"Missed Call" Phone Marketing

I don't get any telemarketer calls, but quite a few of what is known as "missed call" ads. I never thought they were doing it on purpose, though. Despicable but admittedly clever spam.

"'Missed call' marketing is the term that has been given to the practice of calling a mobile telephone for such a short period of time that the owner cannot answer the call. When the marketer disconnects the call, most mobile phones present a 'missed call' notification with the marketer's number. The marketer intends that the owner of the phone will think that they have missed a legitimate call and ring the number back, in which case they hear a recorded promotional message."
-- Cellular News via Textually

Rebtel Offers International Calls Via Local Numbers

Ok, this is an offtopic public service announcement that isn't yet related to advertising. If you think Skype is great (I do), try Rebtel, a new Swedish start-up that offers cheap international VoIP calls from your mobile, putting all those underused plan minutes to work. The company just got some press in SF Chronicle and Red Herring after snagging $20M of VC financing.

Rebtel offers users international calling at local rates from their mobile phones for $1 a week. Registered users of Rebtel’s web site fill in their phone number and the phone number of the party they want to phone. In a nutshell, for every international contact you have, Rebtel will generate a local phone number that you can dial from your cell phone at whatever rate your operator charges (free nights and weekends count). You pay $1 to Rebtel for every week in which you use the service plus a variable per-minute fee (2 cents for Canada, 14 cents to the more exotic Moldova). I'm yet to test the quality (nobody's home on the other end), but the convenience is unbeatable. And no, this is not a paid plug.

Techmeme Offers Ads Updateable Through RSS

Techmeme offers a new ad format: sponsor posts. Here's their own explanation about how it all works: "A sponsor's blog occupies a permanent place in the "Techmeme Sponsor Post" area of the site for the duration of the sponsorship. The technology is simple: a sponsor's blog feed is polled every few minutes, the latest post of which appears in its assigned slot (first, second, or third) along with a logo image that links to the sponsor's site."

TechCrunch and BuzzMachine say Techmeme has just re-invented advertising. To be precise, it's a good idea but not a new one. I wrote about BBC producing RSS-powered ad units exactly a year ago.

Reebok Launches Interactive Ads on Dish Network

Reebok launched an interactive ad campaign on Dish Network running commercials embedded with an interactive overlay that allow consumers to "click through to a fully branded, interactive Rbk iAd, which is a web-like screen on the television where viewers can watch long-form interviews of an individual Rbk NFL star of the week" (press release, pdf). "They [viewers] can also play football-trivia games in an attempt to win pro jerseys and, later in the campaign, order replica jerseys by entering credit-card information via their remote controls" (Multichannel News).
-- via Convergence Culture

Integrated Advertising Across Google Services

NY Times writes about the new Saturn campaign that spans a wide range of Google online services: keywords, maps, videos, and Earth:

"Visitors to a variety of Web sites in six cities around the country that are home to 22 Saturn dealerships will see what look like typical banner ads for Aura, a new Saturn midsize sedan. Clicking on an ad will produce a view of the earth that zooms in on the dealership nearest to the computer user.

The doors to the virtual dealership fly open, revealing the general manager, who introduces a brief commercial about Aura. After the spot ends, the general manager returns, standing next to an Aura and offering choices that include spinning the car 360 degrees, inspecting its engine, printing a map with directions to the dealership and visiting the Web sites of Saturn (saturn.com) or the dealer."
-- thank you, Chloe

Air Force Takes Down MySpace Profile

The Air Force has taken down its profile on MySpace because of "concerns about associating the service with content that it deems inappropriate" (Air Force Times) . An official quote: "The danger with MySpace is we got to the point where we weren’t real comfortable with the potential for inappropriate content to be posted [on the page of] a friend of a friend." The profile was launched in late August. Here's another official quote from an article that came out when the MySpace page went live: "In order to reach young men and women today, we need to be in tune and engaged in their circles."

Anyway, the Marines are still up.

Ads Become Content on TBS's Site

Who says people don't like ads? "In just two short weeks, TBS’s new broadband destination veryfunnyads.com has delivered an impressive 7.7 million video plays to fans of funny commercials. In addition, TBS has collected 75 new ads to appear on the site in the coming weeks, bringing its total to more than 135 ads from around the world."

Next, somebody will come up with a real TV channel (streaming the site via TiVo, for example.) The question is, will they have commercial breaks on a channel that consists entirely of commercials?

-- press release via Yeapster

Offtopic: Meeting at OMMA in NYC

If you are at the OMMA conference in NYC this coming Monday and Tuesday and have a spare minute, drop me a line. Would love to meet.

Universal McCann POV on Mapvertising

I've posted a lot in the past year about advertising on maps, and now Universal McCann published a nice round-up on the topic (direct link to pdf).

Advertising with Google Maps (the application)
Advertising on Google Maps (rooftops)
Google Earth Becoming Advertising Tool
Clarification: Rooftop Advertising
Google Earth Runs AdWords

Combatting Fast Forward with Still Frames

What's the easiest way to make sure people see your ad even when fast-forward right through it? You can try interactive ads, ads with hidden messages, banners over the screen, one-second tails at the end of the pod, or patent a new method that would insert ads in selected frames. Or you can make your ad one long still frame.

Reuters: "Niche men's channel FX plans to show what it calls the first UK advert specially designed to combat viewers using digital recorders to avoid commercials.

The advert for its new drama "Brotherhood" will show a single image on the screen for the entire 30-second slot, and therefore retain its "sales message" when viewed even at the 12-times speeds enabled by Sky+ and other digital recorders, also known as personal video recorders, or PVRs."

Offtopic: Chavez's Endorsement Pushes Chomsky To Top of Charts

Imagine that presidents count as advertising technology: "At the start of his talk Wednesday, during which Chavez referred to President Bush as "the devil," Chavez held up a book by Noam Chomsky, "Hegemony or Survival: America's Quest for Global Dominance," and recommended it to everyone in the General Assembly, as well as to the American people. As of Thursday afternoon, "Hegemony or Survival," originally published in 2003, had jumped into the top 10 of Amazon and Barnes & Noble.com" (#1 on Amazon as of Fri morning).
-- LA Times

Will Chavez recieve endorsement offers now that the power of his word has been so dramatically demonstrated?

MTV's Virtual Laguna Beach: First Impressions

So, MTV's Virtual Laguna Beach is finally official although still in beta. See a press release from There and a news report from here (couldn't resist). In a nutshell, "Virtual Laguna Beach is the first in a string of new social-networking platforms from MTV Networks, resulting in interactive experiences that let viewers personally experience - and 'live' for themselves - the content they see on-air." Here are a few images I took during my first hour in the world. If you have never seen the show, there are a few clips on YouTube.

The map of the place. The white borders to the site - North Laguna Beach and South Laguna Beach - promise that the world will grow in the future. See how the virtual town compares to the real one on Google maps.

A close-up view of the map. Quite a few places to hang out and shop. Names of the streets are real.

Zooming in closer - a virtual Laguna Beach street. No billboards yet.

The houses on the hills are actually flat decorative facades and create a weird Truman Show kind of feeling. VLB is not connected to the rest of There; you actually need to download a separate customized client. The place is physically limited by mountains that you can't climb over. The blimp in the sky advertises the Emporio-Optic store (I think). A store with the same name exists in the real world.

This is the in-world version. You can buy glasses there.

A surf shop where you can buy clothes. Your avatar comes endowed with 5000 MTV$. You can buy more money at an exchange rate of $1-MTV$ 1800.

ATMs are conveniently located around the city and allow to get virtual cash from within the game.

The cinema plays an episode from the show. Don't know if there are any commercial breaks. That would be fun, though.

Quite a few people on the beach despite the early AM hour.

Personized Luggage Tags from KLM

KLM airline allows its travelers to customize their luggage tags with photos online (site in Dutch).
-- TBWA/Lisbo

Sony Runs Interactive Bravia Ad With Alternate Endings

(Not that paint-over-buildings ad that everyone is waiting for.) Anyway, Wall Street Journal (paid reg.) writes today:

"Sony is launching today a new TV ad for its Bravia line of liquid-crystal-display televisions that offers viewers several alternate endings, designed to appeal to men and women separately. But only people watching with a digital video recorder such as a TiVo will be able to choose which ending to watch.

"Designed to reinforce Bravia's already-established advertising tagline as "the world's first television for men and women," Sony's ad features a man and a woman gazing through a storefront window at a Bravia LCD on display. Unaware of each other, the two simultaneously whisper: "Nice picture." Startled, the pair finally notice each other. At that moment, two buttons appear on the screen that read: 'Ending for Men' and 'Ending for Women.'"

View the commercial and its endings at sony.com/hdtv

Subliminal Spam

"The spam contains an animated GIF with four frames. One of the frames (which contains the actual spam message) remains visible for 17 seconds. The other three frames are displayed for 10ms or 40ms, and each of those contains a little random noise and the word BUY in random positions."
-- See in action at JGC, read more at Richi Blog

Study: Subliminal Advertising May Actually Work
ABC Rejects KFC Ad As Subliminal
Dream Machine and Subliminal Ads?

Adidas Opens Second Life Store

As rumored earlier, Adidas has opened a store on a private island in Second Life. It's fairly similar to the American Apparel's outlet, although unlike AA, Adidas's store is focused on a campaign for a single product (a3 "bouncy" Microride shoe) and the shoes' positioning is demonstrated not only visually but also interactively (the sneakers are equipped with a jump script, and the store has a "testing area" trampoline").

I'll post a few pictures when Blogger wakes up, but here's a small gallery I did over at HHCC blog. More details at 3pointD and Rikomatic.

How to Dress Like the Mac Guy

LifeClever shows what stuff you should buy if you want to look like the Mac Dude from the Apple's recent campaign. This once again brought me back to the idea of brand baskets, or how some complementary brands are often consumed together and can reinforce each other through cooperative advertising (iPod+Nike is an obvious example).
-- via Advertising is Good for You

List of Retail Tricks

A funny but short list of tricks retailers apparently employ to make us buy more stuff. My favorite: "Supermarkets used to have a trick placing slightly smaller tiles on the floor in the more expensive aisles of the shop. When a customer entered on of these aisles their trolley would click faster making them think they were travelling faster and thereby subconsciously slow down and spend more time in that aisle."

Target Sued Over Site Accessibility for Blind

The National Federation for the Blind claims Target's website is not accessible for blind consumers and their suit was allowed to go forward this week.

"Explaining the ramification of the ruling, Mazen M. Basrawi, Equal Justice Works Fellow at Disability Rights Advocates, noted that: "the court clarified that the law requires that any place of public accommodation is required to ensure that it does not discriminate when it uses the internet as a means to enhance the services it offers at a physical location."(press release)

Think you might be next? Talk to Kestrell, my MIT colleague who specializes in accessibility for the blind, or buy yourself a book.

Anyway, this particular suit is a good thing. A site optimized for blind users is more convenient for everybody.

-- via three minds

Tool: How Color-Blind People See Your Ad
Advertising for the Color-Blind

Adwalkers: TV Screens on Legs

I wrote about advertisimg teletubbies before, and here's a (sort of) new twist: Media Post profiles the Adwalkers. The novelty of the twist is primarily in the kevlar-looking outfit. Adwalkers are also interactive. "They walk around in public venues where the client's target audience is likely to gather, with the client's message beaming from their chest. These psuedo-cyborgs invite conversation, then interaction, through games, contest entries or special offers. They deliver both engagement and the ability to measure response."

"Disappearing Ink" Paper from Xerox

Xerox has come up with "transient document" paper that deletes all content after a period of time and is ready to be used again. "Inspired by the fact that many print outs have a life-span of a few hours (think of the emails you may print out just to read, or the content you proof read on the train journey back home), the specially prepared paper will preserve its content for up to 16 hours. Further research is being undertaken to give the option of subsequently preserving the content if the user desires, which might literally involve warming up old data through the heating of the paper."
-- PC Pro

Brands and Wikipedia

Steve Rubel writes in AdAge and his own blog about the brand effects of Wikipedia entries that show up high on search results: "As soon as brand managers learn where they stand on Wikipedia there is a natural inclination to want to control it. Some, in fact, actively police it. After all, anyone can. But doing so is asking for trouble."

MTV To Run Fashion Show Tonight in Virtual Laguna Beach

MTV's Virtual Laguna Beach - "the whole Laguna experience in a parallel online universe" - is hosting an "exclusive" fashion show tonight (Sept.14).

-- x-posted on Brands in Games

More Businesses Enter Virtual Worlds

Valleywag: MySpace Rooted in Spam

"What's interesting is that most users don't know that Tom Anderson is more of a PR scheme than anything else--the mascot designed to give a friendlier feel to a site created by a marketing company known for viral entertainment websites, pop-up advertising, spam, spyware, and adware."
-- Valleywag

More and Better (Adver)Games Come to iPod

image: Gizmodo

As long anticipated, more games are finally coming down iPod's way through iTunes as Jobs works to make the device more than just an MP3 player (whose cool, we hear, is fading). Wired: "Effective immediately, owners of the fifth-generation iPod Video can click on the new iPod Games link in the iTunes music store and download such casual game hits as Pac-Man and Bejeweled." If iPod gaming catches up (and why not? inconvenient controls?), suddenly we'll have an advergaming platform with a huge install base. Which reminds me: I put my thesis about advertising in computer games online at Games Brands Play, and there are a few thoughts about overlooked platforms such as iPods and Blackberries in it.

Doom Ported to iPod Photo
Rumor: Future iPods Could Play Games
Text Games on iPod

New Monopoly Edition Comes with Branded Tokens

NY Times: "An updated edition of [Monopoly]will include tokens that are styled after name-brand products. Five of the eight tokens in the new Monopoly Here and Now edition will be branded, offering game players the chance to be represented by miniature versions of a Toyota Prius hybrid car, an order of McDonald’s French fries, a New Balance running shoe, a cup of Starbucks coffee or a Motorola Razr cellphone."

-- Buy on Amazon ($29.99)
-- Computer game is coming out, too.

Monopoly Switches to Plastic

B-Student Optimizes Panhandling Through Emotional Targeting

Business Week this week runs a great story about a biz student whose internship project was to increase daily revenue of a panhandler through adjusting the emotional pitch of the cardboard sign:

"The concept behind the experiment: Marketing products through pricing or product features alone results in only one-time purchases. However, if a customer feels an emotional attachment to the product, there is a greater chance for repeat buying and loyalty. "My goal was to create an emotional attachment between people on the street and Amy so that they would become 'repeat customers,'" says Zimmerman."

I was writing a story for my undegrad newspaper once about how much money the panhandlers make. I went undercover, got me a wig and a tin can, and spent a day on a lively city square. Got about $8 in two hours. That's in Bulgaria, where the average monthly salary at the time was around $100.

Patent App Shows How To Make Ads Visible in Fast-Forward

Colin Davis from UK submitted an application to patent a method of showing ads in DVRs' fast-forward mode: "When a PVR fast forwards it saves processing power by displaying only the key frames. So the new system lets a broadcaster concentrate an advertising message in those key frames. A simplified version of an ad should then still be visible during fast-forwarding, albeit without sound."
-- NewScientistTech

IPG Launches Emerging Media Lab

Media Post's print issue writes (free reg.) about Interpublic's new Emerging Media Lab in NYC LA. "The Lab’s main area comprises a series of wall-less “rooms” — kitchen, den, clubhouse, and conference space, among others — that represent areas of the home in which consumers interact with media. Conspicuously absent is a bathroom. However, there are several mobile carts, fully loaded with Apple iPods, Nokia SmartPhones, LG Vcast cell phones, Sanyo streaming videophones, Sony Walkman MP3 players, and Location Free TVs."

File-Sharing Networks as Focus Groups

Just ran across this old Wired article back from 2003 about how music labels use file-sharing networks to study demand and adjust radio rotation. The company the article mentions, BigChampagne, is still in business even as RIAA is suing the networks into oblivion.

Mobile Phones to Get DVR Functionality

"Texas Instruments has announced that they will be adding TiVo-like technology to mobile phones sometime in 2007."
-- i4u

Students to Create Chevy's Next Super Bowl Ad

And you thought Chevy would give up on the whole consumer-generated-ads idea after what happened to their Tahoe initiative. No, and this time they are doing something very cool:

"All US college students can participate in The Chevy Super Bowl College Ad Challenge. Teams of up to three students will create the concept for a commercial promoting Chevrolet’s new lineup of cars and crossovers, specifically the Aveo, Cobalt, HHR, and Equinox. The winning team will participate in the production process as their concept is developed and made into a 30-second television commercial. The students' commercial will then air during Super Bowl XLI on February 4, 2007."
-- press release (thanks, Nellie)

Lonelygirl15 Probably Connected to Hollywood

LA Times writes about online fans of the YouTube phenomenon lonelygirl15 who think they have traced the cute big-eyed girl back to the Creative Artists Agency. "Indeed, if a commercial project does result, lonelygirl15 may prove to be a model of how to harness a groundswell created on seemingly populist, user-driven websites such as YouTube and MySpace."
-- via adrants

Spore To Offer Printable Game Characters

Looks like Maxis and EA will let players to order their custom Spore characters as physical figurines for an extra price.
-- 4colorrebellion

Furniture 3D Models in Games and Google Earth

I wrote before about Google Earth and SL-like games becoming increasingly alike. Here's a nice illustration.

An Ikea bed model for Sims 2.

An Ikea bed model for Sketch-up and Google Earth (gEarth?).

Here's an Ikea table for Second Life itself.

Also, a video of a project "named 3D IKEA Manual [that] aims to show the potential of augmented reality (AR) in domestic use".