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Blog on advertising technology by MIT Advertising Lab. Keywords advertising technology, future of advertising, technology and advertising future, lab, advertising, ads, future, adverlab, adverblog, billboards, signage.
MIT Advertising Lab
Blog on the future of advertising technology
We cover future of advertising technology, advertising lab, advertising, ads, commercials, branding, marketing.

This blog by advertising lab is about advertising, advertising and branding, commercials, branding, marketing, ads, branding.

advertising advertising advert ad

Interactive Signage: Chatting with Mario

One of the highlights of my NY trip was a visit to Toys'R'Us on Times Square, a yearly pilgramage of sorts. The store never dissapoints. This time, they had a chat with with the computer-game Mario, live from the West Coast. Mario talked from a big TV screen and looked at the world through a video camera underneath. Mario took questions on the meaning of life and foreign affairs, danced around and eyed hot store employees. Voiced by apparently a professional Mario actor, this installation was not unlike a recent talkative billboard.

Advertising Banners on Car Rooftops

Suction cup banners that stick to car rooftops or window displays from Big Top Banners.

Accountability: Agencies Get a Cut of Clients' Revenues

NY Times: "Sugartown Creative is responsible for the packaging and marketing of the line, named Il Palagio, as well as subsequent advertising campaigns for the products. Rather than being compensated through commissions or fees, Sugartown Creative will earn a percentage of the revenue that the products generate at specialty food stores.

The deal is indicative of efforts that agencies are making to broaden their scope - and their revenue sources - as the industry undergoes wrenching changes. Not only are client relationships growing increasingly volatile, but marketers are seeking to reduce the sums they spend on advertising by cutting budgets or assigning procurement departments to handle agency payments."

Study: Demand for Mobile Video Weak

"The U.S. market for downloadable TV is likely to remain tiny for many years, with relatively few cell phone users bothering to take advantage of the feature. As in so many areas of media, the fact that a technology exists to do something doesn't mean consumers will rush to adopt it. In the case of downloadable TV, they will not.

That's according to a recent study from Mobinet conducted among 4,000 cell phone users in 21 countries. A joint venture between Cambridge University in Britain and the consulting firm A.T. Kearney in Chicago, Mobinet found that around the world just 15 percent of cell phone users were willing to pay to watch TV shows on their cell phones."
-- Media Life via Lost Remote

EVENT: In-Game Ads, Nov.17, London

"The European Advertising In Games Forum brings together advertising agencies, leading brands, game companies and technology companies for the first time. The forum identifies and examines the opportunities and pitfalls in the use of advertising in video games and provides a unique assessment of the driving forces that are shaping this market."

November 17, Imperial College, London.

Advertising Lab Turns One

Today AdverLab's blog turns one. It started as a resource dump for my thesis.

Some stats for the past year:
  • Posts published: ~ 700
  • Total page views: ~ 130,000
  • RSS feed subscribers: ~ 200
  • AdSense ad revenue: ~ $1,000
  • Technorati back links: ~ 150
  • Google PageRank: 6

Traffic growth (StatCounter.com):

Feed subscription growth (FeedBurner.com):

AdSense revenue growth:

Advertise with LED Caps

Scrolling text belt buckles are so 2005. This awe-inspiring cap remembers up to six messages 256-character long, scrolls them at four different speeds, and its LEDs come in red, blue, green, white, yellow and PINK.

Most Internet Users Can't Tell Ads From Search Results

Good news. "Only one in six users of internet search engines can tell the difference between unbiased search results and paid advertisements, a new survey finds. The Pew Internet and American Life Project reported Sunday that adults online in the United States are generally naive when it comes to how search engines work."
-- Wired

Doom Ported to iPod Nano

Doom has become a touchstone of sorts to test versatility of each new medium that comes out. Glad to report that iPod nano has just past the test, with the successful porting of Doom through Linux. More things that play Doom.

Doom Ported to iPod Photo

Smelltone Ringtone

Keitai KunKun: "It is epoch-making mobile accessories to inform of arrival of the mail of a cellular phone in "odor". Hangs it on a strap of a cellular phone, and faint odor opens at every telephone and arrival of the mail of an email for five seconds."
-- via Red Ferret

Smelly Packaging Encourages Impulse Purchase

Google Extends AdWords to Print Media

"Google Publication Ads enables you to place ads in print publications, allowing your advertising to reach an audience that's targeted to the demographics and topics you choose." Wonder if the print ads are going to be contextually tied to content, which would require an interesting content-management back-end on the publications' side.
-- via AdJab, which got it first.

Contextual Advertising in Word Documents
Putting contextual advertising on CVs

Ringback Ads Could Bring $14B in Revenue

If everything works out, we soon will be enjoying free phone service in exchange for having to listen to ads while we wait for our friends to pick up the phone.

"Instead of popular music ring-back tones, PromoTel estimates that replacing music content with advertisements would generate close to USD$14 billion in revenue for major telecoms like AT&T;, Verizon and Sprint. The company will now move forward with plans for a January 2006 field test allowing select customers in target markets to make free, unlimited local and nationwide calls."
-- Mobiledia

Advertising on Ring Back Signal

XBOX 360 Could Integrate Ads

"Speaking at the Harris Nesbitt Media & Entertainment Conference Bryan Lee, the chief financial officer of Microsoft's Entertainment and Devices subdivision has said how in some markets outside of North America there is a possibility that the cost of the Xbox 360 and its software could be subsidised by advertising."
-- Pro-G

Smelly Packaging Encourages Impulse Purchase

"A new concept in scented packaging has been jointly developed to give cosmetic and personal care a new kind of sensory packaging and another tool to promote their products. The concept known as ‘Chocolatine' is designed to give brand owners the opportunity to appeal to the sense of smell of the consumer, generating what is described as an impulse reaction to make a purchase, without having to tamper with the product. According to the companies, Chocolatine consists of a clear injection blow-moulded jar containing a scented cream with a chocolate, vanilla and orange fragrance and with a jar lid that actually encapsulates and disperses a scent identical to that of the cream."
-- Cosmetic Design via SlashFood, Brand Infection

Not just for dogs anymore.

Advertising on Wheels High-Tech Style

If simple wheel mods are not bleeding-edge enough for you, try Tire Tagz. "TireTagz uses complex electronic circuitry and high frequency LEDs to create patterns, images, words and even animations within the wheels of your car. Images appear to glow from the wheels of your car through a process known as "persistence of vision". As the unit rotates, the LEDs transmit thousands of light pulses every millisecond which in turn produces whatever image the user has programmed the unit to display." They also have pictures of semi-naked women on their site, if you care.

This is very much like Hokey Spokes and the Fan Screen.

Hacking Shopping Carts for Advertising Bang

"To create awareness at point-of-purchase, we rigged everyday shopping trolleys with motors, thereby creating and arsenal of "ghost trolleys". The trolleys were then filled with ghost pops and driven by remote controls from hidden locations. They moved around supermarkets by themselves prompting shoppers to take a pack while getting quite a few interesting reactions."
-- Network#BBDO, Loerie Awards 2005, Gold for Ambient/Outdoor

Also, check out how Yamaha turned shopping carts into motorbikes.

Advertising Outdoors : Watch This Space! focuses on the history and development of outdoor advertising since the beginning of the nineteenth century.

Advertising on Taxi Wheels

Another cool way to advertise on taxis:

"Laundrettes in the wheels of a taxi, complete with laundry and soap. Agency: PPGH/JWT Amsterdam"
-- AdBlather

Previously reported cool ways:

Predictions for 2006 Coming In

The first batch of predictions for 2006 is already in, way ahead of the official Christmas shopping season. I'll eventually compile the most interesting ones just like I did last year, but here's the first batch from 24/7 Real Media regarding online advertising. Some are pretty bold: "Technology and better data access will transform online advertising success to a formulaic equation." Others are of the "duh" kind: "Advertisers will continue shifting traditional ad spending to the Web due to increased Internet consumption and better targeting/reporting capabilities." Well, duh. Are there any alternative scenarios?

My favorite one: "Consumer-generated media will become increasingly attractive to advertisers."

Advertising on Power Outlets

Jan Chipchase, who works at User Experience Group at Nokia Research, writes:

"I'm surprised no one has tried to brand power sockets in locations like this [airport] - this socket sponsored by 'T-Mobile Wi-Fi access'. Micro targeted advertising should get interesting when it collides with the widespread adoption of IPv6.

Observed power socket clustering to charge mobile phones in a variety of cultures including Hangzhou train station and JFK Airport, below."

advertising on power outlets

Advertisers Turn Back to Users' Desktops

"Now, as the broadcast push system gives way to consumer-initiated engagements, advertisers are looking anew at desktop real estate, seeing it as a place to be invited to provide branded entertainment to a passionate audience that may pass it along to others."
-- AdWeek @ Yahoo

Contextual Advertising in Word Documents
Million Dollar Screenshot

Philips Develops amBX for Richer Sensory Experience


"amBX, developed by Philips amBX Group, is a technology that will take gamers a step closer to a full sensory experience, with amBX enabled games providing gamers with the ability to use light, colour, sound, heat and airflow in the real world during gameplay. The technology uses a scripting language to enable games to send signals to compatible hardware such as lights, fans, heaters, and even furniture. This means that in a game the lights in your room will match up to the environment you are gaming in. Green for jungle and blue for the ocean. Strobes of white light could simulate a lightning storm and a burst of air from a fan could make huge jumps feel more realistic."
-- via David Edery

BOOK AD: Creative Advertising: Ideas and Techniques from the World's Best Campaigns is an indispensable book for designers, art directors, copywriters, and students of advertising. Over 450 illustrations, 380 in color.

Pairing Virtual Reality Goggles with Video iPod

Phillip Torrone at Make: "I've been wondering if small portable video devices will eventually spark the VR / LCD goggles you always see in the future sci-fi movies. Since I have a couple pair for projects, I tried it out."

Monetizing Content Theft

Fred Wilson, a VC in NYC, wrote a very enlightening post, the kind where you slap your forehead duh and wish it came to you first: "I know that Jason Calacanis hates the really simple stealing that goes on with Engadget or Autoblog posts. But you know what? He's not going to stop it. What he should do is monetize each and every post with an ad of some sort and a tracking mechanism of some sort and let the content flow."

AdPulp author recently noticed his and many other ad blogger's content being rudely copied, and I too had an encounter with a secret admirer. In the hindsight, my response was very unproductive. So here's another solution. Every once in a while, I will be hard-coding links to the top rated advertising books on Amazon, mostly the ones I've read and enjoyed myself. They take a fair amount of work since everything is hand-made, but this way the ads are actually relevant and just may be useful. Let me know, though, if that's too much.

Hey, Whipple, Squeeze This: A Guide to Creating Great Ads, in which master copywriter Luke Sullivan looks at the history of advertising, from the good, to the bad, to the ugly.

Electronic Paper Status Update

electronic paper fujitsu

Reuters runs a status update on the progress of electronic paper technology and talks about potential implications for information businesses.

"An electronic newspaper, when the technology is finally available to produce one, still may not be the device to rescue newspaper publishers from an aging readership and dwindling circulation numbers. Such a device could well be sold by newspaper publishers who would subsidize it in order to sell subscriptions, but it would have to offer other sources to be attractive."

Atomshockwave To Broker Ads in Short Games

"AtomShockwave will start incorporating technology that allows ads to be inserted into its game worlds, the company is expected to announce today. Unlike in-game ad competitor Massive Incorporated, which inserts ads into big-name titles like "Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory" and "Anarchy Online," which users can spend hours at a time playing, Shockwave's Immersive Network aims to place ads in short, Web-based casual games."
-- Media Post

TiVo Partners with Yahoo to Provide Online Scheduling

"Yahoo! and TiVo have partnered to give you the ultimate remote control: the Web! Now you can schedule recordings on your TiVo® box from any internet connection. From any Yahoo! TV episode page, just click "Record to my TiVo box"."
-- Yahoo! TV

Now they will add small TiVo icons on the shows' websites and to the banners advertising the shows. Long overdue.

More Branded Food

"Future of Advertising" Photoshop Contest VI

(image source)

Worth1000.com is running its sixth "Corporate Takeover" Photoshop contest, inviting people to imagine the future of advertising (here's the last time they did it). Again, a lot of their ideas have already been implemented, but some are very, very fresh and promising, such as DNA branding.

dna branding

Yahoo's Ads on Google

There's something I can't quite define about Yahoo advertising on Google's AdWords network. This particular ad came up when I searched for Burma Shave for a Billboardom post on Burma Shave's roadside poetry.

Study: Fundamental Shifts Media and Advertising

New Politics Institute released a 32-page study "Fundamental Shifts in the U.S. Media and Advertising Industries" that "illustrates how commercial advertising itself is increasingly allocating resources away from the old broadcast to the new 21st century forms." Lots of numbers and diagrams. Well worth a download.

MIT Ad Lab's Top Ten October Posts

Here are some October stories that attracted the most attention, traffic, link-backs or comments, in case you've missed the action. Top September posts are here.

This Week in Billboardom

Actually, the title should've been "past few weeks in Billboardom" since I've skipped a couple of Fridays. In the meanwhile, Billboardom was featured in NY Times. Here's the previous update.

mcdonalds obesity billboard
Another sighting of an anti-obesity billboard placed next to McDonald's ad.

Bathroom Poster for MINI

Crashed Billboards

Doggie Style - wacky playground decoration

Coke Truck

"Ronald Coming to Town" Trippy Tiles

Burger King Comes to Video iPod

"Burger King unveiled a plan to sponsor a series of short comedy videos designed to be downloaded for free and played on the new iPod.
Sponsorship entails a branded page for video files specially encoded for video iPods. Some of the downloadable videos hosted on the page are user-created Halloween shorts that feature masks of infamous Burger King spokescritters: the costumed "King" that appears in current television spots, and the net-famous Subservient Chicken.

The first of the spots, which went live Thursday, features a Heavy.com user driving up to a McDonald's drive-through window dressed as the King, with a royal robe and the plastic mask, and demanding a Whopper." Downloads available at Heavy.com.
-- Media Post

First Informecial Hits Video iPod

Fruitcast Automatically Inserts Ads in Podcasts


"We make it ridiculously easy to put ads on your podcast. All you have to do is sign up for an account, and post the new feed URL we create for you on your website (or redirect it through another service, such as the excellent FeedBurner). Each time a listener downloads an episode from your new podcast feed, we'll check to see if there are any ads that have been assigned to your podcast. If so, we'll automatically add them (at either the beginning or end, or both) into the MP3 file that your listeners download. Each ad takes the form of a brief spoken statement. We approve each ad before it goes live, and we won't hesitate to reject anything that we think would annoy the podcast publishers or their listeners."

Contextual Advertising in Word Documents

Microsoft took my idea of putting contextual advertising on CVs one giant leap further. Now ALL your documents will have ads on them. W00t!

"In what could be the first step toward the wide-scale distribution of ad-supported software, Microsoft this week said it intends to offer users software free of charge. "Given the fact that the market's booming, the media's booming--the opportunity to take ad-funded software live around the company is going to be a great experience," said Eric Hadley, MSN's senior director of advertising and marketing. "It's a very large commitment to advertising." Microsoft said Tuesday it intends to soon launch Office Live and Windows Live, and will make ad-supported software services available through both products. Starting with Live.com, which currently is in beta testing, MSN's advertising sales team will be selling advertising--keyword and contextual, display and rich media--on desktop-based properties."
-- MediaPost and all over the web today

Ain't gonna work, says a ZDNet blog.

And here's a preview of the new Hotmail (codenamed Kahuna):

Book: Profit Brand

One of the coolest things about being a blogger is receiving review copies of new books. Profit Brand is one of them and I finally went through the pile sitting on my desk and got to read it. Now, I was very, very suspicious. A huge number of books on branding seem to follow the five-step advice of writing branding books and getting away with it , which means they are a waste of time. I expected another sage advice on how the times are changing and how we need new branding paradigms. Or a dystopia scenario. Perhaps a couple of new buzzwords. Instead, I was in for a pleasant surprise.

To be fair, Nick Wreden does coin what he hopes will become the next buzzword, and it is ProfitBranding. Unlike other buzzwords though, this one actually makes sense and can be summed up in this quote: "The branding goal in the customer economy is not sales or market rowth, but profitability growth. Without profitability growth, brands cannot be sustained. [...] Profits drive accountability."

If you swear by brand equity, prepare to be scandalized. "Brand equity is irrelevant to customers. In the history of the world, only two things have never happened. No one has washed a rental car. And no one has bought anything based on brand equity." So, there.

It's a very calm book otherwise. It talks about accountability, customer retention, recency, frequency and monetary value. The book crunches a lot of numbers. It shows exactly how much each customer you put on hold costs your company.

If you happen to work at an agency, read this book. Even if you are on the creative side of things. If nothing else, it will help you make your PowerPoints much more convincing to the clients' finance guys. Definitely worth its $20.

More Branded Body Art

branded body art

More branded body art, this time from Joon Kim .

branded body art

Bar Code Art

Bar-code portraits by Scott Blake. Take them to your nearest store and run them by a scanner.

EVENT: Portable Media Expo, Nov.11-12, Ontario, CA

"Portable Media Expo & Podcasting Conference is the only industry event that brings together influential podcasters, media, content creators and device makers to cover the complete range of business, marketing and legal issues for portable audio & video."

One of the key topics will be monetization of content through different advertising models.
-- via Advertising for Peanuts

Case Study: Calvin Klein "Live" Billboard

calving klein live billboard

If you plan to run a Times Square billboard with live performers, you will find MarketingSherpa's case study of Calvin Klein's stunt very insightful.

"When most advertisers use the term "integrated" they mean using the same creative elements across multiple media -- such as sticking the same photo in a magazine ad and an online banner. Cardelia [CK's VP of PR]decided to take the actual models that were featured in CK One's current TV and print ads and stick them into a Times Square billboard in person."
-- via Billboardom

In-Game Trading Can Hit $2.7 Billion in 2006

"Steve Salyer, president of IGE, says the market for virtual-asset trading could hit $1.5 billion in 2005 and $2.7 billion in 2006. Salyer's projections are a blend of internal data and research from outside sources, such as DFC Intelligence and the Yankee Group."
-- Forbes, Knowledge@Wharton

Video Downloads Open Doors to New Content Models

"At first glance, the sales figures for iTunes video downloads seem like another nail in the coffin of broadcast television. If we can get television content online, on demand, whenever we want it, how will networks convince us to tune in on their schedules? For that matter, how can they be certain we'll tune in at all?"

Our media analyst Ivan Askwith thinks video downloads are more of a midwife than a mortician, paving way for entirely new models. Read his Slate article for details.

Ad Agencies Keeping Up With New Tech

"Every week brings another potential breakthrough in the fast-changing digital media world. The interactive ad industry, which has always been based on the premise that change is ongoing and positive, has seen so many recent shifts that agencies are finding themselves in a race to stay ahead.

To keep their clients ahead of the pack, some agencies are identifying teams to tackle emerging technologies, while others are taking a less formal, more distributed approach out of fear of squelching innovation. The goal for both strategies is the same: separate the gee-whiz technologies that can help a client's business from those not yet ready for prime time."
-- Yahoo

Interview With Leo Burnett's Media Futurist

Future: Google DVR and Contextual TV Ads

"It is very possible that Google is creating their own branded digital television DVR / satellite service.

A DVR that lets you "log In" with your Google Account before you begin your television watching would allow Google to serve up relevant ads based on the program you are watching, your search history, the type of emails you have received in the past 24 hours (excluding spam hopefully), or anything else Google can track. Imagine the possibilities."
-- ZDNet blog

Future of TV: DVR With Unlimited Memory

Revver Inserts Short Ads In Amateur Video

"Revver allows anybody to post their videos online, then inserts code into the video itself that adds a small advertisement every time it is viewed, even if the video is downloaded and distributed from another site. "The thought is to make it possible for creators who are unpaid online to be able to benefit from their work," said Stephen Starr, who co-founded Revver."
-- CNet

keywords: consumer-generated content, advertising

NY Times Rolls Out Watermark Ad Format

"The New York Times is introducing "watermarked" advertising in its Business Day section. The ads can be superimposed over the stock listings Tuesday through Saturday. The watermark will occupy a full page and will include the advertisers' message at the bottom.

The Chicago Tribune announced in the summer an ad program that promotes different shapes and sizes, like shadow and step ads. And Tribune Media Net, the national advertising sales arm for Tribune Co., rolled out a marketing campaign promoting unique ad shapes last week."
-- Editor and Publisher (the image is from the Lab's archives)

"Sex And The City" Brands NY Post Page

The entire NY Post website's "Page Six" is branded by "Sex and the City", from banners to watermarks.
-- via AdRants

A page in Boston Herald similarly branded by a jeweler, from bullet points to the article title.


coffin advertising

Bid on eBay now to receive:

"1) A reasonably sized logo or ad on my metal coffin
2) A personal note or request to God, or whichever spiritual force you believe in. (Note will be placed inside the coffin inside an envelope and sealed by you. NOTICE: No requests for liquor, lottery winnings or good looking children allowed.)

When I make it to HEAVEN, I'll be sure to keep my eye on you and ask Gabriel to ensure that you receive ample rewards. This is probably the best investment you can get: advertising space, promotion, spiritual protection. DISCLAIMER: If I end up going to hell I will do my best to keep you out. NOTICE: I'm guaranteed to die so your investment is guaranteed to return physical, financial and spiritual dividends."
-- via Agenda

An earlier offer to brand a corpse went for $15.50.

Tombstones as Media
Video Tombstones

Advertising on Nails

brand advertising nails

brand advertising nails

Looks good. Someone should offer fake branded nails as advertising freebies to loyal customers. The pictures also go well with an earlier story on the stenographer who was selling ad space on her own nails. These pics come from Brand Infection.

Newspaper Ad Circulars to Extend Online

"Gannett, one of the nation's biggest newspaper publishers, said it would introduce a new service on its newspaper Web sites next month that displays banner ads that readers can expand into a virtual version of the weekly local circulars so familiar to offline newspaper readers.

Industry executives said the service, called PaperBoy, devised by a unit of Gannett called PointRoll, would give national advertisers a way to reach online readers in local markets with promotions tied to neighborhood stores."
-- NY Times via AdPulp

First Informecial Hits Video iPod

photoshop tv

"Last week, a group of users of print and online publishing software maker Adobe Systems' Photoshop software launched what may be the first iPod infomercial, a half-hour guided tour of Adobe's Photoshop dubbed "Photoshop TV". The video podcast, sponsored and distributed by the National Association of Photoshop Professionals, was released on Oct. 24, and immediately began climbing the charts of Apple's iTunes podcasts to hit No. 2 on Oct. 28. The video podcast drew more than 6,200 subscribers in its first 72 hours. The free video podcast offers viewers tutorials and quick tips for mastering Photoshop, as well as industry news and interviews involving the digital photo and imaging software."
-- Media Post

Today, Apple issued a press release boasting 1 million video downloads from its iTunes service within the first 20 days of the video iPod launch (via i4u).

More Illusions in Advertising

A quick follow-up to an earlier post on the use of optical illusions in advertising. This 2004 commercial (.mov) for Audi by Bartle Bogle Hegarty pays tribute to M.C.Escher's Print Gallery, Convex and Concave and Relativity. Here's a making-of article.
-- via Advertising for Peanuts

Study: Packaging Design Patterns

"Armed with digital cameras and notepads, R.Bird's designers visit retail outlets and observe product packaging in its natural habitat. We then purchase a selection of examples and bring them back to R.BIRD for closer study. The packages are photographed and analyzed by the team in search of common design threads and patterns of opportunity throughout the category.

Each [free] report exposes design patterns recognized in a specific product category, revealing opportunities for your product to compete for consumer attention in a real-world scenario, whether through integration or differentiation."

The image above is from their report on the energy drink sector.

Million Dollar Screenshot

The Million Dollar Screenshot adds a nice and imaginative twist to the ad-pixel craze. "When you buy an icon, you can then display an image/ad/logo of your choice in the space you have purchased. You can also have the image click through to your own website. The icon you buy will be displayed permanently on my desktop and so on the screenshot. While I may change things on my desktop, for example the background, the icons will stay and their relative position won't change.

This is the first time someone is selling space on his computer desktop and you will have own a piece of it!"

Future: Self-Contained Music

"FM3's latest release, Buddha Machine, is not a CD or a download. It's a self contained FM3 loop player -- a small soundbox made in China which comes with an integrated speaker, a volume control, mini jack-out and a switch to choose between nine different loops which are stored on a small chip and can be directly played by this mini soundsystem. A number of other artists will continue this series soon." Available for $23 at Forced Exposure."
-- via Boing Boing and Almost Cool

Converting bits back into atoms
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