Category Archives: Ads

The Disruptive Potential Of Native Ads

Felix Salmon of Reuters discusses a magazine article on the new industry of native advertising. On websites, traditional marketing takes place through banner ads: annoying blocks of text that flash or blink, peddling some terrible product. We view them as intrusive. And we have learned to ignore them.

On sites like BuzzFeed however, native or sponsored ads are used. This is where ads are created to resemble real news articles or fun lists. The sponsored ads mirror the content of the websites that they are placed on.

(Ethical dilemmas have been raised about this kind of marketing, though. For example, while BuzzFeed clearly marks their sponsored ads as such, letting the reader know that this is, in fact, an add, more strictly journalistic or “serious” content sites risk confusing their readers. This is exactly what happened to The Atlantic when they ran a native ad for the Church of Scientology that read like a news article.)

Salmon argues that native ads on the Web are just like good TV commercials (the kind we hunger for during the Super Bowl.) They tell a story, and we want to share them. They work for the networks who air them, the brands who sell them, and the audience who views them.

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App Overload: Google’s Project Glass and the baffling array of digital nonsense

Genius apps are the cutting edge of web culture, but others are pointless distractions.

Rather than inspire Neil deGrasse Tyson levels of wonder, suggesting to us its promising potential – a  Pilot’s POV with star maps, fuel gauge, and altimeter, or a Soldier’s HUD with terrain charts, ammo count and health monitor – Google’s ad shamelessly seduces, using the irresistible pull of consumer electronics.

With the promo in mind, consider Neil Postman’s quote from Amusing Ourselves To Death:

“But we had forgotten that alongside Orwell’s dark vision [1984], there was another – slightly older, slightly less well known, equally chilling: Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World…What Orwell feared were those who would ban books. What Huxley feared was that there would be no reason to ban a book, for there would be no one who wanted to read one […] Orwell feared that the truth would be concealed from us. Huxley feared the truth would be drowned in a sea of irrelevance. Orwell feared we would become a captive culture. Huxley feared we would become a trivial culture, preoccupied with some equivalent of the feelies, the orgy porgy, and the centrifugal bumblepuppy…”

I’m not an opponent of electronic consumption.   My crush on Alexia Tsotsis is almost as big as the one I have for Tina Fey.  I stream the shit out of Pandora and Netflix.  I pay friends beer money with Venmo.  I love the GIF of King Joffrey getting slapped.  I text and tweet and Gchat.  Once,  I out of reflex accidentally typed in youjizz when I really wanted youtube.com

However, for every ambitiously disruptive app or platform (Coursekit, Square, Kickstarter, OPower), there are thousands more whose purpose dumbfounds most (Pinterest).  The social web is the new cool.  But there are those using connectivity to grapple with society’s dysfunction, and there are others trying to convince us that sexting is better than sex (that digital interaction can replace the human touch).  The likes, the check-ins, the status updates, is that what we really mean by sharing?

To scroll through your Facebook feed is to see Freud’s narcissism of small differences in HTML.  All of us, so alike, trying desperately to be different in our own “I’m watching this, I’m listening to that” 21st century kind of way.

In a stunning display of withered imagination, Google’s glasses allows “…the wearer to set up meetings with friends, get directions in the city, find a book in a store, and even videoconference with a friend.” This small-minded view of technological innovation is less Carl Sagan and more Mark Zuckerberg.  Is Google’s glorified appointment maker, in the way it was revealed, really that compelling?

In much of our best science fiction, humans end all forms of tribalism and fix their gaze outward, toward the stars.   So before we circle jerk onto an ad company’s newest piece of plastic, we should check our standards: Do we see ourselves as the splendid dust of ancient suns or as frivolous consumers, too distracted to look up?

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“I Volunteer As Tribute!” How “Hunger Games” Marketing Is Some Next Level Shit.

Those who suffer from nerd fever have historically been male fans of sci-fi and fantasy. We think of serpentine lines of over-stimulated, under-sexed man-children waiting for the midnight showing of “Star Wars”. We imagine “Star Trek” and “Lord of the Rings,” World of Warcraft and Halo. But what about a young adult fantasy, originally a book, which stars a young girl?

“Twilight” and “Harry Potter”*** come to mind. And like these two, “The Hunger Games” spread obsessive fascination through clever web promotion. Using Tumblr, Twitter, Facebook, and Youtube, Lionsgate has been implementing a “phased, yearlong digital effort.” Armed with a tiny budget and small staff, marketers successfully turned fans of “The Hunger Games” into evangelists.

A crafty example:

On Dec. 15, 100 days before the movie’s release, the studio created a new poster and cut it into 100 puzzle pieces. It then gave digital versions of those pieces to 100 Web sites and asked them to post their puzzle piece on Twitter in lockstep.

While many have noted the record breaking opening weekend ($155 million, 3rd biggest of all time), it’s also interesting to note how many men made up the movie’s initial audience: 39 percent. Compared to the newest “Twilight,” whose first weekend audience was only 20 percent male, “Hunger Games” had a much broader marketing campaign.

Well received by critics and fans, the intense buzz generated online seems appropriate and worth the effort.

*** Yes, I meant to call Harry Potter a girl.

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Splintering TV Audience = Lucrative Ad Market

Alienating some, while attracting others. The NYTimes looks to FX and their lineup of male-centric, innovative shows. Rather than cater to the masses with inoffensive, laugh track-worthy garbage, FX is trying to be bold.

We tried to build a business that is based on risk-taking and to have a culture that embraces artists who want to try audacious things.

With “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia,” “Sons of Anarchy,” and “Louie” its paying off.

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