Get Cheap Tickets For Oceanic 815

Awesome! Price-comparison engine Kayak "shows" tickets for the Sydney-LAX Oceanic 815 flight prior to the premier of Lost's sixth and last season. Search for a one-way flight on September 22, 2010 and it will be right there, departing at 2.55pm. Love the "click to see rates" link to Expedia (doesn't do anything, unfortunately).
- via, via

Loose Lips Sink iPad Deals?

So how come McGraw-Hill's logo wasn't up on that Keynote slide of publishing partners that had cut distribution deals with Apple for the iBooks ebook store? Because of this interview by the publisher' CEO?  As an LA Times' blog put it, "Terry McGraw shouldn't be surprised if he wakes up tomorrow with a horse's head in his bed."

(image from Engadget)

Telling A Story With Fantasy Interfaces

Here's a recent quick interview on NPR with Mark Coleran, the designer behind FUI (fictional user interfaces) that have appeared in many well-known movies: "What [a movie character] sees on that monitor looks nothing like what you have on your home computer. That's because it wasn't designed to surf the Internet or do your taxes."

AdLab's earlier coverage of Mark Coleran's work and the subject of FUI, including an academic paper.

Checkmarks vs. Crosses

Seen on a price comparison page of a web design outfit -- why not use green checkmarks instead of red Xs? Xs here are supposed to mean that the feature is available, right?

Avatarize Yourself Until You Are Blue In the Face

Na'vi editor of Pandora's AdLab

I was about to say that this new tie-in from McDonald's will cheer up all those people who got depressed "because they long to enjoy the beauty of the alien world Pandora," but after uploading my own mug shot I'm not so sure.

Anyway,  here are some stats about Euro McD's "Avatarize Yourself" campaign in Europe from the latest Oddcast email update: "Our [18-]country, 7 language deployment has already racked up more than 4mm user sessions in a few weeks, with an average session time of 9 minutes, 45 seconds! One out of four sessions results in sharing via email or social networks, generating almost 1.2mm earned sessions."

Video of Moscow's Billboard Porn Hack [NSFW]

Pics or it didn't happen.

By now, you have probably seen the AP story from Moscow about how a billboard on a highway near Kremlin was hacked to show porn. I also bet you haven't seen any pictures of the hack unless you know your way around the Russian corner of the blogosphere. AdLab to the rescue!  The video (via) is after the jump and is very NSFW.


How Many People Print Out Articles?

A rare and useful data point: "For a typical news site, about 0.5% of all visitors print out news reports." (Find more stats like this on AdLab)

Coin-Op Newspapers: Popular Content Should Cost More

Here's a thought regarding the New York Times' upcoming metered model:  instead of taxing its most loyal readers, the newspaper might consider charging more for the articles that are in high demand by everyone.  Read on.

Amazon Connects Kindle Prospects With Owners

Love how Amazon helps prospective Kindle customers meet current enthusiastic owners to test-drive the device in person in the absence of physical retail distribution channels. Something Google might consider for its Nexus phone, too.

Google: Ad Zappers Are Good for Advertising

A couple of years ago, I wrote a post about how Adblock Plus and the proliferation of other similar technologies wasn't such a bad news for the ad business in the long term: "It’s a case of advertising Darwinism, with the fittest ads surviving at the expense of the most annoying."

Just came across this recent and similar comment by a Googler made about the Adblock Plus extension on Chrome: "There will always be some group of people who want to block ads for personal reasons. But if we do a good job on the advertising side, people won't want to block ads. People will find them actually useful." 

3D Puts Brand Placement Out Of Focus

Very interesting: the proliferation of 3D tech in TVs and theaters may threaten the current model of brand placements because of how 3D puts background is out of focus:

"One of the key characteristics of 3D, as used in Avatar, is "limited depth of field." Essentially, this means that the figure onscreen in 3D pops out at the audience while the background appears out of focus. An attempt to focus on the background causes what some call "Avatar h3dache."

For product placements though, the loss of a clear background means the elimination of countless placement opportunities for a wide range of brands. Cars logos, soda names, box graphics and any number of other brand identifiers will appear to be just a swirl of blurry color. Any attempt to distinguish them will be pointless. What good is a product placement that cannot be seen?"

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Splat! Ads in Violent Games Recalled Better

MIT Tech Review: "A team of European and U.S. researchers found ads displayed along with violent scenes to be more memorable to players than those shown with nonviolent content, even though players spent less time looking at them."

"Those who played a violent version of the game, where the goal was to run down pedestrians, resulting in a blood-splattered screen, demonstrated significantly better recall of advertised brands than those who played the regular version."

 Told you someone should've put up billboards in that airport in Modern Warfare II.

The Fudge Needs To Go!

(You kinda have to read this first.)


I was referred to you by XXXXX who works for an ad agency that had recently pitched your company.

We have this warehouse full of banana fudge with an expiry date just around the corner. We need to move this stuff fast, and I mean FAST!

Mr. XXXXX mentioned you had an SEO company in mind that knows everything about Android, Chrome, Ad Planner, Google Maps, Alerts, and Docs. 

These guys sound like they know what they are doing. Would you mind sharing their contact info?

The fudge really needs to go.

Many thanks,

Take Over Billboards In Google Street View

Wouldn't it be fun to scoop all the virtual billboards on Time Sq?

Two independent reports less than a week apart claim Google considers inserting some kind of advertising into its Street View maps.

CNET last week: "In the presentation, Google tossed out the notion that ads may one day appear in Street View. Those ads would be tied into the listings in the Google Local Business Center and the Google Favorite Places program."

RRW today about Google's new patent: "In this patent, Google describes how it plans to identify buildings, posters, signs and billboards in these images and give advertisers the ability to replace these images with more up-to-date ads. In addition, Google also seems to plan an advertising auction for unclaimed properties."

(Update):  One question people seem to have about this is whether there's enough scale to make Street View billboards interesting to advertisers. Probably not so much on the PCs, but I'd say the Street View GPS navigation in Androids could be one application,  something like what Dunkin' did with TomTom a few years ago.

(Update 2; Jan 21 '10):  People got pretty excited about this news, so much that I got a call yesterday from a Canadian radio asking for a comment. I've learned not to get too agitated about patents -- if all of them came to life, including these from the 19th century, the world would've been a much wackier place. I mean, Sony has patented telepathy, in addition to a bunch of other mind control patents, which is by far a bigger deal than some billboards in some maps.

Would be cool, though, to use Street View with dynamic billboards to build a driving simulator to test billboard readability and effectiveness, though.  Here's a driving simulator, and here's a virtual testing service for billboards - now let's just combine the two.

This is yet another twist for a subject AdLab's been covering for years:

Quote Of The Week

"I'm a bit weirded out by Apple getting into the advertising business... Simply because of the Apple zealots who will suddenly LOVE ads."


Canned Tweets, Ready to Go

Watch me productize my open browser tabs.  Short on Twitter fodder?  Try our canned, fresh, never-tweeted-before tweets!  Everything here is under 140 characters and ready to go.

Stamps in Braille -

Electronic Plastic - 380 retro-futuristic designs of handheld and tabletop games from the 80s (

A very awesome collection of retro gadgetry at (

Coraline 3D Garden promo #AR website for the very creepy movie (equally disturbing are the system and browser requirements.) -

Someone should run an eyetracking study of Newser ( - a cool interface all over the place - and compare to Drudge.

Study: experienced web designers could predict only 46% of the elements users typically saw -

Two of the only few pictures from the Monopoly Live game in London a couple of years ago (

Dior models in Moscow, July 1959. Photos by Howard Sochurek. (

Oblong Industries - the company behind many tech ideas in Minority Report (

Print Ads With Seeds for Haagen-Dazs

This Haagen-Dazs ad  ran back in 2008, but I keep talking to my friends about it and have to rummage through my file folders every time I do, so I'll just post it here. The print ad by, I believe, Goodby, had flower seeds embedded into to the linen paper and could be planted into the ground. Goes straight to the rethink and rethink print collections.

Remember how in 2006 the ice-cream maker printed flavored stamps?

Update: Here's a very similar Green Letter from Honda, a direct-mail piece that won bronze at One Show. (Thanks, anonymous commenter.)

Ads Of Steel On Security X-ray Machines

One by one, all those crazy ideas from the Half Baked list are being brought to life. Shoes that print ads on the sidewalk? Check. Ads visible on security x-rays? Check. More specifically, they are briefcases with a recruitment message for security officers by Shield Security laid out in steel letters. "Apart from special promo teams, Shield Security uses the briefcases whenever they travel."

Wanted: Experienced Security Personnel
-- New Message Amsterdam

Lady Gaga Named Polaroid's Creative Director

"Got my flash on. It's true, need that picture of you.
It's so magical, we'd be so fantastical."


"The Haus of Gaga has been developing prototypes in the vein of fashion/technology/photography innovation--blending the iconic history of Polaroid and instant film with the digital era--and we are excited to collaborate on these ventures with the Polaroid brand."

A bold move. Talk about hiring a Chief Culture Officer.

Nexus One Cost of Ownership With Data-Only Plan and VoIP

Billshrink has a chart that compares the 24-month cost of ownership between key smartphones on different carriers, including the iPhone on AT&T and the just-launched Nexus One on T-Mobile. According to the site, Nexus One nets out at between $2,339 and $2,579, depending on the plan.

What if you could rely only on 3G for all your telephony needs?

Total cost of ownership for two years: $1679.80, or $70 a month including the initial cost of the device. The flip side, of course, is the spotty 3G coverage. The flip-flip side -- no contracts.

Update (Jan 6 '10): Nevermind. It appears that data-only plans are not available for Android phones (see the comment below).

Apple Tablet With Dual Screens, Please

This is our own version of fantasy sports.

With so much anticipation about the tablet, someone has to make one already. I don't know if I need one; and there's a lot of talk about how nobody really needs one, either.  Then again, I can't think of Apple being in the business of satisfying needs, except maybe for the very high-order needs like feeling good about oneself and showing off. Need is definitely not why I have five consecutive-generation iPods around the house.

Want, though, is an entirely different story, and the one with the much higher margins, too. And if nothing else, Apple is a master of cultivating the collective desire around its beautiful chunks of plastic and aluminum. See how otherwise reasonable people have whipped themselves into a frenzy over a mythical product without Apple lifting a marketing finger?

So, yes, even if I don't need a tablet, I do want one.  And since nobody outside of the Infinite Loop knows what the Apple Tablet will actually look like, I have allowed myself to be very particular about how I want it. Together with my colleagues, we've put together a wish list of ten things that must be in an ideal tablet.

The first thing we would love to see is a dual-screen set-up, similar to Courier or the OLPC2 concept but more seamless, and for several reasons:

1. As Daring Fireball said, thinking of the tablet as a giant iPhone is not very imaginative; it's like thinking iPhone would be a click-wheel iPod that makes phone calls (this last link also illustrates why you can't trust patent drawings to represent the final design).

2. You've got to protect the screen. A Kindlesque cover would be inelegant; a swivel keyboard would make it a touch-screen laptop.

3. When angled, one part of the screen becomes a custom input interface (maybe even like 10/GUI).

4. When spread out, the screen becomes large enough to read ebooks comfortably.

5. The set-up keeps the device pocketable even with a usefully large overall screen size (to get to the rumored 7" combined diagonal, each of the two screens will have to be slightly larger than the current iPhone's. Hey, maybe the tablet is actually the new iPod Touch upgrade?).

Onto the other nine items on our list.