Geared Up Mobile Users Driving Augment Reality Growth

More companies are scrambling to develop tools and tech for augmented reality as more mobile users switch to phones powerful enough to run them, reports AP.  Apple’s iPhone 3GS and smart phones with the Google Android operating system are equipped with the processing power and tools, such as GPS, camera and compass, to run augmented reality programs.  Brisk adoption of these devices is driving companies such as Layar to combine Google searches with geo-positioning to not just help users locate what they need but also where to get it.  Existing players such as Yelp, which has a popular iPhone app version of its business directory and consumer reviews service, are incorporating augmented reality into the way they deliver information.  Experts see growth continuing for everything from augmented reality search and marketing, such as those developed by Layar and Yelp, to video games incorporating the technology.

Read more from AP {link no longer active}.

Business Panel Urges U.S. Government To Get All Americans Online

A high-level commission whose members include a former CNN president, a top Google executive, two former FCC chairmen and the president of the NAACP is comparing the government’s role in building internet infrastructure to the Eisenhower administration s drive to build the interstate highway system.  Reported by AP, the Knight Commission on the Information Needs of Communities in a Democracy is urging the government to provide incentives to broadband and cable companies to wire underserved areas.  More than a third of Americans do not have broadband access and some rural communities in the country are still not wired for it.  The commission proposed additional government activities such as funding for public libraries to increase internet access and media literacy programs.

Among other areas of concern expressed by the commission is the long-term effect financial woes in the media sector coupled with the country’s lag in adopting broadband might have on maintaining a socially first class society.

Read more from AP {link no longer active}.

How Teens View Ads

New research studying how teens use media and view advertising has concluded that some current methods are not working for this generation, reports Adweek.  In two separate studies, one conducted by GTR Consulting and the other by Fuse and the University of Massachusetts, teens have shown aversion to some methods of internet advertising while accepting television as the best medium for ads.

GTR Consulting found that social networks have overtaken other activities as the most popular way teens spend their time online.  Among those surveyed, 66 percent said they use social network sites compared to 59 percent for user-generated videos, 51 percent for instant messaging and 50 percent for online games.  While the findings should put social media networks tops on marketers’ list for where to reach teens, both studies found plenty of potential pitfalls based on how ads are perceived on these sites.

The Fuse study found teens have a special aversion to being advertised through social media.  When asked about specific types of ads targeting them through online social networks versus television, respondents resoundingly chose the latter for products such as apparel (10 percent online vs. 71 percent TV), electronics (14 percent vs. 69 percent) and food (11 percent vs. 78 percent).  In-fact Fuse found teens favor television ads over other methods overall, with 75 percent pinpointing TV as their preferred medium for ads.  In contrast, teens see most online ads as intrusive and disruptive.  As both studies found, that perception is what makes teens especially averse to them in their social network sites.  In talking to Adweek, principals of both research firms pinpoint that the problem may be more cause than effect for advertisers to consider .  Gary Rudman, president of GTR Consulting, points to clumsy ad methods that fail to understand how teens want to be approached on social sites.  Fuse partner Bill Carter takes it further, saying that advertisers that treat these sites as just another billboard are the problem.  He believes they need to embrace the same mechanisms making these sites invaluable to teens, using them to engage, inform and entertain just as the other participants do on the sites.  As with viral, empowerment and discovery are also powerful ways to affect teens, giving them tools and content that they ll eagerly pass along within these networks.  Carter says that teens take the same critical eye towards in-game ads as they do online ads, deriding anything that intrudes rather than enhances their experience.

The GTR study uncovered that teens favorite medium for ads, television, is still where they spend most of their free time.  The study found that teens spend an average 2.1 hours a day boob-tubing it while surfing the net for fun for 2 hours a day.  The same study also found that, when asked which electronic devices they own, video game consoles tied TV sets for second place among teens at 79 percent behind mobile phone ownership at 85 percent.  Adweek also reported comments by the research firms on teens perception of Twitter, which they mostly view as a place for adults to broadcast opinions while they prefer the more intimate social sites such as Facebook and MySpace, as well as the effect the economic recession could have on this generation s long-term view.

Read more at Adweek {link no longer active}.

Hollywood Waking Up To Twitter Effect

Hollywood marketers are taking note of Twitter after considering that it may have moved the needle on several summer films.  The story was first reported back in August by Baltimore Sun, when expected hits such as G.I. Joe and Bruno missed their mark and box office watchers pointed to prolific negative Tweeting about the films.  With summer numbers in the can for the most part, Andrew Hampp reports for Ad Age on how film studios and marketers are taking stock of the so-called Twitter effect .

The industry may have had its summer debut of what Twitter can do when Weinstein Company orchestrated an ingenious preview campaign for Quentin Tarantino’s Inglorious Basterds at San Diego Comic Con.  The filmmakers arranged a contest for a chance to attend a screening, and to ensure that those who attended were prolific Tweeters ran the contest through Twitter.  They also invited celebrities and encouraged them to use the site to post their own micro-reviews after the screening.  Tarantino’s film is seen as benefiting overall from positive Tweets in its opening weekend, when it maintained steady sales in contrast to steep drop-offs seen for other summer films.  Hollywood Reporter’s Steven Zeitchik even credited it on his blog as the Twitter age’s first success story .

Sacha Baron Cohen’s Bruno is the downer example of what Tweets can do for Hollywood.  The film was expected to ride on the huge success of Cohen’s first film Borat and draw similar numbers.  Instead, in total contrast to Borat’s buzz-driven climb to blockbuster status, after a healthy opening day Bruno saw a steep drop.  Market research firm 360i studied the Twitter effect on summer films and pinpointed Bruno as the movie with the highest decline in second-day sales and the largest percentage of negative Tweets.  That type of evidence no-doubt started turning heads among Hollywood chiefs.

Still, as evident by those Ad Age talks to, Hollywood is reluctant to call Twitter a significant needle mover just yet.  One shortcoming is that Twitter and other social media haven’t proven reliable enough to become part of Hollywood s forecasting alchemy, where measuring pre-release buzz usually gives studios a solid opening weekend forecast.  Studios use the forecasts to commit to marketing budgets, putting millions of dollars at stake on accurate predictions.  As the market researcher at 360i points out, they don’t yet see the value in chasing social networks to include them in their sample size for a given film.

Based on examples to-date most of Twitter’s effect comes after the gig is up for forecasters, and in many cases for film marketers who set up the biggest push for opening day.  It can however help studios manage longer term campaign spends as an early signal tool.  Twitter also seems to have a greater effect on films that would have relied on word of mouth to begin with, those relying more on consumer buzz than studio bucks.  One marketer talking to Ad Age points to District 9, lauding Sony’s use of Twitter in circulating good word of mouth in the modestly budgeted sci-fi film s opening weekend.  Ad Age seems to draw that very conclusion from most of those it talked to that for now, Twitter is another word of mouth tool for Hollywood to embrace but not necessarily one to break their mold for how they market films.

In talking about Sony’s successful use of Twitter, Hampp’s article also covers what s shaping up to be a robust fall line-up for Sony Pictures.

Read more at Ad Age {link no longer active}.

Another HBO Project Pushes Storytelling Boundaries

Following HBO s storytelling experiment with HBO Voyeur, the network is pushing boundaries again with a project called HBO Imagine.  The focus of the art experiment this time is multilayered narrative delivered through multimedia, specifically disparate video, audio and text clips that come together to form a coherent story.

In its current form, one of the most interesting aspects of the project is HBO Cube, where scenes shot continuously on a single set are broken down into four perspectives.  The effect works especially well with the subject matter, where as a mystery story unfolds the viewer finds the need to return to these Cube scenes for missing clues.  As a whole, these scenes and other multimedia created for this specific narrative debuting HBO’s project run the gamut from cable-worthy production value to budget video game cut-scene.  Yet the intrigue here is less the ends and more the means HBO is introducing as a novel spin on multilayered storytelling.

HBO has exhibited HBO Imagine in New York and Philadelphia, and is making its last stop in Washington D.C. at the end of this week.  Another component of the project challenges independent filmmakers to submit videos at following the narrative formula set by HBO Imagine.  There is currently only one user-created film available, though this may pick up as the city tour and promo concludes.

Check it out at {link no longer active}.

Resident Evil 5: AE Trailer

Capcom debuted this trailer for the upcoming Resident Evil 5: Alternative Edition at Tokyo Game Show.  The new version of the title, which is slated for both 360 and PS3, will have new content and the ability to play using PS3’s upcoming motion controller.

The trailer focuses on one of the new missions in the game.  As revealed through the video, players will get to return to the creepy mansion in Raccoon City that started it all.  (Welcome to survival horror.   Oh the memories)  Aside from slick presentation expected for anything RE, one the best parts of the video comes at the very end.  Without giving it away, it s a bit of comic relief and a refreshing perspective on how the superstars at Capcom aren’t so caught up in success that they can’t laugh at themselves.

Watch it at GameTrailers {link no longer active}.

Ad Age Viral Video Chart For Week Of Sept. 21

Abbey Klaassen’s weekly chart lists the top 10 viral videos from last week, with number of views for the week and percentage change in views for videos that stayed on the chart.

Microsoft s weekly streak continues, this time to the company s chagrin perhaps.  Entering the chart is Microsoft’s Hosting Your Party, a video that was apparently never intended to be seen by anyone other than people signing up to host Windows 7 launch house parties.

The layered hilarity of the video is hard to describe, mostly rooted in poor production, horrible writing, and bad acting by a foursome painstakingly crafted to represent diversity.  There are people wondering if the whole thing isn’t crafted, and [a]list daily pointed out yesterday that it does fit the real or hoax tactic used intentionally by other successful viral videos.  But with purely bad publicity and Microsoft bashing giving the video momentum, one can only hope it was truly a mistake and not a misguided experiment in viral.  Not counting the less than complimentary mash-ups popping up, the original video has 545,000 views on Ad Age s weekly chart and 850,000 currently on YouTube.  At least the Xbox team at Microsoft can rejoice the video for Project Natal is still on the top 10 chart.

Check out the full list and watch the videos at Ad Age {link no longer active}.

Web World Sweats Sidewiki

Google launched Sidewiki last week.  The rest of the web is already scrambling to figure out if they ve just been served a digital friend or foe.  Private property laws prevent people from walking into a home, store or company lobby and begin loudly proclaiming their views.  While the internet has domain laws, specifically managing that sort of infringement is best done by controls in place that screen who gets to enter and be seen in forums and comment sections.  Sidewiki may have changed that.

Sidewiki is an application that runs in Google Toolbar on both Internet Explorer and Firefox.  When launched, it opens up a browser sidebar where people can post and read comments about the web page that’s open in the main browser.  The comments are visible to everyone.  They can also be fed into social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter as well as syndicated through RSS.  Technically the only one monitoring what gets posted and how it gets listed is Google and the algorithm that they developed for Sidewiki.  The algorithm takes into account variables such as feedback from other users on posted comments and previous entries made by the same author to determine the quality of comments and list them accordingly.  The feature is designed to filter out the extremes, but the definition of what s extreme isn t controlled by the web operator.  Google does give web site owners one very important administrative control: the ability to claim their web site Sidewiki.  By doing so, they can ensure that what they post is always at the top of the list.  Still there are already blogs appearing on how to manipulate the algorithm, and as expected the movement already has its first terminology: Sidewiki bombing .

Google uses language that goes beyond slick marketing verbiage to describe their new app.  It reads as if designed to communicate Sidewiki and its creation as an inspiration rooted in benevolence.  “What if everyone, from a local expert to a renowned doctor, had an easy way of sharing their insights with you about any page on the web?” Google asks.  The answers so far have been mixed.  Some of the strongest arguments against Sidewiki aren’t coming from expected sources, such as brands accustomed to consumer onslaught.  That worry undoubtedly exists, considering one of the first Sidewiki crises showed up on when posts appeared exposing what it really costs Apple to make an iPhone.  For now content providers seem to be the most worried about it, and for bottom line reasons.  As Businessweek describes it, Google is taking away value from web site content by taking the comments sections and putting it in their own domain.  The UK Telegraph’s Andrew Keen concurs, calling the threat in Sidewiki replacing their comments section as eventually drawing ad revenue away from the site.  Keen uses strong language, accusing Google of eating his salary and titling his piece Google s colonial sideswipe.

From a marketer’s standpoint, there seems to be a broad sense of experimenting and taking into account that it s a powerful tool before passing judgment.  Daniel Flamburg takes that tone in his piece for iMedia Connection.  By digging into the tech and its administrative functions for web operators, he thinks marketers will uncover ways to turn it into yet another social media tool influencing their brand’s presence on the web.  The first big step is claiming your Sidewiki using Google’s Webmaster tools.  (He links to a help page on the process here).

Flamburg also predicts that Google’s strategy may be to eventually allow web site operators more control over content and the way opinions are ranked.  Of-course that wouldn’t be free.  Flamburg also guesses Google may even try to sell you space on your own Sidewiki.

Read his article at iMedia Connection {link no longer active}.

Walmart Enters The Fray For Frayed Games

As reported by, Walmart is advertising pre-owned video games on its web site.  Currently the listings don’t specify whether used games are also available in their stores.  The retailer is offering the option of picking up used games purchased online in-store to avoid shipment charges.  Current listings include games for every major console including titles for the original Xbox.

Read more at {link no longer active}.

With Digital Content, Consumers Get Digital Rights

Entertainment Consumer Association has established Gamers For Digital Rights in response to the soaring availability and ownership of digital video game content.  Reported by Industry Gamers, the ECA work group is a free information resource designed to help consumers understand their legal rights in owning digital property.  The group also aims to educate people on copyright, licensing and piracy laws that may affect them.

Read more at Industry Gamers {link no longer active}.