Survey: Nobody's Green Enough

The inconvenient truth brought to you by the Interbrand's Brandjunkie survey: "When asked about which brands were really serious about sustainable development, brandjunkies offered a resounding, and—perhaps you may want to sit down for this—surprising consensus. Who is really going green? Answer: NOBODY."

On the other hand, 74% of the 2000 respondents come from marketing, so it's not horribly representative.

Advertising to Aliens

Doritos is running a make-an-ad-for-us contest in the UK. On June 12, 2008, one of the people-made ads for Doritos will be broadcast into the space from an ultra high frequency radar station in Norway. The ad "will be broadcast for 24 hours to a range of solar systems, some of which have planets that theoretically could support life." And be a potential Doritos market, apparently.

More details and hand-wringing (their space program is being cut) in the British press: "The transmission will be invisible to earthlings and is being directed at a solar system 42 light years away from Earth with planets that orbit its star '47 Ursae Majoris' (UMa). 47 UMa is located in the 'Ursa Major' Constellation, also known as the Great Bear or Plough."

Also: more space advertising.

-- thanks to Armando for the tip

Newspaper Ad Revenue Drops 9.4% in 2007

"According to new data released by the Newspaper Association of America, total print advertising revenue in 2007 plunged 9.4% to $42 billion compared to 2006 -- the most severe percent decline since the association started measuring advertising expenditures in 1950. "
-- Editor & Publisher

Funny. The headline of the NAA press release: "Online newspaper advertising jumps 19% in 2007".

Using Balihoo to Build a Consideration Set [Ad]

[This is a post by AdLab's advertiser]

Balihoo’s vertical search engine helps you find relevant advertising opportunities faster.

Product details in Balihoo help you choose your consideration set.

Balihoo provides campaign details in one easy-to-access location.

This is the second post in the series where Shane Vaughan explains how to use Balihoo's tool to build a consideration set:

"My last post introduced Balihoo as the only on-demand media buying and planning platform that provides intelligent software-PLUS-services to media professionals across all mediums.

I mentioned how Balihoo allows media professionals to build a consideration set, execute more efficiently, and centralize knowledge. Today we’re going to dive into building a consideration set with Balihoo.

Media buyers know building a consideration set can be a hair-pulling experience – ever-increasing choices for advertising opportunities accompanied by heightened scrutiny of targeting precision. Buyers need to efficiently find opportunities which meet their campaign criteria. Balihoo streamlines media research and selection and aggregates that information into one easy-to-use location that’s sharable across your organization.

Media sellers also face the challenge of cutting through the clutter so buyers gain visibility to their unique offerings. Balihoo offers sellers exactly that, one interface to communicate property details to all buyers at once and enhanced visibility through promotional opportunities.

Balihoo offers the largest collection of cross-medium advertising opportunities that’s searchable via geography, keyword, or medium. Whether you want to use your “go-to” properties or find unique opportunities previously too difficult to find, Balihoo can help. Our database is constantly fed by a variety of data sources (see attached graphic). This comprehensive database allows buyers to cut steps and time out of the process and ultimately make better media plans with increased return on invested time and effort.

For our next post we’ll examine how Balihoo takes users from a consideration set to powerful RFI / RFP modules where even greater efficiencies are gained."

Diapers and Beer: The Real Story

You've probably heard the story about how a smart department store put diapers and beer on the same shelf because it had found out that a large group of diaper-buying population consisted of young fathers stuck at home on a Friday night. Here's what really happened:

"The analysis "did discover that between 5:00 and 7:00 p.m. that consumers bought beer and diapers". Osco managers did NOT exploit the beer and diapers relationship by moving the products closer together on the shelves. This decision support study was
conducted using query tools to find an association. The true story is
very bland compared to the legend."

Study: Scientific Jargon Sounds Convincing

Researchers at Yale established that "explanations of psychological phenomena seem to generate more public interest when they contain neuroscientific information."

Here's an automatic computer science paper generator and a postmodern essay generator, both very convincing, the former so much that it got its creators accepted at an academic conference.

-- via Neuroscience Marketing

Dr. Pepper Promises Free Soda To Everyone

One of the few press releases that reach the front page of Digg: Dr. Pepper promises (and blogs about it) a can of Dr. Pepper to everyone in the States if Guns'N'Roses releases its long-overdue Chinese Democracy album in 2008. Axl Rose is pleasantly surprised but isn't promising anything.

Billboard: "It took a little patience to perfect Dr Pepper's special mix of 23 ingredients, which our fans have come to know and love," Dr Pepper director of marketing Jaxie Alt says. "So we completely understand and empathize with Axl's quest for perfection -- for something more than the average album. We know once it's released, people will refer to it as 'Dr Pepper for the ears' because it will be such a refreshing blend of rich, bold sounds - an instant classic."

Wonder about the decision to use four unskinned Blogspot blogs, though. Why? Authenticity? Speed?

Anyway, nice stunt with some press coverage. Almost free if the album doesn't come out, and, what, $25M if it does? (300M people in the States / $.25 per can of soda).

Food Photography on Packaging

When it comes to food photography, what you see is rarely what you get as documented in these 100 shots of different packages next to the actual food they contain (site in German).

If you are interested in learning more, "Digital Food Photography" book reveals some of the secrets (such the one about cereal being photographed in glue instead of milk to prevent sogginess).

Hacked Digital Billboards

Someone known as Skullphone has hacked into a few ClearChannel billboards in California to insert the trademark image.
-- via Textually

Flashback: The Internet Is A Fad

One of the most viewed and emailed stories on this weekend thanks to the Digg effect is an opinion piece about that overhyped thing called the Internet by Clifford Stoll, the author of Silicon Snake Oil: Second Thoughts on the Information Highway:

"We're promised instant catalog shopping--just point and click for great deals. We'll order airline tickets over the network, make restaurant reservations and negotiate sales contracts. Stores will become obselete. So how come my local mall does more business in an afternoon than the entire Internet handles in a month? Even if there were a trustworthy way to send money over the Internet--which there isn't--the network is missing a most essential ingredient of capitalism: salespeople."

BP in SimCity Societies, Ikea in Sims

This windmill farm in the recently released SimCity Societies was brought to you by BP. Other energy sources in the game are coal and nuclear plants, but those are unbranded, and I haven't seen any other kinds of branded assets in the game either. I haven't unlocked all the building yet, and apparently there are other clean BP-branded power generators and a BP truck. You can remove the BP logos by isntalling this fan-made update.

There's a microsite explaining BP's involvement with EA and its game:

"The EA/BP collaboration is a result of the organizations’ complementary interests. During the development of SimCity’s next iteration, EA looked for a way to raise awareness about low-carbon power choices. As one of the first major energy companies to publicly acknowledge the need to reduce carbon emissions, BP has constantly sought ways to further acceptance of alternative energies."

And there's a rumor -- although no screenshot -- that the Sims 2 franchise is getting another branded stuff pack, this time from Ikea (the first one was from the apparel retailer H&M, still available on Amazon). Preorders taken on this Dutch (?) site.

Player-made Ikea store for SimCity 4

Whoever is designing the Ikea pack doesn't even have to work too hard given how much fan-made Ikea assets are already out there, like this Markor set on a Sims mod exchange (compare to the actual furniture), or on Google's 3D warehouse.

Rockband Sells 6 Million Song Downloads

"Harmonix Music Systems Inc., developers of the music video game Rock Band and its predecessor franchise Guitar Hero, reports that more than 6 million game levels based on songs have been purchased through its online music store since the game launched in November 2007.

Since launch, Cambridge-based Harmonix has been adding downloadable content weekly, and now has more than 70 songs available for purchase, officials said. With an average cost of about $2 each, the downloaded tracks could have brought in up to $12 million additional revenue to Harmonix since the game launched."
-- Mass High Tech

In-Theater Games Come to A Theater Near You

In-theater games such as NewsBreaker will soon become a part of the usual moviegoing experience. Our friends at Brand Experience Labs say that they have partnered with National CineMedia and will begin "rolling AudienceGames out to the top 20 markets on about 750 screens" after the initial test.

"National CineMedia operates the largest digital in-theatre network in North America through a venture of AMC Entertainment, Cinemark, and Regal Entertainment Group, the three largest theatre operators in the U.S. Our national theatre network includes over 15,000 screens in over 1,100 theatres in 47 states, reaching more than 600 million moviegoers annually."

Very exciting, especially combined with industry rumors that 3D cinema is coming back big time.

Spam Through Google Calendar

A newly discovered way to send spam: as a Google Calendar invitation. My favorite one, though, remains spam sent through the "Send to friend" button at NY Very intellectual.

Balihoo: Media Buying and Planning Platform

Some time ago, I came across and posted a quick note about Balihoo, a tool for media planners and buyers, then still in beta. The company now is back to AdLab with a series of guest posts by Balihoo's Shane Vaughan explaining how to use the tool's many features. The first installment follows.

What is Balihoo?

Balihoo is the only on-demand media buying and planning platform that provides intelligent software-PLUS-services to media professionals across all mediums.

So what does that mean?

Balihoo makes the lives of media professionals easier.

Media buyers use Balihoo because it streamlines the media research, selection, and request-for-proposal processes and then aggregates that information into one easy-to-use location that’s sharable across their organization.

Media sellers use Balihoo to communicate with buyers in one standard interface and increase sales through enhanced visibility of their media properties.

Balihoo is designed to take the frustration out of managing the exchange of data between media buyers and sellers and reduce administrative burdens: no more wading through an overwhelming choice of advertising opportunities, cutting and pasting from several documents into one, and time-consuming attempts to harness data.

Balihoo allows media professionals to:

  • Build a consideration set by searching the world’s largest collection of cross-medium advertising opportunities
  • Do more with less. Fully-customizable RFI / RFP modules provide a common interface for data gathering; responses auto-flow into online worksheets for analysis; Balihoo’s on-call data services team acts as an extension of your organization
  • Centralize knowledge and securely store data for sharing across teams and offices for improved decision making and reduced turnover costs.
Balihoo’s comprehensive media database, robust efficiency tools, and data archiving capabilities increase return on invested time and effort; test-drive it now.

In the next post, we’ll discuss Balihoo’s solution in greater detail. Stay tuned.

[The above is a post by AdLab's advertiser.]

Letters From the Readers

Tips, press releases and comments AdLab received over the past couple of weeks. Sorry for the hole in the publishing schedule -- a hectic week at work.

- Call for contributions: stories about advertising on the streets of your town. "On your next commute to work, take a moment to look around you. What do you see? Have you noticed these advertisements before? Do they bother you? Do you agree with them? Are they paid advertisments or is it graffiti?"

- Very transmedia: Batwave TV-Activated Handheld Batlink Game: "Tune in to the Batman cartoon and get secret messages from Batman. Capture special signals that add challenges to the handheld game." (Thank you, Erwin!)

- Ad Council Creative newsletter "highlights the wonderful creative developed each year by the industry's leading advertising agencies that donate their time and talent to the Ad Council's critical issues."

- A couple of weeks ago, I got a heads-up from a creative duo who put a rejected campaign idea up for sale on eBay: "The idea was killed internally and our attempt to sell it on ebay is refusal to accept the decision or let the idea die." I just checked back: the winning bid was £5. Now I am sorry I didn't bid; wonder what the idea was.

- Welcome "the world's largest and most powerful air vortex cannon" from the people who brought you the human flipbook last year.

- A bizarre Flash animation that is explained as a piece that "combines generative (driven by live events such as actual time (see stop frame numbers in shelves), sound input and live online weather feeds as well as interactive elements (things the user can manipulate), without ever breaking the illusion that it is a filmic piece". You blog into your mic, you click on stuff, but I'm not sure about what actually happens.

- An academic paper on "Advertising in Online Games and EC Audiovisual Media Regulation."

- A blog post about how big agencies don't get interactive.

- I always liked the idea of trailers for books, and here's an entire YouTube channel of them.

- A Nuts widget from Snickers that you can customize.

- How do you get an ad campaign written up at NYTimes?

- 69 things to make with duct tape.

- From an email pitching a blog about women on the web: "After reading your blog for awhile, I'd thought you might enjoy." Who compiles these lists?

- A presentation about urban planning and remixing culture.

- Another twist on the million dollar page, only with rooftops as a mash-up of Google Maps. Loving the hammer and sickle.

- What happens if one day you can't get into your Google account.

Brands on Tombstones

English Russia has a collection of Ukrainian mobsters' tombstones. Note how many of them have a depiction of a Mercedes -- a symbol of a certain social status in the 90s. Do these tombstones reinforce a brand impression on a casual cemetery visitor? Do the impressions change after 5, 10 years?


Make Games with MS Excel

I wrote about games build in and for MS Excel earlier, and now Gamasutra runs a very detailed feature showing some of the hidden powers of the office application:

"It's time to learn a new 3D game engine name: Microsoft Excel.

It is understood that Excel is an all-round office tool, but probably it is unknown that it has a bunch of features that makes Excel a high-class 3D graphics engine.

In this article I will demonstrate Excel's arithmetical facilities, the embedded rendering subsystems (there are two of them!) and the revolutionary approach which might just cause a paradigm shift. I hope you will discover that Excel effectively and efficiently incorporates practicality, tons of features, the multi-platform portability and the high performance with the unique and futuristic 3D engine features."

Check out Excel Music Synthesizer build on MS Excel 2007.

PowerPoint Karaoke

PowerPoint Karaoke

Practice the Gettysburgh Address in PowerPoint format

Boston Globe: "If you've never heard of PowerPoint Karaoke, that probably means you're neither German nor a hardcore techie. The phenomenon has been spreading geek to geek and conference to conference since it was invented by a German artists' group in 2005.

In a typical event, a few brave people volunteer to "present" a random deck of slides pulled off the Web, or borrowed from friends or employers. The audience laughs, cheers, and yells out suggestions as the presenters gamely struggle to link one slide to the next, transforming something that probably started life as a tedious corporate monologue into a five-minute flight of creative irony."

Future: Brain Scanner To Visualize Dreams

Guardian: "Scientists have developed a computerised mind-reading technique which lets them accurately predict the images that people are looking at by using scanners to study brain activity.

The breakthrough by American scientists took MRI scanning equipment normally used in hospital diagnosis to observe patterns of brain activity when a subject examined a range of black and white photographs. Then a computer was able to correctly predict in nine out of 10 cases which image people were focused on. Guesswork would have been accurate only eight times in every 1,000 attempts.

The study raises the possibility in the future of the technology being harnessed to visualise scenes from a person's dreams or memory."

Idea: Remote Control Jammer Chip Activated By Commercials

Imagine this. You send out a bunch of promo stuff: schwag, catalogs, merchandise. Every item is equipped with a small chip. Next, you create a TV commercial and insert an "inaudible 200MHz molecular vibration sound mat". When you run the spot on TV, the inaudible signal activates the chip, which in turn jams the signal from your remote control blocking people from switching channels. When your commercial stops playing, the remote goes back to normal.

Welcome The XV2083 Remote Control Jammer. The video is below.

Too bad it ain't a real product, but a campaign by a communications agency. Very convincing, though. The next version of the chip should also emit signals that block microwave ovens and suppress bathroom urges.

It's not entirely science fiction, though. Here's a video of a working TV remote jammer and instructions for building one, and a diagram:

Firebrand to Shut Down

Firebrand, the ads-as-content TV show, will shut down, NY Times says. (Gawker says it's already dead, although the site is still up as of this writing.)

About one month ago, there was a heated debate on AdRants about whether Firebrand would survive, and for how long. Steve Hall generously gave it 18 months. A Firebrand exec replied that "Our model proves, once and for all, that marketing can be entertaining AND effective. And that viewers will gladly watch commercials. They just don't like to be interrupted...and won't watch bad commercials." She said the viewership was strong. It wasn't.

Nielsen's BlogPulse Down

Nielsen's blog tracking service looks like a cash-parked domain today. Did the domain get expired and then renewed? (the expiration date now is March 6, 2009).

Update [March 5 ' 08]: It's back to normal now.

Text and Data Mining - Anderson Analytics

Anderson Analytics mines large amounts of text -- consumer surveys, call center logs -- and fishes out insights: "We use state of the art natural language processing software which combines linguistics, statistics, and machine learning to code and classify text data. We can then apply data mining and other analytical techniques to uncover the hidden value of this information or link it with other sources.

These techniques can be used for call center customer files, customer suggestions and complaints, survey open ends, focus group or discussion board conversations, blogs, or it can be combined with projective techniques for exponential learning."

Ad Age just wrote about them: "Starwood hired Anderson Analytics for several projects, including the one that culled through the more than 1 million customer-feedback surveys -- 250,000 with comments in 20 different languages -- to find that "good" vs. "outstanding" insight."

NXT Packaging Lights Up

NXT blog comment: "hahaha holy crap. never thought my bathroom wud be trippy."

A story in NYTimes about a new line of men's care productss that will come in a package that lights up lava-lamp style: "NXT is sold in an arresting triangular container that lights up from the bottom, illuminating air bubbles suspended in the clear gel. The plastic is tinted blue, and when the AAA batteries in its base are lighted, the whole thing looks like a miniature lava lamp or a tiny fishless aquarium.

To call attention to themselves, the products, which are aimed at 18- to 24-year-old men, will glow on the shelves, inviting customers to pick them up. Every 15 seconds, a light-emitting diode (LED) in the bottom of the container flares on, stays lighted for a few seconds, then fades out."

Lots of other interesting details: the units are shipped upside down, different lights signal different ingredients, it's better to position units on lower shelves. Innovative enough to get Target, Wal-Mart and CVS on board without any supporting ad spend.

Try to see if you can Google the product up, though. Seems like someone needs some SEO. The site is here. The only "Hello, World" entry on the blog already has a few comments.

Bill Gates on LinkedIn

Bill Gates's LinkedIn profile, via a story in NYTimes blog. A related thought: celebrity endorsements through social networking sites sound like an idea.

Knut Grows Up

All too familiar: an overhyped and then abandoned media darling turns into a bloodthirsty monster. At least, Knut was cute.

Knut then.

Knut now.

- Daily Mail

Media vs. Agencies

Micropersuasion quotes Booz Allen Hamilton as saying agencies are in trouble because media are encroaching on the traditional agency turf:

* By 2010, 53% of media companies surveyed expect to do more business directly with marketers. The majority of marketers (52%) feel the same about publishers

* Only 27% of marketers expect to be doing more business with agencies two years from now

* Today nearly every media company (91%) offers some kind of "agency-like" services. This includes former untouchables like idea generation (88%) and creative development (79%).

The flip side, of course, is that agencies are increasingly tasked with content production for marketers who are bypassing the existing media channels to create their own media that are cheaper to make and distribute than ever.

10 Tips For New Ad-Supported Web Businesses

So, you are launching a new web business and your main business model is selling advertising space, at least until your customers start paying up for your services. It's likely that you will have to deal with an ad agency at some point, and here are some thoughts from the buying side of the table.

1. Demographics. Your site's demographics (or, lovingly, the demo) is what you sell to the agency. Not features, not good design, not your management team. It's the demo. Currently, there are two major ways to present a demo. One is through its descriptive characteristics: "our site is designed to attract people of such and such gender, age, occupation, geography." The other way is through the audience's collective behavior: "our site is for people who are in the market for computer peripherals"; "our site is for the die-hard ice-cream fans."

There are other ways to describe your audience. Psychographic description ("our site is for very honest people") is an interesting approach, but it is yet to be widely adopted.

If you don't have a large audience already -- large enough to register on Comscore's radar -- I think you are better off with pitching the behavioral traits of your audience. This will narrow the number of potential advertisers, but the advantages of advertising on your site and not someone else's are more obvious, and you can command higher CPMs.

2. Build your site with advertisers in mind. Very often, site designers focus on user experience but forget that advertisers, too, are users who have their own goals and needs. (Oh, look, we have some space left here -- let's slap a placeholder for banners.) Audience planning should be among the first steps in designing an ad-supported site, not an afterthought. Generic media kits behind email forms frustrate media buyers who are juggling multiple plans under pressing deadlines. And if the ad unit placement is such that it doesn't generate interactions similar to the rest of the campaign, your site will be "optimized" off the plan

3. On the other hand, don't let the ad greed cripple your design. CPM ads tempt designers to add extra steps to even the simplest processes for the sake of page views. You'll have to weigh the benefit of every extra page view against the risk of having the user leave the site in frustration to never come back.

4. Allow standard IAB ad formats on your site. You'll never guess how much overhead goes into banner production, and budgets have their limits. Plus, resizing banners is no fun.

5. But custom high-engagement formats can sell for more. Think of Facebook that sells branded pages for $300K/3 months.

6. Allow enough technological wiggle room to accommodate for ad formats the demand for which may come up in the future. Yahoo bought eGroups email list service in 2000, it is ad-supported, but I think you still can't target the banners by group categories, not to mention insertions at the individual group level. Also, create the most precise targeting mechanism possible -- you'll make more money. If you collect users' age, gender and zip code during the sign-up process, there's no reason why you can't allow targeting by any combination of the three, at a premium.

7. Allow low-cost test drives. Agencies would love to be able to incorporate new interesting media into their plans, but they can't sell them to their clients without solid numbers upfront. The only way to get solid numbers from a new medium is to test it at a cost that is not prohibitive.

8. You can't overmeasure your audience. Offer metrics that go beyond the basics of impressions and clicks. CNet's sites put a link to a feedback form under each banner (I wonder if they share results with the advertisers).

9. Make data PowerPoint-friendly. An intelligent good-looking graph goes a long way.

10. Media buying cycles are always longer than what you'd prefer them to be. At least online, media buying is rarely reactive -- every new opportunity will be evaluated and filed in an appropriate folder to be pulled out at the beginning of the next cycle.