Advergame Arcades

The same people who brought us interactive movie theater entertainment have installed several advergaming arcades in the digital cafe at Rockefeller Plaza in Manhattan. The two games are NewsBlaster and NewsBreaker. The arcades are free and hooked up to the web. Love the old-school look and the homage, perhaps unintended, to Tapper, the first arcade to feature a brand (more in this post on history of in-game advertising).

Credits: SS+K [Sam Mazur and Matt Ferrin] with Fuel Industries [software] and Dream Authentics [hardware].

Dream Authentics builds custom arcade machines.

Budweiser logo in Bally-Midway's Tapper, mid-1980s (image source)

-- thanks, Sam

Samsung Spot on YouTube with Interactive Annotations

If you view this spot from Samsung posted a few days ago till the end you'll find it incorporates a new feature -- interactive annotations, or two links to two other videos on YouTube. Using these annotations, Samsung is telling an entire choose-your-adventure-style story. Annotations don't seem to work in videos embedded elsewhere (on AdLab, for example).

Clicking on "Jump in a cab" and "Follow your instinct" will each take you to a different video on YouTube.

-- thanks, James

Last-frame Interaction in Online Video from Involver
YouTube Advertising, Part II: The Last Frame

Sponsor a Surveillance Camera

The police in Flint, MI are looking for corporate sponsors to bankroll poll-mounted surveillance cameras throughout the city:

"Corporate sponsorship is yet another resource that communities can utilize for PODSS [Portable Overt Digital Surveillance System] deployment. RMS Technology Solutions is pleased to announce its Adopt-a-PODSS program. The program is designed for community-minded, corporate sponsors who wish to provide generous underwriting support for the PODSS surveillance system. The sponsorship program offers a win-win for both the underwriting company and the community."

"More impressive are the intangible benefits of corporate sponsorship that are truly immeasurable. The transformative value that a corporate sponsor can bring to a crime-ridden community in terms of lives saved and neighborhoods restored from drug activity and violent crime is incalculable. These benefits can have a positive impact on society for generations to come."
-- via mlive

Advertising on Police Cruisers

Barcode, Iris Scanners for Google Android

Among the applications that won the first round of Google's developer challenge for its Android mobile platform in May, two stand out.

Android Scan "is an Android application that finds pricing and metadata for anything with a barcode." (See a post about a similar barcode scanner app for iPhone and what it might mean for retailers.)

BioWallet is "a biometric authentication system currently supporting iris based authentication." There must be a dating/social networking angle here somewhere.

Ponoko: Marketplace for Things

If this post's headline seems awkward, it's because I can't quite find the right words to describe the service.

"What happens to the music bits today will happen to the chair bits tomorrow when you are able to download the arm-rests from Ikea and the upholstery from Crate & Barrel, mix them up and print them out."

This sounded a bit too sci-fi even to me when I posted it a couple of years ago. Today, I found Ponoko.

Ponoko (about) is for physical things what Lulu is for books and what CafePress is for t-shirts. You create a design for, say, a chair, upload it to Ponoko's site, and list the chair for sale. When someone likes your chair and pays for it, Ponoko laser-cuts the pieces out of a range of materials, packs them up and ships them to the buyer. Or to you, if you want to assemble the pieces first. You can buy product plans created by other people and, depending on the license, customize them to make and sell something new.

You can see, of course, how something like Ponoko is a great fit for the 3D interface of Second Life, which is all about people designing 3D models of stuff, or Google Lively (read AdLab's first impressions).

To throw in somewhat similar services I discovered while looking at Ponoko: FigurePrints makes custom WoW models, ShapeWays does rapid prototyping on demand, and a few others mentioned in the previously posted stories here on AdLab.

Billboard With Face Recognition

"NEC Corp has developed a digital signage system that determines the gender, generation and other attributes of a person standing in front of a display using a face recognition technology and outputs advertisements on the display according to them."
-- TechOn


Job Hunting with LinkedIn Direct Ads

Advertising arsenal for job hunters has been expanding from direct mail (sending out CVs) and working with recruiters to creating profiles on specialty sites, career blogging, and posting YouTube videos (that sometimes backfire). Now you can add media buying to this list.

LinkedIn's newly announced self-service advertising program DirectAds seems like a great tool not only for a variety of B2B marketers, but also for job hunters (who, if you think about it, are also B2b advertisers). Select an industry and a job function, and a link to your CV will be in front of, say, 52,889 HR people and creative folks in ad agencies and marketing departments.

The program is not without its limitations. You cannot target an individual company or a search term, and you also can filter LinkedIn's audience only through two categories: you can't pick Boston+advertising+HR+creatives+company size, for example.

If you do try it out for yourself, please leave a comment sharing your impressions.

The Other Second Life: Off-Label Uses of Brand Products

A page on Bounce from Joey Green's book Polish Your Furniture with Panty Hose

"A sufficiently thick stack of Bounce will actually stop a bullet!" (source)

Adweek has an excellent article today by Andrew Adam Newman about marketers slowly acknowledging and at times embracing secondary and often unintended uses of their products:

"For several years, a list that details quirky uses for Bounce dryer sheets [AdLab - probably this one] -- including tying them to belt loops as a bug repellent -- has been the subject of viral e-mails and blog posts. Procter & Gamble, which makes the dryer sheets, was well aware of the phenomenon, but did not acknowledge it.

But the more online chatter the company observed about alternative uses, the more the resistance dissipated [...]. Brand managers decided it was time to "lean forward and take a risk on our part" and to try "to capture the consumers' passion for the product and use it as leverage."

It was time, in other words, to promote the off-label uses of Bounce."

"Canada Dry Club Soda, for example -- which, along with other club sodas, is lauded by consumers as a spot remover for clothes and carpets -- says it's just good business."

P&G collects ideas for off-label uses of Bounce on

Two books:
- Joey Green's Fix-It Magic: More than 1,971 Quick-and-Easy Household Solutions Using Brand-Name Products

- Polish Your Furniture with Panty Hose: And Hundreds of Offbeat Uses for Brand-Name Products

Previously on AdLab:
Ethnographic Research on Packaging Usage

Former Time Publisher on Media Changes

Jack Haire, the former publisher of Time Magazine and president of Fortune/Money group who last week joined Balihoo's board of directors, talks about industry chaos, advertising networks and the movement of media dollars [emphasis mine].

"In spite of the challenging economic times we're in, I like to think of the media business as one of the sectors showing the greatest innovation and development. The media pie continues to grow, even though the ad spend mix is shifting. At the moment new technologies are the rage providing new levels of customization and accountability. Share, and in some instances, absolute dollars have shifted away from broadcast TV, magazines, newspapers and radio to the web, cable TV and outdoor, which has shown an exciting ability to reinvent itself using technology to better target and deliver value. When you think about all the new interactive brands, both new and associated with traditional media, it's pretty exciting."

In some ways, I think of this shift from traditional venues to online as a swing of the pendulum to a new more accountable medium, and the need for marketers to test and refine their approach. But as the pendulum finds middle ground, the one constant will be that great brands will draft off this competitive threat and get stronger or be marginalized. I am often reminded of how efficient and effective traditional media is at getting the word out to a large audience of readers and viewers. And they do this in very clean uncluttered, effective environments that are time tested at generating efficient results. The web is only one piece of the pie."

On online ad networks:
"I'm not a huge fan. And it is interesting to note that really strong web brands like and Martha Stewart are eschewing them because they realize that they are the crown jewel brands that advertisers want and will pay for. In essence they are the lead brands that "legitimize" the network. As an advertiser, I'd want to make sure I know where, and in what environments my ads will appear in. As a publisher, I'd worry about being commoditized by being a part of these networks. That said, with new behavioral and contextual targeting available, these networks do give you a way to reach your targets efficiently. So if I'm looking for an efficient way to reach hand raisers, I'd have them in the mix. One of the huge benefits of these networks, is that they are an efficient way to buy multiple sites. Balihoo can help marketers be far more efficient, and still allow them to buy brands they know and trust."

More about Balihoo on AdLab. Balihoo provides a platform for media planning and buying, and is AdLab's advertiser.

Proto-Web in 1934

An article in NY Times about a Belgian inventor Paul Otlet who in 1930s created a proto-Web that "relied on a patchwork of analog technologies like index cards and telegraph machines":

"In 1934, Otlet sketched out plans for a global network of computers (or "electric telescopes," as he called them) that would allow people to search and browse through millions of interlinked documents, images, audio and video files. He described how people would use the devices to send messages to one another, share files and even congregate in online social networks. He called the whole thing a "rĂ©seau," which might be translated as "network" — or arguably, "web.""


"He hired more staff, and established a fee-based research service that allowed anyone in the world to submit a query via mail or telegraph — a kind of analog search engine. Inquiries poured in from all over the world, more than 1,500 a year, on topics as diverse as boomerangs and Bulgarian finance."

The Future of Retail: Instant Price Match

The obvious future of in-store experience: you find something you like, reach into your pocket for a small device, scan the barcode, and the device tells you whether and where the same product is available for a lower price. Brick-and-mortar stores become little more than showrooms for merchandise bought elsewhere.

This future just got one step closer today with the release of an iPhone app Checkout SmartShop, "a shopping assistant meant to help you fine online and local prices when you’re out and about shopping." For now, you still need to type in the UPS code; they are working on converting the iPhone camera into a barcode scanner.

How much time do you give for this app to hit the market: you go into a Blockbuster, scan a box, and the movie is cued up for download on your BitTorrent client?

In a post last January on online experiences and offline expectations, I wrote, "Retailers gotta act quick if they want to have some control over the converging experiences. In a few years, people will be carrying web browsers in their pockets and won't be needing all this retail innovation. Then they would go to Barnes & Noble to browse books and order the ones they like on Amazon right from the store."

That part about "a few years" was probably too optimistic. If you are a store, you might consider investing into a cell phone jammer or printing out this free "No iPhones on Premises" sign.

(Update on Dec. 3, 2008): To our guests from the ReadWriteWeb post on the subject, let me clarify that I am not so much recommending jamming or banning iPhones as I am describing an inevitable scenario.

(Update on Dec. 8, 2008):  This thing wouldn't just go away.  Now Slate points its finger at AdLab:  "Some consultants have even suggested that retailers fight back by installing cell phone jammers or banning iPhones from their stores."  Yeah, and I know some writers who apparently cannot read.  Thanks to them, I'm now going down in history as the luddite who told walmarts to jam the cell signal.

Oh, and speaking of Blockbuster and BitTorrent, there's this art experiment about a new Firefox extension that lets you look at movie descriptions at Amazon and then cue them up on BT.

Banners and The Right Click

Do banners that allow standard right-click navigation options -- "open in new window" and "open in new tab" -- have higher click-throughs, other things being equal?

Friday Special: Ethics of Gravestone Advertising

AdLab has explored the question of tombstone advertising to a great extent, but never from the ethics angle. Apparently, the question has been resolved. Love the "report abuse" button.

The Apartment of Puzzles

NY Times
: "The architectural designer Eric Clough embedded 18 clues in the Fifth Avenue apartment of the Klinsky- Sherry family, leading them on a scavenger hunt through the rooms of their home."
-- via Game Tycoon

Sprint Encourages Amateur Product Placement

Two cool things about the Samsung Instinct campaign site that encourages people to drop an image of the phone into their home videos: the refreshing honesty and this direct YouTube uploader that connects the users directly to their already uploaded videos.

Google Lively: First Impressions

Big news today, if you haven't heard already: Google released a 3D chat app called Lively. It's the same thing that was being tested at a university in Arizona last winter, and probably the same thing that was rumored about in January 2007 and anticipated as early as 2006.

In a nutshell, it's a 3d chat app where users can customize avatars and create environments (rooms) with stuff they pick from a product catalog. You need to install a browser (FF, IE, Win-only) plug-in to participate. And while it is not exactly an MMO, it is more similar to Second Life than early commentators admit.

First impressions:
1. While object creation is a process open only to participants hand-picked by Google (see a press release by Rivers Run Red, a creator of Second Life presence for many companies), Lively seems designed to be integrated with SketchUp and 3D Warehouse at some point. This would open doors not only to user-generated stuff, but also to branded objects (such as virtual Whirlpool appliances).

Rivers Run Red has a room in Lively, and so does Linden Lab.

2. While all of the stuff I've seen in the catalog is free, the very fact that there's a price tag at all hints at a potential marketplace for virtual stuff.

3. The integration with the "flat" web is pretty tight. Each room has a "real" URL (here's Google's), each room can be embedded on other sites (and viewable with the plug-in), some objects can play YouTube videos and show pictures hosted elsewhere.

4. Characters can be equipped with animation scripts.

5. Similarly to Second Life, Lively allows movement around the environment and camera manipulation, and like in Second Life, the controls are not terribly intuitive.

6. Objects can be fitted with hyperlinks to "flat" web pages, just like the lava lamp on the screen cap below pointing to AdLab. This could probably result in some sort of on-the-spot transactional activity: you click on the lamp in my room and a window pops up offering you to buy the real thing.

7. There are half-rumors half-expectations that Lively will be somehow integrated into Orkut, which seems possible since Lively uses the same system-wide Google login.

Lively, of course, will become more, well, lively when Google integrates it with SketchUp and allows user- and brand-generated assets to become part of the marketplace. It could also be hypothetically integrated with Google Earth so that Lively "rooms" become inhabitable interiors of the 3D models on Earth or maybe in the sky.

A lof ot related links from AdLab's past years here, so I'll just give a couple of broad pointers:
Google and virtual worlds
Virtual worlds in general
Posts related to Second Life
Advertising in games

Tips for Corporate Builds in Second Life

Chris from One-to-One Interactive writes in with a new report that compares corporate professionally-done (and often committee-approved) builds in Second Life with player-made stuff. Even if you think Second Life is sooo 2007 but are interested in interaction design in general, take a look. Among other findings, there's this gem about how the biggest sim is not always the most popular, and for the reasons that are familiar to architects and urban planners but not necessarily to software designers [emphasis mine]:

"Corporate builds are sprawling virtual landscapes that distribute users throughout multiple locations of activity. Visitors to corporate builds were likely to interact with the content alone or with one or two friends. In contrast, user builds focus visitor activity into a few key areas. As a percent of overall land, user-created builds devote 40% less space to dedicated social areas, such as clubs and dance floors, than corporate builds. The limited social space in user-created builds encourages residents to collect into more densely populated and socially active areas, discouraging resident sprawl. Visitors to user-generated builds were more likely to be in groups of 10, 20, or even more. Second Life is ultimately a social world; social interaction is the primary activity among its users, so spreading users apart amongst well-produced buildings, spaces, and activities is self-defeating."

Rotary Phone Dial Interface for iPhone

- objectgraph via idealist

Make Spoof Pages With A Line of Code

Web spoofs made easy! Open up any page, then copy the line of code below in the browser's address field. This makes the page "editable" locally so you can modify its content like you would in a text editor.

javascript:document.body.contentEditable='true'; document.designMode='on'; void 0

Besides its obvious entertainment value, this little experiment shows how easy web editing and publishing should really be.

-- around the web, but specifically from BlogStorm

Last-Frame Interaction in Online Video from Involver

I once wrote about how one possible way to make money off YouTube was to add some call-to-action interaction to the last frame of the clip; this space is currently occupied by the promos for related videos. A new start-up called Involver has brought this model to life:

"Involver’s unique vision is to provide more than just “video with a buy button”, creating a tool for marketers that does more than deliver millions of impressions with no way to capture the audience. The platform uses a rich set of video plug-ins to allow the campaign owner to capture email, offer quizes or surveys, even take orders or donations - all within the framework of the video, never forcing the viewer to browse to a new Web page." (-- StageTwo).

You can post Involver-powered videos to a whole bunch of social networking sites, although not to YouTube.
-- thanks, Jim

Can Social Networks Make Money?

The cover story in this month's MIT Tech Review: "It's a model that stirs memories of the first Internet bubble: build the user base and hope the money comes--from an IPO, a buyout, or ads. At this point, KickApps does not reveal revenue figures, or even what kind of a cut it is taking from the ads. That, too, brings back memories: staying mum about revenue was always a sign that there wasn't much to talk about."

"The problems with social-network advertising revolve around three main issues: attention, privacy, and content."

Ads in Google Docs?

There's this article (blog post?) in Time about how iPhone apps won't be free and it starts with:

"It's probably been a while since you bought new software. That's because so many tech firms — buoyed by ads placed in Web-based applications like the Google Docs word processor and the thousands of apps on Facebook — can now afford to give their programs away for free."

Are there really ads in Google Docs?

Contextual Advertising in PDF
Contextual Advertising in Word Documents
Advertising on CV
ATM Advertising

Create Email Newsletters with Mad Mimi

Cool tool alert: Mad Mimi, a rare example of the Web 2.0 techno-goodness put to productive use, is a recently launched tool for creating nicely looking email newsletters by dragging and dropping different design elements around the page. Subscription boxes for your site and usage stats are included. Sending to the first 100 subscribers is free. Not sure yet how well it handles multipart (HTML and text-only) messages, but I'll report back after giving it a more thorough test drive. For similarly easy-made custom landing pages, I recommend Marketo.

Bookmarkable Banners with Reminders from Spongecell

Bookmarkable advertising is a pet topic of mine and I'm glad to point to the most recent of the very few examples of banners ads whose shelf life is extended beyond a single impression.

Spongecell, a company that makes online calendars with social features, is launching Spongecell Ads. These are online display ads with widget-like functionality that allow users to share the contents of the ad with their friends and also, importantly, set a reminder for yourself.

The example above is an ad for what looks like a music event, but you can see how this format can work with any date-based information: promotions, coupons with expiration date, sales and so on. To quote from an email from Spongecell, "We’re adding our Add to Life technology to a standard IAB advertisement to make it easy for a consumer to easily move relevant content from an advertisement into the tools they use every day - Calendar, Social Network, Mobile device or home page - think of it as a bookmark for an online campaign."

Semantic Match Ties Ads To Page Meaning

Keyword matching is so last decade: "Through Peer39's proprietary SemanticMatch technology the most relevant ads are displayed in the most appropriate and productive content, assuring higher ROI. Based on natural language processing and machine learning, Peer39's patented algorithms understand page meaning and sentiment, and deliver the most relevant and effective brand safe online advertising." (site, press release)

Blogbite of the Week

"Anyone can solve a user-related problem with a few lines of code, but that doesn’t automatically make you the better company in this world of rent, bills, overheads and shareholders; especially when you’re not actually generating revenue."

A reader comment under Techcrunch post about Anyvite making a better product than eVite.