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.

I use this website all the time and thought I would put it out there for others looking for such a useful site. Mailbigfile is the easiest way to send large files electronically. Just put in the email address of the recipient, your email; attach the file and mailbigfille will send a link to the recipient to download the document. It is awesome. Like having choices? - check out similar site .