Pretty well played, actually.Read More »
Facebook ads are kinda famous for being very targetable. You can select 37-year-old married university-graduated women who live in Winnipeg and are mildly interested in “diapers”, for instance.
After (hopefully) going to all that trouble, it seems a shame to blow the sale by addressing such ladies as “dad”.Read More »
Livetweeting an event is a hectic haze of typo-paranoia and judgement calls. The size & seriousness of the brand you’re working for only adds to the general terror.
These might be an event program, script, stage directions, speech notes, or on a lucky day, all of the above stapled together on glorious 11x17s. Sometimes even the menu on the table tent cards will have a basic outline on it.
Peruse the structure of the event & you will have a host of capabilities you otherwise wouldn’t:
- Know when key moments are going to happen & where, so you don’t miss a critical shot of a dignitary or video of a hilarious song.
- Get the spelling of everyone’s name, title, workplace and other credentials right.
- Plan how long you’ve got to create media for each key tweet—if this one doesn’t need a photo but the next one does, get in position for the shot now & tweet your text-based stuff from there.
- Prewrite tweets and save them as drafts, to have photos attached or details added when the action actually goes down.
- Quote accurately (& slightly after the fact, as needed) from the speech notes.
Originally posted at Tactica.
The Superbowl—for non-football folks—used to be about debuting the best creative. Now it’s become a stage for experimentation with the latest advertising technologies.
Ad technologies these days revolve around brands making the jump from intrusion to permission by being invited onto that most personal of computers, your smartphone. The barrier here is your own laziness: how do marketers get you to “pick up their flyer”?
The SoLoMo podcast‘s Cory O’Brien tipped me off to the crazy things Shazam had planned for the big game.
Almost half of the Super Bowl TV advertisers will be Shazam-enabled with several Fortune 100 brands choosing Shazam to add interactivity to their ads or sponsor key game elements. When people use Shazam to tag ads from the following brands, they will unlock exciting offers and content.
How is interactivity being “added” by the Shazam app? The process is called “audio tagging” and it’s extremely similar to QR code functionality, but it uses aural cues—sounds your phone can hear—instead of a physical barcode your phone can read visually.
Mindblowing enough, but to my mind Shazam’s audio tags still present the same challenges QR codes. They need the user to:
- download and activate software
- understand what to do & when to do it (requiring visual cues, explanations, etc)
- overcome platform restrictions (operating system, phone quality, signal clarity & other compatibility issues)
If QR codes had’ve caught on with anyone but marketers, barcoded mobile tagging may have settled down to a commonplace activity, like it was in Japan in the last decade.
Instead, innovation is pushing past the phone’s eyes and taking advantage of its ears.
The burgeoning audio tag space—potentially a huge component in social tv—isn’t owned by Shazam. An app called SonicNotify can generate machine-audible tones to deliver second-screen content at concerts, in stores and anywhere your phone might be.
SonicNotify works both with software—your iPhone can be the sound-generator at an event—or with physical beacons that make noise until their batteries die (think “transmitter taped to a light standard guerilla-style”).
The nifty—or terrifying—or annoying—thing about SonicNotify is that you don’t have to launch an app to receive content. As long as the SonicNotify SDK is built into an app that’s running in the background or loaded from a previous run, content comes through.
“Content”, much like with QR codes, means anything your phone can do—dial a number, visit a web page, receive a text message, activate GPS, play a video. There’s a lot of creative potential there, for marketers and hackers alike.
On the bright side, this technology overcomes the user confusion-apathy-laziness issues of QR codes AND the short range, hardware-dependant issues of RFID. The only smoother delivery I can imagine is if the software were integrated directly into the phone’s OS (long a fantasy for QR code readers embedded in phone camera software).
A few creative ideas for audio tags, technology pending:
- Radio DJs could send listeners to contests or to vote on what song to play next
- Retail stores could deliver coupons for nearby items
- Bands could link to the iTunes store during shows so fans can buy their tracks
- Nonprofits could ask for donations in areas directly affected by the problem they’re solving
- Restaurants could broadcast specials & happy hour discounts
- Filmmakers could push trailers and second-screen content like SideShows
- TV producers could link to episodes to purchase on the iTunes store or webisode content online
There’s a powerful convergence of location and context with audio tag technology that has a ton of potential, if the experience ends up being delivered smoothly. Time will tell if this more frictionless hardlink catches on.Read More »
We hold on to stuff we don’t need anymore—in language, design, our closets, and culture at large—because it makes us comfy.
Consider the “remote”.
We still call our—um, control sticks?—”remotes”, because when they were introduced, it was novel to control anything remotely. That was the defining feature. Now it’s a shade anachronistic—where else am I going to change channels from? Go right up there & press the buttons on the side?
This term will probably persist until we use voice & gesture alone to control our devices. Which may not even be ”devices” by then, but ambient technology.
I’ve been known to call my iPhone a “walkman” on occasion. Because you can, you know, walk around with it on.
Skeumorphic language: mental comfort food.
The ostensible rationale for making new things look like familiar things is that the familiarity will give users a confidence boost that will help them learn the interface. This may have been particularly salient for Apple’s early OSX and now its iOS aesthetics, to welcome users switching platforms.
The rally against skeumorphism contends that they patronize us with “horrific, dishonest, childish” sentimentality, and indeed stands in the way of innovation. Clive Thompson posits such in his Wired piece:
When we get to the last week of February, open your Google Calendar and choose the Month view. You’ll see the previous three weeks greyed out. Only the next few days will be “active”. If you’ve want to see what you’ve got lanned for more than the next couple of days, you have to flip forward to March.
Now ask yourself: Why does Google Calendar—and nearly every other digital calendar—work that way? It’s a strange waste of space, forcing you to look at three weeks of the past. Those weeks are mostly irrelevant now. A digital calender could be much more clever: It could reformat on the fly, putting the current week at the top of the screen, so you can always see the next three weeks at a glance.
—Clive Thomspon, “Out With The Old”, Wired Feb 2012
I see the problem. Modernism—”the rejection of tradition’s reprise, incorporation, rewriting, recapitulation, revision and parody in new forms”—despises this kind of saccarine fake columns-and-woodgrain atavism.
But in an age of incessant, frantic cultural change and the treadmill of a learning curve that goes with it, maybe we long for the past a little bit. Skeumorphs & skeumorphic language are a bite of comfort food for the overteched soul.
I totally still say I’m “taping” a “show”.
Apple has been trying to address the ongoing Foxconn suicides with increased transparency. Articles are simultaneously appearing that attempt to explain the migration of manufacturing jobs as being rooted less in wages (and the accompanying “cheap” products that go with low cost labour) and more in government regulations that facilitate the industry.
Here’s some of what’s being said.
• This American Life Podcast: Mr. Daisey and the Apple Factory [performance adapted from "The Agony & the Ecstasy of Steve Jobs" and investigative report]
I have an iPhone, among other Apple products. I’d pay more for the next one so that people don’t have to be woken up in the middle of the night, given a cup of tea, and sent to work on an assembly line. Or maybe Apple—who made $400,000 in profit per employee last year—could kick in a little.Read More »
Here’s my contribution to dealing with January—a photo series that’s been forming around smokestacks in the industrial parts of Winnipeg. When you wake up in the morning, you can tell how severe the cold is going to be by the way steam and smoke hang in the air. It’s terrible and beautiful.Read More »
Spotted in various locations outside the Walmart in St. Vital.
If you’re a gentle-hearted parent who spots the bear & thinks it’s lost—I know I get stressed about every sodden unclaimed mitten I see lying limp & alone in the snow—you feel pretty dumb when you read the sign.
If you’ve got a child with you & they discover it, you’re stuck explaining why you’re too mean to return a seemingly-wayward teddy to a calculating portrait studio for 10% off your family package or whatever.
Dislike.Read More »
All fired up by the SOPA drama yesterday, this piece of direct mail from ING Direct had my eyes saucerous with outrage. How could ING use the famous “Keep Calm & Carry On” slogan? Doesn’t somebody own that?
They do & they don’t, turns out.
A quick visit to Wikipedia—good thing the blackout’s over—revealed that Keep Calm was designed by the British Ministry of Information in 1939 as a propaganda poster intended to reassure the public in the event of war.
50 years later the Crown Copyright expired and the iconic (who knew?) poster passed into the public domain. It resurface in 2000 & has been widely t-shirtified since.
Just how did this iconic design bubble back into the stream of consciousness, & who’s profiting from it?
Well, here’s the story.
In 2000, Barter Books in England reprinted it from a rare original they discovered, and it sold merrily.
In 2006 a one Mark Coop bought the domain KeepCalmAndCarryOn.com, whereupon he sold many a calming product. (Snarky design aside: There’s also a Canadian version of the site that may also be his; I can’t tell, but the difference in design between the 2 will put you in mind of the now-defunct Canadian Zappos). (Suspicious copyright-crazed aside: doesn’t the Thoughtful Gardener brand on Coop’s site look an awful lot like Kal Barteski’s You Are Awesome posters? I hope it’s a coincidence; Kal’s no stranger to being ripped off).
Anyhoodle, around the same time San Francisco designer Victoria Smith put Keep Calm silkscreened posters on Etsy, which is where I naively thought they were born.
Last year, Cooper snatched up the copyright and has been enforcing it. British history lovers & eBay knockoff peddlers alike are incensed.
So where does that leave ING Direct?
At first, thinking the design was a 6-year-old inside Etsy joke, I wasn’t sure who’d be the audience for this “played out” slogan.
Now with an understanding of the history, I appreciate what ING’s doing in terms of assuring investors that saving still makes sense, even at the low interest rates the bank is giving. It works because it makes you feel mildly foolish for doubting the banks. The message is “be resolute & continue sending in your money.”
In fact, the New York Times suggests the recessions of the late 2000′s were probably what made Keep Calm resonate.
The banking crisis brought a wave of orders from people working for American financial firms (and, more recently, advertising agencies). In fact, the travails of the global economy seem to have given the slogan fresh relevance to many.
—Remixed Messages, New York Times
So ING’s message is one that financial planners worldwide embrace. It’s a chipper little piece of well-placed propaganda in a bleak financial winter.Read More »
January 18th (#J18) is a day of global blackouts for many websites in protest of SOPA, the Stop Online Piracy Act (& PIPA, the Protect IP Act). Participating sites include Reddit & Wikipedia, and many people are avoiding social networks or taking down their own blogs in solidarity.
Twitter CEO Dick Costolo called the protest “foolish”.
That’s just silly. Closing a global business in reaction to single-issue national politics is foolish,
—Twitter CEO Dick Costolo
The protest goes beyond symbolism when big guns like Wikipedia participate, and in a very real sense it has many appropriately chilling effects:
- Demonstrates what the web would be like without your favourite websites
- Highlights the disruption in communication when decisions to block content are made unilaterally or arbitrarily
- Makes clear that the web is global & that legislation issues in one country affect everyone
- Brings the issue outside of the tech & media world by affecting widespread users in many countries
Do you feel informed enough to protest? Here’s a technical breakdown of the proposed laws, one perspective on why Canadians should care, what the tech-forward White House thinks about the legislation, and why Pirate Bay aren’t worried about their business model.
“Do you ever just want to take down your blog?”
Yes, sweet innocent. Like, every other day.
If you write a lot, you produce some mighty cringe-worthy stuff from time to time. You put opinions out there that people don’t agree with. You get caught with your fact-checking pants down. You typo. You get hysterical. You get googled.
But despite the blogging ups and downs that frankly had me almost in tears last night—my blog is so ugly/my focus is misplaced/if I start another blog, should I retire this one?/how do you even do that?—I’m astonished to find that I’m shortlisted in not one but t̶w̶o̶ [THREE!] categories in the Canadian Weblog Awards!
I somehow write one the 5 least-sucky blogs in Canada about Careers & Business, and it is one of the top 5 least-suckily written!
Thanks, CWAs, for this vote of confidence in a time of great blogular turmoil. I really needed your juried, text-based hug.
[EDIT: See? SEE?! I got the info wrong in a post about getting the info wrong! I'm also on the shortlist for 'Best Weblog about Science, Technology & the Internet'. Thanks, jurors. I will endeavour to blow your socks off in the next few weeks of judging.]Read More »
Awareness of QR codes
More than half of the adult population (53%) has seen a QR code somewhere in the past month. Those who tend to be more familiar with these codes include:
- Urban dwellers (57% Winnipeg residents, versus 47% of those outside Winnipeg)
- Younger Manitobans aged 18-34 years (69%, compared to 58% among those aged 35-54 years and 33% of those aged 55 years and over)
- Those earning higher household incomes (66% of those earning more than $100,000/year)
- University and college graduates (62%)
How many people have actually scanned a code?
Only 14% of those who recalled seeing a QR code say that they have actually scanned a code with their smartphones.
Younger Manitobans (22% of those aged 18-34 years, compared to 6% of those aged 55 years and over) & men (20%, versus 8% of women) were more likely to have scanned these codes at some point.
14% of the 53% who can recognize a code is 7.42% of the general population who’re likely to scan your ad in Manitoba.
This is fairly close to the number of Manitobans on Twitter but less than a 1/3 of the number with smartphones, so I think we’re seeing a certain niche the format works for—youngish, affluent, educated guys.Read More »