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December 11, 2008

Mothballing Marktd, Evolving PSFK

by Guy Brighton in Ad Biz, Automotive, Brand Experience, Branding, Creative Thinking, Design, Discipline, Electronics, Entertainment, Event Marketing, Fashion, Food & Drink, Gaming, Guerrilla Marketing, Health & Beauty, Home & Garden, Influencer Targeting, Market Research, Media & Publishing, Media Planning & Strategy, Mobile Marketing, Music, Online & Web Services, Online Marketing, Outdoor Marketing, Packaging Design, Product Design, Public Relations, Retail, Sector, Sports & Fitness, Telecom

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We’ve made a decision to stop publishing on Marktd. Despite making changes to focus on the creative/marketing ideas sister site of PSFK.com, we are still unhappy with the quantity and quality of the site.

Marktd started life as a subscription site called IF! which offered ideas to marketers about how to promote their products in a fresh, modern way. It was fairly successful and we got a good number of people pay the $25 subscription - but we felt that the subscription stopped it being read by a large group of people. A few months back we decided to stop the subscription and relaunch the site as Marktd. Since then interest in the site hasn’t really picked up. I would suggest that this is because of a number of reasons:

* We just aren’t that interesting in marketing and advertising. Personally it’s been 7 years since I had a full time job in advertising and the longer time goes on, the less interest I have in the field. Combine that apathy with the fact that only one or two of the regular writing team have ever worked in advertising.

* Many of our readers who work in marketing and advertising don’t seem to be that interested in only reading about marketing and advertising.

* When we do find exceptional marketing ideas that we are interested in, they tend to end up on PSFK.com anyway.

* We launched Marktd because IF! just wasn’t good enough. We’re closing Marktd because the site just didn’t meet our standards.

Maybe one day we’ll think about relaunching it - maybe with a sponsoring partner. From today, the Marktd email newsletter and RSS will change to PSFK content. We’re hoping that the existing Marktd readers will get even better creative ideas content as a result.

Thanks,

PF

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December 8, 2008

Workplace Inspiration from Zappos

by Dan Gould in Creative Thinking, Online & Web Services, Retail

Guy Kawasaki has created a revealing photo essay documenting his tour of Zappos.com’s Las Vegas headquarters. The phenomenally successful online shoe retailer is probably best known for it’s over-the-top cheerful and helpful customer service. It seems that one way it achieves this upbeat customer satisfaction obsession is by keeping it’s employees comfortable and happy - really happy. From the looks of Guy’s pictures, Zappos looks like an office playground the likes of which the world hasn’t seen since the first dot-com bubble.

[Open Forum: The Sole of a New Machine]

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November 18, 2008

Innocent Drinks Foster User Feedback

by Nicko Margolies in Brand Experience, Food & Drink, Media Planning & Strategy, Online & Web Services, Online Marketing, Public Relations, Web & Technology

The folks at innocent drinks, makers of tasty smoothies, have revamped their site to include a rating and review section. Hoping to foster a more robust brand culture and connection with their audience, innocent is trying out a consumer-centric website. The new feedback area provides simple ratings along with more detailed reviews. A built-in feature promises to randomly select comments to be highlighted on the homepage and further entices visitors by awarding funky prizes each month. The site layout was designed by Soup with a goal of pushing the playful nature of the company into the digital arena.

[via Ellie @ Soup]

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November 7, 2008

Sea Change, New Attitudes on Pirated Material

by Scott Lachut in Ad Biz, Media Planning & Strategy, Online & Web Services, Online Marketing, Web & Technology, Youth Marketing

MySpace and Viacom’s MTV Networks announced a deal that will partner them with Auditude, a technology firm that has developed a means of identifying whether uploaded video clips belong to a particular TV Network by recognizing unique electronic signatures.  Auditude approached these two companies with this technology, marketing it as a means of incorporating advertising.  Essentially, any content appearing on MySpace belonging to MTV Networks will be tagged, allowing either business the option of inserting ads.

This represents a significant change in attitude for both companies.  In the past, MySpace TV, the second largest video site behind YouTube, might have blocked this pirated material completely, while traditionally Viacom has attempted to keep its material from being posted without their permission.  It will be interesting to see if viewers will embrace these expanded freedoms even as their rights to commercial-free content are taken away.

“Now the shackles are off our users,” said Jeff Berman, president of marketing and sales at MySpace. “They are fully empowered, and the media companies get to monetize and get all the data from this. They know what is actually being consumed out there and get the benefit of the viral promotion.”

“We’ve been empowering consumers to use our content in new ways for a while now, and allowing uploads of our content has been a goal for us,” said Mika Salmi, president of global digital media at MTV Networks. “MySpace and Auditude were the first partners we found with the right technology, business model and user experience to do it right.”

[via NY Times Bits Blog]

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November 5, 2008

The Idea Conference 2008 Reviewed

by Christine Huang in Brand Experience, Branding, Creative Thinking, Design, Online & Web Services, Retail, Web & Technology

It has a broad reaching name and this year Advertising Age and Creativity brought together an equally wide range of speakers for a day of dialog about creativity and innovation. This year’s conference was held in New York City at Terminal 5, usually a concert and nightclub venue on October 30th. Once inside, attendees could congregate in the Inspiration Pavilion which was made up of booths and displays representing most of the days speakers. Notable was GM who had the Volt on display and Yahoo! who featured one of their Purple Pedals bikes. The following are some highlights of the day:

Blake Mycoskie, the founder of Toms Shoes spoke about his company’s efforts to make giving a core attribute of their business. For every pair of shoes purchased, Toms gives a pair to a child in need, for free. Blake announced within the next twelve months that the company will have given 300,000 pairs away. Blake gave some advice for businesses looking to integrate giving into their business practices. First is to make the commitment as authentic and transparent as possible. The goal is always to help people first, not the bottom line. Second, he noted that giving fosters a sense of empowerment from Toms employees. He said that there is a passion that radiates from the office. Giving creates a stronger bond between what employees are doing, and the people their business is connected to.
Blake offered a preview of the new Toms website launching soon. The site will offer new features that allow Toms customers to connect to each other and become more engaged in the company’s field activities. Toms issues an open call for volunteers every two months to assist with shoe drops in Argentina.

Grant Achatz, the owner and chef of Alinea in Chicago told his amazing story. The award winning chef was diagnosed with Stage 4 squamous cell carcinoma of the mouth, a difficult cancer to cure. The diagnosis and treatment potentially spelled the end of his career as a chef. Amazingly, Grant beat the cancer applying some of the same lessons he learned when developing his restaurant Alinea. He spoke about three steps he consistently used to attach and solve problems:

1. Understand your medium: Gain as much information and understanding about the challenges and opportunities that are available.
2. ‘Breaking it down’: Look for even the smallest opportunities to innovate. All of these small opportunities will add up to something much bigger.
3. Rebuilding in a meaningful way: Keep the overall goal in mind. Make sure it is compelling, unique, and personal.

Read the rest of this entry »

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November 4, 2008

Are Brands Compromising Their Morals to Increase Sales?

by Scott Lachut in Ad Biz, Brand Experience, Market Research, Media Planning & Strategy, Online & Web Services, Youth Marketing

As pop-culture and celebrity gossip blogs continue to see increased traffic, particularly with the youth demographic, advertisers’ views on what counts as acceptable have started to change.  Given the uneasy economic climate and tightening budgets, it’s become increasingly important for mainstream brands to be mindful of where their ad dollars are going.  As a result, following the crowds, even if that means entering non-traditional venues on the web with less respectable material, makes a good deal of sense.  Despite the inherent logic of this move, some in the media still question whether this issue has more to do with negligent ad networks than with any real shift in attitude.  In either case, it’s always been a challenge for manufacturers to reach a new audience without alienating their loyal base.  The takeaway from this seems to be that a quality product or service will go a long towards keeping your customers regardless of the occasional media misstep.

Mediaweek reports:

In recent weeks, ads for Days Inn and Samsung have popped up on the blog Egotastic!, known for its photos of underwear-shedding pop stars. Aside from ads for P&G brands, AOL’s considerably more PG-13 TMZ.com has sported banners from Wal-Mart and Verizon. Last Thursday, WWTDD, which revels in disparaging celebrities, carried promotional ads for NBC’s 30 Rock.

Digital buyers report that across several categories—particularly movie studios and products that target younger consumers—brands have come to terms with whatever reservations they might have once had about the content of such sites, as they simply cannot ignore the passionate following the sites have built.

MediaWeek: Ads for Respected Brands Hit Racy Sites

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October 31, 2008

Youth’s 10 Don’ts for Digital Branding

by Scott Lachut in Branding, Creative Thinking, Discipline, Market Research, Online & Web Services, Web & Technology, Youth Marketing

PSFK friend Ruby Pseudo recently published a nice collection of insights on marketing to teens: the Teen Commandments, a primer for brands trying to reach youth in the digital world. One of Ruby’s compelling findings from her continued research in teen culture was that youth are showing a growing disinterest in social network marketing, with one young research participant stating:

I generally hate – with a passion – all Facebook applications. I currently have 500 unchecked applications. They are of no interest to me whatsoever. I don’t care what celebrity I look like; I don’t care whether I’m hot or not and I don’t have time to draw silly pictures on walls.

Ruby’s full list of ‘Teen Commandments’:

  1. Don’t be too flippant and don’t give youth the basic facts they’re looking for; i.e. - What it is? Where can I get it? How much does it cost? etc.
  2. Be approachable and accessible to youth.
  3. Don’t redirect visitors to another site.
  4. Don’t use background music. Youth can see through a false ‘hip’ image.
  5. Don’t create a Facebook profile for your brand.
  6. Don’t target the emotionally vulnerable with insincere “‘Single? Broken-Hearted?”" questions.
  7. Don’t target a small age range, allow your brand to grow with its users.
  8. Don’t blatantly rip and appropriate youth-produced content onto your site. This once again presents a false image, of which youth can see through.
  9. Don’t use pop-up advertising. It irritates rather than entices.
  10. Don’t push the boundaries of social network interaction.

…you’re in their (digital) space: they didn’t ask you to be there, and they can’t very well ask you to leave, so talk nicely. And if you haven’t got anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all…

The basic message to brands: youth see through false images. They are aware and skeptical of online branding invading their social networking spaces. And amongst this growing DIY generation, creativity - genuine, authentic creativity - is king.

[via Ruby Pseudo Wants a Word]

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Concept Advertising Through Anti-Advertising Browser Plugin

by Nicko Margolies in Ad Biz, Brand Experience, Creative Thinking, Online & Web Services, Online Marketing, Viral Marketing, Web & Technology, Youth Marketing

There’s a new concept in the seemingly exhausted world of online advertising. Some Swedish advertising students designed a project for Doritos based around removing online banner ads. The group, known as Papercut, designed a browser plugin that detects banner ads and replaces them with content you choose. It would be taking the anti-advertising principle we wrote about recently and move it into the mainstream. From their presentation video they speculate that ads can be replaced with anything from news or mail to family photos. Their project is still just in prototype phase, so we’re curious to see a similarly inventive concept of customizable ad space make it to the production phase. In the meantime, we’ll have to enjoy the free (and unsponsored) Adblock Plus.

 

 

[via Social Hallucinations]

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October 30, 2008

Amazon Launches New Browsing Interface

by Nicko Margolies in Brand Experience, Creative Thinking, Design, Online & Web Services, Online Marketing, Web & Technology

Amazon.com has quietly released a beta version of a new web-browsing interface for its massive online shop.  The site is aptly named “WindowShop” as it allows visitors to survey popular items that might have been showcased if Amazon ever launched a physical storefront.  Users can either browse individual items and preview them or step back and view multiple items in a column display.  Not only is this an efficient way to find new products you may be interested in, but it’s also an effective way to get lost in a vast amount of material.

It is common knowledge on the internet that the more generous or innovative a product’s preview is, the more likely it is to attract paying customers.  As a result, new books share sample chapters or audio excerpts, movies include trailers, while video games and albums showcase brief clips.  Think of it as Cooliris for shopping.   That being said, the new interface’s dazzling full screen grid needs to be seen to truly appreciate the experience, but you might want to hide your credit card first.

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