Previous month:
July 2006
Next month:
September 2006

Posts from August 2006

TV: A direct medium

Google has made no secret of the fact that it wants to roll out its ad serving model across other channels - they've made forrays into radio with the acquisition of dMarc - and CEO Eric Schmidt recently detailed their plans for moving into television.

The picture he paints is based on Google's contextual model - so the broadcast stream would trigger relevant information / advertising on a web browser and eventually on screen.

This got me thinking about the broadcast model that television operates. You buy an audience and fire out messaging - but does it have to be that way? Why couldn't the online model tranfer to television?

With the advent IPTV the broadcast stream is effectively one to one.  Eventually, why not have ads served during the breaks individually, as they are online. You could then target ads specfically - have television ads frequency capped as online ads, have sequential executions served over time regardless of how frequently you watch television - if you don't switch on for a month the ads could still be served allowing for equal cover / frequency build across all viewing behaviours - light or heavy.

Once IPTV becomes mainstream you could have ads personalised on the fly - the streamed ads having an allowance for a name that is dynamically inserted at the set top box, for example, so that the ad addresses you directly.

Even further, consumers could register their interests to receive more targeted communication - or at least a higher proportion of advertising appropriate for them - minimising wastage for advertisers and irritation for consumers.

To steal from Mark Twain: reports of the death of the 30 second spot have been greatly exaggerated.

[Note: Should anyone need to be reminded of the power of film - this new Nike ad - A little less gravity - is fantastic.]

Animated Reality

Philip K Dick's A Scanner Darkly is a masterpiece of drug induced paranoiac writing.

I caught the movie, which is appropriately dark and confusing with some great addict performances from Robert Downey Jr. and Winona Ryder, but it's the style that is the star of this show.

The movie  was filmed digitally and then animated using a technique called interpolated rotoscoping. Rotoscoping is an old school technique - essentially painting over the film cells - that has been updated for the digital age.

And it looks fantastic. In a similar vein to Sin City [and Linklater's earlier Waking Life], the film is confusingly, beautifully, both real and animated.

This is a technique crying out for an ad - all it needs is a proposition - sometimes execution can  back up into strategy: do something that looks like this!

[Suggestions in the comment box please]

This is probably blasphemy to most planners. But why? When they realised they could put a break dancing Gene Kelly into Singing in the Rain, surely directors were scratching their heads looking for a brand to cover the costs, to mutual benefit.

To me this is just another example of technology opening up new opportunities, that requires us to think about how we might be using them - if you don't know it can be done, you can't incorporate into your thinking or build ideas from it.

Aristotle, Blogs and Brands

Blogs have been all over the mainstream media again thanks to the 'outing' of anonymous blogger turned analogue author girl with a one track mind.

The vitriol with which she has been hounded and abused is disturbing and, as the Guardian has rightly pointed out, seems to suggest that feminism in the UK has regressed in the last decade, thanks to Bridget Jones and her ilk.

I'll leave that aside for now. It makes me angry. However, I agree with Corporate Blawg that this seems to be a case of argumentum ad hominem - the logical fallacy of attacking the author of an argument rather than the argument itself.

The increasingly dynamic interplay of user generated and mainstream media [I've seen it shortened to MSM] is more pertinent to the blog in hand. Lotus pointed me in the direction of this nice model of the emerging media ecosystem. All that Cluetrain talk of markets being conversations is quite literally becoming true. If you broadcast anything, someone somewhere will be responding, challenging your claims and keep a watchful eye of what you are up to, to ensure that what you promise is what you deliver and that you 'fess up if it's not.

But we need to be careful that we don't commit an ad hominem fallacy - attacking the brands themselves with stock complaints instead of rigourously examining what they are saying now.

Fortunately, the ASA is there to ensure that Kellogg's can't just claim to make you 9% more alert.


Those crazy kids at IKEA are up to something. It's all happening next Wednesday 30th August in London and it's rumoured to involve something very expensive.

Whatever it is, it is definitely culminating with a massive party at Old Billingsgate Market that  should be good - free drinks and food and all that jazz. Swedish jazz I imagine. They've promised some big surprises on the night.

And I've got a pair of tickets to give away in the very first TIGS competition!

So if you fancy an evening of free drinking in EC3 next Wednesday, leave a comment. Most entertaining comment posted by 1pm tomorrow wins. My decision is final.

Unless I change my mind.

Media Bingeing

A couple of months ago the New York Times ran a piece about Media Immersion Pods being the new new thing in Tokyo. These "drug dens for internet addicts" are cubicles that can be rented, for solo or couple use, and are rammed with every kind of media access device you could possibly desire: pc, tv, dvd, playstation and so on.

According to one of the quoted pundits

The Japanese love liminal spaces

and these dark little media nooks fulfil a deep and persistent cultural longing, caused by the rigid Japanese hierachy, to  shed your identity, to leave your social status at home for a few hours. Or even all night - as the article points out - one hour can easily become two, or seven.

This led me to think there might something more universal about this need. Media bingeing seems to be an emerging trend around the world - a corollary of on demand culture. Always on broadband has enabled immersive gaming where millions of people enjoy a rich second life for many hours a day. Timeshifted viewing, be it PVR or boxset,  allows you to chew through episodes of Lost or 24 all weekend. The continuous partial attention that the connected generation give to multiple media streams [internet, tv, phone, iPod] at the same time could be seen as a smorgasboard.

We are a society saturated by media, so it seems counterintuitive that the time poor would spend the free time on a media binge.  But perhaps it makes sense if we think of it in terms of empowerment. If we are bombared constantly by media, perhaps a good media binge is a way of taking back control.

Health Warning: Like any kind of binge, a media binge can be fatal if you don't know when to stop.


I'm fascinated by the intersection of the web and real life. Back during the dot com days we used to talk about the pervasive internet - this time of ultimate convergence when everything would be IP enabled and linked to the intermenet. At the time we used to joke privately about your new IP enabled fridge, that famously would be ordering your milk when you ran out, crashing like all Windows machines and ruining your frozen pizzas.

Then mobile phones promised us the internet in the palm of our hand. They have yet to truly deliver on that promise - although the Opera phone browsers with small screen rendering a great leap forward away from the horror that is WAP.

Two annoucements in the last week have pushed us further into the converged on/off line world: Google have given their home city free WiFi access everywhere. Free internet. Anywhere. One giant hotspot. And, sure, no doubt they will eventually monetise this, as they do all their ventures, by selling advertising - in this case geotargeted advertising. But the pervasive net is coming.

Second, Sony announced the launch of the Mylo, shown above. Short for My Life Online it's a first of a kind WiFi only device designed for the instant messenger generation. No phone bills, and, in MountView at least, it would work anywhere for IM or Skype or web browsing. 

Imagine when WiFi is everywhere: with a decent WiFi handset and Skype you could put the networks out of business.

All of which is very exciting because it hints at the kind of ideas that will flourish in this integrated world: integrated ideas! Ideas that blend online with the world; integration an order of difference beyond the cuffs and collars model of making a banner look like a press ad, or streaming a TV ad via an MPU.

Things like Blast Theory's interactive art game Uncle Roy All Around You, where contestants on the street are guided by online players.

Like the Cannes winning Monopoly idea, played out with GPS enabled taxis as the playing pieces. 

Like the Japanese Geovector technology that lets you Click on the Real World - point and click search things in real life.

Like the Yellow Arrow project, where stickers in the real world lead to content you can access online or via SMS.

Like AOL's interactive reality game Gold Rush, an on and offline treasure hunt they are describing as "the first truly cross-platform media event designed specifically for the Internet but in cooperation with network television, print publications and radio."

Jay Chiat once said:

Creative is not a department.

So I put the call out, stealing his:

Digital is not a department!

Where in the world?

I've been using this analytics package from Google - I worked with them out in Sydney for a while so got a sneak preview.

It's great and horribly addictive. You can track hourly traffic, referring websites, keywords that led people to your site and lots of other cool stuff, including where they are in the world.

The map above shows the location of TIGS readers from the last week or so - I think it's interesting as a reflection of the global advertising village - it certainly seems to cluster around key advertising centres, with the exception of Japan - where are you Dentsu?

Google Analytics comes out of beta today, it was previously only available by invitation,  so if you are a blogger I suggest you head over there and register - like pretty much everything from Google its free and works brilliantly.

PS. Did the titles of this post trigger a jingle refrain in any Brits? Sorry. But jingles have power. Low involvement processing and all that.

Merry Christmas

Ok so I realise the fact that 'Christmas gets earlier every year' is a trite observation that triggers a flurry of mainstream editorial every year, bemoaning the appropriation of this sacred holiday by consumerism.

[Aside: Personally, I think the act of gift giving is a secular reminder to be nice to people that has managed to outgrow the religious connotations of the pagan festival that early Christians themselves hijacked, evidenced by the fact that many Jews and Muslims I know celebrate the secular gift part of Chrsitmas and any festival that can brings faiths together is probably a good thing considering the current climate, but that's beside the point.] 

[Aside 2: I realise that the Jewish festival of Channuka has a gift element and is very close to Christmas. Still counts: this element is believed to have come into existence only because of Christmas. Everyone likes presents and no one wants to feel left out.]

I got the above email yesterday. It is promoting a Panto Early Bird Offer. [Note for non-UK readers: Pantomime in the UK is a form of comic theatre that happens around Christmas - not to be confused with the silent theatre form abbreviated to mime.]

It begins:

The time has come to make it clear
That panto time is ever near

No it hasn't because, no, it's not. It's the middle of August.

We've been having a cold week and I really didn't need anyone to remind me that we are soon to begin the descent into the British winter in all its terrible cruelty.

I now live in constant apprehension of the Christmas communication beginning in earnest.

My bet's on Woolworths - I'm sure they were on TV in September last year.

Blogs and Brands


I've been asked to give a talk about blogs as a brand communication channel - hence the recursive image of this blog.

All the basics are pretty simple I think - what is a blog, where do they fit in, who is involved, new blog every second and so on - but brands and blogs present an interesting question: how can a brand use blogs as a communication channel?

I've been wracking my brain for good examples of brand / blog. I can't really think of many. None of my favourite blogs come from a brand - one of the things I love about blogs is that they have a distinct, individual voice.

Innocent have a great blog, Nike dipped a toe with Gawker....

So, in the spirit of this ongoing conversation, I'd like to appeal to you. When you do think a brand has got blogging right? And when has a brand tried and failed horribly?

The Power of Posters

Inspired by a conversation I just had with Richard, which reminded me of this.

We touched on the power of posters to deliver an immediate hit of communication - I think this is one of its great strengths as a channel and why posters can make such an impact.

Out of home formats are evolving rapidly and embracing digital but increasingly I'm thinking of them differently to other media.

Often hailed as the last broadcast medium, in some ways they are examples of spam as described in the previous post - completely unsolicited. In fact, Howard Gossage describes them as such in the 1950s:

First, what is the difference between seeing an ad on a billboard and seeing an ad in a magazine? The answer, in a word, is permission–or, in three words, freedom of choice.

I'm not sure I entirely agree. My point previously was that when what used to be considered broadcast channels become digital and hence consumption is controlled by the consumer, the paradigms established online will be applied to these channels. But outdoor advertising will never be consumed this way, so I'm not sure this applies.

I'm not saying that people might not want to see posters [although in locations where we have to hang about such as the underground people positively welcome the distraction] but the way we think about them is different.

They aren't appropriate vehicles for involved communication.

The power of a great poster is that it sort of makes you stop and think.