Friday, July 27, 2007

Non-story of the week

Microsoft and EA develop a dynamic in-game advertising engine for Sports titles... story here.

And when they say "develop" they mean that Microsoft bought Massive Inc. the former independent industry leader in dynamic in-game advertising. Strange news item to try to regurgitate.

On a more personal note. I am still alive. =)

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Checking In

Hey, how's everyone doing?

I'm still here. It's been a busy few months. There's so many things I wanted to write about but can't because I'm bound by the rusty shackles of multiple NDAs. What I can tell you is that I feel a disturbance in the Force, a gut reaction that the online advertising industry is about to make a significant shift. Money is getting tighter these days and accountability for performance is going up. Over and over, I'm seeing people wanting to see proof that things are working. This may mean that the trend towards fluffy online experiences like viral YouTube campaigns or pointless sites may be going away. Instead, we may start to see some more concrete initiatives that are relevant to consumers and that more directly hit the bottom line. In other words, your online experience may be a little less annoying soon. Since my job is basically Fluff Exterminator (think black jumpsuit with badge of pink poodle with big X on it... actually, don't.) work's been good lately.

Meanwhile, I've somehow turned into a workaholic. In doing so, I've also sapped whatever creative mojo I usually have for Branded Newb. Though it may seem like it, I haven't given up on this whole writing and blogging thing. Just wanted to let you know.

I'll see you when I come up for air. Probably this weekend after I read HP7.

Monday, July 09, 2007

If it ain't broke, promote that instead

Check out this banner for the Xbox360. The first image is the initial frame, the second is the final frame.

Notice anything missing? Right, no mention of games.

I'm not sure I buy an entire campaign to deliver the message of these secondary features. The iPhone has Google Maps built in but I wouldn't try to sell it as a competitor to a GPS unit (ignoring that it doesn't have GPS). Does this feel forced to anyone else?

Also, when the ad unit animates, the dude sitting on the... chair?... is rocking the controllers like he's playing a game. Umm... I don't know anyone that pivots back and forth while selecting music, scrolling through photos or pausing their home movie. Hey Microsoft, haven't you hurt yourself enough by giving the Xbox360 a half-ass effort? Couldn't find imagery or assets that actually worked with the concept eh? I guess someone said, "Just reuse the gaming dude, it won't matter". That's a shame.

The ad unit itself isn't too bad. The copy succinctly conveys the message that the console gives you more than games. The call to action at the end, "Learn More Today" is nice and large. Why "Today" vs. "Now" vs just "Learn More" baffles me but it's still a good call to action. A decent execution on a questionable marketing message. Try again.

Hard to reach places

Branded Newb Product of the Week: Infinity Razors

It's the razor that never needs sharpening! If you buy now, they'll even throw in a few bonuses. A "micro trimmer" for your unsightly nose hairs. An Infinity Chef Knife for umm...

Seriously WTF? If you have body hair that needs the freak'n Chef Knife, you have bigger issues than buying a razor that never dulls. I mean, you gotta make Robin Williams look like a pre-pubescent boy-band blondie before this makes sense.

Oh well, buy now! Supplies are limited.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Measure twice

According to the Washington Post, Microsoft will spend $1.15 billion to fix problems with the Xbox 360. As a result of a lot of broken consoles, it's also extended the warranty to 3 years, adding what will eventually be more cost. But let's do some quick math.

$1.15 billion divided by the 11.6 million Xbox360s sold so far.

Comes out to about $99.14 per Xbox360 for the repairs.

According to Wikipedia, the top end Xbox360 was priced at $399 at launch. The cost to manufacture was $525... a loss of $126 per Xbox.

So as of today, for each Xbox sold, Microsoft loses $225.

If Microsoft didn't have cash coming out its ears, would it have a prayer of surviving? This console war stuff is crazy. They sell consoles at a loss because they make money on the software. But it takes a lot of people using the consoles to make money and a lot of software sales to make a lot of money. Unless the console breaks records, by the time these manufacturers recoup the loss on the hardware, it's probably time to make new hardware.

This entire business model is about throwing yourself down a hill at breakneck speed and hoping that you get enough momentum to clear the canyon in front of you. If you don't sell enough units to pass that critical threshold, you'll probably just keep losing money.

You know, I wonder if the gas companies ever thought of selling cars? Milk companies giving away cereal. Eye solution companies selling contacts. Sorry, I think this whole console nonsense is going away. Web-based device-agnostic games are going to take these guys to the cleaners.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Heads or Tails, You Lose

Branded Newb Shopping Network Proudly Presents!

The 100th Anniversary Corvette Coin:

This is a once in a lifetime product folks. In celebration of the 100th anniversary of the Corvette, GM has allowed the production of these limited edition coins. The best part? The freak'n coin lights up! That's right, the headlights actually glow. Buy one now!

Anniversary does not imply annual celebration: First Corvette manufactured in 1953. Product thickness above standard width, the term coin is used figuratively. GM sponsorship only represents a desperate attempt at additional income. Coin is not legal tender though you can probably trade for a six-pack of PBR. Feeling of shame after purchase not included and may require additional shipping and handling.

Window shopping

When I advise clients on how to optimize their banner ads, I sometimes talk about moving desirable actions upstream. What I mean is that instead of making people click from a banner to a site and then getting them to do something on the site, why not just put the action on the banner? You end up saving some steps in between where many people might just drop off.

What if a client (not mine) took this to the extreme? You might get something like this Radio Shack ad. The thing is a whole shopping site within a banner. It has some pretty amazing functionality built-in. You can browse categories, then products in those categories. Add products to a shopping list, then save the list or go take the list with you to the site. Within the banner you can also locate a store or sign up for email communications. Aside from checking out, you don't need to leave the banner.

The banner where I found it:

Shopping list in the banner

Store locator

Categories to browse

I'm not sure if I could advise a client to go to this extreme. It just seems to me that it'd be extremely challenging to take someone from their mindset of reading an article to a shopping mindset of buying electronics. Sure, you want to show your breadth of offerings but having a full catalog in the banner seems like overkill. Now if this was targeted to when I was reading reviews of electronics, that would be different.

Sunday, July 01, 2007

Shouldn't you put up a fight?

I had a miraculous experience yesterday. My 1-year contract with T-Mobile ended a few weeks ago and so yesterday morning I succumbed to my weakness and picked up a new phone, that one powered by AT&T. Knowing I would have to call in to cancel my T-Mobile account, I braced myself for explaining why I was leaving T-Mobile. I imagined throwing off the customer service rep with that single word that would need no further explanation. (I'm trying to write this entire post without using the name of that product, let's see if I can do it.)

You don't need an entire transcript of the conversation; nothing happened. She didn't ask me why I was leaving. She didn't offer me some promo to keep me around. She didn't even sound very regretful. I was in shock.

We always see horror stories about customer service reps on YouTube and home-made vigilante sites. I'm usually the cynic but my experience yesterday was absolutely perfect. It was the best cancellation call I ever made and it ended too quickly (less than 90 seconds). It's time I redeemed for some of my prior transgressions, some of my earlier badmouthing. So to even up things up, here's a batch of words for search:

  • T-Mobile great experience
  • Best Customer Service T-Mobile
  • Easy cancellation
Ok, enough of that. Back to your regularly scheduled sourness.