Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Giving Thanks...

I am giving thanks this holiday for working in social media.  While advertising and marketing budgets are getting slashed all over-social media and digital spending has been holding steady.  There are many articles siting the growth of online and digital users/consumers-so I won't bore you with numbers, but what I would recommend to anybody in advertising (even those that already have a place in traditional media)-is to invest and try to get into social media.  

If you are trying to get in yourself-write a blog, become a part of a social network, etc..  Try the new technology, because you will only learn something, and then you will be able to say you are proficient.  Clients and agencies are starved for people who have an understanding of this new medium.  Even if you have a background in print, or broadcast TV-try to make the conversion yourself-before others get hip to the swing that is about to happen when digital becomes the primary source for entertainment and information.  

So I am thankful to have a job, that is teaching me valuable new things everyday and that is in a booming market.  How about you?

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Top 3 new innovations

Here are my top 3-webby/techy stuff (or innovations) that I think are going to be HUGE!

1 CrowdSpring

CrowdSpring is a service where clients who need a logo, or graphic design post what they need and how much they will spend. That amount is set-it’s not going to move-they will only pay that amount. Then any creative that is registered with the site can take a crack at it. The client gives feedback/critique and the creative gets paid when their work gets chosen.

I think that CrowdSpring is awesome. For starters, it turns design into a cottage industry. You don’t need a studio; you don’t need an expensive office or really even any people skills. This is huge-because the majority of designers that I know, opted for a career in design simply to sit in a small room by themselves, and avoid the people aspect of a job. This is also an easy way for creatives to make some extra money, or learn more about their work and the industry from the privacy of their own home and anonymity of the computer.

I also like CrowdSpring on the client side as well: you will be getting a variety of creative interpretations for what you are looking for, while insuring that your cost will stay within budget.

2 Wii Headtracking

Wii Headtracking is using the infrared technology in the Wii, and reversing it-so this time the screen moves when you do. This gives the image on the screen a 3-D like quality.

I don’t fully understand it-but it’s the coolest video I’ve seen in a while. This video has been out for about a year, and I can’t wait to see how it transforms video games!

3 DapperMashupAds

This is another thing that I don’t fully understand. It has to do with targeting ads on websites. What I do know is that it is brand new, and pretty much doubles click through rates-which is enormous! Click through rates help measure ROI-which is the most important number to a client!

Overall these are 3 things I can’t wait to see revolutionize creative work, video games (and possibly TV?) and analytics.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Broadcast television is dying-not Silverman's fault

In an earlier blog, 11/14 “Addressable Ads: Not Worth Your Time Or Money”, I blogged about the demise of broadcast TV.  Basically I blogged that not even specifically targeted commercials will help broadcast television, that it is a dying medium and that digital is the wave of the future.  Specifically, I was critiquing Brian Steinberg’s article “Addressable Ads could Reinvigorate TV”.

Well, Steinberg is back and this time seems to be adding more fuel to my fire.  Steinberg’s new article “Silverman’s Magic Touch Fails to Jump-Start NBC” speaks of the demise of broadcast television, whether he knows it or not.

Steinberg talks about Ben Silverman, the newish exec at NBC and how he has brought in revenue but not viewers to NBC.  Steinberg notes that NBC as well as all of the big 4 networks have been loosing live-plus-same-day-ratings for key adult demographics of 18-49, 18-34 and 25-54. 

This further supports my notion that younger, hip, tech savvy demographics are moving away from traditional live or same day viewership and are instead opting for Tivo, DVR or even (gasp) digital views of shows on network websites, it-tunes or hulu. 

Steinberg credits the loss of viewers to content, or executive decisions, whereas I see the drop in viewership to the conversion of a digital era.  The loss of viewers is not Silverman’s fault.  Silverman was commissioned with the difficult task of saving a sinking ship: traditional broadcast television. 

Steinberg does not mention that NBC’s online viewership went up the most out of the other big 4 networks, to 5.56 million unique viewers in Sept., which doubled their previous online viewers.

 Does Silverman get any credit for that?

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Ethics in Production

Business schools have ethics classes.  Law schools have ethics classes.  Even some undergraduate colleges or universities mandate an ethics class-but for the most part; film schools have no ethics class.

Production, whether it is for television, Internet or film has no standard code of ethics.  Being in, and knowing a lot of people who rely on production work as their livelihood, it seems that there are more sleazy people trying to screw you to reach their glory and money, than there are people trying to make an honest living.  And I’m not just talking about small ventures-I’m talking about major television network shows and companies that have the money to pay.

Unions can help this problem.  So if an executive or producer is trying to screw you, the union has the power to screw the executive or producer.  However, the people in charge have gotten wise to the union rules and have found work arounds.  They create unique titles that aren’t union jobs-even though it is the same position.  The workers are then getting paid a grossly undervalued paycheck, and are barely scraping by, just so the producer or executive can get a $40,000 + bonus at the end of a season or project.  This is wrong, even though it’s legal.

And don’t even get me started on the producers that have a complete disregard for the law.  A colleague of mine was telling me about his “brilliant” producer friend, who actually dressed up like a boy scout, and asked a grocery store for a donation for his “troop’s camping trip”, when really he was getting free food for his craft service.  To me, that’s not brilliant-that’s illegal, stupid and predatory.   And maybe my view on this is why I’m still only one step above the secretary…

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Buying an image v. paying for clearance

If you are ever trying to get pricing for stock images or video footage, make sure to leave a whole lot of money in your budget for clearance costs. 

An image itself isn’t that expensive, and neither are video clips.  You could find images for a few hundred dollars, and videos for a couple thousand.  Obviously, there is a range-don’t get me wrong-but you can purchase images and videos without breaking the bank.

Now if you want to use those images, you need to have the clearance of the person in the image.  If it’s a model or actor and the image is from a photo or video shoot-you’re usually fine. This is because the model/actor in the shoot has released their likeness to the company that is shooting, or owns the picture/video. Then, the person or company that owns the image, usually has the rights to sell the likeness of the person in the picture.

If you are trying to use the likeness or image of a person that has any amount of notoriety (namely a celebrity or famous historical person), you still need to get clearance from either them, or their estate if they are dead.  Not even presidents are open to the public-much to my surprise!

The costs to get clearance to use somebody’s likeness are surprisingly large!  I heard that Einstein’s estate won’t sign anything unless it’s at least $50,000.  No wonder they call him Einstein-that’s brilliant!

Regardless, most famous people including historical figures can cost anywhere from $3,500 on the low end, to $50,000+ on the high end.  These were numbers I was not aware of-and nearly lost it when I finally got the estimates.

There are a couple of exceptions to this rule:  if it’s satire or parody.  This is why Sarah Palin didn’t sue Tina Fey for the use of her likeness on Saturday Night Live. 

So unless you are mocking somebody famous-expect to pay.  That in itself is a little ironic, don’t you think?

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

iPhone applications

iPhones.  They are useful to a degree, but there are too many, and many of them offer no use whatsoever.


I started looking into the various applications available to iPhone users.  I was shocked at what I found:


Idream: This application plays ambient sound without loops, while sending optically stimulation to help calm you and put you to sleep.

My comment:  If you can’t sleep, I recommend you putting your phone down, and then try closing your eyes.


Imensies:  This application tracks female’s menstrual calendars.

My comment:  TMI my friends, TMI.


SitOrSquat:  This application finds any nearby public restroom in the world for you. 

My comment:  This may be useful-but public restrooms can also be scary. At outdoor concerts, does it just tell you to go behind the cars?


BossTool, Caterpillar, Poof etc.:  These applications help you manage all of your applications.

My comment:  This is just silly.  If you have too many applications, you do not need any more!


Beer:  An application that features a cooler of beer that never runs out. 

My comment:  Dumb.


PhoneSaber:  Turn your iPhone into a light saber. 

My comment:  Geeky and dumb.


FakeCalls:  This application fake calls your phone, to get you out of a situation (irritating conversation, bad date, etc.)

My comment:  Will further alienate you from the rest of humanity (as if being constantly glued to your iphone isn’t enough).

Monday, November 17, 2008

Addressable Ads: Not worth your time or money.

Brian Steinberg's latest article "Addressable Ads Could Reinvigorate TV" is a lost cause.

Dish Network and ad-tech firm Invidi have developed a pact to develop "addressable ads" or ads targeted to specific households.  An example would be sending Pampers commercials only to houses that have an infant or toddler.  

Steinberg is very gracious in his praise of this new technology and venture.  I on the other hand, see it as a desperate attempt by the captain to save a sinking ship.

Steinberg admits that the lack of a universal connection to TV (satellite, cable, etc.) largely hinders a mass application of the addressable ads technology.  

To me, the technology is the least of the problems with this strategy.  For starters, I was surprised to learn that households with DVR's are only expected to be at 36% in 2012.  I thought that that number would be higher.  Regardless, as younger generations purchase their own cable services, and as long as Tivo and DVR is offered, I see our attention deficit youth opting more and more for the disappearance of commercials instead of opting for targeted commercials.  In the Pampers example above, say I am a household with a baby-I still might be a loyal Huggies user.  In which case I would not want to see any commercial because I know what I like, and am loyal and I would still be irritated by the Pampers commercial.  I would rather opt out of commercials all together, than opt for targeted commercials.  

Now this is not to say that all consumers will stop watching broadcast TV commercials, or will go to the dark side of Tivo/DVR.  I believe that there will be some consumers that avoid new technologies like the plague.  My Grandmother for instance, still has a turn dial TV with the rabbit ears.  I know a lot of older consumers that are afraid of messing things up with a Tivo or DVR.  Heck, a lot of them can't even operate their VCR's.  And don't get me started about their fear of the evils of the Internet.  So, for my Grandmother's demographic-I would say yes, addressable ads might be effective.  However when has an older, demographic that is afraid of change been a key target market?

Another problem with this strategy is that Steinberg compares ads on TV to targeted ads on the Internet.  This is not a fair comparison.  Television is primarily used for entertainment purposes.  Although the Internet can be used for entertainment, it also has a lot of other uses:  commerce, finance, research, communication, etc..  Targeted ads are effective on the Internet because consumers go online to find an answer.  Consumers watch TV to be entertained.

My last gripe with this article, is that Steinberg peppers the articles with rave reviews from major players in broadcast advertising.  This is their livelihood-so of course they are not going to say that ads on television are a lost cause.  Steinberg even quotes a study by Comcast and Starcom Media Group, showing the effectiveness of addressable ads, that found that 38% of the consumers with opt-out commercial tools, watched the targeted commercials.  To me, that number is statistically low, with more and more people going to opt-out commercial tools like DVR and Tivo, only retaining 38% of the viewers from a roughly 80% of viewers seems like a massive step backward.  Additionally, this was a self-serving study by 2 groups that are pushing this technology to save themselves.

My suggestion for any company with any type of marketing budget is to put your ad dollars online.  And I'm not just talking about banner ads, because to me, those banners that are forced onto the page that you are watching are equally as irritating as those commercials that are forced in front of you while watching television.  I recommend to do something interactive, engaging and educational.  Make the consumers want to watch or play with your branded material instead of forcing them to watch it.  

Friday, November 14, 2008

Graphic grabs on Macs

Macs are pretty easy to operate.  And taking a graphic from anywhere is pretty easy too.  Here is a "Dummies" guide to taking a graphic on a Mac.

1) Probably the easiest way to snag a graphic that you like,  is to simply click and drag it to either your desktop or folder.  It's that easy.

2) Another easy option is to hit apple, shift 4.  Then you get a little target looking icon, and use that to draw a square around anything you want, and voila-there's your graphic.  This is sort of like the screen grab function on a PC.

3) I found a new way to grab pictures in a much more neat/organized way.  Instead of relying on my ability to accurately box a graphic, I can use the Grab application.  On Macs, under Applications, open the Utilities file.  There should be something called Grab, who's icon looks like scissors cutting the paper.  Drag the icon to your toolbar.

Then, when the page or image that you want is open, click on the Grab icon, go to "Capture" on the top toolbar, and choose "Window".  It will automatically capture everything in the window-so it is more accurate/even than drawing your own box around the graphic.  

You can also use the "Screen" option when capturing, when you want to capture many things on your screen.  This is another screen grab option-but again, will gather all of the information and not just what you box.  

That's the new thing I learned today!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Free software to save movies

A friend of mine is a film maker.  He actually hosts his own independent film festival and graduated from an esteemed film program.  However, he was equally befuddled as myself when we were trying to put something from YouTube on to a DVD.  It can't be done was the explanation I got from other so-called "experts" in the film/video field.  

However, a co-worker of mine just opened my eyes to the fix:  free software, and it's easy to use. 

TubeTV ( ) is a program that is free and essentially lets you save any video to your computer.  Even videos from YouTube.  Basically, once you download TubeTV, you open it and paste the URL for the video you want to save, and then save the video.  It's very easy.  There are also options about what type of file you want it saved to (flash or qucktime).

Perian is another program that you can download for free .  Perian lets you watch flash videos in quicktime formats.

Lastly, there is Visual Hub-which is great, but sadly not openly available to the masses anymore.  Visual Hub lets you convert videos or other files from flash, to wmv to mov to avi, etc.  Although Visual Hub went out of business, if you or a friend had already purchased it, then you can still access it and download it to any computer.  All you need is the name, e-mail and confirmation code to download it on a computer.  So if you don't have Visual Hub, try to find a kind soul who is willing to share.

I'm assuming that if you are interested in using any of the software mentioned above, then it should be safe to assume that you know the difference between quicktime and flash.  However, I am going to explain the brief differences for the novices reading:  Flash is smaller in install size, it's faster to download and faster in it's initialization time.  This is great when you are putting a video on your computer, or you're saving it somewhere and you don't want it to take up a whole bunch of memory.  Quicktime (MP4) is free, and is the international standard for videos online.  If you post a video, you should post it as a quicktime file, because flash can be displayed wrong resulting in dropped frames and skipped audio.  

So good luck any fledgling online video makers.  I hope this helps!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Being Detail Oriented Does NOT Make You A Secretary

Michael Driehorst is a public relations expert who likes details and is respected and published.  I have a feeling that nobody thinks he's a secretary, even though he likes details.  

Michael's latest article: Proper Planning Key to Setting ROI Expectation is an interesting one. 

Here, Michael explains the importance of details.  I understand the details.  I thrive on details.  I love the details, however more often than not I am brushed off when I start asking the account execs and creative directors for those pesky details.  Actually, I have been asked to empty the dishwasher when I have asked for details.  

Now I know that emptying the dishwasher is not in the job description for a secretary, but I often find that when probing for details, I get brushed off as the "silly woman" in a predominantly male office and department, and am asked to do some menial task.  My official title is somewhere between "Wearer of many hats", "task master" or "account copyducer"; my own take on account executive, copy writer and producer.  

Whatever my official title is, I am NOT the secretary, and details are nothing to snuff at.  I applaud Michael for standing up for details and giving proof to the fact that there is value in details and planning.  Details are the brick and mortar of any project.   If only "big picture" people are involved-then there are no details being discussed or planned and subsequently there is nothing actually holding the project together.  

Basically, my point is this: details-like contracts, e-mails, pricing, etc., are imperative to getting any project done and making sure it's profitable and on time.  If you don't spend time on the details, you will find yourself over budget and/or late in delivery.   If you are any of the cogs in an advertising assembly line and are working with a team-share the details! And if you are a detail lover (like myself) working with a team of "big picture" people-don't let them brush the details under the rug.  Show them Michael's article!  They might not listen to a "secretary", but maybe they'll listen to Michael. 

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Puppies in a box

What is more cute or appealing than a bunch of puppies?  Nothing! And that's exactly why some brilliant mind decided to stream a box of puppies 24/7.  This is already a hit in dog communities.  It already has over 17,000 hits and counting.  

Here is an example of something viral, that has no purpose other than entertainment value.  Imagine how much more valuable this would be, if say Purina or PetSmart or some other brand decided to do this first?  This would be a great way to drive traffic, get new fans, interact with consumers and to help develop a brand relationship.  

Like Jared and his Subway diet-here was a missed opportunity that the corporate brands did not come up with on their own.  It's so simple, yet it hasn't been done.  Perhaps this was because of the "recession" that we're in, but that is exactly why it's important to keep spending the right money on the right products. 

 Social media is an area that should continue to grow during tight times.  The good ideas are going to keep coming no matter what-it just depends if you're going to make them work for your brand or not.