Search and Media

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

The Superbowl blows

The Superbowl blows by

The Superbowl happened over the weekend. I watch it only for the ads, and because I don’t have a 44 inch TV or am remotely interested in the sport, I preferred to watch the previews and post-game links to the ads on Yahoo on Monday. This is the ad-festival, in a way, for marketers. Agencies strut their stuff, while they have a captured audience of millions. While I shopped at a near-empty Trader Joe’s, the funny, silly, pointless and witty ads were to play on the television.

Search engine marketing ranked fairly low for most of these marketers. A scorecard to evaluate online integration to the super bowl ads can be found here. And [heh] a cynical report on the whole Superbowl ad scene is here. My own favorites among the Superbowl ads were Burger King, Disney and Ameriquest.

Speaking of search marketing, an interesting webclip came up on my gmail inbox today. The ad copy reads thus:

Coffee Exposed - - A shocking secret coffee co's don't want you to know.

Clicking on the link takes the visitor to a webpage that describes how coffee gets stale and other info about the importance of freshly ground coffee. The simple website contains a sidebar with links to their range of coffees. One of the relevant, yet attractive ad copies I’ve seen!

An interesting new service, Riya, promises face recognition to sort the thousands of photos sitting on the desktop. It seems to be a huge hit at the DEMO show this week. The beta version would be out soon, and I’ve signed up for it. Cant wait to see what its all about!

Camera poised,

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Zoom Zoom Zoom the Solstice?

Zoom Zoom Zoom the Solstice?

A colleague pointed me to the Pontiac-Google story [or vice versa] yesterday. Businessweek reported that Pontiac was infusing Google into its TV ads [circa 1999 AOL keyword ideas anyone?]. The ad asks customers to ‘Google Pontiac’, thus automatically connecting the Pontiac brand with Google, a perceivably trustworthy and global brand.  The problem? A search on “Pontiac” over at produces, as part of sponsored links a Mazda link that reads:

Pontiac vs      Get ready to Zoom Zoom. Sign up to drive a New Mazda MX-5 Miata today!

So the controversy now is that Mazda bid on the Pontiac keyword; successfully gleaning off an entire TV campaign that Pontiac had planned around Google.  The Mazda response to the controversy is here. Mazda says it targeted young folks who might consider Pontiac, while GM is apparently flattered Mazda is bidding on their keywords [wonder how GM’s agency is taking it though?]. However, Pontiac probably has a slight reason to still be worried. Well, not because it is perfectly legal for Mazda to be bidding on Pontiac keywords and that they cannot do anything about it [ala the Geico case] but because they have to be extra careful about careless campaigns like ‘Google Pontiac’ [the AOL keywords on TV ads worked as the products were assigned those keywords, if I am correct].  Curiously enough, the comments on the latest article probably reveals what it really means to Pontiac [albeit a miniscule sample of it]. About 30% of the comments are from people who claim not to see Mazda ads at all [“non-issue. Don’t see any Mazda ads”]. I guess the 80-20 split between organic and paid search will hold some water, simply because people zone out on sponsored links?

Shelve the idea of Shelf Ads

Shelve the idea of Shelf Ads?

AdAge reports that some CPG marketers [coco-cola, Colgate - Palmolive] have signed up to test a new product in-store, the ‘POP Broadcasting’s ShelfAds device’. The device is placed on product shelves and plays 10 second ads when it detects movement. According to the article, current in-store video promotions are issue-ridden. The article indicates " -- that shoppers must look up to view ads on giant, expensive plasma screens and that the ads never stop." I agree—though it doesn’t probably help that I am a lousy shopper whose usual aim is to get out of any store ASAP. But the article brought back an interesting chapter in the Paco Underhill book “Why we buy?”. The chapter “Why we read a sign” elaborates on the placement of signs and boards, and the most logical places for them. While I find myself noticing most ads online, I seem to conveniently ignore the ones that are in-store. Above the babble of noise, the constant announcements on the speaker and the humming of a super-huge departmental store, I find it easier to walk to the products and just zip out. POP ShelfAds probably has a ton of Paco Underhill type of research done to evaluate the appropriate placement of the ads and the best ads to run on them as well.  But I, for one, would not be particularly thrilled or influenced by an ad for Cheetos while I pick Lays [well, the novelty of motion induced video will wear off soon as well]. Supermarkets have largely been a place to pick up stuff at, not a place to dawdle much. Look at the checkout lines at most of these places—most are in a hurry to beat that in anycase!

Call me old-fashioned, but my best in-store experiences have always involved people, not ads. Some great places that I’ve enjoyed shopping at, have, unfortunately, been smaller ones as well [Trader Joe’s, Bath and Body works, for example]. The friendly lady who picks out the cheese that she thinks will go very well with my wine, the attendant who tells me how she takes the honey-lotion everywhere. Somehow I would find it easier to trust them than blatant ads, plus I am getting some real-time feedback as well. The stores can afford them due to their size; supermarkets would need a person for every aisle if this idea has to work. However, my senses have been regularly been assaulted by the sheer number of brands and logos that are around me in the bigger places as well. Where I do think the ShelfAds would make sense would be for the apparel market—show me the clothes you got on a model on TV, I would definitely be interested. But CPG? I don’t think so. But, like I said, I aint the ideal supermarket shopper anyway.