Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Who's your Juke Box Hero?

Our latest campaign for Samsung Mobile for the Juke is about halfway through. To promote the uniquely styled music phone aimed at a younger demographic, we partnered with YouTube to create a video juke-box online.

The first half of the campaign called for independent artists to submit a musical performance. The prize is $10k in music gear (not too shabby, huh?). We decided not to go with the traditional YouTube voting, but rather engage the consumer on a deeper level by allowing for playlisting. Users who create playlists can also win prizes like a home theater system and a really cool jukebox (not your mom and dads model - this one has a digital interface and won't look out of place in your livingroom).

We took it up a notch by allowing users to share the videos (and shortly will include your own playlist) in this widget.

So, now that our submission period for indie musicians has ended. Now we look to you, our online judges, to help us crown the Juke Box Hero. I'll be posting my faves ;-)

Check out the website and create your playlist @ samsungjuke.com

Thursday, November 8, 2007

The Virtual Thirst Launch: Nov 8, 2007

Well, today was the big day. People have asked me why I hadn’t posted work in progress on my blog up until now. And why it’s taken so darn long to complete! I couldn’t really release any details prior to launch. So, I figure I owe a nice long blog post dedicated to this promotion. I’ll do a little step-by-step from my perspective (not only as a winner, but as a marketer and resident of SL). I’ll talk about my experience overall working with Millions of Us, Crayon and Coca-Cola on the project. And of course, a little about the Virtual Thirst launch and how you can now participate.

First, why I entered this contest.

I had so many reasons to do it. I had just spent 8 months on a second life project that had fallen through for another client. In the process, I had really become enamored with SL. I learned to build and I wanted the time I had invested in SL to be put to something productive. Opening a small store of my own in world was definitely an accomplishment for me, but I had spent so much time on looking at brands and how they affected residents. I really kind of wanted to put those skills to the test. I figured my building skills and everything I had learned about Second Life and brands entering the metaverse gave me a leg up.

There’s one other thing that probably given me an edge. One of my first 15-minutes of fame in my career was also given to me by Coca-Cola when I designed Cocacola.com back in 2001. Now, that was a long time ago. Coke was my first consumer packaged goods client. Trust me, it isn’t easy selling soft drinks. Especially when there are so many beverage choices out there. But Coke isn’t just a drink. It’s a brand. People feel connected to it. They are one of the few brands I’ve worked with that really put brand experience at the top of their business strategy. Those experiences have changed exponentially since my first Coke experience, but one thing I have to say about them – they are always willing to take a risk. Try new things, and make people care. I know that somewhere at Coke, there’s a guy (or gal) who’s job it is to wave the ROI finger. Well, I don’t envy them, especially since you cant really track if a TV spot, banner ad or bottle you saw in Second Life really made you buy that can of Coke at lunch today. But they consistently make an effort to keep their brand experiences fresh and relevant. SO – I know a little about Coke, and I’m a fan of the brand. Figured I had a pretty good shot of winning this one. So I entered *grins*.

I set to work on my entry. I spent about a week on it. Carefully crafting an elaborate brand experience that I felt would really make Coke relevant to SL-ers. I did some layouts and did a 2-page write-up on all the different elements. When I finished it, I figured it didn’t stand a chance because it was too elaborate. There was one element I had worked into it that I thought stood on it’s on though. They were small bubbles hidden around the island that you could interact with to win a prize. I decided to switch that up a little into a bottled brand experience and submit that on it’s own. I mean why not, it took me maybe an extra hour or so. Well, that’s the one that won.

Winning Virtual Thirst.

Well, you probably know all about what I won already, and if not, there’s an earlier blog entry where I covered that. In the end, my experience working on this project far out-weighed the trip and the lindens.

The trip to San Francisco on July 31st was basically the kick off for the project. I spent 2 days at Millions of us (MOU) working on the start of the build. I wasn’t sure how it would all play out, me being a contest winner, but a Creative Director by trade. Oddly enough, in the beginning it felt a whole lot like being at work! Working with MOU, Crayon and Coke to make sure the bottle experiences were engaging and the prizes cool and relevant (without upsetting indigenous businesses already within SL). We needed to iron out our distribution method, how much of it would be viral, etc. So back in July, I guess we all sort of knew our work wasn’t done. For those of you in the biz, it’s like this. I had just gotten sign off on the concept. Now we had to make it a reality.

The launch was originally set around the SLCC Convention in Chicago on August 24th where crayon and Coke would be speaking about the project. Steve at Crayon had asked me if I planned on going. I knew since my SL project had been put on hold, it would be on my own dime, but I did have 500,000 lindens layin’ around. So I decided to go.

We kicked it into high gear, but we all pretty much knew we wouldn’t be done by SLCC. SLCC was where a good majority the fun was on this project for me. I went there on a whim figuring it would be fun to see the Coke presentation. Meeting and spending time with the guys on the project there was great. I got to spend some time with CC Chapman and Steve Coulson who were both with Crayon (and now The Advance Guard), and Michael Donnelly, Director, Worldwide Interactive Marketing at The Coca-Cola Company. These guys are a new era of marketers. I bow to their social media know-how and brand 3.0 moxy. I still don’t get twitter – even after watching them do it all day and night. One of these days maybe I will enough to say throughout the course of the day – and enough people who actually want to listen, and I will make that leap! Until then, I’ll stick to micro-blogging on facebook.

The entire team treated me like one of them, not just a contest winner. They were very respectful of my opinions and ideas. As a group, we refined and blew out each and every element. And 3 months in the making, today we unveiled the 3 Coke Puzzle Bottles.

The Bottles.

The essence of my idea is this: have the bottle be a vehicle to the experience. Make it immersive and cool, and then give me something to take away that adds to my everyday Second Life experience. I wanted something that residents will like and use. Not just some branded piece of advertising that we push. It was our mission to do it right and make it fun.

Each of the 3 puzzle bottles stands about 10m high. They start out in solved-mode, and scramble when a user clicks to interact. One the puzzle is solved, a stream of particles escapes the bottle and it presents the player with one of 3 prizes (which you are free to share with friends since they are copy/trans). It also rezzes an experience for everyone to interact with, not just the avatar who solved them. Some of the experiences also have some neat accessories you might find yourself using long after the Coke experience *coughs*snowball*coughs*.

If you could only see the original list of prizes we had. I think at one point it was 3 pages long – lol. OK, I confess, it took us 3 months because I wanted a ka-gillion prizes. Can you blame me? I was like a kid in a candy store. Anyway, we narrowed it down to 3. Here’s a run-down on them:

Puzzle Bottle 1:
This bottle rezzes the Penguin snow-globe experience. Grab one of 4 bottles on the side and play with a penguin, go ice fishing or go ice climbing. It’s totally awesome for taking snapshots. This puzzle bottle presents you with a cute life-like little Coke bear buddy.

Puzzle Bottle 2:
This bottle rezzes the Bubble machine. Grab a parachute, and hop on a bubble. You’ll take a ride up through a monster bottle of Coke and then parachute down once you come out the top and your bubble pops. The parachute will definitely be a keeper, and this puzzle bottle presents you with a very cool Coca-Cola scooter with custom AO (animation over-ride).

Puzzle Bottle 3:
This one just happens to be my personal favorite – and not just because it’s located at my store! This bottle rezzes the snowball fight. Two machines dispense snowballs. There’s only 2 mounds of snow to hide behind, but this one will get everyone involved trust me. Attached the snowball, go into mouse look, aim and fire. Pelt everyone and anyone you please with snowballs. Plus this machine gives you a totally tricked out Coke electric guitar. Just wear it and choose a rockin’ move from the HUD. Also one of my fave prizes. I just love the reactions from people when they see them for the first time.

The launch event today was great. Packed the sim, fought the lag and spread a little slice of Coca-Cola - Second Life style. If you missed it, here’s some links ya’ll can check out because I think I’ve blabbed on long enough.

> My Virtual Thrist Flickr Set

> The Flickr Virtual Thist photobucket

> Greg Verdino's Blog post and audio download

One last thing before I go:
MoU – Reuben, your team got *mad skillz*
Crayon – Virtual Thirst was a great idea – big kudos on bringing this project to fruition
Coke – You’ll always be one step ahead of the competition, cuz you got Mickey Douhet.

Thanks for the great experience.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Taking a Shakespearian ballet to the streets of Amsterdam

Seems like ambient media and SMS wouldn't have been the obvious choice, but thats just what the Dutch National Ballet did for the launch of their new production of Romeo and Juliet.

They used projections of the characters and missing image posters, some of Romeo, some of Juliet, each seeking their counterpart. The telephone number on the poster gives you a pre-recorded message asking for an SMS if they've seen their lost loves.

"This is Juliet. You are listening to my voicemail. If you have the answer to my heart-felt yearning and can tell me where I can find my beloved Romeo, please send me an SMS with details of where you have seen him, so that I can go to him straight away."

Callers who sent an SMS received a text in return from the Dutch National Ballet and pushed users to the website for a chance to win a free set of opening night tix.

What I love about this campaign is the fact that it takes something classic, and brings it to current day through use of new media. I also love how it integrates - each piece linking to the next and providing a pretty unique experience.

I gotta give the ballet company major props for pulling this off. I suspect this wasn't an easy campaign to sell in.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Be our Juke box hero: win $10k in music gear

Cheil and Samsung have just launched our follow-up UGC contest to Upstage. This time around,we're creating a mash-up with independent artists to create a virtual music video jukebox. The winner will walk away with ten thousand bucks in new music gear. So tell all your musically inclined friends to come and submit.

For the non-musically inclined, we have an equally tasty prize for helping us crown our hero by making a playlist.

Here's the links y'all:

The YouTube Contest: youtube.com/samsungjuke
Our Virtual Jukebox and Juke site: samsungjuke.com

Friday, September 28, 2007

Discovery's Live Billboard

A banner created by Discovery Channel for a new show "Everest" featured climber Philip Junaeus, who lived on the banner a week prior to the launch of the show. Great PR stunt to get exposure using a limited budget.

The stunt was accompanied by a web-cam and blog, and he had a laptop and called into a radio station with daily updates.

More Info, click here.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Virtual Payday

Mike Donnelly from Coca-Cola delivered my 500,000 lindens from my Virtual Thirst Winnings personally from his avatar in Second Life, which was very cool. He's a very nice guy - looking forward to meeting him sans-avatar at the SLCC Conference in Chicago this coming weekend. On Sunday, Aug. 26th from 1:30 – 2:30 C.C. Chapman and Steve Coulson from Crayon & Michael Donnelly from Coca-Cola will be presenting a case study on “Coca-Cola: Virtual Thirst”. I think it will be fun to be there for that.

You can check out more info on the conference here: http://slcc2007.wordpress.com

Thursday, August 2, 2007

Virtual Thirst Update

We had an action packed day at MoU yesterday. The whole experience has been pretty cool so far! We've had limo service since the moment we left my house in New York. First class Flight, and we're staying at the Fairmont in San Francisco which is pretty opulent. When we arrived, there was a Coca-Cola Swag Bag waiting for us along with some spending money (thanks Coke).

Our first day at Millions of Us was more brainstorming and figuring out some of the dynamics of the object and how we want to distribute it. I think we got most of the kinks ironed out. It was fun being behind the scenes and watching some pro builders at work. God I feel like such a noob! Anyway, we're making some progress - but I still don't want to spill the beans.

My schedule left us enough time for a little road trip down to Napa Valley for a little tasting. We went to a small boutique winery called Delectus and was invited by the wine maker and his wife to do some barrel tasting which was totally cool. Their wine is amazing. I have no idea how I'm getting it all home!

Well, I'm on my way to Millions of Us for Day 2 of our collaboration which includes a call with Coca-Cola to talk thru how we've evolved the idea. I'll add some shots to flickr to keep ya'll up to speed ;-) Check it out for a sneak peek:


Thursday, July 26, 2007

Cannes [isn't just] for Creatives

I just had my inaugural Cannes Lions experience. The Cannes Lions festival is widely known as being a “creative” awards show. But once I was there, I found it to be a melting pot of not only creatives, but of planners, account directors, developers – and clients.

As I walked the seemingly endless sea of blue walls, sat through seminars and workshops, and analyzed the accolades, there were several things that struck me. It’s not just the way we work that’s evolved. It’s the way we think. The way we talk. The way we generate ideas. Our audience has changed. As marketers, we should no longer be talking at consumers. They are empowered. They decide how and if they want us in their lives. “Integration” has taken on an entirely new dimension.

In the past, integration has been about how well different elements of a campaign work together. Does the online look and feel similar to the offline? The old school model of integration was made up of a pretty cut and paste media mix too: TV, print, website, banner and email. Today, it includes a much wider set of deliverables. Advertising is in places that are new and different (and even immersive enough to not feel like advertising). Today’s media mix can be enormously diverse, depending on your idea. One example is the Titanium Grand Prix awarded to Crispin Porter + Bogusky for Burger King for developing a series of video games for the Xbox 360 where users are actually immersing themselves into the world of “The King” and paying for it.

“ Titanium stands for breakthrough ideas. It might be a brand new idea, or it might use an existing idea in a brand new way. ” – Alex Bogusky

In order to reach “the people” we have to speak their language, interact with them and give them meaningful experiences. Integrated is now defined as how well a campaign utilizes these different mediums to tell a story. It’s about context. Where you are and what you’re doing makes all the difference. These mediums don’t just coexist harmoniously, they feed off each other in order to form a collective whole.

The industry trends we face as marketers and brands were evident at the festival. The Titanium & Integrated category received a 60% increase in entries. The Cyber Lions and Media categories also contributed to the overall growth of entries this year. As a creative director, I looked at their work and asked myself, “How did they do this?” Unique use of media is quickly becoming a creative solution. Our Samsung Shout-Out campaign, which short-listed in the Media category at Cannes, used online elements working synergistically with in-stadium placements. Winners in this category included ambient, outdoor, direct, mobile and cinema (and when I say cinema, I mean that the product plays a lead in the movie itself – not just as a placement or cinema spots).

One might say the only thing that limits us is our own imagination. The truth is, it also depends on the people required to help turn a great idea into reality.

Today’s marketing mix brings big ideas into emerging and ambient media spaces such as online widgets and customized outdoor, guerrilla and events.

I looked at work through this filter while at Cannes. As a creative director, I not only have to believe in my team’s ideas and visions, but inspire others to want them just as badly. Samsung Shout-Out was one of these challenges. It was a challenge to pull together and pull it off. I think short-listing at Cannes makes it all worth it. I came back with a new attitude about believing in ideas and how important it is that others around me do the same.

The Cannes Lions festival is a must-see for anyone in the business at least once in his or her career. It will challenge you, it will educate you and it will inspire you. I’m considering spending the weekend doing some COOK uploads to make sure I get to go back next year.

Quenching My Virtual Thirst

My entry into Coke’s Virtual Thirst competition has been selected as the winning entry! WOOT! I got the call from Coca-Cola on Tuesday – and I’m flying out to San Francisco on July 31st to begin work on the project with Millions of Us. Since Coke hasn’t posted the idea anywhere publicly yet, I’m gonna hold off letting the cat out of the bag for a little while. This is a really exciting opportunity for me as a creative, a marketer, and as a Second Life resident. I think my idea is one that will contribute to the SL environment in a relevant and fun way. I’ll keep you posted...

Here’s the announcement from Coke on the Virtual Thirst Blog.

For more info on the competition, visit Coca-Cola’s virtual Thirst site.

MoU: Emerie is just gonna hang out here till you're ready to get started ;-)

Monday, July 16, 2007

Consumer Generated Advertising Revenue

Well, we knew it was coming. UGC has pretty much taken over the web. Up until now, they were doing it for fun, and not getting paid for it. That’s about to change. The new generation of content creators will also be advertisers – or at least conduits to it.

Online Advertisers years ago started programs where users could embed banners into their websites, and users would get discounts based on the traffic they sent to sites, such as Amazon. Well, lets step that up a notch. Google is now paying users to serve relevant ads. See those ads on this blog under “ADS BY GOOGLE” - bottom of right column? I get paid based on click thrus. OK, well, we all know I’m not driving major traffic here, but that’s not the point. What if users could capitalize on views of their own content? Imagine users who get a million views of their content on YouTube – right now that user doesn’t benefit from any of the advertising on that page.

Here’s an example: a new site, currently in beta, called LiveRail is throwing their hat in the ring. They host video (in high-quality, fast loading, flash format), same as YouTube. They allow you to use an embed code to embed the video on your own site, same as YouTube. There are 2 big differences between LiveRail and YouTube. The first is that the videos appear only where the viewer places them – allowing them to maintain control of ownership. I think this will be an area of contention for some. The second, and key differentiator is this: The embed code includes relevant ad placements below. The ads, when clicked, stop the video and show brief content by advertisers. When finished, it resumes the content that was being watched. The creator of the content gets paid for each view.
Check out the LiveRail beta here.

Friday, July 6, 2007

My Wired: 1 of 5,000

When I first started this blog, I mentioned Wired's co-promotion with Xerox aimed at current subscribers. In the first 4 days, Wired received 11,000 submissions. Only the first 5,000 "appropriate" submissions were printed. I'm glad Emerie made it in. I've never anticipated the arrival of my Wired mag as much as I did this month.

The customized Wired covers are actually created using a Xerox iGen3 110 Digital Production Press (and the company's newly acquired XMPie PersonalEffect software). The press itself looks like the biggest copy machine I have ever seen. This could be the beginning of personalization on a much deeper level than just magazine covers. Imagine if your entire Wired issue were customized based on your preferences. OK, OK... maybe that won't be happening right away. But look at reality TV, and the new model for social networking and user created content on the web. It didn't take long for big sites to adopt personalized versions of their sites for readers and even starting charging for online subscriptions. I personally can't wait to see where this goes next.

Check out the Xerox iGen3 110 Digital Production Press here (just trying to help boost your ROI guys!)

How hard is it to win a Lion?

It's damn hard. My recent trip to Cannes for the 2007 Lions gave me a hard dose of reality. The Lions are a collection of pure creative genius. It was a week of yummy brain candy (with a chaser of gutter bar of course).

When we were short-listed in the media category for our NFL project, I was estatic. OK, so it's not a cyber-lion, but a lion is a lion, no???

The work I saw at Cannes was a mixed bowl of insights, strategy, creative and media... served up fresh. NOT various pieces of creative that look and feel alike. It's how they work together to form a collective whole. In terms of our NFL project - maybe we weren't worthy (if we were, I'd have a shiny lion on my desk rather than this stinkin' souvenir mouse-pad). But being shortlisted is still a big deal, right?

Well, this got the left side of my brain going (since the right side is currently full). I decided to do a little digging into the odds. Of the 25,660 entries received for the 2007 Lions, only 2,812 were shortlisted - and 795 Lions awarded (not including agency of the year and young creative awards). 169 Gold. Check out the numbers (these are not official numbers by the way... Tom Eslinger, if you're reading this, I would be HAPPY to update my info *wink*):

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Dynamic ads in Google Street view ? ? ?

I came across this article on ClickZ today about Google Street view. I know the buzz has been about the candid shots its captured, but this article talks about how it could potentially utilize (or not utitize) advertising.

It fancinates me that they have gone to the extent of retouching out branding in street view (such as bluring out an Office Depot and a McDonalds).

But the idea that the future could be dynamically driven ads that get placed into real-world placements is pretty cool, and highly probable.

Read the article here.

Monday, June 4, 2007

Wanna buy my TV?

Each day we get closer and closer to a world where digital broadcast will edge out traditional networks. The pubs and blogs are all over new partnerships between content and internet providers. Joost isn't the only player out there making some headway. Just today I was reading about Warner, EMI and Apple TV's newest moves.

Warner Music is planning to launch its ENTIRE archive of music videos. FREE. It will be funded by a combination of advertising revenue and user downloads. The service itself will function similar to an online broadcast channel allowing users to sort selections by artist, genre or label. Read more on CNET here.

EMI finalized their deal with YouTube which allows the site to feature their music video collection and artist performances. They join Warner Music, Universal Music, Sony BMG, CBS and the BBC who already have deals with YouTube that allow the online network to feature videos - and compensate artists. Read more on ZDNET here.

Another YouTube partnership is in the works with Apple. AppleTV is planning to launch wirelessly streamed YouTube videos starting in June. YouTube members will be able to log-in from their TVs. The service will only launch with a limited selection to start. I for one am not sold on the whole "Internet on your TV" thing. But who knows... it may have something to do with the fact that my monitor is actually bigger than my TV! Read more on AP here.

Thursday, May 31, 2007


I stumbled upon this neeto site: Lets you upload an image and turn it into acsii art. They should add an archive to it so people can share their creations.

Click here to check it out at http://www.typorganism.com/asciiomatic.

ManiaTV Live Concert: RL and SL

Online broadcast channel Mania TV broke some ground yesterday by simultaneously broadcasting a live concert on the web and in Second Life. The concert featured local bands in Denver. CO.

The ManiaTV site allowed 40,000 viewers to watch the live show and switch to see the virtual version (also live).

The Second life concert attracted 1200 viewers. Some may think that number isn't very impressive, but I think this breaks some serious ground because Second Life's sim limits restrict large numbers of simultaneous experiences. Mania TV accomplished this number by setting up 25 simultaneous shows in SL.

Check it out on ManiaTV.com.

Read the article on CNN.

What's the big deal about a virtual concert? ok... here's a little eye candy for you naysayers... this is the virtual U2 (sort of like a cover band) who perform U2 concerts in SL.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

AdAge: How to Succeed in Second Life

Good article in AdAge about Second Life marketing. Nice Do's and Don'ts at the end:

"When you do it for the buzz, when you force that viral marketing, that's when you go off course. Great content and great ideas will naturally be viral."
-- Joseph Jaffe, president-chief interrupter, Crayon

"This is not the kind of place where you have a salesperson avatar trying to collect leads. ... That's not correct for the culture. You have to stand back and let them explore you."
-- Mark-Hans Richer, marketing director, Pontiac

"You have to keep it fresh, not unlike a blog. Make it interesting. Or do something that has a limited timeframe."
-- Giff Constable, VP, Electric Sheep

"So much of our metrics aren't about sale, but they're about brand love. Brand value and brand love are our key metrics."
-- Michael Donnelly, director-global interactive marketing, Coca-Cola Co.

Read the full article here.

We created a Second Life brand manifesto that you can get from our brand wizard at our Agency in Second Life. You can also find them on page 10 of our company newsletter here.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Who knew?

When I asked Sharon and Mey to let me shoot this video, I jokingly said 'I'll make you famous'. Little did I know. 24 Hours and 1,045,592 hits later, they have the number one video on YouTube. Way to go PixlChix!

Check out our website for the Upstage Phone here.

Go to see the rest of the YouTube Contest here.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Brands to aquire Virtual Worlds

Two of the most popular virtual worlds: Club Penguin and Webkinz might be snatched up by Sony and Disney respectively. These virtual worlds are hugely popular among teens - and are web based rather than independant software like Second Life.

Read the article on MarketingVox here.

Check out Club Penguin here.

Visit Webkinz here.

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

BMW Series 1: Collective Voice "ONEWORD" Installations

An interesting use of mixed media and consumer generated content - BMW hosted a series of events in europe (each hosted by a celeb) to roll out the new BWM Series 1. It's called "Oneword". The message trees would start with one word - and users would add their own words using SMS. Those trees were projected on walls, and shown on the web. Not really sure how this sells the car (in fact, i didnt see a single visual of the actual car). But take a look:

Sample video (click here).

Website (click here).

Flickr (click here).

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

The phenomenal growth of Second Life continues

comScore issued a press release with some info on yet another Second Life growth spurt. As of today, Second Life has 6,183,178 registered users with 1,624,434 active over the past 60 days. There's been an increase of 46 percent in the number of active residents from January 2007. There's also a large shift demographically, as the majority of users are now European.

An excerpt from the comScore release:
“The phenomenal growth of Second Life continues, and its presence is being felt around the world,” said Bob Ivins, Managing Director of comScore Europe. “With nearly 800,000 active residents in Europe, Second Life is proving to be popular on an international scale. It’s especially fascinating to note that the number of active German residents exceeds the number of active residents in the entire U.S. It is little wonder that bricks and mortar businesses are seeing Second Life as a virtual-world way of accessing a global, real-world customer base.”

Read the full press release here.

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

Today's Buzz Words

"LIFECASTING" - the process of sharing all aspects of your life with the public truman show-style. A process currently being used by justin.tv which is currently expanding to allow users to create their own live shows. More Info.

"STREAMIE" - online users who heavily consume streaming media. More Info.

"BLOOKER" - literary prize devoted to "blooks"- books based on blogs or other websites, including webcomics. More Info.

"COWORKING" - a shared office space with a cafe-like vibe for developers, writers and freelancers who don't traditionally work in an office. More Info.

Friday, April 27, 2007

Got a Second Life?

Interesting article - I can't wait to see how this evolves. Second life is still growing rapidly - their users have lots invested in their virtual lives (especially financially). i don't think they'll up and migrate to another platform quite so easily.

They highlight 5 laws for companies participating in the virtual world:

1. Virtual worlds are not games, but neither are they a parallel universe (yet).
2. Behind every avatar is a real person.
3. Be relevant and add value.
4. Understand and contain the downside.
5. This is a long haul.

I still think our Cheil top ten rules are better (tom has it on his blog). Check out the full Gartner article here.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

ABODE and Microsoft compete for Web 2.0 domination

So, I’ve mentioned Adobe’s Apollo in my last post. Now we have a new contender for Web 2.0 domination (in typical Microsoft fashion) called Silverlight.

The two aren’t entirely similar, though go head-to-head on several fronts. Both applications allow for integration of video, animation and dynamic content. Microsoft’s Silverlight basically goes head-to-head with flash, but has the Microsoft’s software development capabilities to back it up – making it appealing for the new technical direction the web is headed. Adobe on the other hand is making a play to make Windows Media Player an app of the past. Adobe’s Media Player works with .flv files – a file type quickly making .mov files obsolete due to adoption of the file type by popular video sites such as YouTube.

An excerpt from the April 16th Wall Street Journal article, Microsoft, Adobe Set 
A Collision Course on Web:

“The new Apollo technology will let makers of software and online services use Flash to build other computer-based programs that pull information from the Internet. One example: the Adobe Media Player, built using Apollo, which will let users view their favorite online videos alongside those already stored on their computers. People will also be able to rate and comment on videos inside the player. And TV studios and others will be able to embed advertisements in the videos and change the way the player looks to reflect their own brand.

Microsoft's Silverlight, meanwhile, is similar to Flash: It's a piece of software that when downloaded onto a computer lets people view Web sites with advanced features. Microsoft executives tout such Silverlight features -- similar to those already available from Adobe -- as the ability to add overlays like ads and other visuals to videos. Major League Baseball, for instance, may use that function to add features to streaming videos of its live games that create the feeling of actually being in the stadium, says Justin Schaffer, senior vice president of new media at Major League Baseball Advanced Media.”

Read the full Wall Street Journal article here.

Major League baseball plans to utilize Silverlight to add real-time scoring and statistics to daily streaming games online. You can read up on Microsoft’s Silverlight here.

Ebay is currently using Apollo to develop a new application which will store data from the web on the users hard drive – allowing for faster and more user-friendly browsing. Learn more about Apollo here.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Beyond the Buzz

Currently, Web 2.0 is the big buzz when it comes to Internet marketing. Simply put, it’s empowering users to select the media they want, influencing how consumers affect advertising, and allowing consumers to generate the next news event or popular culture phenomenon. It is a change that is exerting tremendous influence – and creating endless opportunities – the world over. The following is a look at how various media are employing Web 2.0, and some key issues that are being brought to light by their efforts.

One example of how the print world is reflecting the influence of Web 2.0 is a current promotion by Xerox and Wired Magazine. It’s called “Make Wired Your Own”. The drive of the promotion is to get current subscribers, 5,000 total, to upload their image so it can appear on their very own copy of the magazine cover. This is a perfect example of print and online converging. This is not only exciting for a current subscriber of Wired, but almost an envy to others that can’t participate. It’s creating yet another way to get a consumer excited about their brand.

If you’re a brand like Splenda - your image is everything. Brands worry about image so much that it practically consumes them. In order to control bad PR, Tate & Lyle, manufacturer of Splenda, along with its US based co-developer Johnson & Johnson, bought up potentially negative domain names by the hundreds (such as splendasucks.com and splendakills.com). Why? They fear the online consumer. But chances are if someone has something bad to say about a brand, they will find a place online no matter how hard that brand may try to stop them. This is the power of Web 2.0 for better or worse. Consumers can almost make or break a brand merely on how they react to it.

MTV, on the other hand, has developed a counter-strategy which embraces the new Web 2.0 strategy. Their approach: if you can’t beat them, join them. Kenneth Li from Reuters writes that, “MTV Networks, owner of the MTV and Comedy Central channels, is pushing a risky new Web strategy to win back young viewers from the likes of YouTube and MySpace. The network, which already has 150 Web sites in 162 countries, plans to build literally thousands more, hoping to draw viewers by letting them watch, contribute and even re-edit its television shows.” This is an established brand name almost re-branding themselves in order to keep pace with the Web 2.0 world. As the article further states, “MTV Networks” new strategy is part of an effort by Viacom to reach a wider audience that is spending as much time on the Internet and on video games as watching television, and no longer cares when or where programming is shown.” A Pricewaterhouse spokesperson points out the Internet video download business is expected to be worth $3.7 billion in annual revenue in 2010. Why wouldn’t MTV embrace this strategy?

The next big challenge a recent Reuters article points out is: “(finding) new ways to court viewers who split their time between viewing traditional media, surfing the Internet and playing video games. One such solution vying for consumers’ attention will be Joost. Joost’s primary focus is on network-quality programs – an entire network of global programming without the problems we have with today’s streaming video. Compared to Apple’s iTunes, which sells TV shows and movies, Joost is free, though its content is peppered with one to three minutes of ads an hour. It’s bringing the traditional broadcast model full-circle. A recent Time.com article explains: “Joost is lean-back from a content point of view, but its attractiveness to advertisers is in getting you involved”. Ad execs love Internet TV because its audience is measurable, targetable and interactive. “If you spend 10 minutes learning about a new car you’re interested in,” Ozguc says, “that’s worth gold to advertisers.” By 2010, Parks Associates estimates, the online-video market will grow fivefold, to more than $7 billion. So far Wrigley, T-Mobile and Maybelline have signed on, and others may customize ads not just by location, but also by viewing style. Watching Lassie, Benji and other dog flicks? Purina might have a message for you. “There’s no reason why a real estate company couldn’t put an ad up linking to a video walk-through of properties in your neighborhood,” says David Clark, Joost’s advertising director. Jeremy Allaire, the CEO of Web video provider Brightcove adds: “Unlike traditional entertainment media, however, end-user participation should be a big part of any online media strategy.”

In the midst of all this lies the question: Who owns content? With users seamlessly able to upload anything to the web they feel catches their eye, then how much control do you truly have over your own product? To quote Mark Cuban, regarding usage rights for content on the web: “HBO charges a monthly fee to subscribers. If someone can watch an HBO show on Google Video or YouTube, even if it’s divided into 1, 3 or 6 partsand reassembled into a playlist, they have far less incentive to subscribe or retain their subscription(s). HBO in turn, syndicates those shows to cable networks. As an example, A&E paid a reported $2.2 million per episode of the Sopranos. If the content is available online, do you think maybe it might reduce the value to A&E and HBO of the Sopranos? And that’s before we even get to overseas syndication. YouTube and Google Video have a great deal of popularity overseas because in many cases US shows are not as readily available. Online international viewing reduces the international revenue opportunity. Then of course there are DVD sales. YouTube downloads every video right to your PC. Google Video not only downloads to your PC, it provides the option to convert it into a PDA format including the iPod. So tell me why it makes good business sense for HBO to let users post the content they sell for a ton of money?”

Essentially, the Internet is the new antenna. Where content is free, and integration of products is crucial to connecting with the consumer. How brands engage the consumer is still key, both from a delivery standpoint to a product standpoint. With the web terrain already cluttered with sites that want to deliver us entertainment, it is even more important that those delivering the content become “household names.” Established brands like Yahoo and Google would be wise to create their own concepts of Joost. Why? Because they’re established brands and already have a built-in consumer base. They are not starting from scratch. We already see brands that are stepping into this entertainment sphere. Apple TV is a perfect example of an established brand that has already had success in delivering music, trying its best to take another piece of the pie by creating a delivery system that is practical and engaging. Its sole purpose is to take all the entertainment you have already downloaded from Apple, and enjoy it on a TV anywhere in your home. Apple is not the first to come up with a delivery system like this, but they are perceived as a brand that delivers technology that is easy and simple to use. An established brand that already has a loyal consumer base will inevitably increase with this incredibly approachable technology.

So what does Web 3.0 look like? Well, the web doesn’t consist solely of websites anymore. Take Sony and Xbox’s online gaming platforms and Second Life, an online “metaverse.” These are massive global networks made up of communities of online users. Brands integrating into these environments are one of the fastest growing trends. Second Life will soon integrate voice as well as web-content. What will happen once it can support content such as Joost’s online broadcast model? Total convergence seems inevitable. Imagine logging on at night and sitting in your virtual home, watching the playoffs on a virtual Samsung TV with your brother from Detroit sitting next to you on your virtual couch. The trash talk is brutal since you’re rooting for opposing teams. One of you’re virtual neighbors from the UK wanders in to sit and watch the game with you. The scary truth is that we aren’t far off from this now. By the time you read this, it may have already happened.

Ann Marie Mathis
Creative Director, Interactive
Cheil Communications