Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Top Christmas Retail News

It's here; The Q4 for retail. Possibly the most watched economic quarter of the year second only to Q1 of the next year - which is only significant because it is the juggling period of markdowns, wage expenses and a huge drop in average basket sizes leaving the store due to Q4. Some of the most interesting news in 2007 Q4 retail.

Brookstone is leading the way in 3-D online shopping. New this year - consumers can shop a virtual Brookstone store. Just download the browser and shop away. Brookstone is the first retailer to generate that kind of a virtual shopping experience. The link to the 3-D store is on the bottom right of their homepage but here is the link

Office Max - Elf Yourself
You've seen it in your inbox and have probably already sent one to a friend. According to Office Max has produced the 8th highest traffic site on the internet. The viral site allows you to upload up to 4 faces into dancing elf bodies and send it to friends and family for a holiday greeting.

Does Green Sell?
Despite all the movement and advances that retailers and brands have made to be more or appear more "green" very few of them are touting it for the holidays. One retailer making a big push is upscale department store operator Barneys, which sent out a catalog emblazoned with the words, “Have a Green Holiday” with an oranic Tshirt going for $68. Wal-Mart, JCPenney, and Target all said that they have no plans to market green merchandise with NPD's Cohen claiming that the green thing has been a little overplayed and has no real hold for consumers. True?

Bye Tickle Me Elmo Hello Gaming Consoles
With no "must have" items driving sales for retailers this year many are promoting other products and the leading bread-winners are gaming related products. Mostly though, stores are increasingly turning to discounting of perennially popular electronics and toys to lure shoppers, analysts say, which means it's consumers who ultimately are benefiting from the lack of a blockbuster product this year. According to an article in the Detroit News "Not having a hot product has spurred the use of other attention-seeking tactics by retailers, said Mike Bernacchi, professor of marketing at University of Detroit Mercy. "Retailers don't like having nothing to fall back on," he said. "They're having to try to create and buzz where there wouldn't be some. It's become one promotion after another out of desperation."

Linux Going Mainstream Many of the hottest computing options this holiday are PC’s and laptops running open-source Linux. For years Linux has lived on the fringe that separates geekdom from the mainstream but now it is crossing the line into non-tech, non-geek homes. Why? The Almighty Dollar. Linux machines are cheaper and often more energy efficient than both Windows and Mac. The revolution started in, of all places – Wal-Mart – with the Everex TC2502 gPC going for $199 without a monitor. Will it work? Read the story in Linux News

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Windows Media Center

One thing Windows has going for it - Media Center. Really - if you haven't taken a look at what you can do with Media Center, no matter how anti-Microsoft you are, you really ought to check it out.

Cool Article by Julie Jacobsen
Media Center Users Get Free ITV and Slingbox Functionality
Microsoft adds free Internet content and remote access to recorded TV shows, music and other Media Center features.
If you already have a Media Center PC, it’s your lucky day, as Microsoft adds two features to the platform: Internet TV and Media Center’s own version of SlingBox called WebGuide.

Both services will be available free of charge to Media Center owners. “It’s a good example of how the Media Center platform keeps evolving,” says Scott Evans, group manager in the Entertainment and Devices eHome Division at Microsoft. “It adds value for people who bought Media Center.”

The new Internet TV feature—accessible through a tab on the Media Center home page next to “Recorded TV”—is supported by advertising. Internet-based content such as TV reruns and sporting events can be accessed just like any other show available through Media Center.

ITV should not be confused with Microsoft’s IPTV service, now called Mediaroom. Available through broadband providers, Mediaroom is an IP-based alternative to traditional cable and satellite content delivery. It is a non-PC solution that delivers programming guides, content and other services directly through the TV via a proprietary settop box.

The ITV offering, on the other hand, is a simply a way to push some IP-based content to Media Center PCs.

The other new feature, called WebGuide, is a third-party application that does what Slingbox does, and a whole lot more. Like Slingbox, it is a time-shifting, place-shifting TV viewing solution, but it also lets users schedule TV recordings, access music collections, and in short do pretty much everything you can do with a Media Center … via any Web browser, whether inside the home or from a hotel room halfway around the world.

A labor of love by founder Doug Berrett, Web Guide has been highly lauded in Media Center circles, and practically free at $18 for a download. Now it is actually free. Just download it onto your Media Center, and begin accessing it from anything that has a Web browser, from a PC to a cell phone.

In fact, WebGuide does a few things that Media Center alone doesn’t do. For example, you can set up an RSS feed for your recorded TV shows, and access them with one click from a Sidebar gadget on your PC desktop.

The service is just one more reason to dump Slingbox and TiVo for that matter. TiVo’s remote access service is slow and laborious. Web Guide is almost as fast as being there.

Berrett has now joined Microsoft full time.

Full article

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Re-invigorating the ebay experience

Today ebay launched an ebay that is designed to look more like a social networking site with more stickiness than the old school ebay. One of the central elements of this plan is called Neighborhoods where users can gather around a theme such as Shoe Heads or Battlestar Galactica to post photos, product reviews, tips and responses pulled from Ebay blogs, guides and reviews. The fresh look is the result of a broader strategy at Ebay prompted by a small blip on the rapid growth of Ebay late last year followed by a 6% decrease in postings in the second quarter of the year and a 25% decrease in listings by Ebay stores from last year. 2007 has been the year of enhanced websites, particularly retailers looking to add some viral elements to their site using social trends on the net - even Walmart added customer feedback and reviews on their site!

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Gamer designed car

According to a report in Reuters, Nissan is looking to video gamers to provide insight into car designs. In the wake of the massive Halo 3 marketing blitz such a concept doesn’t seem like such a bad idea. According to Francois Bancon, Nissan Exploratory and Advance Planning Dept., in an interview with Reuters said “We wanted to reproduce the way they play video games, a play station or computer with the same posture and the same relationship to their friends…” In this case Bancon is referring to the unique seating of the driver – in the middle. The battery powered car, called the Nissan 7210. T or Mixim, was derived from research done with kids 15 to 17 years of age from all over the world. Apparently the research suggested that this age group is uninterested in cars and consider it to be a relic of last century in their world of digital everything. Why all the hullabaloo over gaming? According to market research firm NPD sales of video games and gaming systems were up 46% in August from the same period last year. Top Seller? - Madden NFL '08 for Xbox 360 (897,000 units) Top game console? - Wii (404,000) Article here.

Monday, September 24, 2007

What is it?

Ad-supported free, legal music downloads.


Music can’t be burnt to CD

Music files from are not compatible with iPod or Zune

ONLY compatible with Vista or Windows XP operating systems (not Apple)



Friday, September 21, 2007

WOW! Walmart in Marketing News!

Everyone has an opinion about Walmart. Rob Frankel says “"To shop at Wal-Mart is almost the same as admitting you are poor," he says."As soon as people can figure out a way not to shop at Wal-Mart, they do." Not a big fan. He had about as much to say regarding WalMart’s first marketing move since inking a deal with The Martin Agency in January of this year. For the first time in 19 years WalMart is changing it’s tagline. From the all-too-well-known “Always Low Prices” to “Save Money. Live Better”. Apparently the move is based on not-so new research from Global Insight that suggests that WalMart saves American families and average of $2,500 every year. (Sound familiar? yeah, we've been hearing that for a couple years now) The new tagline was accompanied by a website that shows up at the end of the new TV spots encouraging consumers to post their own story of savings as a WalMart shopper. The company also planted a “Savings Ticker” outside its headquarters to track how much money the retailer is saving American families.

This move follows a major addition to the company’s online store last month or so that allowed consumers to post feedback about products on the site. The company also launched a portfolio of financial service products that are quite obviously targeted to low-income shoppers. Is the company moving away from trying to look more upscale? The new tagline, in reality, isn’t much different than the previous one. During the 19 year lifespan of the previous tagline (which should have disappeared about 6 or 7 years ago, at least, to have more impact) WalMart stock split and hovered above $60. Now the company can’t get out of the low $40’s land with an ever-rotting image across the country. Will the new tagline help? Thoughts It is a price based tagline – that’s bad – Well, it also adds an element of lifestyle – and for that a user based (or democratized) defined lifestyle. So the consumer defines the lifestyle of a Walmart consumer and can get engaged through multiple online elements. That’s good. Is it dissonant with other WalMart communications? In conjunction with the new financial services, consumer feedback on the website and other rumblings from Arkansas – it seems relatively cohesive. That’s good. Unfortunately, it also looks like WalMart is struggling to really take advantage of the smarts of The Martin Agency. Save Money. Live Better isn’t a bad metamorphosis of Always Low Prices but I think the shackles of the low price marketing need to be removed. Move away from cheap and into value. Cheap is bad like Mattel and China – value is Costco or Targets “masstige” (prestige for the masses) apparel. Welcome to the era of value brands WalMart. Consumers expect more.

PS – The website – yeah, pretty low-budget looking. Let me know if you need some help- I have a buddy that that does websites and can add stuff to make it a little more viral like, oh, I don’t know, tagging. Yeah. More

PPS - Walmart announced a dramatically changed health care plan for its employees that received praise from even longstanding critics. Read it.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Burger King Snack Chips

Taco Bell, TGI Fridays and now Burger King all have something in common – they sell branded products outside of their restaurants. Next month BK fans will be able to get their fix of BK snack chips across a multitude of channels. The venture will be spearheaded by The Inventure Group (the same group that handled TGI Friday’s branded snacks). The trans fat-free products will be available in a variety of sizes including the popular 100 calorie pack. The effort is designed to expand the brand recognition of Burger King with plans to expand globally after the initial US launch and will also tap into the 93% of consumers that research suggest snack at least once a day.
The proceeds from the new product will go back into the marketing fund in a move to assuage the fears of cannibalization from franchise owners. Burger King has expanded hours, introduced a breakfast value menu and opened hundreds of new stores in the past few years to emerge from a slump. This new product platform and expansion into different channels could help bolster efforts to get back on their feet.
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Online retailers adopt web 2.0 in coming year

According to a report released today by the National Retail Federation, a growing number of retailers have plans to modify their webstore within the next year. The report is based on responses from 150 online merchants that responded to a survey sent to several thousand retailers. With online sales growing every year as a portion of total sales retailers feel pressured to ensure that the shopping experience is unique and matches their branding strategy. Online sales are forecasted to grow by 18% this year. Neiman Marcus and David Yuman led the way by modifying the look and feel of their websites with better product detail and more lifestyle photography.

The retailers are also adopting web 2.0 trends and adding user-generated content such as customer ratings and reviews. Another 48% of the retailers polled said that they plan on letting customers tag product detail pages to allow other users to find them. Although the report forecasts online sales of 18% the number of brand-new consumers is beginning to slow down according to Scott Silverman, executive director of NRF’s group. The report also stated that retailers are still putting most of their marketing dollars into email and search but about half of the respondents said they plan on expanding into blogs, message boards, and social networks. Another 50% have identified efforts to increase or expand customization as a priority for the next 12 months.

The article

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

No more blues for Pepsi in China

Which one is Coke and which one is Pepsi?

Two colors have dominated the soda scene for the last 50 some odd years – Blue and Red. Pepsi donning the blue and Coke in the recognizable red. That standard has been perpetuated the world over wherever Coke and Pepsi put up their flags – except in China. In a place of tradition Pepsi has departed from tradition and launched a red can in a move to support China’s national sports team. The new can has an “uncanny” (sorry, couldn’t resist) resemblance to Coca-Cola’s Olympics-themed cans. The conundrum is most likely the result of a sponsorship battle taking place with the 2008 Olympics. Coke has exclusive contracts with some of the Olympic athletes and is the official sponsor of the Beijing 2008 Olympics. Pepsi, on the other hand, is a sponsor of Team China, the national team that represents China in various international sporting events including the Asian Games.

The red can is a temporary promotion that will last only until the end of the year. The battle for the Chinese soda consumer has rough with Coke holding a 51% market share and Pepsi at only 30%. Euromonitor, however, shows that Pepsi sales last year were up 93% more than in 2000 while Coke’s 2006 numbers were only up by 70% more than 2000. There’s more to the can though. In a contest that drew 2.46 million submissions Chinese consumers submitted pictures of themselves rooting for Team China and then 140 million votes were cast to select which pictures would be used on the new cans. This isn’t the first time Pepsi has made changes to the color of the can - last year Brazil saw yellow and green Pepsi cans as part of a national promotion.

Friday, September 7, 2007


Following in the trails of companies like CinemaNow, Movielinnk and Vongo, Santa Clara based Vudu began selling the movies-on-demand Vudu box this week. The key difference between the Vudu box and its predecessors is that the box allows users to watch movies on their TV rather than their computer. Users will be able to select from 5,000 movies with rental prices ranging from $0.99 to $3.99 and purchase prices from $4.99 to $19.99. The two-year old company hopes to tap into the movies-on-demand market that is estimated to hit $3 billion by 2010. The Vudu box starts shipping to stores next month at a cost of $399 but is also available for pre-order on their site.

Sorry early-adopters. Steve Jobs would like to thank you for forking out the $599 for the iPhone 10 weeks ago, because he just dropped the price on the same phone by $200 apparently in an effort to ring in healthy holiday sales. Apple investors used to sizeable profit margins weren’t happy – stock dropped more than 5% closing at $136.76. Newest iPod media player: iPod Touch that uses the iPhone touch-screen and adds the ability to download songs wirelessly from the new iTunes Wi-Fi Store. The iPod Nano (now called iPod Classic) got beefier with a 160-gigabyte version. Apple also announced a partnership with another key consumer segment identifier – Starbucks. The partnership will revolve around the new Touch product and will alert the user when approaching a Starbucks and provide the opportunity to download the song that’s playing or get a list of the 10 most recent songs played.
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Do you have your invite yet?

Erik Weinstein has only one investment in an Internet property– Think online gated community. Membership in the social networking site is by invitation only and even then based on education, profession, and most importantly - your network of personal contacts. A recent post read “I need to rent 20 very luxury sports cars for an event in Switzerland on the 6th September…the cars should be Maserati, Ferrari, Lamborghini, Aston Martin ONLY!” The average age of users is 32 and 65% are from Europe, 20% from the U.S.

and the remainder from all over the world.

Founded four years ago, the site didn’t see much advertising until about 6 months or so ago when luxury brands like Cartier jumped in to gain access to a membership that spend an average of $20,000 to $50,000 a month. To beef up advertising, aSmallWorld hired former Fox Interactive Media Joe Robinson who will spend his time convincing the likes of Lufthansa, Land Rover, and Credit Suisse that the pricey advertising rates are worth it. Of the 150,000 registered users, only 35% actually log in every day according to Mr. Robinson and comScore senior analyst Andrew Lipsman suggests that number may even be smaller. Meanwhile, Facebook registered 30.6 million unique visitors in July. How much time do social elites spend hanging out online? Is this the best place to fork out the cash to reach tastemakers?

Only if you are a member. Right now the site is not exclusive to the rich, and well-connected – the site is like a chamber of commerce directory full of publicists and party promoters. Similar to LinkedIn, the greatest value is in the networks, not the advertising. Laura Rubin, a brand consultant and fashion publicist and member of has used her network of 170 or so to skyrocket her business ventures. There’s more rolodex to it than myspace.

Any copycat sites? Sure, early next year check your mailbox for an invite to Members will pay a $250 annual fee and have a net worth in the millions or tens of millions – and no advertising. Still waiting for my invite.

NYT article

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Professional Social Websites. Is you doctor on

Social networking has finally reached doctors., is a website forum for licensed physicians specializing in fields from dermatology to psychiatry to consult with colleagues and find answers to diagnosis and treatments., boasting 25,000+ doctors, is one of a new breed of social networking sites appearing in professional circles. The trend has some doubters as to its sustainability with executives slow to post much about their particular company and not willing to broadcast their networks. Social network sites appear to be growing traction - according to comScore Inc., the leading consumer social-networking sites attracted more than 110 million unique monthly U.S. visitors in July, up more than 40% from last year.

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Kid Nation

Should you advertise on Kid Nation? If you do you might just be alone. In an attempt to be more “daring” and “different” in its broadcasting this fall CBS appears to have scared off key advertisers. GM and Procter & Gamble, with a combined adspend of over $320 million on the network, have both declined to advertise during the new show “Kid Nation”. The show depicts a group of kids ages 8 to 15 forming their a society without any adult supervision in a western frontier setting. Each episode ends with a town meeting where one child is awarded a gold star worth $20,000. A CBS spokesperson understands the cautious approach from some advertisers for a show generating this much attention but is confident that the concerns expressed in the critical media will be resolved when the viewing public sees the first episode on Sept. 19. For the record, ABC got the cold shoulder from advertisers back in '93 when NYPD Blue launched only for the show to become a popular series after only a few weeks on the air.
More about Kid Nation
More from AdAge

Monday, August 27, 2007

DivX newsflash

DivX, acquired the assets of Kansas-based Veatros LLC, a provider of real-time video identification technologies. The deal, possibly valued at $4.25 million, dropped the stock price of DIVX down to almost $13.20 the day after the move was announced. DivX has had a rollercoaster year with the 52-week high shy of $32 and the low at $12.20. DivX is on our list of companies to keep an eye on. If you haven't been to to download a great video player - go check it out. DivX technology compresses video to a fraction of its original size for efficient storage on your hard drive and easier sharing online. As a sidenote, Veatros LLC was a spinoff of the University of Kansas for all you Jayhawk fans out there.

The Blu-Ray vs. HD-DVD battle

According to Home Media Research, Sony's Blu-Ray outsold the HD-DVD platform in the first half of the year in the battle to become the next home entertainment standard. Everything was looking rosy for Sony, the maker of the Blu-Ray. But last week Toshiba Corp.’s bet on HD-DVD gained some major traction when Viacom Inc.’s Paramount Pictures and DreamWorks announced that they will be releasing movies exclusively using the HD-DVD format. Paramount, the studio with the most domestic ticket sales this year, joined Universal Pictures as the only studios that exclusively backed HD-DVD.

The Story
The ABC News Video

Thursday, August 23, 2007

YouTube tries out in-video adverts.

Only 10 short months after being swallowed up by Google, YouTube launched its first ever ad format. The new format embeds a semitransparent ad on the bottom 20% of a video after it has been playing for 15 seconds and disappears up to 10 seconds later if the viewer doesn’t click on it. Though many advertisers are wary to advertise on user-generated content sites due to the dubious nature of many clips, Google has already established revenue-sharing plans with 50 companies including Warner Music Group, and Ford Models.

How do YouTube diehards like it? Computerworld/IDG News Service reported today that it took only a few hours before fans started voicing their displeasure on a YouTube blog post asking for feedback. The 132 users at the time of the article gave it a resournding ‘Thumbs Down”. Are the video overlays here to stay? With a price tag of 1.65 billion dollars and lawsuits citing the large amount of copyrighted content on YouTube without permission I would suggest getting used to seeing the ads.

European PSP gets loaded with new features in '08

Early next year Sony plans on adding a video download service to the Playstation Portable handheld device. The service will come via a joint venture with British Sky Broadcasting and will only be available to the 2.3m PSP users in the UK and Ireland early next year. In addition, Sony has hooked up with Britian’s leading fixed-line carrier, BT Group, to enable PSP users to make video and voice calls, and send instant messages. Sony also plans to release an external device for the Playstation 3 that will allow it to act as a high-definition digital TV tuner and recorder with the ability to transfer recorded content to the PSP for viewing. According to the Financial Times article, it appears that these added features may not be available to North American consumers until after a run in Europe early next year. Where’s the love Sony?

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Eye Tracking Marketing Research

This is probably one of my favorite topics. The amazing insight that can be gleaned from this kind of technology is amazing and the field is evolving rapidly. Eye-tracking technology provides immediate and accurate results as to what your consumers are looking at when they see your print ad, package design, direct mail, outdoor ad, POS displays, websites, and even TV Commercials. Essentially, your package designs or marketing concept is placed on a specialized computer screen in front of the respondent who then views the material. As the respondents view your advertising concept or package redesign the computer tracks and records where they look and for how long. When it is all said and done you can get reports like the one above telling you;

- The real time scan path (or eye movement) and areas of focus for your concept.

- Static plots illustrating where the respondent looked, in what order, and for how long.

- What the respondents noticed, didn’t notice and most peaked their interest.

Some of the companies that are using this type of technology have become really innovative and can create a simulated shopping environment and track how consumers shop their product category. The people at Perception Research Services have being involved with this technology for some time and are the packaging assessment leaders using this technology for the CPG industry. Where do they get this technology? LC Technologies out of Virginia have been developing this product for 17 years and continues to develop new products. Another platform for this kind of technology is a head-mounted unit that can do the same thing but is much more obtrusive for the respondent and as such struggles to simulate a real shopping experience as well as the other technology.

Roel Vertegaal, Associate Professor in Human-Computer Interaction, at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario has developed an innovative product with a much friendlier price tag and no cumbersome calibrating like its counterparts. I visited with Roel who explained that one of the many uses for their current product is to determine if, who, and for how long consumers are paying attention to the in-store TV monitors in many of today’s big retailers. They also recently wrapped up some research that showed the measurements of the product to be extremely accurate. Roel also mentioned that they will be coming out with another product in the not-to-distant future that will expand the capabilities of this type of measurement further. I told you this was awesome!

This is cool! Where can I learn more?

News about Roel's Xuuk
Roel Vertegaal

MARC Research

Perception Research Services

Monday, August 20, 2007

Life Story Labeling

According to the June Trendwatching report, the trend of labeling a product with some form of a narrative about the product from birth to shelf is broadening. UK Supermarket, Tesco, is working to develop a carbon footprint measuring system for all of its 70,000 products. Once a system is determined the company will then have to find an easily recognizable method of labeling products with carbon footprint information to allow comparison by consumers. Who are the leaders? Shoe-maker Timberland started placing “nutritional labels” on every shoe it sells last year in an effort to inform the consumer of where and how the shoe was manufactured and its impact on the environment. To take it one step further (pardon the pun, the inside of the box has the message “what kind of footprint will you leave?”

Dole Organic has taken some real innovative steps in this type of labeling by allowing consumers to see pictures and documentation of the farm where the bananas were harvested. The picture above is from the Don Pedro Farm in Colombia. Check it out go to and type in farm code 776 and you can see the Don Pedro Farm. The site includes the farms USDA – NOP Organic and ECC Organic Certifications. There is also a link to check out the farm on Google Earth. Pretty cool. Legitimacy built by transparency. Kudos to Dole for this comprehensive and massive effort to bring the consumer into the brand, particularly with a product that some argue is threatened with commoditization. I think we can only expect the demand from consumers for CSR and more from their purchases than just the product itself will only increase.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Yahoo beats Google?

For the first time Yahoo got better overall marks from its users than Google. The data came from the University of Michigan American Consumer Satisfaction Index showed that Yahoo's customer satisfaction score rose 3.9% from just one year ago to 79 out of 100 while Google's rating fell 3.7% to fall at 78 out of 100. Google still remains the number #1 search engine but the proliferation of social networking, web sites, email and other features are pulling the weight for Yahoo. The report, sponsored by ForeSee, suggests that although Google has developed some great products it has done poorly making the consumer aware of them while Yahoo has revamped their website and added features and functionality to its services. Like choices? - try using Yahoo powered or Google powered as your search engine. Both make a donation to a non-profit every time you do a search.

Walmart giving shopper data to IRI?

According to a Reuters report Walmart signed an agreement with IRI to begin providing household product makers a little more information about its consumer profile but sales data will remain under lock and key. IRI already collects data from more than 100,000 households to provide market insights to manufacturers but now they can provide data specific to insights gleaned from Walmart consumers. This might allow a more public understanding of the 11 consumer profiles that Walmart created in 2006 to increase it's ability to produce targeted marketing strategies. For its part IRI will continue providing analytical and auditing services the mammoth retailer and will begin to take a deeper look at in-store displays and FMOT (First Moment of Truth - P&G) issues. IRI said that it plans to start offering the data later this year. How is good ol' Walmart doing these days? The agreement took place on the same day Walmart reported a lower-than-expected quarterly profit and cut its full-year earnings forecast, citing a shrinking consumer wallet due to the "economic pressures" of higher fuel prices etc.
Stock price? $43.50 (Since March of '05 WMT stock hasn't been able to stay above $50 consistently)

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Online Product Reviews and

Late last month launched product reviews on its website. According to Cathy Halligan, Walmart CMO, almost 75% of Wal-Mart’s 130 million customers are online (surprise?) and Wal-Mart was losing an opportunity to engage the consumer by not providing product reviews. To encourage feedback, Wal-Mart will email the customer an invitation to post a review after they make a purchase. The trend with online product reviews seems to now be irreversible. Take it one step further - enter

ExpoTV figured out a way to take advantage of two of the Internet’s bigger trends: consumer-generated product reviews and video., (Expo Communications) is a site that creates a forum for consumers to upload video reviews of their favorite products and today boasts more than 55,000 video product reviews. Instead of just reading peer reviews of products visitors of the site can watch as fellow consumers go on about the good, the bad, and the ugly of a product.

The site offers many of the current tools of a social based internet user by providing reviews and ratings of the video, you can tag the video, embed the video, a profile of the video creator, you can subscribe to the creator, send him an email and add him to your friends. The above image is the "GoGetItMan" reviewing a pair of retro Air Jordans. A quick search found reviews for Kraft, Nestle, Apple, Dell, Aquafresh toothpaste, HP Printers and bike tires. You can also search by category.

Enter Blinkx. While we are on the subject of new internet video sites - for those looking for another venue to watch news or video check it out. With a much more professional look and current news video - I'm sold. You can watch todays news or search for news about a topic or from a particular geography - and if you are missing your favorite TV shows during the dry TV months of summer - yes, blinkx has them. The group started in 2004 and IPO'd in May of this year on the London Stock Exchange all the while indexing over 14 million hours of video. The site has some really cool widgets ( I added one to this site...see the little TV?).

I wonder what the powers that be have in mind for online video-sharing. Will YouTube diminish as a sort of catch-all? Thoughts?

Tuesday, August 14, 2007


Blinkx. Not YouTube. Blinkx is full of cool widgets (one of which are the little TV's at the bottom of every blogpost on this blog ) and easy to use. Just type in whatever kind of video you would like to watch and it has it, not on its site necessarily but it will have the link for the host site of the video. Blinkx is great because it has links to every bit of news video that you could ever want and current feeds. Blinkx also has a video wall that you can add to your site, blog, or wiki. Simply type in the area of interest and it will search the internet for all related videos and put them all together as little video thumbnails in a wall of videos on your site. If it doesn't make sense check out this eco-friendly blog that has one on the right side of the blog. For the U2 fans out there - you can get concerts. Even better - combine blinkx with vudu so that you can avoid internet traffic and watch your news/concert video on the TV.

Brand Passion

Building your brand on a shoestring budget. Today is firefox day – happy firefoxing. Just over a year ago - (August 12, 2006) in an oat field outside of Salem, OR, a group of 12 Firefox diehards used rope and two-by-fours to carve out a 30,000 square-foot impression of the Firefox logo. Mozilla, at last count, has about 60 full-time employees and they compete with Microsoft; yeah, the one whose 2006 revenue was $44.28 billion. “We depend more on volunteers than paid employees” says Mozilla community coordinator Asa Dotzler. Some of us can barely depend on our employees, not to mention volunteers. So with 10,000 programmers working for free and some 60,000 web sites encouraging free downloads Mozilla has developed an engaged and passionate community around its brand. According to Dotzler “We took the same technique of open source and applied that to marketing”. Brilliant.
(so the real question here is how many more of these crop circles have these guys made?)
Want to see how they made the circle? Click here.
Not surfing with Firefox? Start a new day.
More on the topic.

Monday, August 13, 2007

A Non-Microsoft challenger to iTunes?

gBox, a California startup entered the boxing ring of online music this week as the world’s largest recording company, Universal Music Group, announced that it would test sales of some digital music without the customary copy-protection technology or DRM. Songs at gbox are going for 99cents (30 cents less than iTunes) and all songs are DRM free. Oddly enough you can opt for a DRM enabled track for the same price...I'm guessing it won't be as popular. Could this be a breakthrough for DRM free music? 2007 has been good to DRM free music with the launch of Britians EMI Group PLC which earlier this year became the first of the major labels to embrace DRM-free tunes. The DRM-free songs will be available from Aug.21 to January 31. Among the other retailers selling such tracks only gBox will get Universal’s Google referrals.

Tell me more

The Gizmodo article

Forbes article

LG House in Malibu

Late last year global and regional digital leader, LG Electronics, announced a new marketing initiative to become the number one brand worldwide in the home appliance sector by 2007 and rake in USD14 billion globally. LG is already the world's top selling brand in terms of air conditioners, microwave ovens and canister vacuum cleaners. This new strategy aims to focus on the premium segment of the market where research indicates that the demand for luxury consumer goods in the Middle East is growing rapidly as quality savvy consumers with increased purchasing power look for places to spend their money.In the Middle East LG is the second most recognised electronics brand with 55.7 per cent unaided brand awareness according to the 2004 Gallup brand equity index survey. But what kind of equity does it have in the U.S?

To impact its image in the U.S. LG opened a 3,500 sq. ft. specially designed house in Malibu, California where they recently hosted a party for actors and actresses for their Emmy-nominated Awards. The house has already been the venue for parties for R& B star Chris Brown and rapper Nick Cannon.
The house, named "LG House Malibu" is outfitted with a 71-inch
plasma HDTV and dual-format Blu-ray Disc- HD DVD ``Super Blu’’ players while other appliances include an HDTV refrigerator with a 15-inch LCD screen in the door, as well as a full kitchen package.
"LG House Malibu provides a unique platform to showcase LG's premium product lines to influencers in a relaxed environment where they can see and enjoy the rich features of our products first-hand,’’ says Ehtisham Rabbani, vice president of marketing and strategic planning for LG mobile phones.

Want to read more and see pictures?
LG Announces New Strategy
LG Malibu House

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Does it really work? Ingame advertising has been around for quite some time and ad agencies have been formed entirely around that one medium. Massive Inc, formed in 2004 is one of them. Today Massive (a wholly owned subsidiary of Microsoft) released a report in collaboration with Nielsen Entertainment that shows that “advertising within highly engaging gaming experience is shown to have significant positive impact on purchase consideration, ad recall and ‘coolness’ perception of brands”. The study involved more than 600 gamers across North America spanned industries including automotive, CPG, fast food and technology tools. The lucky gamers were divided into a control and test group and "forced" to play "Need for Speed(TM) Carbon" (Electronic Arts Inc.)
Some interesting results they cite;

* Average brand familiarity increased by 64 percent
* Average brand rating increased by 37 percent
* Average purchase consideration increased by 41 percent
* Average ad recall increased by 41 percent
* Average ad rating increased by 69 percent

According to the NPD Group 70% of males between 18-34 are gamers and the worldwide market for dynamically served ads is projected to grow to $2.5b in revenues by 2010.
More data that makes this interesting;

Over 70% of all M18-34 are gamers
- NPD Group

Three-quarters of households with a male 8-34 own a videogame system
- Nielsen Entertainment

Videogames account for 15% of teen male’s media intake

Who Spend a Lot of Time with Video Games

Men 18-34 spend an average of 41.7 hours playing a game they last purchased
- NPD Group

Young men play 12.5 hours of videogames a week, versus 9.8 hours watching TV
- Nielsen Entertainment

Gamers spend over $700 a year on console games, PC games, and gaming accessories
- IGN Gamer Study

Microsoft isn't the only in this; Intel invested a few million dollars into IGA last year.
Who is doing ingame adverts?- Red Bull, Axe, Reebok, Coca-Cola, Warner Brothers, Movies, Sprite, the U.S. Navy, McDonalds, Fanta, are some examples. Anyone hungry for subway?

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

IPv6, China's Next Generation Internet

With all the activity going on in China to prepare for it's debut on the world stage next year as the host of the 2008 Olympics there is one project that will likely change the way we all surf the web.

CNGI, as outlined in China’s latest five-year plan, is designed to move China from the manufacturing hub of the world to the center for technological and scientific breakthrough. Essentially, China is hoping that by being first on IPv6 national researchers, academics and entrepreneurs will be the first to develop new applications and widgets giving birth to a new wave of Googles and Amazons with first mover advantage. Apparently, the current version IPv4, can’t provide enough unique addresses for every would-be user in the world and has security and efficiency problems that IPv6 eliminates. The new internet is scheduled to be released at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing.

Article on CNGI

MySpace for the 40+ crowd? Welcome TeeBeeDee, a San Francisco based social-network site targeting boomers that incidentally just landed $4.8 million in Series A funding (investment round was led by Shasta Ventures and Monitor Ventures) according to PEHub. The community shares experience and insight on career reinvention, how to care for an aging parent, and of course love and living in the boomer world. They plan to offer one-on-one career coaching, events with authors and workshops. Quick - join now, you can still sign-up as a founding member.

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