Bravia: One Commercial People Look Forward To


The most amazing thing about the next Bravia ad is the amount of attention it is receiving even before it's done. I mean, how often do you see all these finger-on-fast-forward-button people actually looking forward to a commercial? Anyway, the Fallon team has just splashed some 70,000 liters (18,480 gallons) of paint over an abandoned building in Glasgow and you can already find videos on YouTube and pics on Flickr.

Stickers to Indicate Fruit Ripeness

"A University of Arizona professor has invented a sticker that can tell consumers if a fruit or vegetable is ripe. The stickers will be available to growers next year and should make their way to supermarkets within two to three years, said Mark Riley, a UA assistant professor of agricultural and biosystems engineering. A marker on Riley's RediRipe stickers detects a chemical called ethylene gas, which is released by fruit or vegetables as they ripen. As that happens, the sticker turns from white to blue."
-- AP/Yahoo

A similar product called Ripe Sense is already on the Australian market and was called one of the 36 greatest inventions of 2004 by Time magazine. "The ripeSense sensor works by reacting to the aromas released by the fruit as it ripens. The sensor is initially red and graduates to orange and finally yellow."

Ten Tips for Pitching Bloggers

This is an offtopic public service announcement.

David's article on non-traditional PR prompted me write this post I've been contemplating for a while. There is no lack of tips on how to pitch your press release into the blogosphere; here's a nice compilation of some twenty links to similar articles elsewhere, for example. I'll try to add value by pointing out things that I think are helpful but missing. My opinion is based on almost two years of keeping this blog alive and four years of doing PR before that. Both sides of the trenches, you see. I also get a few press releases a week, which gives me an idea about what can be improved. To be fair, I am somehow blessed with blog-literate PR people; most of the stuff pitched for Adlab is so good that it ends up posted nearly verbatim. Here are the tips for those whose press releases end up in the trash (or, worse, spam) folder.

1. A common-sense thing mentioned by everyone on this side but often overlooked by PR folks: read before you write. If this blog is on advertising technology, why would I write about your price promotions on some gizmo or your new high-level but totally obscure to everyone else hire?

2. That said, given the right angle, almost everything is pitchable. Fine-tuning a press release for every blogger on your list is hard work, but that's what needs to be done if you want the ink.

3. Figure out why your bloggers blog and in what format. Pew Internet has just released a thorough survey of bloggers. Seven percent blog for money, for example (see Pew's table below, click it to zoom in).

So, everyone blogs for different reasons and because of that -- in different formats. Some blogs are designed as a semi-public bookmarking mechanism of sorts to help their authors come back to relevant stuff in the future. These bloggers are filterers or compilers, and they view themselves as editors instead of writers. Their value to the blogosphere is in organizing disparate information bits into coherent topic-oriented streams. Their posts are often a copy/paste with a picture and a link, and maybe a sentence or two worth of comments. Other people write long and elaborate analytical masterpieces. They probably don't cover daily events at all and focus on the trends instead. They also post less often.

Here are some other motivations to blog:
-- to have a notebook to jot down thoughts that occur in the shower;
-- to have someone to bounce ideas off;
-- to be seen as expert in some area;
-- simply to be seen;
-- to keep friends up to date;
-- to share cool things found on the Internet;
-- to serve the society by investigating and pointing out its wrongs.

Blogs and their authors' motivations evolve. I started Adverlab to organize my collection of thesis notes, and for about six months it remained an absolutely private affair. Then somehow people started discovering it, and apparently there was a need for this particular collection of information, because they kept coming back. The growing audience puts certain pressures on your choice of subjects as you start feeling an obligation to keep giving your readers a reason to return. When the Adsense money kicks in, you also begin to think about what posts produce the best-paying keywords, the most traffic and the most lucrative ads. Navigating through these constraints isn't always easy.

All this was to say that you need to know what makes your blogger blog and to tailor your pitch appropriately if you want it to end up online.

4. Make your pitch easy to copy and paste. This means killing the CMO fluff about your product being revolutionary, bleeding-edge, Earth-shattering, exciting, best in class, next-generation, leading, cool, hip and viral (it can't be viral before it is wide-spread unless you are talking about a vial of anthrax). If you have a stubborn micromanaging boss and can't edit the fluff out then include a concise lead-like summary at the very top.

Many bloggers have complained about how much they hate PR PDFs. The main reason is that it's terribly hard to copy/paste content from PDF and it requires a few extra clicks to open. Attach a PDF if you must, but duplicate PDF's content in the body of the email as well.

5. Almost nobody will copy/paste or quote your entire press release, but many will link to it in the attribution section. Make your press-release linkable. You won't believe how many interesting press releases I find behind non-linkable walls of Flash. And whatever else you do with your site, don't change the URLs of your press releases or the blog links will rot.

Here's why you should care. A huge chunk of a blog's traffic comes from Google. In general, it takes a while for Google to update its main index with a blog's most recent posts (the time varies depending on the blog's popularity). It takes even longer for these posts to climb up to top pages in search results. This means that people who are not regular readers of that particular blog will start finding the post about company some time after it has been published. If you change the URL of your press release, then people who find the referring post and click on the link will end up nowhere. What a waste of clicks.

6. Provide pictures. Bloggers love pictures. Posts with pictures have higher click-through rates. Pictures for web are cheaper to produce than for print. There is no reason at all why you shouldn't provide pictures with your press release. If you don't have anywhere to post them, attach them to the email message. Post them on flickr. Provide the "img src" code to go along with your pictures to make them even easier to embed. If you have video content, provide embeddable players, YouTube style. Pictures don't have to be pretty as long as they are informative. Take a snapshot with a disposable digital camera of whatever it is you are writing about. Provide good screenshots that describe the product.

7. Court the small blogs. The most popular blogs are already inundated with hundreds of press releases and yours will have to compete for attention. But bloggers are treasure hunters, and a large portion of the big guys' content comes from what they find on obscure small sites. If you make a small blog a star (how about an exlusive?) and then BoingBoing or Engadget pick it up from there, it will be absorbed up by a gazillion of other blogs that feed off the few big ones. The small blog gets the traffic, you get the attention, and everyone in the blogging foodchain is happy. Besides, small blogs are like undervalued stock. When they make it big, you will already have an established relationship with the new A-lister, and your way to its pages will be a carpool lane. Remember, every blog was small before it made the Technorati 100.

8. You can't build relationships by auto-customizing your email with the blogger's name; everyone knows how to use mail-merge these days and the only person you are fooling is your boss. Me -- I don't care if a PR pitcher knows my name when cold-writing. The only way to build a relatioship is by feeding the bloggers information (with pictures!) that will drive their traffic and by responding to their requests in a timely manner. If you feel that customizing your email gives you an edge, refer to a post that relates somehow to your press release: "I've read your post about advertising on cockroaches and I think our product has a more dramatic effect."

9. I am sure this will sound morally wretched or something, and the comments section is open for your wrath, but see, many blogs are selling ad space these days either piece-meal, or through AdSense, or AdBrite or BlogAds. Most of the ad space outside the Technorati 100 is dirt-cheap, and you can buy a month of exposure for something like $50. True, it won't give you many eyeballs, but it can make a difference in your relationship with the blogger. It's not about the money, either -- most of the bloggers are gainfully employed at their day jobs and many are very well paid. By advertising on a smaller blog, you acknowledge its importance, and there's nothing more a blogger craves than recognition. Think of it as an investment, not an expense.

10. Finally, the good news is that bloggers need you as much as you need them, although they will be the last to admit it. Give them good stories (and pictures!), and your clipping book will gain blog fat in no time. After all, the new media are not that different from the old when it comes to the writer's pride.

Porting Doom into Doom 3

You've probably heard about Massive launching interactive ads for Toyota in Anarchy Online (if not, here's a report by Business Week). This paper on Fully Interactive Surfaces in Doom 3 explores a more advanced kind of interactivity -- the authors have embedded the original Doom into the game released a decade later. I wonder if we will soon start seeing advergames inside larger titles.

Fans Dial Into Rolling Stones' Euro Concerts

"The Rolling Stones will offer audio access to their remaining European concerts by being the first act to utilize a new technology called Listen Live Now!. The band's 'A Bigger Bang' tour will become the first live concerts to be fee-cast beginning Friday, July 28 at the Rolling Stones' Paris show and continue through the band's Sept. 3 concert in Horsens, Denmark. Fans can tune in from any phone (mobile or land line) and listen live for a fee of US$1.99 per seven-minute feed direct from the soundboard. Under existing proprietary technology, up to one million fans will be able to listen in on selected concerts."
-- gizmag

keywords: telephone, phone, cellphone, cell, delivery, information

Milk-Flavoring Straw

Sippah milk-flavoring straws are filled with special UniBeads that contain flavors. "As the milk is sipped through Sipahh, the UniBeads dissolve and turn boring white milk into a healthy snack that everyone can enjoy."

Talking Mirror with a Face

"Magic Message Mirror looks and functions like a 16:9 (oriented in portrait mode), 30" diagonal decorative mirror and also has another concealed purpose. When your home automation / security system senses a change in your environment, the character within the mirror theatrically appears and notifies you of the change. Once notified you may choose to directly view a camera feed on the stealthy monitor.

Themeaddicts Inc. is a California Corporation composed of a team of seasoned professionals from the theme park attraction and feature film special effects industries."

Smart Fitting Room Gives Fashion Advice
Mirror with LED Messages
Mirror as Intelligent Computer Display
Advertising on Mirrors
Interactive Mirrors for Infiniti
Promotion for Visa Bridges Real and Virtual

Streaming Information Through Tongue, Skin

"By routing signals from helmet-mounted cameras, sonar and other equipment through the tongue to the brain, researchers hope to give elite soldiers superhuman senses similar to owls, snakes and fish.

A narrow strip of red plastic connects the Brain Port to the tongue where 144 microelectrodes transmit information through nerve fibers to the brain. Instead of holding and looking at compasses and bluky-hand-held sonar devices, the divers can processes the information through their tongues, said Dr. Anil Raj, the project's lead scientist."
-- ABC News (Apr 24, 2006) via Technovelgy

In 2004, Microsoft received a patent for using human skin as a power conduit and data bus Personal Area Network). "Furthermore, Microsoft said, the physical resistance offered by the human body could be used to create a virtual keyboard on a patch of skin." (CNet)

Wave Tank Forms Letters on Standing Water

"The AMOEBA (Advanced Multiple Organized Experimental Basin), a circular tank created by Mitsui Engineering at their Akishima laboratory, is able form letters with standing waves. This remarkable display device consists of fifty water-wave generators surrounding a cylindrical tank 5 feet wide and a foot deep. The wave generators move vertically to produce cylindrical waves. These "pixels" are about 4 inches in diameter and 1.5 inches in height; these form lines and shapes. If Akishima Labs maintains steady progress, it may be possible to achieve alien effects in fountains or other media."
-- Live Science

Billboard as Shower

TiVo to Offer Ad Viewership Stats

"TiVo announced the creation of TiVo Audience Research and Measurement (ARM), a division of the company which will offer advertisers and advertising agencies second-by-second data and analysis on DVR viewing of advertising content."
-- press release

Monopoly Switches to Plastic

In the UK, Monopoly adjusts it's property prices for inflation and now comes with card readers and plastic Visa cards instead of the proverbial Monopoly money. "It is part of an international deal between Parker and finance giant Visa, which designed the mock debit card and its electronic machine." One other Hasbro's game that includes ATMs and debit cards is Mall Madness.
-- via Fallon Planning Blog and sky news

Art: Ron Mueck's Oversized Sculptures


Wiki: "Mueck's early career was as a model maker and puppeteer for children's television and films, notably the film Labyrinth for which he also contributed the voice of Ludo.

Mueck moved on to establish his own company in London, making photo-realistic props and animatronics for the advertising industry. Although highly detailed, these props were usually designed to be photographed from one specific angle hiding the mess of construction seen from the other side. Mueck increasingly wanted to produce realistic sculptures which looked perfect from all angles."


Earlier art:
Painted Pseudo-3D Ads
Perspective-Bending Art

keywords: illusion giant

World's Largest Hi-Def Video Screen

"Mitsubishi Electric has completed construction of the world’s largest high-definition video screen at a horse track in Tokyo. The screen employs Mitsubishi’s Aurora Vision LED technology and measures 11.2 meters (37 feet) x 66.4 meters (218 feet), giving it a surface area of 744 square meters (8,000+ square feet), or the equivalent of three tennis courts."
-- pink tentacle

The Voices In Your Head Were Brought To You By...

Turns out, "around 10% of the population hear voices that aren't there." The Australian ABC radio discusses "the latest research on how auditory hallucinations occur in the brain."

"During hallucinations there are regions of the brain that become active. And those regions commonly involve the regions of the brain, the temporal lobe under the temple that are associated with the processing of normal sounds. So it's as if the brain is being tricked, or the person is being tricked into believing that these voices are actually occurring because there's spontaneous activation of these hearing regions of the brain."

Product placement in hallucinations, anyone?

Study: What Makes a Song Catchy?

Mom Lays Her Firstborn on Advertising Altar

It's not that toddlers are bona fide advertising technology, but I was dreaming about a chance to write a headline like this forever. Anyway, some mom is offering advertisers to buy Jake, kind of. She wants $100,000 for your right to put a logo on the boy. Call me overly sensitive (by the industry's standards), but I'm not putting the guy's picture up here; he'll have to live with his mom's, uhm, bright idea forever. Here's the mom, though.

Sending MMS From Cell Phone to TV

Hey, mom! Switch to channel 789, I'm on TV now!

Narrocasting TV is "a product that connects the TV in your living room with your mobile phone. When your mobile receives any message or a photo, the mobile phone forwards the message to your TV. The TV on a certain channel will then show the message or photo. It also stores images and texts for a while and can show a slideshow of them. You can also send a message to your family's TV directly."

Tons of good things can come out of this art project. Like beaming videos. Or playing cellphone games on the big screen.

-- via WMMNA

Automatic Checkout Cuts Impulse Buys

A piece of Monday trivia for you: "Shoppers make last-minute purchases 45 percent less often when they use automated checkout machines, as opposed to waiting for a cashier to check them out, according to IHL Consulting Group. The drop in impulse purchases was greater for women (50 percent), than for men (27.9 percent), according to IHL, which polled 533 people to determine their shopping habits."
-- NY Post via Not Billable

McDonald's Interactive

"McDonald's Interactive was formed four years ago to help the company adapt to new market conditions. We began developing a simulation of the fast-food industry, for use by managers in developing market strategies," said Division CTO Sam Grossman. "When we added a climate simulation module..."

No spoilers. Have fun figuring this out.

Nicktoons Promotes New Shows with Flip Books

"Nicktoons Network is giving away flip books that play back full-motion clips from two new original animated shows Skyland and Kappa Mikey. The books will be distributed
through Nicktoon Networks' first cross-country mobile tour, at Comic-Con International and during the Nicktoons Network Animation Festival at Nicktoons Studios.

Originally invented in 1882, flip books create the optical illusion of motion when images stacked in sequential stages of movement are flipped. Recognized as one of the earliest forms of interactive multimedia on record, flip books are now coming back into style as an innovative new marketing tool."
-- (thanks, Jeff)

History of Pop-up and Movable Books
Interactive Print Through Structural Graphics

McDonald's Counter-Srike Map

Here's a McDonald's map for Counter-Strike: Source. I also have a McD WAD for Doom but the game isn't stable enough for me to take a snapshot. I suspect none of this was sanctioned by Ronald, but that's the beauty of it.

Event: American Apparel's Grand Opening in Second Life

The grand opening of the American Apparel's Second Life store on Lerappa Island (sl-url) is scheduled for July 28, 7pm PST/SLT. The company plans to offer an "exclusive preview of our new Denim Slim Slacks for men and women" and will offer a "15% discount on any Real Life item you buy in Second Life".
-- AA website

Machinima Advertising Contest in World of Warcraft

Warcraft Cinema is running Azeroth Ad Contest whose goal is to stimulate the economy of the World of Warcraft. The organizers are asking for 30-second machinima spots (and you thought the format was dead) that advertise an in-game product, event or location: "Take a vacation in scenic Dun Morogh. Tour working mines, visit historic Ironforge, and ride in an authentic Dwarven Steam Engine! Paid for by the Ironforge Chamber of Commerce. We are not liable for any torture, maiming, or death you may experience." The deadline is July 31, after which the organizers will put one ad a day up for popular voting.

As Eric who sent me this news wrote, "Intended to introduce the machinima community to the :30 second spot, the contest could raise the use of machinima in advertisements to a new level. The contest is only for ingame products at this time, but if successful could build into launching pad for a vibrant 'machinima in advertisements' community."
-- thanks, Eric

And speaking of machinima ads, here are the winners of Chrysler's machinima competition announced in winter. The first place and a Chrysler went to the maker of "Bullets are Forever" (see on YouTube).

Machinima Commercials
Machinima Advertising
Chrysler Sponsors Machinima Contest

NBC To Send Promos Through Netflix

NBC will put DVDs of trailers and first episodes of some prime-time series along with the movies sent by Neftlix to its millions of customers. Cool, because you can potentially segment the Netflix audience by geography, demographic data and purchase history.
-- Media Post

Advertising on Airsickness Bags

Today, the ad blogs are abuzz about the news that US Airlines plans to sell ad space on those barf bags tucked into every seat pocket (here's a bigger story about airlines' ad biz). Not new at all, says a commenter on Adrants; airlines in Europe have been doing it for ages. Here's a sickness bag from Virgin Atlantic with a promo for the third episode of Star Wars: "While some of the bags are instructional in nature, giving passengers tips on how to handle and fight with a lightsaber, another bag offers advice to the airline staff on where to seat the Jedi and Sith." Virgin also used the bags to advertise new destinations. Soutwest Airlines uses its bags for recruitment with the "Sick of your job?" punchline. Here's a large online museum by a bag collector, and another huge gallery for your inspiration -- go and marvel at how much human creativity was spent on something so trivial.

Rethinking Ads on Plastic Bags, Part II

So, you have probably seen all those already, but I thought I'd pull them together for reference. The post will be updated as more designs come in. Part I is here.

A bag for something call Blush (a magazine?).

A design for Panadol painkiller.

A bag for Panten shampoo.

A "help children with autism" bag.

Smart Fitting Room Gives Fashion Advice

Paco Underhill wrote in his "Why We Buy?" that dressing rooms are probably the most important part of a store because that's where most decisions are made, and yet most rooms do nothing to encourage a purchase -- they are dark, small and uncomfortable.

Now check this out. Hong Kong researchers developed a smart fitting room (full name:
"An intelligent Simulator for Cross-selling & Up-selling using Smart Fitting Room & Smart Dressing Mirror") that uses RFID tags to identify the goods in front of the mirror and delivers recommendations through a touch-screen LCD monitor. (You can also display content directly on mirrors). Context advertising is not limited to online space.

-- via Cool Business Ideas

Electrolux Promotes Products With A Book

To attract the demo of domestically challenged young man who live and do laundry alone and who ignore TV ads (me! me!), Electrolux commissioned a novel "Men in Aprons", "the story of a twentysomething Londoner named Dan who is "the envy of his friends" but is lost when it comes to laundry. While the Electrolux name doesn't appear in the narrative itself, the story line is built around the benefits of good housekeeping. Buy the right appliances and follow a few simple tips, it suggests, and you too can get the girl of your dreams, and a lasagna." The company hopes to sell 4,000 copies that go for about $12 and is already working on a Russian translation (why Russian?). An audiobook version is also available. Read the IHT article here and Trashionista's review here.

By the way, you can now take laundry lessons from your washing machine, courtesy of Electrolux (see press release). It cooks, too: "Electrolux has launched its Communication washing machine, an appliance that helps users by confirming their actions vocally. This latest innovation from Electrolux actually tells the user how to use the appliance and makes laundry a piece of cake.

And speaking of books, the Guardian says publishers now are beginning to promote books just like movies, with trailers. (via AdJab).

Newspaper Converts Print News into Podcasts

International Herald Tribune's site has a new feature called Audionews that automatically converts print news of your choice into podcasts (with text-to-speech software) downloadable with iTunes. Wonder if they will sell ad spots to go with the feeds, which would make perfect sense.
-- via PSFK

Update: So I've just tried it, and it's not exactly how it works. You can't convert just any article into sound; you can only choose what you want from a regularly updated but pre-canned list. Some way to go, but still cool.

Guardian: Print Your Own Newspaper

Designing Media-Rich Web Ads for Mute Button

The moral of this Clickz story: if you are creating a video or a flash animation web ad, make sure the point gets across even with the sound off, because that's how it will probably be viewed anyway. Also, if you remember, an ad that automatically plays sound is on Jakob Nielsen's lists of top 10 most hated advertising techniques.

Home Depot Sells Ad Space on Site

Ah, the beauty of convergence: watch a giant DIY retailer turn into a media company. Home Depot announced it would sell ad space on its site to selected brands. They claim their site attracts 2.5 billion page views a year, and you can put a banner in their newsletters, too. Of course, you can argue that their shelf space is also a kind of medium with ad space for sale, but this is somehow different.
-- via Marketing Vox

HP Brands Print Button

An Ad Rag forumer found this cute HP-branded print button on a Smart Money page. "HP Print This Story" sounds clumsy; couldn't they have gotten away with just "HP" and a printer icon? Anyway, they should customize the buttons in MS Word too, I think.

CBS To Advertise on Eggs

"In September, CBS plans to start using a new place to advertise its fall television lineup: your breakfast. The network plans to announce today that it will place laser imprints of its trademark eye insignia, as well as logos for some of its shows, on eggs — 35 million of them in September and October. CBS’s copywriters are referring to the medium as "egg-vertising," hinting at the wordplay they have in store. Some of their planned slogans: "CSI" ("Crack the Case on CBS"); "The Amazing Race" ("Scramble to Win on CBS"); and "Shark" ("Hard-Boiled Drama."). Variations on the ad for its Monday night lineup of comedy shows include "Shelling Out Laughs," "Funny Side Up" and "Leave the Yolks to Us.""
-- NY Times

Advertising on Eggs

ATM Dispensing Fake "Boob Bucks" Money

Our reader djchrome from LA writes:

"I was at an ATM at a news stand and when I went to retrieve my cash I noticed that there were a few extra bills at the bottom of the stack! At first I was excited, but then I took a closer look and realized it wasn't real money. Oh well! Turns out the fake money is something called "Boob Bucks"! And it's for $5 in free credits on the website I checked out the website, and it is a pretty clever idea as well! It's a social networking website (like MySpace) where people pay real money for these virtual boob bucks, which they then spend on the site. The money they spend goes towards helping girls raise money for breast implants! Crazy!"

Rocketboom's Advertising Rates

We all heard about Rocketboom selling its first ad spot on eBay, but do they have flat ad rates? They do, and the show's producer Andrew Baron talks about advertising prospects of the show that was recently rocked by the departure of its star host (dated June 12, before Amanda's leave).

Lucky Magazine Intergrates PayPal's Text2Buy

GenDigital says Lucky Magazine has integrated PayPal's Text2Buy technology into its September issue. Readers can text in the things they want to buy and the stuff will get shipped to the address stored with PayPal.
-- via PSFK

Hijacking MySpace Pages

Adrants wrote about a certain MySpace profile (very unsafe for public viewing) that, when accessed, automatically loaded a porn-peddling page. Interesting, because MySpace doesn't allow Javascript on user pages, nor does it allow them to change meta tags to allow redirection. A quick look at the sourcecode of that MySpace page revealed that the redirect instructions were contained within an embedded invisible Flash file. If you are curious, look for the line *embed allowscriptaccess="never" src=""*. The most troubling part of it is that apparently you can embed the same file in the comments you leave on the profiles of others, and these comments show up on the main profile pages. If it's true, then redirecting a popular brand profile anywhere would be a matter of seconds.

I have two accounts on MySpace, one primary and one for testing purposes. I tried to post a comment with the embedded redirecting Flash on my secondary profile and it seems it went through, but when the comment preview page came up, I got redirected to porn too fast to actually press the "post" button.

Update [July 11, 06]: "Users of MySpace who find a link to a video and press the Play button may have just agreed to install adware from 180solutions' Zango division. " (Security Pro News)

Personalized Windshield Fliers

You've probably been annoyed by windshield fliers countless times before, but see what a difference can a personalized approach make. RadioTail's Greg Galant writes on his Flickr: "I noticed this on my windshield as I returned to my car at the train station parking lot. I thought for sure it was a ticket for my expired town parking pass. Turns out some clever marketers went around the parking lot looking for cars with minor damages and left estimates on their windshields."

Offtopic: Ellen Feiss Stars in a Movie

Not a tech news by any stretch, but being Ellen Feiss's (who is she?) greatest fan, I couldn't resist. I was writing my thesis on a PC, and it was, like, beep beep beep beep, beep and then the news popped up that that she is now starring in Bed and Breakfast, a movie that "takes place in a strange and fantastic world, which twists the apparent perception of things to reveal the reality that lurks behind." And I was, like, heh?
-- via Ad Land

Software Behind the Fireworks

PC Magazine has a feature on Infinity Visions whose software coordinates the largest pyrotechnic shows. "The software allows firing cues to be placed at certain times, superimposed against the waveform of the music that will be played; fireworks can be used to emphasize themes, provide percussion, or simply create effects that complement the music. Once the show is choreographed, the instructional files are uploaded into the firing machines, and the programmers can step back and simply push "play". The computer sends the appropriate signals down a web of cables to the firing modules, which in turn are connected to the shells."

Above is the better of some 70 fireworks shots I did yesterday. Boston's show was choreographed with Infinity Vision's product.

Commentary: Advertising, Traffic and Cityscape

"You can hide an object in the middle of other objects that are similar to it. It is very difficult to find a specific straw in a big haystack. Even though advertising always strives to stand out from its background and other advertisements, the advertising environment is visually very uniform. When there are enough individual elements that all want to stand out from their background and each other, they eventually all blend into one homogeneous whole."
-- Moving Pictures -- Advertising, Traffic and Cityscape

Porn Spam Has 5.6% Click-Through Rate

An interesting piece of trivia from NY Times: "Spam messages promoting pornography are 280 times as effective in getting recipients to click on them as messages advertising pharmacy drugs, which are the next most effective type of spam. 'Successful spam is about impulse purchases,' said Francis deSouza, a vice president at Symantec, which makes antivirus software. 'Things like home mortgages have a lower success rate than things you'd buy on impulse. Things like Viagra, porn.'"

I have received 5,358 messages identified as spam by our mail server since January when I last cleaned my mailbox. Their combined weight is around 240MB.