Jakob Nielsen: Get Web 1.0 Right First

Jakob Nielsen’s newest alertbox on the web 2.0’s dangers to site profitability: “Instead of adding Facebook-like features that let users “bite” other users and turn them into zombies, the B2B site would get more sales by offering clear prices, good product photos, detailed specs, convincing whitepapers, an easily navigable information architecture, and an email newsletter.”

Santa Claus Tattoo


If you’ve always wanted see a more radical Santa Claus, now the good people at R/GA give you the chance. Tattoo the fatty in red where you want and with what you want.
Link: R/GA Tattoo Santa.
Via: NiceToMeetYou.

Color-Blind Image Simulation

Color wheel as seen by a red-insensitive protanope.

To test how your ads are seen by the color-blind, you can use Vischeck, an online tool and a set of downlodable Photoshop filters for PC and Mac.

More tools. A color-blind-friendly interface on Summize.

Advertising for the Color-Blind
Tool: How Color Blind People See Text
Advertising in Braille
The Robotic Shopping Assistant
Playboy in Braille

A regular color wheel (source).

New Phone Allows Speaking With Ears

image source

AFP/Breitbart: “A Japanese company Tuesday unveiled a new device that will allow people “speak” through their ear so they can use their mobile telephones in noisy places. The device — named “e-Mimi-kun” (good ear boy) — doubles as an earphone and a microphone by detecting air vibrations inside the ear, developer NS-ELEX Co. said.”

Mannequins Are Protected By Copyright Law

Mannequin designers at Rootstein find their creations frequently copied by cheaper manufacturers.

VMSD.com: “If the mannequin you acquire imitates a higher-priced model in design, pose, paint, facial expression or some other details, you’re likely breaking the law. Retailers face legal liability if there’s a whiff of suspicion that they conspired to have cheaper imitations produced. And – here’s the big cautionary message – retailers are liable even if they didn’t know the mannequins they purchased were copies.”

Moving Mannequins with Face Recognition
Lifelike Mannequins
Mannequin Crowd Promotes Real Estate
Concept: Social Retailing

10 Forces That Shape Headline Writing

I remembered a great quote from an old colleague of mine: “The web is the only medium in which you must create content which impresses machines.” This is especially true for headlines, and, increasingly, not only blog headlines. With online versions of traditional newspapers adding Digg Me buttons and incorporating automated contextual advertising and other technological novelties, the fine art of headline writing is under more and tighter constraints then ever before. Why and for what purpose are headlines written today?

  1. For others to read the article. That’s what headlines and titles (there’s a difference: headlines have verbs in them) have been invented for, after all: to attract readers’ attention to the content under them. A corollary: it also needs to attract readers’ attention when it is found out of its original context, for example, on someone else’s site.
  2. For others to notice it in the RSS reader (this was a topic of a separate post on RSS usability last year).
  3. For the author to like it. This is straightforward: you wouldn’t slap a subjectively ugly headline on your article (although in newspapers, copy editors often do) because you will be the one staring at it before anyone else sees it. And long after that, too.
  4. For the author to find it. How do you link back to your old posts relevant to the subject at hand? I use my own search box, and I got into the habit of using keywords that I’m likely to remember months or even years down the road.
  5. For others to find it. This is the non-profit SEO part where you write you headline so that it comes up for a search on the topic the article is about and helps someone out. This means two things: the article needs to be in the top search results, and the headline needs to prompt the click.
  6. For others to find it, for a different reason. In the for-profit world of SEO, you’ll write your headline so that it drives people who search for something that your site in general (but not necessarily each particular post) is promoting. The real trick here is to make the headline keyword-rich without it sounding artificial.
  7. For others to find it again, in their own information universe. It is terribly difficult to locate something you’ve bookmarked on del.icio.us when your bookmark count is in the thousands unless you know (or, importantly, you think you know) what the title was (Tags, while invented for a good purpose, are a mess).
  8. For the AdSense funnel, where the searcher clicks on your link in the search engine, arrives at your blog, looks around, and then bounces off through a well-targeted AdSense ad that is closer to what he’s been searching for in the first place.
  9. For AdSense robots to display the right ads. I don’t really know how much weight is assigned by the AdSense and other contextual ad algorithms to headlines, but it has to be significant since post titles are also page titles.
  10. To influence social forces on Digg and other similar content microcosms. There are plenty of guides on writing Diggable headlines out there.

Ribbit has the tech part down, but what about consumer marketing?

News media outlets are heralding Ribbit’s goal to “be the platform company for Voice 2.0 applications.” Countless articles in mainstream news media and posts in blog media have appeared, written by individuals with a solid command of exactly what Ribbit is all about. Om Malik, writing for GIGAOM, sums it up: “…what they have done is built their own Class 5 softswitch and back-end infrastructure and married it to front-end technologies like Flash and Flex from Adobe Systems (ADBE).” Okay, if you say so.

The company calls itself, “Silicon Valley’s first phone company.” Chief Executive Officer Ted Griggs comes across as a really nice guy on a promotional video. The video will probably challenge the attention deficit Web readers are known for. Griggs basically talks about the company and what the technology means.  But the video is about as lively as a lint brush. There’s a photo of a guy in a suit on the front page of the Ribbit Web site. He’s in a Zen state of mind. Who is he supposed to be speaking to? Even a developer wouldn’t relate to this guy. Your average person, to get excited about this product, needs to know in flat English what Ribbit is going to do for us and what it will cost.


A page on the company’s Web site does give consumers an idea of what to expect. You’ll be able to: make calls through your computer so you have a phone wherever you have an internet connection, read your voicemails so audio playback is no longer a necessity, play your messages in any order so you decide the order of importance, and access your messages on the go from any phone through a smart voicemail interface.

A New York Times headline asked, “Would you buy a telephone from a company named Ribbit?” Most of us would if we get a unique service at reasonable cost. I actually think the name can be an asset—frogs are cute and there’s a lot of creative leeway in those little amphibians. Think about what GEICO does with a gecko who talks like an Aussie and has better manners than most of us. You have to wonder what kind of accent a Ribbit-promoting frog might speak with, in between ribbits.

Meanwhile, developers are positive. According to the Ribbit Web site, more than 600 have joined the development community to date,  located throughout the world in over 65 countries, including the U.S., Europe, Brazil, China, and India. Time will tell whether future marketing efforts will succeed with consumers—maybe we’ll see a Valley girl frog offering up a designer beer, ‘ribbiting’ with zest, selling us on a new phone service in the process.


Outdoor Outfitter Taps BBDO for $28M Ad Account

NEW YORK (AdAge.com) — Outdoor gear and clothing retailer REI has handed its estimated $28 million creative and media account to BBDO, Atlanta, according to executives familiar with the matter.

Cops pull over decent drivers just to give them Starbucks coupons.

An update on that Starbucks Holiday cheer – presumably happens in drive-throughs – now we learn that cops in California pull over drivers who have done nothing wrong just to hand them a Starbucks coupon. Get the hell away, really? How would you react if a police car went all blinking lights on you, pulled you over and then handed you a coupon for a decaf latte?

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Coffee Morning: 2007 Hurrah

Where in the hell did 2007 go? The last time I checked, it was July and I was fawning over the Transformers movie. Sheesh. Anyways, this Friday will be the final Coffee Morning of 2007. If you’d like to come by and enjoy a coffee and a kick ass egg sandwich, we’ll be down at Mildred’s starting around 7:30.

Even if you’re not working on Friday, or if you’re a student in town for the holidays, please stop by and hang out. If you know anything about us, we’ll probably be talking about the usual nonsense — which lately has been about why certain coffee shops DON’T open at the time they say they will. Sigh.

If we don’t see you, have a great holiday season. We’ll see you in 2008 and we’ll start to hit up some new spots around downtown KC.

For Help Say ‘Help ‘ … But Hold the Accent

If you think voice-automated customer service systems are stupid, frustrating and useless, let me tell you something: They are even worse for those of us who happen to have an accent. No joke.

PETA enjoys chilly holiday in its snowglobe

Ah, PETA, what would we do without your cyber snowglobe reminding us whom to despise this holiday season—and the animal-related reasons why they’ve earned our disgust? There’s Michael Vick, wearing a football helmet and an inmate’s jumpsuit, exercising in the prison yard. Everyone knows about Vick’s dogfighting, but here are some other celebs who’ve wronged our furry friends: the Olsen twins, Kate Moss and Anna Wintour (all for wearing fur); Dick Cheney (for hunting); and Colonel Sanders (for chicken torture). I applaud the late Colonel’s inclusion. He deserves to get pecked for all eternity by a giant devil-chicken, if only because KFC’s greasy, bland food sucks. As for the others, well, most people already disliked them, even without the animal-cruelty angle, so I guess they’re fair game. Oops, “fair game’s” a hunting reference. Fur would keep you warm in that chilly globe. Oh, right—no fur. I’d better watch out. And so should McKinney’s Snowglobe Boy, who may see Michael Vick break his record shortly.

—Posted by David Gianatasio

Svedka Still Runs Afoul of Spirits-Industry Standards

CHICAGO (AdAge.com) — When Constellation Brands paid $384 million for the edgy, independent Svedka vodka brand in February, many thought the deal was a potentially perilous one for the wine-and-spirits giant. Svedka had grown explosively thanks largely to provocative advertising that ignored accepted industry standards and simply ignored the industry's marketing arm when it asked for ads to be shelved. How would it adjust to being owned by a member of the Distilled Spirits Council of the U.S. and therefore subject to its marketing code?

Super Bowl Ad News

The New York Post reports that Will Ferrell may team up with Budweiser for a spot during the upcoming Super Bowl XLII on February 3rd.

The comedian is talking to beer brewer and perennial Super Bowl advertiser Anheuser-Busch about appearing in a spot during the Feb. 6 game on Fox, sources told The Post.

Assuming the spot makes the cut, Ferrell would appear as his character from the upcoming 1970s basketball comedy, “Semi-Pro,” opening Feb. 9.

According to the article, other celebrities we should expect to see include Justin Timberlake for Pepsi and Carmen Electra for Hershey’s.

Additionally, AdAge is reporting that Nissan Motor Co. is quietly mulling a large spot buy that would allow the automaker to run lots of local ads on various Fox TV stations and affiliates during the game.

A Nissan spokeswoman said she could not “confirm anything about our plans for the Super Bowl,” but one person familiar with the matter said the automaker is planning to advertise its Murano, a so-called midsize crossover that pairs the driving experience of a regular car with some of the features of a sport utility vehicle.

Other Super Bowl advertisers expected to show include Coca Cola, Audi of America, Bridgestone Firestone North America, Cars.com, Frito-Lay/Doritos, General Motors/Chevrolet, GoDaddy, NFL, Disney, Kraft/Planters, Unilever, SalesGenie.com, Hyundai Motor America and FedEx.

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Google Translation Bots Get Swear Words Right

While the translation bots are not famous for understanding human speech with great accuracy, one thing Google’s bots get right is swearing.

Google has just released a series of language translation bots that you can invite for a chat and that would act as simultaneous interpreter when you have a conversation with another foreign-language speaking human.

You probably don’t want to use it for important conversations: Israeli journalists recently got themselves into a diplomatic scandal when their translation software misfired and one of the questions to the Dutch Foreign Minister resulted in”The mother your visit in Israel is a sleep to the favor or to the bed.”

So. Google’s English to Russian bots translate “Let’s go drinking” as “Let’s find potable” and “Shipping up to Boston” as “Navigation to Pskov“. But swearing? Dead on.

No more child’s play for Jamie Lynn Spears

Due to recent events, Jamie Lynn Spears might have to find a new angle for her commercial work, now that her cheerleader promos (above) and spots for pastel-colored karaoke headsets seem a little dated.

—Posted by Tim Nudd

Puma’s robot working overtime for holidays

OK, I’ve taken some shots at robots this year. They devalue our humanity, and will soon kill us all. Plus, the Shave Bot threw me over for a toaster she met on Match.com. Still, I’ve found a place in my heart for Puma’s special holiday-season “G1ft Bot 2007.” He’s got a merry workshop, like a regular Santa Claws. Click on the boom-box and he dances! (Is that “the robot” he’s doing? Doesn’t matter, that guy can move.) Now I regret ever suggesting that our metal friends wanted to kill all humans. Oh, and look what just rolled into my cubicle at AdFreak: a giant metallic gift box in the shape of a horse! How clever and distinctive. I guess the ’bots have decided to make up with me, too. I can’t wait to see what’s inside!

—Posted by David Gianatasio

Romney and Clinton’s odd new commercials

You may not be planning to commit a federal crime in the next few years. But if you blunder into one, wouldn’t you like to think there’s some chance a merciful president would pardon you? If so, a new commercial for Mitt Romney may incline you to vote against him. In the course of attacking Mike Huckabee as soft on crime, the spot makes the peculiar boast that Romney “never pardoned a single criminal.” Who’d have thought a candidate would choose to depict himself as so pitiless? Odd as it is, though, this claim seems slightly less so than one made for Hillary Clinton in one of her new spots. In it, we see Clinton’s mother say of Hillary, “She never was envious of anybody.” Have you ever decided to vote for or against a political candidate based on your sense of whether the person was prone to envy? Seems unlikely. And of all the sins Clinton’s detractors have accused her of, envy has scarcely been conspicuous among them. People often complain that campaign advertising is too negative. Maybe they should start complaining that it’s too weird.

—Posted by Mark Dolliver

Former S.C. Democratic Chairman: I’m Endorsing Obama

What are political endorsements worth? Hard to say, really. I don't think they change voters' minds, but I do believe endorsements can create and accelerate momentum, especially early in campaigns and in the hectic last weeks as undecided voters make their choices.

Are there any advergames that don’t suck?

I’ve seen the stats: Millions of Internet users play casual games. OK, now add in the notion of “engagement.” What do you get? Lots of advertiser casual games. As a reporter, I play these games. I’ve urinated on cats in the name of establishing a relationship with Meaty Bone, washed babies to identify with Johnson’s, and most recently hurled Charmin at polar bears. Other than a few of the auto games, I simply don’t get them. Maybe it’s because middle-aged women are the more likely profile of the casual gamer, but these experiences leave a lot to be desired. The most annoying part is the brand, ever eager to appease the in-control consumer, makes them totally unchallenging. Has anyone seen an actual compelling casual advergame?

—Posted by Brian Morrissey