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The ads are watching you

February 3, 2009
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If you are watching an ad on a video screen in a mall or supermarket, it might be watching back. Face-tracking technology is the new growing trend in media. It’s also known as face-based audience measurement, gaze-tracking, face counting and countless other variations.

Whatever you call it, the concept is simple and not at all as “Big Brother” creepy as it sounds. Small cameras are embedded in or around the video screen to actually track the faces of people watching and determine their age, gender and sometimes ethnicity. If the camera recognizes you as a male, it might show you an ad for razors rather than birth control. If it identifies a teen it might show an ad for video games.

Face-tracking also allows advertisers to see if they are reaching the right  people. It would be a shame if a brand put out an ad for in-home senior care and only teenage girls were seeing it.

The technology is not widespread, by any means. So more than likely you aren’t being watched, yet. Yet. It’s growing quickly and could be a big idea in the future.

The concept might be off-putting to people at first. I had the same jerk reaction accompanied by frowns and a furrowed brow–maybe even a scoff. But then I realized it only categorizes people by outward appearances. The technology can’t drill down to any personal information. The man isn’t capturing and storing information about “Jane Doe” on Strongs Blvd. They just want to show the right people the right ads, so you don’t have to sit there watching stuff you don’t care about.

Order Dominos through your TiVo

November 18, 2008
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Domino’s announced a distribution partnership with TiVo, allowing people to order pies directly through their television set. It sounds easy. You see an ad for Domino’s and click “I want it” from your remote. You are then taken to the ordering page and, viola, pizza shows up 30 minutes later. You never have to leave the couch.

This makes sense. TV makes people hungry. It also makes people not want to get off the couch. Now if Domino’s also delivered wine we would really be talking.

Honda’s road plays the Lone Ranger theme song. Really.

November 7, 2008
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We’ve seen roads used as media before. There have been murals, graffiti, decals. But, this is definitely new. Lets just leave it at that.

Shizuo Shinoda, a Japanese engineer, was the first to discover that cutting thousands of grooves in asphalt produces sounds when a car drives over it. So, he created a system to play full songs on the road. Honda brought this innovation to the States. Straight to Lancaster, CA. Drive down the quarter-mile stretch of Avenue K and have a listen. Let us know what you think.

Banner advertising on life support

November 3, 2008
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The New York Post reports that ” The once-hot market for Web banners is not only cooling, it’s in danger of going subzero.” Looking at online ad companies earnings reports show the sharp decline. Marketers are rapidly pulling back on online display advertising, particularly “flashy” campaigns. Analysts are predicting that if the past few months are any indication, banner advertising will not even remain on the decline, it will go negative by 2009.

It is understandable. With click-through rates at .1% it’s hard to justify the ROI. Even though people argue (myself included) you can’t grade a banner on it’s click-through rate, proving the value is still difficult. But I don’t know that banners are dead. They need a makeover for sure, but they can still pull through.

It’s like TV. TV is not dead, bad TV is dead. Infomercials and “I’ve fallen and can’t get up.” There are so many bad banner campaigns out there. Just go to Myspace. Bad banner advertising is what is dead. Hopefully this will force people to be more diligent, creative and strategic when creating a banner campaign. Also, maybe it’s time to change the standard sizes IAB? I mean there is nothing uglier than a 160×600.

One last note in online paid media: search advertising continues to grow at an astounding pace. Thanks Google.

YouTube to stream full-length TV shows ala CBS

October 14, 2008
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YouTube and CBS extended their partnership to include full-length TV programs. To start a select group of shows including Dexter, Start Trek, the original 90210, and Californication, will be available on-demand, on a consistent basis. This is a first in YouTube history.

It’s an ad-supported revenue model, so advertisers are probably stoked. But, are they just sweating Hulu? Interesting to see who wins…

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