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Federated Media’s FM Signal Chicago Recap

In his opening remarks FM’s @johnbattelle says mobile strategy is nothing if not paired with local, social and real-time strategies.

A few presentations later my boss, Luminate CEO Bob Lisbonne recommends you better start thinking about your image strategy too. I may be biased (hey, he signs my paychecks) but I think he’s on to something. Some stats he shared: 10% of the pictures ever taken were taken in the past 12 months (by my count this was the most tweeted/RT’d stat of the conference), roughly 40% of the pixel-space on the web is image content, and over in Facebook we’re uploading 70 billion photos a year. Yet images are still “black rectangles of pixels” to the search engines. According to a post on Google’s blog, among the ironies of computer science is:

We can write a computer program to beat the very best human chess players, but we can’t write a program to identify objects in a photo or understand a sentence with anywhere near the precision of even a child.

When you give users the opportunity to interact with images — let the mouse into an image to get relevant content or services — 20% are doing it.

Meanwhile Liz Ross at Mediabrands says the big cultural events, say Mad Men or Glee, are still created by TV. Digital can’t yet create media opportunities at scale.

Yet Old Spice launched its most recent campaign on YouTube. While the campaign’s creative began as a conventional TV spot — using YouTube as the launchpad was a practical decision, says P&G’s Charlie Chappell, since Old Spice couldn’t afford to run it on the Superbowl head-to-head with a rival product from Dove — it evolved into a social media phenonomenon. “I’m on a Horse” was followed by “Response,” where the handsome and funny star of the original spot created messages that directly addressed Twitter influencers and Twitter commoners, delivered via @Replies. The result: Within 3 days, 40 million people had watched various Old Spice videos on YouTube — that’s more people than watched Obama’s victory speech. P&G attributes a 27% boost in Old Spice sales to the campaign.

Before it was over, even Grover got into the act.

According to Vitrue’s Jenny Heinrich, though, digital advertising is still tremendous pain in the butt: The ease of buying TV means that trafficking and administration costs are 2% of the media investment. For digital it’s 26%. And digital isn’t just expensive on the front end, says Shopkick’s Cyriac Roeding, it’s still less efficient for retailers to point a customer to its online store (where conversion to sale ranges from sub 1% to low single digits) than to its physical location (nearly half the people who walk into a clothing or electronics store make a purchase).

Social media, though, is giving brands an opportunity to make friends for life with customers and new prospects, even as consumers are becoming less inclined to tune in to advertising. One of the first 10 accounts followed by a new Twitter user is a brand, says Manilla’s Jessica Insalaco. While nearly 80% Facebook members follow fewer than 10 brands, the fact that hundreds of millions of consumers are inviting brands into their newsfeeds at all is significant. We hate ads, but we’re willing to be friends with brands.

(Word associations by veteran agency exec Sean Finnegan.)

On Yahoo: Former head of sales at Yahoo Wenda Harris Millard says her old company has become obsessed with math (and chasing Google) and has lost touch with the art of the media business. Given that “many CEO candidates view Yahoo as a falling knife” they wouldn’t want to attempt to catch, Battelle asked Millard how they’re going to emerge from their funk. Pshaw, she said. Yahoo still has 680 million users, and plenty of senior execs love a challenge. “Look at me, I went to Martha Stewart when she got convicted.”

Videos of the full presentations are here.

Social Media Theater: What a Twitter-Savvy Playwright Can Teach Brand Advertisers

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.

Kevin Tweets About Great Old Spice Ads

More on social media theater at Boing Boing, in a guest post by Youth Radio producer (and my wife!) Lissa Soep.

Old Spice Becomes Talk of the Web With Personalized Commercials for Top Influencers

Here’s a video get-well card to Digg-founder Kevin Rose (who’s sick with pneumonia) from the Old Spice guy.

From TechCrunch:

“What if commercials really did talk to you? What if a familiar spokesperson addressed you by name and responded to your thoughts and feelings. In what is definitely one of the more creative social media ad campaigns in a while, Old Spice is doing just that. Its shirtless, muscled spokesman, the Old Space Man, is shooting YouTube videos in response to people’s Tweets. Many of these are well-known people with tons of followers like Kevin Rose and actress Alyssa Milano, who retweet the videos and spread them virally.”

From Read/Write Web:

“Everybody loved it; those videos and 74 more made so far today have now been viewed more than 4 million times and counting. The team worked for 11 hours yesterday to make 87 short videos, that’s just over 7 minutes per video, not accounting for any breaks taken.”

Final numbers from Visible Measures:

“The viral video coup ran for about 24 hours, and then, as all things must, it came to an end. All told, Old Spice had uploaded an unprecedented 180+ clips for its campaign, which, in total, have generated over 5.9 million views and 22,500 comments.”

Old Spice Helps You Show More Swagger

Old Spice’s “Swagger

” campaign lets regular Joes enhance their digital identities (or create fully-invented, studlier identities), which are published on Old Spice’s site. A brilliant stroke is that these Swagger-y profiles, since they’re hosted on Old Spice’s site, are likely to rank high on Google results for vanity searches — or searches that a prospective date might conduct.

Old Spice swagger generator

My colleague Mark Chu Cheung, who worked with Old Spice to bring the campaign to several FM partner sites, describes the campaign, and shares the experience of adding more swagger to his own digital identity.