Tag Archives: Integration

The Path to Success In The Face Of Ad-Blocking Technology


Many publishers and planners alike are lamenting the adoption of ad-blocking technology and the growth in its use by consumers. Even with the race to the lower end of costs per impression/action/conversion/whatever, there are strong revenue models in place where many businesses are reliant on those traditional methods for survival. The thing is, there’s a way to shift those dollars while also providing real value to the brands and the consumers they are looking to draw near. Unfortunately, many (like Barry Lowenthal  and the commentors on his Tech Insider post on this very subject) are choosing to believe that the sky is not falling and there is still a huge audience that still cares, so they are not paying attention to the shifts that are available directly in front of them. Luckily, we all have examples of this new (old) form of revenue all around us – integrated sponsorship.

What isn’t addressed in the space between skipping ads via ad-blocking, fast-forwarding or flat-out ignoring them – as we grapple with ways to maintain revenue – is that the consumers advertisers look to attract are searching for, and finding, value in other ways. Those consumers find that sponsorship of content that helps them learn, explore and discover resonates more strongly than programmatic advertising – which might only bombard them with innocuous advertising that either doesn’t provide relevant value or wastes their space with places/companies/communications they’ve already experienced.

We’re seeing the ad-blocking workaround online, on television, in music, within gaming and even overlaid in out-of-home. Monies that are diverted to the integrated presentation of content are more valuable if done properly than if just purchased at the scale that we have been seeing. When you look at the changes in browsers, the user engagement experience within mobile devices and the new announcements by Apple, the same-old, same-old is daunting. Yes, the shift might require different skill sets, reporting, integration and no easy way out. But, if the right steps are taken, the sky might not fall. Actually, the audience will see and, more importantly, care.

Scarlet Strategic At CES 2013 – Showcasing Cloud Based Connectivity Innovation

The buzz surrounding next week’s Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas is about many things – from the replacement of Microsoft as the Keynote to connected home solutions to the introduction of even larger TVs that may still take a while to make it to market. Scarlet Strategic and Scarlet Terrier Productions are proud to be part of CES through their participation as a contributing member in the ng Connect program.  Of the 12 demos being shown, Scarlet Strategic is involved in two of them that bring connectivity, information and entertainment to public spaces – and best of all, they can be deployed right away.


The ng Connect Program – founded by Alcatel-Lucent – is a multi-industry ‘ecosystem’ dedicated to the creation of the next-generation user experience for connected consumers. The program is comprised of more than 190 member companies, of either Contributing or Associate membership levels, and including leading network, application and content providers and consumer electronics manufacturers.

In Alcatel-Lucent’s booth, South Hall Booth 31412, the demonstration of 12 new cloud-based service concepts created by the ng Connect Program aimed at stimulating application innovation as consumers seek ever more exciting experiences from connected devices like smartphones and tablets.

The two Demos featuring Scarlet Strategic involvement are:

  • MALL WALL – Showcased on the Video Wall
    A large format digital sign that is placed in a mall or public setting. It takes digital signage to the next level of interactivity, allowing shoppers to interact with the sign from their mobile phones. Shoppers can use their NFC enabled phones to scan NFC tags and initiate a session with the Mall Wall. No custom application is needed on the phone, as all phone screens are implemented as HTML5 mobile web pages. The screens can vary in size from what people may be accustomed to for mall maps to huge 120 foot long bilboards (or more) with multiple points of interactivity.  The scope and dynamic scale provided by this offering is what makes it truly stand out.ng Connect Collaborating member(s): Brass Monkey, Scarlet Strategic/Scarlet Terrier Productions, wCities

    Alcatel-Lucent Highlighted Products:  CloudBand, Velocix, Optism, LTE

    These fully interactive surfaces serve advertising, entertainment, and media in transitional waiting spaces.  They provide a delivery and consumption platform for digital media.  They also provide interactivity via a multitouch screen and smartphones. The tables offer flexible 4G/LTE or wired connectivity.ng Connect Collaborating member(s): Brass Monkey, iGoLogic, wCities, IntuiLab, Scarlet Strategic/Scarlet Terrier Productions

    Alcatel-Lucent Highlighted Products:  DMS, CloudBand, Velocix, Wi-Fi Offload Products

The partnership opportunities generated by the ng Connect program have been phenomenal in that we are able to bring reality-based connective media platforms to market quickly and effectively.  In the case of both items being demoed, the infrastructure is already in place to enable deployment to high-trafficked venues and the integration of media opportunities that Scarlet Strategic’s clients are actively looking for.

Scarlet Strategic’s involvement in the program and CES 2013 makes perfect sense as we move into an age of connectivity that could have only been dreamed of in the past.

JELL-O Takes Their Best Shot At 12.21.12

As it has become simpler (and quicker) to produce commercials and place them, we have begun to see many campaigns that are launching to coincide with specific events.  What might have once been considered a waste of money are now considered the norm – whether they are a waste of money or not.  With the ability to launch these micro-campaigns quickly and effectively, we’re seeing that it happens more in this “I want it now” society.  Add in to the mix that today might be the end of the world, and you’ve got a recipe for some fun.  That is, if the creative and placement is done right – as JELL-O seems to have done with their latest TV Spot.  Perhaps its the best JELL-O shot at saving us from the apocalypse?

The 60s spot is a fun one that offers up JELL-O brand pudding to the gods in order to save us from the end of the world. It seems that they did spend a bit of money – or at least found a solid vendor who could produce it on a tight budget. I saw it on ESPN last night and I guess you could say that the audience is ripe for chocolate pudding – if even in a nostalgic way.

While they did a funny commercial that has a short shelf life – much much shorter than the shelf life of the product they are selling – seems as though their press release went out on the 17th – they might not have prepared to leverage whatever media was bought.  They announced in the release that there will be a contest and that people should use the hash-tag #funpocalypse and they also announced the url, http://www.funpocalypse.org but that just goes through to the Facebook page.

I would have liked to see more integration into their main site or even just placement of #funpocalypse on the commercial.  There were a couple of people who searched for @unclejimsays – which was clearly shown within the spot. Unfortunately, it was not really managed by the company.


It is great to see these compelling bits of content coming out in support of products, but there is an acute risk of leaving value on the table by not extracting the most value from any campaign element. I look forward to seeing more of these fun, time-specific offerings, but hope that any campaign elements are dealt with holistically to make sure there is the best ROI possible.  Because, if you’re reading this on the 22nd of December or later, JELL-O was successful in keeping the apocalypse at bay – and businesses will have to continue turning a profit.


Tread Upon Our Content? We Won’t Take It! Or, Will We?

Last night, I caught the premiere of NBC’s new game show, TAKE IT ALL, hosted by Howie Mandell and had a little fun with it. While I absolutely enjoy narrative shows – sitcoms and dramas – more than game shows, it seemed that the bells and whistles were more reserved and made more sense with the context of the game show than they do on the other content I watch on broadcast and cable. Those bells and whistles I’m referring to are the incessant promotional graphics that come up in the lower-third, upper-third, corner or even full screen.  They are sadly more invasive than ever – partially due to DVRs, but seemingly more due to the lack of consideration for the content. How much will viewers stand to suffer as content is tread upon by messaging?

Courtesy of NBC

Courtesy of NBC

David Goetzl wrote about the intrusiveness of networks over programming as a response to DVRs in his MediaPost entry this morning.  While focusing on the encroachment of promotional messaging within a network’s shows, he posits that actually selling overlay advertising inventory may be right around the corner. I shutter to think how much that will diminish the actual content that provides the platform advertising relies on.

Back at the turn of the century – remember 2000? – product placement for television was not effectively seen in Primetime. At that point, it consisted of a bottle of Mountain Dew given to the winner of a SURVIVOR challenge. There was a debate between networks and producers while trying to figure out who would make the money from those “promotional considerations.”  Since that point, the integration of products with shows has reached – and perhaps exceeded – the high science of product placement in motion pictures. Back then, it was still reasonable to assume that the network could make their bucks through commercial inventory sales.  But, is that opportunity window closing to the networks with the growing penetration of DVRs?

The line marking who profited (network/producer) from what type of integration has certainly blurred, but profit participation becomes secondary when when weighed against diminished content by distracting overlays.  An argument could be made that promotions are a different beast with the belief that “what’s good for the goose is good for the gander” and all shows benefit from the promotion of other shows on a network. But as Goetzl writes, our time-shifting sort of makes that argument moot. Either way, if overlay inventory is actually sold and an item is distractingly pitched over important narrative content, the network might have the short gain of a sale, but the long-term risk to the actual content (and its viewership) being greatly diminished.

Going back to TAKE IT ALL, the ability to DVR proof promotional items within a game show is certainly a solution – but not something everyone can do. We saw how devastating game-show-full schedules can be to viewership in general (check that same turn of the century period) so a solution for narrative programming is required.  Is that solution a widespread jump to running advertisements on top of narrative content?  Absolutely not. That would lead even more viewers to stop watching or switch to the pay-TV programming that has gained ground on Showtime, HBO and Starz or shift to streaming options – definitely not good for broadcast and basic cable networks.

Whatever the winning decision is, my hope is that they don’t tread on the content and destroy the television programs that have been the height of storytelling in the past few years.  Enjoy the show, TAKE IT ALL, but don’t encroach on the content and Take It All away.


Location Based Marketing To Wait In Line For

Too often, a campaign will be launched that seems to have just been executed in order to tick a “Location Based” event box.  In the case of a campaign from a few months ago in Brazil, they seem to have hit the nail on the head by offering a truly relatable experience for all who came across the campaign. The campaign was not even for a product – it was about awareness surrounding the need for organ donors because many just couldn’t wait long enough for their number to be called.

The event was sponsored by the hospital,  Santa Casa de Misericórdia de São Paulo, and executed by Y&R’s São Paulo office. The beauty of it was that it didn’t require someone to actually make the choice as to whether they wanted to participate or not.  Just by doing something in their normal lives, they were brought into the campaign.  In this case, it was the pulling of a number ticket for a deli counter line.

The numbers symbolized the number location in the line while waiting for an organ.  The biggest number on the ticket could have been somewhere around 27,951 – which would have caused concern if the lit number they were then serving was in the hundreds or less. After reading the copy that explains what the big number relates to and then provides the URL, it does tip-off the real number you are waiting to have called.

In the scheme of a day, it is a small blip out of the normal routine, but the simple and subtle message that intertwines a specific narrative into the mundane that makes the difference. Rather than getting people to step out of their norm and try something new, more opportunities should be ventured into where the location-based campaign really ties into what people went to the location for.

I do not know how they leveraged the video capture beyond the case study video shown above.  When going to the hospital’s site, there’s really not anything I can find and I do not know if there were any commercial video segments placed in media. Whatever it was, there is a strong lesson about how to best intertwine a message into the audience’s real world experiences. It’s so much harder to get someone to change their every day to wait in line for an experience – and this one came up with the great solution of bringing the experience to the line.

Conference Buzz Sometimes Leads to The Real Deal. Is This It?

Is it true that if you hear about a new type of offering or technology at enough conferences, they will become the de-facto next thing?  We have seen that in relation to HTML 5 and QR codes lately to varying degrees of success.  If it does ring true, then at least ad:tech London and Digital Hollywood would point in the direction of original content augmentation to gameplay being the next thing.

Yesterday, as part of the Digital Hollywood Content Summit, the question was raised regarding the future of technology and entertainment and what we should be looking at as the possible next big thing. The biggest agreement among the panelists surrounded the fusion of original content video augmentation of gaming – specifically for non-console gaming.  They spoke of it as a way to place the user in the shoes of the athlete or character they are portraying in the game and making it feel more real.  Certainly, console games have been tremendous at extending the narrative within gameplay to the point where people can blur the lines between their own personae and the characters.  But, online gaming has not cracked the nut to provide that holistic feel until now.

At ad:tech London, David Rose of We R Interactive spoke about their newest product I AM PLAYR – which just launched fully a couple of weeks ago – as a Facebook App.  There are a couple of compelling items related to this new product.  First is the additional content they created to bring more content and context to the rest of the gameplay.  No longer do players just control avatars in their attempt to score a goal, they also get to virtually experience the highs and lows of being a star on a fictional Football Club. Second, the introduction of, and constant updating of, that original content and customization options provides a plethora of advertising and sponsorship opportunities.

Through my years in media planning and working with the console or PC in-game advertising solutions, it has always been a hope to be able to truly interact with our promoted content – even if it was to shoot the screen playing a trailer and destroying the screen to see breakage or at least snow.  But that hasn’t yet been made possible.  It currently stands that you can place banners and even video in-game, but there is no true interaction.  The closest we got was when we wrote copy for the JUMPER DVD banners that reflected the theme of the games they were placed in via the MASSIVE network.  With the development of more of these types of games, it should be easier and more fluid to enable product integration and interaction.

David Rose of We R Interactive showed off the compelling program they are executing with Alfa Romeo/Fiat and it certainly seemed like a solid opportunity.  Add that opportunity to the simplicity we are seeing in building out those sponsorships and the possibilities are endless.

Now, like any content play, we need to see if the public picks up on this and is as excited as publishers are (and advertisers should be) or we will find ourselves facing another version of the buzz surrounding the QR Code – where nobody programs them correctly and nobody cares.  If this type of game programming becomes the norm, not only will meaningful interactions go through the roof, they will prove to be much more cost effective than on-air spots can presently offer as shooting the content and incorporating becomes increasingly cheaper.

With technology and advances in the understanding of users and compelling or relevant sponsorship placement, this gaming/entertainment development will be about much more than buzz.

The Voice Proves That You Can Play Nice and Community Can Be Done Right

This past weekend, we did a marathon DVR viewing of the last 8 hours of the first season of THE VOICE and we were impressed.  Finally, a reality competition show that was not mean spirited in the least.  OK, maybe it sometimes ventured on too lovey-dovey. But, there were no contestants set up for ratings-driving failure embarrassments or nasty arguments among judges or subversiveness/plotting between contestants.  While the first couple episodes looked like the judges/coaches might turn catty, a few episodes later showed their budding friendship. And seriously, the relationship between Beverly and Frenchie seemed to be making Beverly’s partner tense. Oh, and I loved how looks, sexual preference and backgrounds played no part in the competition.  As advertised, it was just about the voice.

It was proof that you could do a competition show without bowing to the basest denominator.  There were fun and good performances throughout and there really wasn’t any opportunity to question choices.  And mostimportantly, nothing seemed over-directed or manipulated.

Perhaps some of the charm derived from the fact that the production as a whole seemed like a David going aganst a Goliath in the realm of music competition shows.  But it could have easily degraded into an also-ran like so many other reality biters who came before. Perhaps it was the fact that it came together so quickly that made it seem more real and, dare I say, wholesome.

On a total side note (purely because of my design background), I’ve got to point out that the set was unbelievable in how they were really able to reflect any song’s mood, location, whatever, by fully utilizing video panels both in the floor and in the backdrops.  It was certainly award worthy and I hadn’t seen anything like it except for during the Grammy’s at Staples. Truly a phenomenal job.

Ultimately, a large part of their success could be tied to their incorporation of social media that seemed to quickly bridge the gap between the show and its fans.  It was a “special sauce” that added a certain oomph to the performances and the characters of the performers and their coaches. They were one of the first major shows – if not the first – to aggressively push their hash-tag and all of their major players’ hash-tags to drive Twitter engagement.  And to have the # in the watermark was tasteful and effective. Some “live” interaction seemed forced, but in more cases than not, it strongly supplanted what could have been lame backstage interviews with no supposed fan involvement.

Their website made full use of the available resources as well in order to truly provide a fuller sense of community. And their inclusion of iTunes purchases as voting mechanisms was genius.  I would rather spend a buck to vote AND get a track with it, then spend money on an 855 number to just phone it in with no “ROI”.  That too provided an opportunity for added value for the community.

Only time will tell if they do not become a victim of their own success, but if they can keep the egos in check, continue to bring in strong talent and foster a true sense of community – both within the show and socially, it will be something to be proud of as a larger community.