Thursday, September 30, 2010

Facebook may offer video chats through Skype

Computerworld -(Sharon Gaudin - Sep 29) Facebook is trying to work out a deal to integrate Skype's Internet phone service into the social network's site, according to reports.

The deal, which is expected to be announced in the next few weeks, would enable Facebook users to have voice and video chats with their Facebook friends using Skype services, according to The Wall Street Journal. The report cited unnamed sources.

Neither Facebook nor Skype would comment on the reports.

"I like this move for both companies," said Dan Olds, an analyst at Gabriel Consulting Group. "Facebook is all about communicating with friends, but they've fallen behind other services, like Google and Yahoo, when it comes to things like audio and video chat. Skype is a mature and fully featured service that can give Facebook even more functionality than their competitors."

If the rumored move comes to fruition, Facebook would be firing back at Google, which announced last month that it would offer the ability to make phone calls over the Internet via its popular Gmail service.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Television boundaries expanding

ABC News and Reuters recently covered the expansion of boundaries on prime time and cable television. The most expansive area recently focuses on the gay/lesbian community.

Openly gay creative of True Blood, Allan Ball (American Beauty, Six Feet Under), leads the way with several characters who are either gay or bisexual.

How is the general public dealing with this new morality? The conservative right seems unable to hold the line as other very popular shows such as the Good Wife, and Modern Family portray gay characters.

Not pioneers of course, as Will and Grace blazed that trail dating back to 1998.

It's a sign that television is reflecting life with a bit more accuracy. Cable has definitely pushed the envelope and the major non cable networks have realized they have to be a bit more "real" and a bit more "cable like" in their approach if they are going to stop the erosion of their audiences to cable and internet viewing.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Don't shoot the media messenger

Sometimes, when an ad campaign doesn't work, it isn't the creative; or the choice of media. It's simply a poor strategic execution. I recently began working with a client who wished to secure television time and produce a commercial to promote their services. After further exploration it was determined this was a travel agency. A travel agency that also sold luggage. And laptops. And jewelery.
When questioning the focus of the company I was told, this is what we do. We like to sell whatever we can to whoever we can.
That doesn't appear like a business strategy for a travel agency. That's a business strategy for Kijiji.

Suffice to say the commercial and our relationship didn't come to fruition.

Let's assume the company has their targets and goals firmly researched and in their sites. What next?

You clearly want to find a creative execution that "feels right". You wouldn't buy a shirt that was button down conservative if you're a hip, in your face, individual. The same thought goes into the kind of creative that will be the personality of your brand.

You can make all the right choices for where the creative will be placed. But if the message is inconsistent with the company personality, or you get lost amidst much more sharply branded competitors, you'll still be wearing the button down shirt in an empty room.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Netflix gaff as they launch in Canada

Netflix launched in Canada yesterday. It stumbled out of the gate with a public relations gaff. Here's the article in the Toronto Star this morning.

An information sheet handed out to the paid extras said: “Extras are to look really excited, particularly if asked by media to do any interviews about the prospect of Netflix in Canada.”

After word of the ruse spread on Twitter, Netflix apologized and said the extras should not have been talking to reporters.

A spokesman for Netflix said the handout for extras was required to obtain a film permit for the launch. The instruction sheet referred to Wednesday’s event as a “corporate documentary.”

“I was unaware that script was handed out to extras and that was not supposed to happen,” said Steve Swasey, vice president of corporate communications for Netflix. “Some people got carried away and it’s embarrassing to Netflix.”

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Banner advertising vs television advertising

We have been asked by several of our clients to create motion branded content for their online campaigns.
In doing so we have also assisted clients with purchasing and placing that content.
Our research has led us to a couple of strategic partners who are very adept at assisting in this area.

www.casalemedia.com and OliveNetwork.com are two leaders in banner placement who have been recommended by other colleagues we trust.

Is banner advertising a good place to go?

Yes and no.

Yes, if the ad is carefully designed to focus on your major key selling strength.
No, if you attempt to bury every positive advantage of dealing with your company into one animated banner.

Banner advertising is not a television commercial. They are two different animals.

Television, in spite of the invention of the refrigerator and washroom, still assume a certain amount of attention in that they are the only communication on the screen at that given moment.

Banner advertising competes with no fewer than 10 other messages in one place. You need to ensure your banner advertising gets to the point quickly, is clean in design, stays on brand visually, and repeats your message over and over.

We'll touch on the intricacies of banner advertising in future blogs as well as the practice and ethics of cookies in banner follows.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Google Instant Mobile and video

Instant Search is the latest feather in Google's cap. And now there's Mobile Instant. Mobile works just like its desktop counterpart. You start typing in a query and Google delivers search results based on what it predicts you’ll type. Word is this will most likely work best on the iPhone and Android (Android) devices. Google also says that its mobile apps will eventually support Instant Search functionality.

Here’s Mashable's sneak peek at Google Instant Search for mobile:



Thanks to Mashable for background information.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Video and Social Media

An associate posted this very flattering testimonial to Ontrack and to the importance of video with your social media campaigns.

Video is a Very Important Tool in your Social Media Arsenal

My organization set’s up and facilitates social media campaigns for hundreds of corporate clients. I can tell you that Social Media is very important and will provide you with the online recognition and credibility that you deserve.

You want to be able to achieve excellent coverage by having a social media presence on many different social media sites as well as many different types of social media sites. Releasing targeted and optimized content across your social media is what will result in the information posted on your social media sites appearing on Google searches.

This can be achieved through articles and video. Video is really important because video enables you to use sites like YouTube, Flickr, Multiply and more….These sites only allow you to post video or images and get excellent Google rankings and so you cannot afford, not to be there.

There are many types of video you can use and release across your social media such as video blog, digital short commercials, video presentations, video demos of products and services and more….

In past articles we have discussed that content and content is king. Just because you may want to have video content for your social media, does not mean you should just shoot a video blog in your office (as an example) and throw it up online.

Everything you release to the public is a form of communications, is public relations material and should be conducive with your level of professionalism and your brand, even if the topic is personal in nature.

It makes good sense to use the services of a creative production house that specialized in corporate video production for these purposes. We use a video production shop downtown, Ontrack Communications. It is quite affordable and well worth the money to have your video shot and edited by a professional.

For more information on Social Media and Video blogs, digital video commercials, video presentations etc… visit Assureassess.com

Friday, September 17, 2010

Creative Excellence Fridays - Singing the Sell

Since day one we've reacted emotionally to music in a visceral way. Advertisers clued in to this on day two.
There have been so many effective campaigns using music over the years. The risk one takes, however, is choosing music that is contrary to your target. Music is such a personal thing. It enables the viewer/listener to embrace, or reject the brand depending on the relationship with the chosen song.

Blur's Song 2 (The Who Whoo Song) has been used a number of times because of it's powerful build up.
Eric Claptons Layla packs a powerful emotional punch.
etc. etc.

Google's new Instant search feature is being promoted through a variety of on and off line video creative. Here they tap into the retro chic popularity of Bob Dylan.



And in the original music category, this is my favourite right now. Burger King did the marching band theme a few years ago but have revived it very successfully.



That's it for this week. For our Toronto readers, enjoy the last two days of TIFF.

As always, your comments and suggestions are welcome.
Have a great weekend.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Nick Vujicic - An Inspiring individual

A friend sent me this link and I have to say I was blown away by it. As we battle through our every day challenges, it's great to see something like this and put everything into perspective.

Nick Vujicic is a motivational speaker from Australia. He was born with no arms and no legs. He's fujavascript:void(0)ll of life, incredible energy, and doesn't let anything hold him back from his dreams and ambitions.

Check out this video Nick Vujicic

Powerful stuff.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Assureassess recommends Ontrack Communications

Below is an article post that talks about the importance of video and some kind words about us from Courtney Jewell McElroy of Assureassess Corporation.


Video is a Very Important Tool in your Social Media Arsenal

My organization set’s up and facilitates social media campaigns for hundreds of corporate clients. I can tell you that Social Media is very important and will provide you with the online recognition and credibility that you deserve.

You want to be able to achieve excellent coverage by having a social media presence on many different social media sites as well as many different types of social media sites. Releasing targeted and optimized content across your social media is what will result in the information posted on your social media sites appearing on Google searches.

This can be achieved through articles and video. Video is really important because video enables you to use sites like YouTube, Flickr, Multiply and more….These sites only allow you to post video or images and get excellent Google rankings and so you cannot afford, not to be there.

There are many types of video you can use and release across your social media such as video blog, digital short commercials, video presentations, video demos of products and services and more….

In past articles we have discussed that content and content is king. Just because you may want to have video content for your social media, does not mean you should just shoot a video blog in your office (as an example) and throw it up online.

Everything you release to the public is a form of communications, is public relations material and should be conducive with your level of professionalism and your brand, even if the topic is personal in nature.

It makes good sense to use the services of a creative production house that specialized in corporate video production for these purposes. We use a video production shop downtown, Ontrack Communications. It is quite affordable and well worth the money to have your video shot and edited by a professional.

For more information on Social Media and Video blogs, digital video commercials, video presentations etc… visit Assureassess.com

Email tracking - black hat practises

Myth buster website, snopes.com, had an interesting story recently about email. It's worth a read.
1) Any time you see an email that says "forward this on to '10' (or however many) of your friends", "sign this petition", or "you'll get bad luck" or "you'll get good luck" or "you'll see something funny on your screen after you send it" or whatever --- it almost always has an email tracker program attached that tracks the cookies and emails of those folks you forward to. The host sender is getting a copy each time it gets forwarded and then is able to get lists of 'active' email addresses to use in SPAM emails or sell to other spammers. Even when you get emails that demand you send the email on if you're not ashamed of God/Jesus --- that is email tracking, and they are playing on our conscience. These people don't care how they get your email addresses - just as long as they get them. Also, emails that talk about a missing child or a child with an incurable disease "how would you feel if that was your child" --- email tracking. Ignore them and don't participate!

Honestly, aren't we getting enough unwanted email every day without making it easier to be reached.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Social Media Amazing facts

I was doing some research on the weekend and stumbled across some amazing facts related to social media.

* More than half of the world’s population is under 30.
* Facebook tops Google (Google) for weekly U.S. Internet (Internet) traffic.
* Ashton Kutcher and Britney Spears have more Twitter followers than the populations of Sweden, Israel, Switzerland, Ireland, Norway and Panama.
* 50% of mobile Internet traffic in the UK is on Facebook.
* During the 4+ minutes it takes to watch the video, more than 100 hours’ worth of video will be uploaded to YouTube (YouTube).
* Amazon sold more electronic books for the Kindle than physical books on Christmas.
* If you were paid $1 for each posted Wikipedia (Wikipedia) article, you’d make $1,712.32 per hour.

What does all this mean? If you aren't pointing your company or yourself towards some sort of social media profile, you'll be left behind. It's the future as much as email became an essential tool of business.

At Ontrack we gear all of our offerings towards social media optimizing. We are going in on a daily basis, bringing up the various layers of projects, changing urls, tightening the sell and uploading to various social portals to help clients micro sell their message.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Tiff Time

The Toronto International Film festival began last night, and downtown Toronto will be in full glory tonight. Luminaries expected are Robert Redford, Woody Allen, Clint Eastwood,Ben Affleck, Kevin Spacey, Uma Thurman and more.

Today on Creative Excellence Fridays - Movies and product placement.
It's been a growing trend over the last ten years to unabashedly insert products into films for money. It benefits film makers with diminishing returns due to digital downloads, and advertisers battling a Tevo mentality of skipping over commercials.

David Lynch,director of Blue Velvet, Molholland Drive and the Twin Peaks television series, in 2007 was asked what he thought of product placement. I think it would be safe to say, he's not a fan.



Fast forward to 2008 and Lynch directs a Gucci commercial. He's asked about this.



That's telling it like it is.
Here's the Gucci commercial.



One has to respect his position. When he sells out, it's blatent, obvious and he's unapologetic for it.

I personally have no issue in product placement. The goal of film making is to capture reality and tell a story. Products exist in the "real" world, so therefore they should exist in the film world.

Enjoy the film festival.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Google Instant -- Better than pudding

Google has announced a new development in the way their search engine process works.

Google Instant is a new search enhancement that shows results as you type.

Here is the description directly from the mouth of the googleizers

"We are pushing the limits of our technology and infrastructure to help you get better search results, faster. Our key technical insight was that people type slowly, but read quickly, typically taking 300 milliseconds between keystrokes, but only 30 milliseconds (a tenth of the time!) to glance at another part of the page. This means that you can scan a results page while you type.

The most obvious change is that you get to the right content much faster than before because you don’t have to finish typing your full search term, or even press “search.” Another shift is that seeing results as you type helps you formulate a better search term by providing instant feedback. You can now adapt your search on the fly until the results match exactly what you want. In time, we may wonder how search ever worked in any other way."

It's funny, I noticed it the other night and didn't think anything of it. I just saw alternatives or add on options to what I was searching and chose one. Oddly enough I flipped over to Bing and they've already hopped on board. Competition...good.

Tomorrow - creative excellence blog and our salute to the Toronto International Film Festival.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Long Slogans more effective

Ad Age had an interesting article this morning on the effectiveness of longer slogans. Personally I don't even like to use the word "slogans" as it makes me think of the 60's tv show "Bewitched" and Darren Stevens at McMann and Tate scheming with Samantha about the clever new "slogan" they need to come up with to win the big account.

Slogans, positioning statements, brand lines, whatever you choose to call them are essential. So many advertisers and brand managers think short and catchy will win the day. However, the whole point of advertising and mass media communications is to "clearly" communicate a main idea that gives you a competitive advantage.
Avis - "We Try Harder" managed to achieve both. Fedex, as you'll see from the AdAge article, wanted to go with "The overnight company". But chose to go with "When it absolutely, positively has got to get there". Only a few more words, but so much more emphatic.

At Ontrack Communications we have a "slogan" we live by. "Don't kill it with cute". Trying to be cool or clever is fine if it is the best choice. However if you sacrifice a clear communication of the chief benefit for a shorter, catchier, vague positioning statement, you've failed.

How about --

Ontrack Communications - We try harder to show you the beef because we want to be all we can be and we're worth it.
Have a great Wednesday.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Jingles making a comeback

Coming from an audio background I've always admired the power of a good jingle. For a time advertisers became caught up in buying the rights to songs, and repurposing for their brand. Today there is an upsurge in popularity for writing original music to connect to create a positive brand experience. How many times I've found myself humming and even singing a brand jingle out loud and cursing because I couldn't get it out of my head. That...is a successful jingle.
I still find myself humming this jingle that we produced ten years ago, and is still in use. Golf Clearance Warehouse
Jingles give amazing brand retention long after the commercial has ended.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Creative Excellence Fridays - Top 10 Viral Ads of ALL TIME

This week on Creative Excellence Fridays we look at the trend of video viral. There have been some naysayers saying viral waters down the brand, but the trends can't be denied. Viral video has been embraced by everyone from huge packaged goods and hi-tech to small retail.

Having said that, here are some surprising results for the top video virals of all time (bearing in mind time means the last five years or so given the infancy of viral video). Results courtesy of an independent poll commissioned by AdWeek.

The No. 1 video advertiser of all time is Blendtec, whose "Will It Blend" series has been around in the same form for four years, accumulating 134.2 million views. The success has been from "borrowing" from Letterman's shtick of crashing and trashing perfectly good stuff. They have taken a variety of items and "put em in a blender". Each of the more than 120 original clips has the same kitschy music, the same tagline, variations on the same stunt and the same host, Blendtec CEO Tom Dickson. I found it drags on a bit, and the hits are undoubtedly from younger "clickers". Here they are - the top ten virals of all time.


Brand Campaign Agency All Time Views* Launch Date Watch the Spot
1 Blendtec Will It Blend? In-house 134,256,499 10/30/06 Blendtec: Will it Blend?
2 Evian Live Young BETC Euro RSCG 103,867,704 6/4/09 Evian: Live Young
3 Old Spice Responses Wieden & Kennedy 57,132,669 7/12/10 Old Spice: Responses
4 Pepsi Gladiator AMV BBDO 46,742,892 1/1/04 Pepsi: Gladiator
5 Microsoft Xbox Project Natal World Famous 42,698,599 6/1/09 Microsoft: Xbox Project Natal
6 Dove Evolution Ogilvy & Mather 41,100,418 10/1/06 Dove: Evolution
7 T-Mobile T-Mobile Dance Saatchi & Saatchi 35,487,575 1/15/09 T-Mobile Dance
8 Doritos Crash The Super Bowl 2010 Goodby Silverstein & Partners 34,168,845 1/5/10 Doritos: Crash the Super Bowl 2010
9 Old Spice Odor Blocker Wieden & Kennedy 33,986,750 3/31/10 Old Spice: Odor Blocker
10 DC Shoes Gymkhana Two Mad Media 32,872,531 9/3/09 DC Shoes: Ken Block's Gymkhana Two Project

Post script - the Roger Federer viral from last week's Creative Excellence blog has gone under some scrutiny as to whether or not the tennis ball stunt was actually performed by Federer or some special effects wizards in post. You be the judge
Federer
Have a great weekend.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Apple's FaceTwitter

An Apple a day seems to keep the shareholders happy. Another announcement from Apple today. They've revealed iTunes 10, the newest version of iTunes complete with a new logo, new features and its very own social network for music called “Ping” that has been described as Facebook meets Twitter for music.

Ping allows users to follow others, just like Twitter. You can follow artists or your friends to find out what they’re listening or what they’re creating.

Coming up tomorrow - Creative Excellence Fridays!

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Apple TV to partner with Netflix & Facebook addiction?

At Apple’s special event today, the company is expected to roll out a new Apple TV that includes support for Netflix.

These latest reports from Bloomberg corroborate rumors of an iOS-based Apple TV that surfaced this spring. With Netflix available on the iPad and the iPhone (iPhone), an offering for the television set certainly makes sense.

Facebook Addiction:

Facebook was down sporadically yesterday in 15 minute intervals. Several sites, including new media reporting site Mashable reported dozens of Tweets from "panicky" people who weren't able to interact with their Facebook page.

Are we such a slave to Facebook, even during work hours, that we immediately go into the cold sweats with a few minutes of deprived access?

The problem has been resolved. Cold sweats aborted.