Farewell Q&A with NY Times Ad Columnist Stuart Elliott (Part 1): What I Saw at the Revolution

Elliott has phoned home - much to everyone's surprise.

The advertising world released a collective gasp when news hit that Stuart Elliott - the longtime advertising columnist for the New York Times - was accepting a buy-out package and would retire.

After nearly 25 years of covering advertising for the Times, not to mention stints at USA Today and Ad Age before that, Stuart and his column had become must-read for puissant, timely insights on Mad Ave.

And what a quarter century it was. From the early 1990s to today, the ad industry went from analog everything to digital domination; from "Married with Children" to "Modern Family;" and from bigger-is-better, to small is the new black.

"Who could or would have thought in the early ’90s that 20-odd years later the hegemony of television, for decades the most powerful ad medium, would be under siege, or at least, in question" Stuart wrote in his final column December 18.

"Ratings data, the currency of television, is growing problematic because viewership is more difficult to measure when people use mobile devices instead of TV sets; or watch shows online, as streaming video or as video-on-demand. And it is easier than ever for viewers to ignore or avoid traditional commercials; popular streaming services like Netflix are (gasp!) ad-free."

In an expansive new interview just days before Sunday's Super Bowl, I talked to Stuart about what he saw at the revolution - and why, despite all the change around us, everything old is new again.

Click Here to Download: Q&A WITH STUART ELLIOTT: WHAT I SAW AT THE REVOLUTION (PT 1)

(Approx: 10:15)

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GEN WOW AWARDS: Digital Dozen Ad Tech Innovations 2014 (Video)

Some of our favorite digital marketing innovations from the year just past, from the whimsical to the sublime.

PAULIG MUKI: MUG SHOTS

This coffee mug that uses heat from coffee to produce pictures, messages, quotes, comic strips or even today's weather, on a screen embedded in the cup, when hot drinks are poured.

SELFIE MIRROR: PERFECT HANDS-FREE PHOTOS EVERY TIME

SELFIE in this case stands for "Self Enhancing Live Feed Image Engine." Though the practical applications for most consumers may be a bit of a head scratcher, I can imagine this kind of technology built into clothing store images similar to those developed by Tom Nicholson at Nicholson NY. This would enable social shopping experiences where users could solicit real-time feedback on whether an outfit is say, "fly" or "forgettaboutit" from their extended social networks.

APOTEK: SUBWAY AD DISPLAY IS A HAIR-RAISING EXPERIENCE

It's not every day a hair care ad blows you away. This digital signage from Apotek in Sweden senses incoming trains at this Stockholm subway station, and makes the poster model's hair react with dramatic flourish.

3D PRINTING CLOTHES & FURNITURE

3D printing technology has me wondering about what constitutes a "brand" in categories seen for so long now as immune to digital media disruption: Fashion and furniture.  First up, news that a company called Electroloom hopes to launch ready-to-wear clothes that you could print from your 3D printer at home. And second, a look at what happens when this technology eventually results in home 3D printers (or even "bays") capable of printing out furniture.

BRITISH AIRWAYS: MAGIC BILLBOARD

Is it a bird? Is it a plane? ... oh wait, it is a plane. Flight 186 from New York, in fact. This effort from OgilvyOne and Storm won the Direct Grand Prix at the Cannes Lions Advertising Festival for the effective use of ground-breaking technology matched with a brilliant idea.

OREO 3D PRINTED COOKIE VENDING MACHINE

And then there's 3D-printed munchies. Oreo's experimental "Oreo Trending Vending Machine" uses 3D printing technology to print out cookies. The initiative comes via a partnership with Twitter that includes "trending flavors" based on trending social conversations, which customers can then select to watch their cookies being built. It sounds like it takes about two minutes - which seems like a long time wait - but hopefully novelty will trump timeliness in this case.

OSCAR-MAYER: BACON-SCENTED ALARM CLOCK

Yes, it's a thing. Oscar Mayer's new "Wake Up & Smell the Bacon" device plugs into your iPhone so that when the alarm goes off, you bask in the smell and sound of sizzling bacon. Fun, effective and cruel, all at the same time.

COCA-COLA: 'FAIR PLAY'

You have to love the latest installment of Coca-Cola's Happiness Campaign—involving two vending machines on opposite sides of a sports stadium, where you can't get a Coke for yourself. But you can give one to a fan of the opposing team. Genius.

FELT: IPAD APP THAT LETS YOU SEND HANDWRITTEN CARDS BY MAIL

THIS new app integrates digital and physical worlds with handwritten notes you can send via snail mail.
Let's face it, it's print and snail mail when you want to send the very best, Hallmark or otherwise. Felt, the company behind this app, understands this - and looks to have delivered a very nice app just in time for this last holiday season. How might your brand use digital to pay off in physical?

AR+INFRARED = NEW INTERFACE FOR WEARABLES

I'm digging this vision video from augmented reality player Metaio, which foresees a world where thermal heat scanning wearables enable users turn any surface into an interactive touch screen interface. Think of the implications for communications, and then think further. Gaming, mixed reality movies and shows, layered brand experiences. Entire environments and cross-reality social media, activated and annotated by a simple touch. How can your brand lead the way?

SEPHORA: 3D AUGMENTED REALITY MAKEUP MIRROR

Here's looking at you - in a whole new way. Sephora's Milan store has a new AR mirror that enables shoppers to try on makeup without applying anything. Live AR like this represents a compelling application of AR at retail - empowering the consumer to do what previously would have take a lot of time and tissues to even attempt. The tech, from ModiFace, looks to work quite well. For many other applications, be sure to pick up a copy of my book THE ON-DEMAND BRAND.

DISPLAY MAPPER: 3D PROJECTION MAPPING FOR IN-STORE DISPLAYS

Called a MirrorBox, this unit from DisplayMapper is billed as the "world's first" projection-mapped display unit for retail. Best of all - it works in daylight. And content updates are managed through a cloud-based interface. Perfect for many lifestyle goods brands.

Without a doubt, digital is the ultimate sandbox. If you can dream it, you can do it. What will your brand do with ad-tech in 2015? And most important of all, how might this kind of ad-tech innovation reshape not just your marketing, but your business model in the decade ahead?

 

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2015 Mobile Marketing Predictions - from 2005 (Pt 2): Mobile Advertising

Branding_unbound_cover copyREACH OUT & SELL SOMEONE: The Secrets to Successful Mobile Advertising 2015 - as Predicted in 2005.

This is the second in a series where I look at 2015 mobile marketing predictions that I made in 2005, in my first book, BRANDING UNBOUND.

For this post, the focus is mobile advertising.

As longtime readers of my blog – BRANDING UNBOUND and my newer book, THE ON-DEMAND BRAND – will tell you, I’m not bullish on mobile advertising.  At least not in its current model, which mostly takes the conventions from another medium (ad banners on the old-school Internet) and plops them into our used-to-be-shrinking-now-ever-expanding mobile phone screens.

Let me explain.

In 2005, it was clear to me that mobile advertising would have to be a game changer. But not just because it’s mobile, or the fact that you can target based on things like location. 

As I wrote in the book, the web banner-based ad model for mobile was something that had to be tried, and continues onto this day – if not for anything else than it’s a familiar framework, and it’s easy for agency folks to explain to clients. 

Indeed, most marketers still don’t have a clue about mobile marketing. Just think of how the industry (and financial markets) herald Facebook’s success in mobile advertising.

I find it intriguing.  I have yet to see a Facebook banner ad that a.) I’ve clicked on, and b.) is anything different than the way I’d experience that same ad on the old school Internet.

Just because an ad is experienced on a mobile device, doesn’t mean it’s a mobile ad.

And despite sky-high response rates for some campaigns, I believe the model for advertising will change dramatically.  I just thought we would have gotten further in that regard by 2015.  

So let’s look at the predictions – where I got it right, and where I myself was clueless.

ACTIVATION VS. (MERE) AMPLIFICATION

As a marketer, I have always found mobile advertising Bores-ville. As a consumer, I think it’s a snooze fest.

Those sky-high click-through and video view-through rates? Just like with the desktop web before it, response rates are high now because of lack of clutter and novelty of delivery mode. As consumers become inured, response rates will (continue) to fall, just as with every advertising medium before it.

According to some estimates, one half of mobile ad banner click throughs are accidents. I suspect that's conservative.

But the solution isn’t to come up with more ad units or even better campaign creative.

Just use mobile advertising for what it is. If you find success – as many claim to have achieved – awesome.

But, as I contended barely a year after Mark Zuckerberg founded Facebook, and roughly five years before Facebook launched its mobile advertising offering, the real power of mobile isn’t in ad banners.

In BRANDING UNBOUND and also in a piece I wrote for ADWEEK on the topic, I argued its true power likes in activating commercial messages in OTHER media - super charging the effectiveness of print, radio, outdoor, cinema, television, direct mail advertising, right at the point of impression.

INTEGRATION IS THE NAME OF THE GAME

In the book, I look at Dove’s hugely successful Campaign for Real Beauty, then only months old. As the marketing world knows, this then-counterintuitive campaign for Dove beauty products encourages women to eschew unhealthy beauty industry conventions about what is beautiful and embrace themselves for who they are.  

Two years before the iPhone was launched, Dove’s fully integrated campaign included, among so many other things, a Time Square digital billboard that flashed images of the kind of real women Dove showcases in its advertising. Headlines read, “Fat? Or Fabulous?” and “Wrinkled or Wonderful?” and so on – encouraging passersby to text in their vote, with tallies displayed in real time.

In Rome, consumers could respond to Dunkin’ Donuts’ print, outdoor and broadcast advertising via mobile and receive a mobile coupon worth a free cup of coffee with the purchase of one of the doughnut giant’s 52 pastry variations – from the Apple Crumb Cake to its worldwide favorite, the Boston Kreme Donut. A full 82% of people who responded to the campaign via mobile came into a store to redeem. In its first three weeks, the campaign had boosted overall sales 20% - with about half of those sales directly attributed to mobile.

In Japan, greeting card giant Hallmark scored big with a mobile greeting card campaign from Ogilvy called Hallmark Hiya. In a market unaccustomed to sending cards for birthdays and anniversaries, Hiya enabled consumers to participate in a “virtual drama” involving seven fictitious friends. Each participant would then periodically receive a text or voice message from one of the characters, asking for a response. To do so, participants would choose from one of three possible messages, each expressing an intimate feeling or expression. Depending on the selection, the story line would take a different direction. Within its first 20 days, over 40,000 consumers signed up to participate. And Hallmark ended up exceeding its sales goals for the entire quarter.

The world over, Coca-Cola was already using mobile to activate sweepstakes campaigns, including bottle cap promotions that enabled consumers to text in codes to accumulate points toward music downloads – a formula that has now been leveraged by countless brands.

CanOne of my favorite Coca-Cola mobile initiatives of that era – which used a model I’ve yet to see replicated – involved mobile activation dynamic in reverse. Instead of getting consumers to interact with the brand via their mobile phone, Coke sent the mobile phone to the customer, in the form of a soda can. As part of its “Unexpected Summer” promotion, high tech soda cans in specially marked Coca-Cola multipacks contained the electronic guts of a combination mobile phone and GPS tracker.

By weight and feel, it was just like any other can of Coke. But it looked quite different. The outside of the can featured an activation button, a microphone and a miniature speaker. When the consumer who was lucky enough to find the can pressed the button, the phone called a special hotline where winners could find out what they’d won – prizes included vacation packages and a new Chevy Equinox SUV. And the GPS system remained activated until one of five "national search times” could locate each winner.

This was all over 10 years ago. And with all of this creativity, I think I expected that by 2015, marketers would, to borrow the conventions of Gartner’s Hype Cycle, already have gone well past the “Peak of Inflated Expectation,” hit the bottom of the “Trough of Disillusionment,” and at least found themselves scaling the “Slope of Enlightenment.” With any luck, I’d hoped, they’d even reached the “Plateau of Productivity.”

ACCURACY?

If I was wrong about the creative use of mobile to supercharge integrated campaigns, my expectations for the Gartner Hype Cycle seem to be reasonable.

Personally, when I ask marketers about it now, they seem to fall somewhere toward the ascent toward the Peak of Initial Expectations (the aforementioned Facebook mobile advertising hype), or on the descent toward disillusionment.

But this year's Gartner Hype Cycle places mobile advertising as emerging out of the trough and on its way on the Slope of Enlightenment. I hope they’re right.

To be truly compelling, mobile advertising must be used to activate and engage in branded experiences and offers.  It must use the attributes unique to the medium – location (both physical and at the point of inspiration, as my friend and mobile startup entrepreneur Dorrian Porter once put it) and the social connections mobile enables to create the kind of experiences that truly put the "mobile" in "mobile advertising." Throw in mobile augmented reality, and then you're really getting somewhere.

Mobile marketing, augmented and otherwise, is a topic I talk a lot about that in both BRANDING UNBOUND and THE ON-DEMAND BRAND, as well as here at GEN WOW.

But how far brands will really take all this in 2015?

Time – the next 12 months to be exact – will tell.

What do you think?

 

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A (Very Near) Future Where We Implant Our Phones, Instead of Carrying Them (Video)

 

It may sound crazy, but it's not.

Stealing a page from Netflix and others, BitTorrent is joining the original video content brigade with Children of the Machine, according to Motherboard.

Set eleven years in the future, the series looks at what happens when everyday life is shaped by ubiquitous augmented reality via communications devices that we don't carry around on our persons, but rather imbed within our skin.

That'll never happen, right? Don't count on it.

In my book THE ON-DEMAND BRAND, I talk to scenario planner Peter Schwartz, founder of the Global Business Network and SVP of Strategic Planning for Salesforce.com, about how mobile will evolve in the decade ahead. Schwartz is the guy Hollywood calls when they want to know what the future looks like, based on extrapolating from current trends.

In Schwartz's eyes, we are indeed likely to see mobile phones imbedded into our skin in the next several years. By 2030, we won't really be talking about actual metallic or plastic materials, either.

"They'll be just subcutaneous organic material forming an organic circuit that is a cell phone," he tells me in the book. And this won't be just a hands-free, voice-enabled technology either. Instead of speaking "Call home" to start a call - you'll think it. And finding your way around town or to that great Chinese restaurant people have been buzzing about will require a simple thought, as well. (Check out a source interview with Schwartz for the book, here.)

Of course, all of this convenience will be balanced with another effect. Though the video indicates otherwise, in a world where you can no longer get lost, you won't really be able to hide, either.

Read more, here.

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AR + Infrared = New Interface for Wearables (Vision Video)

 

I'm digging this vision video from augmented reality player Metaio, which foresees a world where thermal heat scanning wearables enable users turn any surface into an interactive touch screen interface.

Think of the implications for communications, and then think further. Gaming, mixed reality movies and shows, layered brand experiences. Entire environments and cross-reality social media, activated and annotated by a simple touch.

How can your brand lead the way?

Read more, here.

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Rick Mathieson Talks Super Bowl, 2014 Digital Marketing Trends on Blasingame Show/Forbes Radio (Pt 2)

2014 marketing trends jpegIn part two of my guest appearance on the Jim Blasingame Show the other day, we get to the part where we discuss some of the digital innovation brands are bringing to this year's Super Bowl "Ad Bowl."

 

As I'm usually more involved with larger brands, Jim - whose latest book The Age of the Customer: Prepare for The Moment of Relevance is just out - likes to have me on from time to time to talk about what's happening in digital marketing overall, and what SMBs can learn from their big brand brethren. (You can hear part one of the interview here.)

 

In this second segment, we talk about Doritos' latest "Crash The Super Bowl" consumer-created ad contest, and Pepsi's new augmented reality Super Bowl "Selfie" app.

 

And on the heels of news today that H&M is allowing consumers to vote on whether David Beckham bares it all for his Super Bowl Bodywear spots, you'll hear about how the popular retail brand is also enabling viewers to place a purchase for the clothing via television remote control during the game.

I'll post the conclusion of the interview over the next few days.

CLICK HERE TO LISTEN TO: Rick Mathieson on Blasingame: 2014 Digital Marketing Trends & Super Bowl Ad Innovation (Part 2)

(Approx 6:04)

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Rick Mathieson Talks 2014 Digital Marketing Trends on Blasingame Show/Forbes Radio (Pt 1)

2014 marketing trends jpegI was on the Jim Blasingame Show the other day to talk Super Bowl advertising and digital marketing trends in 2014.

It's always fun to do the show, which is syndicated to Forbes Radio and deals primarily with small business. Jim is a great host who's just a lot of fun to talk with - and I can't wait to read his new book, The Age of the Customer: Prepare for The Moment of Relevance.

As I'm more typically involved with larger brand marketing, Jim has me on from time to time to talk about what's happening in digital marketing overall, and what small businesses can learn from the big boys.

In this first segment, we set the stage for our conversation - and how three overlapping trends - social, mobile and video - will merge to take new shape, and power new dynamics, in the year ahead.

I'll post the subsequent two segments over the next few days.

CLICK HERE TO LISTEN TO: Rick Mathieson on Jim Blasingame: 2014 Digital Marketing Trends (pt 1)

(Approx 5:06)

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'Devil's Due' Demon Baby Attacks Bystanders in Hilarious New Prank Video

 

GEN WOW readers know I am a sucker for prankvertising - and this new promo for the film 'The Devil's Due" - which looks to be a modern take on "Rosemary's Baby" – delivers. 

In fact, it follows all of my three tenants for powerhouse prankvertising.

Well played, Damien. Well played.

Bottom line: It would have scared the crud out of me. How about you?

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New Pepsi Cans Feature Mobile Augmented Reality Super Bowl App (Video)

 

It's nice to see a Super Bowl advertiser using what looks to be a very cool mobile augmented reality app as a way to engage fans in fun ways. Among other things, this Blippar-powered app enables you to shoot selfies with your favorite NFL players to show you're #fanenough. Can't wait to try it out!

Read more here.

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Infiniti's 'Deja View' Video Series Lets Viewers Interact with Characters & Influence Outcomes (Video)

Deja View Official Trailer, Featuring the Infiniti Q50

Infiniti upped its game today with a responsive video series that uses advanced voice recognition to enable you to influence the action and interact with characters through phone calls.

According to the New York Times, the video series - called "Deja View" – comes from Campfire, which readers know to be quite innovative in the way it uses video. This new effort is an extension of a campaign for the Infiniti Q50 developed by TBWA/Chiat/Day Los Angeles.

Characters appear to have amnesia, and at various points in the narrative, will call you on the phone (once you've provided it to participate).

Your responses to their remarks influence their actions, dynamically shaping the storyline as it goes along - with thousands of different possible outcomes.

Even the way you respond to characters' calls can influence the adventure. According to the Times, if you tell a character she is hot, for instance, she might respond to you in distracting manner. Insult her, and she may just hang up.

And the video is just the beginning. This week, social media Easter eggs will also drive the action.

Looks very cool - and is an ambitious example of branded content that could engage consumers in a highly personalized fashion, and to keep the Infiniti brand front and center over the course of several days.

Read more about the initiative, here.

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