Quote of the Day

Grumpy Brit on how web start-ups misunderstand the ad biz:

"Advertising hasn’t proven the monetizing panacea it was assumed to be because the people who fund, develop and manage web-based businesses know the square root of buggery bollocks about advertising. Which is a bit like the people responsible for laying track being ignorant of anything to do with trains. Despite this modest shortcoming the geeks act like they invented it."

-- via Ad Contrarian (Related thoughts from Seth Godin and Brian Morrissey.)

And wtf is buggery bollocks?

Augmented Reality Microsites: First Impressions

Since I got my webcam upgraded anyway, I thought I'd do a follow up on the Augmented Reality is The New Second Life post and spend a lunch break looking at a few recent implementations of augmented reality in promo microsites.

I looked at Eminem's Relapse UK microsite, GE's Plug Into The Smart Grid, Nissan's Good Decision, USPS's Virtual Box Simulator, and two Star Trek promos at Join Star Fleet Academy and Experience the Enterprise. All these require that you print out a piece of paper with an image (a trigger) and dangle it in front of your webcam for something to happen. I also tried Ray-Ban's Virtual Mirror (via Cory's earlier post; the AR thing is tucked into the un-deep-linkable Flash), which draws glasses straight over your face.

Here are the notes and pictures I took. If you are on RSS and don't see the slideshow, click over or see the pics on Flickr.

1. The good news: the wow factor is undeniable. I had colleagues standing over my shoulder commenting on how cool it was.

2. The bad news: it's jaw-dropping only the first time you see it. After that it quickly regresses from "neat" to "meh".

3. The usability of most implementations is pretty horrendous. You have to hold up a letter-size piece of paper in front of your web cam just so or the whole animation goes away, and then you have to peek around it to see what's happening on the screen. I suspect it works better with smaller objects (I want to try one of those Topps cards next), or with mobile devices.

4. Only Eminem's AR animation was interactive beyond simple rotation -- you have to spray graffiti over it with your mouse. Not very easy either.

5. The biggest question I had was why. For all the trouble they make you go through (download, print, and in case of Star Treck, install a plug-in), you'd expect a somehow more rewarding payoff. From the "useful, usable, desirable" list, most implementations check off only "desirable" for, like, the first two minutes.

7. The Ray-Ban's Virtual Mirror (img1, img2) was the best of the bunch. It does require installing a separate app on your machine (tech by Fitting Box), but you have a pretty clear reason, and while the app is not without its share of glitches, it's pretty entertaining, potentially useful and point at the true potential of the technology.

8. It probably makes sense to make AR experience more exclusive and tie it to purchase. According to WSJ, Papa John's will be putting an AR trigger on its pizza boxes to let users drive the company founder's Camaro. Again, baseball cards with players coming to life in AR make sense. I wish Eminem had included an AR trigger into the CD box (or maybe he did, I don't know).

It's pretty obvious that we are going to see more of this stuff, and we'll soon move beyond the disposable eye-candy toward something with a longer shelf life. I am hoping for a Rolling Stone AR cover with a band jamming in 3D.

Make Money ($3267.75) With Twitter!

Do you know Shelly Ryan? No? She's that woman who makes $3267.75 EVERY DAY on Twitter. GUARANTEED!

I really should've used an affiliate link on this one -- a 70% cut from the $67 price of whatever it is they are selling ("killer software for getting more traffic than Manhattan at rush hour, mostly at zero cost"). Between this and the Ad Agency in a Box, I would've made millions by now. Millions! Or at least $3267.75.

AdLab's tip: if you submit to the urge to buy the thing just to see what's inside, try closing the browser first, and the site will pop up a window offering a 25% discount.

Sunblock Ad Changes Color When Exposed to Sun

Another example of the message being built into the medium -- a print ad for Sundown sunblock, one half of which changes color when exposed to the sun (see full creative here). If you know how they might have achieved the effect, could you please leave a comment?

Related: When Medium Becomes Part of the Message and Rethinking Print

Data: How Many People Own a Printer

 Source (fragment): Penetration/Ownership of Household Electronics 2007, eMarketer ($-sub)

Never suspected so many people owned a printer -- 83.5% of the US households in 2007.

Where Can I Buy a Webcam?

After finishing the post on augmented reality today, I realized that my webcam could use an upgrade but didn't know where to get one in downtown Boston. You'd expect Google Maps to know such stuff (I did, and tried "where can i buy webcam"), because it knows about other things like sushi restaurants, but it really doesn't. The closest thing was an OfficeMax ad, but Google itself gave me a listing for a Sheraton for some reason.

Yet, Google already "knows":
- my default location (it's the only part it got right).
- that Best Buy, for example, is an electronics store with an address nearby.
- that Best Buy sells webcams.

Room for improvement, I guess.

As for the camera, I did get one. When I saw the OfficeMax ad, I remembered there was one just up the street (score one for AdSense, I thought). I went there, and it actually turned out to be a Staples.

Augmented Reality Is The New Second Life

People have been comparing Twitter to Second Life, but I think "augmented reality" is a more accurate analogy, with most advertisers getting lured by the futuristic wow-factor, riding the hype cycle, and pretty much misunderstanding the potential of the medium. The thing has officially entered the collective industry consciousness, too, now that WSJ picked it up.

It doesn't mean that there aren't any brilliant executions -- I love this Coraline display, for example. But just like marketers three or four years ago would build a pretty deserted Second Life island, congratulate themselves on a job well done and send out a press release, today for many augmented reality means having users print something out, wave it in front of their webcam, and produce some kind of interactive 3D attachment:

Eminem's 3D Art Competition promoting the Relapse album in the UK.

Fun for the first couple of times, but then the law of diminishing marginal utility kicks in. Compare to the much more exciting (and less laborious for the user) Coraline work:

A couple of related things:

-- There's a very prolific aggregator of augmented reality news on Twitter, @augmentedadvert.

-- And a useful number from the WSJ piece: "Although the number of Americans who own a Webcam is increasing rapidly because most new laptops come with the device, only about 18% of the nation's 68.5 million broadband households had one as of April, according to Parks Associates, a research firm.

Emerging Media in 1930s

Raided the Modern Mechanix site to see what advertising media were budding in the 1930s.

1931: Someone had a great idea to put ads in the middle of  Newton color disks (like these). Notice the combination of "high school science classes" and "package of cigarettes".

1933: Sales robots!  Some guy hid phonographs behind  cut-out cardboard dummies. Guess nobody could tell the difference anyway.

1934: Wow, something like this passes for emerging media even today. Person standing in front of a mirror triggers light that illuminates an ad layer behind the mirror's surface.

1936: Advertising mirror, perfected. Now with a phonograph record triggered by a light sensor.

Transmedia, Electric Skin, Old Books and Soviet Food

-- Turn your skin into an interface with conductive ink (+ a really cool photo in Telegraph).

-- Jeff Gomez (founder of Starlight Runner) is the writer of "origin myths" behind some large brand narratives, including the Coke Hapinnes Factory.

-- Google TV Ads people are trying to predict what ads to show to what audience, and are sharing some numbers. "Coke is considering using the characters in comic books, video games, and a slew of new ads." (Business Week)

-- Some 50 old ad books that are still fresh today, scanned and freely available over at Duke Uni's digital archives. The snippet above is from Advertising Sermons.

-- For packaging and retro-ad lovers, lots of rather accurate posters of Soviet food.

-- I've got to post a link to this post just for its title: "3D Printing and Self Replicating Machines In Your Living Room - Seriously!"

-- Why ad agencies need "labs".

LinkWithin Shows Related Posts, Drives Page Views

A shout-out to a great service from LinkWithin, the makers of the widget that shows posts related to the one you are currently reading on the blog (first noticed over at Stephanie's). Unlike other similar automated recommenders, this one is visual and fairly accurate. And yes, the page views go up as a result.  Now, if only they had a vertical format and a way to get the widget stuffed into the RSS feed.

Future Has a Loading Screen

Thinking of the big things while overlooking small stuff is one of those common mistakes people make when they try to imagine the future, like an old sci-fi movie I saw that had anti-gravity thingies that could be summoned using a rotary phone. The loading screen on Intel's new "Sponsors of Tomorrow" campaign is similarly out of character (more about the campaign).Technologizer notices a similar problem where the campaign paints the future of the NYTimes by simply changing the paper's logo and adding stories about "Intergalactic Idol".  Compare with an earlier similarly-themed campaign by Magazine Publishers of America.

Loading Screen Design and Advertising on Loading Screens

Kodak Moment for McDonald's Billboard

image source

A very interesting billboard from McDonald's in London that is designed to fit into the picture-taking behaviors of tourists. Work by Shiny Red Leo Burnett.

Letters to the Editor

-- A bizarre assortment of billboards by real estate people.

-- Language barrier.  When you read something like "Ad agency responses mirror those of advertisers", what do you think this means: that agency responses are the same as advertiser? Or that they are completely opposite? Like, you know, your left hand in the mirror is actually the right one?  Anyway, DVRresearch.com emailed to say that people don't get the importance of DVR.

-- One of these people is behind the mannequin:

-- World's most valuable BrandZ100.

-- Stop acting like a sissy and market your company

-- Something about Bango and "accurate mobile analytics data in real-time".

-- Publishers Clearing House has its own ad network. You could become a millionaire!

-- Pitchh.com: "You would agree that for brands, the need today is 'not' necessarily about working with the largest, but the most appropriate partner; located anywhere in the world."

College Freshman Starts Ad Biz, Needs Advice

Evan Savar, a college freshman in Vegas, is looking for advice about his out-of-home ad biz:  what should he do to get noticed by media buyers? If you've got a tip for him, leave it in the comments or get in touch with Evan directly on LinkedIn. Evan's letter follows.

I have created a company in Vegas called TransVertise. I got the idea when i went inside a Vegas shuttle bus and saw a TV that was not being used. I did some research and came to the conclusion that none of the Vegas vehicles utilize their TVs. So I created a horrible slide show video presentation, which has since became very well done, and began to make agreements with limos and shuttle bus companies to allow me to own the rights to their TV's and play the videos. I get advertisers and give them 25 percent of the revenue the ads generate

I currently own the rights 300 vehicles that go from the Las Vegas airport to down town and will reach over 175,000 captivated Las Vegas tourists a month. I am finalizing all the contracts /production of the videos/ as well as our advertisers packet. Our goal launch is in 2 months. Only problem is getting advertisers. I am having a hard time due to very little experience and knowledge. Over the past 6 months I have worked very hard to build my business, from relationships with all the limo/ shuttle bus companies to building all the systems ( equipment for the buses to track so we can make sure ads are being played, deal with number one production company in Vegas, and figuring out pay scale) I have received interest from a lot of people but can't seem to find advertisers.... Any ideas? Do you think what I have is an asset? http://transvertise.com/

I believe out of home digital marketing is a growing trend. My goals is to eventually install TV's in the Vegas vehicles that don't have them and expand to other tourist locations all over the country. I would also like to have our custom branded advertising in Rental Car buses such as Budget etc... Small steps first.

Jeff Goodby Wants to Be Your Friend

Spring cleaning of my ancient Hotmail account produced this "Jeff Goodby Added You as a Friend" letter that took me here. I know I'm like half a year late to the party, but I thought it was pretty neat.