One thing that’s made me a fan of Apple’s iAds approach is its focus on building a mobile advertising experience for brands wanting *create* demand in mobile environments, rather than a platform that allows retailers and direct-response marketers harvest demand that was created elsewhere (the Google approach). As mobile advertising matures, brand advertising and DR advertising will both be elements of the winning model. But in these early days, as the the big players — namely Apple and Google — are establishing their ad products and their reputations, I’m wondering if it’s a good move for Apple to open the floodgates to mobile banners from app developers pitching you on their $0.99 downloadable products. When advertisers optimize for click-through and conversion-to-immediate-sale, the banners tend to favor jarring colors and annoying tactics to fool us into clicking — not beautiful ads that enhance the experience, like Superbowl commercials that are more fun to watch than the game. According to the Business Insider,
“the new iAd for Developers program is Apple’s way of getting more (albeit cheaper) ads in its system to fill its inventory glut, while also moving more app downloads through its App Store, and helping the developers who run its ads in their apps make a little more money. A potential win-win-win, if it works out.”
We just launched a feature that allows alpha testers of the new Digg (version 4) to invite friends. I’ve got a few left. Want one? Drop me a note at chas [at] digg [dot] com.
My favorite thing about the new Digg is My News, the default start page that ranks content items not by their overall Digg count (that’s still there, called Top News) — but by the Digg count among people (or publishers or brands) I’ve opted to follow. That’s the number in the green box below. (By “opted to follow,” I mean I clicked the button that pulls in my Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter pals, but you can also add new tastemakers by clicking on Find Profiles.)
When I saw yesterday that Conde Nast plans to increase the rates it charges readers of its magazines and websites because, according to CEO Charles Townsend,
“We have been so overtly dependent on advertising as the turbine that runs this place, and that is a very, very risky model as we emerge from the recession,”
my first thought was: Oh come on. There have been plenty of recessions and one Great Depression since Conde Nast began a publishing empire built around ad-supported magazines, starting with Vogue and Vanity Fair (which in 1915 ran more ad pages than any other US magazine). I thought here’s another traditional publisher that’s preparing its audience for a post-Internet iPad paradise where readers will pay for their digital content.
My second thought was: Maybe, but so what. Conde Nast should have raised subscription and newsstand rates ages ago. When Henry Luce launched Fortune Magazine in 1930, he charged $1 per issue at a time when the Sunday New York Times cost $0.05. The whole point (according to Alan Brinkley’s telling in his Luce biography The Publisher) was to weed out the riff-raff who couldn’t or wouldn’t pay such an insanely high price for a copy of magazine, and then to make a mint selling advertising against such an upscale audience.
Whether or not the content-is-free culture of the Internet gives way to an I’ll-pay-for-the-premium-stuff future, Conde Nast should raise rates for their magazines. Vogue, Vanity Fair, Glamour and GQ readers aren’t highly price sensitive. And besides, the advertising pitch gets better when your readership is limited only to those with lots of disposable income.
Here’s a print ad for Boot Dermocare created by McCann Bankok, ostensibly designed for audiences in Asia, and presumably too racy for American magazine readers. (Censorship courtesy of the ChasNote design team; full version below.)
Predictably, a wide range of US and UK advertising sites republished the ad. Is that the intent? Give North American and European brands and agencies plausible deniability (“Oh dear! That wasn’t us! That smut was created by a distant subsidiary when we weren’t looking!”), while at the same time providing them, through the magic of social media, a global audience for their more eye-catching if controversial creative? (BK is king of this practice.) Sneaky but smart.
Meanwhile, here’s the full version. You thought what?! Those are her toes!
(Hat tip to Nicole Williams, who as far as I can gather is the world’s leading authority on NSFW advertising creative.)
Chinaka Hodge, a Bay Area poet and playwright, is using blogs and Twitter not only to stay in touch with fans of her work — she’s using social media to shape characters and scenes before they debut on stage. When the fans help create the characters, there’s a high likelihood those fans will be more engaged in the final product.
It’s an approach smart brands are using, too. Brands like Asus (see WePC project) are enlisting customers to shape product design. Others, like Old Spice, are sending “commercial characters” like Old Spice Man into social media to have real conversations with potential customers in ways that create viral hoopla, sure, but — more importantly — make a brand pitchman more human. As we begin to view Old Spice Man as a real guy, one who’s friends with someone we know (see his video get-well card to Kevin Rose), we’re a whole lot more likely to tune into his funny commercials. Next thing you know, we will all want to smell like him.
More on social media theater at Boing Boing, in a guest post by Youth Radio producer (and my wife!) Lissa Soep.
Back in the 1950s, Buick turned cast-iron newspaper paperweights into ads. I have no idea how many cars these ad-weights sold (I bet Buick brand managers in the 1950s didn’t either), but — man — wouldn’t it be great to have one of these holding down stray papers on your desk right now??
Digg, the Grammys, NOTCOT and others got together in LA last week to talk about social news, crowdsourced content discovery and more. About six and half minutes into the above video, I give my 90-second version of the changes coming to Digg as part of Version 4.