Archive for January 2007

So if Michael Jackson Walks In Front, Does The Thing Get Confused and Explode?

January 31, 2007

A Seattle newspaper got a peek inside Microsoft’s advertising R&D lab recently, and reported on new technology that tries to use facial recognition to serve up ads according to gender.

The Seattle Post-Intelligencer reports:

The system is intended for use with large video screens in public places, such as shopping malls. It’s one of the projects being pursued inside Microsoft’s adCenter Labs — part of the company’s effort to come from behind in online ads and other forms of digital marketing.

Microsoft says adCenter Labs has doubled in size during the past year, to more than 120 people, in Redmond and Beijing. Researchers and engineers from the group showed their latest work at an event Wednesday on the Microsoft campus.

“I really believe that the future of the entire advertising industry is sitting in this room,” said David Jakubowski, general manager of Microsoft’s overall adCenter advertising system.

Well, they have had their butt handed to them a few times with advertising ventures, but who knows. This in interesting stuff, though I expect I would run a budget on the cost of this and put up four comparably dumb screens instead.

This “gender-detection prototype” would also let people control objects on the screen using hand gestures. Like playing a game. Again, quite cool. But that means the number of eyeballs that see the screen drop like a rock.

I give this one a big “Hmmmmm.”

Guerilla signage on building walls

January 31, 2007

A Toronto digital signage/outdoor player has come up with an interesting way to deal with the capex and rights issues involved in putting big digital signs on buildings.

Rather than dropping BIG money on LED screens and going through all the pain to get permission, they are using LCD projection technology and mounting the gear on the top of vehicles – rolling up once it gets dark and turning on the show. It is sort of guerilla marketing, but presumably the building operators have signed off and are getting a piece of the action.

Reports Media in Canada:

The newest high-tech wrinkle Toronto’s Optiadmedia is using to deliver marketers’ messages is virtual billboards, which exec Michael Dellios describes as “mobile projection capable of full-motion video, flash animation, still images and live-feed video.” First to give this a whirl is Palm, which used the technology to reach business professionals during a three-week campaign in Toronto late last month.

Dellios tells MiC the client was so pleased with the estimated 88,000 impressions garnered during the campaign that they’ll be repeating the exercise for a four-week period beginning late this month, with tweaked creative.

Timed for when most office workers knock off for the day, the initiative took place on 11 week-day evenings in late December and illuminated 15 of the busiest locations in Toronto’s business district. Optiadmedia staff drove a vehicle with roof-mounted equipment to prominent office buildings and then – using recently perfected improvements to its formerly static projection capability – threw Palm’s message and logo onto the facades.

With creative from Young & Rubicam’s Toronto shop, the messaging featured an animated arrow pointing to a window with text saying “Spend less time in here” – the implication being that using Palm devices allows people to work from anywhere.

The story goes on to say the firm is also now toying with Bluetooth, with a gadget in the vehicle scanning passers-by for Bluetooth enabled phones. Consumers can elect to downlaod spots related to the ads.

Bargain time for XP-loaded PCs

January 30, 2007

The propeller-head community has been lobbing insults this way and that about the pros and cons of Microsoft’s latest operating system, released today. Windows enthusiasts are all but filling their pants about the new capabilities of Vista. Linux lovers are shaking their head wondering why anyone would touch Vista. And Mac people are, of course, above it all.

Me. I could care less as long as the damn thing works reliably and the cost is not crippling — though that would tend to put me in the Linux camp. 

What’s interesting right now is that the relase of Vista suddenly makes all those XP-loaded boxes out there somewhat out of fashion, and therefore ON SALE NOW!!! Take this piece in the Rocky Mountain News (Denver). 

If I was about to rollout a digital screen network that insisted on Windows boxes because of the chosen software, I’d be snapping up those boxes at reduced rates. XP will be supported for at least as long as these boxes will last, and while far from perfect, the XP OS has been through all the service packs crap that is undoubtedly just over the horizon for Vista.

Shop Talk Over A Pint Or Two

January 30, 2007

Kris Matheson and Raji Kalri at Artisan Live in Toronto (well, Markham if you’re picky) have been steadily moving what has historically been a printing and POP company into the digital signage business. They recently did a content production and media sales deal with Neo Advertising for the mall food court network the Swiss firm recently acquired from DAN Media.

Artisan is now trying to create some energy around an informal monthly gathering in Toronto to talk about the industry, do a little card-swapping, and drink Harp and Guinness.

A lovely idea, particularly that last bit.

Says Matheson: “Please open the door to everyone and anyone you know. We wanted this to be a group that gets together, has good conversation and a beer while we are at it.”

“From our replies,” he adds. “I think the industry was looking for something like this. It is not an Artisan event … it is a once a month industry social.

The inaugural session is this Thursday, Feb. 1 at P.J. O’Briens Pub, which is in downtown Toronto, in behind the King Edward Hotel, on Colborne Street. First pints at 6ish.

Signage in a nightmare

January 28, 2007

Children of Men 

We went to see the new British film Children of Men last night. The Rotten Tomatoes meter suggested 91% of critics liked this, and the trailer suggested while it was going to be a bit rough and depressing, the premise was too intriguing to skip.

It is about the world, 20 years from now, that is infertile and therefore dying. There is anarchy and life is generally very unpleasant. But in all this is something of a nativity story, as a disillusioned man struggles to get a young girl, miraculously pregnant, to safety.

I write all this not because I am a closet film critic, but because this is a film that takes digital signage in a very different direction from the oft-mentioned Minority Report. More like Blade Runner, in Childen of Men there are screens everywhere – in trains and buses, on streetside pedestals, and all over buildings. 

None of what’s on there is terribly imaginative (in fact, there are examples of everything in there on view today), but it was nonetheless intriguing to see it all in a nightmare world.

Great flick, by the way.

50% lift from endcap screens in Home Depot stores

January 26, 2007

Had this forwarded to me from Jim Grosso at Gel Communications, who did the content strategy and execution for this …

A RAM Forest Products promotion for building dream decks saw a boost in sales of deck accessories of more than 50% in Home Depot Canada stores where it was installed. The program was put together by MediaTile‘s Canadian wing, which is run by Dave White and Lou Brault.

Quoting the release:

“RAM Forest Products worked with MediaTile Canada to create a multi-media lifestyle advertising campaign called “Create The Deck Of Your Dreams.” The campaign was deployed on integrated end-caps in Home Depot stores to “connect” with consumers and promote all of the elements that comprise a home deck project.”

“All participating vendors have reported experiencing significant increases in product and services sales. The campaign was so successful that it ran longer than planned and will be expanded in the 2007 season.”

Always nice to see those kinds of numbers, especially coming from the vendor. I wish more of them would make their results known.

OVAB trying to standardize the new wild west

January 25, 2007

Alchemy International (aka Pi Media and aka St. Joseph’s Communications) staged a good networking event last night in Toronto that pulled a healthy cross section of the area’s digital signage industry.

Organized by Alchemy’s Lyle Bunn, the event was intended to pull people together for a bit of yakking and furious card swapping. It was also a bit of a platform for the Canadian Digital Signage Association and the newly organized Out-of-Home Video Advertising Bureau (or OVAB).

The former you know about. The latter is a US-driven group that is also looking to hook in membership from the very active, early adopter Canadian industry.

I couldn’t find an OVAB website, but the group has been described as an attempt to do what the Interactive Advertising Bureau did for the Internet during the mid to late 1990s, which was to enforce some standards on a fast emerging industry that was making the ad business crazy.

The plan is to establish these standards, best practices and structure to legitimize a medium that is still in Wild West mode. The membership list is so far short and peppered with some names of networks I have never heard of (The Hotels Network???), but also includes heavyweights like PRN (Wal-Mart TV in the US) and Captivate (the elevator guys, who ironically have a size and shape to their ads that is anything but standard).

The event was a clear success and I got the impression this won’t be the last. It would be good if the host duties were shared around, but few have the space or resources that Alchemy can tap through its parent company. If we did it at my shop the crowd would be spilling into the halls.

Then again, we’d have beer   ;-]