Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Why Google Seems to Favour Small Shops

Why Google Seems to Favour Small Shops


NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- With a brain trust of thousands, a bank account of billions and an insatiable appetite for acquisition, the Google beast is growing more gargantuan by the day. But for a company that's got "plexes" instead of offices and has spent years wooing business from adland's biggest players, when it comes to the marketing of its own products and services, Google thinks tiny.

For years, the Mountain View, Calif.-based company wasn't much of what Madison Avenue would call a client. It occasionally tapped small ad agencies, like Naked Communications and the now-defunct Toy, but wasn't one to ask for much outside help. While most of its advertising today is birthed in the Google Creative Lab, led by former agency executives Andy Berndt and Robert Wong, the company readily admits it's leaning more than ever on outside agencies.

Since late 2009, it's handed a ton of promotional work for the Chrome browser to Bartle Bogle Hegarty, but is also entrusting marketing projects to many smaller outfits, like Johannes Leonardo and Big Spaceship out of New York and Cutwater, Goodness Mfg. and Muhtayzik/Hoffer on the West Coast.

The last, a San Francisco-based shop with just 20 staffers that represents one of the newest additions to Google's agency roster, was unknown -- even in ad circles -- until September when it released a video to promote Google Mobile and location search for GPS-enabled devices. Dubbed "extremely bizarre" by Mashable, the online ad featured a man uttering the word "pizza" over and over again.

Taking a route different from rivals
Google's strategy of cherry-picking a variety of small agencies for work contrasts with the strategy of its competitors in search. Microsoft's Bing and Yahoo spend millions in measured-media dollars a year with established agencies like WPP's JWT and Omnicom Group-owned Goodby Silverstein & Partners, respectively. Google's overall measured media spending is relatively low, with the bulk of its advertising appearing on Google's own properties. But it is rising. Though the company spent a total of $11 million on U.S. measured media in 2009, in the first nine months of 2010 that number more than doubled to $26 million, according to Kantar Media.

Google the marketer would rather not be pigeonholed as having a fetish for small shops. That could be because after years of trying to convince Madison Avenue that it is their friend, Google the media company has made serious headway, striking up strategic relationships with agencies and holding companies such as Publicis Group and Omnicom Media Group. Google's agency team -- which is largely focused on befriending and working on ad solutions with the ad community -- has grown to 100-strong under Torrence Boone, former CEO of Enfatico, the agency built under WPP to service Dell.

"We work with agencies of all sizes," Mr. Wong, the executive creative director of Google Creative Lab, told Ad Age. " What matters is that the people, the work and how the work gets done is a good fit with our unique Google culture. And as we do more work, we're continuing to look for more agencies to help."

Google as a client
While the agencies contacted for this piece declined to comment because of client confidentiality, a few ad execs familiar with the Google account revealed what the search giant is like on the client side of the table. In short? Demanding but very collaborative, and let's just say not the biggest tipper.

"They don't want agency-client relationships in any traditional sense," said one executive familiar with Google. For one thing, its briefing process is different; agencies don't work in a creative vacuum and then return to present a dog and pony show of creative ideas. Rather, "sometimes agencies spend a few days there and it's really collaborative," this person said. "It's unlike other clients because of their capabilities internally."

Agencies who work with Google these days are also tasked with behind-the-scenes work, and might have the chance to help the company develop products and shape platforms and user experiences. And for that reason, too, a smaller shop may make sense. For secretive Google, the fewer folks privy to the next big project it's plotting, the better.

Despite the search giant's size, it moves like a startup -- so smaller, more nimble partners tend to have an easier time keeping up. And with the notable exception of that Super Bowl spot last year (bought with the help of Horizon Media, a smaller, indie shop), Google doesn't spend much on advertising, so a bigger shop isn't likely to devote the same resources a smaller one might.

Much of the stuff Google has been selling so far is essentially free to consumers, and the most important component of any creative advertising, said another executive, "is about making [Google's products] accessible and easy to understand ... you don't have to spend a lot of money on that."

Monday, November 29, 2010

Roger Sterling fast forwards to 2010

'Mad Men's' John Slattery to Take Stage at Ad Age's ME Conference Nov. 30p
Actor Who Plays Roger Sterling Will be Interviewed by Piers Morgan


Published: November 29, 2010

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NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- Actor John Slattery, who plays Roger Sterling on AMC's hit ad-industry drama "Mad Men," is the latest speaker to join the lineup for Ad Age's ME* Conference in New York on Tuesday, Nov. 30. He will be interviewed on stage by Piers Morgan, who will take over for Larry King on CNN in January.

Mr. Slattery has become a known face since he started playing TV's most acerbic adman and perhaps nowhere has he become more infamous than in the ad industry, which has followed his character's every antic. On "Mad Men," Roger Sterling is an old-school, hard-drinking agency exec who had a rough run of it in the most recent season, losing both the star account for which he was largely responsible, Lucky Strike, and respect within the agency. But in real life, John Slattery is on a roll.

The actor, who lives in New York and is married to Talia Balsam, who plays his ex-wife on "Mad Men," has been nominated for an Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series for his portrayal of Sterling each of the last three years. More recently, he provided star wattage for Lincoln's new ad effort, starring in its "Smarter Than Luxury" campaign, from WPP's Team Detroit. His film credits include "Iron Man 2," "Flags of Our Fathers," "Charlie Wilson's War" and "Reservation Road."

This past season, in addition to playing Roger Sterling, Mr. Slattery directed a pair of "Mad Men" episodes. His character spent much of the fourth season working on his memoirs, which have since been published as a real-life tome titled "Sterling's Gold."

Mr. Morgan, meanwhile, is set to take over Larry King's prime-time hour on CNN in January with a show that will air in 200 countries around the world. The former British tabloid editor became famous among American audiences as a judge on "America's Got Talent" and as a winner of "Celebrity Apprentice." He's also been a judge of the U.K.'s immensely popular "Britain's Got Talent."

The ME* Conference: Media Evolved takes place Nov. 30, at the Metropolitan Pavilion in New York. The day-long event is devoted to exploring the changing definition of media and how marketers are using it. It will feature speakers including ESPN President George Bodenheimer, Kraft Senior VP-Marketing Strategy and Communications Dana Anderson, McCann Worldgroup CEO Nick Brien and GE Global Executive Director of Advertising and Branding Judy Hu, among others.

Messrs. Morgan and Slattery will take the stage to close out the event, which leads into Ad Age's first Media Vanguard Awards ceremony and cocktail party. The MVAs will honor 55 of the most forward-thinking media innovations of the past year. Martha Stewart will also be on hand to accept the first MVA Lifetime Achievement honor.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Creative Excellence Fridays - Cannes 2010 screening

I attended the Globe and Mail Cannes 2010 screening last night at the Eglinton Grand in Toronto. It's an annual creative shot in the arm. Canada continues to be a leader in cutting edge creative. The recent international acquisition of Taxi and other signs point to Canada as an ongoing creative force to be reckoned with on the international advertising scene. Here are a couple Canadian hilights as well as an international favourite from Satchi and Satchi New York.


Award: BRONZE LION
Company: PALM + HAVAS, MONTREAL
Team:
Creative Director: Pascal De Decker
Art Director: Etienne Bessette
Copywriter: Etienne Bastien
Agency Producer: Caroline Carbonneau
Account Supervisor: Paula Badran/Patrick Hotte/Christina Festoso
Production Company: LA FABRIQUE D'IMAGES Montreal, CANADA
Director: Jean-Michel Ravon
Producer: Claude Landry Editor: Buzz
Sound Design/Arrangement: Sonart
Product: VW GOLF CITY



Vancouver International Film Festival

Award: BRONZE CAMPAIGN
Company: TBWA/VANCOUVER
Team:
Creative Director: Paul Little
Art Director: Addie Gillespie/Jon Murray
Copywriter: Addie Gillespie/Jon Murray
Agency Producer: Mike Hasinoff
Account Supervisor: Kristy Eirikson
Production Company: OPC Toronto, CANADA
2nd Production Company: BISCUIT FILMWORKS Los Angeles, USA
Director: Tim Godsall
Producer: Harland Weiss/Holly Vega
Editor: Geoff Hounsell, Arcade Edit
Sound Design/Arrangement: Beacon Street Studios/Pinewood Sound
Lighting: DP: Darko Suvak
Post Production: Arcade Edit/Ali Reed
Product: VANCOUVER INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL
Title: SEXUALITY "SUBTITLES"




And holdover favourite, and past featured creative on the Friday CEBlog, the return of the Doghouse. This was one of the top virals of 2008, and achieved huge success last year with the follow up ad. JCPenney achieved a very significant bump in jewelery business as a result of this viral.
Credits:
Saatchi & Saatchi, New York
Executive Creative Director: Amie Valentine
CD/Copywriter: Josh Rubin
CD/Art Director: Jason Musante



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


Thursday, November 25, 2010

Five great places to find online video

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Millions of viewers watching video content every day

Is Video Blogging catching on? According to comScore it definitely is.

In August, more than 161 million viewers watched an average of 157 videos per viewer, according to data from the comScore Video Metrix service. A whopping 81.6 percent of the total U.S. Internet audience viewed online video and the average online video viewer saw 9.7 hours of video in August.comscore-vid-stats

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Checking email during holidays

Mashable had a meaningful article on the percentage of people who can't relate to down time.
There are conflicting views on the positives and negatives of being "reachable" all the time. Owning my own business I appreciate being on the road, with friends, associates, and knowing if the blackberry is calm, I can relax and all is well. A few weeks back a major client had a server issue and was able to reach me on a Saturday morning. This could have been an even bigger issue the logger the server was down. I was able to make two additional calls to correct the situation and right an issue. So I'm a big believer in nipping issues in the bud and occasionally "blackberry peeking" when on holidays.

Here's the Mashable article for further food for thought. Written by Radhika Marya

A new survey from Xobni and Harris Interactive says 59% of employed American adults check their e-mail during holidays like Thanksgiving and Christmas. Of the 59%, more than half (55%) check their work e-mails at least once a day, while about 28% check their e-mails multiple times throughout the day.

The survey was conducted online among 2,179 adults, 18 and older, earlier this month.

The survey also delved into how these workers feel about receiving these e-mails while on a holiday. Forty-one percent of those who receive work-related e-mails during time off say that they’re typically annoyed or frustrated to see the messages in their inbox. It looks like younger adults — specifically, 56% in the 18 to 34 demographic — are most likely to express these sentiments. Meanwhile, only 39% of those between 35 and 44, and 30% of those in the 45-54 age range, admit to being annoyed by work-related e-mails during the holidays. At least 12% of respondents admit to feeling dread.

But despite negative feelings, 42% of those who check their work e-mail also say they feel it’s important to stay up-to-date. Some believe it helps ease workloads — and a small number (19%) admit that the e-mails occasionally serve as a welcome distraction. Men are most likely to check their work e-mails during breaks. And as far as regions are concerned, those in the southern U.S. — 63%, in fact — are more likely to check their inboxes.

These new findings seem to be in line with a previous Xobni and Harris Interactive survey, which we reported on in September. The earlier survey looked into the habits of 2,200 workers in the U.S. and the UK. In that one, at least 50% of Americans admitted to checking e-mail during vacation days.

Monday, November 22, 2010

YouTube Readies New Ad Units That Users Can Skip

New Units Will Give Consumer's Choice -- Even if That Choice Is to Opt Out

SAN FRANCISCO (AdAge.com) -- Whether it's walking out of the room, fast-forwarding on a DVR or paying for premium cable, consumers are used to having choice with ads on TV. Soon, they'll have a different kind of choice on YouTube.

YouTube is expected to pull the wraps off several new ad units designed to give users the choice of which ad they watch -- even if that choice is to watch none at all.

The ads, which YouTube calls TrueView, give viewers a choice of three different ads to watch. Users can also skip the ad altogether and the advertiser isn't charged.

For short-form content, a user may get a TrueView in-stream ad, which she can skip if she wishes. For longer-form videos, YouTube is planning to give users the choice of watching a video with ad breaks or ad-free after watching one of three video ads first. Users choosing the long-form video with ad breaks may or may not get a "skippable" ad.

All of these formats are expected to roll out in the next few weeks. YouTube wouldn't say which advertisers had tested the format, but did say at least two political candidates had tried the new service.

The notion of choosing from a selection of ads isn't a new one. Hulu filed a patent for its "Ad Selector" service back in 2007 and has reported it's seen a high success rate in allowing viewers to pick their own ad. Hulu limits the choose-your-own ad inventory to about 10% of its videos.

But Hulu does not allow users to skip ads, nor do any of the other sites distributing full-length TV on the web. In an interview, Phil Farhi, a Google senior product manager, said it was initially a tough sell to advertisers struggling to find ways to find enough online inventory to match their TV buys.

"Some advertisers had initial gut reaction of, 'Wait, you're gonna let users skip my ad?'" Mr. Farhi said. "But the thing that tips them over from that gut reaction is you're not paying for those skipped ads, and it's a system that allows you to reach that opted-in engaged audience at scale."

Right now, YouTube has by far the most viewers, but not a lot of long-form premium content, meaning comparatively few videos on which to place TV-style video ads.

ComScore's October numbers show that Hulu served more than 1 billion video ad impressions. All Google sites -- including YouTube -- combined? A mere 170 million. Hulu's long-form content allows for many more video ads, and people spend a lot more time on Hulu watching shows such as "Project Runway" and "Lost."

Tubemogul reports that on an average, only of 4.48% of YouTube's daily top 100 videos carried a pre-roll ad, 52.4% have no ads and 42.5% have only lower-third banner ads.

Hulu announced it is expected to earn $240 million in revenue this year. YouTube's revenue is expected at about twice that amount, but includes big homepage display buys, a crutch that YouTube reluctantly relies on in its pursuit of profitability.

The choose-your-own-ad format itself has received a big endorsement from Vivaki, the research and planning arm for Publicis Groupe. "We found that people wanted more choice," said Tracey Scheppach, senior VP of innovation at Vivaki, whose researchers spent 1 million hours with 47 million consumers across 60 video publishers -- including AOL, Yahoo, and Hulu -- to get its research done, and estimated that this type of add could pump $100 million into the online video ad industry.

Online video ad spending is expected to jump from $1.5 billion in 2010 to $2.1 billion in 2011, according to eMarketer.

Ms. Sheppach believes there's enough premium content on YouTube to make it work. "I have a 2-year-old, so this morning it was, 'Mommy, giraffe!' so I searched for 'giraffe' on YouTube and what came up was an Animal Planet video," Ms Sheppach said. "Now that's premium content owned by Discovery Channel. Advertisers would pay for that."

YouTube plans to start off TrueView with advertisers who have a managed account at Google -- those marketers with dedicated channels. But eventually, as with everything at Google, the platform is meant to scale and automate and be available to everyone.

Eventually, Mr. Farhi said, YouTube's promoted videos can potentially become a TrueView ad if they're short enough in length. There are tens of thousands of promoted videos, which are paid for by marketers, that come up on the side bar of YouTube next to a viewers' watched video. And because YouTube is the second biggest search engine online, promoted videos are also part of the search ads that come up on YouTube.

Mr. Farhi said that advertisers can use YouTube as a focus group, testing out an ad to see how it does before they make it into a TV campaign. With TrueView, they'll be able to immediately see how well the ad is doing with the public and if they need to tweak it.

"You can imagine getting to the point where someone comes to us and says here's a video, here's how much I'm willing to pay for an opted-in engaged view and we go and find the audience," Mr. Farhi said.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Video Blogging beats text blogging

Naming your online videos is key to their success. Through our new site, launching later this month, we'll offer up tips on how to better optimize your videos so they'll be able to create maximum results.
Tips such as, using one online video per url and branding them differently.
Not connecting files but instead using an embedded player.
Bringing social bookmarkting tools to the page.

Check back as we get ready for the launch of our new online video product.

In the meantime, keep video blogging. You'll kick your text blogging competitors to the curb.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Facebook Deals - at what cost to your privacy

Many of us have become "victims" of Facebook. I personally believe one simply needs to be educated of the facts, and make your own choices based on convenience and comfort level. As a marketer I understand completely the need to share data (data mining) and recognize that an educated marketer creates products better suited to my needs.

Therefore I don't have the cry of privacy and freedom every time I hear about Facebook, or another marketer saving information about me.

Having said that, here is an interesting article from Reuters, recently, talking about upcoming Facebook deals.

Facebook Deals: Discounts You Can Use. The Cost: Your Privacy?

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg

REUTERS/Robert Galbraith

Facebook waged war against Foursquare when it introduced the location service Places a few months ago. Earlier this week, the social networking giant went after the likes of Groupon with the launch of Deals, a feature that lets participating vendors send promos directly to your phone (provided you've "checked-in" using Places, of course).

But the real casualty with all of these developments may be your privacy.

As Facebook encroaches beyond your life as a social butterfly and into your life as a consumer, a lot more is at stake. Personal information you inadvertently broadcast about when, how and where you spend your money is now up for grabs. While most everyone can appreciate a good discount, this shrewd feature may also result in more impulsive purchases, particularly after a breakup (which Facebook already knows about) or if you use your credit card willy-nilly.

The problem at the end of the day is that Facebook is still not secure. Whereas your bank offers secure browsing, Facebook doesn't even warn its users that there's a privacy issue in the first place. As Forbes' Kashmir Hill reports, all you may need to hack Facebook is Firefox, a plug-in called Firesheep and public WiFi. She notes how one blogger purportedly looked at what a fellow Wi-Fi user at a New York Starbucks bought on Amazon and sent him a message about it from his own Facebook account.

Unfortunately, a company spokesperson Hill asked about this issue only had this to say: “We have been making progress testing SSL access across Facebook and hope to provide it as an option in the coming months [italics mine]. As always, we advise people to use caution when sending or receiving information over unsecured Wi-Fi networks.”

As for us in NewsFeed, we advise that you remember that, when it comes to your privacy, Facebook isn't your friend. (via Forbes)



Read more: http://newsfeed.time.com/2010/11/05/facebook-deals-discounts-you-can-use-the-cost-your-privacy/#ixzz15XiYYepg

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Facebook Mail called a Gmail killer

Credit Source - Washington Post

Facebook announced a revitalization of their messaging system and new e-mail addresses for users. As AP reported:

Facebook unveiled a new messaging platform Monday that takes aim at one of the Internet's first applications, e-mail. Although blogs had been speculating that Facebook would announce an e-mail service to rival Google Inc.'s Gmail and others, Facebook said e-mail was just one component of its plans.

Facebook's announcement Monday afternoon which many speculated could be the launch of a Facebook e-mail service. As Cecilia Kang reported:

Facebook's announcement on Monday, 1 p.m. EST is expected to be a new e-mail service, among other communications tools, according to the New York Times. This is significant because the social networking titan, which is breaking nearly every metric on the Web (time spent, traffic, news dissemination, display ads) could capture part of the market for a massively important app for desktop and mobile devices, one currently dominated by Google and Microsoft. Chris Hughes, a Facebook co-founder, told Post Tech that one way to identify the most important information platforms is to look at those that people visit most often and on which they are most engaged. Some examples, Hughes said, are Facebook, Twitter, e-mail and an an assortment of "longtail" sites catering to individual interests.

The Post's Melissa Bell weighed in on Facebook's announcement:

While some users may be excited to embrace a mail service on Facebook and quit with their e-mail providers that are chock-full of Facebook notifications, others may not be ready to give Facebook access to their mail service, thus handing over another piece of their personal life to a social network dogged by privacy complaints.

Speculation has been swirling that Facebook's blue and white site design might also be revamped. As Blake Gopnik explained:

It's a safe bet that no image in history has been viewed as many times, as intently, as the basic Facebook page. The company claims that its 500 million users spend more than 10 billion hours every month looking at that blue-and-gray Web site. In her five centuries of existence, Mona Lisa has not been ogled as much. She must be jealous.

She shouldn't be. Popularity is one thing; beauty is another. No matter how many friends Facebook may have offered up to you, the truth is that your page is ugly.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Conan show big success "so far"

NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- Conan O'Brien looks to be having the best laugh.

After all the hype and months of speculation over Mr. O'Brien's move from NBC to cable's TBS, the late-night "Conan" show is being viewed as an early success with both viewers and advertisers, and in fact, could change the dynamic of the late-night ad marketplace. "He's bringing in really young viewers. The median age is over 20 years younger" than that of people who tune in to rival shows on broadcast, said Amy Sotiridy, senior VP-director of national broadcast at Interpublic Group's Initiative.

Conan O'Brien
Conan O'Brien

Mr. O'Brien's first show drew around 4.2 million viewers, nearly 3.3 million of which were between the coveted ages of 18 and 49, according to Nielsen. Based on early results provided by TV networks, the debut episode of "Conan" did better than the normal airings of "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno" on NBC, "The Late Show With David Letterman" on CBS and "The Daily Show" and "The Colbert Report" on Comedy Central. Mr. O'Brien's numbers started to dip as the week progressed. His second show reached about 2.8 million viewers on Tuesday (2.1 million between 18 and 49) and his third reached about 2.7 million viewers Wednesday (1.86 million between 18 and 49).

Ad buyers suggest the success of "Conan" won't make them abandon broader-skewing late-night offerings on NBC, ABC and CBS, but the new show does put another option in front of them that could draw important ad dollars away from those places. In other words, the show's launch has them thinking about how to parcel out ad spending among various audiences -- a notion that would never have held sway when Johnny Carson sat on this timeslot's throne.

The successful launch "really changes the dynamic of the late-night day part in terms of what the priority programs are," said Jay Baum, executive VP-director of national buying at Deutsch Inc. Over the years, he added, late-night audiences on broadcast "have gotten older and the ratings have come down. Now you have all these high-profile programs on the cable landscape that are skewing younger."

Sources: Nielsen, Turner Entertainment Networks
Early viewership for "Conan" doesn't indicate the normal performance for the show. For that, ad buyers say, they'll likely wait several weeks to see how audience patterns settle. Some portion of the first week's audience is tuning in out of curiosity, they suggested, not because watching Mr. O'Brien is a long-developed habit.

And rivals are watching. At Viacom's Comedy Central, the consensus is that "The Daily Show" and "The Colbert Report" have a tie to popular culture that is "unparalleled," said Steve Albani, senior VP-corporate communications, Comedy Central, so that "once the dust settles and the sampling is over, we're confident that our guys will be doing just fine."

With the first results out, however, ad buyers believe Mr. O'Brien's program will provide another place for marketers to find their most elusive quarry: young men. "The truth is, for the data that is there, it's looking good," said Elizabeth Herbst-Brady, president at Interpublic Group's Magna Global.

The host's new backer, Time Warner's Turner cable unit, sees early positives. "Premiere night and premiere week were sold out back in October, with very strong demand throughout fourth quarter and into first quarter," said Turner spokeswoman Jennifer Toner, via email. Advertisers who aligned themselves early with "Conan" included AT&T, which not only ran ads during the first week of the show, but sponsored a promotional "Conan" blimp that appeared during TBS's recent telecasts of post-season baseball. AT&T declined to comment on Mr. O'Brien's first-week performance.

Establishing Mr. O'Brien's value is crucial to Turner. The cable unit has been adding to its programming lineup, part of a broader effort to give advertisers fare that attempts to mimic broadcast's reach at more attractive prices. Turner has added several dramas to its TNT network, snatching up cult-favorite cop show "Southland" after NBC dropped it last year, for instance, and launching programs such as "Rizzoli & Isles" and "Men of a Certain Age" to complement its long-running "The Closer." More importantly, Turner also formed a joint effort with CBS to show a good chunk of the NCAA men's basketball championships across its many cable outlets.

To work, "Conan" doesn't have to reach the most viewers -- just a good portion of the ones marketers want so badly. Mr. O'Brien's first week of programs reached an audience with a median age of 32, Turner said in a statement Friday. The first week of "Conan" averaged around 1.5 million adults between the ages of 18 and 34, about 2.2 million adults between 18 and 49, and around 2.9 million viewers overall.

The host and the network clearly made outreach to marketers early in their launch efforts. Last week, News Corp.'s 20th Century Fox ran ads for its "Unstoppable" action movie that mentioned the host by name. General Motors is expected to use "Conan" to promote its Chevrolet Cruze the week of Nov. 15, with details likely to be announced during the show. Microsoft's Bing search engine and AT&T are expected to be featured with the program in the near future, according to a person with knowledge of the matter.

In his first week, Mr. O'Brien made plenty of swipes at his diminished roost on cable, and these are likely to continue. "We've been having a great first week here at TBS," he said in his monologue on Thursday night's show. "But if this doesn't work out, you can catch me next fall on my new VH1 show, 'Coning for Love.'"

Friday, November 12, 2010

Creative Excellence Fridays - Animation today and yesterday

Today on Creative Excellence Fridays we salute clever animated commercials. The first spot involves cell and real footage. It's for Pilot Pen company in Spain. The evolution of creativity. The English version has a completely different sound track to the Spanish.

English




The Spanish version - Featuring German polka music. Go figger.



Next, from the history vault, classic cell animation from the 1950's. This is a "celebrity" spot starring 1950's animated character Mr McGoo.
The voice of Mr McGoo was character actor Jim Backus. Jim Backus was probably best known as Mr Howell from Gilligans Island. If you listen carefully you'll notice Backus does both voices for the extra paycheck.



And we close off with a cell animated commercial for Carling Black Label Beer. The jingle speaks of "whistling" for your waitress. I wouldn't advise that today.



That's it for this weekend. As always, your comments and suggestions are always welcome.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Rim plays hardball with tablet pricing

RIM's tablet to cost under $500

Research In Motion (RIM) Co-Chief Executive Jim Balsillie laughs as he holds a PlayBook tablet computer during an interview at the G20 CEO Summit in Seoul on Wednesday. BlackBerry maker RIM expects sales of the smartphones to grow by two-thirds in two years if it continues to perform "moderately." (Nov. 10, 2010)

Research In Motion (RIM) Co-CEO Jim Balsillie holds a PlayBook tablet computer during an interview at the G20 CEO Summit in Seoul, South Korea (Nov. 11, 2011)

ALY SONG/REUTERS

RIM co-founder Jim Balsillie jumped back into the ring yesterday to take a few more shots at rival Apple Inc. and dismiss concerns that the BlackBerry is losing ground to the iPhone.

“The fact that the CEOs of the two top performing companies in the Smartphone and tablet space are sparring so aggressively and personally really illustrates just how much is at stake here,” said independent technology analyst and writer Carmi Levy.

RIM also confirmed its Playbook tablet computer will retail for less than $500 when it debuts in North America in the first quarter of 2011.

“The product will be very competitively priced,” co-chief executive officer Jim Balsillie said in an interview with the Wall Street Journal in Seoul Wednesday.

He declined to be more specific, but the company later confirmed it will sell for less than $500. Apple’s iPad starts at $499.

“Pricing is probably the most important decision that any company can make as it positions its tablet against the iPad,” Levy said. “It’s virtual death to price a tablet at or above the iPad. It’s the device that defines the market right now.”

As well, RIM may sell the Playbook through retail chains Target Corp. and Best Buy Co. in the U.S. as well as through carriers, Balsillie said.

“RIM sees an advantage here in that while Apple is going slow on broadening beyond the Apple store, it can be more aggressive on that front and thus have more shelf space in more places,” Levy said.

RIM shares gained $3.15, or 5.68 per cent on the news, to close at $58.61 on the Toronto Stock Exchange on Wednesday. That’s its highest level since mid-August.

The shares rose $3.44, or 6.3 per cent, to $58.44 on the Nasdaq Stock Market. That was its highest level since June 24 and biggest one-day gain in four months.

RIM has lost 13 per cent this year as Apple has added 51 per cent.

Balsillie dismissed concerns when asked whether the Waterloo-based firm may be losing corporate customers as they look to switch to other smartphones—notably Apple’s iPhone and other phones powered by Google Inc.’s Android software.

“No [we are not losing corporate customers]. There’s always competition and evaluation for enterprises, [but] we still have a super strong base and it’s still growing...it’s going to grow faster with this tablet,” Balsillie told the Journal.

He also said that he expects Research in Motion’s global market share in mobile operating systems to surpass Apple’s in the coming quarters. “We just finished our third quarter now...we will be pass them [Apple] and we will stay past them,” he vowed.

RIM unveiled its Playbook in September, eagerly touting its ability to support Adobe’s widely used Flash multimedia software, something Apple’s iPad does not do.

Last month, Apple CEO Steve Jobs said a batch of seven-inch-screen tablets, including the PlayBook, would be “dead on arrival” because they are too small to compete with the iPad, which has a 10-inch screen. RIM insists the more compact tablets would be a big portion of the market.

In response, Balsillie said at the time customers are getting “tired” of Apple’s controlling business strategy.

RIM, Hewlett-Packard, Samsung Electronics and Motorola are seeking to build tablet computers that will grab the market between smartphones and laptops.

Apple sold 3 million iPads in the first 80 days after the device’s April debut, eclipsing sales of its iPod music player.

The iPad’s dominance in the tablet-computer market will “change when we’re in the market,” Balsillie said.

South Korea will be one of the first countries outside the United States where the PlayBook will be sold, Balsillie said, declining to say in how many countries the product will go on sale in during the global launch phase, expected in the second quarter.

“Korea’s such a strategic market, because it’s so big, so innovative,” Balsillie said. “It’s going to be one of the very, very first.”

With files from the Star’s wire services

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Foursquare style marketing being adopted by Hardy's

NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- Add two more to the list of marketers trying to emulate Foursquare: fast-food chains Hardee's and Carl's Jr.

The two CKE Restaurant fast-food chains are launching their own loyalty mobile apps to reward customers for "checking in" at any one of their 3,000 locations around the country. The app, for iPhones and Android phones, called Happy Star Rewards, allows users to reveal their locations to CKE Retaurants in exchange for free food and prizes, as well as share it with friends through Facebook, Twitter and other networks.
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"As far we know, we're the first quick-service restaurant to combine the location-based tech with tangible rewards," said Brad Haley, exec VP of marketing for CKE.

Like popular location-based service Foursquare, Happy Star Rewards users will have to check-in at restaurants to be eligible for the rewards. After four check-ins, Hardee's or Carl's customers get a chance to spin "The Wheel of Awesome" for prizes, which mostly consist of food, but also include hard goods like Blu-ray players and video-game consoles. If a user decides to wait until the eighth visit, they're eligible for bigger prizes.

While the app doesn't come out until later this year, it sounds like a mishmash of location and brand apps. Like its standalone predecessors, Happy Star Rewards will also have social-media sharing, but contains the videos, store locator and product information more endemic to brand apps.

"Loyalty programs have been around since the dawn of marketing," said Mr. Haley. "But the paper-based or plastic-card loyalty program is becoming somewhat obsolete. We're having an app on your phone that goes with you everywhere rather than a card you don't want to carry around in your wallet."

Location-based apps like Foursquare get plenty of press, but they're far from mainstream. The Pew Research Center recently found that only 4% of online adults use services such as Foursquare or Gowalla and, in a single day, only 1% use them.

However, Mr. Haley says the chains are after 18- to 24-year-olds, and Pew finds that 8% of online adults between 18-29 use location-based services, "significantly more" than other age groups. Apps such as Loopt Star, Topguest and Shopkick work for multiple brands as one-stop mobile wallets for loyalty cards. But rather than work with one of the established players, CKE opted to build its own.

"If you are one of the first ones to offer a card in a mobile wallet, that's a huge advantage," Mr. Haley said. "Some of these multi-brand platforms are convenient, but it's irreligious, you're just one of many choices."

CKE has had plastic card-based loyalty programs in the past, but they were tough to administer and took a lot of resources to develop and maintain, Mr. Haley says. Plus, customers lost the cards.

"Every restaurant you go to wants to give you a card or loyalty program," he said. "But nobody's purses or wallets are big enough. Taking that and converting it to a digital format was a real opportunity."

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Conan too funny to keep grinding that NBC axe

I have mixed feelings about Conan. When he takes the focus off his NBC "hardship" and focuses on strictly doing comedy he can be very, very funny. But I'm finding it more and more difficult to muster up any sympathy for a man who walked away from a relationship with 40 million in his pocket and other offers on the table. Suck it up Conan. Be a class act and leave NBC in the past.
And hopefully Conan will only bring back the truly funny characters like Robert Smigel's Triumph the insult comic dog. The masterbating bear was funny for about five minutes at the beginning but the gag is over.

That's my two cents worth. Here's what the Hollywood Reporter thought.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Online TV shows becoming more popular

Web-to-TV Makes a Comeback With Spate of New Series

Online Shows Bring Networks Built-in Fan Base, Lower Budgets -- and Can Carry Over Advertisers

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LOS ANGELES (AdAge.com) -- The star of the year's highest-rated cable movie is not an A-list movie star, an Emmy-winning actor or even a Disney celebrity. It's YouTube star Fred Figglehorn (aka actor Lucas Cruikshank), whose "Fred: The Movie" was watched by 7.8 million people during its September premiere on Nickelodeon and by more than 28 million viewers since. He's also the unofficial poster boy for web TV, and why more web properties could now succeed on network TV after others failed to make a mark.

From top: 'Children's Hospital, 'Fred the Movie', Funny of Die's Undercover Karaoke with Jewel, 'Web Therapy' with Lisa Kudrow.
From top: 'Children's Hospital, 'Fred the Movie', Funny of Die's Undercover Karaoke with Jewel, 'Web Therapy' with Lisa Kudrow.
Look at the current programming guide. CBS's freshman show "$#*! My Dad Says" is based on a Twitter account; Adult Swim's "Children's Hospital" started life as a WB.com comedy starring Rob Corddry and Megan Mullally; Syfy's "Sanctuary" is based on an online drama series; and Comedy Central's "Tosh.0" is a compilation of the week's most unique web clips that has become the network's highest-rated original series. Those hits are paving the way for a handful of pilots from the likes of "Friends" actress Lisa Kudrow, comedy website Funny or Die and even the blog "Awkward Family Photos" that started life online.

But why move to TV what already works well for the internet? Simply put: A popular web show brings networks a built-in fan base, (comparably) cheaper talent, lower budgets and, in some cases, advertisers willing to follow a show or personality across any platform.

"I definitely feel like we're in this renaissance of taking another look at generating original content for the web as incubators for original series and doing it in an economical way -- as opposed to throwing tens of millions of dollars at it and creating vast content machines," said Mark Stern, exec VP-original content at Syfy.

Adapting web shows for a TV audience makes a lot of sense from an efficiency standpoint. The average network drama can cost over $1.5 million for one episode, with established stars making upward of $150,000 an episode, inflated in part by actors guild and union costs. Meanwhile, the entire season of a successful web show (which usually totals about 45 to 60 minutes over 8 to 10 episodes) can run anywhere from $100,000 to $2 million at most to produce, with salaried talent often working for low- to mid-five-figure deals (sometimes without contracts or agents) and sponsors picking up the tab for production and distribution costs. But keep in mind that most webisodes average four to eight minutes per episode, compared to a sitcom's 22 minutes.

'Tosh 2.0'
'Tosh 2.0'

Consider the landscape only a couple of years ago: Web-original shows first gained major popularity during the 2008 Writers Guild of America strike as a vehicle for TV writers and producers to create projects that didn't violate their contracts -- and for a mere fraction of a TV budget. A few successful series emerged, including Joss Whedon's "Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog," MSN's "In the Motherhood" (sponsored by Suave and Sprint) and MySpace's "Quarterlife," which became the first made-for-web series to get picked up by a broadcast network in February 2008.

But after NBC aired a repurposed version of "Quarterlife" episodes during prime time, the show posted the network's lowest ratings in 17 years during its timeslot and was swiftly canceled after one airing. In 2009, ABC attempted to turn "In the Motherhood" into a prime-time sitcom by recasting the leads, tweaking the storyline and distancing itself from Suave and Sprint, which helped fund the web version with producers Mindshare Entertainment but were less-active sponsors on TV.

In other words, the first breed of shows that made the leap from web to TV didn't succeed because producers changed or repurposed what people could already watch for free online. This time around, characters are being expanded, franchises are being developed directly with networks and advertisers are looking for ways to follow these properties across all platforms.

Plus, what makes a hit on YouTube or MSN is hard to convert to broadcast network success standards. Sure, "$#*! My Dad Says" is the second highest-rated new show of the season, but it ultimately works because it's a Monday-night CBS sitcom starring William Shatner that happens to be based on a Twitter account -- whereas the TV version of TheWB.com's "Children's Hospital" can reach just more than 500,000 viewers during Adult Swim's late-night lineup with double its season-long web budget and episode length, yet still be sustainable. In that show's case, it's reaching a higher concentration of its target audience during a lineup that commands higher ad rates among advertisers looking to reach the young-male demo -- the same promise of distributing original series on the web among targeted audiences, but on a different platform.

"Great ideas can come from anywhere. It's great that brands can come to develop shows, but it's all about ROI in many different forms," said David Lang, president of Group M's Mindshare Entertainment. "The goal is to achieve ROI for the brand, and if that is a television show or web engagement or if that's a multiplatform engagement, or if that's at retail, we craft our creative to achieve a brand's goal or objectives."

Brian Terkelsen, president of Publicis Groupe's ConnectiveTissue, which oversees branded-entertainment programs for Walmart, Procter & Gamble, Coca-Cola and Kraft, cautioned that migrating web content to TV doesn't always guarantee a win.

"There is little to no distinction between the quality of cable or broadcast programming today and as such, the financial structures needed to support the movement of content from web to TV are expensive and a risk. The ability to draw a straight conclusion that web content will play successfully on TV hasn't been proven," he said.

That's why networks and producers are going to great lengths to make this next round of web-based shows distinct from the content viewers are already streaming for free online. Comedy Central has a trio of web projects in development: one is an adaptation of Avalon Television's online sitcom "Workaholics"; another is a full-length version of The Onion's "Onion Sports"; and the third is a pilot deal with the Gregory Brothers that will not rehash their popular "Auto-Tune the News" clips but will instead feature a wholly new premise. In all three cases, each show will feature original content and target advertisers similar to those on "The Daily Show" or "Tosh.0."

"There are plenty of things that get huge traffic online that wouldn't make sense as TV shows," said Kent Alterman, head of original programming and production at Comedy Central. "It has to succeed on its own merits."

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Facebook ads going local

From this morning's Ad Age - interesting news about Facebook. Tying in local tracking and unique neighbourhood promotions, Facebook is making their next move towards huge monetizing.

Facebook Ads Provide 'Deals' for Local Merchants, Marketers

As Users Share Their Locations, a New Way for Marketers Like Gap, Starbucks and McDonald's to Reach Them

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SAN FRANCISCO (AdAge.com) -- Facebook has a new offer for users willing to share their locations in status updates: deals from nearby merchants or big-brand marketers such as Starbucks, Gap or McDonald's.

Facebook is launching the Deals service with 22 big brand partners -- Starbucks, McDonald's, H&M, and Gap -- and 20,000 small-to-medium-sized businesses can start creating Deals on their Places page inside of Facebook.
Facebook is launching the Deals service with 22 big brand partners -- Starbucks, McDonald's, H&M, and Gap -- and 20,000 small-to-medium-sized businesses can start creating Deals on their Places page inside of Facebook.
The social network announced "Deals," an extension of its Places mobile feature, which allows users to check in at locations such as bars, coffee shops or malls. Users will be able to claim those deals by walking into a merchant and checking in on their phones or other mobile devices, giving marketers the ability to reach consumers and potentially attracting them into a given store.

The new service combines two of the hotter trends in local marketing: location-based check-in services such as Foursquare, and local group deals services such as Groupon or LivingSocial. "There are many changes in mobile, and there's a revolution in the social space," said Mark Zuckerberg, founder and CEO of Facebook, which has 200 million mobile users. "Mobile is as big as that -- when you combine mobile and social, industries can get disrupted."

But like everything Facebook does, it has the potential of taking a niche phenomenon now exploited by a coterie of small startups and turning it into a mass phenomenon. "While businesses have been able to use other geolocation services to incentivize customers to some extent, Facebook Deals allows global brands to do so at massive scale," said Michael Lazerow, CEO of social marketing firm Buddy Media.

Facebook announced the Deals Platform and another feature called "Single Sign On," which allows users to log into any app on their iPhones and Android phones, eliminating the need for remembering passwords and typing on tiny mobile keypads. There are 550,000 games and applications available on Facebook, and developers can now build the single sign-on into any of them or build new apps with the feature.

Facebook is launching the Deals service with 22 big brand partners -- Starbucks, McDonald's, H&M and Gap -- and 20,000 small- to medium-sized businesses can start creating Deals on their Places page inside of Facebook. Merchants create a Facebook page where there is an option for choosing the kind of deal they would like to offer: individual, loyalty, friends or charity. Individual and loyalty offers are digital versions of the traditional coupon and loyalty cards, where a customer gets a punch hole for every coffee or sandwich purchased. The friends offer is a strictly Facebook style deal, where if a user checks in his or her friends, they get a discount. The charity deal is where the merchant will donate $1 for each check to a charity.

"The Deals concept solves the long term," said Facebook's director of local, Emily White. "For a long time, merchants have been told to get online. This solves that problem for them and turns the fans into real dollars."

Gap decided to immediately participate in Deals, offering 10,000 pairs of jeans for free to all users who check into one of the 900 Gap stores nationwide. "It's important for us to connect with our customers where they are," said Olivia Doyne, a Gap spokeswoman on hand at the event at Facebook headquarters in Palo Alto. "This can be used in so many ways. If a store has too much inventory, we can use Deals for that. We can tailor the deals to our customers' locations."

Facebook does not earn money in the Deals promotions, and Ms. White said this project is very much in a beta state. But inadvertently, by having more businesses create pages on Places and having more people checking into those businesses, there will be a natural increase in Facebook traffic.

Marketers have long seen mobile phones as a powerful means of reaching consumers while they're out shopping or physically close to a given store. "This is continuing Facebook's empowering of small businesses," said Dave Marsey, senior VP of Digitas digital media. "We're gonna see the biggest response with small local businesses that can more directly and electronically manage attracting new customers and rewarding loyal customers."

Mr. Zuckerberg said that, as always, Facebook's focus is to make things better for users. "Whether the deals platform turns into something more commercial, or we choose to monetize something else -- though we have no plans of doing that any time soon -- that works for us too."

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Twitter starts running ads through HootSuite

From Canadian Press this week:

Vancouver-based HootSuite Media, Inc., is helping Twitter conduct an unpopular experiment: sprinkling ads between the tweets users are reading.

And as a result, HootSuite is catching as much flak as Twitter for subjecting users to unwanted advertising.

Advertisers like Virgin America, Sesame Street and Lionsgate have started sending out "promoted tweets" but only users of HootSuite–a full-featured web app that helps manage a Twitter feed and other social networking accounts–are currently seeing those ads.

Partnering in the advertising experiment came after "basically proving ourselves" to Twitter that "we're able to execute and have a good solid user base to work with," HootSuite CEO Ryan Holmes said in an interview Tuesday.

But he admitted the move is not without risk, and HootSuite users were quick to voice their displeasure with the ads.

"Really not happy with the ads in my timeline. Leaving #hootsuite tout-suite!" wrote user Diddybears.

"Today I've noticed for the 1st time promoted ads via (at)HootSuite. Already annoyed. Stupid ads!" tweeted Marie_Lynne.

Holmes acknowledged the company has been busy responding to comments about the new ads, although he said so far, there's been no real backlash from users, which include high-profile accounts associated with U.S. President Barack Obama, the White House, Wikipedia's Jimmy Wales, Kim Kardashian and Tyra Banks.

"In terms of migration (of users to HootSuite competitors) I'm not concerned about that," Holmes said.

"We, of course, are keeping tabs on it because we want to make sure it's not a huge issue for people but we haven't seen that. Considering we have about (673,000) followers on our Twitter account and over 900,000 users we're not seeing a crazy uproar over this.

"It's a kind of small group at this point that are expressing issues and we're talking with them and adjusting with Twitter on that. But it's been overall quite a good response."

In April, Twitter first began introducing ads into search results and in June, starting selling ads in its trending topics section. It's now also allowing sponsorship of hashtags, with the Washington Post snagging the rights to #election to coincide with Tuesday's U.S. election coverage.

In a blog post, Twitter said it would take a "deliberate and thoughtful approach" to selling advertising so they would be "useful and authentic to the Twitter experience."

Ottawa-based user Lauren Newby said the promoted tweets that appeared in her account were relevant to her background in marketing, but she still didn't appreciate reading them.

"I thought the whole idea of Twitter was I follow who I want to follow because that's what I'm interested in," she said in an interview.

"I'm in advertising, I understand it, but I really liked Twitter being free of that, to have that choice of whether you wanted to follow advertising or the people speaking about things you're interested in."

But Holmes thinks users will adapt to the advertising as Twitter fine-tunes its approach.

"We're helping Twitter adjust their ad units, they're learning this and experimenting with this, and at the end of the day, we're going to see what people like, what they hate and adjust to it," he said.

HootSuite is building revenue by selling a subscription-based premium version of its site, which includes the ability to strip out advertising.

Newby said Twitter runs the risk of losing users if it takes its advertising efforts too far.

"I feel like it is going to break into that space at some point on a larger scale but anything we can do to slow it and impede it (is a good thing)," she said.

"Or else Twitter is just going to become something else where advertising is too prevalent and people are going to move on to something else."

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

DSLR cameras -- a professional choice?

DSLR cameras. In the last 4 years they have evolved substantially. Short films, and even some full length features are now being shot on cameras such as the Canon 7D, or a myriad of other cameras that have hit the marketplace. Zaputo is a respected website that often compares the various products in the marketplace.

Here is the Zaputo Great Camera Shootout 2010.

Shootout

Monday, November 1, 2010

Out My Window, an online movie from the National Film Board

The National Film Board has just released an incredible movie called Out My Window. What makes it even more unique is that it's a completely online experience. It's the culmination of several photographers coming together under one director to stitch together a mosaic of families and lives living in various high rises around the world. Spend some time on the site and feel like you've traveled the world over without one airport security check.

http://interactive.nfb.ca/#/outmywindow