Geek News: Latest Technology, Product Reviews, Gadgets and Tech Podcast News for Geeks


Ford Drives Real World Customers from the Gaming World

Posted by Alan at 6:22 PM on November 7, 2011

Today Ford announced their latest advertising initiative, which involves the gaming world.  No, you won’t be able to play Angry Birds in your car via Sync, that would likely prove dangerous.  What Ford is doing is branding their vehicles in video games, and it’s actually not something new.  They have been at this for a while, beginning in 1995 with Sega Rally, but they are now making a more concerted push.

While gamers seem locked into their virtual worlds, they are surprisingly aware of the products that appear in those worlds.  And driving games may be one of the genres where the gamer is most aware of the product.  After all, the gamer in a car race is keenly aware of the car he or she chooses because it may make the difference between winning and losing.

“We’ve realized that gaming is something that many people have grown up with and helps define who they are,” said Brian Mcclary, with Ford’s Social and Emerging Media team. “Ford has gained positive exposure and popularity because we put our products into the right games while giving something back to the gamer.”

Ford is doubling down their efforts now with the release of Forza Motor Sport 4 (released 10/11/11) and Need for Speed The Run (to be released 11/15/11).  They have found that allowing their vehicles to be used in-game gets them more brand recognition and more positive feedback, which translates to more potential customers.  Here are the numbers that they provided from their study.

36% increase in brand rating

28% increase in purchase consideration

39% increase in brand recommendation

45% more gamers agreed Ford Focus is fun to drive

It’s good to see Ford continue to “get it” with their innovation to keep them on top in an ever-changing digital world.  Their partnership with Microsoft for the Sync system and the forward looking advertising with gaming and even with supporting podcasts is something many other old-world companies should take note of.

If you are a gamer, you can check out Forza Motor Sport 4 in the Xbox Marketplace and NSF The Run at the EA Need for Speed website (you can pre-order now).  You can view a trailer of NSF below, but it’s not completely family safe (language).

Deloitte Identifies the Killer App

Posted by Andrew at 2:05 AM on July 12, 2011

If you are thinking of developing a mobile app, particularly one associated with a brand name, then you’ll want to read Deloitte’s latest research into killer apps. In less than a dozen pages, it has some great data, mini-case studies and plenty to think about.

Here are a few of the nuggets:

  • 45% of smartphone owners download an app at least once per week.
  • but less than 1% of the apps associated with a “brand” have been downloaded a million times (which seems to be the metric for success in the app world).

If you want your app to succeed, there are two broad areas that do well – “time killers” and “utilities”. Games are good examples of time killers but Audi and Volkswagen’s driving games are some of the few that have done well. In the utility space, Kraft’s iFood Assistant has also been a hit.

Looking at apps that do well and are successful, these typically employ five functions to engage the user – portability, the accelerometer, sophisticated touch screen use, location-based services (GPS) and the camera. Using these are no guarantees of success but they certainly help.

Of course, it helps if you know your user. Deloitte has broken down iPhone ownership by employment type revealing three big groups:

  • 25.2% – Professional and higher technical work
  • 22.6% – Manager and senior administrator
  • 19.3% – Clerical

In the end, Deloitte reckons that there are four ingredients for branded app success.

  1. Offer useful functionality
  2. Know how to manipulate app store ratings
  3. Target the platforms used by the brand customers
  4. Use additional smartphone functionality

The full report can be downloaded from Killer Apps – The Promises and Pitfalls of a Smarter World.

Recom Technologies Programmable LCD Video Name Tags

Posted by tomwiles at 9:36 PM on February 8, 2011

Sean and Lynn from Recom Technologies demonstrate the programmable LCD video name tags. The name tags use OLED screens and have two gigabytes of internal memory that can be accessed via USB. The video name tag sells for $198 and can be purchased from their website.

Interview by Andy McCaskey of SDR News and Esbjorn Larsen of MrNetCast.com.

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Shredding The Cord

Posted by tomwiles at 4:02 PM on February 2, 2011

Ah, my once-beloved Dish Network account – the thing I once thought I could never do without; the budget monster that consumed $100 per month, month after month, year after year. I agonized for months over the idea of simply killing it before finally pulling the plug.

It’s been the better part of a year since I put the budget-busting beast to rest and cancelled the account. Dish Network itself seemed to want to throw up as many roadblocks as possible to get me to change my mind. They wanted the LNB module off of my roof, in addition to the two receivers. I had 30 days to send the units back in the packing boxes they sent or they would make me pay full price for them.

I was able to talk the guy out of forcing me to climb up on my roof to retrieve the LNB, and I was able to get the two receivers sent back to them within the 30 days of cancellation. However, somehow they had in their billing system I had three receivers, not two. They sent return packaging for three units. I spent time on the phone with them to make sure this discrepancy was resolved, and they assured me it was.

Ooops, not so fast! A month or two later I got a letter from them stating I still owed them for a receiver and they intended to hit my bank account for the amount. A phone call to them resolved the issue and I haven’t heard a peep from them since.

How has life been without all of those channels? $ome part of me hate$ to admit it, but I haven’t missed it at all. I’ve got an Intel Mac Mini set up as a DVR for local over-the-air HD broadcasts, as well as a Netflix account and several other Internet-connected set top box viewing solutions.

Observations

A very large percentage of TV programming is marketing presented as content. Much of what passes for entertainment depicts multitudes of dysfunctional drama queens assaulting and insulting the people around them. The more dysfunctional they are, the more likely it is the marketing messages will seep into the mesmerized minds of the audience. Even if one isn’t watching commercials, product placement and even behavior placement abounds. Viewers are being programmed to buy certain products, as well as behave in certain ways.

Think you can’t do without cable or satellite TV? Think again. I was paying $1,200 dollars a year for Dish Network. Multiply that by just 5 years and that’s a whopping $6,000 dollars for the privilege of being shaped and influenced by marketing messages so I would spend even more money.

Let’s go one step further. For many people TV is an addiction. These people are crack dealers in disguise. How else could it be that they can continue to raise their prices and people continue to pay ever more?

Let’s be honest. The vast majority of cable TV programming is less than worthless. Could that $6,000 dollars been better spent on higher-quality programming? Of course it could.

Fulton eCoupled Does Wireless Power

Posted by tomwiles at 12:41 AM on January 27, 2011

Dave Baarman presents Fulton eCoupled Wireless Power (ecoupled.com). They have systems for wirelessly powering things such as cell phones and even systems using conductive ink for “smart packaging” that actually lights up the packaging when placed on a special conductive grocery store shelf. You are going to be blown away by where this is headed. Listen to the full interview and post commentary to get some insights into where ecoupled charging and what symbol to look for when you are purchasing electronics.

Interview by Todd Cochrane of Geek News Central and Tom Newman of The Fogview Podcast.

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Whistler Blackcomb – XXS

Posted by Andrew at 5:03 PM on January 19, 2011

I love these tilt-shift films which make everything appear in miniature and some of you will recall Sam O’Hare’s “The Sandpit” from earlier in the year. This new film was produced for Whistler Blackcomb ski resort in Canada by Mike Douglas of Switchback Entertainment and it continues the fun. Music is “Passed Out” by White Apple Tree.

Whistler Blackcomb – XXS from Switchback Entertainment on Vimeo.

Vitrue Top 100 Social Brands

Posted by Andrew at 3:13 PM on January 10, 2011

Every year Vitrue announces the top 100 social brands to show which ones are grabbing mindshare.  It does this by analysing online conversations across social networks, blogs, micro-blogs, photo and video sharing sites. Basically it captures what people are talking about on-line.

It’s a pretty good bellwether for the movers and shakers and unsurprisingly, consumer electronics come out very well.Of the total 100 companies listed, 30% are consumer electronics, followed by fashion and retail with 20%. Transportation finishes the podium places with 17%.

Of course, entry in the list is no guarantee of success. I would imagine that a brand getting lots of bad publicity could score highly as well.

But if you want to know what the Top 10 brands are….

1.    iPhone
2.    Blackberry
3.    Disney
4.    Android
5.    iPad
6.    Sony
7.    Apple
8.    MTV
9.    Coca-Cola
10. Samsung

One thing you’ll probably notice is that brands don’t always directly relate to companies.  Apple manages to get three times into the top 10 with Apple, iPhone and iPad. iPod “only” managed to get to number 15.  Another thing I noticed was that the social networks themselves didn’t seem to qualify – there’s no Twitter or Facebook – and I can only assume that this is part of the Vitrue’s algorithm.

However, it’s fun to do some comparing….Apple is in at 7, Microsoft is at 31.  There’s a little cluster of cars at 11, 12, 13 with Ford, Mercedes and BMW.  The Xbox at 17 seems to be trumping the Playstation and the Wii at 26 and 28 respectively. Coca-Cola (9) thrashes Pepsi languishing in at 80. Nike’s (24)  not too far away from Adidas (34).

Check it out for yourself at Vitrue’s blog. Where are your favourite brands?

The Best; Then There’s The Rest

Posted by tomwiles at 9:37 PM on December 10, 2010

One of the classic methods of marketing centers around the idea of bundling; i.e. getting people to pay for lower-quality merchandise by pushing sheer quantity over quality. This strategy isn’t always successful, but when it works it can work brilliantly.

When I was a teenager growing up in the late 1960’s and early 1970’s, music was sold via vinyl records. The “hit” songs were played on the radio, thus creating artist familiarity and product demand. Radio stations of the day would sometimes play the “B” side of the record but most often they only played the “hits.” In other words, they weren’t playing the “misses” on the radio.

In a stroke of marketing genius, however, someone somewhere got the idea to bundle the musical misses and missteps on the “B” side of the vinyl records. When 33-RPM records came along, this trend was amplified because there was more room than ever. Make consumers think they were buying not only the artist’s latest hits, but throw that filler material in there too. Sometimes with certain artists the filler material could be brilliant too. However, most of the time it was just filler material.

This strategy mostly worked until digital recording and playback techniques, combined with the Internet, caused massive changes in the way people manufactured, discovered, marketed, and purchased music. For a variety of reasons, today people tend to only want to buy what they consider to be the very best “hits” from services such as iTunes, and there’s little to no market for the “filler” misses.

The same marketing concept has been used via bundling to get people to pay for “filler” cable TV channels. Want a “good” channel such as Discovery, TLC, or History? Sorry sir, that sandwich only comes with pickles, mustard and horse radish – take it or leave it.

What consumers often fail to realize is that substantial portions of their cable TV and/or satellite bills are paid directly to bundled channel providers that they probably never watch. Bundled mediocrity gets rewarded.

Why are you mindlessly paying good money for bundled channels you probably don’t know the names of? Stop rewarding bundled mediocrity. Turn off your cable or satellite subscription. I promise you – your heart won’t suddenly stop beating. The world won’t suddenly come to an end.

Big App Show For Android

Posted by tomwiles at 9:22 PM on October 10, 2010

Adam Curry is a clever guy. Back in 2004 he was working on the concept of podcasting. Now he is pioneering smartphone apps.

About 6 months ago, Adam Curry came out with a free iPhone application called “The Big App Show.” Each day, day in and day out, Curry records a new video of himself demonstrating an iPhone app.

The Big App Show is now available for Android. The concept is the same, except with the Android app the apps Curry demonstrates are obviously for Android and are available in the Android Marketplace.

The Big App Show is a very witty app that really takes advantage of the power of Android and iPhones. Curry is adding value by demonstrating the apps right on the screen as he talks rather than giving dry descriptions. He puts out a new app video on both the Android and iPhone platforms every day of the year.

Bravo Adam! I think you are on to something!!!

Jim Louderback and I are on Same Page!

Posted by geeknews at 1:57 AM on August 31, 2010

Jim Louderback the CEO of Revision3 who I respect a great deal, has made some frank comments in an article on Adage about the Viral Video Advertising space. In his opening statement he makes this assertion.

Online video creators, advertisers and producers have an unhealthy fascination with viral videos, and that obsession is dragging down the entire industry. Why? Because viral videos are, at their core, no better than a fluffernutter white-bread sandwich, delivering little or no value to anyone.

I am sure his frustration, follow the same frustration I have when I talk with media buyers. Most are hung up on a shortsighted strategy of going after viral videos because it has coolness factor. While at the same time 99.9% of the media buyer advertising market is ignoring serial content which as this sites readers, listeners and viewers know are followed by very loyal audiences!  When I meet with media buyers their age tells part of the story, most are under 25 and have had 1-2 years of media sales experience. Sadly most of the media buyers refuse to acknowledge the value of predictable episodic content. Instead they pay $4.00-$6.00 cpm for YouTube Videos. They do not understand that the dedicated audiences, with money to spend on products and services, listen and watch the media shows like we represent that reach 10′s of millions of loyal fans each month.  Jim’s shows at Revision3, and those I represent at RawVoice are ROI Goldmines that most media buyers ignore. Jim hits it home in this comment.

Ten predictable episodic shows that deliver a consistent 100,000 views an episode is far easier to plan for and monetize than a channel that has a one-in-100 chance of catching fire — and a 99-in-100 chance of bombing.

The last comment I am quoting  is something I have been hammering home for the past 6 years, yet most of these media buyers refuse to consider new media in their buying plans. They ignore what new media content can deliver for them. We get lucky once in a while and convert buyers to our side of the fence.  I had a media buyer recently say “wow new media (podcast) advertising is hitting a home run for us” she could hardly believe the ROI numbers. Why do you think our Advertisers have been with us for 6 years? You would think some of these media buyers would clue into what new media is delivering. Jim’s comment ring home here.

Viral videos may be bad for creators and publishers, but they are actually worse for advertisers. Your typical viral video gets passed around, yes, and drives a lot of views. And yes, those can translate into impressions for an advertiser. But as we’ve seen at Revision3, advertising associated with viral videos has only a small fraction of the impact of an ad that runs inside, or alongside, an episodic video program. We’ve seen tremendous results from putting brands next to our long-running episodic programs — those with real communities, high comment-to-view ratios and predictable views.”

In my opinion Media Buyers need to wake the hell up and start spending their clients money in a way that deliver real returns versus throwing spit balls against the wall hoping that they stick. We have millions of listeners / viewers ready to support sponsors of their favorite shows.  Is it not about time that companies wake up and start spending money responsibly. Go over to the article and read his full commentary, it is worthy more discussion in the near future. I am hoping it will wake some of the major brand media buyers up.

If you are a media buyer and want to see what new media can deliver for you, I would be happy to put together a media plan for one, or all of our 6000 shows that will make you a hero at the office!