Monday, April 28

Your Viral Campaign May Need a Sarbanes Oxley Lawyer

There are many more examples where a marketer's "secret" word of mouth effort became a PR disaster. So it isn't something generally recommended.

But still, it will be enough for the lawyers to stifle any word of mouth effort without a full "brought to you by BRAND NAME" disclosure. Which in turn will stifle the creativity, which will stifle the impact of the program.

From AdAge:

U.K. Cracks
Down on Word-of-Mouth With Tough Restrictions

Coming Legislation Makes It a Criminal Offense for Brands to Falsely Represent Themselves as Consumers

Word-of-mouth marketing in the U.K. will face radical restrictions starting May 26, when it will become a criminal offense for brands to seed positive messages online without making the origin of the message clear. Brand owners will face fines or even prison sentences if they contravene the consumer-protection regulations. The legislation came into force across Europe on Jan. 1, 2008, and is set to begin in the U.K. next month.

Reconsider That Photo on Facebook

I told you Google Face is coming... From the NY Times:

A Google Prototype for a Precision Image Search
Google researchers say they have a software technology intended to do for digital images on the Web what the company’s original PageRank software did for searches of Web pages. On Thursday at the International World Wide Web Conference in Beijing, two Google scientists presented a paper describing what the researchers call VisualRank, an algorithm for blending image-recognition software methods with techniques for weighting and ranking images that look most similar.

Wednesday, April 23

No Shit Sherlock headline of the day

Expectant Moms Spread the Word Online

"Moms-to-be trust word of mouth from other moms. And they're going to the Internet to get it."

Mobile Jumps on the Engagement Trend

Not exactly rocket science, but at least they are talking about testing the effectiveness of mobile video in this early stage of consumer adoption. Hopefully the industry skips over clickthrough rates as the primary measurement.

Interactive mobile broadcast TV might be the longest buzzword of the year.

GoldSpot: Interactive Ads Work Best On Mobile TV

Even with content expanding rapidly on mobile devices, many questions remain about whether consumers will be receptive to advertising. A Silicon Valley company, which believes it has a solution to the retention challenge, is offering mobile TV programmers and service providers what it believes is a unique way to gauge that effectiveness.

GoldSpotMedia believes that targeted and interactive ads have the best chance of resonating on mobile TV. In turn, it has developed a product that allows dynamic ad insertion within the content, hoping to better match marketers with interested consumers. Interactive ads--prompting a consumer to receive a coupon or receive crucial info--can also be staged.

Tuesday, April 22

Engagement, The Old Metric Made New Again

About two months ago, rich media ad network VideoEgg announced they would sell banners on a Cost Per Engagement model (my post regarding that announcement).

Kellogg's is now following the same model for an upcoming campaign. From AdAge:

Starcom's Ad Deal for Kellogg's Hinges on Engagement:
Banner-Ad Campaign Based on Cost per Interaction

At a time when marketers are increasingly relying on engagement as a key metric of the success of an online ad campaign, Publicis Groupe media agency Starcom has brokered an online display-media deal based on cost per interaction rather than the more traditional metric of cost per exposure. The deal was made on behalf of the Kellogg Co. with online ad rep firm Gorilla Nation.

The campaign introduces two new Eggo products, French Toast Waffles and Mini Muffin Tops, to the children's market in a series of rich-media banner ads. The banner ads, placed on sites including, feature kid-friendly interactive games such as mashing up foods (chocolate and hot dogs, for example) and measuring how delicious they are.

Considering average rich media banner engagement rates are 5% - 10%, it could be a great payment move by the media sites/networks depending on the pricing model.

It also delivers a much larger results number than CTRs (still between 0.10 - 0.15% on average), which will make clients think their program is more effective. But this could quickly move engagement into the lowest-common metric that CTRs have occupied for the last 10 years for online advertising programs.

It is also nothing new. Rich media networks such as Pointroll and Eyeblaster have been reporting engagement metrics for years.

Also note that the type of sites Kellogg's is on are high engagement already, and targeting kids who would be more likely to interact with ads. Might be different results if they are running on information-focused sites targeting moms.

It's still important to determine what the engagement is achieving, and how it gets tracked down to actual business results. And as "engagement" banners increase in number, expect the engagement rates to decrease. Just like CTRs decreased when more and more banners were shoved online. Remember the good old days when 0.5% CTR was the average?

Friday, April 11

Just Wait Until the Kids Get These Tattoos

Looks like Google is starting to push forward with semacodes (ClickZ article). Applying technology to the oldest medium of all = newspaper print.

Semacodes are UPC-like codes that you photograph with your camera phone, then automatically sends branded content to your phone, or your phone to a specific mobile site. The official info is at

Still a relatively new technology, although I've seen it mentioned a couple times in the press recently. So expect it to start getting hyped.

It requires users to download an application to their phone in order to do it, so adoption in the US will be really low for now.

You will hear a lot of marketers and tech companies talk about how great it is in the "theoretical" sense. Which is unfortunately what usually happens with any mobile technology. Right up there with GPS targeting of coupons (I'm still waiting for that SMS coupon from my local Starbucks when I walk past it). Or mobile couponing in general.

At least until Google's Android mobile phone operating system launches, in which I bet the application will be built into.

It has started getting some penetration in Europe (BMW example). I expect Asia will be first mass users due to their reliance on mobile phones/mobile web.

There was some US news earlier this year about it. You can get the mobile app at Scanbuy's site or text "scan" to 70734. Sorry, not for iPhones yet.

Sprint even ran a print ad in Wired a couple months ago trying to explain what semacodes are. It was about 8 paragraphs long.

Let The Conspiracy Theories (and congressional hearings) Begin

I received this email from Google regarding my account with Google Analytics (website reporting tool).

Google once again positions their collection of data as "open source sharing" and make it sound like such a good internet citizen kind of thing to do.

Just don't forget that they are the ones who are storing/providing it. And linking it into their Doubleclick adserving reports, and tracking browser cookies across their site properties like YouTube, and using the results in sales presentations to sell more services to marketers.

Insert additional conspiracy theories here...

From: Google Analytics
Date: April 9, 2008
Subject: New Optional
Benchmarking Feature Available in Google Analytics

Dear Google Analytics users,
We are writing to let you know about a change in our service offerings. If you have logged into your account recently, you may have noticed that you can now choose to share your Google Analytics data. By providing data sharing options, we hope to provide you with transparency, control, and new services based on your preferences.

To learn more about data sharing settings, visit our FAQs:

We're also happy to announce industry benchmarking as the first new feature available to those who opt to share their data. Benchmarking lets you compare your metrics against industry verticals.

The industry benchmarking feature is currently in beta. Once you have enabled benchmarking, it may take up to two weeks before the categorized, aggregated and anonymized benchmarking data shows up in your reports.

For more information on the benchmarking service, visit our FAQs:

In addition to the new benchmarking service, opting to share your data will also enable you to take advantage of new advanced Google products and services as they become available. We think these services will offer greater insight and sophistication to users who have opted to share their data. However, if you would prefer not to use these services, simply specify on the settings page that you don't want to share your data.

The Google Analytics Team

Finally, a home for those Grateful Dead jams

Interesting report of a super data storage technology out of the UK = Racetrack computer memory.
"IBM says this technology could enable a handheld device such as an mp3 player to store around 500,000 songs or around 3,500 movies - 100 times more than is possible today."

Can't wait to see at what point the human mind breaks under the weight of "content pressure" = the desire to collect more and more content just because you can. At which point Google launches their handheld Google InfoBox that can hold all information in the world, all the time for instant access. Very Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy.

WebiGamingSodes? Video Gamecasting?

If you are a Homestar Runner addict, then you are probably also a heavy viewer of the Strongbad Email animated webisodes/podcasts.

They took the same approach with their upcoming Wii game. Not just a one-time game experience, they are breaking it out of the "game level" approach to gaming. Instead releasing it as syndicated game content = 5 "episodes" released one month apart. And I'm sure future options to release more game episodes for an additional fee.

Here's the details and a totally awesome game trailer.

The creators are extremely anti-commercial (they could have sold out to Cartoon Network years ago), so it would be surprising if they accept marketing dollars. But the opportunity for product placement or sponsorship of "bonus scenes" could be huge.

Thursday, April 10

Anyone Got a Mr. T Webcam?

A celebrity's name/likeness can be a powerful brand, applied to fashion lines, perfume fragrances, gourmet food, even wines.

But sometimes all that fame can go to their heads. For instance, there was a lot of buzz last year when the Kevin Federline Search Engine launched. Yes, a search engine "hosted" by a celebrity.

In reality it was a promotion stunt. Search through this engine (powered by Google and Ask) and have a chance to win Kevin Federline paraphenalia. Your keyword search is your cost of entry. The chance you will click on a sponsored link in the results is the promotion company's ROI.

It must have worked, because they now have a wide variety of celebrity-branded search pages including Kiss, Mandy Moore, Barry Manilow, and even the Indianapolis Colts.

Kanye West just announced the launch of his travel site. Yes, a travel booking site hosted by a celebrity.

I can just see the spoiled brats of Hollywood badgering their parents. "But Mom, Tori Spelling's daughter got a video-sharing portal for her birthday. I want one tooooooo! And not one of those lame widgets that you gave us for Christmas."

At least Angelina and Brad's kids have a head start. They registered 24 domain name versions of their names just in case. Suri Cruise wasn't so lucky.

Tuesday, April 1

The Pornification of Emerging Media

There's an old saying that you know an online technology is ready for the mainstream when the porn industry adopts it.

Looks like Twitter-style microblogging has finally reached puberty. From TechCrunch: Adult Twitter clone is trying to keep a low profile but according to the founders it’s basically a Twitter for adults. The site is SFW right now and they’re building out HD video and image streaming/sharing along with some impressive audio features for those who might be afraid to bare it all. The Amsterdam-based company just closed a 2 million euro funding round.