Media

YouTube Takes the Subscribe Button to the Next Level

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YouTube rolled out a shiny new feature: embeddable Subscribe buttons. This has been done in an effort to get viewers to subscribe to more channels (thereby spend more time on the service).

According to the YouTube Developer Doc, “The YouTube Subscribe Button lets you add a one-click Subscribe button to any page. The button lets people subscribe to your YouTube channel without having to leave your site to either log in to YouTube or confirm their subscriptions” In practice, this is just as easy as embedding videos onto ones site, only in this case it will be a one-click Subscribe button that makes it easier for fans to follow on YouTube.

This could work wonders for B2B’s and B2C’s, as it would help boost subscription rates when used effectively. Thankfully, this is available for both free and paid YouTube channels. What’s more- users can choose between basic buttons, and fancier ones which feature company logos.

In typical Google/YouTube fashion, they are staying one step ahead of the game by discouraging channel owners from dishonestly inflating numbers on YouTube. Channel owners can’t offer or promote prizes or rewards of any kind in exchange for clicking on a YouTube Subscribe button – so there goes that tactic.

What do you think about embeddable Subscribe buttons?

Babylon Touch, PrimeSense and OpenNI at GDC 2012, and the OpenNI Challenge

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We’ve got some exciting things happening for our clients:

Babylon just launched a cool new app for the iPhone that received over 100,000 downloads in the first week!  The reviews are coming in, and the consensus seems to be that the Babylon Touch is both useful and user-friendly.


See?

GDC 2012

In other news, OpenNI and PrimeSense just presented at the GDC in San Francisco.  The discussions were lively and stimulating, and covered an array of topics including the capabilities of 3D sensing technologies.

Meanwhile, OpenNI is also getting ready to launch an exciting challenge for game developers. This contest will take place from April 1st-August 1st, and is two-fold:  The first part of the competition is a Twitter raffle from April 1st-May 1st where participants tweet in order to enter to win one of ten free ASUS Sensors. Anyone can enter — you just have to follow @OpenNI on Twitter and tweet with a specific message which will  be released by our client very soon.

But that’s not all!  Meanwhile, developers will also be able to  create an app using the OpenNI standard — and, if they win the Twitter raffle, they may also use the ASUS sensor.  Once completed, they can upload the app and a short video explaining how the app works to the official competition website where it will be voted on by website viewers as well as by a panel of distinguished industry leaders.   The grand prize is a free trip to IBC 2012 in Amsterdam in September!

For more information, please check out http://www.opennichallenge.com/

We’d also love to hear what’s going on in your company!  What’s new?  Has it been an interesting and challenging week?  What sort of projects do you have on the horizon?

Coffee Break: Startup Branding, Apple and the American Middle Class, Killing Hollywood, Textbooks and the Future of education

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We’ve been reading some great stuff at Pravda Media Group that you might enjoy as well.  So, pour yourself a cup of coffee, sit down, and get your read on — you’ll feel more productive than if you’re just trawling Facebook.

Startup Branding: A Practical Guide for Entrepreneurs

http://onstartups.com/tabid/3339/bid/76648/Startup-Branding-A-Practical-Guide-for-Entrepreneurs.aspx

 

This is a fantastic post by  Mike Troiano about branding, and why startups should invest more time and clarify  the emotional value of their brand.

 

 

Apple, America and a Squeezed Middle Class

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/01/22/business/apple-america-and-a-squeezed-middle-class.html

 

New York Times offers a fascinating look at the changes in economics and manufacturing which have caused America to lose almost all its manufacturing labor and have severely damaged America’s middle class.

 

Killing Hollywood Will Require Learning Hollywood’s Game

http://pandodaily.com/2012/01/20/killing-hollywood-will-require-learning-hollywoods-game/

 

With the SOPA fiasco, Y Combinator’s Paul Graham wrote an interesting piece  Just kill Hollywood. The point of his post is that it’s not piracy that will kill the movie business, instead it’s different forms of entertainment that will emerge in the upcoming years and gobble up the old paradigm.   Lacy claims that in order to actually “kill” or compete with Hollywood, start-ups need to learn their game and let go of the mindset that eyeballs equal quality.

 

Why textbooks of the future are not books

http://gigaom.com/apple/why-textbooks-of-the-future-are-not-books

 

Erica Ogg wrote a post about Apple’s new foray into education with textbooks. (rightfully!) claims that these new textbooks are not books at all, but are instead interactive learning experiences: You have text, of course, but you can drag in image galleries, embed videos, 3D models, presentations and slideshows. You can touch and swipe and watch instead of just reading and taking notes.

 

 

Creative Corner: Bring Art to Life

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There are things that no matter how old they are, people should know about it.  Especially as a reference to understand how we got here. It happens with movies, music, pictures and also with advertising campaigns.

This week I selected two incredible campaigns in this style. Old (for Internet time) but a must when the theme is promoting movies. Why specifically movies’ campaigns? Well, because unlike most products, no one needs to create a story for the product, since the product itself is already a story.

It makes everything more interesting when you have a whole world to explore.  So without further ado, on with the show(s):

Batman – Why So Serious

There are no other words to describe this campaign other then “the best campaign ever made.”  Really. People can say that it’s easy to promote something that millions already love.  And while this is certainly true,  they went beyond this, and involved people in an amazing game for a one year campaign (from 2007 to 2008.) The cherry on top of the cake, for me, was to see how every step of the campaign was in a way synchronized to the movie. Winner of the Cyber Grand Prix Cannes Lion in 2009:

Those are some of the websites that were part of the campaign:

http://whysoserious.com/
http://www.ibelieveinharveydenttoo.com/
http://www.gothamcityrail.com/
http://www.thegothamtimes.com/

(I assume everyone saw this movie already, but if you made a terrible mistake of not seeing it, now is the time! Go.  See.  It.)

Coraline

This movie had a completely different scenario. Both the character and the movie itself were less-known. So incase you missed it, here’s the trailer:

This creepy animation initially makes you think it’s a kids movie.  But it’s not, believe me.  The movie had such a terrific campaign that it nailed a Titanium and Integrated Silver Cannes Lion in 2009. Here is why:

What you can’t properly see in the video case but you should are the banners made featuring a supporting character. Pure entertainment, something rare when talking about banners:

For more, check out Coraline’s official website: http://www.coraline.com/

You've got to Learn to Listen: Three Ways To Increase Marketing Effectiveness

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Let’s face it. We love to hear the sound of our own voices.

When I was single, one of the best pieces of dating advice I ever got was to let the other person speak through the whole date because she will adore you by the end of it. The reason is simple: It is much easier to talk than to listen to others.

But the reality that just like in any relationship, one must listen to the other side in order to better understand them. Brands are facing the same situation on a daily basis. The holy grail of modern marketing is creating and cultivating relationships between brands and their target audience.  Therefore, listening is a key to reaching this goal

Thankfully, several companies are offering listening and monitoring platforms that makes this task easy. We’ve chosen Tra.cx due to their great team, technology, and customer service.

Conversation Distribution by Platforms via Tra.cx

But technology is not enough. It is all about what you do with it. So, with no further ado, here are some of the key ways to use listening as a strategic tool in your digital marketing toolbox:

Tweak your product and pitch – by listening to target audience conversations, we have been able to gain insight about general topics of interest. For example, when listening to online discussions of IT managers, we were able to ascertain their key concerns and challenges. This provided  valuable input to our client, as they could fine-tune their pitch and online presence.

Evaluate the effectiveness of your marketing – one of our clients invested a lot of money in extending the warranty of their products. They saw it as a key way to differentiate themselves from their competition. A month after they launched their program we analyzed online discussions of potential buyers of their equipment, and saw that warranty was not mentioned as a key decision factor. Not only that, but we also saw that the amount of online conversations about their offering didn’t change at all after launching their extended warranty.. These findings helped our client reach a decision regarding the efficacy and value of their new marketing program.

Prioritize your marketing efforts – the digital landscape is becoming more and more fragmented. Multiple social networks, the need to combine inbound and outbound marketing methods, the ever growing pressure to reach results, and the shrinking marketing budgets pose a challenge to every decision maker. The value of Inbound marketing increases based on corporate investment. This investment grows based on the amount of platforms and campaigns a company is managing at any given time. Therefore, prioritizing and choosing which platform to focus on is extremely important. By effectively  listening to online conversations  about your market, you can easily identify the hotspots that require attention. For some, LinkedIn is the key to success. Others  prefer Facebook, and others still – heaven forbid —continue to use good old fashioned forums to discuss their buying decisions. We are using a cool Tra.cx report to quickly plan and prioritize our marketing efforts, and make sure we are handling the most important platforms for our clients.

Listening in love — and in marketing — is a key to success. It is not a one time thing, but should be part of an  ongoing process interwoven in the world of digital marketing. We gave here only a couple of examples on how to use it strategically. Stay tuned for future posts with additional case studies. And in the meantime, we would love to hear your insights.

Facebook and Twitter: One Helluva Party

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Social Media is like the party after prom where all the good stuff really happens.

 

 

Sometimes it’s a little confusing. Even a little dangerous. But, life on Facebook and Twitter can enhance your “IRL” experience.

Sure, while there is nothing quite like meeting in person, by keeping up with friends and family through Facebook and Twitter feeds, you can eliminate some of the B.S. smalltalk when you do get together – and more than that, you actually have some salient talking points to rally around.

From the flippant:

(“Oh, did you see Krystal from Palms Middle School is sporting a mullet?”)

or

(“Eamon’s new girlfriend looks like her face got caught in a wind tunnel.”)

To the life-changing:

(“I love all the pictures you posted of your new baby – He’s absolutely perfect!”)

or

(“I read the status about your mom’s passing. I’m so sorry. What can I do to help?”)

Not only that, but since everyone and their mother — literally — seem to be using Social Media platforms like Facebook and Twitter, if you’re a company or a consumer brand, then these are great outlets to get your message across to clients and prospective clients.

For instance, Facebook has over 800 million users.

I’ll repeat that: Facebook has over 800 million users. That is one banging party, people.

But, if a tree falls in the woods and nobody hears it, then does it make a sound?

Philosophy 101 was a long time ago, my friends, but I do know this: The more “likeable” your posts are, the more apt people are to share them on Facebook. In essence, if you put out great content, then your fans will do the work for you and your message will be heard.

According to Mashable, more than ever, now is a great time for companies and brands to open a Facebook page:

“When Facebook unveiled Timeline… many users were struck by the idea of humanizing your profile by summarizing your life and connections… Timeline may have a similar effect on brands as well. In fact, the brand benefits of Timeline could be huge, and will let companies tell a more engaging and authentic story.” (Mashable)

Yeah, of course traditional means of advertising are great, and should be used. Who doesn’t like a great billboard ad, or a catchy radio jingle? But at a fraction of the cost, companies and brands can engage with consumers (and potential consumers) through live updates, dynamic pictures, and relevant article and blog links.

In other words, your company or brand will seem more human when using this kind of digital media interface. And you sure don’t want to be left out of one helluva party.

The Links We Love

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Happy Monday, Everyone!

We hope you had a peaceful, relaxing, and enjoyable weekend.

Now, go get your coffee on,  and check out these links.  We hope you find them as interesting as we did!

First of all, our client, Babylon.com, just started a new series on their blog called “My Life in Translation”

“How many of us have found ourselves visiting or even living in a country where we can barely speak the language?  Sure, while It’s an adventure to navigate new cultural terrain without being able to communicate the way you would ordinarily in your homeland, it is certainly not without its challenges.”

Every few days, Babylon will post a new sotry.  The first two posts are dynamic and engaging, and we hope you’ll check them out:
Babylon is also celebrating International Children’s Day (November 20th!) with a cool infographic featuring fascinating facts about children from around the globe.  For instance, did you know the earliest written version of the Cinderella story comes from China in 860 CE?  And here we thought we could blame shoe fetishes on Disney or the Brothers Grimm!
We also found some interesting videos that highlight creativity that we think are worth sharing:
And, we found some terrific articles about Social Media that we found interesting and relevant:
Finally, there were two clever videos about Facebook that made us laugh out loud.  Literally.  And hopefully you’ll like them, too:
Hopefully you’ve got your caffeine buzz on by now, and are enjoying your Monday!

Memories in a Digital World

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Four months ago I went through a life changing experience: My first daughter was born, and I fell immediately in-love with the little adorable baby that became an important part of our (now mostly sleepless) life.

From the moment she was born, my wife and I photograph and videotape her, using our iPhones, and our DSLR camera.

At the same time my parents aren’t getting younger. My father turned 72 this year, and my mother 66. On his 70th birthday, I made a short film about him, as an excuse to both hear and document the story of his life. We went through old photographs that were lying in our living room drawers, and with each picture came a story, about love, war, family, and friendship. Most of these pictures were older than me –from the 50s and 60s — telling the story of his life as an immigrant, young tank commander, husband, and young father.

Not surprisingly, I love gadgets, applications, and great sites. That’s why I upload my daughter’s pictures to Flickr and Facebook, and save all of them in our centralized media hub, and I also back it up using Dropbox. I use Twitter, Foursquare and serendip.me to tell the story of my life – places I’ve been at, songs I’ve heard, thoughts I’ve had at a specific point in time.

Up until now, I was certain this is enough. We have all those cameras with their amazing images, those fancy video cameras, these smartphones that are actually point and shot cameras that can also call people. But something is missing:
When you look at it from an historical perspective, all these sites and gadgets lose their sex appeal. The reason is simple – in 40 years perspective, suddenly Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, hard disks and iPhones seem like not the best way to store memories.

I don’t know what will happen with Apple, Yahoo!, Twitter and Facebook 40 years from now.
I don’t know if the images I am taking now will be compatible with the technology 20 years from now.
I don’t know if my media center’s hard disk will survive the next 5 years.
And maybe, just maybe, Dropbox will go out of business.

There is a missing link in our digital age. There is a crucial element that is not guaranteed in our advanced technological environment. It is a simple thing: the physical element of our memories. The real life scrap book. The image, printed on a paper.

Yes, I know, these physical representation of our memories can be lost or destroyed. In fact, history teaches us that the physical element of our memories could be easily destroyed (such was the case of the Library of Alexandria).

However, if there is one thing that is for certain, it is that we will be able to see the pictures of our lives in the future. It is not a matter of file formats, web applications, and smartphones. Our eyes will still be able to see pictures. Our fingers will still be able to feel the aging paper they are printed on.

Think about it, next time you look at your hard disk full of those priceless images of your life.

Catching Up to the Future: How technology in Minority Report wasn't that far off

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I remember the first time I saw the movie Minority Report.  It was the Summer of 2002,  a time in American  history when we really chased hard after heroes.  We jumped from media headline to media headline, looking for something — anything — to feel a little safer at night even if it meant clinging tightly to make-believe.   And who can blame us? Just ten months before we woke up to horrific images splayed across our television sets.

(A scared new world.)

Terrorists stuck a four-pronged spear in our  softspot, and we were still reeling, and while we pumped ourselves up for this new War on Terrorism, we were gripped by a gung-ho zeitgeist.  George Dubya was our champion and our cheerleader.

But still, we needed more . We needed Hollywood to give us perspective.

That summer, just ten short months after that  awful morning in mid September when our illusions of American impregnability were shattered,  we needed to feel safe.  We needed to feel like there was some way to control the random way violence and fear can infiltrate lives.

Enter Tom Cruise and the notion of Precrime.

(And Steven Spielberg can bring it like no other.)

I  remember sitting in the theatre – smack dab in the center, my popcorn untouched and my Coke flat-lining because I was so taken with Minority Report’s premise and  execution that all I could do was stare at the screen and sink into the story:  Precrime — A way of ensuring that murder is eradicated.  Sounds great.  Sounds… safe.  And yet — not to get all Greek Tragedy on you — there was an inevitable and all-too-human component that could unravel the system.

And unravel it did.  With a banging soundtrack.  And lots and lots of shots of Tom Cruise running.   (Because that’s what he does best. Just saying.)

While the story itself was gripping, and the concept of the Precogs was compelling, I was most enthralled by the opening scene:  I remember being blown away while I watched Tom Cruise manipulating light and space with the wave of his hands.  There was a poignancy to it , a grace I would never expect of him, and I stared open-mouthed as the images whirled like virtual ballerinas.  Tom Cruise was magnificent as he conducted the images in syncopated time while Schubert’s Unfinished Symphony soared in the background.

 

And you know what’s kind of awesome?  Minus the creepy Precogs and the flying cars,  nearly ten years later, this technology is kind of sort of around:

So props to Spielberg for seeing into the future.  And lets hope we can do the same: Despite our fears, I hope we take heed from the way things went down in Minority Report and steer clear of making this dystopian vision of the future our social paradigm.

(*Cough* Patriot Act *Cough*)

Yes, there are very real things to be afraid of – yes, there are monsters who would seek to strike  us while we sleep.  But trying to predict a nebulous future can morph into a self-fulfilling prophecy:  In other words, thinking we know what will happen  can sometimes make it so.

(Yeah, Oprah called.  She wants “The Secret” back.)

And ultimately, as random and chaotic as life can be — and as hard as we try to control our world, and our future, Precrime doesn’t pay.

What a Story

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Kate Bush played an important part in the soundtrack of my childhood. My sister loved her music, and we used to spend a lot of time together listening to her CDs.

But as the years went by, my musical taste changed.  I started listening to  Prodigy and heavy metal bands — music that energized me — instead of more relaxed music.

When my daughter was born, I started to play music from the 80s and 90s.   (I’m doing my best to make sure she doesn’t become a Lady Gaga fan, people.)  And it was then that I rediscovered Kate Bush music and videos.

YouTube replaced CDs, and for my daughter, music will forever start as a visual experience.

Kate Bush was an artist, who knew how to tell deep and meaningful stories, as well as convey experiences, through a seamless blend of lyrics, music, visuals, and choreography.
In this clip, she tells the compelling story of a son’s inability to save his father. Little did I know when I first heard this song that it is based on the story of Peter Reich and his Father Wilhelm Reich, a controversial psychoanalyst, who was jailed in 1957.
This clip is a great example of storytelling. Hope you’ll enjoy it.