Campaign Seeks Viral Growth For MMO ‘EVE Online’

CCP Games has launched an interactive ad campaign for MMO game EVE Online.   The online campaign is designed to entice the game s 300,000 subscribers to recruit new players.  CCP Games is placing interactive banner ads on sites such as MSN and AOL that contain rich media widgets.  The widgets, which include video from the game, can be downloaded and placed on MySpace, Facebook and other social sites.  The campaign runs October through the end of the year.

Read more at MediaPost {link no longer active}.

Spore Film To Be Helmed By ‘Ice Age’ Director

Twentieth Century Fox and EA have partnered to develop a film based on Will Wright’s Spore, reported Variety.  Chris Wedge, director of Ice Age, is confirmed to helm the picture.  The screenplay is being developed by the writing team behind Disney’s The Princess and the Frog.

Released in September 2008, Spore has sold 3.2 million copies so far on various systems.  The game property joins recent film deals based on other EA licenses The Sims, Army of Two, Dante’s Inferno, Dead Space, and Mass Effect.

Read more at Variety.

Human Trio On Board For ‘Transformers 3’

Michael Bay confirmed his involvement and revealed a much earlier than expected summer 2011 release date for Transformers 3, reports Hollywood Reporter.  The film was originally slated for a 2012 release.  Also returning are Megan Fox and Shia LaBeouf, along with the co-writer of this summer’s sequel in the series.  Bay said on his web site that he has already met with Hasbro regarding new characters.

Read more at Hollywood Reporter {link no longer active}.

‘Resident Evil: Afterlife’ 3D Coming In 2010

In the fourth film installment for the game franchise, Resident Evil: Afterlife is confirmed for a 2010 release.  Reported by MTV, the film is again being helmed by Paul W. Anderson, who is shooting entirely in 3D.  Among the cast reprising their roles is lead actress Milla Jovovich.  One of the original game characters, Chris Redfield, is being worked into the storyline.  Wentworth Miller of Prison Break fame is cast for the role.


Straighten Out Your Friends With Twitter Lists

Twitter is testing a new feature that allows users to compile lists of the Twitterers they follow, reports ComputerWorld.  Twitter Lists will let users pull together the people whose Tweets they track into categories such as friends or celebrities .  Twitter didn’t disclose details of the testing including how many were invited.

Read more at ComputerWorld.

Use Your Head, Drive A Prius

Toyota is showing off the new heads up display for its hybrid car Prius through an interactive online ad.  The ad uses head tracking through a webcam to let people control point-of-view inside the Prius HUD.

In recreating the actual HUD, the ad s visuals are not entirely impressive (and for gamers could conjure up memories of Sega’s classic Thunder Blade ).  The neat part is the interactivity.  We should mention here the link is to a video

Watch it at Creativity Online.

‘The Twilight Zone’ Turns 50

Today is the 50th anniversary of the classic sci-fi TV series, The Twilight Zone.   Falling on a Friday, [a]list daily thought you might have some time to spend with NY Times thoughtful commemoration of the anniversary.

The Times has posted four clips ranging from condensed episodes to full acts that define the formulas the series almost religiously followed.  Formulaic storytelling and dated production value aside, Rod Serling’s thought-provoking, sometimes mind-bending, socially conscious stories stand the test of time.  Happy anniversary, fifth dimension.

Watch the clips at NY Times.

Viral Video Best Practices

Ad Age has taken a lead role among the major ad and marketing trades in tracking the phenomenon of viral videos.  Our readers should have noticed by now that [a]list daily has made Ad Age s weekly viral video chart posted by Abbey Klaassen a regular feature.  The chart is compiled by Visible Measures, a firm specializing in tracking internet videos.  Klaassen interviewed Visible Measures vice president Matt Cutler to uncover what the firm sees as recipes for success in getting videos to go viral.

In the video interview, Klaassen starts with the startling fact that 20 hours of videos are uploaded to YouTube every minute of every day.  With that sheer amount content drawing viewers, it s no surprise that Cutler and his firm see viral video viewers as a mainstream rather than niche internet audience.  To uncover just how mainstream, Visible Measures conducted a study of what is arguably the most mainstream audience for advertising: the Super Bowl.  The study tracked 65 campaigns created for a single Super Bowl and tracked viewership over the course of the ensuing week.  They found that the number of viewers exposed to the campaigns, estimated at 99 million people, nearly equaled what the firm calculates as the total audience for viral videos.

With that much content and that big an audience, how do you cut through the clutter   According to Visible Measure the formula for success starts with content designed to create conversation.  Cutler sees value in any video that actually raises a question, even if that question is authenticity.  If the viewer is left wondering is what I’m seeing real or a hoax they re likely to pass it along for second opinions.  Cutler thinks this approach has worked well repeatedly, citing videos such as T-Mobile’s spontaneous crowd campaign that started with T-Mobile Dance.   (We wonder whether this is the tactic behind Microsoft’s horrid Hosting Your Party video making the rounds.)

Visible Measures pegs the benchmark for a successful viral video campaign at one million views in the first week.  They see that as an early threshold indicating whether a video will stall or take-off.  To them the ultimate goal is reaching north of 10 million views, and Cutler believes momentum in the first week is critical to attain that.  He stresses marketers need to concentrate their effort leading up to and through the first week of launch, coordinating PR, social media and whatever else is in their mix.  Beyond that they may miss generating interest among important influencers, the viewers that want to be the first to see and pass along the next hot video.  Still, he stresses that the initial burst will need a campaign to continue building and sustaining interest.

Klaassen and Cutler discuss second iterations of successful viral videos and whether they work.  With T-Mobile Dance, the arguably even more compelling follow-up T-Mobile Sing Along didn’t generate as much interest as the first.  Cutler says there is value in follow-up videos by measuring the cumulative effect.  While a second iteration may not generate the viewers and buzz of the first, it engages a new audience that goes back and watches the initial video.  He calls the effect viral activation .  It worked for both E-Trade s baby-trader ads and the Where The Hell Is Matt videos.  Successive videos released for each drove viewership for previous videos and ultimately built a mass audience for the campaigns.

You can watch Klaasssen s video interview in its entirety at Ad Age {link no longer active}.


A study by ComScore found that 50 percent fewer people click on display ads compared to two years ago, prompting marketers to speak up about the value of click-through rates and possible alternatives.  Reported by Kunur Patel for Ad Age, ComScore s study also found that a clicking core responsible for the majority of measured click-through shrunk from 16 percent who made up 80 percent of clicks last year to 8 percent accounting for 85 percent of this year’s activity.  The number of overall clickers among internet users fell to 16 percent from 32 percent in 2007.

Perhaps anticipating that its findings would fan the flames for those who think it’s time to reevaluate what the measurement means, ComScore incorporated alternatives to CTR into the study.  It measured behavior such as brand site visitation and brand searches by people over a proximate period of time after getting exposed to display ads.  ComScore found that these behaviors are being influenced by the ads.  People exposed to banners were 65 percent more likely to visit the advertised brand’s site within one week of exposure, and 45 percent were still more likely to do so after four weeks.  Users also conducted more searches based on ad exposure, and once exposed to both banner ads and search placement people were twice as likely to make an online purchase.

These types of alternative measurements are taking a foothold.   Among marketers Ad Age interviewed, one agency has devised a system for clients where they assign dollars to various consumer behaviors such as the amount of time spent at a web site.  Others question whether ad creative is compelling consumers to click-through at all.  Most see the solution as monitoring different behaviors, as done in the ComScore study, and viewing the value of online display ads through a larger lens.

Throughout this article and other recent coverage of falling click-through rates, it s surprising not to see data tied to motivation driving the behavior.  In an academic study reported in NY Times yesterday, and picked up by [a]list daily, most Americans object to advertisers tactics in monitoring online behavior to target ads to them.  Perhaps some of these same people see a flashing, dancing banner as nothing but a giant trap to place a cookie on their computer and start following them online.  This could be why, as ComScore’s study found, people respond to a banner ad on their own terms, visiting the brand site or searching for the product but not clicking on the ad.  Given these findings, creative in banner ads could start communicating differently with consumers too, perhaps less caught up in getting them to click on the ad.  In short, banners should start selling the product, not the ad.

Recent media reports for both U.S. and UK clearly show the online ad sector continues to grow, and is forecast to keep expanding as advertising dollars shift from other media sectors.  It seems the right time to put its system for measuring effectiveness under the microscope and reevaluate which metrics matter most.  ComScore s study certainly sends that message, as does Ad Age s coverage.

Ad Age concludes the article with five tips on moving away from complete reliance on click-through rates.

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