Prediction Markets Go Nuts Over Rep VP Pick

I gotta tell you, if prediction markets are any indication, nobody saw Palin coming. I was up till 5am last night watching CNN's political market and as you can see on the graph above, it was all about Pawlenty and Romney (blue and off-white lines) not only over the past week but also for most of the night, with Palin (green) picking up steam only after the first leaks started appearing on CNN around 6-7am.

Which brings up a question of how, you know, predictive prediction markets really are, at least in situations where the outcome is hinged on a private decision of a small group of people. Last night's Rep VP market was very similar to the Dem VP market last week, where bets clearly reflected the somewhat mindless absorption of the news stream. (Bayh and Kaine were leading for most of the week; prices of Clinton, Chet Edwards and Sebelius fluctuated widely on the numerous rumors. Biden emerged as a clear leader the day preceding the announcement).

Me? Last week, I doubled the initial $5000 by buying Biden at $44. This week, I shorted Pawlenty at $80, Romney at $60 (then closed it at $12 and then bought again at $29 last night -- a speculative move that was a mistake, in retrospect). Stocks of all women candidates were dirt-cheap: all but Palin were under $1 last night (I got about a hundred of Whitman, Fiorina and Hutchison); I also bought Palin at $2.57. I thought the latest stream of McCain's commercials praising Clinton could be hinting at the larger Rep VP strategy.

Sex Ads in Denver Up During DNC

Our coverage of the political season continues.

CNet:  "Ads seeking casual sexual encounters through the Denver Craigslist site increased an average of roughly 70 percent to 80 percent over the same days of the week earlier in August."

Media History Through Gartner Hype Cycle Graphs: 1995-2008

Gartner Hype Cycles are good for at least three things: identifying technologies that are still under the radar, taking a look back at stuff that was hyped up in the past but didn't go anywhere, and explaining to your parents what it is that you do as an emerging media strategist.

Besides, they illustrate this wonderful quote from David Brooks's "Lord of the Meme" column in NYTimes: "In order to cement your status in the cultural elite, you want to be already sick of everything no one else has even heard of."

These graphs also provide good fodder for thinking about how media consumption would change if any of the pre-hype technologies reached mass adoption.

After catching the 2008 graph on Techcrunch a few days ago, I hit up Google image search for earlier versions. (You can also buy Gartner's original reports, but at close to $2,000 apiece they are beyond this blog's budget). Below is what I've found. You will see that some of the technologies don't make it into the later versions of the graph; I think it's because these are Garther's charts for different tech sectors. Click on images to zoom in.

If you have graphs for the missing years, please comment or drop me a line.









Sources: Dave Chaffey, this blog, Techcrunch, SAPDesignGuild, Gartner, Guardian

Price and Penetration of Consumer Electronics

Wired: Price and market penetration of consumer electronics over the past 50 years. Infographic: Arno Ghelfi.  Sources: Consumer Electronics Association, US Bureau of Labor Statistics. CD player data not available for 2006 and 2007.

TV Penetration in 1940
NYTimes Graph: Technology Adoption Rates

Search Comments with Backtype

Backtype is a new tool that aggregates comments posted throughout the blogosphere and makes them searchable by keywords or commenters' names.

Other useful tools:
YackTrack -- another tool to search comments
IRSeeK: search conversations on IRC
Boardtracker, Boardreader and Omigli -- search discussion boards and forums
Mail Archive, MarkMail -- search email list archives (mostly older ones)
Copernic -- track changes on sites
A review of image search engines
TalkDigger -- tracks "conversations", not sure how well
Custom Google-based engine for many social bookmarking sites under one roof
Twitter and FriendFeed searches, of course

I also like searching the Raves and Rants section on Craigslist.

I Clicked On a Porn Thumb and All I Got Was...

... a lame political activist slideshow.  But 93 million views? That's the power of a few choice tags (the only nsfw part of the whole thing), an intriguing title and a still frame in just the right spot in the video. Via Ship's Biscuit, who also has a list of 21 genres of viral videos.

Don Draper Tweets: Twitter Fan Fiction

Fake (?) Don Draper tweets, AMC tries to take it down, the account is now back up.

How did people tweet back in the 1960s?  By having their secretaries type it up and then stuffing the message into the pneumatic mail?

"Haggle" Button Boosts Sales

Fascinating: a case study on Marketing Sherpa about an online golf equipment retailer that added a "make an offer" button and saw its sales jump by 685% in a year.

Did you know that "click here" makes people click there?

Is Google More Expensive Than TV?

Denuo's Rishad Tobbacowala compares TV buys with Google search ads: "It has actually become far more expensive to buy advertising on Google than on network television. Google has a product called AdWords, which marketers use to bid on a particular key word [that consumers might type in during an Internet search]. On average, across all categories, it tends to be about 50 cents. Let's say on television you get a $20 cost-per-thousand rate. Fifty cents a click is equal to $500 cost per thousand. You can see how much more expensive it is, but the difference is there's some sort of action."

Media equivalency is a tough problem. If we compare CPM rates, yes, TV's CPMs are cheaper than search CPMs {umm, that was stupid), but Rishad's comparison is not entirely fair or accurate when viewed from at least two angles. First, you cannot call up a TV rep and say, "Hey, I've got 20 bucks here. Can I please have 1000 impressions today?" Second, Google impressions are free, at least to a certain point. It's the action (click) that advertisers are being charged for. A more accurate comparison would be the cost-per-click for an AdWord vs cost-per-call for a TV ad with a 1-800 number.

BarackBook Parody Site; Communists for Kerry

This by GOP reminds me of the winner of a recent Cracked contest (below).

One of my favorite political parody sites is from the 2004 campaign.

Porn Mode in New Internet Explorer Worries Advertisers

image credit

Washington Post says advertisers are becoming worried about the upcoming Internet Explorer 8 and its "porn mode" for cookieless browsing called InPrivate.  Details from Microsoft:

"While InPrivate Browsing is active, the following takes place:
  • New cookies are not stored
    • All new cookies become “session” cookies
    • Existing cookies can still be read
    • The new DOM storage feature behaves the same way
  • New history entries will not be recorded
  • New temporary Internet files will be deleted after the Private Browsing window is closed
  • Form data is not stored
  • Passwords are not stored
  • Addresses typed into the address bar are not stored
  • Queries entered into the search box are not stored
  • Visited links will not be stored."

Obama VP Txt Reaches 2.9 Million

Nielsen Mobile (press release): "Nielsen Mobile, a service of The Nielsen Company, estimates that 2.9 million US mobile subscribers received a text message from the Obama campaign over the course of Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

How does Nielsen know this? Nielsen Mobile monitors shortcode marketing (the use of text-message shortcodes such as the 62262 “O-B-A-M-A”) through the world’s largest telecommunications bill-panel, an opt-in panel that reports on the billing activity for more than 40,000 subscriber lines in the US. It’s just one of the many ways Nielsen reports on wireless and mobile media consumers."

Google Indexes AdSense Copy

I noticed that AdSense ad copy gets indexed and shows up in Google's main search results. Are there any particular implications? If you bought an AdSense ad on a high-ranked site (can you?), would it push this site up in the search results for the keywords in the ad copy? 

Copy in an AdSense ad on DomainTools: "Build Your Site from Scratch, Redesign, or Enhance. No Setup Fee."

Google's search results for the phrase. The DomainTools page with the ad is third result from the top, but other sites featuring the same ad appear in the index as well.

Product Placement and Advertising in Books -- Creative Brief

Russian agency Fabula (rus) makes money by negotiating product mentions in bestselling fiction books. The image above is the cover of a fiction book by Daria Dontsova, a bestselling crime fiction author. The cover features the sponsoring brand's name in the book title (the title is roughly translated as"Gold Cockerel Sirloin"; Gold Cockerel or Zolotoy Petushok makes TV dinners) and its logo -- the chicken outline on the white card above the roullette. The company's site has a creative brief form (.doc, 2 pages) that potential clients are invited to fill out.

Advertising in Books Comes to the US
Advertising Comes to Textbooks
Electrolux Promotes Products with a Book

Blogging Since 1970

A funny Technorati glitch today. 14,115 days is about 38 years.

Trivia: Who Invented Bumper Sticker?

Forest P. Gill, the founder of the company that on Friday was rumored to be printing the Obama-Bayh bumper stickers, is credited with inventing bumper stickers in general.

Stencils for iPhone Application Mock-Ups

image credit

Stencils and GUI elements you'll find useful when mocking-up iPhone apps:
- PSD layers
- Wireframe stencils for OmniGraffle
- Yahoo! Design Stencil Kit for OmniGraffle, Visio (XML), Adobe Illustrator (PDF and SVG), and Adobe Photoshop (PNG)

The Logistics of Keeping a Secret

The other mysteries surrounding the Dem VP choice: what will be the new URL for the joint ticket (all obvious combinations have been taken for months)? What will happen to that must have a lot of organic traffic and nice search standings? If the campaign is buying one of the squatted domains, when and how soon will the DNS be updated? Will the new site go live before the txt? With so many people involved in production of propaganda materials, how do you keep the secret for so long and under such scrutiny?

In other news, Biden's stock is way up in the $80s. I got in at $44 on Tuesday. [Update] 1:06 AM Aug 23: AP says it's Biden.

Some political blog today wrote about how the whole txt-the-VP thing casts a very bright light on the uselessness of the TV punditry who can do very little until they are spoonfed the info. This quote sums it up well:

"Wolf Blitzer on the Situation Room begging viewers to stay tuned so CNN can bring them coverage of a text message."

To get your very own VP message, txt "VP" to 62262 (US only, standard rates apply).

[Update] Aug 23, 3:10 EST. It's official.

Still no txt. CNN and AP broke the story, so the news of punditry's death is exaggerated. Some of the questions above about the domain have been answered, though. It looks like the URL will remain I don't know if it's considered socially rude, but keeping a domain with so much equity is not a bad idea.

 [Update] Aug 23, 3:19 EST. The txt is in. I guess they were going for the 3AM phone call effect.

Stage Design Magic as Propaganda Tool

One of the most interesting (for this blog) stories from the Iraq war was about the design of the U.S. military's press room in Qatar:

"A scene in which the US army spokesman, General Tommy Franks, addressed journalists cost $200,000 and was produced by a designer who had worked for Disney, Metro Goldwyn Mayer and the television programme Good Morning America. In 2001 the White House had put him in charge of creating background designs for presidential speeches – unsurprising to those aware of the ties between the Pentagon and Hollywood.

More surprising was the Pentagon decision to recruit David Blaine for interior design; he is a magician famous in the US for his TV show and for conjuring tricks such as levitating or being shut in a cage without food." (Le Monde Diplomatique, Jan 2008, but the details have been widely circulated since the war's start).

Today, pictures of the two stages for the upcoming democratic extravaganza are making rounds on the net. Take a look at the designs: Republican (still a computer rendering; here's another angle) and Democratic. From "The stage was designed to facilitate the candid and personal tone that Americans have come to expect from Senator McCain. The intimate setting will be a fitting backdrop for Senator McCain’s acceptance speech."

And some behind-the-scenes details from Denver Post: "They [DNC] will bring so many lights and speakers — as many as 300,000 pounds' worth — the ceiling will have to be reinforced to hold them."

Would love to know who's behind the designs.

Update: thanks to AdLab's readers (Nishad and Bonniel; see comments), we now know: for DNC, it's Tribe Design and it's David Nash (exec. producer, it's his fifth straight convention; press release) for RNC.

Let me see if I can pull some pictures of other similar gatherings elsewhere. Should be a fun study. Stay tuned.

Fake Lines for iPhone in Poland

iPhone launches in Poland. Credit: mr.ipk

CNN/AFP: "Telekomunikacja Polska said it had paid young, hip-looking film extras to stand in queues for the national launch of iPhone" to generate interest in a country where Apple's products "aren't that well known."

Monopoly: The Soviet Edition

The "Imagine No Possessions" version of the Monopoly board game submitted to the contest "What If the Other Side Had Won".

Russia Stocks Up on Inflatable Arsenal

Full of hot air? Russia's Rusbal manufactures inflatables for advertising and defense industries. (rus): Russian balloon maker Rusbal is working on an order from the country's defense ministry to supply full-scale inflatable weapon models, including the S-300 long range surface-to-air missile systems. Gazeta writes that Rusbal is also developing inflatable models of tanks and airplanes, including the Su-27 (Flanker) fighter jet.

Update [Aug.25] for Wired's Danger Room readers:
Here are a few more pictures of Rusbal's military products. Also, check out these posts from a while ago: Military Seeks Scatterable Media, and Leaflet Bomb. And you will love Exile's War Nerd (archives) and their recent story about how Russia lost the propaganda war to Georgia.

Oh, and subscribe to the feed; there's more good stuff coming.

Viagra Professional

There is this marketing case study about how men like to buy power tools that have the "Professional" marker on them. Is the same logic at work here? What's Viagra Professional, what kind of professionals should take it, and does it outsell the regular (amateur?) variety?

-- via my spam folder

Captcha Gone Wild

This Blogger CAPTCHA looks more like a Rorschach ink blot gone wrong. WTF? Any guesses what the characters are? Someone should figure out how to plug brands and slogans into the process.

AdLab's Riddle: Pretty Woman

Watch the first 30-40 seconds of this video. There is something particular about the woman. What is it? Click on the video to go to YouTube for the answer. PCWorld has the story.

Prediction Markets and US Veepstakes

With the Dem VP announcement imminent, now is a good time to test the accuracy of political prediction markets. I'm embedding the CNN's ticker here for convenience, but you can also track their entire market. Biden is at ~$44, which means a 44% chance of getting the nod.

Advertising with Login Credentials

A little piece of ingenuity -- one of the login names offered by BugMeNot to bypass NYTimes' registration wall was, which is a URL of a recipe directory.

Make Artsy Tag Clouds with Wordle

Plug your RSS feed link into Worldle and it will spit out a nice-looking alphabet soup of your posts whose look you can then customize.

Smellmarks: Trademarking Scents

I just got to a press release from a couple of weeks ago from the Scent Marketing Institute announcing winners of their first round of awards called SMItties. Interesting stuff. ScentSational Technologies make scented and flavored packaging. Scentys got recognized for "unique implementation of scent marketing technology by incorporating scent delivery systems in state of the art digital presentation devices."

Anyway, from there, I somehow ended up on a two-year-old article in New Scientist about attempts in Europe to trademark scents: "Applicants face a difficulty: they must attach a "graphic representation" of their smell to the 8 centimetre square box on the trademark application form."

"The French Institute for the Protection of Fragrances tried the most sciency-looking pitch: a green square with coloured stripes on it that is supposed to represent "a lawn-green note, citrus (bergamot, lemon), pink floral (orange blossom, hyacinth), musky". It was refused."

Which is also the answer to yesterday's riddle. For more details, go to this page and select "Olfactory" in the "Trademark type" drop-down.

And here's a 2006 article in NYTimes about legal issues of recognizing scents as intellectual property.

Earlier on AdLab: a bottle of new car scent and other smelly articles.

Would User Scores for Ads Influence Click-Throughs?

Speaking of ads with user feedback, Facebook upgraded its ads to collect thumbs up and down along with free-style comments. Wonder if it would make sense to display ad scores Digg-style. Would people click more on ads that are ranked higher?

Twitter and SEO

I was looking for more info about the newly opened Social Media Lab at P&G (via Ethan) and one of the results that Google offered was David Armano's tweet on the subject. Had't seen tweets in SERPs before.

Study: Linking Out Gets Links In

"The resulting figure of 0.842733801 shows that in general there is a strong relationship between news websites linking out and getting links in return." More details on the study + a big table of numbers here.

Cursing as Advertising Strategy

I don't know if this letter I just received through the Contact Me form is a case of misdirected anger, a weird spam mutation, or some kind of viral campaign, but if it's the latter, it's the most brilliant piece of copyrighting I've seen in some time. Who can resist clicking the link?

Wonder if it's this Martina, too.

Showcase Your Ad Inventory with Balihoo Publisher Edition

A few months ago, I shared a few thoughts for entrepreneurs who plan to bankroll their start-ups through advertising. One of the tips was about removing friction from the ad sales process, and a good place to start would be to drop a media kit into an easy to find spot online. If you think this not-so-groundbraking idea makes sense, take a look at the new product introduced a couple of weeks ago about by one of AdLab's sponsors, Balihoo. Balihoo Publisher Edition is "a web-based application that enables media owners and publishers to position and sell the full breadth of their inventory directly to media buyers and advertisers." Below is a video promo from TechInsights that is launching its ad sales site built on Balihoo Publisher Edition in September.

AdLab's Riddle: What's This?

What is this image? Leave guesses in comments. Answer tomorrow.
Update: Love the answers so far. A carpet personalized with DNA map! But keep going.

Update 2: Here's the answer, but I won't put a spoiler here for people who get to this post later.

AdSense Ads on a Brand Site

When Home Depot announced a couple of years ago that they would sell ad space on their site (press release), a lot of people thought it was a very interesting case of an advertiser turning into a media company. Here's a case of another company capitalizing on all that traffic to its brand site. Being a new dad takes you to all sorts of previously unexplored online destinations (and also explains the interruption in postings on this blog), so last night I found myself on and saw -- gasp! -- the very familiar AdSense ads and occasionally a few Google-served banners (one that I remember was for Staples). The site even has its own advertising policy. Assuming that the site gets 1.5M monthly uniques (Compete data) and, say, 3M pageviews, a click-through rate of 1%, and gets 25 cents for each click, generates $75K $7.5K in AdSense revenue each month. It's a half of a drop in P&G's bucket, of course, but it will buy the site team a round or two of beers each month.

Electronic Ink Publishing Almost Here?

Readius reader. Image:

You might have seen one of yesterday's top tech stories about sales predictions for the Kindle e-reader (378K to be sold in '08). If true, it's a good news for Amazon, but also an important development for the publishing industry, and by extention, the ad biz.

During the first couple of years of this blog, I've posted fairly often about various applications of the electronic ink technology: from newspapers to packaging and price tags. Then the interest subsided, mostly because few of those prototypes seemed to be anywhere close to being widely marketed. Now, it again looks like the technology might take off if recent developments are any indication.

First, the cover on 100,000 retail copies of September's Esquire will be printed (if printed is the right word here) in electronic ink, according to a recent NYTimes story. Esquire's publisher, Hearst, had invested in E Ink and "has exclusive use of E Ink’s technology for use in print through 2009."

Second, while the current crop of electronic readers is not terribly exciting, there are new and seemingly better devices almost around the corner.

It's been a while since I last read a fiction paperback, getting my fix instead off a PC screen from and Gutenberg. I'd welcome a reader, though, and the few things I'm looking for in such a device are a not-too-fancy but reasonably sized screen (long-form reading off an iPhone is no fun), a battery life sufficient for a coast-to-coast flight, portability and the ability to fit on my lap in an airplane or a bus (laptops are hard to open at a good angle), relative sturdiness, and support for common formats (txt, pdf and html) and foreign alphabets.

Understandably, I was anxious to get my hands on Kindle, but important as it is for bringing the electronic ink to the masses, it was a disappointment in its current iteration.

While Kindle looks much better in person than on pictures and has a few nifty things going for it -- the built-in net connectivity that you don't have to configure, for example -- its many usability peculiarities make it hard to love. I could never get used to the back button which is like clicking "back" while looking at a Flash object in a web browser, and I couldn't understand why you need two differently functioning buttons for "Back" and "Last page". Getting your own files onto the device requires too high of a learning curve and I'm not sure if it supports other languages.

One device I'm looking forward to is Readius (pictured above), which is supposed to launch in the States in 2009, and will have a rollable 5" screen. (NYTimes wrote about the device last month.)