Books: Upcoming Releases

Lovemarks is going into its third iteration, apparently this time as a "designers'" edition, "a sublime rendering of the original book that will both challenge the mind and delight the eyes". Coming out on September 30, originally at $75, but already available on Amazon for $47 and change. Also, the original, and The Lovermarks Effect.

Brandscapes by Anna Klingmann, due September 30 from MIT Press, sounds offbeat but interesting. The two authors of the famous Experience Economy gave it two (four?) thumbs up: "Brandscapes is the first architecture book that takes the Experience Economy as its premise to show architects -- and by extension designers, engineers, and indeed all experience stagers -- how to create places that are authentic, meaningful, and engaging." On Amazon for about $20.

Neuromarketing: Understanding the Buy Buttons in Your Customer's Brain, due October 2, looks like an update from the authors' 2005 title Neuromarketing: Is There a 'Buy Button' in the Brain? Neuromarketing is a fascinating subject I've posted frequently about before, and I am posting about a set of great books on cognitive psychology and advertising next week, but it's also becoming too fashionable, which means there are bound to be books that are just riding the wave.

Brandweek wrote
: "In reality, much of the [neuromarketing] research is hype. The buying decision is a complex process that cannot be reduced to a "button." The truth is -- and researchers admit this when pressed -- psychologists have made only tiny steps toward explaining how the processes work. A full understanding of the subject is decades away."

The book sells on Amazon for $15.63, but I am waiting for the first reviews.

Don't forget about Stephen King's A Master Class in Brand Planning that comes out in December.

HeadOn Spots Effective in Driving Sales

AdAge: "The HeadOn, apply directly to the forehead spots (YouTube) are arguably among the worst commercials ever from a creative standpoint. They're annoying, repetitive, obnoxious -- and effective."

Apply directly to cash register: "HeadOn is logging some heady growth rates -- 234% from 2005 to 2006. And for the first half of 2007, the brand looks to be on track to double sales. HeadOn ranks No. 9 in the external-analgesics-rubs category and logged $6.5 million in sales last year, up from just $1.9 million in 2005, according to Information Resources Inc."

USA Today last year: "The campaign may have gotten some unintentional help from the Council of Better Business Bureaus. In March, its National Advertising Division challenged earlier ads that said HeadOn provides "fast, safe, effective" headache relief. The organization said it recommended that Miralus discontinue the claims after it "provided insufficient evidence" to show HeadOn works.

If Miralus had not complied, the Better Business Bureau would have forwarded the case to the Food and Drug Administration and Federal Trade Commission, which could have ordered the ads off the air and fined the company. Now that HeadOn no longer makes any promises."

DailyKos Asks Ad Blocking Readers to Subscribe

Wonder what has prompted this note on DailyKos: "We won't stop you from using ad blocking software, but if you do use it we ask you to support Daily Kos another way: by purchasing a site subscription. A subscription is an inexpensive way to support the site that eliminates the advertisements without using ad blocking software."

Are they seeing a lot of people using Adblock or simply reacting to the hoopla?

Brandweek on Adblock Plus
Why Adblock Plus May Be a Good Thing
Script Detects Adblock Plus
NYTimes on AdBlock Plus

Thinking About The Perfect Schwag

Source: GasMaskLexicon via epromos.

I was cleaning up my office today and spent a good hour going through a box of schwag that had accumulated over the past year of rep meetings, trade shows and conferences. The exercise resulted in a few thoughts on the subject that wanted to bounce off the blog's readers.

First, by schwag, let's mean promo items whose unit cost doesn't exceed ten bucks, give or take, which covers a range of situations from large-scale conferences to private meetings. Anything more expensive is probably out of the usual schwag budget and may even be frowned upon by the schwagee's (the recepient's) organization.

Second, it seems that good schwag is supposed to achieve a sustainable combination of the following goals:
1. Increase brand recognition through maximizing exposures, both in terms of frequency (how often do you see it) and reach (who else sees it). It should be perfectly possible to design proxy schwag: an item that you give to someone at a conference so that it ends up at the hands of the decision-making boss;
2. Build a connection with the advertised brand either through copy or relevant interactions;
3. Generate positive emotions in schwagees.

Now, "sustainable combination" is the key here. Many get the exposures part right one way or another -- branded sticky notes, for example, or a PlayStation keychain bottle opener I've been carrying around since college (the name has worn off years ago). The other two parts are trickier. I've got things that are amusing at first but are quickly forgotten: all of those novelty items that novel for about five seconds. Others don't really produce any emotions (oh, look, notepad) or, worse, are annoying (a paper fan that came apart after a few swings). Very few have anything to do with the company or service whose name they bear -- at best, you'll see a line of copy trying to bridge the semantic gap.

There are at least two kinds of schwag that hit all the points without even trying. One kind is collectibles or items that have otherwise acquired cultural significance. The other kind includes items that signify the schwagee's membership in or an association with an exclusive group. This VIP schwag is often so desirable that people pay money to have it -- I'm thinking about all that retro schwag on eBay or overpriced "official" branded tchotchkes parents buy at their kids' college bookstores.

As for the regular schwag, here are some observations:

1. When in doubt or on a budget, go with pens. Two notes, however. An obscure logo that screams freebie often cheapens an otherwise expensive pen. Second, people spend so much time with their writing instruments that they are very particular about how these instruments feel.

2. Even though they are on the more expensive end, books make great give-aways, especially in a smaller-scale setting. Besides making the right impression, books about your business will educate your audience and make your life easier down the road. Put them in a custom dust-cover if you must and write down your name and contact info as business cards and bookmarks tend to fall out.

3. USB drives. Very useful and well-received by any schwagee, they are not going to end up in the garbage. Not sure if anyone pays attention to what's written on the sides, though, so go for a custom shape.

4. Adhesive tape with the brand name printed on it. Of course, this works in a setting where adhesive tape is used in the first place. I think I've seen it done before, but don't remember the details.

5. Custom push-pins, especially if they are shaped as your brand mascot. Never seen those, but wouldn't they be fun?

6. Has anyone tried cubicle decorations? Cube Chic may be on the extreme end, but it will give you ideas.

7. Looking at the stuff in my box, I don't really see a point in cheap digital radios (unless they promote a radio station and are locked into the appropriate frequency), yo-yos (unless you have just bounced back from a bankruptcy) and playing cards (unless each of them is unique).

8. Desk organizers and picture frames probably work well.

9. Apparel is tricky, unless it is somehow exclusive. Yes, I did keep a couple of t-shirts I had been given, but I can't wear them to the office. Same goes for hats.

10. If I were to give away toys, I'd go for something like the Horrified B-Movie Victims.

E-promos: an entire blog on schwag
Wired: Great moments in schwag history
Promotional Products Association International
StartupSchwag -- an online store where one man's schwag is another man's treasure.

Designing Usable Conferences
Rant: Conference Blog Coverage Aggregation
Usable Conference Badges

Ads On Phone Triggered By Spoken Words

NY Times: "Pudding Media, a start-up based in San Jose, Calif., is introducing an Internet phone service today that will be supported by advertising related to what people are talking about in their calls. A conversation about movies, for example, will elicit movie reviews and ads for new films that the caller will see during the conversation. Pudding Media is working on a way to e-mail the ads and other content to the person on the other end of the call, or to show it on that person’s cellphone screen."

The company explains: "The Pudding Media platform utilizes advanced voice-recognition and language analysis technology to understand when pre-determined keywords are spoken. All of this is automatic and without human involvement. Your conversation is not recorded or stored. Pudding determines keywords that indicate the things you may be interested in, including sports terms like football, soccer, basketball, and baseball. Keywords might also describe places like New York, Dallas, or Los Angeles. Or they might indicate other interests and activities like movies, plays, vacations, or flowers."

Lessons From a Phishing Mail

This recent phishing email came very close to actually being clicked on, and I thought it would be interesting to see what these cunning phishermen got right and what gave them away (click image for enlargement).

What went right (for them):
1. Relevance. I get all sorts of fake messages from banks I've never heard of, much less banked at. But do have an account at BOA.
2. The footer looks pretty official and the Olympics rings are a very thoughtful touch. The overall layout is fairly clean, too.
3. The first six words in the first paragraph: "Because of unusual number of invalid login attempts...". Sounds plausible, especially after you've scanned the message, saw the logos and the footers and started feeling comfortable.

What went wrong (for them):
1. The first giant red flag was the address in the "From" field. You might think that BoA is outsourcing its customer support to, but if you are faking an email address, why not fake BoA's?
2. The entire "that, their..." mess in the first line. A huge letdown after such a promising opening.
3 "Ensure your identity"?
4. They are overdoing it in the last line where "It is all about your security."
5. No contact information.
6. The very first sentence, of course: "Your Online Banking is Blocked".

After so many red flags, there is no need to check the URL under "Continue to Online Shopping" (it leads to some site entirely unrelated to BoA).

The moral of the story: increase relevancy and work on the language.

Banner Ad Gone Phishing

JetBlue's Photo Contest and Google Maps Promo

"To celebrate the launch of our new real-time flight tracking channel featuring Google Maps on our in-flight TVs, we staged a "JetBlue Point of View" photo contest! Twenty lucky photographers will win roundtrip travel for two to any of our 50-plus destinations." See press release back from June for more details about Google Maps on JetBlue. Many things to like about the campaign: on brand, low barriers to entry (photos are less involving than videos), fits what people are already doing, clear tie-in. Next, they should add a yoke (the steering wheel) to each seat and run that flight simulator on Google Earth.

On a somewhat related note, Gillette used the OpenAd marketplace to get ideas for a campaign, writes AdAge.

Campaign: Nikon Prints User-Submitted Pics in Ad
NY Times on Consumer-Generated Crap
Social Ad Creation at Zooppa

Media Defender's Internal Emails Leaked

Media Defender, a company that works with the music industry to inject advertising "decoys" into P2P networks, found its internal emails leaked on a torrent site. There's a lot of discussion going on TorrentFreak, Slyck, Pirate Bay and many others, and you will find details about how the technology works.

Advertising Decoys on P2P Networks
Marketers Plant Ads Into Songs Shared on P2P Networks

Guerilla Bumper Stickers

Copy: My other car is a MINI Clubman

It's like advertising with fake parking tickets, only less scary and visible by more people: static cling bumper stickers placed in a guerrilla way are easy to remove. Done by future:headz for MINI in Germany. More outdoor work from the same campaign on Billboardom.

Social Networking Site for Avatars Launches

This is too meta. Koinup, a social networking site for avatars from across all virtual worlds, just sent a press release about its launch: "In Koinup you can create your profile and publish pics, videos (machinima) and stories you created in virtual worlds as Second Life, World of Warcraft, IMVU and also games as The Sims 2 and many others. In Koinup, you can meet people from yours and other virtual worlds and you can express yourself in the way you love."

I want to see if my female Second Life avatar would have a bigger social graph than me.

History of TV Laugh Track

Slate has a video-illustrated history of behind-the-scenes laughter: "Early television audiences expected their comedies to come with laughter, as laughter had been a fixture of radio comedies. The laughter, though, was live, and it was as much for the performers as for the TV-watching audience. Many of the earliest TV and radio comics had come up through vaudeville, and the idea of performing to an empty studio was alien to them."

Flashback: NYTimes on Emerging Media

"Lovers conversing at a great distance will behold each other as in the flesh. Doctors will examine patients' tongues in another city, and the poor will enjoy visual trips wherever their fancy inclines." This is not about Second Life, this is about what would later become known as fax - transmitting images via wires.

NY Times, February 24, 1907

TI Shows Cell Phone Projector

Source: Popular Science

Texas Instruments demonstrated a prototype of its tiny Pico Projector built into a cell phone, promising the device may be commercially available as early as next year.

Battery-powered autonomous digital signage that can be updated remotely? It can't come soon enough.

Source: Engadget

Forrester: No Love for In-Game Ads

Source: Interactive Marketing Channels To Watch In 2007, Forrester, March 27, 2007.

Was looking at a Forrester report from earlier this year and came across this graph: "Mobile and game marketing still get no love. Despite the buzz around mobile and game marketing, adoption of these channels is low. A more detailed look into this year's survey shows that only 13% of marketers currently use mobile text messages, and only 11% use wireless application protocol (WAP) sites.(see endnote 4) We also expanded our questions about game marketing to include advergames (24%), in-game placements (10%), and virtual worlds such as Second Life (7%)."

How do people come up with these numbers that in-game advertising is going to grow to$1B by 2011 if 70-80% of marketers are not even planning to go there in the next year? And 2011 is in three years.

Advertising Through 404 Error Messages

A couple of commercial pitches delivered as 404 "Not Found" error messages. Wonder how many people are conditioned by the "Not Found" look, don't notice that it's fake and turn around. Has anyone emulated the Blue Screen of Death for the same purpose? Scroll down to see the rest of the site. (image source) (image source).

"Click Here" Makes People Click Here

Marketing Sherpa has conducted a test to see what anchor copy is most effective in driving the desired behavior. It found that "click to continue" is convincingly more effective in getting people to click to continue. Other alternatives were "continue to article" and "read more". Click here to read more.

By the way, ever wondered what site ranks first for the "click here" search, benefiting from all those "click here" links? Click here to find out. Apple Quicktime is first for "download now".

A bit of related web 1.0 trivia. Back in the early Google days, the top result for the words "exit" and "exit now" was because that's where countless porn sites were directing minors from their age verification pages in an attempt at sarcasm.

Drink Liquid Crayons

Not only can you smell crayons, you can also drink them, thanks to a creatively named line of juices.
-- via Snark Hunting

Smell Like a Crayon

Script Detects Adblock Plus

The guy behind Why Firefox is Blocked (it is now unblocked) has posted a script that allows publishers to detect whether readers' browsers are equipped with the Adblock Plus plug-in and take appropriate actions.

I have been using Adblock Plus for two weeks now and I think it's great. It is so on two levels: adless pages look great, and the software, if widely adopted, will put pressure on ad makers to create better ads. I explain why on the Hill Holliday blog.

I've also been listening to reactions from across the web. Very, very entertaining. Here are some:

Network Performance Daily: "Adblock, and its counterpart, Filterset.G, did not come from a vacuum. They responded to demand and solved a problem."

CNet: "In the end, a few things are clear: Users of advertisement-skipping technology are essentially engaged in theft of resources"

Escape Job Hell: "Well, if you were smart, you’d be using several different techniques to monetize your blog. That way, the ads that people weren’t going to click in the first place are now out of the way. Now the people blocking the adsense ads have less clutter on their screen and they can pay more attention to your other features."

The Register: "As more and more people install AdBlock Plus, which is officially recommended by Mozilla, will Google continue to fund the browser?"

Rough Type: "Microsoft's laissez-faire attitude may seem surprising, but it reflects a cold strategic calculation. Microsoft knows that ad blockers pose a far greater threat to Google than to itself."

The NYTimes article that started it all is on International Herald Tribune that doesn't require the annoying registration.

More quotes have been collected by ComputerWorld.

NYTimes on AdBlock Plus

Turn Light Into Music With Tenori-On

This device is way cooler than its official description may lead you to believe: "Media artist Toshio Iwai and Yamaha have collaborated to design a new digital musical instrument for the 21st century, TENORI-ON. A 16x16 matrix of LED switches allows everyone to play music intuitively, creating a "visible music" interface." Available only in UK so far, but not even there at the moment since its out of stock.

See the device in action on YouTube.

NBC Preps Online Ad Site

Early next year, NBC Universal will launch an advertising website "The site will offer a vast archive of current and classic TV spots, movie trailers and other brand-related content. NBC Universal plans to supply Madison Avenue with a host of data gleaned from Didja, including the results from virtual focus groups. Didja will feature extensive social-networking features (so fans of, say, classic kiddie cereal commercials can geek out together), as well as a mash-up kit that will allow consumers to make their own tributes to brands." - Variety

Already, there are from TBS, a commercials channel on MTV's iFilm/Spike, adTV (read more) and a huge number of ad-collecting blogs and repositories (

Book: Stephen King's Master Class in Brand Planning

A Master Class in Brand Planning: Stephen King is probably one of the most interesting ad books to come out this year. As the title may suggest, it's a collection of essays by one of the fathers of the modern account planning, who worked at JWT and died last year. I first came across one of King's speeches through a link on Russell Davies's blog to "What Is a Brand?"; there's also a JWT planning guide back from 1974, also by King. Coming out in December, pre-orders open at $55.

Visual Browser for Amazon, YouTube, Flickr

Oskope is another attempt to present Amazon goods in a more visual manner (read an earlier post about Browse Goods). Oskope also works with eBay, YouTube and Flickr. The lower green part of the screen is your folder where you can pull selections from searches of these different sites so you have books sitting next to videos and pictures. It looks great and has a lot of potential, although a few things could be improved for this to become a commercial product (which now it is not) -- folder management functionalities, for example, are missing.

McKinsey Measures Social Media Participation

"Internet participation-based media sites, applications" from "How companies can make the most of user-generated content", McKinsey Quarterly, August 2007. (Second Life contributions are defined as buying activity among total users).

Another graph of social content creation activity, this time from McKinsey and more number-specific. See the entire article (free reg) for more details.
- via Alexandra

Forrester Segments Social Computing Behaviors
Study: Content Creators Are Few

Top 10 Songs Stuck in Your Head

I've been hearing for a long time that Chili's "Baby Back Ribs" jingle is number 2 on the list of the stickiest songs, but I didn't know what the number 1 was. Here's this list. It was compiled in 2003 by a marketing professor James J. Kellaris, PhD, of the University of Cincinnati. His sample included 559 university students.

1. Other. Everyone has his or her own worst earworm.
2. Chili's "Baby Back Ribs" jingle.
3. "Who Let the Dogs Out"
4. "We Will Rock You"
5. Kit-Kat candy-bar jingle ("Gimme a Break ...")
6. "Mission Impossible" theme
7. "YMCA"
8. "Whoomp, There It Is"
9. "The Lion Sleeps Tonight"
10. "It's a Small World After All"

BBC had a follow-up article explaining the entire earworm phenomenon.

A good book on the subject seems to be This Is Your Brain on Music: The Science of a Human Obsession. (Reviews: Salon, Wired)

Joost Opens Widget API

As promised, Joost has opened an API for widget developers. It would be cool if content providers could stream additional text/photo content into Joost to supplement their channels. A leave-a-comment widget would be nice, too. You could probably have a widget that ties into a game show like Who Wants to Be a Millionaire. A few other ideas are on Joost forum.

Imagining The Future in 1910

A small collection of French illustrations imagining life and technology in the year 2000. I love this classroom where the teacher runs his books through a meatgrinder-looking machine and the knowledge flows right into the students' ears. The crank is priceless.

One thing that comes up all the time with futuristic art: the artists reimagine only one particular aspect of the contemporary society, the rest remaining weirdly the same. Take a look at the outfits, or the crank -- what, they wouldn't have electricity in the future? -- or the wires. You'll notice it in modern sci-fi films, too. In a 1980s flick, there are laser blasters and instant teleporters, but the phones would still have a dial.

Smell Like a Crayon

From the makers of the bottled Play-Doh scent -- the Crayon fragrance! Splash it all over yourself and others, too: the fragrance comes as body oil, shower gel, cologne, calming lotion, and room spray.

Demeter Fragrance Library that prides itself in creating scents "that are drawn from memories to transport a person back to a special place or time" also offers the smells of laundromats, cotton candy, dirt, rain, grass, and brownies, among many others.

In other multisensory news, LA Times ran a "scratch and sniff" ad for the upcoming Natalie Portman movie Mr Magorium's Wonder Emporium and it smelled of an iced cake. (The Daily Record). And CBS is promoting its Cane series with peel-and-taste flavor strips (the flavor is of a non-alcoholic mojito); the ad runs in Rolling Stone (non-alcoholic? in Rolling Stone? via Influx).

A Bottle of New Car Scent

Machine Gives More Ice-Cream to the Sad

This ice-cream machine developed as an art project by Demitrios Kargotis asks buyers a few questions, analyzes their voices looking for signs of stress, and then dispenses the ice-cream following the logic that "the more unhappy you are, the more ice cream you need."
-- we make money not art

Fictional Brands on T-Shirts

Last Exit to Nowhere sells t-shirts whose design was inspired by the famous but fictional corporations, brands and places. Omni Consumer Products is the dystopian corporation from the RoboCop series (wiki, t-shirt).

Are these fictional brands trademarked?

- via Murketing

Reverse Product Placement in Games

Advertising to Dogs

Or, rather, advertising through dogs to their owners.

There is this coffee place down the street from where I live in Cambridge called La Luna Cafe. This is the type of place that has live jazz music on Sunday mornings and serves eggs and bacon when you want them and not when the menu says they are available. Every day, they also put out two bowls -- one filled with dog food and the other one with water. They call it Woof Station. I never gave it much thought, but once I thought I'd linger around to see if the dogs would actually stop.

The very first one that passed by stopped. It was a hot day, and the dog wanted to drink.

Dogs are smarter than we give them credit for, writes Spiegel. They can operate touch screens, identify different landscapes, and identify human faces.

Pedigree and Affinity Petcare have been designing smelly billboards targeted at dogs.

A director of dog grooming school in Thaildand launched an internet radio station whose intended audience is dogs.

"Hush! Puppy is a 60 minute video filmed especially to keep your dog calm and relaxed in the comfort of your own home. Whether you are away for long periods of time or just occasionally, worry no more." What if it had specially designed dog food ads? I would love to see a brief with the demo target field saying "dogs, 3-6yo".

Future: Pay-Per-Visit Advertising

Last August, a start-up Pelago filed for a patent for a "a method and system for providing a pay-for-visit billing model for advertisements." Slashdot explains that the system would use "GPS, Bluetooth, or RFID on your mobile devices to track your travels to see if you wander into a place of business that appeared in an ad shown earlier on your cellphone, PDA, or laptop."

Pay-per-call Ads in Action
Commentary: The Problem Of Pay-Per-Action Ads

Assorted Goodies

Speakers made in the shape of little Heineken crates. -- a repository of corporate wisdom. Have to write one yourself? Use this handy mission statement generator to land something like: "We are committed to expanding the highest quality personal gain by quality solutions and opportunities from the lowest level." -- a social network for fan fiction writers. -- a social network for professional models.

How to make a pop-up picture.

An entire blog on digital signage. They say 3D displays are not quite there yet.

The Speckies -- an award show for ads that weren't.

And a gallery of ad parodies.

Fruit-picking robots could replace the dwindling immigrant labor in the US.

A DVD with Jackass-like stunts comes together with a barf bag. (See a video game advertised on an airplane sickness bag, too).

A Google Spreadsheet doc by Silicon Alley Insider speculating about YouTube ad revenues.

Create your own iPhone ringtones in three easy steps.

Politicians Eye Personalized TV Ads

image source

The Associated Press (now hosted on Google): "With new technology that can send individualized ads to cable boxes, candidates will soon have an unprecedented ability to send their images into voters' living rooms while tweaking their voice, appearance and policy focus to match each viewer's predilections."

Bad Print Ads Lead to Magazine Ad Slump

An interesting even if belated thought: magazine ad pages are down this year, and the reason might be that most magazine ads suck. "Their print advertising isn't pulling, so they're shooting the messenger [media] rather than aiming the gun at their own ads."

"The automotive category has one ad after another showing back views of cars going through mountains. If you took the logos away, you wouldn't know what car it is."

Videos from Virtual Goods Summit 2007

The videos from the first conference on virtual goods held last June at Stanford are on the event's website. The videos are long -- it seems they are largely uncut recordings of the panels. Very interesting.

Game Console As Key to Living Room

Media: "Game consoles also have the unique advantage of serving as platforms on which manufacturers can expand the devices' capabilities over time - a feature rarely shared by their entertainment center neighbors."

AdJab's Adam Finley Dies

Adam Finley, one of the bloggers at AdJab and later at TV Squad, died last Thursday in a tragic accident. Rest in peace, Adam.

AdAge on Neuromarketing

AdAge remains skeptical of the current state of neuromarketing research, an attitude best summed up with a quote from a Millward Brown analyst about fMRI scans: "You are shoving someone inside a big white doughnut, and that's a huge drawback."

Study: Banners Work Even When Overlooked

Source: "Banner Blindness, Old and New Findings", Jacob Nielsen, Aug 20, 2007

Jacob Nielsen confirms that people don't see online banners: "At all levels of user engagement, the finding is the same regarding banners (outlined with green boxes in the above illustration): almost no fixations within advertisements."

But that's Ok. ArsTechnica writes, "There is a long history of experiments that show that repeated exposure to a stimulus that's barely perceptible can enhance a person's feelings towards what's otherwise a neutral object." And now there is a new research that concludes that "repeated exposure to a product via banner ads generates a positive feeling towards that product." (Note: the ArsTechnica's article came out in May 2007, three months before Nielsen's).

Conclusion: buy cheap remnant space. Nobody sees the ads anyway, but the subliminal effect is the same.

Study: Banner Ads Affect Memory
Subliminal Spam

Jupiter: Viral Efforts Flop

Source: Jupiter Research, "Viral Marketing: Bringing the Message to the Masses", Aug 21, 2007

Jupiter Research: "Viral marketers claim their marketing efforts generated positive effects during the past year, with 70 percent saying their campaigns succeeded in increasing brand awareness. However, this confidence is completely unfounded because so few marketers succeeded with relatively more concrete indications of increased viral activity (e.g., increasing engagement, getting consumers to promote products and services). In fact, getting consumers to promote products and services—the very activity that defines viral marketing—fared the worst of all success metrics. This paradox indicates viral marketers are optimistic about their campaign having some positive impact on consumers. When pressed, however, they cannot pinpoint where the impact can be observed."

- via Information Week

Flight Simulator in Google Earth

The new 4.2 release of Google Earth has an Easter Egg flight simulator that you can unlock by pressing ctrl+alt+a. One comment thread on Slashdot is about tinkering with GEarth files to change gravity and other settings. If I were working on an airline account, I'd set up a demo flight. Mesmerizing. Games based on Google Earth can't be too far behind. More details and a video on Google Earth Blog.

Avatars, Bots in Google Earth
Ads in Game Easter Eggs
Easter Eggs in Products

Tools: Track Corporate Edits to Wikipedia

Wikiscanner shows how anonymous people with access to corporate (and government) networks make edits to Wikipedia. Some remove critical info about their companies, others add critical info about their companies' competitors. Yet others probably have too much time on their hands and edit entries on Star Wars and wrestling from their work computers. A fun read. Here's a write-up in Wired.

NYTimes on AdBlock Plus

NYTimes has an article on Adblock Plus, an ad blocking plug-in for Firefox: "The larger importance of Adblock is its potential for extreme menace to the online-advertising business model."

A quote from the plug-in maker: "There is only one reliable way to make sure your ads aren’t blocked — make sure the users don’t want to block them." he wrote.

I took two screenshots of the article page in, one before the Adblock was installed, the other one right after, on default settings. The white space that was used by the ads is collapsed in the ad-free version. Click image to zoom in.

One way to trick the program is not to use third-party ad networks whose addresses are blocked. I ran Adlab through the plug-in: the AdSense is predictably gone, the hardcoded Amazon books are still there.