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Transparency Is a Means, Not an End

July 29, 2011
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Two restaurants, two campaigns. Both are aimed at “redefining the brand.” Both use transparency as a campaign tactic, showing the real people and the real processes that go into making their food.

So why is Domino’s campaign so engaging and Red Lobster’s so boring?

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Oh Boy, Another Way to Video Chat

July 7, 2011

I still remember an interesting interview I had back in 2008 with a tech entrepreneur named Yanda Erlich. Yanda had just launched a service called SocialIM, an instant-messaging app that worked within the Facebook platform and co-opted your Facebook Friends list.

We talked a lot about the attention dynamics of IM–specifically, Yanda said “the beauty of IM [is] continuous partial attention. The predominant way to use IM is when you’re doing something else.”

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Branded Mobile Apps: Entertainment vs. Utility

May 6, 2011

What makes a branded application worth downloading and interacting? Here are some top-level thoughts that I will continue to build upon in the coming weeks. My goal is to provide you with a framework for thinking about a branded apps. While the final build and concept will vary from brand to brand, here are some principles and tools to consider so that you can make the most of your investment in the mobile app space.

My research has led me to believe that applications usually fall under two value propositions: Entertainment or utility. Below is an amazing chart, compiled by Geoff Northcott, Client Partner at AKQA, of publicly available download data for branded applications. (Geoff, too, categorized the applications as Entertainment or Utilitarian.) Although these download numbers are circa 2010, I re-shuffled this data a little bit to make a point. I divided them into two separate charts: Entertainment vs. Utility and picked the best five branded applications in both sections with the highest download numbers.

Screen shot 2011-03-07 at 4.31.19 PM

The point of doing this was to illustrate the pros and cons of entertainment vs. utility in branded applications. Here is the breakdown:

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Transmedia Q+A: Aina Abiodun

April 28, 2011

On Tuesday night, JWT held the TransmediaNYC Meetup in our offices, hosted by Aina Abiodun. Guests included “Culture Hacker” Lance Weiler of Head Trauma and Pandemic fame as well as Feeder: A Love Story creator James Carter. Here are Aina’s thoughts about Transmedia:

Ad+Geek: Define Transmedia in your words.
Aina Abiodun: Transmedia is a style of storytelling in which one core narrative idea sprouts many rich, new story tentacles across media platforms. Adapting or repeating the same story over and over on different platforms doesn’t count. Each platform should deliver a completely new experience to the audience.

Ad+Geek: What are some of your favorite examples?
AA: The 2008 Presidential Election. I think it was the most supremely overlooked example of recent Transmedia. Look back closely at all the media artifacts of his campaign you will observe that Obama was in strategy and swagger, the real life John Wayne of our era. And his narrative played how all good stories play, with a hero, some fierce battles, and a transformation.

World Without Oil was also brilliant – and an often-cited example because it succeeds in pulling the viewer into the realm of real world issues in an immersive and engaging way across platforms. Laying out the conditions of a world oil shortage, the audience had to imagine and document their lives under those conditions.
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Facebook Pages, Take Two

April 22, 2011

Did you see the report wherein Forrester Research concluded that Facebook is a bad platform for brand building? (WSJ has a good synopsis here, and Gawker has a good headline here).  The Forrester study found that companies weren’t reporting much benefit from their Facebook campaigns, and that “offering promotions in exchange for people to ‘like’ their page were ineffective because most people ‘liked’ companies just for a discount.”

I’d posit that the survey points to dissatisfaction with Facebook tactics, rather than dissatisfaction with the Facebook platform. Users love Facebook, and the social graph that Mark Zuckerberg created is built for rapid influencer amplification. Perhaps marketers just aren’t using it in the right way.

The coverage of the Forrester report looks at Facebook’s efficacy as a brand-building platform, but that’s not really what Facebook is about, even though we try to use it that way. Take The New Yorker’s promotion last week, for example. Anyone who “Liked” The New Yorker’s Facebook page got free access to an excellent Jonathan Franzen essay.

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Emotional Billboards: The Idea Behind the Execution

April 15, 2011

Drivers waiting in traffic at the Holland Tunnel (which is a very common occurrence among New York commuters) have the chance to see the world’s first billboard with emotions. Using a smartphone app called GoldRun, created by Tronic, passerbys can see if the billboard is sad, happy, or excited about the Knicks making the playoffs for the first time since Ewing left.

People can also express their own feelings and share via social channels via the app which uses GPS-based, augmented reality.

The emotional billboard is part of Adstruc’s “Billboards for Everyone” campaign. It gives artists the chance to experiment with the use of billboards. The first, which debuted last month, was created by Shepherd Fairey’s Studio Number One.

Adstruc is an auction and listing-based marketplace for outdoor advertising. The effort is sponsored by JWT New York, Fuel, SPREAD Art and Culture magazine.

Ad+Geek caught up with Tronic co-founder Vivan Rosenthal to find out how the world’s first billboard with feelings was born:

Ad+Geek: A billboard with feelings? Where did that idea come from?
Vivian Rosenthal: I launched a mobile augmented reality (AR) app called Goldrun a few months ago. It brings together GPS, virtual goods and AR to allow for location-based advertising that is visually driven. [JWT Chief Creative Innovation Officer] James Cooper and [BA Reps] Louisa St. Pierre were both familiar with [the app] work and they approached me to collaborate on a billboard. I knew I wanted to create an interactive billboard that leveraged augmented reality and from there the idea emerged to design our own take on the Emoticon and use it to bring a billboard to life. This execution is just the beginning. Tronic and GoldRun are working on a number of projects that combine out-of-home (OOH) media with mobile in really new and exciting ways.

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#Social2011: The big picture

April 13, 2011

Social2011, Radian6’s first user conference,  was just right for a few reasons. First, it was narrowly focused. Everyone in attendance knew and understood that social listening is important and is an evolving practice that must be understood by social practitioners. For that fact alone, keynotes, panels and discussions were more engaging, direct and on-topic. Most sessions were “fluff-free” (thank goodness!).

It also felt very personal. By my guess, I’d say about 700 people were in attendance along with an army of Radian6 employees. Still, I didn’t feel like I was getting “sold” to the entire time. I felt like Radian6 was more interested in creating and showcasing a better tool, not just convincing us that they were the best that there is to offer. There are shortcomings in all social listening tools and I think Radian6 understands these limitations. Their product demonstrations and customer testimonials showed that they’re as interested as we (their customers) are in sourcing the most accurate information about our brands online in an efficient way.

A few examples of how Radian6 is helping brands listen in social included:

  • The American Red Cross is implementing social listening to engage their community during and outside of natural disasters. (Watch the closing Keynote to hear more from Red Cross Social Media Director, Wendy Hartman).

All in all, it was a strong conference, that probably could have expanded to another day with more emphasis on training. Next year at Social2012, I hope that the dialogue shifts from “social listening is important” to a greater focus on “social listening led to this great action and engagement.”

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