Flashback: Music on the Bones

A much cooler way to pirate music: record it on disks made out of used x-ray film. That's how they "bit-torrented" illegal rottening rock and roll in the USSR a few decades ago. I've heard a lot about the "music on the bones", but it's the first time I got to see the pictures when they popped up on Boing Boing. Here's a bit more on the Dead Media Project page.

Video, Data on Vinyl Disks

Nokia Silence Booth

Nokia installed glass "silence booths" at some music festivals in Europe, providing a quiet place to have a conversation and try out a new model of their phone.
-- more on textually.org, via guerilla innovation

Ad Blogger DMCAed by YouTube for Posting Ad Spot

Everyone's favorite ad blogger CoolzOr has been served a DMCA notice from YouTube for posting a Don't Drink and Drive PSA spot by a Brittish ad agency that claimed its copyright had been violated. Of course, that's only one side of the story, but huh?

Eternal Forces Links Game and iTunes

"Left Behind Games is integrating links to the iTunes Music Store into the upcoming title, "Left Behind: Eternal Forces", allowing gamers to easily navigate to the store and purchase music they hear during gameplay. Clicking the link will pause the in-game action and launch the iTunes Music Store page featuring the song. After a quick download, the game is picked up where it was left off. Gamer’s can then customize their play list and listen to the different songs they have downloaded while in-game." The game's release is scheduled for November 2006. Here's Gamespot's preview.

-- press release (pdf), July 26, 2006

MySpace Users Grow Unhappy Over Fake Profiles

So the lowest-hanging fruit's gone now and it's time to move from the static and fake (yeah, fictional) MySpace profiles to something more innovative and interactive. MediaPost: " Peter Blackshaw--chief marketing officer for Nielsen BuzzMetrics, which monitors online "buzz" about a variety of topics--warns that the growing corporate presence on social networks is a topic of significant discussion among users. [...] Rachel Honig, co-founder of the digital-marketing firm Digital Power & Light, agreed that the growing number of fake profiles might quickly prove tiresome."

Although he is a fervent MySpace supporter, Scott Koboyashi, a co-founder of a "best of MySpace" blog called SpaceCadetz, said in a recent interview that the site has lost its independent feel."

Also, VW's Helga still hasn't friended me despite multiple requests. Adidas, Yaris, Scion, Smart, Cingular and H&M did. Helga - not.

List of Brands on MySpace

Kinetic Sculptures of Theo Jansen in BMW Spot

Dutch artist Theo Jansen uses plastic tubes to make skeletons that are able to walk on the wind. "Eventualy he wants to put these animals out in herds on the beaches, so they will live their own lives." BMW did a commercial (see on YouTube) featuring him and his creatures.
-- via Hemmy

Sharapova Lookalikes to Work New York for Canon

"More than 20 doubles of Maria Sharapova will canvass Manhattan from Aug. 28 to Sept. 4 to promote Canon’s new line of PowerShot digital cameras that will launch the same week. The more than six-feet tall and blonde look-alikes will help passer-bys keep cool by handing out 80,000 branded fans."
-- Promo Magazine

American Apparel Store in SL Taken Hostage in Fight for Voting Rights

"Following the lack of any progress towards introducting citizens voting rights to Second Life the [Second Life Liberation Army] began in-world military operations.

The SLLA selected as its first target the American Apparel Store in SL. Volunteers from the SLLA have been posted to the store and are preventing SL residents from buying any goods from this vendor.

The SLLA has no complaint with American Apparel but is seeking to introduce voting rights to Second Life. We hope that American Apparel will join us in putting pressure on Linden Labs to do this. The SLLA can then stop our attacks against customers using their store."

--SLLA blog, August 11, 2006, via PSFK

Study: Mouse Scroll Wheel Spins 26 Feet Daily

Logitech: "A recent Logitech study revealed that people, on average, have six applications open on their computer at any one time, and the active window switches or a new window opens every 50 seconds. To navigate the vast content at their disposal, people spin their mouse´s scroll wheel approximately 26 feet in an eight-hour day."

I crunched a few numbers and it turns out that with my mouse and with my monitor set to my screen resolution, the 26 feet of scrolling translates into 330 feet (slightly over 100 meters) of on-screen content a day (one full mouse scroll moves the slider about 15 inches as measured with a ruler).
-- via clickable culture

E-Paper in Action: Videos and Pics from Plastic Logic

Plastic Logic, the British maker of flexible electronics, has videos and pics of its electronic paper as well as a few concept images (like the one above).
-- via i4u

New Book: Hoopla Profiles Crispin, Porter + Bogusky

On Amazon, available for pre-order, coming out in September. From the editorial description: "In Hoopla, the secret inner workings of this freewheeling, break-the-mold idea factory are revealed for the first time. Veteran journalist Warren Berger, who has tracked and reported on the CP+B phenomenon over the past decade, fully examines and deconstructs the methods that lie behind the agency’s seeming madness, while the striking images throughout the book (captioned by the CP+B creative team) provide insights into the logic, intuition, mischief, and passion that leads to the creation of Hoopla. The result is a fascinating journey into a realm of unbridled creativity."

YouTube's New Ad Formats: Links, Screens

So you've seen the reports in NY Times and elsewhere that YouTube finally figured out (see an earlier post) how to make money on all that traffic it gets. In a nutshell, "YouTube plans to officially announce today [Aug.22] that it is selling space on its main page to run video ads, which viewers will be able to rate and share. The company is also providing advertisers with "channels," or designated pages where they can display videos and other content."

Here's what we get:

This is Paris Hilton's official YouTube channel.

This is a trailer for Rockstar's new game, Bully, featured on the front page of YouTube. The trailer is done in the traditional YouTube video sharing format. Note the three-star rating. Here's Rockstar's profile page.

This is the main page for this particular trailer, viewed 215K times since August 22 (not bad). Note the banner on the top. It would be interesting to see how many people have shared the trailer through their own blogs. Wonder if the tepid rating for the trailer will hurt the game as badly as a similarly ranked review would.

Overall, very MySpace-ish. Many what-ifs remain, too. What if your ad is not a video? (Have to see if I can create a video out of a PowerPoint slideshow.) What if there's a campaign to mob your video down?

It could become very interesting if there was a seamless way to integrate pre-edited continuous streams of YouTube content into a DVR box for everything to pop up on a real TV screen.

Most Popular Commercials on YouTube
Movie Trailers Come to YouTube
Engadget Enables User Comments on Ads

People Want More Ads -- In Yellow Pages

"The most surprising finding in the new report is the attitude Yellow Pages users have toward advertising. Unlike most media where advertising is deemed "clutter," most Yellow Pages consumers consider it "content." In fact, 18 percent of the 9,078 consumers surveyed by KN/SRI said they wanted more ads in their Yellow Pages directories."

The annual study was conducted for the Yellow Pages Association by Knowledge Networks/Statistical Research Inc.

-- Media Post

Brands March On Into Second Life

image: Amazon web services blog

-- Update on the progress of the in-world Amazon store.
-- Adidas-Reebok is rumored to get in soon.
-- And so is Toyota Scion (here and here). Update [Aug.23]: more details at Millions of Us, the company that brought Scion in SL).
-- CNet writes about a Baltimore accounting firm setting up shop in Second Life.

And there are many more lined up. One year is all it took for SL to go from Well Fargo's aborted Stagecoach Island to this brandopia.

More Businesses Enter Virtual Worlds
Starwood Is Constructing a Branded Hotel in Second Life

Scion in Second Life. Credit: Prokofy Neva

Business Card Dispensers

Addirect, the same company that places ads on mirrors, has a display that dispenses pre-loaded business cards on demand.

Army Employs AI Bot To Answer Recruits' Questions

US Army's recruitement website has a virtual Sgt. Star answering questions about life in the barracks, IM-style. Not a terribly sophisticated engine, but the answers are nicely voice-overed.

AOL Adds Advertising Robots to AIM
Instant Messenger as Content Delivery Platform

Flashback: Magnascope

Another dead but cool medium that is similar to the epidiascope. "Just as a post-card projector displays small opaque objects, so the new [new for 1939, that is] device, called a “magna-scope,” throws a highly enlarged image of a man’s face upon a translucent screen."
-- modern mechanix

Another Company Rolls Out Conveyor Belt Ads

Envision Marketing Group is offering to put full-color ads on check-out conveyor belts in grocery stores. AdAge quotes the company CEO saying that "Conveyor belts have never been on anybody's radar screen for marketing." That is anybody but Adver-belt you might have read about here last year.

Culture: Interview with the Mac Guy

LA Times interviews Justin Long who plays the Mac guy in the new Apple's campaign:
"I had a guy come up to me, in my face, saying, 'You think you're so cool? You're not cool' and I'm saying to him, 'Dude, it's a commercial.'" Almost twenty more spots are in the works, the newspaper says, in addition to the already aired seven.

And here's the PC guy, John Hodgman, on the Daily Show.

Advertising Comes to Textbooks

Freeload Press is offering free e-textbooks that include ads from such sponsors as FedEx Kinko's. Washington Post writes, "St. Paul-based Freeload's numbers are modest so far: 25,000 users have registered and 50,000 books have been downloaded, for courses at schools ranging from community colleges to the University of Michigan. But the company says it is rapidly adding titles and will have 250,000 textbooks and study aids in circulation by next year. It has also signed agreements with three small, specialty publishers to make their textbooks available the same way, and is in negotiations with others."

Shai Interactive Porn Fails to Move Goods

The well-made erotic clips with interactive hot-spot (pun alert) overlays for Shai managed to attract millions of eyeballs but aparently failed to sell the merchandise. San Francisco Chronicle writes, "Many people have decided to take a look. More than 2 million visitors from 117 countries have come to the site in the last four months. But the company has yet to sell many shirts, pants, skirts or blazers." Maybe it's because erotic and violent images cloud vision.

Dungeon Siege NPC Promotes Another Game

Developers have been promoting their products through in-game billboards since at least mid-1980s, but ArsTechnica writes about an entirely new twist:

"In Dungeon Siege 2: Broken World, our forum goer Scero found an NPC [non-playing character] that told him about the Dungeon Siege PSP game and offered him a code for it, as well as saying the PSP game had a code for items in the game he was playing."

Data: Casual Game Audience Preferences

Casual games taking place of daily activities, CNet/Reuters, August 14, 2006

According to a new study by Harris Interactive, "nearly half (49 percent) would play casual games rather than go to the movie theater, 32 percent opted for them over movies at home, and 37 percent chose them over watching TV."

Data: Activision CEO on In-Game Advertising

Activision CEO Bobby Kotick in an analyst call reported by Seeking Alpha:

"...We look at the amount of hours that are consumed by consumers and let's take 18 to 35-year-old males in the U.S. in front of a video game screen. So last year that was roughly 30 billion hours. Then you compare that to television watching which was to the same demographic roughly 30 billion hours. There was $8.5 billion spent on television advertising to 18 to 34-year-old males and there was less than $50 million spent in-game advertising last year. So it's somewhere between $50 million and $8.5 billion."

"...What we've said all along is the biggest limiter right now in establishing a rate card and generating any kind of reasonable revenues is that you don't have a big enough installed base of next-generation hardware that you can use for measurement purposes. That will not change until you have 20 or 30 million units of always-on Internet capable next-generation consoles in the installed base. So you won't start to see it have an impact on our business until, let's say, two or three years from now."

GTA-themed Commercial for Coke

The born-again GTA(-like) protagonist does good deeds and drinks Coke in this brilliant commercial for Coke. Using game characters as product endorsers is an old idea (Pac-Man starred in a 7-Up spot in the 1980s) that is being rediscovered.

Case: Fictional and Proxy Brands: Sprunk

Rapid Prototyping of 3D Game Objects

"Using OGLE (i.e. OpenGLExtractor) by Eyebeam R&D we can build characters and environments from your favorite video games. OGLE allows for a 'screen grab' operation for 3D data that can then be saved into standard 3D formats. Visit: ogle.eyebeamresearch.org for more information and let Anvil produce real-world objects in full color from your virtual 3D environments."
-- Anvil Prototype

Ford In-Game Cars to Show Damage

Ford is preparing a big-budget full-length racing advergame featuring a model line-up ranging from "1968 Mustang GT to the 1973 Escort RS2000 to the hot-off-the-assembly line 2007 Shelby GT500". "Bold Moves" is Ford's current campaign slogan.

"One of the features in the "Street Racing" title that's certainly a bold move for Ford is the decision to allow its cars to show damage as drivers ding them up on the road. Damage will also affect the cars' performance. The issue has been a pain point for game developers and publishers licensing real-world autos for racing titles."

-- Enid Burns, "Ford Vehicles Featured in New Console Game", ClickZ.com, Aug.11, 2006.

Google Maps Offers Geo-Coupons

Google is now allowing businesses to upload coupons to its Maps services. The coupons will show up when users do a related search.
-- via Red Herring

Heinz Offers Custom Labels

These days, Beanz Meanz whatever you want them to with these custom labels offered by My Heinz.

The Future of Google Video Ads

Several new things about Google video. First, you can now link to the content inside the file (that is, to a particular second) in additional to the whole object. It would be cool to have this functionality for podcasts, too, and I wonder why Google isn't hosting audio files. Also, a link to Google Video is now featured on the front page, replacing Froogle's. Search Engine Journal says that bigger things are coming:

"In the same excitement that Google AdWords brought to Google Web Search (or Goto.com brought to Web Search as a whole), Google has developed a method of monetization for web video uploading & sharing which my revolutionize this niche market from its roots at Google, YouTube & MySpace and into its branches of television, video, smart houses and perhaps in-flight movies; the sky is the limit."

Credit Cards with RFID Chips

Boston Globe covers the controversy around RFID-equipped credit cards. Apparently, 20 million Americans already have one of those, and Nokia is planning to embed RFID chips into their cell phones that could eventually replace plastic altogether. I wonder what people lose more often: credit cards or cell phones? Besides, when you lose your plastic card (I just did last weekend), you can use the cell phone to call and cancel it, but what happens if you lose your phone with your credit info on it?

Offtopic: Personal Announcements

You might have noticed a relative decline in activity on this blog, so here are my excuses and a few promises.

I've been staying up late as usually, but finishing up my thesis instead of obsessive blogging. The thesis was defended last Friday and here's a pic of the three official copies printed on some special acid-free paper that will go to the MIT archive. It's about 70 pages long, 200+ references, a single-space-Times-New-Roman-without-any-pictures kind of thing. I am figuring out a way to post it online in a way that's more user-friendly than a long PDF file and it will probably be up by the end of summer. Many, many thanks to everyone who has offered help, advice and encouragement during the entire stretch.

Incidentally, the defense means no more uber-fast MIT connection to the series of tubes. I am moving to a new place (still in the same zipcode, though), so it will be a while till I get some Internets set up. Here's what the new blogging headquarters looks like. Note how the walls are painted in the colors of the two blogs: orange for AdLab and blue/gray for Billboadom.

I have started working on the other side of the river at HHCC. Lots of very exciting things in the pipeline already, but can't talk about them yet. In a nutshell, I will get a chance to try out some of the ideas I've been posting about for the past two years. How cool is that?

There will be several changes to this blog. First, Google is rolling out upgrades for Blogger and apparently we will now have tags and other goodies. Second, it's time for some cosmetic surgery, and the design of this blog will be upgraded in as soon as my home gets wired. Third, although I remain a research affiliate of the MIT Covergence Culture Consortium, I am not sure if I can still use "MIT" in "MIT Advertising Lab". I'll either will have to phase the name out or think of something else that wouldn't get the Institute upset.

Finally, I think the posters below would've been completely believable had the guys been not so clean-shaven. But no, they are the stars of Fox's "Preason Break".

Acclaim's Next MMO to Be Mostly Ad-Supported

"Acclaim Games announces a free, totally brutal massively multiplayer online role-playing game (MMORPG) 2Moons designed specifically for adult gamers. This M-Rated title is targeted at those looking for an adrenaline soaked experience and aimed squarely at players looking to kick @$$ for free! With no subscriptions, and no charge to download the game, it will be funded mostly by advertising--and (even more radically) the user will be allowed to turn off the in-game adverting if they choose. With Perry's approach, Acclaim is determined to offer truly free gameplay by creating a new kind of advertising model for the industry."
-- press release via Gaming Age

NY Times on AOL Search Leak: Catalog of Intentions

An interesting article today in NY Times that tracked down a 60-year-old lady by following her search trail in the database of searches mis-released by AOL. "Her searches are a catalog of intentions, curiosity, anxieties and quotidian questions. There was the day in May, for example, when she typed in 'termites,' then 'tea for good health' then 'mature living,' all within a few hours."

Catalog of intentions. A gold mine for planners.

[Update] Aug.9 2006: I guess now the famous cartoon needs to be amended: On the Internet, nobody knows you are a dog until AOL releases your search history.

More Businesses Enter Virtual Worlds

Ok, this is officially crazy. I am supposed to turn in the final draft of the thesis on Friday, but I keep updating and revising it because the news of real-world businesses entering virtual worlds break every day. You already know about Starwood, but there's more. A public relations firm Text 100 just opened an office in Second Life and offers to help companies to tap into the creative genius of the virtual communities. Duran Duran is planning live shows in SL. The word has leaked out that MTV is about to open a virtual companion to its teen show Laguna Beach. The floodgates are now open.
-- via 3pointd, where you should check an interesting discussion (see the comments section) about the implications of competition between real-world and virtual businesses.

Duran Duran To Give Concerts in Second Life

"British band Duran Duran are to create a virtual island within online game Second Life, on which they will perform actual live concerts. The band is the first major group to announce a virtual world presence in the game."

Duran Duran keyboardist Nick Rhodes said: "When I first discovered Second Life a few months ago, I was astounded by the possibilities that were there. "When I started looking at the figures running around, chatting and interacting, I thought this is somewhere between a bizarre virtual reality TV show, a surreal real-life experience and a video game."

-- BBC News, "Duran Duran to Give Virtual Gigs", August 8, 2006

Starwood Is Constructing a Branded Hotel in Second Life

Starwood Hotels and Resorts -- the company that operates Sheraton, Westin, Four Points and other brands -- is building a new-brand (and brand-new) hotel in Second Life while blogging about the progress. The first real-world Aloft (they spell it aloft) is planned to open its North American doors in 2008, so the Second Life builders are working off a single exterior rendering.
-- via Three Minds @ Organic

[Update] Aug.9 2006: PSFK talks to Starwood's CEO Marc Schiller about their virtual hotel.

Technorati Update on the State of Blogosphere

Technorati's David Sifry released a new update on the blogosphere numbers. The search engine tracks 50M blogs, the number of blogs in its index doubles every 6.5 months, with 175,000 new blogs created every day.

Sifry claims Technorati has been able to weed out most of the splogging activity, but 8 percent of splogs do end up in the index. There's no word on how many abandonded blogs are in the index, or how many of the blogs are built exclusive on the RSS feeds of others without any original contribution from the blog owner (like this experiment of mine, both automated and abandoned). Blogs created by MySpace users are apparently not included in the index.

If you have missed it, here's a recent study of bloggers by Pew Internet & American Life Project.

MINI Connects With Fans Using Spy Gadgets


Brent writes: "Every MINI owner was mailed a little black box containing a book entitled, "A Dizzying Look At The Awsomeness of Small." At the end of the book is a "secret" compartment hiding a few gadgets that are meant to be used with upcoming advertisements. One of them happens to be the magic window decryptor capable of showing us the secret text." (more details)

Rethinking Print Advertising

"Convergence Culture" Hits Stores

Henry Jenkins is the founder of MIT Convergence Culture Consortium of which this blog is a part. He, too, blogs. His latest book, Convergence Culture, has jumped from 145,103 up to 1,331 in Amazon rankings in one day. I've been privileged to read the book in its early drafts, and like many of Dr. Jenkins's lectures, it's an eye-opening text written in plain English. Here's one blurb that describes the book:

"Henry Jenkins is the 21st century McLuhan I've been waiting for. If you are a parent, a student, an educator, a creator or consumer of popular culture, an entrepreneur, or a media industry executive, you need to understand convergence culture. And you will only after reading Henry Jenkins."
-- Howard Rheingold, author of Smart Mobs: The Next Social Revolution

Second Life's Business Magazine Launches

SL Business launched its first issue today, the 60 well-designed pages of advice that range from photography tips to investment strategies. Plenty of ads, too, and looks great overall.

Study: Puzzles Create Sense of Familiarity With Brand

An article in the Journal of Applied Cognitive Psychology "Unscrambling words increases brand name recognition and preference" shows that simple puzzle solving creates a false sense of familiarity with the brand and actually creates a preference for the brand."
-- Neuromarketing