Vacation, Interruption in Service

I'm mostly away from all things advertising -- TV off, no internet, books only -- till January 7. Feels weird not to blog, but what a relief.

Offtopic: Quote of the Week

"I'd like to get IQ boosting nutrients in concentrated form. Perhaps by eating vegetarians?" Dave Ross from NY commenting on a story about vegetarians being more intelligent.

Guardian: Kids' Brains Rot on Ads

Guardian runs a particularly vitriolic rant about how advertising is corrupting today's youths:

"On one side, a £30bn child-orientated market, armed with the latest multimedia weapons to lure, catch and keep the inner life of a small son or daughter. On the other side, a busy, guilty, stressed individual parent trying to avoid an embarrassing scene. Who do you think is going to win? [...]

The biggest influence on modern children [...] is not the school curriculum, the lectures of the faithful, panics in the press, ministerial initiatives or even family ethos. No, the biggest influence is marketing; the power of brands that invades the minds of the youngest."

Speaking of invading the minds of the youngest, here's the best book out there on the subject. Had it on my wishlist for a while, just got it today and can't stop reading. Did you know that "beoynd their own income [meaning allowances that amount to $15 billion each year], children also influence the purchase of more than $160 billion in family goods and services?"

But seriously. I grew up in a place where they didn't have any ads at all besides party propaganda and hand-drawn movie posters and the number of annoying kids per capita wasn't any lower.

SEO Plug-In for Firefox

The following is a paid review for ReviewMe.

SEO for Firefox is a little plug-in for search engine optimizers (optimizators?) that ammends Google and Yahoo search results will all sorts of related trivia on sites that show up in the search results. This will give you an idea why certain site is ranked higher up than others for a particular search term. To give an example you guys can relate to: if you search for "advertising blog", these three come up at the top: Adverblog, Adrants and Adland (I was pleasantly surprised to learn that Ad Lab is #4).

If you turn the plug-in on, you'll find out that Steve Hall's site trails Martina's even though AdRants has a higher page rank and beats Adverblog in just about any other indicator. To figure out what's going on, you'll either have to use many of the other tools the site makes available or contract professional SEO services the site promotes.

In other words, the tool is nifty but does not paint a complete picture, although I like how it gives the number of and Bloglines links. The age is off by one year, but that's because the plug-in pulls its data from The coolest of all other goodies is this typo generator, an essential tool for any business, cybersquatting or otherwise.

Interactivity May Cause False Memories

"Although object-interactivity will likely improve memory of associations compared to static pictures and text, it may lead to the creation of vivid internally-generated recollections that pose as real memories. Consequently, compared to information conveyed via static pictures and text, object-interactivity may cause people to falsely recognize more non-presented features."

"Learning Through Virtual Product Experience: The Role of Imagery on True Versus False Memories", Ann E. Schlosser (pdf), to appear in the December issue of Journal of Consumer Research. Excellent discussion and summary on Collision Detection.

Wired: Gadgets That Changed the World

It's like one of those MENSA test questions: which object doesn't belong here? Answer: all but one in the list of Wired's 10 gadgets that changed the world are media devices. Although I guess you can call the microwave "The Reality Food TV".

Advertising With Widgets, Part 2

This Purina widget has been downloaded over 15,000 times over the past two months. Not bad, considering the "eyeball-hours" it generates. Micropersuasion took time to count the others.

Advertising on Widgets

ROI of Second Life

(If you are on RSS, you won't see the embedded slides.)

Posted a few thoughts about the value of participating in Second Life and similar worlds over at HHCC blog along with some slides from recent presentations. Two sidenotes: 1) Huge thanks to FutureLab and MITX for having me speak; 2) Slideshare rocks.


Don't know if these people are for real but they must be all thumbs: "Thumbs are tomorrow's billboards. Born out of a niche market, thumb-space has gone mainstream! Media planners around the world add bang to over-stretched media budgets with thumb-vertising!"
-- love adrants' headline: thumbvertising is new Second Life

Writing for RSS Usability

When it's 3am, and you have to get up at 8am, and this is your only free time this week to catch up on RSS feeds, and the unread items are 2540, and you don't want to spend more than, optimistically speaking, 30 minutes going through them, which posts gets killed and how?

1. After some time writing and reading blogs, you get pretty good at scanning things. You look for trigger keywords. You recognize reduntant posts that appear all over the net on a particular day and kill those.
2. Feeds with no content and a single link back to the blog die an ugly death. Chances are someone else on the reading list has reblogged your precious post and it will come up in its full beauty two scrolls down the road.
3. You speed through the blogs with the traditionally low gold-to-crap ratio (judged subjectively, of course). BoingBoing is a great read in general and publishes useful snippets every once in a while, but the chances that it will have something relevant to the topic are statistically very small.
4. Cute but meaningless headlines die rot in headline hell, just like email subject lines that carry nothing but an out-of-context "re:"
5. I'm still debating the value of ALL CAPS in headlines. Probably a thumb down, but it hasn't become too bad yet.

Henry Jenkins Responds To Planners

For those of you following the lively debate around the newly minted concept of transmedia planning, Henry Jenkins just published his response in two parts (part 1, part 2).

There's a secondary strain running through the conversation about who's in charge of creating brand meanings. Brand managers must be thinking it's them (is "brand manager" an overstatement?), otherwise we wouldn't have "repositioning" and "rebranding" campaigns that are nothing but efforts to replace the old meaning of a brand with a new one. But you can't just swap one meaning for another. See, it's more like a cocktail. You have something in the glass that's your customer's head, then you pour something else, then add ice, and the resulting drink is never what you've just poured. In other words, new meanings don't replace old ones, they blend together into something that we haven't yet been able to measure.

Reports: Future of Internet, Web Video

Two reports I should've posted about earlier:
- From Pew Internet, Future of the Internet II with responses to 7 scenarios from 700+ thinkers.
- From Scott Kirsner, a book on Future of Web Video full of stats and interviews with key players.

Ads on In-Game Radio in Virtual Worlds

Tony at Clickable Culture talks about ads for virtual shops that run on user-created radio for Second Lifers. The station that runs on millionaire Anshe Chung's land can be accessed at (paste the URL into WinAmp or whatever player you have). If you played GTA: San Andreas, you'll remember the hilarious ads for Cluckin' Bell and Sprunk, too.

Microphone as Input Device

There have been a few online ads that let users interact with it through mics by singing or shouting, and here's the one from Lynx (aka Axe) deodorant that lets you blow the clothes off a freezing model.
-- via AdRants, Clickable Culture (with more examples)

New Book: Get Inside Creative Director's Brain

The Houdini Solution

Ernie Schenck's new book "The Houdini Solution" gives a rare glimpse inside the head of the creative director who's been creating great campaigns on tight deadlines. Appropriately, every sentence reads like a slogan. Ever stared at a blank screen working on a campaign due first thing in the morning with little budget and a restrictive brief? That's the box mentioned on the cover, and Ernie suggests it's a blessing in disguise and offers plenty of examples and a chapterful of exercises. If you believe that creative thinking is an acquired skill and are looking for new ways to develop it, this book is for you.

Disclosure: we share the same agency roof.

Google Tests Radio Ads

image: Donna Bogatin

Google said "it had begun testing a system it acquired by purchasing dMarc Broadcasting in early 2006 for $102 million and which it subsequently built into its existing AdWords online ad system."
-- reuters

Follow-up: Embedding Ads into YouTube Players

A recent post about embedding ads into YouTube players to solve the monetization problem has attracted a suprising amount of attention and a number of great comments. Today, Ari Paparo from DoubleClick sent this clarification in:

"From a technical point of view, serving Flash ads into Flash content is actually suprisingly tricky. Security issues need to be overcome, as well as visual issues such as the masking of the creative into the expected dimensions. Not impossible, but not trivial either.

We've produced a demo showing how this can work.

In terms of formats, there's not going to be a single answer. Options for unobtrusive video can include "bugs" which overlay on top of the video, skinned players, clickable video (Sweetspotting), and other elements. These ad units can then be combined with post-roll video for a good mix of branded and direct response media.

For some examples of how this can be accomplished, I've put together an interactive demo of different video effects in a Flash player."

Grand Theft Auto IV Will Have In-Game Ads

Take-Two Interactive and Double Fusion are partnering to bring in ads in Take-Two's games, the next installment of GTA apparently among them. GameSpy quotes Paul Eibeler from TTI:

"It's not just about shipping one box and then waiting for a sequel, but keeping that product alive in the marketplace. There is a tremendous amount of research that shows that anything in terms of downloadable content increases the box sales. So we will take our biggest brand (GTA) and have episodic content available in the marketplace. It's a way we are approaching games to maximize our revenue as we look into the next cycle."