You are currently browsing the archives for February, 2012.

Image Sharing Around the Oscars: Kermit the Frog Beats Out Jean Dujardin

When the analytics team here at Luminate presented data on which images of Oscars stars were getting shared, explored or shopped the most (Luminate-enabled images are viewed about 3 billion times a month), it didn’t surprise me to see Angelina Jolie and Jennifer Lopez, with their various exposed body parts, among the winners.

Among the boys Brad Pitt, George Clooney and Gerard Butler won, placed and showed, respectively. But the big surprise to me: Kermit the Frog beat out images containing Ryan Seacrest, Sasha Baron Cohen, Best-Actor Jean Dujardin, and Colin Firth.

Is it a coincidence that Viola Davis, who ranked #9 in her green dress, beat out Best-Actress Meryl Streep (#10)? Sometimes, apparently, it’s good to be green.

Awkward Ad Targeting at NY Times

“One would think this far into contextual targeting it wouldn’t yield ridiculous pairings with inappropriate content. But sadly one would be wrong,” says Brian Morrissey at DigiDay. This time it’s the New York Times: A Holland America Line ad alongside its news story about the capsized Italian cruise ship.

(Screenshot credit: ADmantX.)

Wheat Thins: Not Changing the World, 16 Crackers At A Time

Thanks, Jean!

What If Living Billboards Used Flowers Protected By Law?

The above McDonalds-logo-in-flowers is just an idea, PhotoShopped together by Sean Click, but it’s a brilliant one — unless, of course, you’re one of those people who wouldn’t want a permanent Golden Arches-shaped flower display alongside a highway near you. California law says you can’t pick or destroy California Poppies, so it would be a floral ad unit that would bloom indefinitely.

The folks at Toyota should have used California Poppies in their living billboard alongside LA’s I-10 back in 2009!


Luminate Launches App Store for Image Apps

In the words of Bob Lisbonne, CEO (and my boss) at Luminate: “The most successful technologies ultimately evolve into platforms.”

Today we announce a $10.7 million Series C financing lead by Nokia Growth Partners to accelerate our mission of making images interactive. Last summer we launched a platform for image applications, and today we’re unveiling an app store (and 11 new apps) to help publishers find and enable the apps that will best engage their respective audiences. From Luminate’s CTO Jim Everingham on our blog:

There are currently more than 3 trillion images on the web. More square inches of browser real estate have been dedicated to images than to text in recent years. But for the most part, images have been ignored by technologists. Our company recognized the power of images to evoke imagination, emotion, spark curiosity and connect us with each other. We also saw the potential for images to do more, in fact, so much more that we believe no one company will be able to dictate what ‘making images interactive’ actually means.

So if we can’t define it, how can we achieve our vision? By powering the ideas of others and focusing on delivering a rich platform upon which to build relevant functionality. That is how we can fuel the change we desire.

Or as Bambi Francisco Roizen puts it at VatorNews: “Let’s face it. We’ve gotten to the point where a static image online just feels old school. If you can’t manipulate it, expand it, or dig a little deeper into the subject matter, it feels like we’re not taking advantage of what the Internet can offer.”

For you Pinterest fans out there, FastCompany explores “Beyond Pinterest: Luminate Harnesses The Power Of Truly Interactive Images.”

Imagine visiting a website and stumbling across an image of a beach in Maui. From that image, you’d be able to access a Wikipedia page about it, share it with your friends and followers on Facebook and Twitter, make travel arrangements, and even pull up related images using Bing’s image search capabilities — all formatted so you don’t have to leave the image or open up five different new browser windows. The latest round of apps being introduced by Mountain View-based startup Luminate make it possible to enrich photos with functionality like never before.

A roundup of some of the new apps from Forbes:

With the new app store, Luminate is making it possible to add a wide range of contextual information for images. Publishers can select any of these apps and add them to their images. For example, a Bing image search app shows related images, a YouTube app shows trailers related to actors in an image, an Amazon app gives links to purchase MP3s related to a musician in an image, a Netflix app shows related movies that can be watched, Celebuzz includes news about celebrities and Wikipedia shows related entries from the online encyclopedia. The icons for these various apps will only show up if there is relevant content for the image being displayed. The company uses image-matching technology to identify the objects inside of images.

The’s take on the user experience:

Luminate enables online publishers to turn stagnant images into compelling and interactive pieces with unobtrusive, in-photo applications. Utilizing a unique combination of crowd-sourced experts and patent-pending algorithms, online images are identified and curated for a compelling user experience.

Other press:

San Jose Business Journals

Facial-Recognition Billboard Technology Guesses Your Gender, Delivers the Right Message 90% of the Time

According to The Independent, another ad campaign featuring facial-recognition technology launches this week, this time in the UK for Plan UK, a children’s charity.

A 40-second interactive advert is about to be launched that uses facial-recognition technology to decide the gender of the person looking at it and then vary its content. It will be unveiled on a bus stop on Oxford Street in London’s West End on Wednesday.

Only women will be able to view the full £30,000 advert commissioned by the children’s charity Plan UK as part of its “Because I Am a Girl” campaign, which aims to ensure girls in the world’s poorest countries are able to receive a good education.

The technology measures the distance between people’s eyes, the width of their noses, and the length of their jawlines to determine gender. Its creators estimate the billboard will guess correctly about 90% of the time.

French company Quividi offers a similar technology that uses video cameras to deduce demographic details of passers-by, vending machines in Japan look for wrinkles to figure out if prospective smokers are the legal age to buy cigarettes, and Kraft deploys a tongue-in-cheek version to market an adults-only Jell-O.

Soon these facial-recognition ads are all going to get very Minority-Report creepy. But in the meantime that 10% miss rate inserts a little Dilbert-like fun.

Austin Movie Theater Ad Features the Kind of Customers They Don’t Want

Austin’s Alamo Drafthouse movie theater got this voice mail from a customer they kicked out for texting during the movie. They turned it into an ad to let the rest of their customers know that if they too get annoyed by movie-texters, the Alamo Drafthouse is the theater for you. (Warning: Foul language.)

Smell-vertising Adds One More Odor to Bus Stops

Until now, I’d say my least favorite kind of ad is the kind in magazines that smells like a combination of very strong perfume mixed with paper and ink. We may have new winner. Outdoor advertising technology will now squirt food smells into bus shelters, starting with McCain Foods in ads for its 5-minute baked potato product, Ready Baked Jackets. From Jezebel:

To advertise this revolution in potato-making, they’ve outfitted several bus shelters in U.K. cities with posters and a 3D fiberglass model of a Ready Baked Jacket potato. There’s a button you can press that turns on a heating element which then releases the scent and fills the whole area with warmth and the delicious smell of baked potato.

It’s clever, in theory. But, as a person who has waited in plenty of bus stops in my life, in practice, it seems more like what you’ll end up smelling is a baked potato smothered with tasty toppings like dog urine, cigarette ash, and — if it’s a really special commute — human feces.


Superbowl XLVI Ads: Winners and Losers

Over dinner tonight with three colleagues, the conversation quickly made its way to the commercial breaks at yesterday’s Superbowl. We agreed on handful of favorites: Both Doritos spots (Man’s Best Friend and Slingshot Baby), the debut of Ms Brown for M&Ms, Clint Eastwood’s Halftime in America for Chrysler, and Matthew Broderick’s day off with a Honda CR-V. We could agree that GoDaddy’s ads were the worst. But in between there was no consensus. So I thought I’d seek out a scientific approach.

Facebook and USA Today teamed up on the Ad Meter, a broad-based poll that’s still collecting votes as well as a panel of viewers who logged their preferences as they watched. The Ad Meter’s top 5: Doritos (Slingshot Baby), Kia, Bud Light (Weego), M&Ms and Doritos (Man’s Best Friend). The worst 5 included two GoDaddy spots and two Bud Light Platinum spots.

Ace Metrix, a company that specializes in research on TV ads, applied a numerical score to each Superbowl ad. I can’t vouch for its methodology, but the company’s website says they “defined the concept of Creative Lifecycle Management” (with a trademark TM), which sounds impressive. Doritos, Clint Eastwood, Ms Brown and Matthew Broderick all took top spots — with those boring if mildly cute Coke polar bears also grabbing two of the top 10 spots. Among the worst 10, according to Ace, were three from Budweiser, one from Bud Light (Platinum), H&M (David Beckham), and that odd Century 21 spot that seemed to imply Donald Trump is one of the world’s smartest people.

The / Mullen Advertising collaboration called Brand Bowl 2012 measured the twitter buzz. While the Doritos ads racked up the biggest numbers, Ms Brown won the sentiment contest, with more than 41% of tweets about her spot saying something favorable. (If you’re a size-matters type of person, David Beckham’s spot for H&M finished second after Doritos in total number of tweets.)

Michael Learmonth at Ad Age pursued a different angle. Forget about the in-the-moment indicators such as buzz and tweets. Which ads did we like so much that we sought them out online to watch them again? If that’s the measure of success, Honda blew Doritos away. And the much-hyped VW’s Dog Strikes Back — which landed 14 spots down on the Ace survey, and #6 by Ad Meter — heads into the online competition in the #2 position, spitting distance from the trophy.

Online Publishers’ OPA Summit 2012

The Online Publishers’ Association got together in Miami this week for its 10th annual executive summit. Here were some of the highlights for me.

This guy:

Among the many things I love about Rishad Tobaccowala: He can get in front of a roomful of big-media publishers, tell them content isn’t king (“or queen or emperor”), that the proof is in the fact that publicly-traded media companies have lost 70% of their market value in the past decade, and still get louder applause than any speaker all day.

To honor the OPA’s tenth anniversary, he took a look back at how well this group saw into the future of media — back at that first OPA Summit. “We got the ingredients right,” he said, pointing out that John Battelle and Jeff Jarvis presented on the emerging influence of user-generated content, blogging and search in 2002 and 2003. But there was almost no talk back then about the four companies that are most important to today’s publishers: Apple, Facebook, Google, and Amazon.

It’s hard, he conceded, to predict where your competition will come from. When Apple entered the smartphone market, it was bad news for Nokia. But who would have guessed the iPhonee would also emerge as stiff competition for Nintendo, Nikon and Navtek?

Matt Freeman, chief innovation officer at McCann Erickson, asked: Why have agencies lost their influence in the business world? Why don’t agency execs sit on their clients’ boards like they did before the Great Depression? Partly, Freeman argues, it’s that their business models have incentivized bad behavior. Charging a commission based on media budgets encouraged wasteful spending, and charging by the hour rewarded agencies for solving problems slowly. The break up of agencies into creative shops, media buying shops and strategy consulting shops is another part of the problem. Strategy and creative have lost touch with media producers — the people who gather consumers into audiences. Publishers need to spend more time with agency creatives, and vice versa.

Fun fact: Dr Suess started his career at McCann drawing art for ads, such as this one for Flit mosquito lotion.

Next up: Linda Descano at Citi called 2011 the “Summer of Like.” Ok, great. Now we have zillions of Likes, what do we do with them? Benjamin Palmer, founder and CEO of the Barbarian Group had a bunch of answers. His shop is helping brands create compelling, frequent content for social media channels. In GE’s case, they’re taking photos of heavy equipment and jet engines, running them through Instagram filters, and pushing them out to a Tumblr blog. Check out all the comments, retweets and Likes before you say corporations can’t bring an authentic, engaging voice to social media.

From my own six minutes on stage (OK, OK, Pam Horan! It was six-and-a-half minutes!), two stats garnered the most interest. At least if the twitterers in the room were representative. 1) Ten percent of the photos taken by humankind were taken in the past 12 months (source), and 2) Google estimates there are somewhere north of 3 trillion images online. Outside discussions of the federal debt, I guess, you just don’t get to use the word trillion that often.

Jason Cavnar, CEO of Singly, introduced a provocative thought: In the future identity will become a paid service. My interpretation: The premium online publishers in the room should put less energy into paywalls and more effort into understanding the real monetary value of audience-data-as-currency. (And the rest of us should spend some time considering how much personal data we currently hand over to websites and ad networks, free of charge.) He also sees a near-future for advertising that’s greatly impacted by HTML5: Forget the crap we mostly put inside 300×250 banners, “turn them into storefronts for brands and newsstands for publishers.”

Moat’s Jonah Goodheart offered a breath of fresh air amid the smog of hyperactive audience targeting by the DSPs: Context matters more than clicks. He cited an example of a wealth management firm canceling an ad campaign with a premium business publication because the click-through rate was low. I’m trying to imagine 1) having enough money that I need a wealth manager, and then 2) clicking on a banner, entering my newfound $8 million dollars into a web form, and hitting Submit. (Here’s who clicks on ad banners.)

My two favorite quotes of the day came from Liberty Media’s Michael Zeisser. First, a summation of his years as a consultant: “I spent 13 years at McKinsey hunting for synergies, and I never found any.” And a word about punditry: “It’s easy to predict the future, unless you have to live the with the consequences.” True enough.