Thursday, December 25, 2008

DailyLit: When advertising is worth it

I like books. I like to read. I like to learn and think about new things. Once I was able to get audiobooks onto my phone, I finally had books with me whenever I was able to squeeze in a few more minutes of reading time. But the interface on my phone is sooooo bad for fastforwarding, that it really only makes sense when I have a larger chunk of time to listen.

So comes in DailyLit. They have a bunch of books which they can send you in byte-size (heh) chunks via email or RSS, at your schedule, under your easy-to-manage guidance. Only problem is that most of their books that I'd want to read you have to pay for.

Comes in advertising. What a great potential, as long as they do it right. They know what the book is about, and it's reasonable to assume that if I'm reading the book it's because I'm interested in those topics. So as long as they limit the ads, and make them relevant and quality, then I'd gladly accept ads in lieu of paying for the books. This is one of the few places that I've seen that ads would be mostly welcome.

What do you think?

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

A Whopper of a Flummox

Cute idea, I think. But I'm not sure I'm glad they followed through with it. And then to hear how they flummoxed the whole online thing, well, as a net-head, I'm somewhat shocked, almost even appalled.

I'm writing of course about the infamous Whopper Virginssssss campaign. The idea was to do a burger taste test with people who had never had neither Whopper nor Big Mac. A taste test, in fact, with people who had never even heard of a 'hamburger'. So called 'Whopper Virgins'.

Coming from a background in usability and research, I think the idea of doing a taste test with such a 'pure' subject pool is at least cute. And while the experimental setup may have been a tad flawed (e.g. they had a portable Whopper grill, but nothing similar for a Big Mac, and from the video it did not appear all comparisons were made with comparable sandwiches), the testing was done via a presumably (it was sponsored by Burger King) impartial independent group. All in all, cute. But I have two 'buts'.

My first big but is that, while their test may be pure, they have now poisoned (in a number of ways) some previously less-tainted peoples. While there was some gastrio-cultural exchange, I doubt the 'virgins' got the better end of the deal.

My second big but is that, according to yet another good article by AdAge, Burger King blew the internetation of the campaign. For instance, search for 'Whopper Virgin' (sans 's'), and no Burger King turns up in the results. Indeed they report that the number of searches for Whopper Virgins and Whopper Virgin where just about equal. That means that half the folks had problems finding the supposedly viral campaign - just because of a single letter.

Well, what do you think?

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Girl Power

Ok, this is not my typical post. I suppose this could be called an ad, an ad for change, an ad about change. It's an ad about changing the world by supporting an individual in a poor town. Give them some money, they buy a cow, the cow becomes a herd, the girl helps the village, the village helps the country, and so on.

I liked this because of the message, indeed, but also because of the very simplicity of the ad - just some kinetic text. Nice ad indeed.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Your brand, our brand, firebrand

People like to talk about what they like. That can often mean lots of free positive publicity for products.

Take the Harry Potter phenomenon for instance. Millions of books sold, billions of dollars earned, and I have no idea how many fan sites and secondary products. People of all ages love to read, watch, think about, and talk about the story, its characters, and its themes. You'd think that would be a great thing for J.K. Rowling and Warner Brothers. Oddly, it isn't always, at least not when you take a fan site and put it into print.

Earlier this year Rowling and WB took a middle school librarian and his publisher to court over his plans to publish the contents of a Harry Potter fan site. Why? According to Rowling, the book preempts a book she intends to publish.

Come on JK. If I understand right, the material already exists on the fan site. You even praised the fan site. And you haven't even written the book yet. Are you going to take down the site too?

Take it a step further. Can I teach a creative writing course, and have the students rewrite the story based on the characters, and then publish it? What if some of the rewrites are similar to an idea the author may have had? Who owns the concept of the characters? Isn't art in the eye of the consumer?

Me, I'd say let them publish it, or better, JK could dialogue with the author(s), create synergy with her own ideas, and make something much better together. To paraphrase my father, the guru of fun, isn't the power of the one so much greater when it is at one with the power of the many?

(read more about the legal battle on copyright infringement)

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Viral interactive chickens

When does a chicken become viral? Not disease-viral, I mean massive views viral. Burger King recently put out an interactive ad featuring a chicken that understands natural (human) language.

Ok, it's kind of funny, kind of cute, and then quickly, kind of annoying. But don't let me bias you - what do you think?

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Super markets for the elderly

Yes, supermarket is one word. But when you reposition your supermarket to service the needs for a special group, I might call it just Super. Take the Lawson market in Japan. The whole store was designed for the elderly - softer colors, aisles and shelves designed for easy access, particularly for wheel chairs, and a special lounge for those who can't stand to shop that long. And it all makes sense, or Yense as the case may be - more than 20% of the Japanese population is over 65. So don't just target your products, target your markets to meet the special needs of your special market.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Product placement does not work

The latest 007 movie has over 20 product placements. Apparently, a recent Sylvester Stallone movie had over 100 product placements (more than one a minute). Companies spend a LOT of money (sometimes tens of millions of dollars!) to get their product into a movie. But does it work?

A recent report on AdAge says not only does it not work, it works against the brand. A brain scan of people watching a movie showed that at times, when a product appeared on the screen, it actually gets deleted from the brain.

Hey companies, tell you what, I've got a great service for you: just give one million usd, and I'll promise not to place it in a movie. I now have evidence my campaign will work better than yours!

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

ZunaVision - Simple in-video advertising

Want to earn advertising dollars on your home videos? Ever wanted to replace that picture of your ex in YouTube videos of your living room? Ashutosh Saxena, Siddharth Batra and Andrew Ng at Stanford University have come up with a way to easily embed pictures or videos into an existing video. The result is a way to monetize any video or image on the internet. They also have some good ideas of how to use this for everything from mundane activities like home remodeling to adding sign-language overlays.

I think the application is awesome! Anybody know how I can get a piece of this action?

Having said that, I wonder: won't this lead to a new generation of faked photos, fraudelent news, and just really annoying YouTube experiences? What do you think?

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Capitalism = death

Ok, I'm a capitalist. That is, I believe that people should be allowed to start a business, earn money, and spend it how they see fit. Businesses, too, should be allowed to spend their money as they see fit, for example by offering a great sale on one of the busiest shopping days of the year. But businesses have to keep in mind the dangers of the mob. No, not the mafia, I mean a large set of humans milling around waiting for some meme to take them over, to remove their free will.

Take, for example, Nov. 28 of this year. Take, for example, Wal-Mart. Consider, for example, that they always offer low prices, and Nov. 28 they undoubtedly had a bunch of extra specially low prices and great deals. Hence the mob of over 2000 gathering, even before the doors opened at the extra early hour of 5 in the blessed a.m. This mob is waiting and waiting, it's cold, they're getting impatient. They start chanting, which can be a good thing, but not in this case: "push the doors in," they say.

The workers, sensing impending nuttiness, form a human chain to slow the mob down. Then the mob starts pushing. Someone apparently removes the hinges of the doors, others smash and crash. Then the flood....

And poor 34-year-old Jdimytai Damour became a victim of capitalism, a martyr to low prices. Trampled to death by the very people he awoke so early to serve. Okay, being pushed down is terrible. But if you notice you're stepping on someone, wouldn't you stop to pick them up, even if it meant you'd miss the 50% off sale on diapers? Why did money make these people stop acting human?!?!

Not that that isn't terrible, but what really gets me is the postscript in the article on this consumer craziness, is that, although the customers were told to leave after Jdimytai was killed, they felt miffed since they had waited so long. So they kept shopping.

Capitalism 1, humanity 0.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

More dialogue - less reaction

Since my previous post on Twitter vs Motrin there has been a considerable amount of backlash about the backlash. As has been pointed out, the majority of the commentary was by relatively few folks, and the majority of that was neutral and perhaps even positive.

So why did Motrin yank the ad so quickly? Was it prudent or just plain wrong? As has been further pointed out, the ad itself had very poor visibility, and pulling it indeed could be a fine way to prevent the issue boiling over. However, the reaction to the ad was actually a very potentially positive pointer to the nerves (pun intended) it was hitting - mom's are in pain, and people do like Motrin, they just didn't like some specific elements of the wording.

Rather than reaction, Motrin could have turned it into a firestorm of pro-mom proactivity. Dialogue with them. Get them to reinvent the wording, have a contest, collect testimonials. Heck, partner with the baby-sling folks to make some joint campaigns. Anything other than a knee-jerk disbanding of the campaign!

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Twitter as anti-ad platform

Motrin knows their customers - people with pain. And they know their subgroups, like baby-toting-moms. What they don't know, apparently, is how to advertise to them. Motrin had an ad campaign targeting moms who carried babies in slings or baby backpacks (why not dads too?!). But they blew it in their text, sounding like moms carry their babies as fashion statements, with first-person statements in their ads like it "Waring your baby is in fashion... [it] totally makes me look like an official mom". Consumers hated it, and Twitter gave them an outlet. In fact, there were so many rants against the Motrin ad machine on Twitter that Motrin halted the campaign.

While I would say Motrin blew it, I must applaud them for listening to their consumers, and keeping their ears on the social media machine. A bad campaign perhaps, but not a total loss. Three cheers for Twitter, and at least one for Motrin.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

BipBip - Reinventing mobile advertising

Recently I came across a neat model for user-controlled advertising. The folks at BipBip* are developing a service (patent pending) where consumers set a wish list of products they want, a maximum price (or minimum discount?) and geographic distance for each product. The mobile alert service will only let through (SMS) ads that meet your criteria.

Sounds to me a bit like the old Priceline concept, with a few nice twists. In particular, not only can you ignore the offer, but they also promise to donate 50% of their advertising revenue to the consumer's charity of choice. That's a nice incentive. Other services try to buy consumers off with cash or discounts - this one goes to the heart. Nice call BipBip - I wish you success!

* If you need a password to see the description, go to the BipBip message posted on the Killer Idea Developers group on LinkedIn

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Giant pinata a bust - big beachball better

Carnival Cruise Lines, which has a very catchy catch-phrase "Fun for all. All for Fun.", tried a new publicity stunt: they built the world's largest (I mean, Guinness Book of Records big) pinata, and filled it with 8000 pounds of candy. They were all set to bust it up with a wrecking ball for the thousands of onlookers, until the police came and halted it. Why? They were concerned how the crowd would react to all that candy. A successful publicity stunt for sure, but what a bummer of an ending!

Not to be totally turned off, they turned their attention to something softer - the world's biggest beach balls. This time, the police not only didn't stop them, rather they pulled out their cell phones and started taking pictures.

Kudos to Carnival Cruise Lines for advertising via fun!

(click to learn more about the advertising event)

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Taking ads to the cleaners

Seems like advertising is everywhere. Now it's reaching even further - into your closet. And it's green. 3.5 billion wire hangers get thrown out every year! Instead the Eco Hangers from the Hanger Network are made out of recycled paper. And being paper, it is easy to print ads on them. Distribution is through dry cleaners and hotels, which get them for free, effectively replacing all those billions (again with the !) of wire hangars, and importantly making it possible to reasonably target certain demographics. Seems like everyone is a winner.

(learn more about the Eco Hangar advertising)

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Mass microtargeting

One take away from the 2008 US elections - talking to your consumers is powerful. The Recent media introspection confirms over and over that Obama won due to his "nearly flawless" media campaign. It is reported that he has a database of over 3 million voters, with whom he communicates directly, including an SMS or email right before his acceptance speech. Think: whenever he has a question or wants to take a poll or wants to push his opinion on the public - just send an email directly to every supporter. Cheap, fast, effective.

That's power. Power to the people, with the people, and for the President-elect. Read more.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Every name an ad

You've seen it before - people using login names that are actually ads. Names like SEOMaster, TaxPrepGuy, and JavaGuru - pretty easy to tell what they do and what they are trying to sell, and you might click on them just because of their name. It's not a name, it's an ad! Another take on this was the recent net meme to give your profile a middle name 'Hussein' - can you guess who they were voting for?

Recently there was an article in mediabistro about a coffee shop that had had it with freeloading students. Students would just hang out without buying anything, not even glancing at the menu, just to use the free wifi. The answer: change the name of your wifi, frequently, from merely the name of the shop to an ad, such as "OrderAnotherCoffeeAlready" and "HaveYouTriedTheCarrotCake" and even "Mmm,,,YummyMuffinsOnly1,99". As a consumer, I would be amused. I might even be tempted to buy something.

A name is just a name.... unless it's an ad!

Sunday, November 9, 2008

More content and more ads

MTV and MySpace have penned a deal to allow copyrighted MTV videos to be posted royalty-free on MySpace. The catch: ads. According to an article in AdAge, The Palo Alto based company Auditude has a way of identifying MTV video material, and simply attaches an ad to it, such as an ad to purchase the DVD of the show being posted. No more lawsuits, even for posting entire episodes.

As long as the ads stay relevant, such as buying a DVD of the show in question, I think this is a great move for the industry. Expect to see this on more and more video sites.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Twitter Spam is the first business that I have found to figure out a way to use Twitter for ads. The money model, interspersing ads into your tweet stream, isn't original, but I haven't seen anyone else actually do it yet.

I like the way it gets set up: people set their own keywords, and then get ads based on their use of those keywords in their tweets and the number of followers they have. At regular intervals BeAMagpie will insert a tweet in your stream that all your followers see. Simple enough, and gives control to both the user and the advertiser.

However, I really don't like the idea of forcing others to see ads when there is no opt-in. True, they are always allowed to opt-out by blocking your feed, but then you've both lost a friend.

I'm curious to see how people react to these sorts of streams. I'm guessing it will be successful, but I'm not sure I'm glad.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Who needs advertising? - on online shoe retailer - barely advertises yet has cornered a sizable chunk of their market. How? A blatant, unflinching respect for their customers.

Even more, they respect and value their employees, and in particular their employees' respect for their customers. To quote Creativity-online quoting a Zappos executive:
"We put as much energy in planning and training our employees as other companies do planning their media," says Brian Kalma, director of creative services/brand management. "That allows us to feel more comfortable having every single employee be a direct contact with the customer. Every person is an advertising vehicle; with thousands of phone calls a day, mutiplied by 365, those are a huge amount of touch points with our customers."

A great way to behave towards your employees and customers!

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Ads and free speech

Do you believe in ads? Can they fix your faith? Can someone else advertise against your creed? Apparently it's a question.

I'm big on freedom of speech, and just as aware of the needs to curb it. However it's never easy to say who gets a say. The ad world is clearly not immune. Political ads are a frontrunner in line-walking between getting out a message and beating someone up.

Now the anti-religious world wants to advertise. According to Creativity-online there are those who want to post atheist messages on buses. And it's a legal question. Why? In the US, even the money has a faith-ad embedded in it. And what about Christmas? Has an ad right in its name. Should we ban the holiday, or change its name?

I'm not an atheist, but I can't see any reason to ban their ads. Can you?

Friday, October 31, 2008

HP's social marketing

Recently, HP CMO Mike Mendenhall said:
"All public touch points... now impact our brand, its reputation and its revenue. Brands are not defined today by campaigns but by the consumer ecosystems we nurture to support them."

According to AdAge, HP is the world's largest IT marketer, so what he says should carry significant weight.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Advertising as social storytelling

The paradigm of marketing as a "conversation with consumers" is way older than the internet. Many ads are designed to tell a story, however brief. If all goes well for the marketer, people respond favorably to the ad, and they get a chance to make a second or third episode. There is a feedback loop here, but it is slow and indirect, more a peeping-tom or sentiment-surfing than actual dialogue.

With the rise of social media comes an increased ability for marketers to really make advertising into an open-ended ongoing conversation with consumers. For example, as reported on
"A great case in point is the recent EA spot for their Tiger Woods golf game. Someone had uploaded a video of Tiger walking on water inside the game, presenting it as an embarrassing glitch. EA and its agency (Wieden + Kennedy) looked at this video and decided to enter the conversation. They shot a live-action spot of Tiger actually walking on water and stated that it wasn't a glitch in the game, Tiger is just that good. Then they uploaded it as a response to the original video on YouTube. This is the kind of social interaction that earns you tons of respect in the digital world. That the video went viral to the tune of several million views and also made everyone aware there was a new version of EA's Tiger Woods golf game was almost a side effect."
It isn't the conversation that is viral, it is the awareness and sensitivity to consumers that is so infectous. So, how does a marketer make an ad campaign into a conversation campaign? The article on goes on to give a number of guidelines:
"1. Look at any marketing effort as the beginning of a conversation.
2. Closely monitor the conversation and be ready to respond to consumers.
3. Provide consumers with tools that help them carry on the conversation for you.
4. Leave room for consumers to interact. Make sure your creative universe is big enough that there are unexplored areas.
5. The conversation is over when the consumers say it is, not when the media plan (or the budget) says it is.
6. Listen and learn from the feedback loop."

I might disagree a bit with the wording in number 5. If you find you have a great story with consumer interest that wanes, why not fire it up again with a new episode? But other than that: spot on!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Bad Ad Contest

Look out Ogilvy!

The New Mexico Media Literacy Project is conducting its annual Bad Ad Contest. The goal of the contest is to heighten awareness and skills of teens in analyzing advertising and advertisers. Contest entries deconstruct an ad, in particular the use of persuasion, subtext and stereotyping, and explaining both what’s wrong with the ad, as well as what could have been done better. See last year’s contest winners.

They are also conducting a parallel Counter Ad Contest. Entries provide commentary by modifying or remaking an ad in a more positive or revealing way. They have some examples, like this one:

I like the emphasis on attention to detail, analysis, and creativity. It's a great way to plant the seeds for better ads and better ad consumers.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Don’t Buy It – Advertising smarts for kids

PBS – Thank you. I have loved your shows since . Now I applaud you for your web site.

The other day I saw my kids playing on the Don’t Buy It subsite of Cool stuff. The activities are all about being wise about ads and advertising. Even the banner ads teach about banner ads!

For instance, they give example recipes for food ads, such as the Perfect Burger that includes 100 hamburger buns, 2 cases of lettuce, and superglue, along with pictures of each step.

I also liked the What’s in the shopping bag? activity. There’s a picture of the ad, and you have to figure out what’s really included in the box (hint: no, the Rocket Launcher doesn’t really shoot).

Here’s one more from them:

Can you find the ad in the following picture?
(hint – it cost $40,000,000)
Thumbs up to PBS Kids!

Monday, October 27, 2008

Twitter Ads?

Twitter has a delicious problem on its hand. It needs money, well, at least the investors want money. The problem is that they aren't making any yet. But it's so easy to taste so many ways they could. Their current challenge is to choose one (or so).

What concerns me is the impact their model could have on the consumers. For instance, Jason Calacanis (CEO of Mahalo), posted a few ideas. Two of them, at least, had to do with ads. He opines that people wouldn't mind getting a sponsored tweet every so often. While his final advice to Twitter is spot-on ("An absolute idiot with 10-20M users can make a ton of money. So, get to tens of millions of users and forget about money."), I was left wondering about the "intermittent ad" proposal in general.

Imagine getting a sponsored message every so often in your:
  • Your Twitter feed
  • Your email
  • Your phone calls or answering service
  • Your mail
How often (e.g. every 200 messages, once a day, ...) would you be willing to get a sponsored ad if it kept the service free? In what ways would you be willing to get more ads in exchange for free premium services?

Sunday, October 26, 2008

VRM - It's about the consumer experience

Recently I learned of Doc Searls' ProjectVRM (note: VRM = "Vendor Relationship Management"), which in effect is a continuation of his Cluetrain Manifesto. While the name VRM starts with the Vendor, I see it more as starting with the consumer. Indeed, as they say on their main page:
In a larger sense, VRM immodestly intends to improve markets and their mechanisms by equipping customers to be independent leaders and not just captive followers in their relationships with vendors and other parties on the supply side of the marketplace. [my emphasis]
In short, they want to empower the consumer, which should power the consumer-vendor relationship, which should make everybody happier. The emphasis on the consumer is evident in their (draft) principles, half of which explicitly emphasize improving the consumer's experience with the vendor. To be fair, the other half emphasize the vendor, and Keith Hopper's post explains why VRM is good for businesses, too, but the main emphasis of the project is around the consumer's experience.

Doc claims that ProjectVRM is just a 'development project'. Well, I for one am eager to see it developed!

Friday, October 24, 2008

Tupperware Parties 2.0

Some people really love some products. So why not celebrate?

That's just what is about. They organize a nationwide party around a product, sponsored by the brand. It's a Tupperware party gone Web 2.0. Celebrating the people celebrating the product.

Nice idea.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Passion by the people of the people for the people

On the same day, I read an article about YouTube's increasing advertising arsenal, and watched Michael Wesch's talk about YouTube to the Library of Congress. What struck me most was the contrast of motivations between the boob-tube and YouTube. TV was made by advertisers to sell products - the program was just filler, and the choice of programs was heavily influenced by the advertisers. In contrast, YouTube programming is made by the people (aka consumer), with absolutely no control in the hands of brands.

Indeed, advertising has come to YouTube, but it is still the passion of the people, about the people, and for the people that really gives YouTube the edge.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Reebok Respects Runners

It's no surprise I think advertisers should respect their ad consumers. Forrester has been saying this for some time, in fact. As they report in "Reebok's 'Run Easy' Creates A Movement, Not A Campaign":
Involve your audience in your media plan. You've heard Forrester talk already about "ceding control of your brand to your customer." This example shows where Reebok actually ceded control of what media and what messages they used to the people who were participating in their movement. Reebok's users created valuable marketing tools like running maps, testimonials, images of them and their friends running easy. And Reebok users determined what media Reebok should use. Reebok bought on and offline properties based on how and where their users RAN, not just how they consumed media.
So empowering your ad consumers makes your ad more powerful. We knew, yes?

Monday, October 13, 2008

Good Ads Make People Happier

It's no surprise. People like playing good games better. But now they've proved it, at least with advergames. If you make an advergame that respects both the product and the player, people respond positively. As reported in the Journal of Interactive Advertising:
The analysis reveals a stronger positive relationship between attitude toward the advergame and attitude toward the brand when participants play games with a high thematic connection to the brand's product. (Wise et al.)
So, like really, is anybody surprised?

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Humane marketing

Stumbled onto Joseph Jaffe today, from the Jaffe Juice blog and Crayon. He gives a very nice diatribe against treating customers as anything but human. As he says "Every single customer that reaches out to us deserves a response." Watch it here (9 mins).

Friday, October 10, 2008

The beauty and the ugly

Dove has an amazing focus on 'pro-age'. As they say in at least one ad "because beauty has no age limit." Wonderful focus for a soap. Unfortunately, many of their ads are not appropriate for this blog, but here is one that is just incredible:

Now, one of my reasons for mentioning this ad is that it's honesty and creativity sparked a video response:

What is significant about this parody is that the quality of the Dove video inspired someone to spend so much time and effort to respond. In fact, at the time of this writing, the parody has been watched over 200 thousand times more than the original video. I think this shows the power of Dove's ad campaign, and more importantly, the appreciation of the ad consumer.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Advergame Review: Chunga

Kit Kat AdvergameSome Advergames are notable for their intrinsic use of the brand or product. But does that mean the consumer will have a better experience?

I tried out the popular Chunga. It's a nice take on the classic game of Jenga, using Kit Kat bars instead. It's nice that it respects the intrinsic bar-ness of Kit Kats, and the friction-feel of Jenga. However, some of the control is a bit rough, and although I liked the self-poking comedic aspect, it got old real fast.

Overall, I'd say it's worth a try for those interested in Advergames, because of its intrinsic-ness. Those looking for a good game, however, try elsewhere.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Advergame Review: Rooftop

Coca Cola Zero AdvergameThe advergame Coke Zero Rooftop surprised me in several ways:
  • there was a game to play while the game was loading,
  • the game play was compelling and simple, though it took a few tries to master
  • the best use of smoke and rain I have seen in a game
  • incentives to try again (try "twelve")
Overall, I found the game pleasant to play, and respectful of the player and the product.
Good job!

Monday, October 6, 2008

People Pixel Ads

Some ads use people as pixels, often with amazing results. Look at this enlargement of the picture on the left.

Here are some nice video ad examples:
Audience as beer
A very big ad

See also my adconsumer delicious feed and look for the label "peoplepixel"

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Green Makes Green

Performics published a brief article on a study by DoubleClick concerning the impact of green advertising on a company's bottom line. I have not read the original report, but here are some important quotations from the Perfomics article:
“Not only are consumers interested in green products and companies, our survey shows that nearly half of them will pay at least five percent more for them,” said Stuart Larkins, senior vice president of search at DoubleClick Performics.
Not only are they willing to pay more to be green, green also goes viral, as they quoted:
“Recommendations continue to drive sales,” said Larkins. “We also found that a majority of online consumers would recommend an environmentally-conscious company to friends and family.”
So you advertisers out there, get the message: green makes green!
And for all: check out my delicious feed and look for ads tagged 'green'. Have another one to recommend? Please let me know!

Friday, October 3, 2008

Ads That Give

Energy producers and car manufacturers have been touting the importance of going green for years. They spend millions of dollars on high-production ad campaigns. But they're out to sell a product.

There are a lot of powerful ads that sell messages, instead of products. Messages about positive change in the world, messages like child abuse, hunger, and homelessness. The companies making the ads, such as Salvation Army and United Way, benefit in two ways: changing the world and improved brand recognition and consumer trust.

Look for the 'nonprofit' label in my ad feed for examples. Below are a few of the cooler ones I have found:
I'm always looking for more... (hint hint)

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Interactive online advertising

In addition to advergaming, there are other ways of making ads more interactive. As a leading example, consider Qoof. The company's mission statement claims:
"Qoof is the first video commerce platform that maximizes the commerce potential of online video through a unique networking service that matches e-Tailer videos with web publishing channels."

Here is an example of their widget:

Monday, September 29, 2008

Ads for Israel

I live in Israel. What a wonderful country - full of spirit, spirituality and beauty. Of course I'd want others to know about it. Ads4Israel does just that, through ads, for example:

There must be a lot of non-profit ad campaigns out there for things you believe in. Know some?

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Green Ads

I dig the world. I like nature and lush green places. I think there is a lot we all could do, without much cost or effort, to give the world a bit more greenness.

It is for this reason that I, with pleasure and applause, make known some green advertising networks. Please make use of them! For example:
I also found these sites that list a bunch of Earth-friendly ads:
I also found this post talking about the effectiveness of green advertising. They state that over a third of consumers recall ads with 'green messaging'. At the same time, however, the study also shows that over a fifth of consumers doubt the real greenth of the claim of the ad.

On that note, I recommend this post for anyone concerned about people making false green ads, and or for the really concerned.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Social hack

Networks for online advertising have to take extreme caution to prevent fraud, such as to prevent a website owner from just repeatedly clicking on his own ads to increase income. Google, for instance, will instantly turn off ad income to any site it even suspects of fraud. It is for this reason that some blog advice pages recommend blog owners NEVER click on their own ads.

Google doesn't even care whether it is the owner or someone else doing the repeated clicking type of thing. As a result, this opens up the world of social hacking. It is possible to cut off someone's income by merely going to their site and clicking on the ads a bunch of times, or writing a simple script to do just that. Evil. Low-minded techno-economic warfare.

Know of any other social hacks? Let me know!

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Context-insensitive ads

AdSense has a lot of cool aspects to it, such as openness to even the smallest blog and some amount of customizability. AdSense ads are context-sensitive, based on what Google knows about the page, and thus supposed to be relevant to the consumer visiting the page. However, context sensitivity is not enough to ensure the ads are appropriate.
Any completely automated system just follow rules. Consider the following ill-advised or just plain wrong ad placements:
  • Tummy flattening ads for a site on pregnancy
  • Snake ads on a Monty Python site
  • Gun sales on a site about the ten-most-wanted criminal watch
  • Similarly, babysitting services on a site about child porn or pedophilia
  • Coke ads on a page about plant life extinction ("Coke adds life", don't you know?)
That being said, I bet there's a lot of interesting, even appropriate, placements that the advertisers wouldn't have thought of that AdSense might. Can anybody think of some? Or have you seen a bad ad placement? Please let me know!

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Consumer experience

Over the past 15 years or so, I have had a lot of experience thinking about user experience (UX or UE). In brief, experience engineering has to do with the user’s entire experience with the product: how it is perceived, how it is used, how it is adopted, adapted and abandoned. This blog is about the ad consumer experience, which merely means how the person consuming an ad (the 'user') relates to the ad - how they perceive it, how they figure it out, how they use it, and so on. The image to the left from Peter Morville gives one way of breaking down the field in the context of information architecture. There is a lot on the subject, such as these articles on Experience Design, Human Factors and Usability Engineering. Classics in this area also include the Nielsen Norman Group and the US government site on Usability.

But, does anybody know any sites dealing directly with the ad consumer experience? There are plenty of one-off articles, like this one, that are good but could stand some solid grounding in UX. There has to be more out there... any one?

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Cool Ads

As much as advergames can be fun, some advertising is just plain cool - consumer entertainment at it's best. Here are a few awesome ads - the kind you wish you had made.

I applaud the advertisers and ad directors for sharing their imagination.
Please send me more!

Monday, September 22, 2008


Advergames combine marketing with fun. The best advergames value the consumers, as well as the product being advertised.
"It's an amazing feat of game design, really, when you can make a commercially-supported game that respects its players - offering genuine invitations to play, and yet clearly inviting the player to think about the product or company sponsoring the whole experience." (Bernie DeKoven, First MajorFun Award for Best Advergame)
The appeal of advergames to advertisers is the extended attentive effort people willingly pay to the advertising. That is, they think about the advertised products more, and build a more positive association with the product.

There are also those ads called coupongames, which provide financial incentives to the players, typically in the form of discounts on products or services. For the consumer, it really pays to play. The downside of such incentives is that they are extrinsic rewards which can remove the consumer's attention from the game to the goal; from the product to a focus on the reward, and on winning.

A notable side effect is that such rewards actually make people stop playing. Once they have won, such as getting a $100 discount on new solar roofing, why would someone play again? The upside is that they have the coupon, which hooks them on the product, and makes them more likely to tell others about both the discount and the game.

For those interested, here are a few catalogs of advergames:
Found a good advergame or resource? Please let me know!

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Hello world

Advertising is a part of our life – annoying at times, indeed, but at times cool, fun and even funny.

This blog looks at advertising from the perspective of the consumer. I’ll give examples of good ads and bad ads, both on and offline, with a particular focus on online interactive advertising technology.

Above all, I hope this blog inspires better ads, and a better ad consumer experience.