You are currently browsing the archives for May, 2007.

Cisco's New Human Network Ads Let Readers Submit Definitions

Building off the success of last fall’s seed campaign, where FM business and technology authors supplied definitions of the human network for ads on their own sites, Cisco’s latest creative units allow for readers to submit their own definitions within the banners themselves. Here are samples.

Consumer Generated Commercials Aren't Cheap

From the NY Times:

“these companies have found that inviting consumers to create their advertising is often more stressful, costly and time-consuming than just rolling up their sleeves and doing the work themselves. Many entries are mediocre, if not downright bad, and sifting through them requires full-time attention. And even the most well-known brands often spend millions of dollars upfront to get the word out to consumers.”

There has to be a better way, one that produces high-quality messaging that’s relative to the brand, engages consumers and isn’t harder or more expensive to create. I have some ideas! See what did or what Intel did or what Cisco did. To the chagrin of the sales reps here at FM (!!), not one of these brands spent a million dollars to create these successful examples of consumer-involved conversational marketing.

Business Week: TechCrunch More Influential Than BW

Stephen Baker at Business Week says “I thought BW had clout, but Michael Arrington at TechCrunch appears to have a level of influence I have never seen at the magazine.” Business Week says that TechCrunch is more influential than Business Week??  What an endorsement!

Ninja Phenomenon Covered By SJ Merc News

From SJ Merc News:

“‘Ask a Ninja’ is one of the most popular independent video podcasts on the Web, averaging between 300,000 and 500,000 viewers for each new episode (released bi-weekly) while collecting more than 3 million viewers for popular episodes such as ‘Ninja Love’…. What started as a small production with 40 Internet subscribers skyrocketed into a Web phenomenon when the ninja duo developed a ‘niche audience that pushed back’ in the question-and-answer format with the ninja as moderator.

“Getting a specific audience and creating your own brand is important, and ‘Ask a Ninja’ has managed to do that,” says Derek Gordon of, a Web site tracker. According to, ‘Ask a Ninja’ ranks in its top 100 blogs, and there are more than 3,100 sites linked to it.”

Google Buying Feedburner?

The rumors are swirling, and ValleyWag puts the acquisition prices at $100 million for the leading RSS ad-serving company, about 10x Feedburner’s 2007 revenue. Yet:

“Text ads in feeds receive so little attention from readers that Google, which pursued its own trial, abandoned the experiment. Feed readers, the applications and sites on which geeky internet users scan news items, often do not support the graphical ads which brands prefer, closing off that avenue for a broker such as Feedburner.”

Related: ChasNote on The Case Against Full-Text RSS Feeds. Enlists Ask A Ninja For Brand Campaign

Late Thursday night, video-podcaster (and FM partner) Ask A Ninja rolled out the first episode in a series of nine that will be sponsored by as part of their recent re-branding campaign. At the end of each episode, the Ninja invites his viewers to go to (by clicking on an banner alongside the video window, or by going straight to and to enter a made-up word. The Ninja tells viewers who do this that they’ll get either the definition of “ninjuice” (via a custom video skit by the Ninja), or — so threatens the Ninja — a sword in the head.

The campaign is smart at one (very simple) level in that it ties together banner ads with integrated, co-branded messages in the video programming. At another level, it’s even smarter in that the Ninja (the featured act) rather than (the marketer) makes the call-to-action.

Ninjuice on AskThe data from the campaign’s first 20 hours are astounding. One out of every twelve viewers of the Ninja’s “Ninja Sayings” video skit went to, queried “ninjuice” and watched the bonus video that the Ninja produced especially for those “certified search ninjas” who completed the assignment. An 8.3% rate of conversion. For comparison, imagine a conventional banner that delivers a terrific click-through rate, say 0.4%. Then assume a whopping 25% of those clickers actually test-drive the product. Even that record-breaking performance would add up to only a 0.1% rate of conversion. The team effort by and Ask A Ninja did 83 TIMES better.

Digital marketing has become a martial art!

This concept was a collaboration of FM’s James Gross and Ask’s Sean X Cummings.

More coverage at GigaOM’s NewTeeVee, Clickz (twice) and AdRants.

Update 5/28/07: Ninjuice has made its way to Wikipedia.

Virgin Lets Boingers Name Airplane

And they named it “Unicorn Chaser.” Here’s the story at Boing Boing.

UPDATE: It’s about an hour since the story went up on Boing Boing, and it’s already on Wikipedia.

Intel Sponsors Digg's New Visualization Widget

Earlier today Digg rolled out the latest in its suite of tools that help Digg readers “visualize” the movement of news stories through the Digg ecosystem — a widget called Digg Arc — with Intel as the exclusive launch sponsor. (FM brokered the sponsorship deal.) Digg’s Daniel Burka announced the news on Digg’s blog earlier today and posted it to Within an hour it was, in the Digg parlance, “made popular” as members began Digging the story at a rapid rate. As I write this, 10 hours after the story started its climb up the Digg ranks, 1039 members have Dugg the story — more than one per minute.

Digg Arc

From Daniel Burka’s post at Digg the Blog:

“Exciting new update to Digg Labs today. Thanks to the hard work of stamen design and support from Intel, we’re launching a new animation, Digg Arc. While the other animations in Labs are at the story level, Arc is the first app that provides a view of Digging activity at the topic and subtopic-level. Presented as a circle, Arc shows the most recently Dugg stories on the outside of the circle, with width indicating the relative popularity of that story against its peers. The middle ring is the sub-topic for the stories and the inner ring represents the topic. As new stories are Dugg, the story, sub-topic, and topic are highlighted with a quick flash….

“We’re excited to have Intel as our first partner in Labs and want to thank them and stamen design for helping us develop Arc.”

In addition to supporting Digg with traditional ad units, Intel decided to “join the conversation,” or support it more organically anyway, by helping to fund Digg product development to benefit the Digg community. The Digg team, as you might expect, thanked Intel for the support. Simple good manners, right? Now, not yet a half a day into the sponsorship, Intel is riding the wave of a popular news item amid the editorial fabric of Digg. Nice move, Intel!

UPDATE on 5/16: If you want to add your vote or comment, here’s the post at Digg. As I write this, the piece has racked up nearly 1300 Diggs and 69 comments. Among the comments, the one that most speaks for other community members (based on the number of Diggs the comment received) is this: “Mmmm more eye candy. So much cooler than comment threading, or searching, or being able to delete comments.”

YouTube Stars Have Doubts About Rev Share Program

Several YouTube super stars (Ze Frank, HappySlip) expressed doubts about YouTube’s recently announced program to share revenue with top content creators. Exclusivity clauses, the loss of merchandise cross-selling opportunities, and sharing a big chunk of the ad dollars are the gripes. From Business Week:

“the ad revenue these sites share often can’t compare with the amount creators could get if they built their own sites into destinations complete with advertising and merchandise. Gambito [of HappySlip] wouldn’t disclose the financial details of the YouTube deal, which is in a testing phase and requires some of her new videos to appear exclusively for two weeks on the site. Revver evenly splits revenue it gets from clicks on ads appended to videos. Gambito’s own site sells t-shirts, bags, and other merchandise. She hopes eventually to sell ads as well.”

Poor Print Mags: Advertisers Demand Actual Circulation Figures

I know it’s rude to gloat over the misfortune of others. But I can’t help it. Selling online advertising for the past eleven years, I’ve come to resent the hall pass TV and print magazines get when it comes to audience-delivery tracking. Until recently, Nielsen reported TV audiences for 15-minute programming blocks; whether or not those viewers remained tuned in during the commercial breaks — rather than, say, clicking to another channel — was left to guesswork. (Tivo has recently forced issue: Nielsen has begun to roll out viewership numbers on the commercials themselves.)

Magazine advertisers, until now, have paid rates based on average

circulation across all issues in a given advertiser’s campaign, not issue-by-issue circulation numbers. Coke, Kraft and Wal-Mart have decided the party’s over (AdAge).