Friday, August 27, 2010

Freaky ad for Google TV

Logitech are one of the launch partners for Google TV. They'll be producing a set top box called "Revue". One challenge they face, of course, is that some time in the not-too-distance future PlayStation 3 devices will also become a Google TV set top box.

If you're not familiar with Google TV or Revue then this YouTube (how's that for irony) explains it all:

And the freaky Google TV ad?

Here it is -it's part of series from

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Terminology: Viral Candidate Video (VCV)

I'm not the only consultant who works in social media who wrestles with the term "viral".

I don't think anyone can grumble when clients suggest things like "We need a viral video" or "We can back this with a piece of viral marketing." Very often that's exactly right. SEOs might sometimes use the word "linkbait" in lieu of "viral" and that's a whole other debate.

My point is this; a video is never born viral, it becomes viral.

It's extremely misleading to refer to the pre-production video as "the viral". It's not a viral. It's a candidate for viral success. The strength of the candidacy is determined by many factors, some of which are outside our control.

The term viral, however, is easy to use. It slips off the tongue. People know what you mean when you refer to a works in progress as "viral" - except, not always. I think it mis-manages expectations to refer to anything as "viral" in the production/promotion phase. I think a good agency should always refer to the asset as a "viral candidate" rather than a "viral" just to help emphasis the truth.

To that end I find myself using the phrase VCV instead. VCV stands for Viral Candidate Video. This is a video that aspires to go viral and VCV is quicker, easier, to say.

My problem with my very own phrase is that we're often not talking about videos. VC still sounds like the money-backers to my ears. However, when we're talking videos and we're talking virals, VCV seems to fit very well.

The internet constantly surprises me in its tastes. Sometimes we'll see cracking videos (or other efforts) that seem to deserve to reach the viral heights fail. Other time, we see a piece of social conscience from the internet that makes me believe the world could be a nice place.

Here's a video, for example, that shows an American mob protesting against plans to build a new Mosque near Ground Zero turning against a black man because he looks a little Muslim. It's an outrage and the internet has surfaced it as such. This video was a candidate and now it's going viral.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Here's how you react to the Google Street Car

Thanks to Reddit for surfacing this and Imgur for hosting this it for the world to see.

What we have here a classic case of "Google Street Car-itice". You can see two perfectly normal men by their van to begin with. Then watch the reaction as the car drives past. In fact, you're watching from the Street Car's view as this is a collection of images from Google Maps itself.

Chicken washing a car

The following videos are a bunch of adverts for Citroen. Will the agency please stand up?

I think it's a great idea. We're not talking about a single VCV (viral candidate video) here, nor even a series like Old Spice. Citroen are going for a viral collection.

I think the technique might work (not just because they're paying for the viral launch through video networks) because the video clips will appeal to a wider ranger of viewers.

For example, I really like the chicken washing the car (followed by the cheerleader washing the car - but not for the reasons you might think).

The Intro

The chicken

The cheerleader

The wrestler

Diva Brown
(shouldn't it be 'The Diva'?)

The master

So, what do you think? Are Citroen attempting too much here with all these videos? Are these VCV strong enough?

Are SEOs blind to the harm they do themselves?

At SMX London I was – perhaps – a little bit too harsh on the state of link development. I accused the SEO community of so much poor quality that they’d forced Google to push the bar so very high. High enough, in fact, that many traditional link techniques didn’t work anymore.

I have an even bigger concern. I worry about the status of the SEO industry as a whole. I believe we are being eaten away from the inside. SEOs are harming SEO. It isn’t just the cowboys – there are still many – at fault, but also well intended but unperceptive SEOs.

Back in July, over on David Naylor’s blog, Paul Carpenter asked Why Are SEOs hated? He raised many interesting points and he certainly meant well.

I just had to chip in. Paul had noted that some SEOs – attempting to run from the shame of the industry – and started to suggest that;

“SEO is just a branch of marketing or some such bullshit”

I disagreed. SEO is a branch of marketing. I don’t try and tell friends I’m a programmer. I tell them I’m in marketing. They might look at me in a puzzled way and wonder why the geek thinks he is in marketing but the work I do for clients is marketing.

SEOs need to accept that they’re not special. We work in marketing.

But wait; I’m also the first one to admit that most of the old school marketing sucks. They’re the enemy. They’re the idiots who still don’t understand the web. Don’t have a Twitter account. Don’t grapple with ROI. I could go on.

My point – just to be clear – is that SEO is marketing.

It was actually a comment to Paul’s post that worried me the most. Someone – again, well intended – said this;

It’s similar to sheep and sheepdogs, the sheep don’t like us until they need us.

My gwad. No. Our clients are not brainless flocking creatures. Clients have brains. They might not be SEO experts but they’re not fools. Don’t treat them like such.

My response to Paul was to point out that SEOs are hated because we’ve had a history of snake oil sales that we’ve never attempted to rise up from.

For example; when was the last time you heard of a search agency being thrown out of SEMPO for breaking Google’s guidelines and buying links?

If a plumber used a technique that was blacklisted by the local trading practise board then they’d face the enmity of other plumbers. It’s a simple and common sense issue in my mind. I don’t see why SEOs don’t act like this.

Today’s post is inspired by an observation from The Next Corner.

Dennis, very rightly, lays into a voucher code affiliate site that’s trying to make some gain out of the terrible disaster in Pakistan. The company in question has an info-graphic on the disaster (though I wonder if it was ‘borrowed’ from somewhere) which is combined with an SEO attempt to gain links. The embed code provided for people to re-use the info-graphic is rich with text links and is cheeky enough to put a nofollow on the only link back to the charity.

Are we horrified at this attempt at SEO?

Not quite. The title suggests the info-graphic is to blame!

The headline isn’t the attempt to profit off death. The headline isn’t the appalling unpleasant SEO approach on the back of human tragedy. No, the headline speculates on the end of the info-graphic.

Gah. I can see how this might have happened. Dennis had the info-graphic in mind as he started to write the post. He might have initially wondered why a voucher code site was writing about Pakistan at all. However, I feel, the dirt he’s dug up can be planted, fair and square, on the boots of the type of SEO that encourages the world to hate SEOs.

It won’t be easy but I really do think we need to start protecting the industry’s reputation.

Fantastic picture: Emmy winner Isaiah Mustafa (Old Spice Man)

It's safe to say that the Old Spice campaign was a strong candidate for Best Commercial at the Emmys on Saturday. Sure enough, The Man Your Man Could Smell Like took the prized award home.

That's cool and all. What's far cooler, however, is the pose Isaiah Mustafa favoured the waiting photographers with.


Sunday, August 22, 2010

Facebook Places video

Facebook is in the process of rolling out Places to the US. It's both frustrating and understandable that they're taking this approach.

After all, when "The Face Book" was born [Side note: I wonder how much we'll be hearing of Paul Ceglia in the future] it rolled out from colleges first.

However, it's frustrating because I can't be the only person in EMEA or APAC that wants to have a go with the latest location based service. The last thing I want is an American written backdrop to the world. I mean; are American users of Facebook Places currently touring my home city of Edinburgh, enjoying the Festivals, and are they able to record this four in Places -- or is Places also just restricted to American Places? If it's the former then does this mean we'll find the initial entries on Places will all be American.

The internet isn't divided up by the geo-political boundaries that the real world is.

Facebook do have a video that talks about Places. Sadly, it doesn't shine much light on the nuts and bolts of the rollout.

Google updates results even as you type

Search Suggest can be pretty powerful; it's certainly shaped the long-tail somewhat as people now have a high propensity to veer towards those multi-keyword suggestions Google puts to them.

What if the entire search results page updated as you forged your query in the search box? Google seems to be testing it. This video has been out for a number of days so I'm sure many of you have seen it already; however, for those of you who like to catch up over the weekend - here it is:

Update: Just noticed the video was actually made by Rob Ousbey. Nice catch.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Fly Around Your City

The following is a video advert from Yell that showcases their "Fly Around Your City" promo for their 3D maps. I'm not sure but I think "Fly Around Your City" is actually "Fly Around London".

That said; once you're on the London page you can access other cities from the left hand side but the numbers are limited. If you search for a city keep an eye on the top right to see whether the "3D city" button highlights.

The drag interface will be familiar to anyone who's used Bing Maps or Google Maps. I do like the way the whitespaces aren't square before they're filled in by the photograph though.

That's the crux of the issue isn't it; Yell are up against Google and Microsoft. Really not sure where they can go next. I think these maps are good. Yell's doing the right thing by drawing attention to them. It's just a hard fight.

What do you think? If Yell's maps where three times as good; would you use them?

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Must Try: IS Parade mixes Twitter with the Mii Parade

If you're familiar with the Mii Parade in the Wii then IS Parade will be familiar to you.

The site, which runs Flash, takes a while to load and is in (largely) in Japanese. However, stick with it, slap in your Twitter alias and you'll soon be watching yourself leading a parade of marching Twitter avatars across a rather bleak landscape.

Warning; it does have music and sound effects, very Japanese music and sound effects, turn your speakers down, er, even consider switching them off!

Monday, August 16, 2010

Cadbury's flying ostrich ad

Happy days; the latest Cadbury ad is here. This time we feature a rather regal looking ostrich as (s)he gets ready for flight. I can only imagine the pressure the Gorilla advert ad keeps the creative team under.

Oh. Since I mentioned the Cadbury gorilla advert; here it is again. Look what an advert heavy advert is has become!

So, what do you think? Which is better? Cadbury ostrich or Cadbury gorilla?

How they made the Old Spice ad

I'm playing around with Empire Avenue. It's a social media stock market in which you buy and sell shares in one another. It may hold promise because it might be one of those things you can leave on auto-pilot for ages and then come back to if you want to make use of its (future, coming soon) ad systems.

In order to verify I own this blog I need to include the code: EAVB_YRDIPOJLUX in a recent blog post.

In order not to waste your time with a temp post here's a rather good video from Leo Laporte on how they made the Old Spice advert.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Firefox 4 (beta 3) is impressive. Users can cut your website in half.

This short video is a punchy and effective demo of beta 3 of the forthcoming Firefox 4.

It shows two things.

1) Firefox 4 is all about the next generation of the web; HTML 5 and CSS 3. The functionality it will offer is a world apart from our current experience.

2) The control people will have over our websites soon will also be a world apart from our current experience.

For example, you might currently worry about people with ad blocks. Do you worry about people who can cut out the advert strips from your online videos right now? Watch the video to see what I mean!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Blekko review

I'm one of the many people to have had had a beta access to the new search engine Blekko. Here's the short summary: I rather like it.

I like it because it's modern and up to date.

I like it because - and this may seem to be a contradiction - it reminds me of the control those of us once used to command line interfaces used to get.

As a relevancy search engien Blekko's good enough. I find sites for keywords. I can find you examples of where Blekko does badly. I can find you examples of where Blekko does well. Bing knows that if you slap a Google logo on these results then people will think they're more relevant.

Here's an example of Blekko finding Simon Heyes straight away.

You get an username and login with Blekko. You get this because you get to create your own slash tags. This lets you create your own little search engines from trusted sites. The following screen grabs show the process I used for creating a little list of affiliate sites.

Now when I search within the /affiliate tag I get results just from my slashtag.

Of course, if your slashtag can't provide enough results then Blekko backs you up with other relevant sites. Here's a [predator] search for my small /rpg slashtag. I need to grow that list.

Rather nicely you can also embed results. Here's my beta list for SEOs. As you might expect it's called /seos.

I think Blekko will enjoy some publicity when it launches. I also think it has a chance of success. Here's why - we have reason to promote the popularity of our own slashtags. Therefore we have reason to promote Blekko.

For example, I might create a list of anime sites (anime is a popular and competitive keyphrase on Google) with a good slashtag name. I control which sites get on that. If I can get people to follow my slashtag (in the same way people follow Twitter groups) then I've influence among the large number of anime webmasters out there. I do wonder about brand squatting on slashtags if Blekko becomes popular, though.

Blekko will, of course, also appeal directly to SEOs. They're being public about the data they're looking at (or showing enough to distract us). It's presented in a rather nice way. Take a gander.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Is this what Google's spy drones look like?

There have been reports suggesting that Google wil use spy drones for something - perhaps an update to Google Maps. The claims, some say, come from the German maker of the drones.

The reponse has been fairly quick. Google's denied it.

Mind you, Google also denies that Google Checkout is a competitor to PayPal.

On August the 5th this YouTube video of the German made UAV microdrones was published. A few days later and it's on its way to getting a million views.

I'm behind on reading through my blogs but I've not seen much chatter on this and so I thought I'd share.

Usual disclaimers apply; I'm under loads of NDAs with Google and so I'm blogging about something it's because I've no inside knowledge and I'm just speculating.

Monday, August 09, 2010

The Search Alliance

Mr Mel Carson (who else) has posted this easy to follow and easy to understand video on the Yahoo! Microsoft search deal.

In a nutshell; you can reach more marketshare with less effort now. Therefore it's good.

The video is intended for agencies.

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Dear Google, thanks for your concern but Russia is not in Europe

Google has every reason to be worried about what's going on wit internet regulation in Russia. It's getting nearly as still as the state of internet regulation in Australia.

They've blogged about it.

They've blogged about it in their Europe Policy blog. I get the fact that Europe cares (a lot) about what Russia does (or doesn't do). Russia isn't in Europe though.

My feeling is that Google didn't think the American readership/world would care enough about the Russian internet woes to do a company blog post but still wanted a channel to comment on the issue. The EU blog was the next best thing.

Just in case; I've prepared a helpful diagram for their legal experts.

(Update: Google map image used without permission. If there's a copyright claim, please let me know, I'll move to hosting in Russia)

(Update 2: Yes, yes, there are some smart people out there. Russia does have a seat on the Council of Europe - but not the EU, etc.)

(Update 3: Ooh. What a debate about politics, geographic, geo-politics, historical boundaries, etc. @thetafferboy points me at this map which shows one European land mass / Asian land mass split. Russia straddles both.)