Real WALL-E Robot Out In Summer

For $199, would you rather get a 3G iPhone or a real WALL-E robot with "10 motors for lots of movement possibilities; a remote control, for programming myriad movements and behaviors; and sensors that'll allow him to respond to his environment in numerous ways, including obstacle, sound, and touch detection?"

Something tells me I'm going for the robot. But maybe I need to install one of those ChipIn widgets here to collect donations for the iPhone, too. And a picture of me with a cardboard sign "Will blog for iPhone."

Virtual Personal Space, Spam Museum, Fictional Fiction, Wait Times, iPhone Usability

As usual, too many open browser tabs with interesting stories that don't deserve to languish in the obscurity:

Anti-social bot invades Second Lifers' personal space (Nov 2007)
"A software bot that masquerades as an ill-mannered human user within the popular virtual world Second Life is being used by UK researchers to investigate the psychology of its inhabitants. The bot starts a conversation with human users and deliberately invades their personal space to see how they will react."

A trip down spam memory lane
Commemorating spam's 30th anniversary, New Scientist rounds up a bunch of interesting links, such as this archive that's been aggregating spam for the past 10 years.

NY Times on fictional fiction:
"'Charm' was released in the fictional small town of Pine Valley, Pa., as part of the [ABC's soap "All My Children"] story line. [...] It has sold more than 100,000 copies and made its debut in February at No. 13 on the New York Times best-seller list."

The Psychology of Waiting Lines (1985):
  • Uncertain waits are longer than known, finite waits.
  • Occupied time feels shorter than unoccupied time.
  • People want to get started
  • Unfair waits are longer than equitable waits
  • Unexplained waits are longer than explained waits
  • The wore valuable the service, the longer the customer will wait
  • Solo waits feel longer than group waits

iPhone Usability Evaluation Report:

"One feature of the popup keyboard on the iPhone is the drag and lift feature which is said to reduce errors. Unfortunately not one user discovered this feature."

Campaign Monitor is built for designers who can create great looking emails for themselves and their clients, but need software to send each campaign, track the results and manage their subscribers.

iPhone As a Boarding Pass

What would happen if you tried to scan a pdf of your boarding pass on your iPhone? It would work!

Best Neuro Practices for Visual Communications

67 Best Practices for On-Screen Communication
Press release (Apr.17, 2008): "NeuroFocus has distilled and compiled its findings into 67 key points, or "best practices", designed to serve as a roadmap for ensuring that visual communications on a screen match what the brain desires to see the most, and what it responds to the best."

Most Ads Are Not Neurologically Optimal
CEO of NeuroFocus in a follow-up interview with Media Post: "We've found that about 75% of all content--not just advertisements--is not neurologically optimal."

"For example, consumers interpret info on different parts of a screen with different sections of their brain. [...] So an advertiser or TV show producer has reduced the engagement potential and effectiveness of their content from the onset if the bulk of the textual and numerical info is placed on the left side--with the imagery or brand logos on the right.

"Take that simple principle and go see how many brands have gotten it wrong," Pradeep said. "How many billboards have gotten it wrong? When you see a TV ad, look at how it ends and see how many have the logo placement wrong. Then look at something like Target's in-store displays and see how many of them have gotten it right."

Nielsen Invests in NeuroFocus

Google Papers

Architecture of query-specific search recommendation (source: pdf)

A collection of papers written by Googlers has a lot of stuff that points towards a possible direction of search. Since these are all papers published in academic journals, many of them are locked behind publications' paid subscriptions, but a few are freely available. The one I'm reading now is titled "Retroactive Answering of Search Queries" (pdf); its about identifying queries that have lasting interest and proving answer to these queries at a later date when information becomes available (pictured above).

Augmented Reality Packaging

Patrick Petersen interviewt Touching Media op de SpinAwards from AtMosttv on Vimeo.

Video capture of a toy packaging is displayed on a computer and augmented with the animated 3D image of the toy inside. The video is in Dutch; via Erwin van Lun.

I can imagine these installations in the stores, working similarly to price scanners. Very cool. A simpler (and older) idea: scanning the barcode in the store displays reviews and suggested add-ons.


iCondom: "We have spent 4 years creating the most perfect condoms on the Planet. The most perfect packing created by the best designers." Pre-order now. A couple of billboards on EnglishRussia.

Book: Headless Body in Topless Bar

Headless Body in Topless Bar: the book of greatest hits among NY Post's headlines. Looks like a great gift for a copywriter. Published in March 2008. About $10 on Amazon.

Banner Blindness Quantified

"While an ad placed above the fold is visible to 100% of site visitors, only about 60% of them actually see it." Only about 25% banners below the fold are seen.
- Media Post

Abercrombie Behind Obama

Jeff Haynes / Reuters, USA Today

All these people in A&F behind Obama - not a product placement.

Which brings up an old question: what's the effect of news photography on a brand?

"A Coke truck sits among the rubble after the collapse of the first World Trade Center Tower. Photo by Doug Kanter/AFP." (source)

Source and context unknown, please let me know the correct credit.

Editorial pictures of celebrities holding Starbucks cups amounts to millions of dollars in free advertising (CityRag, 2005, Branding Cultures).

Build Your Own Tube

It's like ning, only for videos -- start your own version of YouTube with

How to Select an SEO Company? Part 2

Kent Lewis from Anvil Media responds to an earlier post about selecting an SEO company:

"I love questions like this, as infrequent as they are these days. Do PR agencies asked to get paid by the column inches of ink? Do ad agencies get paid based on resulting sales? Why should SEM firms have to work against a different standard?

Any good SEM professional is a marketer first and foremost. Unfortunately, like many other forms of marketing, we are limited by the client or company's infrastructure, as well as outside influences like competition and search engine algorithms.

Assuming we could work in a vacuum, with complete control over product, service, placement and the entire sales process, I might entertain the idea of pay-for-performance. That has never been possible in my situation.

That said, there are ways to evaluate a good SEM or SEO vendor, but I encourage you not to start by looking at rankings. Look at reputation and results, with sites like Look at the visibility of clients, case studies and testimonials.

I've outlined ways to evluate an SEM vendor in this article in the Resources section of our site."

Focus Group Hypnosis


Can't believe I missed this great Brandweek piece about agencies bringing in hypnotists to focus groups; and it's a practice with decades of history, too: "A former Grey exec, Solovay has been hosting such groups for a decade. Her clients include about dozen brands including blue-chip beer, soda and telecom companies as well as 20 different agencies."

Has anyone tried administering thiopental sodium -- the truth serum -- on focus groups yet? Gotta be cheaper than running the groups ("Four sessions cost about the same as a typical round of focus groups ($50,000-75,000)."), back in 1999: "
It's an intriguing thought -- the fate of America's consumer brands resting on the dubious musings of a bunch of soporific focus group respondents."

Anyway, here's everything you need to bring the magic to your office:

Brandvisioning, the company mentioned in the article. The pitch: "BrandVisioning Whole Mind Ideation brings focus groups to a whole new level. BrandVisioning focus groups use the power of hypnosis to allow consumers to better access and report their feelings about a product, a service, or a piece of communication. We uncover the core insights and truths that encourage deeper connections to your brand."

Keith O'Neill, a hypnotherapist also mentioned in the article. From his website: "Hypnosis acts like a time machine. Through the process of “age regression”, hypnosis enables us to take respondents back to their earliest product and brand memories and the emotions connected to them."

Hal Goldberg (above) is a former Leo planner who's been doing hypno-groups for 35 years. Call 800-646-4041 for a free DVD of a hypnotized group in action. He's in both the Salon's and Brandweek's articles.

There's a blog full of marketing tips for hypnotherapy professionals (doesn't the idea that hypnotists need marketing tips feel kind of funny?)

F0r the DIYers among you, I went through Amazon looking for a few books that wouldn't be a waste of money. Judging by their reviews, these two seem to stand out as both professionally and accessibly written:

Check out this one on a different but related subject:

Elevator Design Rooted in Deception

A fascinating reading for experience designers comes this week from The New Yorker that has obtained and published time-lapsed security camera footage of a man who, in 1999, spent 41 hours stuck in an elevator, and accompanies it with a detailed feature about the history and specifics of the "vertical transportation" industry. The article also has a few great paragraphs of observations on human behavior and how elevators are designed to accommodate for it:

"Smart elevators are strange elevators, because there is no control panel in the car; the elevator knows where you are going. People tend to find it unnerving to ride in an elevator with no buttons; they feel as if they had been kidnapped by a Bond villain. Helplessness may exacerbate claustrophobia. In the old system—board elevator, press button—you have an illusion of control; elevator manufacturers have sought to trick the passengers into thinking they’re driving the conveyance. In most elevators, at least in any built or installed since the early nineties, the door-close button doesn’t work. It is there mainly to make you think it works. (It does work if, say, a fireman needs to take control. But you need a key, and a fire, to do that.) Once you know this, it can be illuminating to watch people compulsively press the door-close button. That the door eventually closes reinforces their belief in the button’s power. It’s a little like prayer. Elevator design is rooted in deception—to disguise not only the bare fact of the box hanging by ropes but also the tethering of tenants to a system over which they have no command."

How Would a Wii Dance Pole Work?

If Peekaboo ever goes through with its idea to create a dance pole connected to Wii, how would it actually work as an input device? Would it come with a piece of apparel that detects your body movements and positions, kind of like Wiimote does now?

KFC Ad With Hidden Image

KFC: making POS displays TiVo-proof since 2008.

See if you can find a hidden image in this KFC point-of-sale ad because if you do, you are in for a free sandwich. If you don't see anything, or see something that shouldn't be displayed in a family-friendly environment, scroll down for the spoiler. If you thought it was too easy, try spotting the hidden image in the campaign's TV spot.

The company says (in an email) that it is riding the culture wave where people see religious personalities in their snacks.

Giant KFC Logo Seen on Google Earth
Giant KFC Logo Seen From Space
KFC Creates TiVo-Proof Ad
KFC Claims Secret-Message Ad Successful
KFC Edits YouTube Clips into Spot

HypoSurface: Display with Moving Parts

"HypoSurface is the world's first display system where the screen surface physically moves! Information and form are linked to give a radical new media technology: an info-form device.

The surface behaves like a precisely controlled liquid: waves, patterns, logos, even text emerge and fade continually within its dynamic surface. The human eye is drawn to physical movement, and this gives HypoSurface a basic advantage over other display systems."
-- via Bruce@Barbarian

Lego Men Unpack iPhone

Two cult brands collide in this Flickr slideshow of Lego figurines unboxing an iPhone (here's another similar set).

Prediction Markets for Media

Traders on MediaPredict give the Cavemen show on ABC a 6% chance of being renewed.

MediaPredict is a prediction market where traders bet play money on all sorts of media events that range from show renewals to season finales. (The Economist published a short write-up on the company a year ago.)

Advertising and Predictive Markets

Balihoo: The Bottom Line [Ad]

Click image to view full size.

"This week’s post is the last in our series on Balihoo – the only on-demand media buying and planning platform that provides intelligent software-PLUS-services to media professionals across all mediums.

We’ve walked through:

- How Balihoo helps create better media plans by making it easier to find and evaluate advertising opportunities across all mediums;
- How Balihoo streamlines the RFI/RFP process, allowing media professionals to increase return on invested time and effort; and
- How Balihoo reduces costs and creates more effective media plans, by centralizing knowledge and providing easy access to historical data.

The bottom line: Balihoo exists to make the lives of media professionals easier. With a passion for solving real problems for our customers, we offer software and services that do just that.

If you’ve followed our posts (whether the entire series or not), we hope we’ve piqued your interest in what we’re doing here at Balihoo. If you’d like to learn more about our solution hit our site. If you’d like to learn more about who we are (and have a dialogue with us!) check out our blog. "

NYTimes on Military Analysts As Propaganda Proxies

An important - and perfect for any class on media, communications, propaganda, or PR -- investigative piece from NYTimes about how Pentagon has been using uniformed talking heads to build support for its positions:

"To the public, these men are members of a familiar fraternity, presented tens of thousands of times on television and radio as “military analysts” whose long service has equipped them to give authoritative and unfettered judgments about the most pressing issues of the post-Sept. 11 world. Hidden behind that appearance of objectivity, though, is a Pentagon information apparatus that has used those analysts in a campaign to generate favorable news coverage of the administration’s wartime performance, an examination by The New York Times has found."

Update [Apr 28, 2008]. Pentagon said it temporarily suspended the media analyst program. - Huffington Post

Heat Map of Search Results Clicks

A heat map of Google clicks and attention distribution on a Google search results page from a 2006 eyetracking study. Useful for making PowerPoints more dramatic, but beware of the methodological limitations.

How to Select an SEO Company?

A work-related question that turned out trickier than it looked: where do you start searching for a company that provides search engine optimization services if you are not familiar with the SEO space?

Here are a few tips by Aaron Wall back from 2004 -- search SEO forums, read ClickZ articles, get recommendations -- but this is not very helpful for someone who has never been exposed to SEO before. You could probably try looking at the highest-ranking competitors then seeing if their names would come up on some SEO company's client list, but again, this involves some understanding what to look for and I'd imagine this method is not horribly reliable either.

But then, how about typing "search engine optimization services" or a few similar combinations into Google and work your way from the top down? Doesn't it make sense? Do companies that rank higher charge more? I see a few results that apparently have been pushed up by Google based on my Boston IP address - even better.

What do you think?

Misc: Computer-Generated Books, Helvetica Screensaver, Polaroid Reborn

I've got too many Firefox tabs open, each waiting to be blogged about at just the right time. Well, I need to restart the browser, so here's everything at once.

- I've been looking for self-help books published during the first dot-com era. Drop a comment if you have an interesting one in mind. Here's one with a funny cover on e-Branding (love the "e-") from 2000.

- Dropclock, a really cool screensaver (video below) with Helvetica numerals falling in water in slo-mo.

- Polaroid has come up with a portable instant photo printer to bring us back the beloved functionality of the classic camera.

- How about computer-generated books? Here's a story about a professor who has his computers scrape and digest content from the Net and spit it out as books. Here's one out of some 200,000 created to date.

Selling Music Through Games

- "In a nod to the ascendancy of video games, rock 'n' roll bad boys Motley Crue will become the first group to release a new single through Rock Band, the developer of the wildly popular game said on Monday." (Reuters)

- Music from Amazon is coming to Liberty City and will be available via in-game cell phone downloads in the upcoming Grand Theft Auto IV:

"Rockstar Games and Amazon have teamed up to create an ambitious new model for digital music distribution. Built exclusively for the upcoming video game blockbuster Grand Theft Auto IV, it allows players to buy real-world MP3s of tracks heard over the game's numerous radio stations in a very seamless manner. (Initially, this service will only be available in the U.S.) Advertised throughout Liberty City, the cheekily-named "ZiT" technology is built into the game's mobile phone interface system. As players cruise around the world listening to the in-game radio, they can at any point 'mark' a song by opening their phone and dialing the number ZIT-555-0100." (Yahoo)

Facebook, Twitter Buzz Visualized

Facebook's Lexicon graphs occurrences of every queried term (up to five at a time, above: "cucumber", "tomato") across profile, group and event Walls, illustrating the ebb and flow of user buzz. What's up with that cucumber buzz spike?
-- Facebook blog

People on twitter talk more about tomatoes than cucumbers as well (see twittermeter, also see these other cool viz tools):

Centralized Knowledge as a Competitive Advantage [Ad]

Balihoo fosters knowledge sharing by archiving your company’s activity history with specific media properties.

This is the fourth post in the Balihoo series, in which Shane Vaughan explains how the product suite helps counter brain drain in media organizations through information sharing.

"Our last post focused on how Balihoo can bring efficiencies to the RFI/RFP step in the media buying and planning process. Now let’s see how Balihoo benefits media organizations by countering the knowledge drain of employee turnover and the knowledge compartmentalization that occurs when information isn’t shared.

Let’s face it, media buyers don’t stay put for very long and when they leave for greener pastures or a higher rung on the ladder essential knowledge leaves with them. That knowledge includes details on past and current campaigns that are critical to the organization’s success… both present and future.

A less obvious intellectual capital issue is simply the lack of data sharing within and across offices. Ironically enough in this age of ubiquitous communication channels, it can still be difficult to disseminate critical information throughout a company in the form, and at the speed, it’s most needed.

Balihoo offers users centralized knowledge via two features: campaign dashboards and company activity histories. Campaign dashboards allow all users within your company to view details including that campaign’s consideration set, uploaded documents, RFIs/RFPs created or released, worksheets, and internal notes; all critical data for campaign management and analysis. Company activity histories allow users to save (and share) internal notes/tips about interactions or processes for any given property in our comprehensive media database. Additionally, these histories automatically list RFPs related to the property as well as any Quick Requests (a request of owners to update their listing in Balihoo’s database).

This functionality yields shared critical knowledge and institutional memory. Both of which are essential for developing a wiser, more agile organization. That translates into reduced costs by mitigating the training burden and impact of employee turnover; and more effective media plans resulting from easy access to historical data."

Users throughout your organization can view all campaign details (including uploaded docs & any internal notes) via Balihoo’s Campaign Dashboards.

Your Own McDonald's in Second Life

If you have a Second Life account, go buy yourself an entire McDonald's restaurant for $2. Creative possibilities abound. Live in it. Organize protests in it. Or order a photorealistic avatar of your favorite president and put him to work.

IBM's Code of Conduct for Virtual Worlds

IBM Virtual World Guidelines (does your company have one?): "In general, your digital persona’s appearance is up to you. When you are using your avatar or persona in association with IBM, however, your judgment in these matters should be shaped by the same general guidelines that apply to IBMers in physical environments – i.e., that your appearance be appropriate to the context of your activities. You need to be especially sensitive to the appropriateness of your avatar or persona’s appearance when you are meeting with IBM clients or conducting IBM business."
-- via a comment on Second Thoughts

It was written up in USA Today last year, too.

Block Twitter Madness Out of Your Life

Let me start by acknowledging that Twitter looks useful. I remain one of those who don't get it (I tried), but there are many other things I don't quite understand and in most cases my ignorance is due to my own limitations.

So, Twitter, it's not you, it's me. A few things have been bugging me about you ever since we met -- readers are not sheep to be called followers -- but really, you are cool. We'll remain polite to each other even if entrenched in our respective worldviews. Who knows, maybe we'll do business together one day.

What I can't explain -- nor calmly bear -- is the nauseating giddiness that's been bubbling in my RSS reader for the past year. Everywhere I clicked, it's been twitter this, twitter that. High-school dramas over who tweeted what to whom. (Speaking of 2.0 dramas, here's a great collection.) It was amusing for a couple of months, after which I hoped the spotlight would turn away. It never did, so I thought I'd do something about it myself. Now, everywhere I browse, the words "twitter" and its derivatives are replaced with what the whole thing really is - "madness". All it took was a Greasemonkey Firefox extension and a slightly tweaked profanity filter.

It's like one moment you have hundreds of canaries in your room, and then suddenly someone turns them all off.

It's quieter, and everything makes a lot more sense, too.

The followers of GapingVoid's author mourned his departure from madness in some 150 comments.

Overprotective Censor Robots

Click image to zoom in.

Today: what's wrong with the word "analysis" that it had to be partially bleeped out by asterisks into "***ysis"? Or was it "paralysis"? Or "dialysis"? (Found on Webby's site, People's Choice voting section).

Tomorrow: cell phone software that bleeps out naughty syllables from conversations in real time.

[Book] Groundswell: Winning in a World Transformed by Social Technologies

If there were an award for the most popular PowerPoint graph, it would definitely go to Forrester's social technographics ladder. Now, two Forrester analysts behind the report have an entire book out, and it's called Groundswell: Winning in a World Transformed by Social Technologies. You can get a taste of what's inside from an article the authors wrote for MIT Sloan Management Review in February, or from book blog. I'm looking forward to the wealth of case studies the authors have amassed.

Groundswell is on Amazon for $19.77.

Quote of the Week

"The medium is the message from our sponsor."

- Nick Carr in his critique of Mark Zuckerberg's "The next hundred years will be different for advertising, and it starts today."

Flashback: Why Advertising Doesn't Work on the Web

Jacob Nielsen, Alertbox, September 1997:

"Banner ads are useful to the extent that they drive qualified users to such corporate sites, but there are many other ways of attracting traffic: a survey of people who had actually bought things on the Web discovered that only 12% of buying customers had arrived at the vendor's site from an advertisement - 88% of the shoppers had navigated there in other ways. Search engines and hypertext links are the most important mechanisms: offer content-rich pages, and other sites will link to you."

"Maybe we can forgive advertising agencies who don't know any better, but an old-media perspective is also characteristic of many so-called "new-media analysts" who take an incredibly non-strategic view of the Web and analyze it purely in terms of "eyeballs" and a television metaphor."

Flashback: Internet Is a Fad

YouTube Advertising, Part II: The Last Frame

It's been more than a year since the post about in-video banner ads, an idea that YouTube eventually implemented and that has become a standard offering on other video sites. Here's one other thing they could try: ads on the interactive last frame that, on YouTube, promotes related videos.

Most of the existing video ad formats have their problems: pre-rolls are annoying, in-video banners are rarely relevant to the content, and post-rolls have nothing to click on. Last frames could work because they are not interruptive and offer users something to do after they are done with their primary activity -- watching the video.

Idea: How to put ads into YouTube
Follow-up: Embedding Ads into YouTube Players

Advertising Space Innovation Needed

Considering how much the banner format has evolved over the past decade, it's surprising how little innovation we see on the publishers' side of the equation. For the most part, publishers treat their ad space as just that: a blank piece of real estate that they rent out. As in real estate, the neighborhood and the location is important, but a lot with extra features could command a higher price. To be fair, many publishers offer targeting capabilities that are much more advanced than in the past, although even with targeting the lowest common denominator is pretty low. And, to continue with the real estate metaphor, most of the lots for rent lack something as basic as a sewage hook-up.

The only two examples of ad spaces with extras I could think of are CNet and Facebook (but please drop a comment if I'm missing something).

Ad units throughout the CNet network (see this page, for example) come with "Ad Feedback" links to the unique feedback forms, although I don't know if the feedback is for advertisers' or CNet's use.

The feedback link above an ad unit on a CNet site.

Ad feedback form on CNet.

[Update]: Adpinion and BrandJury are two start-ups pursuing the ad feedback idea (from the comments on Steve Rubel's post on the subject a few weeks ago).

And Facebook aggregates all ads that share a common audience on Ad Board, a page you can reach by following the "More Ads" link under the ad.

Click the "More Ads" link on Facebook...

... to see more ads targeted at you.

Google has been offering a feature similar to Facebook's Ad Board for a long time now: search for a popular product then click the More Sponsored Links link on the bottom of the AdWords column but it looks more like an afterthought than a feature intended to be actively used. I'd clean up the formatting and somehow display ads associated with similar queries: a search for "gaming laptop" produces a slightly different set of ads that could be combined with those for "laptop for games" on one classifieds-like page.

Google's Sponsored Links pages even have a dedicated search feature.

A few other things on my wish list. None of them guarantee success, but then how are we going to know for sure if we don't experiment?

1. Bookmarking. Jacob Nielsen wrote about it five years ago: "Why not make it possible for users to review ads after they rotate off the screen? If every site that featured rotating, dynamically generated ads simply offered a button at the ad location -- "view last 10 ads here" -- we predict that advertisement success rates would increase."

2. Associate ad content with site content where possible. The CNet ad above for Sprint could come along with links to past Sprint-related articles and reviews.

3. User comments and ratings. Engadget tried it two year ago; I wonder how it went. [update: It died because advertisers didn't want to take the risk, Engadget's Peter Rojas explains.]

4. Sharing. Cutting out and sharing coupons is a well established behavior offline with barely any online analogs.

10 Tips for New Ad-Supported Ad Businesses

Futurelab Nominated for Webbies

AdLab's very first advertisers and friends from Futurelab have their site nominated for this year's Webbies as one of the best business blogs. Congratulations to Stefan and Alan who've brought together many great minds under one virtual roof.

$10 Amazon Gift Card for Balihoo's Survey [Ad]

Balihoo's Shane Vaughan writes:

"This week we’re going to depart from our usual posts to reach out to media planners & buyers for feedback on their workflow processes. At Balihoo we think these processes could use a little help. The administrative burden is heavy and inefficiencies abound.

That’s our take, but we’d like to hear from you. So if you are a media planner or buyer please take a few minutes to give us your thoughts via this very short survey.

A completed survey from you equals a $10 Amazon gift certificate from us!

Click here to access the survey.

Next week we’ll return to our series of posts on Balihoo’s suite of media planning software and service tools.

Thanks for your feedback. We are definitely listening."

The Shortest PR Pitch

Google "Rampenfest". Short. To the point. (How did they get to the top of Google results? Because of the URL?)

The "Interesting BWM viral" is this movie below (the campaign started some time in February with a teaser). There are also a few satellite sites, such as this one for the town Oberpfaffelbachen. Even though the town is mythical, you can find touristy pictures of it on Flickr. See also a blog by the documentary's maker and his YouTube profile.

An aside: gotta start hoarding accounts on popular sites so that they look "aged" by the time they are put to action.

How to pitch bloggers

Time's Blog Rank Buggy

Something's not right with Time's rank of 25 top blogs. #21 on this list is The Dullest Blog in the World, a literary masterpiece of a diary that hasn't been updated for two years. When you click on the corresponding cell in the table, you are taken to a description of a different blog called Regret the Error. Is Time trying to tell us something? To quote Time, "Everyday, thousands of bonehead mistakes are printed in newspapers and magazines and go out over the airwaves, and only a tiny fraction of the errors are ever corrected."

Don't know why I'm posting about this linkbaiting list at all.

KazInvestBank (КазИнвестБанк): About Face

[navel gazing]

A reader-friend from Kazakhstan (where's that) sends in this link to KazInvestBank that has this picture of the AdLab editor (me! me!) working as a skate guard all over its site and most prominently on the About page. Unexpected and unauthorized, but I like.

Let's see now if this post gets to Google's top for the bank's name.

Can you use Flickr pics in ads?

[/navel gazing]

Absolut Nationalism

Note to self: Only approve creative that offends people in the countries that either don't import your product or don't have the internets and photoshops.

In Mexico, Absolut is running a print and a billboard that shows Mexico with borders from the early 1800s as part of its In An Absolut World campaign. LA Times blogs about it; pissed off readers create their own version of an ideal world:

Absolut responds on the campaign blog (742 comments to date): "As a global company, we recognize that people in different parts of the world may lend different perspectives or interpret our ads in a different way than was intended in that market. Obviously, this ad was run in Mexico, and not the US -- that ad might have been very different."

As one of the commenters on the blog points out, Absolut sales by country in 2007 were 50% for the US, 3% for Mexico.

This is fun. The creative is gonna be a hit on the Balkans where every country dreams of a "Greater" (and historically accurate) version of itself. A good place to start is Serbia that just lost Kosovo. Here, let me help: Greater Bulgaria, Greater Albania, Greater Macedonia, Greater Serbia, Greater Romania, Greater Croatia.

Kinda like this Smart billboard from South Africa boasting how there's nothing American about the car.

Local Billboards and Global Information

Branded Human Hair

"Dr. LaPierre's group [at McMaster University in Hamilton's department of engineering] used a focus ion beam microscope (FIB) to shoot a beam of gallium ions at the surface of a human hair, carving atoms off the of the surface of the hair to etch these McMaster University logos."
-- BoingBoing


It's Not a Bug, It's a Feature

Does it count as engagement when people are blogging about your art dept's Photoshopping blunders? Can you claim that these errors are in fact Easter Eggs?

Ads in Game Easter Eggs
Easter Eggs in Products

Gmail Soap - PR campaign

These images of Gmail-branded soap have been circulating around over the past couple of months and eventually ended up on a Wired blog along with many others. They have been dismissed as either a clever Photoshop job or an art project. Instead, the soap apparently was an actual campaign done to promote Gmail's spam filtering might to Russian students. The connection is the Russian wordplay on the soundalike slang for email and soap. The copy on package reads: "Gmail: the cleanest soap." There's an entire YouTube channel full of Russian CGM on the subject. There's an official statement from Google's Russian PR people on

You've seen this recent Russian TV spot for Gmail, of course.

Balihoo’s RFI/RFP Module [Ad]

Cutting Inefficiencies out of the Process

This is the third post in the series. Today, Shane Vaughan explains Balihoo's RFI/RFP management features.

Balihoo’s step-by-step RFI/RFP builder allows buyers to easily create fully-customizable requests.

"My last post focused on building a consideration set. Today let’s talk about the next step in the media buying and planning process: the RFI/RFP.

Media buyers know the RFI/RFP step in the planning process is where they’d like a wormhole to appear and shorten the journey from request to fulfillment. The administrative burden is heavy and inefficiencies abound. Today information is often gathered via email with the requisite Excel attachment. Numerous emails are sent, some disappear into the ether, while others spawn responses yielding carpal-tunnel-inducing hours of cutting and pasting. Here’s where Balihoo earns the moniker “Advertising’s Best Friend”.

Whether it’s a request for information or a formal proposal, Balihoo offers a step-by-step process to build a fully-customizable RFI/RFP. Buyers can send along budget information or upload documents to accompany their request. Proposal grids within the tool allow for greater organization of data. Another time-saver is the ability to save RFIs/RFPs as templates for future campaigns; no more creating requests from scratch.

Getting an RFI/RFP to the right person and obtaining a timely response are obviously critical. To that end, Balihoo contains contact information for each property in our database. And if a buyer’s go-to rep (or property, for that matter) isn’t in the tool, they are easily added. As for responses, Balihoo’s data research team works with sellers to get your requests the attention they deserve. As those responses come in, data flow into an online worksheet for easy analysis. There’s no need to aggregate data from disparate documents into one – Balihoo securely manages the data for you.

Media sellers save resources and time by using one interface with prepopulated standard data fields. Balihoo makes the communication of necessary data easier and more efficient for sellers and buyers alike."

[This is a post by AdLab's advertiser]

Study: Why E-Mails Are Often Misunderstood

image credit: csmonitor

Paper "Egocentrism over E-Mail" (2005, pdf): "People tend to believe that they can communicate over e-mail more effectively than they actually can. Studies further suggest that this overconfidence is born of egocentrism, the inherent difficulty of detaching oneself from one’s own perspective when evaluating the perspective of someone else."

Assorted April Media Hoaxes

This year's ad prank is Trust Banners that gain "consumer trust through high frequency (90fps) banner adverts which stimulate specific regions of the visual cortex (Visual area V5/MT) producing instant effects on consumers."

Turning black and white TVs into color sets by wrapping them in nylon stockings must be the best media-related April 1 hoax ever (Orson Welles's War of the Worlds was on Halloween so it doesn't qualify). Above is the original broadcast on the Swedish TV back from April 1, 1962.

Among the pranks that would actually make sense to implement for real is last year's announcement by XM radio that it is launching a new channel entirely powered by podcasts.

The always adorable Google added a new function to Docs this year that creates a blank document with an outline of a paper airplane.

Remote Control Jammer Chip Activated By Commercials