Tuesday, December 28, 2010

The Top Ten Tech Trends from 2010

(CNN) -- Did the tech news ever stop this year?

In January, the world met a gadget called the iPad. In late December, federal regulators implemented groundbreaking rules for how the internet works.

In between, there were smarter phones, video games that make you actually stand up and do something and ... oh, yeah ... a little Web site called Facebook signed up a few more users.

Here, in no particular order, are 10 of the top tech stories and trends we'll remember from 2010.

The iPad and the rise of the tablets

When the new year dawned, almost no one in the world knew what an iPad was.

Outside of the techno-geek community, few had even heard of tablet computers -- the hybrid, missing link between smartphones and laptops.

Then in late January, that all changed. With theunveiling of Apple's much-anticipated tablet computer, Apple didn't invent tablet computing. But the gang from Cupertino, California, certainly pushed it into the mainstream.

Now, 13 million or so sales later, the Apple gadget is at the top of the list of gadgets that children 6 to 12 want to see under the tree this year, according to Nielsen research.

And it's starting to get some company.

In a field of tablets running Google's Android operating system, the Samsung Galaxy has emerged as the iPad's chief rival. Early this month, Samsung said that the tab had sold 1 million units since its launch in October.

And Research In Motion, the makers of BlackBerry, plan to join the battle early next year with the Playbook, which they're already touting as being more efficient than the iPad.

Tablets don't have the computing heft of slightly larger laptops or the pocket-size storage of a smartphone. But their video, gaming, Web-surfing and media-consumption abilities are capturing a big audience and it's a safe bet they're here to stay.

We are Facebook; resistance is futile

A major Hollywood movie. A Time magazine "Person of the Year" nod for its CEO. And a half-billion users, more or less.

Oh yeah ... and it passed Google to become the Web's most-visited site.

Facebook passed Google this year to become the Web's most-visited site.
Facebook passed Google this year to become the Web's most-visited site.

If Facebook was already a force of internet nature on New Year's Day, it became a phenomenon unmatched in Web history in 2010.

The rise of Facebook was the subject of Aaron Sorkin's "The Social Network," which has grossed more than $90 million. It also was a key element of the lesser-known, but arguably more intriguing, "Catfish."

Some tech bloggers predicted the unflinching and often-fictionalized movie would hurt founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg's reputation. Instead, he seems to have been catapulted to an even higher level of celebrity.

Of course the billions of dollars he's donating to charity didn't hurt. In September, Zuckerberg -- who, at 26, has an estimated net worth of $6.9 billion -- pledged $100 million to Newark, New Jersey, schools. Then he trumped that this month with a pledge to donate more than half his wealth to charities during, or after, his lifetime.

But personalities aside, the site itself continued to integrate itself into everyday life. E-mail continued to wane because of Facebook messaging, which included a new ramped-up system. And the way we relate to each other has probably been changed forever. (Hey, when a pastor is telling his entire congregation to quit you, you know you've arrived.)

Check in, turn on, go out

In 2009, the concept of mobile check-in apps was just emerging. In 2010, it took off.

Growing with the rising number of smartphones, social apps such as Foursquare and Gowalla creeped out of the tiny cloister of the tech elite and into the mainstream.

"Check-in" mobile apps went to another level in 2010.
"Check-in" mobile apps went to another level in 2010.

Foursquare, which has emerged as the leader in the field, saw dramatic growth in 2010. In March, Foursquare CEO Dennis Crowley celebrated the app hitting the half-million-user mark.

This month, it surpassed 5 million.

Networking giant Facebook liked what it saw. In August, they launched Facebook Places, a similar check-in feature.

The concept of checking in at bars, restaurants and other spots appeals mainly to a young, social crowd, and, in the minds of some, raises privacy concerns.

But a spate of apps for homebodies followed in 2010. Mobile apps such as GetGlue, Miso and Philo let users check in to TV shows, movies, books and other entertainment, earning virtual and sometimes real-word rewards along the way.

Other apps offer similar rewards for visiting websites, meaning users don't have to leave their desks to play.

According to Crowley, one of the goals of such apps is to turn the whole world into a game. Most Web users haven't signed on yet, but the number of those who have keeps on growing.

Look, Ma! No hands!

The way we play video games began what could be a seismic shift in 2010. And there were no paddles or joysticks involved.

Microsoft's Kinect system for the Xbox 360 took the greatest leap forward. Rolled out at the E3 video-game expo in June, the Kinect is totally hands-free, using a camera to read the player's movements and incorporate them in the game.

Microsoft's Kinect system uses a camera to read the player's movements and incorporate them into the game.
Microsoft's Kinect system uses a camera to read the player's movements and incorporate them into the game.

From tickling tiger cubs to controlling Harry Potter, Kinect gets gamers off the sofa and immersing themselves in their game worlds. Apparently, it's catching on.

The Kinect system sold 2.5 million units in its first month on shelves and is on pace to sell 5 million by the end of the holiday season, Microsoft said.

Not to be outdone, Sony rolled out its Move system for the PlayStation 3.

Utilizing remote controllers that look a bit like glowing ice-cream cones, Move isn't quite hands-free, but boasts what developers say is superior motion-sensing.

And then there's Nintendo. The pioneers of motion-based gaming stood pat on the hardware this year, but pressed its early advantage by rolling out more complex, fully-imagined games such as "Metroid: Other M," "Disney: Epic Mickey" and "GoldenEye 007."

Watching the Web on TV

Tech-savvy couch potatoes have been rigging their networks to push Web content onto their televisions for a while.

But in 2010, some of the biggest names in technology, as well as some savvy upstarts, got into the Web TV game in a big way.

At the front of the pack? Google and Apple.

Google TV launched this year and struck deals with HBO, Pandora and Netflix.
Google TV launched this year and struck deals with HBO, Pandora and Netflix.

Apple TV was launched in 2007, but it mostly languished until it got a reboot and a major price cut in September. In addition to Netflix integration, the system lets users buy TV shows for 99 cents each.

Google has promised a similar system -- optimizing Web sites for TV and striking deals with the likes of HBO, Pandora and Netflix. Google TV has hit some snags. Several major networks aren't playing along, and The New York Times recently reported that it needs more time than expected to work on software.

Meanwhile, companies such as Roku and Boxee are offering similar devices, suggesting that Web TV, in one form or another, is here to stay.

The saga of the iPhone 4

Oh, iPhone 4. Rarely has the launch of a gadget provided more suspense or entertainment than Apple's June unveiling of the latest in its popular smartphone line.

First things first. The phone has been a hit, selling millions of units.

But not without some drama.

First, there was the riveting saga of the beer-hall iPhone. After an Apple employee reportedly left a prototype, disguised as an iPhone 3GS, at a California beer garden in April, someone snagged it.

The iPhone 4 was unveiled in June, but there were some complaints about its reception strength.
The iPhone 4 was unveiled in June, but there were some complaints about its reception strength.

Then, tech blog Gizmodo paid $5,000 to get its hands on it and published an article and video under the headline, "This is Apple's new iPhone."

Police raids, bitter recriminations and the phone's eventual return followed. And that was all before the thing was even released.

Perhaps the most unkind cut came when Consumer Reports, which declined to recommend the phone because of the reception, suggested slapping a piece of duct tape onto the sleek and shiny piece of tech.

Apple, with CEO Steve Jobs as point person, denied there was a major problem with the reception, even during a subsequent news conference where they offered free cases to cover up the spot where a "death grip" caused the phone's signal to weaken.

Over time and a handful of software updates, the complaints faded and talk of the iPhone 4 turned to features such as its FaceTime video chat, high-resolution screen and ultrathin design.

But it was a wild ride.

Escalation of the smartphone wars

Speaking of smartphones, 2010 was when that space got really interesting.

No longer was the iPhone able to just go head-to-head with the stalwart workhorse of the gadget world, the BlackBerry.

A new phone running Google's Android system seemed to pop up every week. The Droid II. The Droid X. The HTC Evo and the Samsung Galaxy S were just a few.

In fact, Android phones outsold iPhones during the first half of the year and, with several new releases, will no doubt keep up that pace through year's end.

In October, computing giant Microsoft officially got into the game, announcing a pile of different phones that would run its Windows Phone 7 operating system.

And with its Bold and Torch phones, BlackBerry has embraced the touchscreen phone world, hoping to meld the security and efficiency that professionals crave with some of the iPhone's fun.


Software is so 1990-something.

The app-store model pioneered by Apple for its phones took off in a big way in 2010.

Obviously, Apple rolled out a new online store for apps for the iPad. But it followed with a bigger surprise later -- announcing that an app store for Macs will open in January.

In October, the Android apps store broke the 100,000 mark. That's still far fewer apps than Apple offers, but it showed that the model was growing steadily.

And in December, Google announced it was opening an app store for its Chrome browser as well.

It's certainly been a paradigm shift in how computer programs are purchased. And, we suspect, its really just a secret plot by "Angry Birds" to take over the world.

Privacy matters

Online privacy has been a hot topic on the Web for a while. But this year, it seemed to constantly be in the news.

(You know, the kind of news that CNN did a whole series about).

The more time we spend online, the more of a digital footprint we leave. And should someone savvy be so inclined, the easier it becomes to track that print.

On Facebook, every new change seemed to bring privacy concerns. Whether it was the Facebook Places feature, which lets users tell others where a friend is, or changes in users' default settings that sparked enough backlash to lead Facebook to adjust its privacy controls, the site was clearly home base for people concerned about having their information stolen, sold or otherwise used without their permission.

Privacy concerns cropped up again late in the year when Gawker's sites were hacked and users' e-mails and passwords were accessed. Other users expressed security fears about sharing their locations on Foursquare and other similar services.

Net neutrality

Net neutrality was a buzzword in tech circles for most of the year.

But it came to a head late in December when the Federal Communications Commission adopted a set of rules to guide Web usage.

The new rules, by the way, did not seem to make anyone happy.

Internet-freedom advocates wanted stronger protections that would guarantee service providers won't be able to pick and choose which content (oh, say, their own) gets delivered quickest and which lags behind.

They also fear big businesses and wealthy individuals will one day be able to pay for better service than everybody else.

Supporters, including President Obama, say the news rules address that, but advocates aren't fully convinced.

Then there are the critics, mainly Republicans, who think the FCC shouldn't have gotten involved in business on the Web at all.

The final chapter on this one hasn't been written. The regulations will almost certainly be challenged in court. And if they survive, January will see the GOP take control of the U.S. House and strengthen its minority in the Senate, meaning the whole plan could get blown to bits by new legislation.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Content is still king - ask Barry Diller

There's an expression in the real estate industry; when Starbucks opens in the neighbourhood it's already too late to buy in.

Barry Diller has represented the "Starbucks" factor in media and entertainment since he came on to the scene in the 70's as CEO of Paramount Pictures. Diller has always been a little ahead of the curve, spotting trends and capitalizing on them before the rest of the pack.

More recently Diller has launched The Writer's Network. Someone as cunning as Diller knows that the key to winning media battles is not owning the highway, because the map keeps changing all the time. The key is owning the content. With The Writer's Network he appears to be mapping a pathway to creating thousands of articles in a specific content niche, home and garden. Writer's go on his site, and for a "small" fee, create articles about specifically requested topics. In the technology of google, which appears to be the most important and complex road war, articles are the independent tributaries that guide people to the sources.

We'll watch with interest what the next move is from a man who doesn't know the meaning of retirement.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

US growth rate slowest in 70 years

New data out indicates that the US growth rate is the slowest it's been since the great depression. Troubled times tend to make people think carefully about adding more mouths to feed, and these past two years have given reason for pause for a lot of Americans.

Here are the fastest growing states (source - Ad Age Dec 22, 2010)

Here are the fastest growing states (by percentage):

State Growth from 2000
Nevada 35.1%
Arizona 24.6%
Utah 23.8%
Idaho 21.1%
Texas 20.6%

Michigan showed the only loss. No states were expected to lose residents but North Dakota, West Virginia, Louisiana, Rhode Island, and Michigan had less than 1% growth in the last decade compared to 9% nationwide.

Today's release has its biggest implications for the US. Congress as it will determine the apportionment for the U.S. House of Representatives. But for marketers it confirms trends we have seen in the American Community Survey releases with warmer states in the South and West picking up residents from the North and East. The racial and ethnic breakdowns will start rolling out next year, giving marketers a detailed picture of the U.S. population by that tally.

These are numbers we'll follow even closer in the coming months trying to determine where the North American markets will be coming from, as all eyes continue to look towards China for continued strong international growth.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Great commercial promoting the new Motorola tablet

Motorola has confirmed it will unveil its' new tablet at the CES trade show in January, but based on leaks and rumours, it's expected to have a 10-inch screen, a 5-megapixel camera on the back, and a 2-megapixel camera on the front for video calls. Inside, look for a 1GHz dual-core Nvidia Tegra 2 processor and 32GB of storage.

Read more: Here

Monday, December 20, 2010

Why it's time to Rethink Viral (reprint from Ad Age)

Just Because It's Popular Doesn't Mean It Has To Fizzle. Just Ask Burger King.

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Craig Daitch
Craig Daitch
I tend to suffer from a strange affliction -- I call it RES (Random Epiphany Syndrome). Case in point? The other day while rushing across Manhattan from one meeting to the next, I stopped in my tracks while briskly passing a man eating a Tendercrisp Sandwich in front of the Burger King on 7th Avenue.

Temporarily forgetting my meeting schedule amidst the incessant honking of taxi cabs that surrounded me, my mind raced to almost seven years prior, to simpler times when a man in a chicken suit left millions of people spellbound while surfing online.

Reading numerous--really, too many--"best practice" documents on viral content over the years, I've seen the statement "nothing lasts forever" more than a few times. This warning of "earned media wear-out" is typically displayed in parabolic chart form, where the X axis is based on some measurement of time and the Y axis is based on a form of engagement or views. Attention goes up and then sharply declines after a few weeks of buzz.

This is the wrong way to think.

Okay maybe not wrong, but you need to take much more into consideration before, during, and after your viral campaign in order to avoid the parabola effect. The goal of a viral campaign is that it doesn't perform well in the next 10 minutes; rather, that it have some long-term impact. For example, instead of simply uploading a video on YouTube, think about how your audience will find your content -- are you using the right keywords to provide stronger ties to your brand and your viral marketing effort through SEO? And once your content is discovered, how are you encouraging your audience to remain engaged? Also, is there a clear path of distribution?

The list is exhausting yet necessary if you have any chance at sparking sustainable viral content.

So what does this have to do with chicken sandwiches and my spontaneous thought the other day? Well, I was simply curious to know if the benefits of an almost seven-year-old viral project still proved valuable to Burger King.

This could be challenging. When the Subservient Chicken campaign launched, The co-developers of the campaign, the Barbarian Group were 15 people. The term "viral marketing" wasn't yet mainstream and to really make you feel old, the campaign launched a year prior to Chad Hurley, Steve Chen and Jawed Karim going live with YouTube.

Yet even without the benefits of video aggregation platforms, Facebook and Twitter, the Subservient Chicken saw 15 million hits the first five days. The average time spent on the site was an amazing 5 minutes and 44 seconds. The campaign over the years has accrued more than 450 million hits, making it the Godfather of the "Will It Blends", "Old Spice Guys" and "Tipp-Ex" amongst many others that have captivated audiences.

Back to my original thought: Impressive as its statistics were years ago, does the campaign still provide a benefit to Burger King and how?

Well, impressive SEO results for one! Burger King is #4 on Google when searching the word "chicken" -- only below Wikipedia, recipes, and KFC. They're above Popeyes. Chick-fil-A, Church's, and Bojangles, which aren't even on the first page. Going 15 pages in and you won't even find McDonald's, Wendy's, Arby's, or Roy Rogers at all.

What's more, the Subservient Chicken content continues to be discovered through social-media channels such as Twitter, where sentiment is positive and frequency of mention is high.

The fa├žade that is all too easily emulated and completely misunderstood is the "life curve" of a viral campaign. While some companies guarantee viral success, their definition of reaching goals need to be rethought and re-taught. Campaigns via viral marketing are designed to be provocative, yet how does that provocation impact your overall brand marketing strategy? If you start thinking "logistical versus parabolic" then you'll be in great shape. The assumption that all viral contain is good only for the short term amplified brand lift has to continue to be disproved. By embracing sustainability when it comes to your viral campaigns -- thinking through integration strategies, your landing pages, and your content, you too can have your cake, er, chicken sandwich and eat it too.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Sneak peak Superbowl commercials

Superbowl is six weeks away -- in preparation for that we thought we'd celebrate some of last year's commercials. This commercial really makes its' point. Enjoy.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Apple launches first I-ad for Ipad

Many have speculated on when they would try "sneaking" in some advertising on the new tablets. Apple is stepping very carefully, and gently into these waters. See the article from Adage below.

NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- The first iAd for iPad will launch this afternoon for the upcoming Disney blockbuster "Tron Legacy." This is a preview of what Apple's mobile ad format will look like on the iPad, and the only iAd planned for Apple's tablet for this year, an Apple spokesman told Advertising Age.

The format, designed to maximize the ad potential of Apple's tablet computer, will be launched widely in early 2011 when other ads start flowing onto the platform.

Like its iPhone and iPod Touch predecessors, the first iPad iAd is chock-full of the rich graphics, touch navigation and video native to apps. The full-screen "Tron" ad, which will run in iPad apps such as TV Guide, includes close to 10 minutes of video, images from the movie, a theater locator with showtimes, and a preview of the movie soundtrack with the option to purchase on iTunes without leaving the ad. For the first time in any iAd, users will also be able to send email straight from within the ad.

Apple's mobile ads have previously only run on iPhones and iPhone Touch devices. The new format for iPad comes just as the tablet is expected to be the "it" gift this holiday season, especially since the product recently went on sale at major retailers like Walmart and Target for the first time. There are so far more than 7.5 million iPads worldwide, though when iAd for the iPad launches early next year, the ads will only be seen in the U.S.

While Apple has not released the total iAd audience, there are more than 125 million of the company's mobile devices worldwide, though the iAd audience is only a fraction of that figure: iAds on iPhones are only available in the U.S., U.K. and France, though they're coming to Germany and Japan in 2011.

"Disney and Apple are excited to debut the 'Tron Legacy' iAd today as a special preview of iAd for iPad, which launches next year," said the companies in a statement for Ad Age. "iAd brings 'Tron's' pulsing energy and vivid graphic style to iPad's stunning display, creating a truly immersive ad experience."

Apple launched iAd--and threw the iconic computer maker into the advertising business--in April, after the company acquired mobile ad network Quattro Wireless early this year. While some marketers and agencies have become frustrated with Apple's control of the iAd production process -- and its expense -- others, such as Nissan are coming back for repeat campaigns.

Earlier this year, Apple told marketers that iAd would roll out on the iPad in November, but marketers have noted that the production of the ads, managed by Apple, is a time-consuming process, though an Apple spokesman says many of the early hitches have been ironed out.

This is the second time that Apple has used a Disney film to demonstrate a new ad format. Disney's "Toy Story 3" was part of the initial launch of the iAd on iPhones and iPods in April. Mr. Jobs is Disney's largest single shareholder and serves on its board of directors.

Research firm IDC projects iAd will close the year with more than 8% U.S. mobile ad market share, to Google's nearly 60%.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Mrs Macs lean crusty top

It's brutally cold outside today. We need a bit of comic relief. Thank you to Mrs Macs for this little ditty. A fun spot, and it hits home on all levels. Great editing, music, casting, and the little special effect at the end. Enjoy.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Creative Excellence Fridays - Editing brilliance to 30 seconds

The internet has provided us all with a much bigger canvas to work on. In the past we were all forced to take a brilliant idea and squeeze it into 30 seconds or 15 seconds. With viral and web commercials, we are only limited by the attention span of the viewer. Having said that, we still want to be mindful that, in a multi stimuli world, we need to keep it moving. It is nice, however, to know you can take that extra second to provide the comic beat timing that is the difference between good and great.

Here's a perfect example, just in time for Christmas. Coke is a world class leader in "feel good" branding. Their new Christmas commercial is spectacular with effects, music, emotion and editing all working together seamlessly.

But look at the difference in experience between the one minute and 30 second. It's mind boggling.

60 second - 47 edits

And now the 30 second - 26 edits

It's still great content, but you can see how quickly the edits stamp the story through. You're almost out of breath watching it. 26 different edits in the 30 seconds moves this along at breakneck pace. we also lost the dog sequence, the two televisions clinking together, and the additional Santa sequences. It was the difference between saying "that was cool" and "wow..goosebumps."

That's it for this week - more holiday favourites from today and yesterday coming up in the coming weeks. Have a great weekend. And as always your comments and contributions are welcome.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

How much money will you spend on Social Media next year?

Haven't a Clue? It's OK, You're Not Alone, and Here's Why

Debra Aho Williamson
Debra Aho Williamson
Next year, 80% of companies with 100 or more employees are expected to use social-media tools for marketing, up from 73% in 2010 and nearly double the usage rate in 2008, according to eMarketer. Surely that means big budget increases for next year, right?

In some cases the answer is yes. But for a lot of marketers, the budgeting question is getting harder to answer, not easier. If there's one thing I learned from researching my new report on "Social Media in the Marketing Mix," it's that many marketers have no idea how much they're budgeting on social -- or no good way to tabulate it. Here's why:

Too many cooks. As marketers continue to ramp up their social-media efforts, they are still using multiple resources, both internal and external, to create Facebook pages, manage Twitter feeds, develop viral videos and, of course, measure the impact.

Businesses remain torn over whether the best strategy is to manage social media through their corporate communications group, their marketing department, or a separate social-media group. Adding to the complexity: marketers are inundated with pitches from ad agencies, PR agencies and social-media vendors -- all hungry for new projects for 2011.

Social media is free, right? In some business sectors, the thinking still holds that social media is free, or nearly free. Although earned media -- the value that companies get when their marketing messages spread virally -- is indeed free publicity, there is almost always a cost associated with it, whether it be staffing, creative development or monitoring the results.

The good news is most marketers say they are increasing social-media spending next year. But the actual dollar amounts are all over the map.

In a worldwide survey by SEOmoz, a search-marketing company, more than half of the 9,000 respondents said their budget for outsourced social-media marketing was zero. Only 2.9% said they spent more than $5,000 per month.

On the other end of the spectrum is Altimeter Group, which surveyed 140 social-media strategists at major businesses for a report on the corporate social-media strategist function. One-third of respondents indicated that their company was spending between $100,000 to $500,000 in 2010, and 23% had a budget of $500,000 or more. These companies can be considered among the leading adopters of social media.

There are few benchmarks. Marketers don't agree on how much of their marketing budgets they should spend on social media. Surveys indicate that marketers spend 4% to 11% of their online marketing budgets on social media. This wide divergence is indicative of the fact that social-media marketing budgets are spread across multiple departments and groups, and that some types of companies and industries are more advanced than others.

What does this mean? Even if companies find it impossible to set a specific budget for social media, they can still take a holistic approach, incorporating it into their marketing planning from the start. At General Motors, budgets for social media next year will come from the brand marketing groups, according to social media chief Christopher Barger.

That means GM will do a better job of aligning its social strategy with the rest of its marketing strategy. And by shifting management to the brand groups, it does something more important: it gives social media a place at the adults' dinner table, not the kids' table.

That, in the end, may be a better strategy. Maybe marketers should worry less about how much they are spending on social media, or whether there should be a separate budget, and more about whether those dollars are working as hard as they can, producing real, quantifiable results.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

New Christmas ads from Meteor (UK)

Meteor is a cell company in the UK with a new campaign playing off the classic Scrooge theme. Worth a watch even just for the accents.


Monday, December 6, 2010

Superbowl to have glut of car ads this year

Source - AdAge Dec 6, 2010

Car marketers, having woken from their recession-induced ad slumber, are doubling down for Super Bowl XLV in Arlington, Texas and setting the bar sky high for auto companies and their ad agencies to craft commercials unique enough to break through the clutter and capture viewers' attention.

Although car ads have long been a staple of the Big Game -- the premier U.S. TV broadcast that commands as much as $3 million per ad -- 2011 is shaping up to be the biggest auto-ad showdown in recent memory. As of press time, at least eight different auto manufacturers had purchased airtime. What's more, many of them are buying more ad time than they have in the past, and raising the ante with two or three commercials sprinkled throughout the broadcast.

Six car makers ran a combined five minutes and 30 seconds worth of ads in Super Bowl XLIV, up from five manufacturers running three minutes worth of commercials in 2009, according to WPP's Kantar Media.

Ad Age last week broke the news that BMW North America will return to the game after a decade, seeking to use the Super Bowl as a stage to launch a new slate of cars. General Motors, which had sat the past two games out, is back in with a focus on Chevrolet, top marketer Joel Ewanick told Ad Age earlier this year. Chrysler, the only U.S. automaker to show up in the last Super Bowl broadcast with a single ad for Dodge, is back in and this time wants at least two brands in the game, according to people familiar with the matter. Audi of America is making its fourth consecutive Super Bowl appearance and will be in the game's first commercial break.

Volkswagen, which aired one Super Bowl ad the last time around, will return with the purchase of an additional spot. Kia, which last ran a 30-second spot, will run a 60-second ad in Super Bowl XLV, while Hyundai Motor America will air three ads -- one more than it did in 2010. Mercedes-Benz will air one 60-second spot in the fourth quarter from Merkley & Partners, timed because the company has four new product launches next year and it is the 125th anniversary of the brand. "We're up nearly 20% and want to ride that wave ... it's a good way to start the year," said Donna Boland, corporate communications manager at Mercedes Benz USA.

Indeed. Many automakers are bouncing back, posting healthy sales results after bankruptcy filings, government bailouts and recalls, and like Mercedes, they have news to share about new models -- in BMW and GM's case, electric car models. It all adds up to car makers heftily contributing to the record sellout of the game. News Corp.'s Fox, which is broadcasting the game, booked 80% of its ad inventory by June, and by October the network announced the Super Bowl was sold out.

Now comes the real challenge: After spending all that money, how do you get your messages to cut through? Since so many car ads look the same, the chance of their being recalled by consumers is low. Most top broadcast-network shows have a car ad in nearly every commercial break, often showing an automobile or truck traveling on an open road or city street while pop music plays in the background.

Making things worse, car makers over the past two years have grown more conservative, trading humor and emotion for retail-oriented messages. Steve Wilhite, who spent 20 years at VW of America and was the client behind Arnold's famous "Drivers Wanted" campaign, describes car advertising these days as "absolute dreck," "mind-numbing" and "uninspiring."

In the history of Super Bowl advertising, car ads haven't been known for being very memorable. "Super Bowl car ads are pretty much DOA -- dead on arrival for ad likability," said Chuck Tomkovick, a marketing professor at University of Wisconsin, Eau Claire.

Experts say carmakers will now have to work doubly hard to avoid familiar tropes or themes. "You must have a key, new, innovative, value-laden message to put out there," said George Cook, executive professor of marketing and psychology at the University of Rochester's Simon Graduate School of Business.

To combat the problem, ad-buying agencies representing many top automakers usually ask TV networks not to run ads from competitors during the same commercial break. Even so, these rules only apply to national commercials, and ads from local stations can sometimes run in the same ad pod. Ad buyers with knowledge of automobile marketing have often said that consumers' ability to recall individual car ads gets weakened as more of them air. A spokesman for Fox Sports declined to comment on how it might arrange Super Bowl ads from similar advertisers.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Creative Excellence Fridays - The Black and White Commercial

I'm researching diamond branding for a client right now. I was surprised by how many commercials have been done in black and white. I think there's an unofficial rulebook out there somewhere that states, "when trying to be ethereal, and high level, always shoot at least a portion of your commercial in black and white." Thus, the theme for today. Black and White commercials. Rule number two from same said rulebook, when shooting in black and white, always have at least one scene from a square in Paris or Rome.

Here's a beautiful commercial for Zane's Jewelers

This next commercial uses black and white but is proof that it doesn't guarantee a good execution. You may disagree, but this didn't work for me. Probably because it's completely focused on her with no actual reaction from him. And the messaging at the end is somewhat ambiguous.

Now this is how you shoot a black and white commercial.

And finally, a commercial that mixes in and out of black and white very effectively. Macy's. This is all in the editing, seamlessly flowing sequences and colour together. I love this commercial.

That's it for this week. Your comments and suggestions are always welcome. Have a great weekend.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Worldwide Mobile TV Tuner Market Value to Exceed $400 Million by 2014, Driven by Asia and Latin America, Says In-Stat

SCOTTSDALE, AZ--(Marketwire - November 2, 2010) - Free-to-Air analog mobile video is booming in Latin America and China, and digital mobile TV services are ramping up throughout Asia, as well as Latin America. In the US, new ATSC mobile DTV services are launching and will drive solid growth in a few short years. As a result, within a few years, In-Stat (www.in-stat.com) expects the worldwide market value of mobile TV tuners to exceed $400 million by 2014.

"The biggest problem for mobile TV services is that they are developing on a country-by-country basis," says Gerry Kaufhold, Principal Analyst. "The fragmentation of standards in different regions with different adoption rates, poses a challenge for technology manufacturers developing unique decoder technologies for each segment. However, the growing revenue opportunity is still appealing."

Some of the research findings include:

  • The CAGR for worldwide value of all mobile TV tuners will be over 12% from 2009 through 2014, and units will grow at nearly double that rate.
  • Unit shipments for digital mobile TV tuners are expected to triple from 2009 to 2014.
  • Devices that may incorporate a mobile TV tuner include mobile phones, laptops and notebooks, portable media players, PDAs & smartphones, portable navigation devices (GPS), portable game consoles, and automotive TVs.
  • Some highly integrated tuner/demodulator SoCs include channel filtering, digital carrier and timing recovery, channel selectivity, gain control, and LO (local oscillator) generation, which eliminates the need for an external low-noise amplifier.

Recent In-Stat research, World Mobile Silicon TV Tuners in Eight Regions(#IN1005040MMT) provides a comprehensive review of the mobile TV tuner market including:

  • First-ever forecast for ATSC mobile DTV devices, through 2014
  • Analog and digital mobile TV tuner shipments in eight geographic regions
  • Average selling price (ASP) estimates for each category in eight regions
  • In-depth discussion of silicon partitioning issues and future integration roadmaps
  • Profiles of 18 silicon tuner manufacturers including: Abilis Systems, ANADIGICS, Broadcom, DiBcom, Elonics, ESS Technology, Fresco Microchip, Maxlinear, Microtune, NXP Semiconductors N.V., Siano, Silicon Laboratories, ST-Ericsson, STMicroelectronics N. V., Telegent Systems, Texas Instruments, Trident Microsystems, Xceive, and Zoran

For a sample please contact Elaine Potter at: epotter@in-stat.com or call (480) 483-4441.

About In-Stat

In-Stat's market intelligence combines technical, market and end-user research and database models to analyze the Mobile Internet and Digital Entertainment ecosystems. Our insights are derived from a deep understanding of technology impacts, nearly 30 years of history in research and consulting, and direct relationships with leading players in each of our core markets. In-Stat provides its research through reports, annual subscriptions, consulting and advisory services to inform critical decisions.