Advertising on Flickr

This is a photo on Flickr. This is a photo on Flickr with the notes layer turned on. This is a notes layer with a link to Amazon. This is a link to Amazon with a referral ID. Brilliant on so many levels but equally dangerous. Too much room for spammers. Read more about the idea on Marketallica.

Flickr Brandspotting

Wallets, Magic, and Church Advertising

Many of you liked yesterday's story about advertising in forgotten wallets, but it turns out this idea had been in the arsenal of religious marketers (aka proselytizers) long before it was discovered by ad agencies:

"Artfully designed to look like it was dropped by a clumsy Florida Discover Card owner — but wait, the jokes on YOU! This is not a real wallet at all, but a clever, or cheap (you decide), attempt to get you to bend over and pick up a Bible tract." Get yours here.

I speculated about magic and advertising before (here, too), but this is the first time I see magic propaganda kits for sale. Check this one out:

"You receive three of the greatest Gospel Tears ever invented. First... The Ticket to Heaven! Performer folds an unspread normal sheet of newspaper and tells the story of two friends who wanted a pass to Heaven, as he tears the paper. When the paper is opened it is a large cross, and the balance of the paper spells the word Hell!"

Also check out the magnificent Church Marketing Sucks blog.

-- via Advergirl's commenters

Branded Spacewalks

"Apollo 14 commander Alan Shepard hits a golf ball for 'miles and miles' before leaving the Moon 35 years ago this month." Credit: NASA

Pavel Vinogradov, commander of the International Space Station's mission, was slated to hit a golf ball into space during a June 1 spacewalk as part of an agreement between Russia's Federal Space Agency and the Canadian golf equipment firm Element 21 (E21) Golf Co.

"The golf activity is part of Toronto-based Element 21's publicity campaign to commemorate this year's 35th anniversary of astronaut Alan Shepard's Moon golf antics during NASA's Apollo 14 lunar mission. Video from the event will be used in an upcoming commercial, and the golf ball to be hit is packed with transmitters so its flight - expected to last up to three years - can be tracked via Element 21's website.

"Just about every single record for distance in the golf industry will be shattered this fall when an astronaut will hit a golf ball into orbit around the Earth using an E21 golf club," Element 21 said in a statement earlier this month."

The golf shot has been postponed and is "now rescheduled for the next Russian ISS spacewalk, set for November, by Expedition 14 astronauts Michael Lopez-Alegria and Mikhail Tyurin."
-- yahoo

Advertising (in) Space for Sale
Space Ads: Fools Rush In
Federal Aviation Administration Against Space Ads

HBO Promotes New Show With Virtual Job Interview

Deep Focus, the same guys who brought us The Sopranos' "Crime.Organized." maps and many other goodies (Firefox skins, trailers on YouTube), are promoting HBO's Entourage with a virtual job interview with the show's Ari Gold. Ari is driven by an "artificial intelligence" algorithm similar to the one that boosted the ELIZA bot's therapist career. Suck up to him and get the job; tell him to bugger off and flunk. Somehow, it seems this particular implementation could just pass the Turing test (what's this?). Oh, and while we are at it, check out the Subservient Donald, too.

Tool: How Color-Blind People See Your Ad

The Accessibility Color Wheel is a tool you would use to assess whether your shiny colorful ad can be read by color-blind people (8% of males, 0.5% of females).

Advertising for the Color-Blind

Advertising in Lost Wallets

How to make sure people will pick up your ad? Put it inside a lost wallet. This one from Sao Paolo is for their version of Wall Street Journal (I think). Wallets were scattered around the city and contained a sticker that said something along the lines "You found the wallet. Now find out how to fill it up". They could've stuffed in credit card receipts or even money with ads on them.
-- creative brain

Advertising on Credit Card Receipts

I wrote about advertising on ATMs before and here's a new twist. Receipt Media will put your full-color ad on rolls of receipt paper that it then gives away for free to businesses. "Unlike supermarket receipts, which feature a variety of advertisers, advertisers on these credit card receipts will have exclusivity on each roll and each merchant location. Impressions are measured in terms of the number of credit card transactions processed at each merchant location." The company has some interesting targeting options -- "want to reach women that make over $75,000/year? We can target nail salons" -- and claims that people hold their credit card receipts for at least two weeks.
-- via Media Life

Advertising on Mass Transit Straps

If you ride to work on subway or a bus, you are familiar with those dangling strap handles, sometimes with ads attached to them (germs, too). TranStrap (or TransTrap?) came up with personal straps that you carry in your pocket and share with no one. The straps, of course, can be imprinted with an ad and would make a nice giveaway item. Check out their Reader Sling model. Bonus: here's a write-up in Media Life magazine.

Study: Interactive Marketers Reluctant to Use New Media

"Forrester Research, in a survey of 253 interactive marketers, found a reluctance to shift from more tried-and-true online channels like search and e-mail marketing.
While in-game advertising and advergaming has received much attention, 72 percent of marketers do not plan to use it in the next year. The story is the same for mobile marketing, which is used by 11 percent of respondents and 57 percent of whom say they do not plan to try it in the next year. Just 13 percent reported using blogs or social networks in marketing, and 49 percent said they had no plans to do so in the next year."
-- Adweek

Tips for Outdoor Advertising

Media Life magazine offers ten lessons of outdoor advertising. Some of the more interesting ones:
  • Be mindful of what people are doing and where they are at certain times of the day, and build your plan according to that behavior.
  • Embrace the voice of the neighborhood.
  • With a little creativity, even a one-dimensional poster can be made a lot more engaging by attaching a three-dimensional element.

But that you already know, of course, if you read Billboardom.

Virgin Mobile To Offer Free Airtime for Ads

Virgin Mobile' SugarMama program will let "people earn one minute of talking time by watching 30-second commercials on a computer or receiving text messages on their phones, then answering questions to prove they were, in fact, paying attention." The carrier's customers will be able earn up to 75 minutes of free talk time a month. The first advertisers will include Microsoft's Xbox, Pepsi, and an anti-smoking campaign.
-- NY Times

Advertising on Ring Back Signal
Advertising on (Formerly) Pay Phones
Advertising on Calling Cards

DoCoMo Embeds Data in Music

DoCoMo developed a technology that can be used to embed URLs and text data in broadcast audio. Consumers' mobile phones "listen" to the music/audio and extract the embedded URLs/data. About 100 characters can be transmitted in a second. The technology is called orthogonal frequency-division multiplexing (OFDM) (via RFID in Japan).

On the same note, it appears that Nokia began shipping its new phones with built-in reader for 2D barcodes.

Advertising on Boom Gates

"Let's see what Pfizer can do for your love life. Please insert the ticket." If you like the idea, here's similar work for dog food and some ads on parking stripes and tickets.
-- via Adverbox

Rumor: Future iPods Could Play Games

Gamespot says there is an indication that Apple might be working on making its next iPod play games (in addition to music and videos, that is). Of course, you don't want have to wait and can fill your iPod with GTA: San Andreas right now; the game is text-based and comes in the choose-your-adventure style.

Why am I writing about this? First, because where there are games, there's in-game advertising; and with 50M+ users, iPod could become an important platform for casual games. Second, because I just watched my Creative Muvo Slim die (the thing won't turn on no matter how hard you ask) only after about 100 hours of playback and am spiritually ready to become another sheep in the absence of alternatives.


Advertising on Radio for Dogs

A director of dog grooming school in Thaildand launched an internet radio station whose intended audience is dogs. He said that he'd noticed that music improved the mood of dogs he grooms.
The radio will air Thai pop music and programs in which the DJ will "talk to the dogs in Thai" and encourage the listeners to respond.

"We may have a dog greeting show, in which we'll repeat 'sawasdee' ('hello') over and over. The dog may lift both paws in response. In some houses, the dog may lift only one paw. It depends on how the dog was trained. If we play a slow song, we may have the DJ howl... because dogs howl, too, when they hear sad sounds." (Here's a recent CNN story).

Now that they have smelly dog food billboards, how crazy is the idea
of radio ads for dogs? Say, a sound that reinforces the dog's reflex toward a particular brand of dog food?

Friday Special: Advertising in Japan

These guys with displays on their heads are part of a promotion campaign in Japan. Bigger picture on Flickr. Beats the advertising teletubbies.
-- we make money not art

Commentary: How To Monetize YouTube

Stephen Speicher on Engadget writes: "Imagine, on the other hand, if YouTube had placed an advertisement before that clip and paid Judson [the clip's author] for every time that clip was watched. Take this a step further. Imagine if you, as a website owner, were also given a cut of the advertising revenue every time someone watched that clip on your website . All of a sudden you've got a system whereby quality content owners are eager to submit their work and websites have an incentive to find the best quality clips to feature on their sites. It's the elusive win-win-win."

And you know what? If advertisers uploaded their spot on YouTube (and many already do), and if bloggers running that spot on their sites got paid for each unique visitor who viewed it, suddenly you would have a system that could rival Google's new video ad offering.

Update: A reader points out that Revver is doing just that.

YouTube Looks for Ad Model
Forbes: YouTube Burns $1M Monthly

Playboy Features Girls of MySpace

A transmedia offtopic that's not safe for work.

Playboy is featuring nine members of "the web's friendliest network" in its new Girls of MySpace series. Some of the profile pages are Jessica Fideo, Miss Plastik, and Heather Lynn. A few scans from the mag here (usual Playboy fare).

Can Ultrasonic Teen Repellent Be Used in Advertising?

One of today's most interesting stories was about the "Mosquito" ultrasonic repellent device that works like the dog whistle but is designed to keep loitering teenagers away from stores and other property (classical music works, too). The device emits high-pitch sound that only discernable by people under 20 due to presbycusis, or age-related hearing loss. Apparently, some enterprising high-school students recorded the sound and made it into a ringtone unaudible to teachers.

I wish MySpace worked on that principle so that only teens could hear their annoying music. More to the point, I wonder if it's something that could be coopted by advertisers to deliver age-targeted messages.

Concept: Origami Display

If you don't think that a cellphone with a roll-up display will match your other fashion gadgets, how about origami displays, a concept developed by Inventables.
-- via Unmediated, P&V

Philips Shows Rollable Display Prototype

Interacting with Magazine Photos

Mighty Optical Illusions has a bunch of pictures showing people superimposing magazine pictures over themselves. Most of the pics are ads, although unlike these jewelry ads, they weren't intentionally designed to be interacted with.

Rethinking Print Advertising

Hard-to-Open Packages And Brand Experience

image: Consumer Reports

You may have the most wonderful advertising campaign that sells your wares like hot pancakes, but if your customers hurt themselves while trying to pry open the box they just brought home, that probably doesn't make a very good first impression.

Wired runs an article today about how the hard-to-open packaging not only provides a crappy out-of-the-box experience but also leads to injuries. "Anecdotally, emergency room doctors say they're slammed the week after Christmas with such injuries and see them regularly all year. Dr. Christian Arbelaez, a Boston-area ER physician, sees about a case a week, some as serious as tendon and nerve damage that require orthopedic surgeons to repair." The article points to Consumer Reports that recently gave out Oyster Awards to America's most hard-to-open packages.


Rage Against the iPod


Sandisk is promoting its Sansa e200 MP3 player with the "iDon't" website that explicitly positions it as a cultural alternative to iPod.

Million Dollar Peepshow

"One million Swarovski crystals were needed in all to cover our breath-taking model with these sparkling little stones, thus creating an erotic overall-artwork. With each purchased stone you uncover the artwork a little bit more and you help to overcome frontiers and make the earth sparkle!" One stone - one Euro.
-- Million Crystal Body

Google to Sell Space for Online Video Ads

Google is said to open a new service that will let advertisers place online video ads on some of the pages in the Google's vast network of publishers. "A large percentage of video ads will come from small advertisers," said Gokul Rajaram, a director of product management at Google. "A small resort owner in Maui probably already has video of their great beachfront property. Now they can put it in an ad and reach a qualified set of users."

Newspapers Tweak Headlines for Search Engine Ranking

Here's an older but very fun article from NY Times about how newspapers are now writing their headlines with search engines in mind.

"So news organizations large and small have begun experimenting with tweaking their Web sites for better search engine results. But software bots are not your ordinary readers: They are blazingly fast yet numbingly literal-minded. There are no algorithms for wit, irony, humor or stylish writing. The software is a logical, sequential, left-brain reader, while humans are often right brain. "Part of the craft of journalism for more than a century has been to think up clever titles and headlines, and Google comes along and says, 'The heck with that.' "
-- via Copyblogger

Dynamic Ad Placement in Mobile MP3 Downloads

Sixty Seven Kilohertz developed a system that interjects updatable ads between the songs downloaded on a mobile device. "A user can download tracks for free and save them on a portable device such as a cell phone with MP3 player," said SixtySeven Kilohertz President Marc Cohen. "New ads are regularly transmitted to the device, saved, and played at non-predictable times between tracks of the free downloaded music. A user can listen to the same track many times and different ads each listening session."
-- CBS Chicago via MocoNews

Commentary: Video on Demand Will Kill Niche Cable Channels

"As on-demand programming takes share away from linear broadcast, it will be at the expense of all those niche-oriented channels that came into existence over the past few decades with the advent of cable… not the major broadcast & cable networks."
-- Robert Young at GigaOM

IBM Looks Into Future of Television

Hitwise Predicts Idol Winner Using Search Patterns

Lost Remote points at a blog by Hitwise that has analyzed search patterns to claim that Taylor Hicks would become the next Idol. "While neither Taylor's soul angle nor Katharine's torch song persona are in the sweet spot for the American Idol demographic, based on the difference in volume on searches for Taylor, and the nature of his search term data (interest in his music) barring anything unusual during this week's performance I'm calling Taylor the winner."

Da Vinci's, Mona Lisa's Voices Recreated, Used In Promo

Japanese scientists analyzed skeletal structures of Leonardo Da Vinci and Mona Lisa and have recreated their respective voices that are now featured in MSN's promotion of the Da Vinci Code movie in Japan. "We believe we were able to create the voices that are very close to the real voices. Perhaps it was really how they really sounded," the lab's chief Matsumi Suzuki says on the website.

Gamers Not Averse to In-Game Ads

Study by comScore, press release, May 16, 2006. Also in Marketing Vox. Verbatim highlights from press release:

The Players research found that 25% of Gamers are Heavy Gamers, playing 16 or more hours per week across any gaming platform, or playing 11 hours or more per week and playing on two or more platforms.

Light/Medium Gamers -- those that play less than 16 hours per week on one platform -- represent 75 percent of Gamers.

Approximately 17 percent of Gamers are in the hard-to-reach age group of 18-24 years old, while another 23% are in the advertising sweet-spot age segment aged 35 to 44 years old. One-in-five (20 percent) have an annual income over $75,000 per year, and the typical Gamer has been gaming for about 9 years, and has been online for about 8 years.

Gamers are equally split along gender lines.

More than 50 percent of Heavy Gamers and one-third of Light/Medium Gamers are at least somewhat familiar with the concept of in-game advertising.

Specifically, when asked about their attitudes towards games with advertisements, only 15 percent of Heavy Gamers claimed they would be "unlikely" to play games that included such product placements. In contrast, more than twice as many Heavy Gamers (33 percent), said they would be "likely" to play those games, while fully 52% of Heavy Gamers and 56% of Light/Medium Gamers stated that the inclusion of advertising would have no impact on their likelihood of playing a game.

The Players study is conducted using comScore's unique dual-mode methodology that combines passively observed online behavior and attitudinal information for the same consumers. Wave I of the survey portion of the Players Study collected attitudinal information from 800 Gamers from February 13 - 27, 2006. Additional waves will be fielded throughout 2006.

Snippet From A Future

What else to do on a slow news day but make up your own news with newspaper snippet generator? Click image to zoom in.

Billboard Dispenses Ad Posters

This billboard in Argentina dispenses advertising posters on a push of a button. Watch the magic at work on YouTube.
-- Adverblog

Haagen-Dazs Launches Flavored Stamps

The ice-cream maker Haagen-Dazs and Austrian Postal Service launched a series of stamps with branded artwork and ice-cream flavor. "They infused flavors like Cookies & Cream, Macadamia Nut Brittle and Strawberry Cheesecake into the adhesive on the back. As you licked the stamp, you actually tasted the flavor! For every 10 scoops of ice cream purchased, a book of stamps was distributed as part of a loyalty program. Which meant consumers could experience other flavors, sans the extra calories."

Flashback: Poster Stamps
Smelly Postage Stamps
Stamp Advertising Is Back

Slate Launches Textcasts

Adweek via Lost Remote: "Slate plans to begin "textcasts" of stories delivered directly to the ever-popular portable media player. Users can receive the full text of its daily "Today's Papers" feature, which aggregates the days news. The downloaded story will appear in the iPod's display window. Slate will deliver the text attached to 15-minute silent audio file. Lexus, which advertises on Slate podcasts, is sponsoring the textcast, with its logo appearing where the album art is usually shown and in a text ad within the story."

Slate Kicks Off Serialized Ad-Supported Web Novel

Google Earth Runs AdWords

A few bloggers (Radioactive Yak via Ogle Earth) noticed today that Google is testing AdWords in its Google Earth application; the ads they saw were for real estate services in England. I tried a few searches of my own and sure enough AdWords show up over the US as well. The screenshot above (click on it to see the whole thing) is of downtown Boston with the 3D buildings layer on and an ad for the Starbucks Store that appeared after I clicked on the Starbucks icon that appears with the cofeeshops layer on. The advertised website appears in the browser window within Google Earth.

Google Earth Becoming Virtual World
Google Earth Becoming Advertising Tool

Flashback: Poster Stamps

Undated poster stamp on Tripod.

"A new format in graphics and advertising caught the eye of the world at the turn of the century. Miniscule in size, universal in appeal, and blazing with all the varied colors of the rainbow, this was the poster stamp, an esoteric rarity among collectibles. As the name suggests, it is a poster in stamp form. Always gummed and a little larger than the regular postage variety, these stamps normally were printed up in perforated sheets so they could easily be torn apart and stuck to invoices, envelopes, and correspondence, or simply collected as sheets into albums.

Increasing business through advertising simplicity was the main intent of poster stamps, but they also brought high art to the masses on a level that could never have been achieved otherwise. Poster stamps were the common man's art gallery."
-- Dead Media Project

Advertising and DTV

So the transition date from analog to digital TV in the US is February 2007 and it's probably a good time to start wondering what the switch means to the ad biz. I'll probably do a more in-depth round-up some time in summer, but here are a few initial pointers:

"For starters, instead of a fixed signal that travels just one way, from the broadcaster to the viewer, the digital format allows for the transmission of a two-way signal. This means that DTV shows can be interactive." --

"A survey conducted after the Super Bowl [in 2005] by the cable network INHD found that commercials broadcast in HD during the game were the most impactful, and most highly rated with adults who viewed the game in high definition. Much of the interest in HD advertising has focused on the quality of the HD image. Relatively less attention has been paid to the quality and impact of 5.1 audio that is an integral part of HD media." --

Also check this primer on HDTV at and an official guide to transtion from the FCC.

Games for MS Excel

Tic Tac Toe for MS Excel by Steve W (zip download).

If you plan to do an advergame for your next client, consider alternatives to the ubiquitous Flash. A refreshingly underutilized advergaming platform is, surprise, MS Excel, the very spreadsheet program that eats away your best years. For inspiration, look at these sites: (Mastermind, Snake, Hangman, Tic Tac Toe), (Minesweeper variation), and a page on Geocities (Bejeweled variation, a pool game). And finally there's an Excel plug-in that helps you with all your Sudoku needs (and a few more).

Of course, you can also draw in Excel.

VW's Helga on MySpace

Here's a profile of Helga, the "it's definitely sucking" blonde from the new Volkswagen's commercials (and a behind-the-scenes story in BusinessWeek).

Advertising on MySpace
GE Launches Campaign of One-Second Commercials

Google Earth Becoming Virtual World

A 3D rendering of downtown Boston in Google Earth.

A few weeks back I gave a presentation at the MIT C3 Conference on advertising in Second Life. The main point was to urge marketers to experiment with advertising in Second Life because even if the SL's 200K-strong player base might not be attractive enough in itself, the game should be used as a massively multiplayer sandbox for honing skills that very soon will become useful elsewhere. This "elsewhere", the argument went, could be Google Earth that on the previous day had released its SketchUp 3D modeling software to the public, which means people can now add their own assets to this virtual environment, much like they do in Second Life. Add physics, scripting and avatars and -- wham! -- a new virtual world arrives on the scene backed by Google's cash vaults. Well, Business 2.0 says that's exactly what could happen:

"The result could be that we'll soon populate a virtual version of planet Earth instead of the made-from-scratch metaverses like online games or Second Life. The main element Google Earth is missing today is avatars, but at least one observer believes those to be added soon.

"I would expect to see someone using Google Earth as a virtual social space by the end of the year," says Jerry Paffendorf, research director of the Acceleration Studies Foundation, a futurist organization."

Billboards Mounted on Radio-Controlled Cars

I've had this dream of unleashing a swarm of RC cars (or, better, blimps) that would carry billboards or blast ad messages and am glad to see someone is actually doing it. CoolzOr has pictures of a new campaign for Miniature Antwerp City, and one of them shows a radio-controlled truck carrying a billboard.

Monetizing Robotic Swarms
Hacking Shopping Carts for Advertising Bang

Talking Magazine Ad Promotes Radio

British Radio Advertising Bureau inserted a sound chip in its othwerwise blank spread that appeared in Media Week. The talking ad says, literally, "You are 3 times more likely to get your ad noticed on radio than you are in press." You can see it in action at Coloribus (contrary to the title of Coloribus's, this isn't the world's first talking print ad. There was one almost twenty years ago for Absolut in Vanity Fair in December of 1989.)

Sound Inserts in Print Ads
Talking Poster
Talking Packaging

Friday Special: Telemarketer Interrupted

The Pubcast newsletter by Britain's Publicis brings us a recording (mp3) of a "fella firing a verbal sawn-off shotgun at this invading telemarketer."

Fox, Marvel Promote X-Men with "Posterzines"

Fox and Marvel will promote the upcoming X-Men movie with "posterzines" -- nine glossy poster-sized photos of the X-Men characters folded to magazine size, priced at $5.99. Coming to newsstands on May 25th.
-- via Media Post

Republican Edition iPod

Offtopic but fun. "The hosts of the five MyGOP house parties that raise the most money for the Republican Party through MyGOP from 10 or more friends will receive a special Republican edition iPod Video." Do they call it iGop?
-- RNC

Advertising Blimps with Video Screens

The blimpmaker Lightships is offering advertising blimps equipped with LED screens measuring 30x70 feet and capable of broadcasting everything from live TV to your PowerPoint presentations (via OhGizmo). Or if this one doesn't fit your trunk or budget, consider a much more compact 3ft-long Radio Controlled Party Blimp sold for $120 at Things You Never Knew Existed.

US Army Brands Gamespot

Branded background, an interstitial and banners (linking to this site) for the US Army on

Warner Bros To Distribute Movies Via BitTorrent

So, last month we wondered how many studios will dare to distribute their wares through BitTorrent given that streaming them directly would put a strain on Internet infrastructure and will result in horrible bandwidth costs (Financial Times warned about it, YouTube is facing it). Now we know the name of the first studio: Warner Brothers. New York Times (and many others) writes: "Warner Brothers plans to announce today that it will make hundreds of movies and television shows available for purchase over the Internet using BitTorrent software, which is widely used to download movies and other copyrighted material illegally."

Hollywood Reporter: "BitTorrent has been selling video game downloads for more than a year. Hundreds of titles are available, most commonly on a free trial basis before purchase; nearly 10% of those downloads result in a paid transaction. Warner Bros. already distributes via In2Movies, a German-language P2P network selling Warners films and TV shows in Germany, Austria and Switzerland."

A question: would it make sense to distribute self-contained movies with an integrated media player that would play some of the content but require a paid license key for the whole thing, as they do with games?

-- via Lost Remote

In France, Billboards Call You

Another step towards the reality of Minority Report where billboards call you by name:

A French outdoor agency JCDecaux (fr, eng) in cooperation with the French National Institute for Research in Computer Science and Control (INRIA) is testing billboards that call people via location-enabled cell phones with additional info about products they advertise. The transmission mechanism was initially designed to provide assistance to the disabled.
-- technovelgy Disguises Ads as Personal Profiles

Wall Street Journal writes about the "profile integration banners" format over at the dating site "'Our intention was not to be tricky,' says Melanie Angermann, vice president of marketing for, who isn't aware of the site receiving any complaints about the ads so far. 'In this particular type of environment, people are looking very intently at the listings and not what's happening around the listings and that's why we thought this would be a good vehicle.'"

It's like those mushrooming ad mascot profiles at And there's so much we can learn from the porn industry. Just look at the craigslist's personals section; the pornsters have been using personal ads and profiles to promote their webcam sites forever.

Java-Based 3D Product Visualization in Banner Ads

VisionWeb3D provides technology for creating Java-based 3D interactive product visualizations that could be used in online advertising.

Maconomy Promotes Time-Sheet Software With Game

Maconomy has released a project-management and time tracking software application for agencies and is promoting it with a flash game. Their website promises: "The Maconomy Time – on Time concept enables you to capture employee time in an accurate and timely manner enabling increased invoicing and a better follow-up on job estimates." Judging by the screenshot, the program still requires humans report their activities manually, which still doesn't solve the main problem - the human factor bottleneck. After all, it takes about the same amount of self-discipline to record your time on a piece of paper or on a computer screen.

The aggregation and analysis of time sheets has been automated before; what's needed now is a system that recognizes the task you are working on at the moment and puts it in the right job-number bucket automatically so that you don't have to input anything yourself. Here are a few thoughts on how that can be done.

For the tasks that are being performed on the computer - preparing powerpoints, writing, doing layouts - the solution would be fairly easy to implement by adding an extra "wizard" layer over common applications that would require a job number each time you open an application or create a new document. Then, each time you open the same file , the system would already know what project you are working on based on the assumption that a particular file is a deliverable for one particular task.

The more difficult problem is automating time tracking for tasks that happen away from the computer - meetings and phone conversations. For meetings that happen in conference rooms (presumably, those are the longer meetings), you can have an electronic room reservation system coupled with card readers at the doors. Whoever reserves the room for a particular time slot would also input the job number, and then sliding your access card on entry and exit would work as clocking in and out for this particular task. Counting time spent in ad-hoc meetings at someone's desk would be more difficult, but that could be reported as a pre-set percentage estimate instead.

To track time spent on phone conversations, you could set the phone system in a way that would require users to input the last two digits of the job number before making a phone call, although that's definitely not the most graceful solution. Perhaps, the time spent on the phone could also be a pre-set estimate from the beginning, at least for the jobs that are not phone-intensive.

Vitrue to Mediate Consumer-Generated Ads

A new company named Vitrue will attempt to add structure to the chaotic world of consumer-created commercials. In their own words, "ViTrue's Platform is a user created advertising product that enables brands to leverage consumer creativity to produce more relevant and engaging advertisements at a lower cost of production." Media Post says they have already done some work: "In fact, ViTrue has quietly already been doing that behind the scenes for several big marketers, including Sony Pictures, which created a consumer-generated ad campaign for its popular movie, "The Benchwarmers." Today, ViTrue also announced its merger with, an online video sharing site.

They are not the only players in the field. Last September, Wired wrote about Adcandy, a website that solicits advertising ideas and executions and awards the best ones with cash prizes, and then tries to sell the ideas to the respective companies. And then, of course, there is Current TV with its V-Cam program.

The Flip Side of Consumer-Generated Advertising

Rolling Stone Out With Lenticular Cover, Target Ad

As promised last year, Rolling Stone today came out with a lenticular 3D-looking stick-on cover to celebrate its 1000th issue. The back cover, also lenticular, is a Target ad that promotes the Rolling Stone Cover Album. Washington Post runs a feature on the magazine's history and offers a few details about the cover itself.

TiVo Offers Ads on Demand

image: WSJ

"TiVo will today launch Product Watch, a service offering on-demand ads to its subscribers. TiVo has signed up about 70 advertisers, including marketers such as Kraft Foods, Ford Motor, General Motors and IAC/InterActive's LendingTree, to participate in the service. TiVo announced plans for the service in November.

For the most part, the marketers won't run traditional 30-second TV commercials. Instead, they will offer longer ads that attempt to be more informative than typical commercials. Kraft, for instance, will offer 20 different cooking videos that will show such things as how to grill its Tombstone pizza, potato-salad basics, or how to create a cantaloupe-and-Jell-O dessert.

Similar ads already are available on video-on-demand services offered by cable operators such as Comcast.

To entice advertisers, TiVo will charge marketers only for viewers who download an ad -- an arrangement akin to the pay-per-click model in paid-search Internet advertising. The only other charge will be a setup fee when the advertiser first signs on."
-- Wall Street Journal, see also press release

NY Times on Anti-Ad-Skipping Patent by Philips

NY Times on Sunday weighed in on the controversy Philips created by patenting a remote control that would block ad skipping and channel surfing. The most interesting part comes in the end, when the article discusses the historical precedents and the Supreme Court 5-4 decision that allowed private non-commercial recording of TV programming as "fair use":

"That decision addressed copying with a Betamax videocassette recorder, and it remains the key decision that protects copying with DVR's today. The courts uphold "fair use" only when it doesn't harm the commercial value of the copyrighted work. At the time the suit was brought, skipping ads during playback on a clunky tape machine was hardly worth the considerable trouble. At the trial, survey data showed that only about 25 percent of recorded ads were skipped."

Commentary: Philips's Ad-Skipping Blocker Good Idea

Lost To Imbed Clues In Commercials

Another way to TiVo-proof your ads that doesn't involve crippling viewers' hardware: Lost Experience, the new alternative-reality game for the show Lost, will have puzzle clues imbedded in the commercials. More at Sun-Sentinel. I know, more work creating different spots for individual shows. That's unbundled advertising.

GE Launches Campaign of One-Second Commercials
KFC Claims Secret-Message Ad Successful

Groceries Vending Machine

Today, I stumbled across a roboshop - a Shop 2000 vending machine that dispensed regular groceries. Apparently, the machine was tested in Washington back in 2002 and was even listed as one of the best inventions of the year by Time, but I don't know what happened after that. Perhaps it was too big for most locations, but I love the idea. I think we should have a vending machine that sells ads.


Autonomous Robotic Painters

Regine at We Make Money Not Art just posted a great round-up of robots that paint of things on all sorts of surfaces in a variety of styles.

Jupiter: Ad Skipping Could Cost $8 Billion This Year

"Ad-skipping via DVRs could cost networks $8 billion in revenue this year, according to a new report by JupiterResearch. The research found that 53 percent of DVR users skip commercials--a figure below what others have estimated--but nonetheless, if that group skips ads 100 percent of the time, $8 billion of the estimated $74 billion television ad market in 2006 could be lost."
-- Media Post

Ad Skipping To Hit $27 Billion in Lost Revenue

Rethinking Interactivity of Online Shopping Carts

Jesse Shanon at Adotas suggests that inventory systems found in video games - Katamari Damasi being the example - can teach us a lesson or two about designing the interactive experience of online shopping carts:

"So imagine if you will a shopping environment where a multitude of branded products exists larger than life and the user’s primary interaction with this environment is acquiring these branded products in a fun and simple way that denotes a "game." After all the products are picked up, the player can then browse through everything in a variety of fun and intuitive categories like size, product segment and price point, and at any time, drop the product into their shopping cart. Now, for the non-gamers out there, this may seem a complicated, roundabout way to go shopping. But from the gamer’s perspective, this is speaking to us on our own terms: fun."

The article also points to, a site that uses Ajax to power its drag-and-drop shopping cart interface (image above).

Create RSS Feed for Feedless Pages

A Friday bonus: Lifehacker points to a nifty tool called Feed Yes that creates RSS feeds of pages that come without XML support. Another similar tool is Feed43.

Posters of Missing Children on Flickr

National Center for Missing and Exploited Children is using Flickr to spread the posters with kids' info (here's the corresponding poster for the Flickr image above).

-- thanks, Nishad

GE Launches Campaign of One-Second Commercials

Here's another example of how companies turn DVRs into their friends (remeber KFC's hidden coupon?) At the end of the usual TV spots, GE inserts a one-second bonus that consists of thirty frames viewable in slo-mo or in the frame-by-frame mode. You can watch the commercials and extra material at GE's website. They have also created MySpace profiles for the spots' characters (here's one for Elli the Elephant, created on May 2).
-- via NY Times

Advertising on MySpace

Korea Unveils Own Android

"Korea has developed its own android capable of facial expressions on its humanoid face, the second such machine to be developed after one from Japan. The name combines the first human name found in the Bible, Eve, with the "r" in robot.

The android has the face and body of a woman in her 20s, is 160 cm tall and weighs 50 kg. Ever-1 can move its upper body and "express" happiness, anger, sadness and pleasure. But the robot is still incapable of moving its lower half.

The 15 monitors in the robotic face allow it to interpret the face of an interlocutor and look back at whoever stands near it. Ever-1 also recognizes 400 words and can hold a basic verbal exchange.

The robot can serve to provide information in department stores and museums or read stories to children."

Shopping Assistant Robot Ready For Field Tests
ASIMO Robot Fetches Coffer, Readies for Career in Advertising
Advertising Robots, Part II
More Advertising Robots

Keywords: advertising, robot, robots, bot

JetBlue Collects Customer Stories With a Booth

JetBlue set up a booth at the Rockefeller Center in NYC to record people's experiences and thoughts about the company. Wonder if they will make the stuff available as video or podcasts or use them in TV commercials.
-- more pics at Room 116, via Advergirl

White Paper on Value of Digital Asset Management for Ad Agencies

image: xinet

Account people and money managers at ad agencies will enjoy this whitepaper (pdf) published by Xinet, a maker of workflow and digital asset management systems:

"The most commonly used estimate of the amount of time used to search for a file is three minutes and the searched-for file is not found 40% of the time. The estimate of the number of searches done in a typical year is 2,500 per person. That equates to 15.5 man-days in 200 for searching.

A typical consequence for not having a digital asset readily available is usually a recreation of that asset or additional time spent hunting down acceptable pickup art. One conservative estimate calculates the replacement value of each asset at $400. If art must be redone for the 1,000 or so assets not found (40% of 2,500), and each is nominally valued at $400, the result would be a $400,000 ROI calculation. While this is not a bad starting point to assess your own savings, the truth is that companies with successful DAM system implementations are easily achieving this and more."

Industry Embraces Uniform Ad Identification
Digital Management of Advertising Assets

Distract Customers' Rational Side To Tempt Them Into Purchase

If thinking rationally about your product makes customers consider alternatives, distract the cognitive side so that people are more likely to go with their emotional impulses, says a business professor at Standford after conducting a study. "If you're asking consumers to, say, sample a new candy bar, it might help to have a TV playing nearby with distracting content."
-- CNN

Reaching Business Audience Through Blackberries

Adverblog points to Steve Rubel's post on how Blackberries are a great but overlooked medium that can help you reach business people. He also offers ideas on how Blackberry advertising could work:
1. Branded downloadable applications - games or productivity software - built for particular business niches.
2. Branded mobile virtual network operators, like ESPN's or Disney's mobile services for cellphones.

Columbia Pictures Promotes Movie With Blackberry Game

Microsoft Acquires Massive

"Microsoft said Thursday that it had acquired Massive Inc., a company that inserts advertising into video games, and will work to use Massive's technology for other online products. Financial terms were not disclosed."
-- ABC, Bloomberg

"Microsoft also has begun exploring how to apply Massive technology to incorporate dynamic advertising into other online environments, such as Windows Live and MSN, and to make it available on the adCenter advertising platform. "We are committed to building an advertiser network that serves a wide spectrum of needs," said Kevin Johnson, co-president of the Platforms & Services Division at Microsoft. "Our acquisition of Massive will expand opportunities for advertisers and enable connection to a broader audience of digital consumers."
-- press release

Accenture Installs Large Multi-User Touchscreen Displays

image: Accenture

Accenture installed a 7x10-feet touchscreen display that delivers news, weather, sports and entertainment features in Chicago's O'Hare airport. The second installation is planned for the JFK airport in NY. Some technical factoids: "Accenture's patent-pending touch sensing system has the ability to distinguish between touches from multiple simultaneous users. Additionally high-resolution cameras are leveraged to provide touch capabilities for simultaneous usage. The screen consists of a series of nine rear-projection DLP screens fastened together to display cohesive images at a clarity of 2100 x 1200 pixels/resolution. The network is managed and updated from a remote location to allow for content to be adjusted regularly."

Advertising on GPS: America Drives to Dunkin

Again, an old but interesting bit of news: a personal navigation systems maker TomTom put the 4,000 Dunkin Donuts and 2,700 Baskin-Robbins locations on its maps.
-- press release, Feb 2006

Advertising on MySpace

MySpaceMan claims to be the "first Myspace Advertising Agency of it's kind" and says it uses its own profile to gain tons of friends and then leaves promo comments on their profile pages. The price of a thousand friends these days? $79.

Forbes recently ran a story on the undeground MySpace economy and mentioned a few ad tools that have emerged: "Another subset of sites has cashed in on MySpace's popularity by creating and selling software designed to automate tasks within the network, such as inviting and confirming friends, posting messages and sending bulletins."

Here's a MySpace page for Wendy's Square Burger done as a part of their It's Good to be Square campaign. The square burger's profile has 90,868 friends, with fans leaving notes such as this one:

i love you square.
you make me warm inside.
thank you
for your squareness

And a beautiful comment to a related post on O'Relly Radar: "What happens when adverts sign up to be friends with each other?"