AFP/Breitbart: "A Japanese company Tuesday unveiled a new device that will allow people "speak" through their ear so they can use their mobile telephones in noisy places. The device -- named "e-Mimi-kun" (good ear boy) -- doubles as an earphone and a microphone by detecting air vibrations inside the ear, developer NS-ELEX Co. said."
Mannequin designers at Rootstein find their creations frequently copied by cheaper manufacturers.
VMSD.com: "If the mannequin you acquire imitates a higher-priced model in design, pose, paint, facial expression or some other details, you’re likely breaking the law. Retailers face legal liability if there’s a whiff of suspicion that they conspired to have cheaper imitations produced. And – here’s the big cautionary message – retailers are liable even if they didn’t know the mannequins they purchased were copies."
Moving Mannequins with Face Recognition
Mannequin Crowd Promotes Real Estate
Concept: Social Retailing
While the translation bots are not famous for understanding human speech with great accuracy, one thing Google's bots get right is swearing.
Google has just released a series of language translation bots that you can invite for a chat and that would act as simultaneous interpreter when you have a conversation with another foreign-language speaking human.
You probably don't want to use it for important conversations: Israeli journalists recently got themselves into a diplomatic scandal when their translation software misfired and one of the questions to the Dutch Foreign Minister resulted in"The mother your visit in Israel is a sleep to the favor or to the bed."
So. Google's English to Russian bots translate "Let's go drinking" as "Let's find potable" and "Shipping up to Boston" as "Navigation to Pskov". But swearing? Dead on.
Washington Post (Nov 26, 2007): "Widespread expectations of a recession could be self-fulfilling because of how financial markets and mainstream America are interconnected. If investors are sufficiently convinced a recession is ahead, they would be reluctant to lend money to businesses that want to expand, making it so."
Here are the expectations:
Google Trends: term "recession" in searches and news (U.S).
Blogpulse: term "recession" in consumer-generated media (blogs, newsgroups)
NY Times (Dec 4, 2007): "Growth in advertising spending in the United States is slowing considerably, according to several forecasters whose predictions are closely followed. But they believe the continuing strength of ad spending online — as well as the stimulative effects of the elections and the Summer Olympics — should keep the industry from suffering a recession in 2008."
Telegraph (Dec 15, 2007): "Morgan Stanley has issued a full recession alert for the US economy, warning of a sharp slowdown in business investment and a "perfect storm" for consumers as the housing slump spreads."
Time to dust off the trusty chart showing how advertising during recession is good for business in the long run:
The results of a McGraw-Hill research that showed companies advertising during the 1981-82 recession averaged higher sales growth (source).
CyberLover chat bot reports back your romantic progress through a status bar.
Reuters: "A Russian website called CyberLover.ru is advertising a software tool that, it says, can simulate flirtatious chatroom exchanges. It boasts that it can chat up as many as 10 women at the same time and persuade them to hand over phone numbers. The program, so far available only in Russian, will go on sale around February 15, just after St Valentine's Day, said the CyberLover.ru website. "Not a single girl has yet realized that she was communicating with a program!" it said, adding that the program could also simulate virtual sex online." (Emphasis mine.)
The site, which is not quite ready for the prime-time yet, also suggests that the software could be used not only to hit up girls, but also to coax guys into parting with their money, or to advertise your website.
The screenshot is one of the two available on CyberLover.ru (they have conveniently added a header in English for the curious Westerners). The columns in the table are: nickname, progress (in percentages, no less), number of messages received, and the time of the last received message.) The progress bar is truly priceless. Average throughput: 10-20 people in 30 minutes.
Dunno. Would be cool if it were real, but it says 2005 on the screenshots, so it can be anything. I'll put it on the calendar and make sure to follow up in two months, though.
Warning: The Vanishing Fabric Marker should not be used for signing checks.
The 2007 winners of Michigan Lawsuit Abuse Watch's "Annual Wacky Warning Label Contest" are in. The one for the vanishing marker could be used as an ad copy. The Watch also has just published a book Remove Child Before Folding: The 101 Stupidest, Silliest, and Wackiest Warning Labels Ever. Another good one is The Warning Label Book.
Audi's Manga-style ad in the new Monocle magazine is one of the 13 Business Week's picks for 2007 ad trends.
Radiohead, Facebook (twice), Twitter (why?), Halo 3 all made the list of innovations at Business Week's ad post-mortem for 2007. Blendtec's Will It Blend?, Audi's manga ad in Monocle, and a couple of others are among the less predictable and more interesting ones.
Act like you're shopping: a map of public restrooms in Boston and around the world at safe2pee.org.
On the one hand, Boston's frequent bathroom visitors want to legislate access to retail-based restrooms: "Patients suffering from intestinal disorders urged lawmakers yesterday to pass a bill requiring private businesses to open up their bathrooms to people during medical emergencies or face a fine of $100." (Metro).
On the other hand, Westminster's (that's in the center of London) city council created a system where people with the urge send a "toilet" text message and get locations of the nearest facilities sent to their cell phones. "Stores started signing up almost immediately, according to councilor Alan Bradley. And, once through the doors, there is every likelihood that the potential customer will relax and become an actual customer." (Retail Wire via Store Media News).
Of course, Charmin bathrooms show just how appreciated a good branded bathroom at the right time could be. And I think it was Paco Underhill in Why We Buy who suggested that bathrooms in supermarkets can be used to sample relevant products from the suppliers -- paper towels, soap, toilet paper, towels, napkins, perhaps also combs or mirrors.
If you are interested in bathroom (re)design for your company or a client, take a look at Public Toilet Design.
Public Toilet Design: From Hotels, Bars, Restaurants, Civic Buildings and Businesses Worldwide
As I wrote in the Trends post, the current explosive growth in consumer-generated media is not the only consequence of content production tools becoming more accessible. Even more important is the growth of content that is produced and distributed directly by marketers without the institutional media acting as paid intermediaries. Yes, BudTV has not been the biggest success story so far, but it's also about the myriads of in-flight and store magazines, newsletters, podcasts, branded social networks (P&G, Johnson&Johnson are among the bigger players), websites, films, on-demand cable productions, games.
It's a big trend, much bigger than whatever technological novelty of the day is attracting everyone's attention. This is why I'm glad to help spread the word about the first Custom Content Conference (New Orleans, March 9-11, 2008) produced by the Custom Publishing Council. Check out the online Content magazine that the Council publishes, too. Registration is $595 before January 1 and $695 thereafter.
Color wheel as seen by a red-insensitive protanope.
To test how your ads are seen by the color-blind, you can use Vischeck, an online tool and a set of downlodable Photoshop filters for PC and Mac.
More tools. A color-blind-friendly interface on Summize.
Advertising for the Color-Blind
Tool: How Color Blind People See Text
Advertising in Braille
The Robotic Shopping Assistant
Playboy in Braille
A regular color wheel (source).
Somebody some day (me?) is going to track back all those excited blog posts about newly spotted iterations of AdSense units and compile them into one fascinating history book. Here's my contribution: apparently, Google is testing units that can scroll. Spotted right here; see those small two up and down arrows?. And before that:
- For others to read the article. That's what headlines and titles (there's a difference: headlines have verbs in them) have been invented for, after all: to attract readers' attention to the content under them. A corollary: it also needs to attract readers' attention when it is found out of its original context, for example, on someone else's site.
- For others to notice it in the RSS reader (this was a topic of a separate post on RSS usability last year).
- For the author to like it. This is straightforward: you wouldn't slap a subjectively ugly headline on your article (although in newspapers, copy editors often do) because you will be the one staring at it before anyone else sees it. And long after that, too.
- For the author to find it. How do you link back to your old posts relevant to the subject at hand? I use my own search box, and I got into the habit of using keywords that I'm likely to remember months or even years down the road.
- For others to find it. This is the non-profit SEO part where you write you headline so that it comes up for a search on the topic the article is about and helps someone out. This means two things: the article needs to be in the top search results, and the headline needs to prompt the click.
- For others to find it, for a different reason. In the for-profit world of SEO, you'll write your headline so that it drives people who search for something that your site in general (but not necessarily each particular post) is promoting. The real trick here is to make the headline keyword-rich without it sounding artificial.
- For others to find it again, in their own information universe. It is terribly difficult to locate something you've bookmarked on del.icio.us when your bookmark count is in the thousands unless you know (or, importantly, you think you know) what the title was (Tags, while invented for a good purpose, are a mess).
- For the AdSense funnel, where the searcher clicks on your link in the search engine, arrives at your blog, looks around, and then bounces off through a well-targeted AdSense ad that is closer to what he's been searching for in the first place.
- For AdSense robots to display the right ads. I don't really know how much weight is assigned by the AdSense and other contextual ad algorithms to headlines, but it has to be significant since post titles are also page titles.
- To influence social forces on Digg and other similar content microcosms. There are plenty of guides on writing Diggable headlines out there.
It is probably against Facebook's TOS*, but slapping an affiliate banner on your profile page is fairly easy - get an account with a service such as LinkShare, register with a merchant program, grab an ad unit (a linked image), get MyHTML application (I think SuperWall would work, too, but I haven't tried), copy-paste the code, and you are in business. Similarly, you can embed a simple pixel-based traffic counter from a service like StatCounter.
Or you could drive traffic to your blog by installing the Blog RSS Feed Reader application that posts daily summaries of your headlines to your mini-feed for all the friends to see.
Are we going to see more profile spam that is so ubiquitous on MySpace and in the darker quarters of YouTube? Don't know; the lack of anonymity on Facebook is kind of a game killer.
On a related note:
NY Times: "More than 1,500 Facebook users have started placing advertisements on their own profile pages — despite the social networking site’s rule against such ads. They are posting them with the help of a Montreal-based company called Weblo, an advertising network that sells ads onto people’s blogs and social networking profile pages."
In July, Mashable put together a list of 5 ways to make money with Facebook that included Amazon affiliate links and selling services with micropayments.
*From Facebook's TOS: "In addition, you agree not to use the Service or the Site to [...] upload, post, transmit, share or otherwise make available any unsolicited or unauthorized advertising, solicitations, promotional materials, "junk mail," "spam," "chain letters," "pyramid schemes," or any other form of solicitation."
By moving mirrors in public bathrooms from behind the sinks to a wall near the exit you can ease the otherwise inevitable traffic congestion. More on Living in Space, via Architectures of Control. The latter also has an interesting post about how a European fashion retailer was accused of using flatteringly convex mirrors in its changing rooms.
Charmin's public bathrooms in Times Square that were such a hit last year are back, with a microsite, maps and train directions. NY Times blogged last month:
"The restrooms — along with a plush waiting area — occupy a 12,000-square-foot space on the mezzanine of an office tower 1540 Broadway, between 45th and 46th Streets. The restrooms have luxurious features like wainscoting, hardwood floors, crown moldings and — new for this year — Kohler plumbing fixtures. About 200 workers (18 to 30 working on each shift) are available to clean each restroom after each use.
The Times Square program grew out of a Pottypalooza, a marketing effort that began in 2001, in which Charmin drove a 53-foot trailer, fitted with 27 toilets, around the country, to events like the Super Bowl."
The first installment took about a year to plan.
Here's a video of what the bathrooms looked like last year (and another one from a grateful reviewer).
Surfers visiting pages with ads from NebuAd-affiliated networks will find the ads more likely to be meaningful to them; a user researching electric cars, for instance, might be less likely to see an ad for an SUV, and more likely to see one for a Prius."
The company can make gobs of money if it just datamined, packaged and sold behavior information it gathers. And AdBlock Plus must have updated its filters, it wouldn't let Firefox render NebuAd's site at all.
I'm liking the ring of it: high-definition napkins. I guess if you bind many of them in a book, you'll have a high-def flip book. Almost an HD TV. Anyway, NapAds Network prints your ads on napkins in high resolution and places them in bars. If you are a bar, you can get the napkins for free.
Boy reads The Incredibles manga in a scene from Finding Nemo.
One of the problems in advertising is a lack of continuity in the brand narrative over the years. Each new campaign is created at different times for different purposes and, often, by different people and lacks common elements besides the logo. See how Pixar bridges the gaps between its own stories by inserting Easter Egg references to its past -- and future -- projects.
And in case you were wondering, yes, you can advertise on the other Easter Eggs.
Ads in Game Easter Eggs
Easter Eggs in Products
Chart Chooser is a tool from Juice Analytics that, as its name suggests, lets you pick the right chart for your data and download an appropriate template for Excel or PowerPoint.
On a related note, you can generate dynamic charts on the fly with the newly released Google Charts API.
It seems like it would be useful to create a DMA layer for Google Maps and mash it up with all sorts of other demographic and client-specific information. I poked around and found this:
- A really cool mash-up (pictured above) of Google Maps and US Census (2000) data.
- Analygis's tool that works a bit differently but uses the same information
- Retail marketplace data package from ESRI.
Please drop a comment if you know of anything else.
Dashboard Spy: Subaru advertising effectiveness dashboard
If you are into interfaces and analytics and visualizations, you will like Dashboard Spy, a fairly new blog that already has amassed dozens of screenshots of executive dashboards, including indicators of advertising effectiveness.
There's an entire book about marketing dashboards, by the way.
Dashboard Spy: Enterprise Dashboard to Manage Hospital Beds
Found more details about the newly announced Yahoo-Adobe partnership to put contextual ads in PDF documents on Adobe site. Wonder what happens to the ads when you print the document out. Probably nothing, since the ads are not in the document.
"The Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood is demanding that McDonald’s immediately stop advertising on children’s report cards. Last week, students in Seminole County, Florida received their report cards in envelopes adorned with Ronald McDonald promising a free Happy Meal to students with good grades, behavior, or attendance. The advertisement appears on report cards envelopes for students in kindergarten through fifth grade. The envelopes are used to transport report cards to and from home throughout the school year."
-- Commercial-Free Childhood via AdFreak
Advertising on School Buses
Ads Advance Into Schools
Radio Ads on School Buses
Schools Sell Naming Rights
Here's a compilation of patents for devices and methods of various types of mind control. This one sounds promising: "Apparatus and method for remotely monitoring and altering brain waves" (pictured above).
And this one is the solution for the struggling TV industry: "It is therefore possible to manipulate the nervous system of a subject by pulsing images displayed on a nearby computer monitor or TV set."
Here are two more lists: one at rense.com and another international one at catalase.com.
Shopping Kite makes shopping bags that transform into kites. It looks like the company is Dutch but has a distribution center in Utah. A lot like these cardboard boxes that turn into playhouses, these bags extend the life of the brand, imbuing it with excitement. Absolutely beautiful.
"Someone will brand the sky."
Future Scanner is a social search engine that scours the internet for date-stamped predictions and arranges them into a neat and a very exciting timeline. It tells me that by the time I'm 40, an artificial intelligence machine will win a Nobel Prize, human senses will be electronically enhanced, I'll be driving a flying car, wearing a haptic suit to work, and AdLab blog will have acquired AdAge.
One suggestion. I'd love to have a tool that compiles business forecasts by research companies and paints a picture for each year in numbers. Say, for 2009, Forrester says ecommerce will be that much in volume, and Jupiter says broadband penetration is that much, and NPD says games shipped will be that many.
- Jon Burg's Future Visions: ad agency futures in a white spaceless world
- Urban Spam Fears, 3007 and 1885
- WWF Deeper Luxury Report
- Another Ad Industry Low With Whispers In Your Brain
A Gawker writer shares his impressions after being hit by sound beams that created whispers in his head in a promotion for the Paranormal State show (via PSFK). In April, Holosonics, whose "non-linear sound" technology was covered here extensively in the past, did a similar stunt for Court TV.
[Originally published on Dec.5, 2007. Updated with video links on Dec. 10]
Game Promo Uses Camera, "Ghosted" Film
Mind Control: HyperSonic Sound
Hypersonic Sound Laser For Sale on eBay
Beam of Sound Promotes Murder Book
A new feature for the AdLab site that I hope you will find useful: ATTN: AdLab. If there is something you would like to share -- a post you wrote, or maybe a press release, or a book or blog you found -- simply tag it with 2adlab on del.icio.us. It will show up on the very top above the first post and will stay there until someone tags something else. Depending on how fast del.icio.us is on a particular day, it might take a bit for the links to get here. A few simple rules:
- It has to be online to be tagged
- You need a del.icio.us account
- Try to keep it related to advertising or marketing, even if loosely
- Label all NSWF stuff as such
- If you are tagging a book on Amazon, your aff id is welcome.
"Psychologically, collaborative filtering has basically likened my palate to a series of algorithms. Somewhere in the technological simplification of taste assessment, I've lost all emotional connection to my content, which used to happen naturally during the serendipitous stages of discovery and evaluation. Turns out, my self-identity has become indistinguishable from that of the mysterious collective's. I miss the days when discovering web content was like being a little kid in a candy store."
On a related note, TechCrunch writes that Google is removing the "Advertise on this site" link from AdSense ads because "apparently when an advertiser picks which sites to advertise on, those ads don’t get clicked on as much as ads picked by the AdSense computers."
If there was ever a good context for Wii jokes, this is it.
This German campaign against drunk driving gives a new meaning to the word joystick:
"The Piss-Screen (the site's dead) is a pressure-sensitive inlay for urinals. The game is displayed on a screen above the urinal. We designed a driving game in the style of Need for Speed." The game would end with a crash and display a message to the effect that the player should take a cab home.
There was one other game art project with the similar input mechanics last year, only then the display was inside the urinal.
Anyway, here's a video of the gameplay:
image: Google Stuff Finder parody site
Daily Mail on Google's plans for world domination: "The idea is that we, and our treasured possessions, will be fitted with minute microchips which could be linked to the internet, via computers, by a digital radio frequency. In this way, you would only have to type "Where is my watch" or "Find Joe Bloggs" into your PC or handheld computer, and Google could assist you."
Would be lots of fun putting AdWords on these searches. See Google's other evil plans revealed on this Fark thread.
Jack Book registered jackbook.com on June 4, 2007. Today, the site's Technorati rank is 50. He creates and gives away free templates for Blogger, a blogging platform that offers a limited number of fairly dated default template designs that are not trivial to customize. His templates are by far the best I've seen anywhere, and every template has a link back to his site. (On a side note, I don't know how Technorati does its math. The authority of 5,108 means #43 on the Popular list, right in front of A List Apart, and JackBook.com is not even on that list.)
Ads for Children's Tylenol in pediatricians' examination rooms.
A series of posts about deadvertising here on AdLab, including video tombstones.
Argentinians commemorate World AIDS Day. Just like the Washington Memorial.
I haven't seen any toilet bowl ads, but I remember nice bloody decals placed under bathroom stall doors (can't find it now). X-Ray ads are a wonderful idea and would work well for contextual ads and it's not too much of a stretch. Now that we have ads in PDFs, why can't we have an image-recognition software analyze your shot and recommend appropriate medication? Bible - no, but here's an interesting article about product placement in churches.
click to zoom
Here's what happens when a robotic Santa can't take the abuse any more.
The Register: Microsoft "has added the seasonal ID email@example.com to MSN messenger. Anyone can add the bot as a contact. During conversations it often suggests people play a child-friendly online game called Factory Frenzy where the player helps Santa's elves. It also has a shocking predeliction for casually dropping in that it likes to talk about a certain sex act."
It's fixed now, unfortunately.
If you liked the first Formulas and Metaphors post, here's another one for you. Advertlets is a blog advertising network in Asia and its logo sports this formula:
Let's see how well it works:
"From a memo I wrote to Xerox in 1971: Though the Dynabook will have considerable local storage and will do most computing locally, it will spend a large percentage of its time hooked to various large, global information utilities which will permit communication with others of ideas, data, working models, as well as the daily chit-chat that organizations need in order to function. The communications link will be by private and public wires and by packet radio. Dynabooks will also be used as servers in the information utilities. They will have enough power to be entirely shaped by software." (more on wiki).
Turns out you can get those cool design barcodes that got a Japanese ad firm a Titanium Lion a couple of years ago here in the States from barcoderevolution.com, who claim everything has been tested and is standard-compliant.
"The Fender Chordmaster is essentially an electronic guitar tutor, which allows the user to learn the elementary chords through listening to the correct sound of them as well as viewing how the chord is played correctly on the display. The Chordmaster works by the user selecting the desired chord by turning the chord dial, and then they simply pull down the sound lever to hear the chord."
-- Museum of Lost Interactions