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8 posts from April 2006

Virgin Digital Turns a Magazine Ad into an Experience

060420aSometimes I wonder how magazines will survive the onslaught of handheld digital devices. Then Virgin Digital takes the visual treasure hunt into the music world with this ad. To appreciate print like this, you have to sit and hold a relatively large image in your hands. That's what magazines have to make us want to do more often.

The Creativity Print&Design E-mail, April 20, 2006

The Art Directors Club announced the winners of its 85th annual awards earlier this week, with a mere five Golds handed out in the Advertising realm. The lone print or outdoor winner was this musical treasure hunt for Virgin Digital, from Ground Zero, which appeared as both magazine spreads and posters, winning in the latter category.

"Looking to create an experience that would genuinely engage people, rather than something to just flip past, we made this piece with more than 70 visual metaphors of musical artists and bands," explains ACD/writer Kristina Slade. Tagged "Exercise your music muscle," it's so dense with references it could give you a hernia. "It challenged music fans to see how many artists and bands they could spot," says Slade, and in no time at all it became viral print, as "dozens of blogs, music-related websites and online communities around the world spontaneously promoted it by embracing the challenge," she notes.


The Promise of Mobile Marketing

060420 Jim Cannella of House of Blues makes it sound like fun to get marketing text messages on your cell phone. I wonder if we'll need even more control of the messages on the phone than we have over the email inbox. For instance, will I be able to say "HOB messages only after 6 pm"?

Target Marketing Magazine: TM Tipline - 4/18/06 - Jim Cannella on Mobile Marketing by Irene Cherkassky

A lot of what we’re doing with Soapbox so far has been with the simple messages. You [the customer] send an artist’s name to a code [from HOB], and you can receive band information back. We’ve also done a lot of promotional contests. While you’re waiting in line outside, you can sign up for a chance to meet the band or for a chance to win a shirt or a phone.

We recently did a tour with the band Lifehouse. At the bottom of all the [Lifehouse] print ads that ran around the country, we had a call to action that said to receive tour updates, text a keyword into a code. The message the user received back was “confirming that you’re opting in to receive information.” In our limited testing, we found that to be pretty exciting for fans, and we’re going to roll that into a much bigger thing. If I can scan and compare my Soapbox Media database and my list of existing HOB.com members, link those two up, then I can get a bigger picture of [my customers]. That’s when I’ll figure out when to opt [customers] into a regular dialogue.


Online Publishers Branch Out into Other Media

060419As traditional publishers and media channels are frantically building out their web sites, online publishers are moving off the web. WebMD is producing a magazine for doctors offices. BusinessWeek Online, About.com and CNet have both decided to videotape their experts and distribute the clips to the new video on demand systems being developed by the cable companies. I expect some of these media brands will become ubiquitous across all platforms and some will find they do better be sticking with the platform where they started. One thing I think we will all find is that as so much information is coming at us from so many different directions, we'll become even more reliant on media brand names to help us decide how reliable the information is.

ClickZ News: About Embarks on Web Video Mission through TV Partnership by Kate Kaye, April 11, 2006

Expo... pairs product demonstrations and expert guidance in its TV programming with "Videopinions" provided by consumers who upload their own product review videos onto the Expo TV site. Expo viewers will see About video clips featured in the "Consumer Tips" category, along with other on-demand content categories....Suggested Daphne Kwon, CEO of Expo TV, "We can help brands establish themselves through video quicker...by building this consumer-friendly TV outlet. Multiple platforms are better than a single platform."

MediaDailyNews: Custom Publishing Accelerates, Outpaces Conventional Mags - 04/10/2006 by Erik Sass

"Going in a different direction," The Magazine Group also produces "a million-circulation magazine for [online health portal] WebMD, to extend its brand into waiting rooms," Ottenberg said. "WebMD is a good example because this is a two-pronged effort--extending their brand into print, but also bringing advertising in and making it a business."

OnlineMediaDaily: CNET Taps Cox, TiVo To Reach Couch Potatoes - 04/17/2006 by Gavin O'Malley

DIGITAL TECHNOLOGY PUBLISHER CNET TODAY will announce plans to move into traditional media, with deals to supply content to three video-on-demand TV networks. Through partnerships with Cox Commutations, TiVo Inc., and TVN Entertainment, CNET is offering paid TV subscribers a range of ad-supported content, including gadget reviews, news reports, trend stories, and user-generated video. The new CNET TV also exists as a standalone Web site, where consumers can draw from various topic channels to program their viewing experiences. Interactive tools let users engage with the site's editorial staff, and share their customized play lists with friends. Best Buy's Geek Squad brand has signed on as a CNET TV charter sponsor, its ads appearing both online and on TV.


Assembling a Customer Advisory Board

060418b Customer/consumer advisory boards aren't anything new, but what a fun one to be on: updating the image of Tweety Bird. I like the way they used PDAs to collect information instead of written forms.

ChiefMarketer.com: Ambassadors Transform Tweety From Classic to Contemporary by Matthew Glass, April 2006

The objective was simple: to reposition Tweety as more of a contemporary fashion/lifestyle icon for teens and women and less of a classic licensed character. Influencing this trendy demographic would not be as easy. Our first step was to assemble the “Tweety Squad”—a group of trendsetting teenage girls aged 13-17—who could provide Warner Bros. with fashion feedback and new product ideas while generating excitement for the re-branded Tweety among their peers.

GCM deployed promotional teams to seek out and recruit Tweety Squad members at beaches, parks and malls across the country. Our teams used handheld PDA’s to gather information, and by the end of the four-month search process, we had enlisted 2,400 hand-picked teens. Once the squad was assembled, the next step was to engage them in an open dialogue about what was hot and what was not among them and their friends.


SourceTool Enlists Customer Help in Building a Better B2B Directory

060414a As technology evolves, B2B suppliers are always re-aligning their product lines. It's hard for a B2B directory to keep up...unless you give them the tools and ask them to build it themselves. What we lose in ease of use we more than make up in flexibility.

Direct magazine: SourceTool Wants You to Help Build a Directory by Brian Quinton, April 12, 2006

When Thomas Publishing elected last August to put the plug on ThomasB2B, its business-supply directory joint venture with FindWhat (now Miva), the three top executives at the project were left holding onto their vision of what an online directory for businesses could be. That notion wasn’t exactly the one Thomas had been shooting for, but Dan Savage, Michael Doyle and Dennis Jones thought it was time to put it to a real-world test.

Now SourceTool.com has been up and running for about five months, and the real world’s verdict is in: You can operate a business directory that doesn’t sell its own ads and relies on businesses to do a lot of the heavy lifting in matters of taxonomy and categorization—the things that are necessary for SourceTool’s algorithm to find what searchers are looking for.


Don't be a Pain in the Click

060413a Witty and teasing headlines on web sites give me a headache. Half the time that I give in and click on them, they turn out to be referring to something for which I have no interest. In a traditional newspaper, your eye easily leaps from the cute headline to the first line of the story, but on the internet you usually have to click, then click away. That's two clicks for some cheap misleading headline!

So I have no sympathy for the journalists who bemoan the death of the witty headline. May it rest in peace! You, however, need to read this clip below to understand how incredibly important clear, specific headlines have become to getting the word out.

New York Times: This Boring Headline Is Written for Google, April 9, 2006, by Steve Lohr

Some news sites offer two headlines. One headline, often on the first Web page, is clever, meant to attract human readers. Then, one click to a second Web page, a more quotidian, factual headline appears with the article itself. The popular BBC News Web site does this routinely on longer articles. Nic Newman, head of product development and technology at BBC News Interactive, pointed to a few examples from last Wednesday. The first headline a human reader sees: "Unsafe sex: Has Jacob Zuma's rape trial hit South Africa's war on AIDS?" One click down: "Zuma testimony sparks HIV fear." Another headline meant to lure the human reader: "Tulsa star: The life and career of much-loved 1960's singer." One click down: "Obituary: Gene Pitney." "The search engine has to get a straightforward, factual headline, so it can understand it," Mr. Newman said. With a little programming sleight-of-hand, the search engine can be steered first to the straightforward, somewhat duller headline, according to some search optimizers.


Advertisers Want to be Publishers

060412_1Publishers and producers create "content" (newspapers, magazines, movies, tv shows) and advertisers either sponsor or buy ad space. Right? No longer. Since traditional advertising channels are no longer getting the job done for a lot of marketers, they are trying to attract an audience by creating their own content. The employment options for creative professionals are expanding rapidly. You can work for a publisher or take a contract or job with a marketing company and do the same tasks. If your editor or producer can't see it your way, look for a sponsor who does.

Online Publishing Insider: Welcome To The Next Seller's Market by Mike May, April 6, 2006

Only a few years ago, ... I would have taken Coca-Cola's Webmaster as a conference keynote, and allowed him to spend 45 minutes talking about meta tags and referrers. A few weeks before OMMA Hollywood, by contrast, I spent 30 minutes on the phone with the director of media and communication at Coca-Cola about his proposed role at the show. He noted that he was looking forward to telling the Coke story on stage.

"We're doing amazing work with wireless and gaming in Europe and Asia, and it's time we get some credit for it, instead of it all going to Yahoo," he said. One of the world's biggest advertisers chomping at the bit to steal an online publisher's thunder? Times have changed.