Friday, April 29, 2011

Creative Excellence Fridays - A Royal theme

In honour of William and Kate, I went with a British theme today.

First, for generations advertisers have attempted to add cache and prestige to their products and services by injecting a "royal" flavour. Here we have the "Royal treatment" from Chrysler dating back to 1969.

Next, a commercial that was viraled throughout the world when it first came out. No royal wedding would be possible without a little "attention to detail". A British commercial from Wilkonson. "Mow the lawn".

And finally.. a British commercial celebrating the "drama" in all of us.

That's it for this week. Monday, social video essential tips to live by. Have a great weekend.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Criminals need better PR

I went out to my vehicle this morning to discover that it had been broken into. The rocket scientist criminal took my new running shoes, most of my CD's (apparently some of my musical taste has no value on the black market), and my "prescription" Oakley sunglasses.

Here's my question. Why, oh why, would a thief steal prescription sunglasses. He has one of two choices. He can snap the frames out and purchase new lenses (which is counter intuitive to a thief's mantra - merchandise in, no money out), or he can stand on the street corner and whisper, "Pssst...would you happen to be -3.25 in your left eye and -3.00 in your right? Have I got a deal for you."

I think stupidity needs better PR. If there are any public relations people within earshot, consider some pro-bono work for criminals at large. They could really use your help.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Aflac makes their choice

After ousting Gilbert Gottfried for poorly chosen comments about the Japan tragedy, Aflac has made a press event out of their new choice.

Here is the Ad Age article and the live announcement audition.


Aflac has chosen its new duck voice, and though there was speculation during the audition process that the insurer might opt for a female spokesduck this time around, it wasn't meant to be. After more than 12,500 live and online auditions, Aflac chose Dan McKeague, a 36-year-old father of three, to take over as the voice of the insurance company's famed duck icon in commercials.

He replaces comedian Gilbert Gottfried, who was ousted after some not-so-warmly-received wisecracks he made over Twitter about the Japanese Tsunami.

Japan counts as Aflac's largest market, where the company is the No. 1 insurance company in terms of individual insurance policies in force. In the U.S. it bills itself as the No. 1 provider of guaranteed-renewable insurance.

Mr. McKeague, who lives with his family in Minnesota, is a sales manager for a couple of local radio stations. He was chosen from more than 12,500 entries to a contest that was initiated a few weeks ago with the help of Aflac's agencies, Kaplan Thaler Group and Digitas. Those entries were whittled down to a list of 20 finalists. The 20 were then further whittled down to eight before Aflac selected Mr. McKeague.

Here's a video of Mr. McKeague's reaction to getting the news he won:

He's gotten to work right away; he is expected to make his vocal debut in an ad tonight called "Pigeon."

"Dan impressed us with his vocal range and acting ability," Aflac Senior VP-CMO Michael Zuna said in a statement. "He understands that he is making marketing history representing our company, our 72,000 independent sales agents and our well-earned reputation as a company that does business the right way."

Aflac is essentially betting the farm on Mr. McKeague when it comes to their marketing. The spokesduck is the centerpiece of its communications with consumers, and it has relied on the icon to boost awareness with a brand in the confusing category of insurance. In the last decade, the Aflac duck has starred in more than 50 TV ads and many radio spots, which helped elevate Aflac's brand recognition from slightly more than 10% to 93%, the company said.

Full disclosure: I was shocked to discover that, despite giving it my best quack, Aflac didn't choose me. As they say in elections, the Academy Awards and the Miss America competition -- all of which I can assure bear no similarity to the raucous, auditions I participated in earlier this month -- it was an honor just to be nominated.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Customers sue Apple over location data recording

Courtesy of Wired Magazine

Two Apple customers have filed a lawsuit accusing the Cupertino, California, company of committing violations of computer-fraud laws by recording location data of iPhone and iPad customers.

Vikram Ajjampur, an iPhone customer in Florida, and William Devito, a New York iPad customer, filed the suit in federal court April 22 in Tampa, Florida.

“The accessibility of the unencrypted information collected by Apple places users at serious risk of privacy invasions, including stalking” (.pdf), the lawsuit states.

The lawsuit revolves around a discovery publicized last week that a file stored on Apple’s mobile devices contains a log recording geographical data that dates as far back as 10 months ago. reported last week that Apple acknowledged in a letter to Rep. Edward Markey (D-Massachusetts) last year that the company deliberately collects anonymized location data from mobile devices in order to build a comprehensive location database that provides improved location services to customers.

Ajjampur and Devito allege that Apple has violated the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act by intentionally accessing the location information without authorization.

“By secretly installing software that records users [sic] every moves Apple has accessed Plaintiffs’ computers, in the course of interstate commerce or communication, in excess of the authorization provided by Plaintiffs as described in the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act,” the lawsuit says.

Ajjampur and Devito are seeking class action status to represent U.S. iPhone and iPad customers. The complaint seeks an injunction requiring Apple to disable the data collection in a software update, and it also seeks damages for violations committed.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Yahoo buys checkin service IntoNow

AdAge digital is the source of todays technews article.

Yahoo bought check-in service IntoNow for $20 million to $30 million in cash and stock in a bid to make video and TV companion viewing part of its offering for consumers and advertisers.

Just 12 weeks old, IntoNow is a startup spun out of video ad server Auditude and has 600,000 downloads of its iPhone app since January. The company uses audio fingerprinting technology to allow users to "tag" a TV show or commercial, similar to how Shazam identifies music. Last week Pepsi used IntoNow to deliver a coupon to the phone of anyone who tagged a new video ad for Pepsi Max.

IntoNowCEO Adam Cahan is staying with the company, along with his seven-member staff, to further build out the service. "We're focused on the idea of how we make this a much bigger platform and product," he said, adding that the company wants to "bring video, television and companion viewing directly into the product life at Yahoo."

The purchase price included $20 million in cash and stock up-front and incentives over time. The company is working on an Android version of the app and seeking to expand internationally.

Originally, the tech was developed to target video ads at specific TV shows on the web. Auditude encoded five years of TV from 130 different cable and broadcast networks and matched it with sophisticated ad-serving technology. That business stayed with Auditude, which hired former United Online executive Jeremy Helfand as CEO. With that fingerprinting technology, IntoNow can tell not only what a person is watching, but whether they're watching video live on TV or played back later on a DVR or online.

Mr. Cahan said last week before the Pepsi promotion that it had had 3 million "tags" since January, and can recognize a given video clip in four to 12 seconds.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Facebook facing spammers

Spam is now becoming an issue on Facebook.

Credits to AdAge for this article.

Brands Battle Facebook's Spam Problem

One Cost of Doing Business on the Social Network Is Discerning a Real Fan (or Foe) From a Canned Ham

For brands on Facebook, spam blocking is a complicated matter. Because brands want to remain open to fans and allow them to express their love -- and sometimes hate -- for the product or company, the evisceration of spam turns into a fine-tuned effort to differentiate between millions of real and unreal fan posts, photos and comments, forcing companies to invest hours a day into cleaning up the brand's page. That's a lot of time -- and time equals money.

A post on Dr Pepper's Facebook page
A post on Dr Pepper's Facebook page

Indeed, Facebook has been improving anti-spam efforts -- just recently adding several new reporting and filtering features -- but the world's biggest social network does not give brands any special kind of spam protection. And while Facebook announced that spam decreased on the network by 95% in 2010, a quick check of some brand pages exhibits some ripe examples. Dr Pepper's page, with more than 8.5 million fans, displayed seven "add me" sexy-girl photos in a row, a free iPhone offer and a chain letter threatening years of bad luck.

For brands, page spam isn't just a nuisance -- it can tarnish a brand's image and, worst of all, make their fans hit that unlike button, and fast. "A brand won't necessarily get in trouble with consumers if a spammer sends an email with a fake of the brand's logo," said eMarketer analyst Kimberly Maul. "If that same spammer posts a link or content on a brands' Facebook page, it's probably more likely to draw a negative reaction from consumers, provided the spam posting isn't dealt with promptly."

But what slows spam deletion for brands is the fine line between a fan and a spam. For example, one Ford Motor Co. page post looked suspiciously like a bad link -- the text read "Amazing Website!" -- but turned out to be a foreign automotive magazine. So Ford left it up. Similar nuanced decisions must be made when it comes to what Facebook management companies like Vitrue and 22squared have identified as spam for their clients' pages -- profanity, derogatory and inflammatory language, hate speech, and promotional items from their fans for products and services not related to the brand. Vitrue and 22squared found that, if analyzed in those terms, as many as 15% of posts may need to be deleted.

Vitrue, which manages accounts for MTV and its 20 million fans, has released a study, defining Facebook page spam as "posts and comments that a brand would find not suitable, appropriate or potentially offensive for their page and community." This definition adds hours to spam detection and removal, because often only a human, unlike an automated filter, can choose between spam vs. fan.

Buffalo Wild Wings' director of media, Paul Freher, said his company, which has 4.5 million fans, has to constantly decide whether to delete posts. "For instance, because we're a bar, we have DJs and event promoters participate on the page," Mr. Freher said. "So if they've done an event at Buffalo Wild Wings once or twice, they may come back and say, 'Hey, I'm spinning tonight' but it's at another venue, we check the users' posting history. If the last 17 posts they had were promoting their last 17 shows, then we'd remove them." But Mr. Freher added that it's a case-by-case basis. "If someone is doing a fundraiser for firemen, they're welcome."

So how long does all this take? "It's definitely a couple of hours a day," said Colleen O'Connell, HarperCollins' director of online marketing for children's books. "It's part of our customer-service role -- identifying potential spam, then researching. It's difficult. You don't know if they're a real fan, and if they are, you want to keep them engaged. So we evaluate their relevance." Ms. O'Connell said her division manages about 100 brands across Facebook, including books by Shel Siverstein and the "Chronicles of Narnia" series. Ms. Collins said many self-published authors like to use her companies' pages to promote themselves -- and unless it's relevant to the page, it's spam.

Companies that don't have the resources to invest hours a day conducting delicate spam surgery can hire agencies that will do it for them. Teams review flagged wall posts for a large part of the work day. "The first thing our team does in the morning is content assessment, reviewing the wall post or photo directly," said 22squared CEO David Rollo. "Anywhere between 30 minutes to two hours in the morning of culling through the conversations and filters we've set up as well as manually looking at the page two to three times per hour throughout the day." Mr. Rollo said that of the dozen brands that his company works with -- including Buffalo Wild Wings and Baskin Robbins -- all use a management tool provided by firms like Buddy Media or Vitrue.

An added layer of work comes in the form of legitimate customer complaints that are full of "f-bombs," Vitrue CEO Reggie Bradford said. Those fans can't just be deleted and banned -- they have to be passed on to the brand's customer service department.

Time and effort and a human eye: That's what it takes to run a spam-free Facebook page.

It's hard to put a price tag on this kind of effort. There's no standard dollar amount for a service that didn't exist a couple of years ago. Since contracts between brands and Facebook management companies and/or Facebook software providers depend on the size of the job, pricing can fluctuate, but it's important to differentiate between those two separate services.

Some companies like Vitrue and Buddy Media provide software that brands can use for various Facebook page activities, including setting up a filter to flag possible spam. That service can cost from $2,500 to $25,000 -- or more if an account runs multiple brands with multiple pages -- a month. A second service offered by a different set of companies such as 22squared review the data to see which page conversations are spam and which are fans, and funnel the messages to the proper department within the brand's company, be it customer service or marketing or legal. This service can cost anywhere between $5,000 and $20,000 a month, with variations dependent on the depth of service.

The costs of dealing with spam add up quickly. But with Facebook becoming more and more essential to a brand's image, can companies afford not do do it? Remember, TV commercials cost millions to produce and millions more to place on the right channel and the right show -- and while they don't produce spam, neither do they offer the kind of open, two-way communication between the brand and its consumers that is the bread-and-butter of Facebook pages -- which are free.

The reason large fan-base pages are so attractive to spammers and self-promoters is because of the exposure the spammers can get, even if their message is up for just a few hours. Ford's social media manger, Scott Monty, has noticed this growth, but along with it comes an added advantage -- fans are working as moderators of spam on pages dedicated to different Ford cars. "As we continue to grow our fan base, the issue of spam becomes more prevalent," Mr. Monty said. "But one of the most helpful elements of leading such passionate communities of Ford advocates is that even if we're not able to monitor the site in real time 24/7, we have fans who reach out to us and notify us of spam."

Virgin America, with a much smaller fan base than Ford, has noticed the same kind of enthusiasm and willingness to help. "We're fortunate in that we rarely have to do much -- if any -- moderation. Our fans and followers are a passionate bunch," said Jill Fletcher, Virgin's social-media manager.

But once Ford and Virgin America hit millions of fans, they're going to need some extra help with Facebook's special version of spam.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

20 amazing custom facebook designs

Having entered the customized Facebook page arena some time ago, we appreciate when others share their thoughts and designs in this area.

Our theory is, take control. Facebook is a beautiful, open thought forum of text, images and video expression, but it's important to be the gatekeeper.

By customizing your Facebook welcome page, you control that all important first impress. You decide where they should click, read, view next. That way you have the powerful Facebook functionality at your service, but still have someone driving your agenda bus.

Here are 20 amazing custom Facebook designs recently shared by the Daily Blogger.

Once it was the FBML app. There were limitations. And then facebook introduced iframes. Since then, custom facebook page designs have grown to a complete new level of unlimited possibilities. Flash, Ajax, jQuery – all that you can think of in design is now available on facebook pages. Here are some of the brilliantly designed facebook pages.

1. Porsche

SEO Blog FireShot capture 034   Porsche I Facebook   www facebook com porsche vapp 73697663718 porsche sk

2. Coca Cola

SEO Blog FireShot capture 035   Coca Cola I Facebook   www facebook com cocacola skapp 157721657609068

3. McDonald’s

SEO Blog FireShot capture 036   McDonalds I Facebook   www facebook com McDonalds vapp 6009294086

4. Jeep

SEO Blog FireShot capture 037   Jeep   www facebook com McDonalds vapp 6009294086 jeep skapp 204242762924

5. Skittles

SEO Blog FireShot capture 038   Skittles   www facebook com skittles

6. Blackberry

SEO Blog FireShot capture 039   BlackBerry   www facebook com skittles BlackBerry

7. Katy Perry

SEO Blog FireShot capture 040   Katy Perry   www facebook com Sony vapp 6009294086 katyperry skapp 178091

8. Sony Ericsson

SEO Blog FireShot capture 041   Sony Ericsson   www facebook com Sony vapp 6009294086 sonyericsson

9. Dreamworks

SEO Blog FireShot capture 042   DreamWorks Animation   www facebook com DreamWorksAnimation skapp 1268632

10. Shrek

SEO Blog FireShot capture 043   Shrek   www facebook com DreamWorksAnimation skapp 126863277340863 Shrek

11. Kung Fu Panda

SEO Blog FireShot capture 044   Kung Fu Panda   www facebook com DreamWorksAnimation skapp 12686327734086

12. Howcast

SEO Blog FireShot capture 045   Howcast   www facebook com youtube vapp 132886723397538 howcast

13. Subway

SEO Blog FireShot capture 046   Subway   www facebook com Cranium subway skapp 10442206389

14. X Box

SEO Blog FireShot capture 047   Xbox   www facebook com Cranium xbox skapp 105747796173439

15. Microsoft

SEO Blog FireShot capture 048   Microsoft   www facebook com Microsoft

16. Bing

SEO Blog FireShot capture 049   Bing   www facebook com Microsoft Bing skapp 131344773561855

17. Windows

SEO Blog FireShot capture 050   Windows   www facebook com Microsoft windows

18. Chevrolet

SEO Blog FireShot capture 051   Chevrolet Arabia   www facebook com HondaCivicTour vapp 156939184341874 C

19. Tommy Hilfiger

SEO Blog FireShot capture 052   Tommy Hilfiger   www facebook com redmango tommyhilfiger skapp 1044220638

20. Ebay

SEO Blog FireShot capture 053   eBay   www facebook com redmango eBay skapp 164953773555239

How to design a custom facebook landing page in FBML / iframe ?

Step 1 – Got to Facebook Developers.

Step 2 – Click on “Create a new app” button.

Step 3 – Give in the app details in the fields asked.

SEO Blog FireShot capture 054   Create Application   www facebook com developers createapp php app id1613

Step 4 – Enter the application details as requested. Make sure you have a privacy policy and terms and conditions set up on html files and paste the urls in the field. Now, this isn’t necessary, but if you’re going for a popular application / page that has data fetching integrated, then it might be a good idea to have both terms and conditions and privacy policy.

For simple landing pages, you can skip it.

Step 5 – Enter site details.

SEO Blog FireShot capture 056   Edit Your page name goes here   www facebook com developers editapp php a

Step 6 – Select canvas type

SEO Blog FireShot capture 057   Edit ManiKarthik   www facebook com developers editapp php app id16133053

Select canvas type as “iFrame” and iFrame size as “Auto resize” (this is to avoid scroll bars to popup when the app goes beyond the specified length or height.)

Step 7 – Specify the page URL

SEO Blog FireShot capture 058   Edit ManiKarthik   www facebook com developers editapp php app id16133053

Tab name : This is the tab name that appears on the left navigation bar on the facebook page.
The icon that appears next to it, can be changed in Step 1 (Website settings).

Step 8 – Designing the page

When designing the page, make sure the width is not more than 520 pixels, so that it fits the facebook page space. You can embed any media through the iframe, videos, flash, sound, html or just about any web element.

Those best facebook pages are the ones where the elements are designed in such a way that it doesn’t hinder the facebook experience but enhances the user experience in interactive ways.

Tips to create a good custom facebook page

  1. Don’t forget to add an icon and logo to the application so that the default icon does not show up in your navigation area (see screenshot.). This makes your page look un-professional. You could use many of those free icon sets available, that will fit very well with the rest of facebook icons.

    SEO Blog FireShot capture 059   Chevrolet Arabia   www facebook com ChevroletArabia

    SEO Blog FireShot capture 060   Bing   www facebook com eBay Bing

    Wrong way to put icons Right way to use icons

  2. Try best to include a privacy policy and terms and conditions
    Lets say you’re a popular brand and you’ve data fetching elements like email forms etc on your page. In such cases, its safe to add privacy policies to your page so that it aligns itself to facebook’s terms and conditions.
  3. Dimensions
    Make sure the width of page is not beyond 520 pixels or else the content won’t show up properly on facebook page.
  4. Switch off scrollbars
    In the canvas app settings page, make sure you switch off enabling scroll bars or else if the content goes beyond the specified length, it would get truncated with scroll bars.
  5. Content on facebook page
    Try to make the content on page minimal unless absolutely necessary. Facebook users get triggered by content that are similar to that are being shared on facebook, hence too much text and lot of action points might confuse users.
Our thanks to the Daily Blogger and the design gurus who contributed today.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Boston marathons oldest runner

Boston Marathon's oldest Runner - courtesy of Time's NewsFeed

Getty Images / Jim Rogash

Participants run toward the finish line during the Boston Marathon in 2010

Getty Images / Jim Rogash

Eighty-one-year-0ld Clarence Hartley is the oldest runner in today's Boston Marathon. But unlike his competitors for whom 24.2 miles is quite a feat, Hartley has faced physical challenges that make the marathon seem like mere child's play. He survived the Korean and Vietnam Wars as a Distinguished Lieutenant Colonel for the Air Force and battled both lymphoma and prostate cancer in his later years; emerging from all this no worse for wear.

(More on See the top 10 endurance competitions)

The Boston Marathon sets a qualifying time of 5 hours — a standard that Hartley made by over 20 minutes last May. Today marks his first start in the race: he qualified for the first time back in 2005 but had to forfeit his place in order to undergo chemotherapy. Now that he's cancer-free and no longer in combat, he can set his sights on more spirit-lifting goals: instead of fighting for survival, he'll be fighting to beat "several thousand younger runners," he tells Runner's World.

Hartley is certainly a fighter, and it's that competitive spirit that has allowed him to pass tests of his life with flying colors. Despite all he's endured, Hartley remarks that he's far from past his prime. "The last time I felt so good was on my final combat mission in the Air Force in 1969," he says.

Anyone perusing today's results may not have to scroll too far down to find Hartley. (via Runner's World)

(More on (See pictures of Extreme Marathons)

Monday, April 18, 2011

Interesting subway art installation for Lays Potato chips

We get excited whenever an advertiser finds a new way to "get the word out". Lays found a very unique way of making an impression with their potato growing installation on the roof of a Chicago subway tunnel.

Check it out for yourself. Thanks to Copyranter and Daniel Maurer

Like They Need to Sell Us on Fried Potatoes?

Like They Need to Sell Us on Fried Potatoes?

Photo: Daniel Maurer and Copyranter

Copyranter isn’t at all amused that Lay’s has installed some fake potatoes in the ceiling of Chicago’s Jackson Tunnel to advertise that potatoes for the chips are “grown closer than you think.” The installation looks pretty cool to us, and you know what we also can’t help but love? An advertisement for Chipstix, fried potatoes on a stick, that we came across in Seaside Heights, New Jersey. Chipstix joins boardwalk monstrosities like the “Seaside Tony,” a cheesesteak with American cheese and fried balls of processed cheese, and, of course, the “Scooter pie,” which is similar to a fried s’more. As irresistible as cheese balls are (see this clip at 4:50 to see what they can do to a man), nothing will ever replace the Italian hot dog (a dog with fried peppers, onions, and potatoes) in our hearts, and though we were too stuffed from the above-mentioned foods to try one at 25-year-old Frankies Franks of Brick, New Jersey, we did take a photo of their amazing setup to show you how food trucks are done in Dirty Jerz.

Photo: Daniel Maurer

Friday, April 15, 2011

Creative Excellence Fridays - Does patriatism sell cars?

Thanks to Rory O'Shea for forwarding this week's creative inspiration.

The Chrysler 200 commercial featuring Eminem is beautiful film making. This commercial has been sliced and diced into several versions. 30's, 60's, and the original length below. One of the great things about theatre commercials and online presentations is that the film maker is allowed to let a commercial resolve to its' proper beats, without cutting here and there to squeeze it into a broadcast unit.

But the question this week; does patriotism sell cars? One might be inclined to buy a car that was part of a company the public has bailed out to the tune of billions, in hopes that the public investment didn't go to waste. This Chrysler ad is working from the perspective of a natural inclination to root for the underdog. In this case, it's Detroit.

When GM pulled itself out of the doldrums of insolvency, they realized they too needed to wave a flag, or three to beat the drum of North American pride. The thinking behind this ad is not dissimilar to the Chrysler ad. Chrysler's underdog, Detroit. GM's underdog? The whole North American economy.

Here's the ad that came out two years ago when GM was clawing back.

And finally, a more recent ad GM put together to celebrate the name, reinvigorate the brand and push forward a sense of corporate pride around all the surviving GM names.

I was looking for a commercial by Ford that said, "we didn't take a dime from the government and we're just fine thank you very much", but that one must still be in production. Maybe next time.

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

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Marc Cubans perspective - How Netflix is Hurting Youtube

A really interesting perspective from media mogul Mark Cuban. I think his estimation of how the three mediums (Netflix, Youtube and traditional TV) are being perceived is pretty accurate.

How Netflicks is Hurting YouTube

Time to delve back into the world of video. Oh, and don’t forget to watch SharkTank on ABC this friday at 8pm/7pm :) ..

It has taken some time but Netflix and Youtube have each taken their position in the video entertainment world and I get the feeling that Youtube is not too happy about it.

On Youtube you can maybe change the world. On Youtube you can be discovered and help discover the next Justin Bieber. On Youtube, if one of your videos goes viral, you can make tens of thousands of dollars, and if you can replicate the feat of popularity, you can make hundreds of thousands of dollars annually. Those are real commission dollars .

But wait, there is more good from Youtube. Any one around the world can get Youtube to subsidize the cost of hosting their family/wedding/team/business/class/personal videos. Hopefully perpetually. These are unique, honorable,impactful and expensive roles that Youtube has chosen to under take.

But if you want to veg out and watch a TV show or movie, the vast majority of people just turn on the TV. About 11mm people turn on Netflix..

The lines of division between Youtube, Netflix and traditional TV have become crystal clear.

Traditional TV is where you get entertainment in real time. Live major sports, the latest movies on VOD, original episodes of your favorite TV shows, all in the highest, no – buffering quality available to your TV. Plus they have smartly opened the door to TV EVerywhere and in home tablet streaming so that there is a pay once, watch anywhere opportunity for their content.

Netflix is where you get streaming access to a growing library of thousands of TV shows and movies, and soon, a smattering of original content as well. Netflix has done an extraordinary job of being available easily on any and every device known to the internet. 11mm (those streaming, not all netflix users) or so users have happily paid Netflix $7.99 per month for this service and it shows no signs of slowing down.

Youtube is the counter-balance to Netflix and Traditional TV. Youtube is where you know 99pct of what is on the site is pure junk that has no relevance to you. It’s like walking through the bargain bin at Walmart hoping to find something that might interest you, knowing the price is right. Youtube is Community Access Television for the world.

Remember back in the day when Cable had A and B sides of the set top box ? You got all the good channels on the A side, and all the community access stuff was on the B side ? Youtube is the aggregation of every B side of every cable system in the world. That is not a knock on Youtube. It just ain’t what it ain’t.

The B side of cable was community driven. The B side of cable was an open door for anyone with access to a video camera. The cable company would let you schedule shows and put them on their schedule . Like Youtube, back in the day, there were shows that would break out and create mainstream opportunities.

I can’t help but include this paragraph from the history of Public Access TV in Manhattan

Public access has a fundamental PR problem, which one producer summed up with this rhetorical question: “If anybody can do it, who would want to?” I don’t think there is any particular personality type that is drawn to public access; as with anything, it attracts good, bad, and ugly. But these people (each of whom I met by chance through the help of someone else I interviewed) have some things in common. All are creative, and all seem to have a thick skin and a high threshold for frustration. None were paid for their shows. Most actually shelled out their own money for studio time. Three admitted to suffering career setbacks later as a result of appearing on public access. They approached their work in television with a level of intensity and passion that only exists in the realm of avocations and came away with uniquely philosophical perspectives on the nature of television.”

The same thing could easily be said about Youtube producers today. And that is a business problem and social opportunity for Youtube. They have become Community Access for the Internet. That is a brilliant opportunity if you are trying to change the world or create huge communities . That is a huge challenge if you are trying to maximize earnings per share for your parent corporation. People won’t pay a subscription fee for any of it and most of it will never pay for itself with advertising because most of it will never be seen. It is the B side of the content world.

Which is exactly why I believe Youtube is channeling 1998 and gearing up to do quite a bit of live streaming. They don’t like being the third entertainment option . They don’t like being the “b or c side of content”". They are hoping live streaming can change the standings.

Offering everyone in the world the opportunity to stream whatever they want, live to the rest of the world, could actually change the world. But it won’t change the content stratification challenge Youtube is facing now. It won’t change how people see Youtube relative to traditional TV and Netflix.

The reality is that both cable/telco/sat distributors on your TV and Netflix are moving faster in terms of the introduction of technology (TV Everywhere/Remote DVR/IPad and multi device suuport) and the introduction of new and original high value content than Youtube. I think Youtube is hoping that live streaming will change that. It will be interesting to see if it does.

Personally, I’m not optimistic. But hey Youtube, call me. I’ve been there , done that and I can help you out.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

The Winkelvoss twins will have to survive on 65 million

If you saw the Social Network, you're familiar with the Winkelvoss twins. They are the ivy league boys who sued Mark Zuckerberg for inventing "their" facebook.

Well a court has finally ruled their case is over and done, and it's time to move on with their lives and somehow eek by on their original settlement of 65 million. Here's an article by Emily Banks from Mashable with more details.

Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss must accept their $65 million settlement from Facebook and move on.

A U.S. appeals court ruled Monday that the settlement — which was featured in the movie The Social Network — still stands, despite the Winklevosses’ claim that Facebook did not disclose an accurate valuation.

The suit stems from the Winklevosses’ claim that Facebook co-founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg stole their idea for the social-networking site. Zuckerberg and Facebook deny the allegations, but agreed to settle in 2008. Since then, the Winklevoss twins have attempted to secure a higher settlement by claiming that Facebook is guilty of securities fraud.

“The Winklevosses are not the first parties bested by a competitor who then seek to gain through litigation what they were unable to achieve in the marketplace,” Chief Judge Alex Kozinski wrote in today’s ruling. “And the courts might have obliged, had the Winklevosses not settled their dispute and signed a release of all claims against Facebook.”

With both the district court and appeals court in agreement, it seems this may be the end of the Winklevosses’ claim to any additional shares of Facebook.

“For whatever reason, they (the Winklevosses) now want to back out. Like the district court, we see no basis for allowing them to do so,” Kozinski wrote. “At some point, litigation must come to an end. That point has now been reached.”

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Is Facebook reaching out to China?

Is Facebook expanding to China? You'd think a half a billion members would quench most corporate appetites but apparently not. Mark Zuckerberg had a recent visit to China and the rumours are that he is negotiating to attach himself, not Facebook to their search engine giant Baidu. I follow Steffen Konrath of Medialab on Twitter. Here is his article.

A few months after Mark Zuckerberg paid a visit to China, news has emerged that Facebook has signed an agreement with Chinese search engine giant Baidu to set up a new social networking site in China, according to reports from a leading web portal on Monday.

The new website will not be linked to Facebook’s global service, which is currently blocked in China, the report on said, citing unnamed Baidu employees.

The agreement follows several meetings between Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and Baidu’s chief executive Robin Li, it added, and comes amid reports the US social networking giant is eyeing a move into mainland China.

Baidu spokesman Kaiser Kuo refused to comment when contacted, and the Sohu report was later taken off the website.

Facebook downplayed the report as rumor upon which it would not comment.

“We are currently studying and learning about China, as part of evaluating any possible approaches that could benefit our users, developers and advertisers,” Facebook spokesperson Debbie Frost said in response to an inquiry.

Facebook said in February it had opened a Hong Kong office, its third in Asia, while Zuckerberg visited China in December, prompting suggestions that Beijing may eventually welcome the California company.

During his China visit, Zuckerberg met with Charles Chao, chief executive of popular web portal, as well as Li to discuss the world’s biggest web market, a hugely lucrative landscape.

China has 450-million internet users and rising, but it is also peppered with dominant domestic brands, technical hurdles and the threat of censorship.

Beijing has set up a vast online censorship system sometimes dubbed the “Great Firewall of China” that aggressively blocks sites and snuffs out Internet content on topics considered sensitive.

The system currently prevents most of the nation’s web users from accessing Facebook.

The report said the launch date for the new website had not yet been decided. – AFP

Monday, April 11, 2011

Twitter ad growing pains

Twitter is still the talk of the social town, but their recent attempts to add a further monetizing have met with resistance.

Here are the details from AdAge Digital

Ad Growing Pains for Twitter
Advertisers Seek Better Targeting, Analytics From Social Network
By: Irina Slutsky Bio
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Published: April 04, 2011
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Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey returned to the company last week and walked right into a micro tweet-storm: a new feature dubbed "QuickBar" rolled out on its own mobile app, triggering backlash from vocal users, in part because it placed a Twitter ad product, "Promoted Trends," on top of users' friends' missives.

Jack Dorsey
Simon Dawson/Bloomberg
Jack Dorsey
In the end, CEO Dick Costolo removed "QuickBar" -- widely dubbed #dickbar in the Twittersphere -- from the app. "After testing a feature and evaluating its merits, if we learn it doesn't improve the user experience or serve our mission, we'll remove that feature," the company wrote in a blog post.

But the kerfuffle points to a central challenge for Mr. Costolo and Mr. Dorsey, who is head of product development: where and when to interrupt the flow of tweets to introduce relevant ad messages without annoying users.

At this point, plenty of marketers big and small have tried out Twitter's three ad products, Promoted Tweets, Promoted Trends and Promoted Accounts, which are selling well. But as ads on Twitter grow up and the experimental phase ends, marketers are starting to ask for the kind of basics they get from other marketing partners -- namely, better targeting and analytics.

"If Twitter was to integrate targeting, it would be a game changer," said Shiv Singh, PepsiCo's head of digital who uses Twitter frequently in his campaigns. "As soon as Twitter learns to do that, the business opportunity will explode."
Shiv Singh
Shiv Singh

Plenty of big publishers and social networks, from CNN to MTV to Facebook, allow precise targeting of consumers, which doesn't exist on Twitter. Mr. Singh's wish list for targeting included location targeting. "If I buy a promoted tweet and [want to target] 20-something males who live in urban areas," he said. That wish is coming true: company confirmed an AllThingsD report that geo-targeting has begun in metropolitan areas.

In addition, more research needs to be done on the impact and value of retweets, the amplification effect that gets marketers so excited about Twitter. Marketers have spent the past few years scrambling for "likes" on Facebook, but the retweet is potentially more powerful.

"They aren't completely monetizing the value of their ad product because they don't know how to count and predict the influence of the retweets, of the long tail," Mr. Shiv said.

Part of the difficulty of targeting on Twitter is that Twitter doesn't actually know much about its users. Profiles are typically short, a quick bio blurb and sometimes a location or name, but definitely not the kind of granular information people give Facebook.

Another aspect of geo-targeting that's on the wishlist for some is the ability to send tweets to consumers in different time zones. Adidas, a brand that uses competitor Facebook often, had this very request for Mr. Dorsey.

"From a global perspective, geo-targeting tweets would be a huge plus for Adidas and something we would love to see," said Gabriel Jaffe, head of global digital communications.

Ryan Holmes, CEO of Twitter client Hootsuite, said that many companies he works with could use some kind of time-sensitive geo-targeting tool. "Wouldn't it be cool if you could send one message, and say, 'I want this message to show up at 11:45 a.m. worldwide?'" Mr. Holmes said. "So that way, everybody sees a tweet from McDonald's saying 'Aren't you hungry?'"

Naturally, what can follow that kind of targeted message is the potential for group discounts, and many professional Twitter users suggested that a Groupon-like layer on top of Twitter could change how Twitter works and how people use it. Other than an information highway, Twitter can become part of the consumer experience in terms of e-commerce and mobile payments. Twitter and payments are closer than we think already -- even as he comes back to Twitter, Mr. Dorsey will remain the CEO of Square, a mobile-payments company he co-founded two years ago.

Twitter has stormed past 200 million registered accounts -- which puts it in a league with Facebook, at 650 million -- but there has been some debate over how many of these accounts are active. A significant number of Twitter accounts both have no following or follow no one, indicating they're not active. Twitter hasn't released figures; one proxy is to look at the 25 million people who visit in the U.S. each month, according to ComScore, assuming Twitter users visit the site at least once a month.

According to eMarketer, Twitter earned $45 million in advertising revenue last year, well below Facebook's $1.8 billion. ComScore measured Facebook's monthly U.S. uniques at around 150 million.

Like Facebook, Twitter has spawned an ever-growing third-party ecosystem of apps and services, a sign of the company's success. While Twitter has a great relationship with many of these companies -- including Hootsuite and Klout -- it's recently begun to be tougher on some developers. Twitter said that while current Twitter clients can continue as they are, new developers should focus their Twitter powers elsewhere.

But industry analyst and angel investor Paul Kedrosky said Twitter should be cautious about disrupting its third-party ecosystem. Businesses built on Twitter can play a role in helping the site figure the best model, and can shoulder some of the load of innovation. "I think Twitter needs to make it obvious that it has no plans in that area," Mr. Kedrosky said. "But will help developers build fantastic product to service brands, which are crucial for Twitter's success."

Friday, April 8, 2011

Creative Excellence Fridays - Funny or Die

You may already be familiar with this gem; funny or I discovered it about a year ago, and now it seems to have switched its' jets on turbo.

Funny or Die is a comedy video website founded by Will Ferrell and Adam McKay's production company, Gary Sanchez Productions with original and user generated content. Funny or Die is unique in that it contains a good deal of exclusive material from a number of famous contributors (e.g. Judd Apatow, James Franco) and has its own Funny or Die Team (FOD Team) which creates original material for the site. Many clips featured on the site feature well-known actors (examples include Charlie Sheen, Patrick Stewart, Daniel Radcliffe, Lindsay Lohan and Jerry Seinfeld). Michael Kvamme, an aspiring young comedian, came up with a concept for a new kind of comedy site and the site was developed by Randy Adams. Videos are voted on by users of the site; those that are deemed funny stay, but those that are not "die" and are relegated to the site's "crypt".

Earlier this week I saw Billy Crystal on The Daily Show promoting a sequel to "When Harry Met Sally". What he was actually promoting was a short parody piece on what it could be like to try and produce that movie under today's youth focused business model.

Surf around FunnyorDie and you'll be amazed by the talent who are lending their services to various short skits. It's becoming a showcase for Hollywood superstars with a sense of humour. The phrase "one little tweak" becomes a catalyst for disaster.


And the second hot viral video from FunnyorDie this week, David Mamet's "Lost Masterpieces of Pornography" starring Ed O'Neill and Kristen Bell. Another instant classic.

Inspirationally funny. Have a great weekend.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Google digs deep with 100 million to produce original programming for YouTube

If there was every any doubt before, Google has erased it. The future of entertainment is online. The slogan, get what you want, when you want it will become even more a reality.
By shelling out a hundred million towar
Publish Post
ds original programming for Youtube, Google is driving the channel into the next stage of its' evolution.

Is anyone still wondering if search is important for video? In November of 2008, YouTube surpassed Yahoo for the first time in total U.S. search queries, making it the 2nd largest search engine in the U.S. next to only its owner, Google. Ever since then, YouTube has continued to dominate the search space when you look at the total number of search queries.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

GoDaddy buys their own video production facility

I am not a fan of the Godaddy "brand", but the service and price points are very good. We use Godaddy here and the support is very professional.

On their website you'll find videos of president Bob Parsons extolling his visions of how to be more successful and save time.

Parsons is obviously looking for ways to save money as he expands into other countries and will require a lot more customizing of his video and online content. With the launch of our online video promotion site next week, we're certainly glad that Bob believes in video as strongly as we do. Here is an article from Adweek talking about his new production facility.

Adweek - April 7, 2011
For a small company, GoDaddy has had a large role in the ongoing evolution of Super Bowl commercials. Now could it push the role of commercial production?

The Scottsdale, Ariz., registrar of web-domain names wants to take in-house advertising to a new level. The company has developed its Super Bowl commercials and other ads under its own roof since 2005, but it has hired production firms and other personnel as the case mandated. Now GoDaddy has finished construction of its own 4,000-square-foot studio, the better to help it as it prepares to advertise overseas. The company has shot a new ad slated to air during the Indianapolis 500 featuring Danica Patrick, one of its so-called GoDaddy Girls.

GoDaddy often generates attention in inverse proportion to its size.

The company's decidedly low-fi Super Bowl ads raise hackles by focusing on scantily clad women sauntering about in spots whose production values aren't quite on the level of, say, Pepsi's famous Britney Spears extravaganza or Apple's memorable "1984" classic. And yet, said Bob Parsons, the company's CEO, GoDaddy laughs all the way to the bank.

Most recently company Mr. Parsons raised hackles elsewhere by posting a video of himself shooting and killing an elephant in Zimbabwe.

On the whole, however, GoDaddy has become an advertiser worth tracking, not least because it has been able to put a face on the abstract business of registering domain names, largely through Super Bowl commercials and a few other promotional roosts. What's more, it has done so with efforts that seem exponentially less expensive than those by more mainstream members of the Super Bowl ad roster. GoDaddy's paid media spending pales in comparison to Procter & Gamble or Coca-Cola. Indeed, the company spent only around $31.4 million on media time and space in 2010, according to Kantar Media. In contrast, P&G spent around $3.1 billion last year, according to Kantar.

"The edgy ads pull 10 times better in terms of response," Mr. Parsons said in an interview. "If you were in my position, what would you do?" According to Nielsen, experienced a 41% increase in unique U.S. visitors in the week following this year's Super Bowl compared to the week before the broadcast on Fox.

Now Mr. Parsons and his crew think they have hit upon another way to be efficient. Rather than living more luxuriously and hire outsiders to help transform ad concepts into actual video content, GoDaddy will operate its own facility. GoDaddy will now operate its own complex, Mr. Parsons said, replete with "a big workshop for prop storage and set building, full hair, makeup and wardrobe suites, a green room, catering kitchen, post-production facility and design suite, editing suites, a 5.1 surround-sound audio room and production offices." As a result, he said, GoDaddy will save anywhere from 40% to 80% or more.

The company has already saved significantly by handling some work itself; Mr. Parsons estimates that the company's two Super Bowl ads, produced in-house for what he said was "a little over $1 million," would have cost $2 million to $3 million had GoDaddy sent them out for post-production work involving animation and graphics. But the new facility will give the company the ability to produce more video advertising with greater frequency more cheaply than if GoDaddy had to rely on outside vendors, he said.

The company has reason to watch its nickels and dimes. Mr. Parsons, who estimated GoDaddy produces 8 to 10 ads a year that air as many as 400 to 900 times a week, most often on cable TV, said GoDaddy intends to ramp up its presence in markets including India, Asia, South America and South Africa. That will require producing different ads than Americans usually see, he said; the company's edgy flavor may not work well in other regions. "We're walking in very slowly," he said.

Relying solely on in-house capabilities can prove limiting, and it's not clear that GoDaddy's method would work for advertisers 10 times its size. Indeed, GoDaddy's international ambitions could make an outside partner more appealing. A company that distributes dozens of different video ads around the globe may find it more worthwhile to hire an independent studio or an agency that can make use of an array of offices in different parts of the world.

Keeping things in-house may mean narrowing access to volume discounts on equipment or not being able to call up certain directors or other production talent, said Matt Miller, president-CEO of the Association of Independent Commercial Producers, a trade organization. "The question comes down to, do they really believe they are going to be able to have that amount of both technique and talent at their disposal based on their own employees?" he asked.

For Mr. Parsons, the answer is a simple "yes." Other, more traditional advertisers may rely on well-lit shots of "some young mother petting a puppy," but he's built a business by shooting "a young chick lying down on the hood of a car," he said. It's OK that some people question his methods, according to Mr. Parsons. "We do what we do because it works," he said.

GoDaddy will also use its new studio to create Mr. Parsons's video blog, a promotional tool that has helped the company bolster its Super Bowl advertising in the past, as well as corporate videos.

Monday, April 4, 2011

10 creative ways to use FBooks new profile

Facebook's new display and profile page with pics offers some creative challenges to those who won't settle for the ordinary.

Thanks to Mashable for 10 creative ways to take advantage of the new look.

10 creative facebook concepts

Friday, April 1, 2011

Creative Excellence Fridays - Jennifer Aniston Sex Tape

Jennifer Aniston is the spokesperson for SmartWater. In this viral video, she isn't trying to appear "hipper" than she is with her vast knowledge of the internet and viral video. As a matter of fact, just the opposite. This three minute video follows her, in an unabashed way through the studio sessions as she explores every possible "gimmick" to drive more traffic to the SmartWater web site.

It's very well done and most importantly, extremely successful being the number one viraled video last week.


Have a great weekend!