is a secondary market in the trading of traffic delivered by mobile phone. The rapidly maturing 3G mobile phone technology allows rich media content to be delivered to a mobile phone handset and other mobile devices. The concept of secondary market trading can be applied to this situation in the same way as for internet traffic but with the mobile handset replacing the computer as the medium supporting traffic transfer.

There are a number of means of generating revenue from the above embodiment. Firstly, a 1% commission can be charged on all transactions made in the form of either traffic or cash. Advertising revenue is another source of revenue, as are the funds deposited by all traders held by the operator of the system according to the preferred embodiment. The interest earned by the stored funds can also form a third income stream. A further possibility lies in acting as a market marker in more illiquid areas of the market - buying and selling at a fixed spread and making a profit from the difference.

To improve liquidity, the trading engine can provide the capability to group together a collection of separate traffic sources forming a new tradable aggregate source. This grouping is made according to common features of the sources such as language, type and country of origin and credit rating.

A credit rating can be given to each source by the exchange according to the perceived quality of that source. This is in order to assist potential buyers in valuing the source and can be understood in terms of credit ratings applied to more conventional products sold on the stock market. Examples of the factors considered when determining a credit rating areas can be: volume of traffic available; price history; volume history; complaints record; origin of source; price stability and source content.

A more advanced traffic routing system with a visitor redirection memory can also be provided. This mechanism requires each unique visitor to be uniquely identified in some way before a target is selected. This can be achieved using the visitors IP address, however other identification methods are possible. Each IP address and the targets to which it has been forwarded are stored for a finite period in time in memory.

This is achieved by providing a dynamic array indexed by IP address within which a list of targets to which each IP address has been forwarded are stored. This list is cleaned every few hours to remove old JP addresses. The forwarding process can then proceed as for the above forwarding process, but with two additional steps: a pre- routing step and a post-routing step. The pre-routing step involves a temporary routing table being created by taking the original source routing table and removing all those targets which are listed in the IP table for that IP address. This routing table is then used for the target lookup process described above. In the case where this temporary routing table contains no elements, then the original table is used. The post- routing process involves the target selected being added to those already stored in memory and indexed by IP address, unless it is already present. Finally, the temporary routing table is deleted. It is noted that this mechanism may cause the ratios of traffic delivered to diverge slightly from the ratios of traffic purchased, however it is anticipated that this divergence will not be significant.

It is envisaged that the consumers originating the communications traffic share the same network as the targets for the traffic, but it is possible that the networks are separate and that the router can supply the target data.

Claims (132)

  1. CLAIMS: 1. A computer program for operating a secondary market in the
    trading of consumer originated communications traffic on a network comprising the steps of: storing user accounts for multiple users of the secondary market; storing data relating to each of a multiplicity of traffic sources from which traffic is to be redirected, the data including the identity of the associated user and a unique address on the network for each traffic source; storing data relating to each of a multiplicity of traffic targets to which traffic is to be redirected, the data including the identity of the associated user and a unique address on the network for each traffic target; receiving bids and offers from the users for the traffic as a liquidated commodity and operating the secondary market in that traffic by matching the received bids and offers; settling agreed transactions in accordance with the matched bids and offers; and outputting data for the redirection of traffic on the network in accordance with the transactions.
  2. 2. A computer program according to Claim I wherein the bids and offers are made and the secondary market is operated continuously in relation to the traffic, whether or not that traffic has already been redirected.
  3. 3. A computer program according to Claim 1 or 2, wherein the bids and offers are made, the transactions settled and the data output in real time.
  4. 4. A computer program according to any of Claims 1 to 3, wherein traffic from a single traffic source is divided between a plurality of traffic targets in accordance with the transactions.
  5. 5. A computer program according to any of Claims I to 4, wherein the communications traffic includes internet traffic and uniform resource locators (URLs) are used to identify the traffic sources and traffic targets
  6. 6. A computer program according to Claim 5, wherein a group of websites comprise a single traffic source.
  7. 7. A computer program according to any of Claims 1 to 6, wherein the communications traffic includes transmissions of data, voice, video or other information to, from or between mobile terminals.
  8. 8. A computer program according to any of Claims 1 to 7, wherein the communications traffic includes transmissions of data, voice, video or other information to, from or between distributed devices such as TV receivers which are addressable as the traffic sources or targets.
  9. 9. A computer program according to any of Claims 1 to 8, wherein the network is arranged to allow consumers originating the communication traffic to share the network with the traffic targets.
  10. 10. A computer program according to any of Claims 1 to 9, wherein the communications traffic comprises changeable header codes, which identify the traffic source and traffic target.
  11. 11. A system for operating a secondary market in the trading of consumer originated communications traffic on a network comprising: means for storing user accounts for multiple users of the secondary market; means for storing data relating to each of a multiplicity of traffic sources from which traffic is to be redirected, the data including the identity of the associated user and a unique address on the network of the traffic source; means for storing data relating to each of a multiplicity of traffic targets to which traffic is to be redirected, the data including the identity of the associated user and a unique address on the network of the traffic target; means for receiving bids and offers from the users for the traffic as a liquidated commodity and operating the secondary market in that traffic by matching the received bids and offers; means for settling agreed transactions in accordance with the matched bids and offers; and means for outputting data for the redirection of traffic on the network in accordance with the transactions.
  12. 12. A system according to Claim 11 wherein the bids and offers are made and the secondary market is operated continuously in relation to the traffic whether or not that traffic has already been redirected.
  13. 13. A system according to Claim 11 or 12, wherein the bids and offers are made, the transactions settled and the data output in real time.
  14. 14. A system according to any of Claims 11 to 13, wherein traffic from a single traffic source is divided between a plurality of traffic targets in accordance with the transactions.
  15. 15. A system according to any of Claims 11 to 14, wherein the communications traffic includes internet traffic and uniform resource locators (URLs) are used to identify the traffic sources and traffic targets
  16. 16. A system according to Claim 15, wherein a group of websites comprise a single traffic source.
  17. 17. A system according to any of Claims 11 to 16, wherein the communications traffic includes transmissions of data, voice, video or other information to, from or between mobile terminals.
  18. 18. A system according to any of Claims 11 to 17, wherein the communications traffic includes transmissions of data, voice, video or other information to, from or between distributed devices such as TV receivers which are addressable as the traffic sources or targets.
  19. l9. A system according to any of Claims I 1 to 18, wherein the consumers originating the communication traffic share the network with the traffic targets.
  20. 20. A system according to any of Claims 11 to 19, wherein the communications traffic comprises changeable header codes which identify the traffic source and traffic target.
  21. 21. A method of operating a secondary market in the trading of consumer originated communications traffic on a network comprising: creating user accounts for multiple users of the secondary market; storing data relating to each of a multiplicity of traffic sources from which traffic is to be redirected, the data including the identity of the associated user and a unique address on the network for each traffic source; storing data relating to each of a multiplicity of traffic targets to which traffic is to be redirected, the data including the identity of the associated user and a unique address on the network for each traffic target; receiving bids and offers from the users for the traffic as a liquidated commodity and determining if the received bids and offers overlap; settling agreed transactions in accordance with the overlapping bids and offers; and outputting data for the redirection of traffic on the network in accordance with the transactions.
  22. 22. A method according to Claim 21 wherein the bids and offers are made continuously in relation to the traffic whether or not that traffic has already been redirected.
  23. 23. A method according to Claims 21 or 22, wherein the bids and offers are made, the transactions settled and the data output in real time.
  24. 24. A method according to any of Claims 21 to 23, wherein traffic from a single traffic source is divided between a plurality of traffic targets in accordance with the transactions.
  25. 25. A method according to any of Claims 21 to 24, wherein the communications traffic includes internet traffic and uniform resource locators (URLs) are used to identify the traffic sources and traffic targets.
  26. 26. A method according to Claim 25, wherein a group of websites comprise a single traffic source.
  27. 27. A method according to any of Claims 21 to 26, wherein the communications traffic includes transmissions of data, voice, video or other information content to, from or between mobile terminals.
  28. 28. A method according to any of Claims 21 to 27, wherein communications traffic includes transmissions of data, voice, video or other information content to, from or between distributed devices such as TV receivers which are addressable as the traffic sources or targets.
  29. 29. A method according to any of Claims 21 to 28, wherein the consumers originating the communications traffic share the same network as the traffic targets.
  30. 30. A method according to any of Claims 21 to 29, wherein the communications traffic comprises changeable header codes which identify the traffic source and traffic target.
  31. 31. A computer program for routing consumer originated communications traffic on a network comprising the steps of: loading data relating to each of a multiplicity of traffic sources from which traffic is to be redirected, the data including the identity of the associated user and a unique address on the network for each traffic source; loading data relating to each of a multiplicity of traffic targets to which traffic is to be redirected, the data including the identity of the associated user and a unique address on the network for each traffic target; loading transaction data for transactions in a secondary market in the trading of the consumer originated communications traffic whereby traffic has been agreed to be redirected from one of said traffic sources to any number of said traffic targets; and executing the redirection of the traffic to the traffic target or targets in accordance with said transaction data, said data being used to determine the distribution of the traffic between the traffic targets in the event that there are two or more traffic targets.
  32. 32. A computer program according to Claim 31, wherein the traffic target is determined for each of a succession of elements of traffic from a traffic source according to said distribution in accordance with the transaction data.
  33. 33. A computer program according to Claim 32, wherein the distribution includes a random selection of one of those traffic targets for each successive element of traffic, weighted to give statistically a ratio between the traffic targets required by the transaction data.
  34. 34. A computer program according to any of Claims 31 to 33, wherein the communications traffic includes transmissions of data, voice, video or other information content to, from or between mobile terminals.
  35. 35. A computer program according to any of Claims 31 to 34, wherein communications traffic includes transmissions of data, voice, video or other information content to, from or between distributed devices such as TV receivers which are addressable as the traffic sources or targets.
  36. 36. A computer program according any of Claims 31 to 35, wherein the transaction data is updated continuously.
  37. 37. A computer program according to any of Claims 31 to 36, wherein the transaction data is updated in real time.
  38. 38. A computer program according to any of Claims 31 to 37, wherein the communications traffic includes internet traffic and uniform resource locators (URLs) are used to identify the traffic sources and traffic targets.
  39. 39. A computer program according to Claim 5, wherein a group of websites comprise a single traffic source.
  40. 40. A computer program according to any of Claims 31 to 39, wherein the communications traffic comprises changeable header codes which identify the source and target.
  41. 41. A computer program according to any of Claims 31 to 40, wherein the consumers originating the communications traffic share the same network as the traffic targets.
  42. 42. A system for routing consumer originated communications traffic on a network comprlsmg: means for loading data relating to each of a multiplicity of traffic sources from which traffic is to be redirected, the data including the identity of the associated user and a unique address on the network for each traffic source; means for loading data relating to each of a multiplicity of traffic targets to which traffic is to be redirected, the data including the identity of the associated user and a unique address on the network for each traffic target; means for loading transaction data for transactions in a secondary market in the trading of the consumer originated communications traffic whereby traffic has been agreed to be redirected from one of said traffic sources to any number of said traffic targets; and means for executing the redirection of the traffic to the traffic target or targets in accordance with said transaction data, said data being used to determine the distribution of the traffic between the traffic targets in the event that there are two or more traffic targets.
  43. 43. A system according to Claim 42, wherein the traffic target is determined for each of a succession of elements of traffic from a traffic source according to said distribution in accordance with the transaction data.
  44. 44. A system according to Claim 43, wherein the distribution includes a random selection of one of those traffic targets for each successive element of traffic, weighted to give statistically a ratio between the traffic targets required by the transaction data.
  45. 45. A system according to any of Claims 42 to 44, wherein the communications traffic includes transmissions of data, voice, video or other information content to, from or between mobile terminals.
  46. 46. A system according to any of Claims 42 to 45, wherein communications traffic includes transmissions of data, voice, video or other information content to, from or between distributed devices such as TV receivers which are addressable as the traffic sources or targets.
  47. 47. A system according any of Claims 42 to 45, wherein the transaction data is updated continuously.
  48. 48. A system according to any of Claims 42 to 47, wherein the transaction data is updated in real time.
  49. 49. A system according to any of Claims 42 to 48, wherein the communications traffic includes internet traffic-and uniform resource locators (URLs) are used to identify the traffic sources and traffic targets.
  50. SO. A system according to Claim 49, wherein a group of websites comprise a single source.
  51. 51. A system according to any of Claims 42 to 50, wherein the communications traffic comprises changeable header codes which identify the traffic source and traffic target.
  52. 52. A system according to any of Claims 42 to S 1, wherein the network is arranged to allow the consumers originating the communications traffic to share the same network as the traffic targets.
  53. 53. A method for routing consumer originated communications traffic on a network comprising: loading data relating to each of a multiplicity of traffic sources from which traffic is to be redirected, the data including the identity of the associated user and a unique address on the network for each traffic source; loading data relating to each of a multiplicity of traffic targets to which traffic is to be redirected, the data including the identity of the associated user and a unique address on the network for each traffic target; loading transaction data for transactions in a secondary market in the trading of the consumer originated communications traffic whereby traffic has been agreed to be redirected from one of said traffic sources to any number of said traffic targets; and executing the redirection of the traffic to the traffic target or targets in accordance with said transaction data, said data being used to determine the distribution of the traffic between the traffic targets in the event that there are two or more traffic targets.
  54. 54. A method according to Claim 53, wherein the traffic target is determined for each of a succession of elements of traffic from a traffic source according to said distribution in accordance with the transaction data.
  55. 55. A method according to Claim 54, wherein the distribution includes a random selection of one of those traffic targets for each successive element of traffic, weighted to give statistically a ratio between the traffic targets required by the transaction data.
  56. 56. A method according to any of Claims 53 to 55, wherein the communications traffic includes transmissions of data, voice, video or other information content to, from or between mobile terminals.
  57. 57. A method according to any of Claims 53 to 56, wherein communications traffic includes transmissions of data, voice, video or other information content to, from or between distributed devices such as TV receivers which are addressable as the traffic sources or targets.
  58. 58. A method according any of Claims 53 to 57, wherein the transaction data is updated continuously.
  59. 59. A method according to any of Claims 53 to 58, wherein the transaction data is updated in real time.
  60. 60. A method according to any of Claims 53 to 59, wherein the communications traffic includes internet traffic and uniform resource locators (URLs) are used to identify the traffic sources and traffic targets.
  61. 61. A method according to Claim 60, wherein a group of websites comprise a single source.
  62. 62. A method according to any of Claims 53 to 61, wherein the communications traffic comprises changeable header codes which identify the traffic source and traffic target.
  63. 63. A method according to any of Claims 53 to 62, wherein the consumers originating the communications traffic share the same network as the traffic targets.
  64. 64. A computer program for operating a secondary market in the trading of consumer originated communications traffic on a network and routing the traffic accordingly comprising the steps of: storing user accounts for multiple users of the secondary market; storing data relating to each of a multiplicity of traffic sources from which traffic is to be redirected, the data including the identity of the associated user and a unique address on the network for each traffic source; storing data relating to each of a multiplicity of traffic targets to which traffic is to be redirected, the data including the identity of the associated user and a unique address on the network for each traffic target; receiving bids and offers from the users for the traffic as a liquidated commodity and operating the secondary market in that traffic by matching the received bids and offers; settling agreed transactions in accordance with the matched bids and offers; and outputting data for the redirection of traffic on the network in accordance with the transactions; further comprising the steps of: loading data relating to each of a multiplicity of traffic sources from which traffic is to be redirected, the data including the identity of the associated user and a unique address on the network for each traffic source; loading data relating to each of a multiplicity of traffic targets to which traffic is to be redirected, the data including the identity of the associated user and a unique address on the network for each traffic target; loading transaction data for transactions in a secondary market in the trading of the consumer originated communications traffic whereby traffic has been agreed to be redirected from one of said traffic sources to any number of said traffic targets; and executing the redirection of the traffic to the traffic target or targets in accordance with said transaction data, said data being used to determine the distribution of the traffic between the traffic targets in the event that there are two or more traffic targets.
  65. 65. A computer program according to Claim 64, wherein the traffic target is determined for each of a succession of elements of traffic from a traffic source according to said distribution in accordance with the transaction data.
  66. 66. A computer program according to Claim 65, wherein the distribution includes a random selection of one of those traffic targets for each successive element of traffic, weight to give statistically a ratio between the traffic targets required by the transaction data.
  67. 67. A computer program according to any of Claims 64 to 66, wherein the bids and offers are made and the secondary market is operated continuously in relation to the traffic, whether or not that traffic has already been redirected.
  68. 68. A computer program according to any of Claims 64 to 67, wherein the bids and offers are made, the transactions settled and the data output in real time.
  69. 69. A computer program according to any of Claims 64 to 68, wherein traffic from a single traffic source is divided between a plurality of traffic targets in accordance with the transactions.
  70. 70. A computer program according to any of Claims 64 to 69, wherein the communications traffic includes internet traffic and uniform resource locators (URLs) are used to identify the traffic sources and traffic targets
  71. 71. A computer program according to Claim 70, wherein a group of websites comprise a single traffic source.
  72. 72. A computer program according to any of Claims 64 to 70, wherein the communications traffic includes transmissions of data, voice, video or other information to, from or between mobile terminals.
  73. 73. A computer program according to any of Claims 64 to 72, wherein the communications traffic includes transmissions of data, voice, video or other information to, from or between distributed devices such as TV receivers which are addressable as the traffic sources or targets.
  74. 74. A computer program according to any of Claims 64 to 73, wherein the network is arranged to allow the consumers originating the communication traffic to share the network with the targets.
  75. 75. A computer program according to any of Claims 64 to 74, wherein the communications traffic comprises changeable header codes which identify the traffic source and traffic target.
  76. 76. A system for operating a secondary market in the trading of consumer originated communications traffic on a network and routing the traffic comprising: means for storing user accounts for multiple users of the secondary market; means for storing data relating to each of a multiplicity of traffic sources from which traffic is to be redirected, the data including the identity of the associated user and a unique address on the network of the traffic source; means for storing data relating to each of a multiplicity of traffic targets to which traffic is to be redirected, the data including the identity of the associated user and a unique address on the network of the traffic target; means for receiving bids and offers from the users for the traffic as a liquidated commodity and operating the secondary market in that traffic by matching the received bids and offers; means for settling agreed transactions in accordance with the matched bids and offers; and means for outputting data for the redirection of traffic on the network in accordance with the transactions; further comprising: means for loading data relating to each of a multiplicity of traffic sources from which traffic is to be redirected, the data including the identity of the associated user and a unique address on the network for each traffic source; means for loading data relating to each of a multiplicity of traffic targets to which traffic is to be redirected, the data including the identity of the associated user and a unique address on the network for each traffic target; means for loading transaction data for transactions in a secondary market in the trading of the consumer originated communications traffic whereby traffic has been agreed to be redirected from one of said traffic sources to any number of said traffic targets; and means for executing the redirection of the traffic to the traffic target or targets in accordance with said transaction data, said data being used to determine the distribution of the traffic between the traffic targets in the event that there are two or more traffic targets.
  77. 77. A system according to Claim 76, wherein the traffic target is determined for each of a succession of elements of traffic from a traffic source according to said distribution in accordance with the transaction data.
  78. 78. A system according to Claim 77, wherein the distribution includes a random selection of one of those traffic targets for each successive element of traffic, weight to give statistically a ratio between the traffic targets required by the transaction data.
  79. 79. A system according to any of Claims 76 to 78, wherein the bids and offers are made and the secondary market is operated continuously in relation to the traffic, whether or not that traffic has already been redirected.
  80. 80. A system according to any of Claims 76 to 79, wherein the bids and offers are made, the transactions settled and the data output in real time.
  81. 81. A system according to any of Claims 76 to 80, wherein traffic from a single traffic source is divided between a plurality of traffic targets in accordance with the transactions.
  82. 82. A system according to any of Claims 76 to 81, wherein the communications traffic includes internet traffic and uniform resource locators (URLs) are used to identify the traffic sources and traffic targets.
  83. 83. A system according to Claim 82, wherein a group of websites comprise a single traffic source.
  84. 84. A system according to any of Claims 76 to 83, wherein the communications traffic includes transmissions of data, voice, video or other information to, from or between mobile terminals.
  85. 85. A system according to any of Claims 76 to 84, wherein the communications traffic includes transmissions of data, voice, video or other information to, from or between distributed devices such as TV receivers which are addressable as the traffic sources or targets.
  86. 86. A system according to any of Claims 76 to 85, wherein the network is arranged to allow the consumers originating the communication traffic to share the network with the targets.
  87. 87. A system according to any of Claims 76 to 86, wherein the communications traffic comprises changeable header codes which identify the traffic source and traffic target.
  88. 88. A method for operating a secondary market in the trading of consumer originated communications traffic on a network and routing the traffic comprising: storing user accounts for multiple users of the secondary market; storing data relating to each of a multiplicity of traffic sources from which traffic is to be redirected, the data including the identity of the associated user and a unique address on the network of the traffic source; storing data relating to each of a multiplicity of traffic targets to which traffic is to be redirected, the data including the identity of the associated user and a unique address on the network of the traffic target; receiving bids and offers from the users for the traffic as a liquidated commodity and operating the secondary market in that traffic by matching the received bids and offers; settling agreed transactions in accordance with the matched bids and offers; and outputting data for the redirection of traffic on the network in accordance with the transactions; further comprising the steps of: loading data relating to each of a multiplicity of traffic sources from which traffic is to be redirected, the data including the identity of the associated user and a unique address on the network for each traffic source; loading data relating to each of a multiplicity of traffic targets to which traffic is to be redirected, the data including the identity of the associated user and a unique address on the network for each traffic target; loading transaction data for transactions in a secondary market in the trading of the consumer originated communications traffic whereby traffic has been agreed to be redirected from one of said traffic sources to any number of said traffic targets; and executing the redirection of the traffic to the traffic target or targets in accordance with said transaction data, said data being used to determine the distribution of the traffic between the traffic targets in the event that there are two or more traffic targets.
  89. 89. A method according to Claim 88, wherein the traffic target is determined for each of a succession of elements of traffic from a traffic source according to said distribution in accordance with the transaction data.
  90. 90. A method according to Claim 89, wherein the distribution includes a random selection of one of those traffic targets for each successive element of traffic, weight to give statistically a ratio between the traffic targets required by the transaction data.
  91. 91. A method according to any of Claims 88 to 90 wherein the bids and offers are made and the secondary market is operated continuously in relation to the traffic, whether or not that traffic has already been redirected.
  92. 92. A method according to any of Claims 88 or 91, wherein the bids and
    offers are made, the transactions settled and the data output in real time.
  93. 93. A method according to any of Claims 88 to 92, wherein traffic from a single traffic source is divided between a plurality of traffic targets in accordance with the transactions.
  94. 94. A method according to any of Claims 88 to 93, wherein the communications traffic includes intennet traffic and unifonn resource locators (URLs) are used to identify the traffic sources and traffic targets.
  95. 95. A method according to Claim 94, wherein a group of websites comprise a single traffic source.
  96. 96. A method according to any of Claims 88 to 95, wherein the communications traffic includes transmissions of data, voice, video or other information to, from or between mobile terminals.
  97. 97. A method according to any of Claims 88 to 96, wherein the communications traffic includes transmissions of data, voice, video or other information to, from or between distributed devices such as TV receivers which are addressable as the traffic sources or targets.
  98. 98. A method according to any of Claims 88 to 97, wherein the consumers originating the communication traffic share the network with the targets.
  99. 99. A method according to any of Claims 88 to 98, wherein the communications traffic comprises changeable header codes which identify the traffic source and traffic target.
  100. 100. A method of operating a secondary market in the trading of consumer originated communications traffic on a network which allows suppliers of goods or services to be addressed uniquely on the network, comprising: receiving bids and offers from the suppliers of goods or services for portions of the traffic as a liquidated commodity; settling trades between the suppliers on the basis of the bids and offers; and executing those trades by routing the traffic accordingly.
  101. 101. A method according to Claim 100, wherein the bids and offers are made continuously in relation to the traffic whether or not that traffic has already been redirected.
  102. 102. A method according to Claims I 00 or 101, wherein the bids and offers are made, the transactions settled and the data output in real time.
  103. 103. A method according to any of Claims 100 to 102, wherein the traffic is divided between a plurality of the suppliers.
  104. 104. A method according to any of Claims 100 to 103, wherein the communications traffic includes internet traffic and uniform resource locators (URLs) are used to identify the traffic sources and traffic targets.
  105. IDS. A method according to Claim 104, wherein a group of websites comprise a single traffic source.
  106. 106. A method according to any of Claims 100 to 105, wherein the communications traffic includes transmissions of data, voice, video or other information to, from or between mobile terminals.
  107. 107. A method according to any of Claims 100 to 106, wherein the suppliers own traffic sources and/or traffic targets and wherein the communications traffic includes transmissions of data, voice, video or other information to, from or between distributed devices such as TV receivers which are addressable as the traffic sources or targets.
  108. 108. A method according to any of Claims 100 to 107, wherein the consumers originating the communication traffic share the network with the traffic targets.
  109. 109. A method according to any of Claims 100 to 108, wherein the communications traffic comprises changeable header codes which identify the traffic source and traffic target.
  110. 1 10. A system of operating a secondary market in the trading of consumer originated communications traffic on a network which allows suppliers of goods or services to be addressed uniquely on the network, comprising: means for receiving bids and offers from the suppliers for portions of the traffic as a liquidated commodity; means for settling trades between the suppliers on the basis of the bids and offers; and means for executing those trades by routing the traffic accordingly.
  111. 111. A system according to Claim 110, wherein the bids and offers are made continuously in relation to the traffic whether or not that traffic has already been redirected.
  112. 112. A system according to Claims 110 or 111, wherein the bids and offers are made, the transactions settled and the data output in real time.
  113. 1 13. A system according to any of Claims I 10 to 112, wherein the traffic is divided between a plurality of suppliers of goods or services.
  114. 114. A system according to any of Claims 110 to 113, wherein the communications traffic includes internet traffic and uniform resource locators (URLs) are used to identify the traffic sources and traffic targets.
  115. 115. A system according to Claim 114, wherein a group of websites comprise a single traffic source.
  116. 116. A system according to any of Claims 110 to 115, wherein the communications traffic includes transmissions of data, voice, video or other information to, from or between mobile terminals.
  117. 117. A system according to any of Claims 110 to 116, wherein the suppliers own traffic sources and/or traffic targets and wherein the communications traffic includes transmissions of data, voice, video or other information to, from or between distributed devices such as TV receivers which are addressable as the traffic sources or targets.
  118. 118. A system according to any of Claims 110 to 117, wherein the network is arranged to allow the consumers originating the communication traffic to share the network with the targets.
  119. 119. A system according to any of Claims 110 to 118, wherein the communications traffic comprises changeable header codes which identify the traffic source and traffic target.
  120. 120. A computer program for operating a secondary market in the trading of consumer originated communications traffic on a network which allows suppliers of goods or services to be addressed uniquely on the network, comprising: receiving bids and offers from the suppliers for portions of the traffic as a liquidated commodity; settling trades between the suppliers on the basis of the bids and offers; and executing those trades by routing the traffic accordingly.
  121. 121. A computer program according to Claim 120, wherein the bids and offers are made continuously in relation to the traffic whether or not that traffic has already been redirected.
  122. 122. A computer program according to Claims 120 or 121, wherein the bids and offers are made, the transactions settled and the data output in real time.
  123. 123. A computer program according to any of Claims 120 to 122, wherein the traffic is divided between a plurality of suppliers of goods or services.
  124. 124. A computer program according to any of Claims 120 to 123, wherein the communications traffic includes internet traffic and uniform resource locators (URLs) are used to identify the traffic sources and traffic targets
  125. 125. A computer program according to Claim 124, wherein a group of websites comprise a single traffic source.
  126. 126. A computer program according to any of Claims 120 to 125, wherein the communications traffic includes transmissions of data, voice, video or other information to, from or between mobile terminals.
  127. 127. A computer program according to any of Claims 120 to 126, wherein the suppliers own traffic sources and/or traffic targets and wherein the communications traffic includes transmissions of data, voice, video or other information to, from or between distributed devices such as TV receivers which are addressable as the traffic sources or targets.
  128. 128. A computer program according to any of Claims 120 to 127, wherein the network is arranged to allow the consumers originating the communication traffic to share the network with the targets.
  129. 129. A computer program according to any of Claims 120 to 128, wherein the communications traffic comprises changeable header codes which identify the traffic source and traffic target.
  130. 130. A computer program for operating a secondary market in communications traffic, substantially as hereinbefore described with reference to Figures I to 8 of the accompanying drawings.
  131. 131. A method for operating a secondary market in communications traffic, substantially as hereinbefore described with reference to Figures I to 8 of the accompanying drawings.
  132. 132. A system for operating a secondary market in communications traffic, substantially as hereinbefore described with reference to Figures I to 8 of the accompanying drawings.
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US5838660A (en) * 1996-11-14 1998-11-17 Mci Communications Corporation Dynamic restoration process
EP1026610A2 (en) * 1999-02-05 2000-08-09 DirectRep, LLC Method and system for selling and purchasing media advertising over a distributed communication network.
WO2001082021A2 (en) * 2000-04-26 2001-11-01 Alexander Mashinsky System and method for facilitating the trading of bandwidth
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