Advertising on Flies

Advertising on flies, courtesy of Adland. Somewhere, a channel planner is smiling. These guys haul mini-banners, but you can also paint your brand directly on them, or laser-etch your USP

Study: Human Avatars Are Better Salesmen

Furries need not apply

In what seems like ages ago, in June 2006,  Harvard Business Review made a huge splash by running a piece on avatar-based marketing (there was even an in-world panel): "The avatar, though, arguably represents a distinctly different “shadow” consumer, one able to influence its creator’s purchase of real-world products and conceivably make its own real-world purchases in the virtual world. At the least, it may offer insights into its creator’s hidden tastes."

Just as I thought everyone's mostly forgotten about Second Life by now, I found this study by two Boston College researchers who recently published a paper on the effectiveness of avatar spokespeople. Their conclusion: "The participants perceive human-like spokes-avatars as more attractive, and players who interact with a human-like spokes-avatar perceive the iPhone advertisement as more informative than those who interact with a non-human spokes-avatar."

The entire Journal of Interactive Advertising is full of cool topics like this; too bad all their stuff is written in that kind of language that takes hours for us layfolk to decipher.

Video Advertising from Armpits

Just as you think there's nothing left to blog about, a friend sends you this. And this is a deodorant company sending out street teams with small TVs sewn into their armpits. The dream of Smell-o-Vision has finally come true.
- via CherryFlava

Update:  R/GA: "I pray the Charmin people don't see this." 

What We Know About Ad Skipping

I've posted a lot about ad skipping in the past here on AdLab, and now we've compiled a lot of different ad avoidance stats on Hill Holliday's blog, plus a bunch of old ads that promote products that help people skip ads (irony alert!). Above: an ad for Mazda that was designed for  people who liked to record their shows on VCRs and fast-forwarded through the commercial breaks.

Billboards That Give

I really like the idea of billboards that let people take something with them, like this Kenzo billboard with poppies. It's a good way to make them bookmarkable, to extend their shelf life. Here are a few more billboards that give blankets, samples, and a life raft.

Business Card Display

This rotating display by a bank that showcases business cards of its small-business customers is something they need to install at the conferences, ideally with a dispenser. Maybe something like adpockets, or these displays, or maybe even a vending machine. Something.

AdLab attended many conferences and came back with suggestions on designing usable conferencesconference badges, and conference websites.

Advertising on School Exams

This beats those report cards sponsored by McD's. A calculus teacher whose school's budget cuts left him short on money for copying expenses started selling ad space on exams. In a few days, he got 75 requests. "His semester final is sold out." Price list: $10 for a quiz; $20 - chapter test. The final goes for $30. That company in the picture -- I think it's these guys.

-- USA Today (2008), via

Send SMS to Complete This Ad

This Axe ad from Uruguay is the best mobile "send SMS and get something" implementation I've seen. Send a text message after dark to a phone number listed on the ad, and you'll get the missing fragment of the picture. Good teaser, meaningful payback. Very smart.

Unlock Wall Street Journal Articles With Google

Among many other things I don't understand about the newspapers', and News Corp's in particular, handwringing over Google is this. Wall Street Journal's managing editor says that Google turns people into content sluts because they expect online stuff for free (no, I don't understand the slut-free connection either). Now, the simple antidote against your pages being indexed by search engines is a robots.txt file, but whatever. What I don't understand is why WSJ's articles that are otherwise behind a paywall are unlocked when you arrive to them through a link on Google.

Take a random article from today, say, this piece about BSkyB's financial results. You click on the link to the article on the Business section's homepage, and predictably hit the subscription jar.

You then copy the headline and paste it into Google's search field:

Click on the link that is likely to come up on the top, and -- magic! -- the entire article is yours to read.

The only difference between the two is that the free one has "?mod=googlenews_wsj" appended to its URL. Now, tacking it onto the URLs of other articles produces mixed results (wouldn't an unlocking bookmarklet be neat?), but searching with Google has worked for all other dozen random articles I tried. Someone else has reported that WSJ tries on occasions to obscure the text with an overlay, but I haven't seen that.

So yes, while I'm not complaining, I can't understand what WSJ is doing either.

VW To Launch New Model with iPhone Advergame

AdLab's intrepid editor driving against traffic towards advertising future.

AdAge today: "Volkswagen of America is launching the newest-generation GTI exclusively on an iPhone app." The entire launch budget for the new model is estimated $500K instead of the customary $60M, since the game is the only thing VW is doing. Fail or win, this is bound to end up in everyone's PowerPoint decks, so I went in to take a few pictures as a matter of public service.

(Read on)

Apple Files Patent for OS Advertising

Hi, I'm a Mac, and this is the message from my sponsor.

Steve Jobs is the inventor of OS advertising, according to the patent application #20090265214 "Advertisement in Operating System" submitted today: "Ad advertisement presentation may occupy the entire screen so as to prevent the user from engaging in any desktop activities. To verify user presence during the presentation of the advertisement, in some implementations, a message maybe populated, on a schedule or random basis, which may require user action or confirmation. As an example, a message may be populated which may require a user to click on the message within three seconds."

Love the UI mock-up.

--via via

Massive: "Gamers Like Ads"

GM of Microsoft's Massive: "Our research indicates that most gamers like advertising in the game because it adds to the realism. Imagine playing a Major League Baseball game with no ads behind home plate, next to the scoreboard or on the outfield wall - not very realistic. Now imagine the outfield with up-to-the-minute ads you just saw on television or read in a newspaper - the latest movie release, television show, or a new car model. That is much more realistic."

Funny. But the part about realism is tired. Games are not about realism, games are about immersion and suspense of disbelief, and that should be the benchmark -- whether the ads disrupt the immersive experience.

An interesting comment by a reader of a related ARS article:  "In non-sports games, that's only true if you see both competitors ads. It'd be unrealistic to only see coke ads, and no pepsi ads. It'd be unrealistic to only see mcdonalds in a virtual new york and no burger king. 

Yota Brands Russian Alphabet

Russian WiMAX provider Yota turned every single letter "ะน" (pronounced like "y" in yota) in this news article into a branded hyperlink to its site, kind of like what BMW did on Yahoo years ago.

Subliminal Pokemon: Leo Burnett Is the Devil

This is the best explanation I could find for this very subliminal backwards message in a Pokemon episode that says "Leo Burnett and 4Kids are the devil". Amusingly, it was on my list of suggested videos on YouTube.

Storyboards For the Coke GTA Spot

Am I the last one to find these W+K's storyboards for the famous Coke's Video Game spot, better known as the Coke GTA commercial? They have been sitting there in a nice neat pdf since 2006, when the spot first ran in theaters.  You'll see that the spot is missing the final scene from the storyboards, probably to the better.

Gmail Adds Widgets to Sponsored Mail

Gmail is already becoming Wave-y as it adds interactive widgets: "If you're subscribed to receive email from certain senders, the messages you receive from them will be enhanced with an interactive gadget that has up-to-date content from their website (you'll also see an icon in your inbox identifying these messages)." Netflix is one of these "certain senders" (mail received by, the other one is apparently Babycenter, so I subscribed and am waiting for my copy.

Photoshop for iPhone, and a Parody Video

File it under "life imitates a YouTube video".  Two years before Adobe announced Photoshop for iPhone (which was today), it had created a parody video to introduce John Loiacono, SVP of Adobe Creative Solutions Business Unit.

Free In-Game Advertising Webinar Series

Re-posting the announcement I received from the organizers:

On Wednesday, the MarketKey In-game Advertising Webinar Series kicks off. The series consists of seven sessions throughout October and is free to attend.

Speaking companies include Microsoft Advertising, TNS, IGA Worldwide, Interpret and Linden Lab. The webinars will cover:

1. Demographics, facts and figures – an introduction to the gaming market and in-game advertising
2. Player engagement – they may be playing the game but are they seeing the ad?
3. In-game advertising case study - lead by Microsoft Advertising
4. In-game advertising case study - see how Puma has been integrated into Football Superstars
5. In World Advertising – the potential of virtual worlds for brands and advertisers
6. Advergames and casual games – the power of bespoke branded games
7. The Future of Game Advertising – where will we be in 2 years from now and how will brands develop their multimedia presence?

Register here.

Google Wave and Advertising

Google Wave is too pristine: a couple of mentions of advertising among largely unrelated public waves, hardly a single search result for "branding". But despair not, we've got you covered with plenty of illustrated ideas on how to bake ads into this hot new medium.

I really hope Wave takes off; we are way overdue for some innovation in email (that's how I see it, as the next generation of email). But I also see how it can easily remain a marginalized medium akin to newsreaders, or become a 5-9 tool like Outlook with its calendar, to-do lists and other features that only are rarely used after you've checked out for the day.

New Digg Ads Spotted In The Wild

Matt Hames spotted an ad for a t-shirt on Digg served in a new format announced a few months ago. I hurried to Digg to see for myself, but the ad was gone and it didn't pop up in the site search; all I found was this cached version of a page. The ad looks like any other Digg headline, complete with a Digg counter and a thumb-up and bury buttons. Comments are missing, unfortunately, and so are the metadata such as the name of the submitter and the time stamp -- a missed opportunity for a Digg advertiser become a part of the site's community instead of a faceless entity that plasters ads, however likeable.

Wonder if you can see if a user has dugg a particular ad.

The company's "chief revenue officer" has blogged about it, if you would like to leave direct feedback.

Entertainment Weekly Issue With Video On Ebay

That Entertainment Weekly Sept 18th issue with a video insert that went out to subscribers in only two markets? You can pick your copy on eBay for over $100 apiece, and as of this writing, there are only four available. Crazy. Please share your impressions in a comment if you have actually seen the magazine.