I’m SO ready for World Cup

Only 3 weeks away from The World Cup and the excitement inside my brain is building. If you’re not feeling it, watch the following video which is Nike’s three-minute World Cup short film which follows a match featuring the brand’s top footballers and shows how one play can lead to a future of success or failure.

The video, called “Write the Future,” premieres on TV in 32 countries during the UEFA Champions League final on Saturday, but was posted early by Nike on NikeFootball.com. The ad features Cristiano Ronaldo, Didier Drogba, Wayne Rooney, Landon Donovan, Thiago Silva and Ronaldinho (even though he didn’t make Brazil’s World Cup roster), plus cameos by Roger Federer, Kobe Bryant and Homer Simpson.

Alejandro González Iñárritu directed the Nike short and cast his “Amores perros” star Gael García Bernal as Ronaldo. Incredible work overall by the swoosh.

In case that video didn’t get you excited, here’s another short little commercial:

Only 21 days till kick off!

The Deck: A Fascinating Ad Platform

There’s an intersting advertising network that i learned about at SXSW this week called The Deck. They do one thing differently and it substantially impacts everything else: they get rid of the CPM. Selling ads by the 1000 holdover from the days of print media and TV where companies wanted to align ads to circulation and ratings. Deck does things differenly.

If you look at the three constituents of ad sales: publishers (the web site), readers, and the advertisers. The CPM is beneficial only to the advertiser. With CPM, publishers optimize their site for page views. This results in chopping stories into 3 pages, making photo galleries, lack of ajax, or other gimicks that result in more page views at the expense of user enjoyment. Typically when sites begin to focus on monetizing, they get worse for the reader, not better.

The Deck is an ad network. They represent both publishers (Twitteriffic, Daring Fireball, etc.) and advertisers (Rackspace, Gowalla, KickApps, etc.). They subjectively vet both of them.  The also have the following rules:

  1. They will only represent websites of a certain type. In this case it’s sites focused on design or technology
  2. They will only place ads of products they like or endorse
  3. They then will place only one ad per page of one size and of one format. They charge the advertiser a monthly rate and sign yearly contracts wht the publishers.
  4. Their ads have up to 80 characters and one image

Does it work? Definitely. They are way oversubscribed for both advertisers and publishers. Even though advertisers get less impressions, they are more effective. Thus, 7 out of 10 advertisers return month after month. Publishers have more attractive, less cluttered sites and no longer have to worry about chasing pages. Sure they want an audience and the bigger the better but whether it’s 3 page views per user or 10, it doesn’t matter

The author of Daring Fireball has a story of when he was using Google Ads instead of Deck. For a while his most successful, in revenue terms, article was one where he compared a certain design to a man’s toupee. What he found was all the Google Ads next to his article had to do with men’s hairpieces.  He also found that men’s hairpiece keywords are very highly priced and he earned 7x the amount of money on that page than other pages. This was troubling for him because he then started thinking about what words are valuable to Google when writing articles rather than what he readers want. His revenue (and interests) were properly aligned with advertisers nor readers.

Deck is an interesting example of someone innovating around ad networks. I find it fascinating as i really don’t like the CPM either. But, does it scale to other, non design/technology sectors? Maybe. I think it requires the readers to be intelligent and (somewhat)affluent. So i could see Travel or Cars having a similar ad network. But it gets harder after that.

Old Spice Commercials

I don’t know who is running the marketing department over at Old Spice or what ad agency they are using, but someone needs to get a raise because they have been knocking it out of the park for the past year or two. One of my favorite ads last year was an Old Spice ad featuring Bruce Campbell. He just keeps on walking, describing the je ne sais quoi of Old Spice and showing us the biggest sailing painting in history….

This year they’ve hit gold again with this ad. Look at the ad, now back at the blog, now back at the ad…:

What do you think? Any other ads that you like better?

Twitter Ads Will be Organic

Was watching this video today (below) with the Twitter COO.  When asked about the advertising strategy, he says:

You will see an advertising strategy from us in the very near future.  And i think that it will be…um…fascinating and completely non-traditional and people will love it…. The genuis of Google when Google first rolled out ads was that the ads were also the kinds of things that people were looking for.  So we want to do something that is organic and in the flow of the way people already use twitter and not here are the tweets and here are the ads.  So it’ll be very organic.  It’ll be very cool and people will love it when they see it.

This is exactly the right strategy.  I know from experience as does anyone who’s every tried to sell traffic to ad agencies that the banners are not working. The click-throughs and engagements are low.  The IAB unit needs some help and the best way to help is to generate ads organically within the content.  What Twitter’s strategy is, i’m not sure but i did see this video today where Steven Fry suggested that tweeters can sell access to their accounts.  That would be interesting.

Here’s Twitter COO below. The ad discussion is at 17 minute mark

Google Crushes Its Complements

Image representing Google as depicted in Crunc...
Image via CrunchBase

Just was reading about Google Maps, specifically their turn-by-turn, and its impact on the maps market.

As many people know, there are 2 main players in the map market: Tele Atlas and NavTeq.  Google licensed both of them for Google Maps for years.  While they licensed, they also sent cars all around the nation gathering their own data.  These two guys, Tele Atlas and NavTeq, were the only game in town.  TomTom, the leading portable GPS device maker, wanted to control their own destiny and agreed to buy Tele Atlas for US$2.7 billion. And Nokia, worried that they would lose access to the coveted map agreed to buy NavTeq for a cool $8.1 billion.

All was good until Google dropped a bomb.  About six weeks ago, they went independent and didn’t rely on either for their map data.  And then about a month ago they announced their own turn-by-turn navigation would be available in the Android OS.  Now anybody from BMW to GM to Samsung can provide turn-by-turn by simply using Google’s OS.

The big losers here are RIM and iPhone. They either have to not allow that access or pay a large royalty.  And Windows Mobile and Symbian are in an even more difficult situation as paying to embed this data could be more than the license fee they get from handset manufacturers.  This all assumes, of course, that users really demand this feature. If they do, Google’s really in the catbird seat. lessthanfree

People will complain that this is incredibly anti-competitive.  That Google is using it’s money making machine to unfairly compete in the map market.  Well, the story is even worse than that.  To get carriers to use Android, Google offers a cut on the search revenue that the phones produce.  So not only is Android free but it’s actually paying providers to use it.  Some people are calling it “less than free.”  Google will go beyond cell phones with this strategy.  Any netbook manufacturer (Dell, Sony, etc.) will get a cut of search revenue by building on Android or Chrome instead of Windows or Linux.  It’s tough to compete with “less than free.”

It makes you think of the world of complements.  Chris Dixon discusses Google and how its complement are the web browser and the OS.  The best thing you can do as a company is drive your complements to become commodities.  Well there’s no better way than driving their prices to be below zero.  Kudos Google,  I’m impressed.