Advertising on Police Cars

Littleton, a city in Massachusetts, approved the plan to sell ad space on police cars.

Boston Globe: "Continuing advertisers' march into seemingly every available public space, this small city north of Boston is preparing a plan to allow its police cars to carry up to three advertising signs, each roughly twice the size of a bumper sticker. And the ads would not end there: Fire Department command vehicles may also sport them.

A local supermarket and car dealership signed on, and two cruisers have sported the ads. The program has generated $72,000 and is up for renewal in May."

Police will not give preferential treatment to corporate sponsors.

Flashback: Cities Consider Ads On Police Cars

McAfee Report: Economics of Typosquatting, a common misspelling of, receives an estimated monthly traffic of 150-200K visits (source: compete).

IT security company McAfee has an interesting report out that describes the economics of typosquatting:

"McAfee’s research shows that almost a quarter of all suspected typo-squatted pages use Google or Yahoo! advertising. Our research confirms the anecdotal evidence that the ease of using Google’s ad syndication program helps makes typo-squatting profitable.

In a twist of the tables, though, Google has fought typo-squatters of its own domain. We’re not surprised. Our research ranks as the 15th most typo-squatted domain we studied with 32.2% of its 289 permutations hosted by live parking pages. Ironically, we detected Google syndication text on 43 of those pages."
-- via Domain Tools

Also, a feature story from last May in Business 2.0 about some of the most successful domain name speculators.

IRC Search Engine

A very useful and well-designed tool: IRC chat archive and search. From Techcrunch: "IRSeek is indexing public Internet Relay Chat (IRC) channels at the rate of 6 million conversations a day. 300 million conversations have now been indexed by the company. The most popular networks, including EFnet, DALnet, Freenode and QuakeNetUndernet, are all being monitored - IRSeeK is now “listening” to 2000+ channels across 10 networks."

Apart from being an obvious look-up tool for tech questions, it can also be used by aspiring playwrights. The way it probably works is by having a chatbot joining every open channel on a network and recording conversations.

IRC brings up so many decade-old memories, too.

Google Can Serve Very Local Ads to Mobile

Google has learned how to triangulate cell tower information to approximate the location of a non-GPS cell phone. Which will now allow Google to micro-target advertising and display local mobile ads that are relevant in the context of your search, time of day, and your street-level location (and things like weather, too).

Google Eyes Contextual Billboards

Game Character Promotes Upcoming Title

Was going through some old notes on in-game advertising and found this 2006 screenshot on Ars Technica, where a Dungeon Siege 2 NPC (non-playing character) pushes the upcoming PSP port of the same game and offers promo codes.

What Goes Around: Google on Yahoo on Google

Wonder who's making more money: Google advertising its ad services on Yahoo, or the other way around.

Contextual Advertising in PDF

CNet: "Yahoo and Adobe are bringing pay-per-click ads to Adobe's Portable Document Format so that publishers can serve up ads inside PDFs distributed on Web sites and over e-mail that are contextually relevant to the content.

The text advertisements appear in a panel to the right of the content in the PDF and are subject matter matched using keywords and analysis of associated concepts. The ads are dynamic, meaning different ads can pop up at different times and clicking on an ad takes you to the advertiser Web site. "

Ha! Can't wait for job candidates to insert contextual ads into their CVs.

If Yahoo's screenshot is any indication, this ain't really advertising in PDF documents but on the software (although the ads are influenced by the content) and not in the user's line of sight. It looks a lot like what Google is doing with its GMail now and what Microsoft promised it would do with the online versions of its productivity products two years ago.

Still think my version where publishers could indicate specific ad insertion areas within the document was better.

-- via TechCrunch

Contextual Advertising in Word Documents
Advertising on CV
ATM Advertising

Blog Printing Service From HP

Branded utility in action: HP Blog Printing is "a new service that allows you to put a print button on your blog, and let HP do the page formatting for you." The screenshot is the application in action on Techcrunch. Genius, really -- how many impressions do you get for a price of developing an app?

HP Brands Print Button

Toronto As Half-Life 2 Mod

"City 7: Toronto Conflict, is an action packed Half-Life 2 mod with a variety of unique levels and game play. Explore what has become of City 7 in areas like Dundas square, Eaton Center , Mel Lastman square, St. Michael's Hospital and TTC system under the Combine rule. This version features Gordon Freeman as the main character, stuck in Toronto due to a teleporting accident in Kleiner's lab. Try to escape this war torn city by finding any type of teleporting technology and send him back to City 17."

Fictional Interfaces

  • Mark Coleran designs fictional interfaces for movies and has a reel on his site (via N-Gen).

  • Last year's Alertbox column by Nielsen listing 10 problems with showing such interfaces that concludes with, "Research funding and management expectations are subtly biased by the incessant emphasis on unrealistic UI design such as voice, 3D, avatars, and AI. When you see something work as part of a coherent and exciting story, you start wanting it. You even start believing in it. After all, we've seen 3D and voice so often that we've developed an implicit belief in their usefulness."

  • A very entertaining and illustrated academic paper on the subject.

  • Earlier:
    Commentary: Future Media Design
    Mind Control for Second Life Avatars
    GoMonkey: Gesture-Based Interface
    Raytheon Creates 'Minority Report' interface
    Another "Minority Report" Interface
    Concept: Book Interface for Radio

    Digg ROI, Part II

    Subvert and Submit charge $1 for a Digg vote for your link and claim they can propel whatever they want to the site's front page with their army of 3000+ voters. Does it pay off? They say it does:

    "We estimate that we are 50 to 100 times more cost effective than conventional Internet advertising. With Digg, our cost per click is about $0.003, whereas the cost per click of conventional Internet advertising (such as Google AdWords) is about $0.20. Through Subvert and Profit, it costs about $75 to get a story on the front page of Digg, where it will receive about 25,000 clicks. Information about StumbleUpon is less readily available, but our cost per click should be roughly similar. StumbleUpon is a more linear proposition, whereas Digg is all or nothing."

    The company also does StumbleUpon.

    Also, TechCrunch has a very interesting post about how to get views on YouTube: "The Secret Strategies Behind Many “Viral” Videos".

    Digg's Long-Term Effect on Traffic
    Dove Spot Hits Digg Front Page
    The ROI Of Digg Front Page Spot
    Hacking Wisdom of the Crowds
    Pay To Get Dugg
    Reality Check: Community-Governed News Sites

    Digg's Long-Term Effect on Traffic

    Ben Cook created a blog with a single post and submitted it to Digg. The post reached Digg's front page, a deluge of visitors ensued, but what's next? High search engine rankings and a continuous trickle of visitors, Ben Cook explains.

    Web Stats Tool Looks Up Domain Names

    Domodomain is a web stats package that goes an extra mile and resolves visitor domains so that instead of some IP gobbledygook you are actually looking at company names. I tried to build something similar in-house years ago while working on a B2B project and if this works as I think it works, it's an invaluable tool. If you are a blogging student of advertising, you can figure out what agencies are reading your stuff and target your applications accordingly.

    Agency Explains Toyota WOW Ad

    The site of Kevin Roberts, Saatchi, has a machinima video of the creative couple behind the Toyota's World of Warcraft ad.

    Virtual Mall Works In Browser

    The Mall Plus is a new 3d shopping environment from New Zealand. Kind of like Kinset, only more photorealistic and doesn't require a client download.

    Dissecting Advertising Clutter, Part I

    You have probably heard (or even said) at some point in your career that an average American is exposed to 3000-5000 ad messages every day. But do you know where this number comes from? If you do, please leave a comment. If you don't, you are not alone. Not having an idea either but very curious, I spent some time poking around. Take a look at my initial findings.

    Update [Jan.28 '08]. President of Yankelovich, J. Walker Smith, sheds more light on the number's genesis in his comment on the Hill Holliday blog.

    Identical Product Shots for Sony, Apple

    Engadget: "Those pictures are official, un-doctored press shots from both Apple [old nano] and Sony [Sony DSC-T2 Cyber-shot cameras]."
    -- via AdLads

    Bonus: a pop-quiz from an old post:

    Match these brands - Sony, Hummer, Mercedes, Haagen Dazs - with their slogans: "like nothing else", "made like no other", "like no other", "unlike any other".

    Ad Zappers For Facebook

    Scripts for the Greasemonkey Firefox plug-in that zap Facebook's ads: directory, Flyer Remover, Feed Ads Remover, Sponsored News Remover, and, the newest, everything-remover. There are more.

    Bonus: a bunch of slides (Tim O'Reilly's is the most interesting) and videos from the recent Graphing Social Patterns conference for Facebook developers. Here's a video about why Facebook is a hell to monetize.

    Ads From Soviet Romania

    Found a small collection of old ads from Romania (wiki) of the Soviet period. This one, as far as I can tell, promotes some cooperative mail-order business.

    Also, an interesting bit from a related research:

    "In the early 1990s people in emerging markets were thrilled to be showered with a confetti of colorful western advertising images. But, in those exhilarating early post-wall years, ads were not immediately recognized as ads by a world that had been visually deprived of commercial aesthetics since the time of Stalin, and thus their function as marketing tools was initially disabled. Western ads were first viewed as symbols of a conquering political and economic system, later utilized as tools, and eventually found their place as signifiers within a pre-existing cultural context. These misinterpretations of post-Cold War western advertising images had at least two causes: a lack of disposable capital in post-Soviet Eastern Europe and the inability of western corporations to imagine the dynamics of a non-consumerist society as they launched their first global marketing plans in this new territory."

    Malware Creeps In Through Ad Banners

    eWeek: "Rogue anti-spyware software that pushes fraudulent PC scans has found its way onto DoubleClick and legitimate sites, including CNN, The Economist, The Huffington Post and the official site of the Philadelphia Phillies."

    Banner Ad Gone Phishing
    Evil Ad Tech, Part II
    Future: Talking Ads Take Over Computers
    Subliminal Spam
    DIY Submilinal Messages
    Ads Means Worm
    Hijacking MySpace Pages

    Literary Analysis of Advertising Slogans

    Nick Padmore at A List Apart took the 115 greatest slogans and dissected them to see what makes them work. The stats show that all great slogans should:

    1. Be five words in length.
    2. Not mention the brand name.
    3. Be declarative.
    4. Be grammatically complete.
    5. Be otherwise standard.
    6. Contain alliteration, metaphor, or rhyme.


    Reenacting Coprorate Slogans
    Friday Special: The Inherent Poetry of Advertising
    The Beautiful Prose of Annual Reports

    Shadow Billboard for Volkswagen

    I don't post a lot of creative on Adverlab and even Billboardom slowed down once the novelty of spectacular billboards had worn off, but occasionally an idea is so bright and simple I can't help it.

    -- more on ad goodness

    Spam Culture-Sensitive; Other Stats

    "[IT security company] Kaspersky found products punted through junk mail differed according to language with most Russian language spam offering education and training, and goods ranging from busts of the Russian president to a device which will 'translate' a dog’s bark. English language spam, by contrast, tends to focus on advertising for stocks and shares, penis pills and cheap (pirated) software."
    -- The Register (March 1, 2007)

    Some of the other interesting things about spam in the Kaspersky's report:
    - Spam: 70% - 80% of all mail traffic
    - The newest spammer technologies can send out hundreds of thousands of messages in under an hour.
    - Spammers have also mastered psycholinguistic methods of manipulating spam readers. In other words, spammers are still using text, and are successfully disguising spam as personal correspondence.
    - Kaspersky also explains subliminal spam: Most probably, animated spam is used to evade OCR technologies which can be used to filter out spam.

    Subliminal Spam

    Writer's Strike Could Shift Ad Budgets

    Reuters: "A prolonged strike by screenwriters, however, could lead to big changes. Audience ratings are likely to slip without new TV shows to watch, and as viewers move elsewhere, so too will advertisers."

    Marc Andreessen: "The writers' strike, and the studios' response to the strike, may radically accelerate a structural shift in the media industry -- a shift of power from studios and conglomerates towards creators and talent."

    Washington Post: "In the name of winning a bigger share of revenue from the sale of TV shows over the Internet, TV writers could wind up driving viewers to the Web in search of original online video."

    Writers' Strike and UGC

    Ikea Awarded for In-Store Signage

    Ikea got the top award from Massachusetts association of retailers. Boston Herald: "'They’re eons ahead of any other retailers in communicating with their customers via interior signage,' said Rick Segel, a retail sales consultant, association member and judge, and author of 'Retail Business Kit for Dummies.' "They’re communicating in a way that’s not just a hard sell. It represents an educational point of view and an entertaining point of view.'"

    Writers' Strike and UGC

    Can fan fiction fill the void left by the TV writers' strike? Media Week: "In addition to forcing the networks to air repeats of late-night talk shows, the strike has now also put them in the position of having to change up their midseason schedules—and the first casualty of those changes is Fox's hit 24".

    Check out the section devoted to 24 on

    For that matter, can ad agencies be summoned to write TV content?

    P.S. Looked it up; TV Week's blog writes about it. I'll see if I can ask Dr. Jenkins what he thinks during the upcoming Futures of Entertainment conference.

    Rebranded: Zoozio Is Now Zimbio

    Zoozio is now Zimbio.

    Eskobo, trumba vimeo? Renkoo!!! Oy ogi yedda chatsum, zimbra bloglog qoop.

    Offline Retailers and Online Expectations

    Bill Gerba at Retail Media News blogged recently about a Datamonitor report that said "the next step in the battle to retain customers' is to streamline the buying experience, bringing it more in line with internet shopping in terms of ease and speed of transaction."

    Bill writes, "Of course, where the Internet excels is in instances where the customer can benefit from a very large amount of information, the ability to compare multiple products at once (for both price and features), and see reviews from (presumably) like-minded shoppers. And in my experience this is where retailers have been putting more effort lately."

    Fascinating topic. Last year, I wrote a small post about it on FastCompany's blogjam: "It's interesting how many e-shops have been emulating physical store layout by using familiar naming and organizational metaphors -- aisles, shelves, departments, shopping carts. This, of course, is done to match expectations of customers who are used to shop in the brick-and-mortar world. The flip side is also worth exploring: while doing something online users must be developing new expectations for the activity's offline equivalent."

    We now have fairly cheap tools to create offline analogs for many online metrics -- a simple traffic tracker, for example, costs around $400.

    I love Blockbuster (which feels very lonely these days), I think their Total Access program is great (their store is one block from my house), but it pains to see how their online ordering system is not integrated with the offline experience. How much would it cost to put a simple computer with an internet connection (which they already have in stores) and let me look up movie trailers? $500 per store per year? How much money do they lose when someone walks into the store, can't decide what movie to rent, and walks out (the paradox of choice)? If it's more than the cost of that $500 computer, isn't the ROI right there?

    People Against Poor Interfaces

    RedesignMe! is a new website where people come to comment about poorly designed interfaces. Some people comment, other people offer design suggestions.

    IBM's Version of Advertising Future

    IBM researchers talked to a bunch of consumers and executives to come up with their "The End of Advertising as We Know It" report (full report, PR summary). Key findings:

    "The report indicates by 2012, the landscape of the industry will change so profoundly that to survive, advertising industry players need to take aggressive steps to innovate in three key areas:

    - Consumers: making micro-segmentation and personalization paramount in marketing;
    - Business models: how and where advertising inventory is sold, the structure and forms of partnerships, revenue models and advertising formats;
    - Business design and infrastructure: All players need to redesign organizational and operating capabilities across the advertising lifecycle to support consumer and business model innovation: consumer analytics, channel planning, buying/selling, creation, delivery and impact reporting."

    Dunno. Anything that starts with "the end of..." reeks of too much sensationalism. "As we know it?" Who "we"? IBM? Ad agency CEOs? Consumers? Bloggers? Then you get all the usual buzzwords: accountability, fragmentation, declining TV viewership (but here's a graph that shows TV viewing time has been steadily increasing over the past 50+ years, and steeply so after the year 2000), and disruption. I guess what I'm trying to say is that it would've made a great report had it been written in 1995, but now it's like that consulting joke about them taking your watch and telling you what time it is.

    Want to know what advertising will be like in the future? Ask someone who pays a lot of money for advertising now, like a P&G CMO. The future of advertising will be what they say it should be.

    Advertising Clutter in 1759

    "Advertisements are now so numerous that they are very negligently perused, and it is therefore become necessary to gain attention by magnificence of promises, and by eloquence sometimes sublime and sometimes pathetic."
    -- Samuel Johnson, "The art of advertising exemplified", The Idler (a series of essays published in Universal Chronicle) # 4o, 1759 (wiki, full text).

    Automatic Ad Skipping In 1934

    Offtopic: Charting Pac-Man

    -- flickr

    Tool: Calculate Cost of Meetings

    A cool promotional device and an invaluable tool rolled in one -- the MeetingMiser application from PayScale. Enter your location and positions of the meeting attendees and push start; MeetingMiser will pull average salaries for everybody in the room and calculate the total cost of time spent looking at those ppt slides. If there is one online app that has to be a desktop widget, this is it, and it would be great to customize billable rates for more accurate estimates.

    50 Game Innovations

    An excellent feature (page-by-page, on one page) in Business Week listing some of the most important innovations in the video game medium over the past 30 years. Why should anyone care? Because a lot of the game innovations spill out to other media: interfaces, AI, 3D imagery are only a few such areas. Here are my favorites from the list:

    "Modding is a form of gameplay; it's creative play with the meta-game. The earliest games weren't just moddable, they were open-source, since their source code was printed in magazines like Creative Computing. When we began to sell computer games, their code naturally became a trade secret. Opening commercial games up to modding was a brilliant move, as it extended the demand for a game engine far beyond what it would have been if players were limited to the content that came in the box. [...] The key point is that they enlisted the player to build content—long before "Web 2.0" or indeed the Web itself."

    Smart NPCs with brains and senses. [...] Then we began to implement characters with vision and hearing and limits to both. We also gave them rudimentary brainpower in the form of finite state machines and, eventually, the ability to cooperate. Some of the most sophisticated NPC AI is now in sports games, where athletes have to work in concert to achieve a collective goal.

    Adaptive music.
    Everyone recognizes the power of music to create a mood. In videogames, the trick is to change the music in response to game events, and of course the composer can't know in advance when they might occur. One approach is simply to play a new track on demand, but the transition can be jarring if not done well. Another approach is layering—mixing harmonizing pieces of music together and changing their volumes in response to the needs of the game."

    Study: Initials Influence Decisions

    "People like their names so much that they unconsciously opt for things that begin with their initials. Tom is more likely to buy a Toyota, move to Totowa and marry Tessa than is Joe, who is more likely to buy a Jeep, move to Jonestown and marry Jill."

    -- Original study: "Why Susie sells seashells by the seashore: Implicit egotism and major life decisions," and Newsweek via Neuromarketing

    Metaphors and Formulas

    If Trust=Reliability+Delight, then Delight=Trust-Reliability? The point is, these sorts of made-up equations that look like formulas are used all the time and might be a valuable rhetorical tool, but they aren't really useful as formulas.
    -- from the Brand Gap deck

    Soviet Propaganda: The Art of Mass Persuasion

    Ninety years ago today, the Russian Revolution began. Among other things, it gave birth to one of the most formidable mass persuasion machines in the world. Here, comrades, is a collection of images I put on SlideShare to showcase some of the tools and techniques used by the Soviet AgitProp (agitation and propaganda) as well as other governments, democratic and otherwise, and how some of the imagery was borrowed by brand marketers. 50+ slides. I'll be adding captions eventually, but if you have questions, I'm leaving the comment section open.

    Animated Packaging For Hearing Aid

    The Die Line (one of the new great additions on my feed list) writes: This digital hearing aid by Widex has a semi-translucent plastic sleeve around the box to create an animated illusion of a sound wave as you slide it out. (design by Goodmorning, via NOTCOT). Below is a video of the packaging in action.

    Content-Filtering Technology Auto-Swaps Ad

    There's a lawsuit (details) that involves a truck stop operator that used segOne technology to filter out generic ads on its TVs and replaced them with hand-picked messages targeted at truckers. Here's a blurb about this interesting tech:

    "The segOne 2000 LS connects to any television. It detects when a commercial break occurs, switching channels seamlessly, playing the commercials provided by segOne. The commercials will be specially selected for the establishments in the area where you want to focus your product. The commercials last a predetermined length (30-seconds up to two minutes), then the system returns to the original program, undetected. This innovative technology is compatible with direct satellite, cable television set-ups, and HDTV."

    -- via TechDirt

    Automatic Ad Skipping In 1934

    Modern Mechanix, April 4, 1934 via Modern Mechanix blog: "The device, known as the 'radio advertising eliminator,' will operate the radio only when musical programs are coming over the air. Just as soon as any voice announcement is made from the station, the radio receiver is turned off and is not turned on again until the musical program resumes. It is believed that the new device uses a vibrating reed tuned to a predominant voice frequency to operate a relay which turns the set on and off."

    Text-Based Pac-Man

    Pac-Txt is a brilliant mix of two game classics -- Pac-Man and Zork -- in which you navigate your Pac-Man one through a "large complex" one step at a time by typing in commands while being haunted by a "faint howling of what you can only imagine must be some sort of ghost or several ghosts." As a bonus, note the site's clever integration of AdSense.
    -- via Google Blogoscoped

    Study: Radiohead Promotes Music with Free Music

    "ComScore released a study of online sales of "In Rainbows," a new record album from the band Radiohead. During the first 29 days of October, 1.2 million people worldwide visited the "In Rainbows" site, with a significant percentage of visitors ultimately downloading the album. The study showed that 38 percent of global downloaders of the album willingly paid to do so, with the remaining 62 percent choosing to pay nothing."
    -- From the press release that has more numbers about what users paid how much on average. ComScore blog defends Radiohead's business model: "for every $1 in sales coming from album downloads, sales of their [$80] Discbox generated $2."

    The point of the story: the audio tracks do not have to be the merchandise, but they are a great way to advertise something else, something that is a scarce commodity and can't be freely downloaded and multiplied.

    Financial Times wrote as much last month: "Radiohead's much-debated decision to let fans choose what they pay for its new album online is a promotional tactic to boost sales of compact discs, the band's management said yesterday."

    Update [Nov 11, 2007] Radiohead denies comScore's numbers (MTV via PSFK).