More on my Second Life

I logged into Second Life again to check out some advertising opportunities last night. Some pretty cool potential. Adidas has a store that you can visit and check out their shoes. You can buy a virtual pair (I think they cost the equivalent of 50 cents in real money) and there are links to a store finder web page that launch a browser. The potential there to connect virtual brand experirences to real life commerce opportunites is pretty limitless.

I was particularly jealous of ad agency BBH (Bartles, Bogle & Hegarty). They've created a virtual agency with little meeting spaces and their portfolio hanging on the wall. Why use online conferencing software like WebEx? You can have your avators meet at the virtual agency. I'll put it on my Amazon Wish List for Traction.

Also, in the interest of trend-spotting, there's a new term that is going to be part of the internet lexicon in a few years. A "Yard Sale" is a collection of virtual junk, primarily digital sex toys to use in cyber-sex games, that are strewn about somebody's "yard" that you can browse and buy. I kid you not. One of the filters to help you find places in Second Life where there are others to interact with is by viewing a list of Events. About half of these Events are Yard Sales. Maybe two-thirds. Watch for "Yard Sale" on a buzzword list near you (I predict Wired will get this one in about 6 months).

So, Second Life is cool. There's lots of opportunities for both marketers and pornographers. Web 2.0, eat your heart out.

But, I've seen the future.

Last week's Newsweek has an article on Microsofts new 3D version of Google Earth. Assuming your on Windows (which I'm not), you can use your xBox joystick to zoom through real 3D versions of cities. Every building in San Francisco is rendered and even has textures placed on them. Banners ads and live traffic alerts hover in the air. Microsoft has fleets of trucks on the street right now taking millions of high res photos of every major city in the US to add more and more detail to this. Clearly, Microsoft will be a latecomer to the community/gaming aspect of this, but how difficult is it to see the writing on the wall here. Once they've got a 3D map of the real world, they can add avatars just like in Second Life. You will be able to visit Barcelona, scope out the neighborhood around your hotel, check out restaurants, meet real people, whatever. All with locally relevant banner ads and interactive brand experiences dynamically served up to woo you.

Fifiteen years ago, most of us didn't even have a computer. My god. What are we in for?

A Technique for Producing Ideas

I just read this great little book (an hour cover-to-cover little) called A Technique for Producing Ideas. Someone handed it to me and I'll be handing it to our Creative Directors tomorrow. In a really simple way, it codifies the process for producing ideas (in advertising, but really could apply anywhere). So simple, that I will attempt to recap in its entirety by memory.

First, this is based on the premise that new ideas are really combinations of old ideas and that the ability to see relationships enables us to create new ideas based from those combinations. Re-read that. It's important.

Then he sets out a 5 step process to create ideas.

1. Gather materials. He breaks this into two categories and notes that this is where most people in the idea-making business cut corners and therefore fall short. Category one is specific. Really get to know your product. Dig deep. Reading a creative brief isn't an end-all-be-all. Taste it. Touch it. Use it. Watch others use it. Read the ingredients list. Read research. Immerse yourself. As a useful tip, he suggests writing tidbits down on 3x5 cards. Personally, I'm a fan of big pads. Category two is a lifelong endeavor. Have a box or file that you throw things that inspire you into. Ads, photos, brochures, bubble gums wrappers, fortune cookie fortunes... when your drinking buddy says something profound at 1:00 AM, scribble it on a bar napkin and throw it in the file. I'd like to think this file. I'd like to think this blog is part of my file.

2. Take all your 3x5 cards. Mix and match them. Look for relationships. You're not looking for ideas here. You're looking for half-baked ideas, snippets of ideas, interesting thoughts that could maybe, maybe not become fodder for ideas later on. Quality is not important here. Write them all down. Do it until you're tired. Then do it some more.

3. Go to the movies. Take a nap.

4. Pop. An idea will come into your head, usually when you least expect it. Write this down and bask in your genius.

5. Share your idea with others. Probably isn't quite as genius as you first thought in step four, but ideas are cultivated not grown. A good idea will inspire others to add to them. Be prepared to let them evolve.

That's it. Recipe for creative genius. Certainly worth an hour of your life if you're in this biz.


My Second Life

I signed up for Second Life this weekend to see what all the hoopla is about. A lot of marketers are getting ink by doing campaigns inside this virtual world. Adidas did a campaign in Second Life. Starwood Hotels launched a chain of hotels. Sun just had a virtual press conference. Gotta keep on my toes.

This is like Doom meets MySpace meets Yahoo Chat. Plus, you can actually spend money there. You enter Second Life and use the arrow keys to walk around a 3D virtual world. You can grab stuff, chat or IM with people and do funny gestures and it's all pretty intuitive. I'm not a gamer at all, but I managed to lose two hours of my life on Saturday. Of course, the pervs have been the first to move in here. There's strip clubs and "mature" events pretty much all over the map. I visited a night club (ok, I checked out the strip club first) with a "live DJ" called Voodoo Lounge. I followed instructions to make my avatar dance on the dance floor, but then I left the dance floor and couldn't get him to stop dancing. So, already I'm a virtual social misfit.

Anyhow, in this club was a sign: "Click here for a free Voodoo Lounge jacket." Bam. Advertisers—wake up! Say I'm Coke. I could give away a Coke jacket. And everyone who encounters my character in this world will see this ad for Coke on my virtual back.

I had a debate with Theo on Sunday. He said he checked it out, but he wasn't impressed with the graphics and thought it generally sucked. But, he doesn't hang out in chat rooms either, and about 300,000,000 people do. I think the not-so-state-of-the-art graphics is what's going to make this a huge success. A lot of user-generated-video-start-ups tried to figure out how to get high quality video distributed online. YouTube said, screw quality, let's get it up there. YouTube won.

More on Web 2.0 Summit

This is a guest post from Traction's very own Director of Strategy, Ronan Dunlop, who surreptitiously used my conference pass to check out Jeff Bezos and a few others at the Web 2.0 Summit in SF last week (or was it the week before?).


I caught part of the Web2.0 conference. On reading many of the posts during and after the event, it occurred to me that a prerequisite to being a Web 2.0 pundit is to find flaws in how people and companies are going about implementing 2.0.

Two things that jump to mind are the criticisms of Amazon and Salesforce.com’s initiatives to enable people and business to capitalize on the opportunities of Web2.0 by leveraging their infrastructure.

Some see Amazon’s effort to provide computing power and complete supply chain infrastructure on a usage basis as a sign that they are struggling and Salesforce.com’s mash-up incubator idea as a thinly veiled ploy to charge someone else for the privilege of being an extension of their own R&D team.

I see it differently. Both Bezos and Benioff are inveterate entrepreneurs. They have seen an opportunity to make money from byproducts of their business. Their instincts led them to capitalize on it. How is this different than cattle farms providing manure to PG&E to create energy or a chicken farm making money from selling chicken feathers? It simply sounds like good business to me.

Web 2.0 is not about altruism or community love. These companies are providing services that you have to pay for. They have no idea how much money they will make from this. They hope they will. The more the better and anything they do make is gravy. The fact that these byproducts are 2.0 in nature is fascinating. They are made possible by web2.0 and are enabling everything from bricks and mortar to more 2.0 ideas.

I think what they are doing is brilliant in its simplicity. But nothing has changed. At heart 2.0 is a mash-up of ideas and technology tools – the same as 1.0. 2.0 is the same religion, with the same populist spin and with the same cast of characters as 1.0. The ‘old-testament’ style crash of not so long ago, challenged our faith. But we all need religion it seems, so now we have Web 2.0. A new testament of sorts, built on the ruble of our excesses while deriving its strength from the plebian masses.

Something as dumb and simple as Youtube is a prime example. Youtube is unsophisticated, simple to rig (so that your video gets to the top of the pile) a productivity drain on the workforce and a moneymaking conundrum – in other words it looks like vintage Web 1.0. But who am I to argue with $1.65 billion purchase price or Google’s $12 billion stock surge post stock swap.

The king is dead, long live the king.


Web 2.0 Summit

Thanks to our new client, CMP Media, I was able to get my hands on a much-sought-after ticket to the exclusive Web 2.0 Conference this week (described in the pages of Business Week as "the annual gathering of the digerati creme"). Here's my take...

Day One

Showed up 15 minutes late because I couldn't find a cab this morning. Session I wanted (Marketing: Where Are We Now?) was so crowded, I couldn't even squeeze into the room to stand in back. So were the next two rooms I checked. Finally settled on "Using Gadgets and Macros to Your Advantage" which had about 14 people in the audience. It was basically a couple of guys from Microsoft showing off their new Windows Live version of Google Maps. Shameless plug for their own crap. It was really refreshing. Completely renewed my disdain for Microsoft. Crown glory moment was when Windows crashed in the middle of their presentation.

Next up, "Advertising 2.0." Got a seat this time. A panel hosted by the CEO of About.com. Very impressive group, particularly Adam Gerber from Brightcove.

Third and best workshop I attended today, however, was "How the Net Generation Changes Marketing and Management" with Don Tapscott, CEO of a think tank called New Paradigm and writer of a bunch of books. He just did a bunch of research on the Echo generation (the children of the Baby Boomers) and presented it in the session. He uses the term Net Generation to describe young people between the ages of 4 and 25 because this is the first generation to grow up with the internet. To them, "technology is like air," it's just part of their natural living environment and because of their lifelong exposure to it, these kids actually process information differently than any generation before it.


Book Review: A big life (in advertising)

Just finished, A Big Life (In Advertising), an autobiography of Mary Wells Lawrence, a Bill Bernbach protegee from the early days at DDB who started her own agency, Wells Rich Green, back in the late 60s-early 70s. They did a lot of great, famous campaigns like "plop, plop, fizz, fizz" for Alka Seltzer and "I love NY." As somebody who has started a creative agency, it's a pretty inspiring story that I, personally, could really relate to. But even if you haven't started an ad agency, it's still pretty entertaining. Rather than bore you with details, here are some key takeaways (for me, anyway)...

Key Takeaways:

1. You need to have a serious ego to make it big in this business. It takes hubris.

2. At one point, she is talking about WRG working for Procter & Gamble. If you follow the ad biz, you know that P&G are known as brilliant marketing scientists who have an unbelievable track record of using methodical brand building practices to dominate markets for consumer packaged goods. According to Mary, however, P&G understands that breakaway ideas are real and don't always follow predictable models. To that end, they always keep "one or two of the more intuitive and instinctual agencies" on their roster. This resonated with me, because while Traction does have a great strategic process to uncover insights and opportunities for our clients, our work is definitely intuitive and instinctual. Blink validated that notion for me the first time, but it's great to have that validated again.


Great week for Traction

- Just kicked off our first project with Bank of America.
- Was awarded the Web 2.0 Expo campaign from CMP Media this week.
- Presented our capabilities to Sun's corporate brand group and they emailed to tell me they loved us.
- Our largest client whose name I'm not allowed to mention is in overdrive.

How you like them apples?



Lightfull in the news...

Traction's new client, Lightfull Foods, just got some ink in Business Week. Traction just helped them redesign their packaging as a first step toward helping them buid a brand for their tasty "Satiety Smoothie." And before you ask, it means you're full.

The User-Generated Content Chronicles: Netflix seeks a NetFix

Netflix is offering a million bucks to anyone who can help improve the quality of its movie recommendations by 10%. First I've seen a user-generated backend program, but I think it's smart as hell for them to challenge people. There's a lot of smart developers out there with wacky algorithms floating around in their head. I'm sure they approached a bunch of giant agencies who wanted to charge them way more than one million to make that kind of a leap. I think this is a good bet for NetFlix.


This blog

So, I'm having a contest at the agency to help me come up with a name for this blog. The winner gets a round of my famous Cosmos delivered to them at their desk. So far, the candidates are:

Diary of an Adman (this is my favorite, since Diary of a Madman was my first Ozzy album and I listened to it every day when I was in 7th grade. Of course it's taken on blogspot, so I might have to move my blog).

Thoughts from the hot shop.

User generated cosmopolitains.

Buzzword detox.

Don't blog the charmin.

Fustercluck 2.0

Wrapped in a div.

Scatterbrained and searchable.

Why Does it Hurt When I Pee.

Joes AdPartment.











Adamuses - combo of adam and muses












says adam

adam adds

adamadman (read: adam ad man - as opposed to ad a mad man - it works both ways I guess)

admanadam (or also ad man adam)

bladam (which could be Adam's new catch phrase whenever he has a new idea - like emeril's BAM!)



blah di blog



madadam (works if you read it left to right and right to left)

adamanium (it's a whole new element in the periodoc chart - a but like adamantium, but cooler)

Nunzi 2.0


What do you think?


Pastrami on rye

I ate pastrami sandwiches tooday with Joe Kennedy, the CEO of Pandora. Great, really interesting guy. If you haven't heard of Pandora you should check it out. It's a website that helps you discover music you like based on what music you already like. It's like a personalized radio station, just for you.

I met Joe 6 months or a year ago when Traction was trying to get our client, Virgin Mobile, to marry their song recognition feature with Pandora's music recommendation service. Virgin Mobile already has a service where you can hold up your phone when you hear a song you like, dial *99 (or something) and you'll get an SMS in a few minutes with the name and artist. Now, imagine you could add that song, and others "genetically similar" to it, to a personalized radio station that streamed music to you over your mobile phone. And, of course, the ability to purchase that MP3 with a couple of clicks.

Anyhow, that was the idea. Virgin didn't bite, but I still think it was an awesome idea. Joe gave me a tour of Pandora and the Human Genome Project after that and now we're friends.

We spent lunch talking about branding. Joe was the VP of Marketing at Saturn back when they were redefining what a car company should be. In my humble opinion, that makes Joe somewhat of an authority on the subject of brand building (no matter how modest he is about it). Last time we met, he made the comment that "nobody knows how to build a brand anymore" and it really stuck with me, so I asked him to get together and elaborate.

Some stuff we talked about:

1. The idea that the best brands are the ones that have iconic leaders and a real story to tell. He talked about the guy who ran Saturn and the founder of Pandora. Of course, there's the Steve Jobses and Richard Bransons of the world. We talked about how Dell had that kind of leader in Mike Dell, but neglected to tell a story and missed an opportunity to create a great brand—and are now facing stiff competition in a market that they commoditized.

I brought up a Cornell alumni wine industry event I attended a few months back. The guest speaker was Roy Danis, the marketing guy behind Yellow Tail wine. Telling the Yellow Tail story, Roy showed an aerial photo of the tiny little vineyard with the farmhouse where the guy who makes the wine lived back in like 1987. Then, same overhead angle, about 9 years later: 10X bigger vineyard, same farmhouse, same guy living in it. Cut to 2004. Friggin' crazy-giant mega-plantation, same farmhouse, same guy living in it. Now, consumers don't know this story, but the fact that this guy exists, that he is so part and parcel of Yellow Tail that he still lives in the little farmhouse, is what makes the people that are that company believe they are part of something greater than just another winery. I think it's the same kind of thing that happened with Saturn. It was about more than metal, glass and plastic.

2. We talked about engagement. We had both seen the same article in the New York Times a while back declaring "engagement" was the new awareness. Joe's take on it is that in today's world, marketers cannot talk at their customers, they have to talk with them. Marketing today is a conversation, not a speech. I've been saying to clients lately that I think engagement is all well and good, but without relevance it has no value. I think Joe is right on. Conversation means give and take, which equals engagement with relevance. It's what this whole Web 2.0 phenomenom is about and why it is so important to marketers right now.

3. He told me one of the keys to Saturn's success in those years was that Hal (Riney) was incredibly blunt and they were a client who was willing to listen to someone who was incredibly blunt. I felt good about that one. One of our key company values at Traction is candor (with each other and with our clients). Personally, I have absolutely no filter between my brain and my mouth at all. Made me feel like we're on the right track.

Oh, and if you haven't tried it Miller's East West Deli on Polk Street in San Francisco has the absolute best hot pastrami sandwich in town. And, please, you eat pastrami on rye, okay? It's just the way things are.


The User-Generated Content Chronicles: Microsoft

The Evil Empire (are they still evil now that Bill has gone all Mother Theresa on us?)has created an entire site dedicated to user-generated video called Soapbox. The site is in limited Beta right now, so you can't see it (except for the groovy screenshot below). Kind of looks like a YouTube ripoff with a couple of "unique" features. I'll start holding my breath right about now...


The User-Generated Content Chronicles: BEA looks for liquid

I'm actually surprised to find that a number of B2B marketers are soliciting content from their customers. I don't know why. Just kind of always thought of these guys as the type to be late-adopters when it comes to innovative marketing ideas.

Anyhow, BEA is asking people to nominate Liquid Thinkers for a chance to win groovy prizes like a year's supply of water for your office or $500 donation to your favorite charity. Presumably, they'll use these nominees in a ad campaign. I don't know how "Web 2.0" this idea is, but it is pretty neat. Maybe I'm just enamored by all their pretty red liquid pictures.

The User-Generated Content Chronicles: HP gets personal

HP has a microsite where you are asked to upload a photo to "star in your own commercial" for HP. It then uses this crazy software to center your face and animate your mouth so you look like you're talking. It's the creepiest thing I have ever seen. Of course, I was completely mesmerized. This is my 3-year old girl.

It then links to another site that let's you look at products, check out the ads from the campaign (are people interested in looking at this, or is the gang over at Goodby so egomaniacal that they have convinced their client that people are interested in looking at this?), or check out other promos.


More on IBM's take of user-generated content. Check out the blog post and podcast interview from PodTech.


The User_Generated Content Chronicles: IBM and your cheeks

Now, here's user-generated content (UGC) taken to a new level. IBM has a program going with National Geographic called the "Genographic Project." Most marketers who have dabbled with UGC ask their online communities to submit a video or a design or to write something. IBM and Nat'l G. are asking for participants to submit a cheek swab to help map global DNA patterns. They're actually selling the kits to swab your cheeks with for a hundred bucks. Interesting, but bizarre.

Interesting that IBM is also trying to share their marketing with the masses, by making it fun. Check out System i Cafe and Angus the IT Chap. This is separate and distinct to the "System i Resource Center" that lives on their website.


The User-Generated Content Chronicles: Firefox Films

I'm doing some research for a client who is considering dabbling with user-generated content (that's all I can tell you or I'd have to kill you). Thought I'd post some stuff here.

Mozilla has a site called Firefox Flicks that's only been promoted via word-of-mouth. They've created a home for fans of the browser to submit a 30 second spot or a video podcast. They don't seem to say how many submissions they've had, but one blog post I found said they had 280 submissions as of April 28, 2006.

Also, check out this post on iPlot about "Crowdsourcing." Lots of good references, including our old client, Marketocracy.



My good pal, Dave Smith, over at Mediasmith, just sent out his latest issue of the Anvil. Smart cookie, that Dave. He talks about measuring engagement online. Says marketers need to stop looking at CPMs (cost-per-thousands) and start looking at CPWs (cost-per-whatever you are trying to measure).

Sell that to the metrics junkies out there in marketing land.


Comm Arts Interactive Annual 2

Is this the same bat station? Wow. Guess it is.
    State Farm: nowwhat.com
  1. This is kind of relevant for me because I just sat down with a big agency in town we've done some work for (won't say which one, but I will say it's pretty drafty in here) and I guess consulted with them about what's the latest in online advertising for a pitch they are giving to a major insurance industry client. The client is a metrics junkie and won't invest in anything that does not directly show proven ROI. Not exactly visionary stuff, but this site is a good example of how a company can provide a branded experience that provides value and a chance to connect with people AND direct response opportunities (Get a quote, etc.) that "justify" the cost for marketers with metrics on the brain.

  2. Delayed response: If you click on a page and don't do anything after about 30 seconds you get to watch a little disaster (a tree falls on your car, TV blows up in your apartment).

  3. Wasn't too impressed with how they pulled some it off graphically (inconsistent shadows, an llustrated dent in your car that doesn't match the photo it's supposed to be part of), but I'm a tough audience. Don't think my wife would make that comment.

    Mini: Roof Studio
  1. I've seen this site before, and I gotta tell you, I just don't get it. I mean, I know technically, it's pretty impressive and it is all "ooh, aah, user-generated content," but what goood is user-generated content if no one gives a shit about the content.

  2. Click to view roof: But this is supposed to be about details. When you roll over cars, it has copy instructions telling you what to do next. Good UI element. Also like that the UI copy follows your mouse. Nice touch.

  3. Cursor Help On/Off: I also like that you can shut this feature off if it bugs you.

  4. Hidden navigation being site logo (ROOFSTUDIO): Again, this shows respect for your audience by saying, we know you're intelligent enough to find this if you need it.

  5. Rollover sounds: little tap-taps add to visual rollover cues.


Comm Arts Interactive Annual

Comm Arts Interactive Annual is out. Here's my review of the details that make this stuff awesome (or doesn't). This is the less obvious stuff that shows smart thinking.
    BMW: The All-New 3
  1. Polite Full-screen: The site expands to full screen, but not until you click on the lin: Just a couple of secs, but it's a nice technique to introduce the brand experience.

  2. Expandable/Collapsable Nav: Again, nice, slick UI element, says "we know our users are not morons."

  3. Load screens: Brand messages while your waiting to load.

  4. Benefits, not features: A copywriter obvioulsy worked on the navigation (sleeker, faster, safer, etc.).

    GE: Geoterra
  1. Little people: There's nothing subtle about what makes this site great. It's just fun. Lots of details, but if I was going to name one I like best, it's the little people hanging out on the bottom of the interface.

  2. UI Builds: No such thing as pop-up box here. Each "pop-up" has an elegant animated build to it. Really nice.

  3. Washing Machine game: I don't have time for this shit. Web games that are actually fun to play. Cut it out, I got work to do.

  1. Navigation instructions: While you're waiting for the content to load, you are given useful how-to info. In my humble opinion, one of the smartest elements of effective UI design is the effective use of copy.

  2. OK, tried to use these instructions (it said drag the sandal to navigate) and what they told me to do didn't work. Piss me the hell off.

  3. This site's too Flash heavy to work on my Powerbook, two thumbs down. Outta here.

    Infiniti: Interactive mirrors
  1. Hard to tell from these screen shots, but this technology is cool as hell for trade shows. Traction is actually partnering with Delphi Productions to create one of these kiosks right now for one of their clients. This is Minority Report stuff, kids.

    Scion: Owners' Manual
  1. What's great about this is not so much the creative, but that it was created to solve a business problem. Scion wanted to reduce calls to their help desk, so they created a CD-ROM as a supplement to their Owners' Manual

  2. A trend here: Again, cool UI builds on new pages

  3. Time labels: Whenever they have a link to a video, they show how long that video will be. Lets the user know what they're signing up for by clicking.

    Nike: Jumpman23
  1. Love the curtains.

  2. Music: I've noticed on almost all of these sites I've been looking at, they're not afraid to use music to convey emotion. This one, however, doesn't have a shut off switch, particularly bad form here because the music qulaity was shit and really annoying.

  3. Top nav: Nicely designed navigation at the top of the page, but I didn't see it. Kind of makes it useless.

  4. Thumbnails: Not to be a nitpicky ass, but the thumbnail images on the Lifestyle page were obviously bitmaps they scaled down in Flash. May not be a big deal to the untrained eye, but if you do this stuff for a living, you should know better. Just lazy.

    Nestea Ice
  1. Each page has tons of kooky shit. Mexican wrestlers, rapping ice cube puppets. Great details all over the place

  2. Rollover "Retrieve Photo" and the photo falls down.

  3. Monty Python Style: Juxtaposed b-and-w photos with illustration. Just good. "Retrieve Photo" and the photo falls down.

  4. Ice Polls: Little hand with wings tells you to "Select an answer" (good UI copy). When you roll over the poll options the little rollover sound says "bling."

  5. Death or Fresno?: Made me laugh.

  6. Baby got back: When you roll over the back button it says "baby got back."

To be continued...


Traction and SubTraction in the news

The San Francisco Examiner did a piece on Traction (the agency I run) and SubTraction (the creative staffing agency we started) this morning. Actually, they did two pieces: their weekly Profile and Campaign of the Week. I can't link to it because for some reason it's not on the Examiner's website, but you can see the work in our portfolio if you click here.

It was a nice article on us article, but I'm not sure I'll ever live down the headline...

Adam Kleinberg: Staffing is his secret weapon


Sun gets branding

I spent the morning at a "Brand Training Event" for Sun Microsystems. They're one of our clients. I think it's pretty cool to see a company do stuff like this around their brand. One of the guys (Ronan Dunlop) from Traction wha was with me. worked on the Sun account at Lowe & Partners about 10 years ago and says Sun was a completely different world back then. They used to say things like, "We don't care about brand. We know who we are." Great, but do your customers?

Well, it seems like they do now (Sun recently got a lot of press when they surpassed Dell to become #3 in the server market). I was talking to Sun's creative director, Glenn Martinez, this morning and he told me that he got Scott McNealy to buy into the brand vision thing by describing it as a science: branding is the engineering of perception. That was something the tech guys could grasp and in the last three years the company has completely taken control of their brand.

They've also got a cool new audio logo. You'll hear it soon. (yes, that is my first bit of breaking blog news)

Business Deve-lush-ment

I love this story:

Alcohol use helps boost income: study

This seems eerily reminiscent of the business development we've used to build Traction over the last 5 years. Hmmmm.


Browser Blur

So, just to recap. This is my list of the online trends that marketers need to know about.

We had:

1. User-Generated Content (big surprise there)

2. Rich Internet Applications (popping up all over the place, but not on most marketers radars yet)

and finally...

3. Browser Blur. What, you ask, the hell is browser blur? New buzzword. I just made it up. You heard it here first kids.

Because of Trend #2 (RIAs) applications that have traditionally lived on the desktop are moving online. Salesforce.com takes credit for starting this trend (not exactly how it happened I believe, but Perception is one of the Immutable Laws of Marketing). Companies like Google, Microsoft and AOL and dozens upon dozens of startups are tripping over themselves to build or buy these applications. You're seeing word processors, calendars, even video editing tools, popping up all over the place. And because they're web-based, they can offer collaboration features like document sharing that desktop apps can't.

On the other end of the spectrum, you've got apps that deliver content via RSS feeds to the desktop without a browser. iTunes for one. Apple widgets are another that marketers are already taking advantage of. Slide has a toolbar that sits on your desktop and has photos slide by, fed from whatever site you want -- whether it's your friends' Flickr feeds, or things you want to buy on eBay. Traction is partnering with a company called ScreenAngels right now to create rich, personalized, brand experiences right on users' desktops.

The point here is that the lines are blurring. But, in that haze, there's great little opportunities for brands to reach consumers all over the place. Luckily, now you're prepared.

Rich Internet Applications

2. Rich Internet Applications. The next item on my trends in online marketing list is RIAs. This is what AJAX is all about. Adobe Flex too. Best way to explain it is by example. Think about your typical e-commerce transaction. You browse from one page to the next looking for a pair of pants you want to buy. Then maybe you go to another page and they've got colors, buttonfly or zipper, whatever. Then you add the item to your cart. Then you go to your cart. Then you go to checkout. Then you go to create a profile. So, you'e been to like 47 pages and now you've got a pair of pants. Terrific. Lot of pages though.

Now, your forward-thinking, customer-centric online retailer comes along and his agency says there's a better way. Your customer shouldn't have to go from page to page, they should be able to pick out there pants, decorate, see what they've got in their cart, buy it, all at once. And they should be able to do it the same way they use the rest of their computer—by dragging and dropping and using sliders and such.

Here's a great prototype of one of these done right using Flex.

Click me.

Why is this so important? I just saw data from a Forrester research study showing that conversions can increase by as much as 50% when RIAs are used for shopping carts. Kind of speaks for itself.

So, right now you've got Yahoo and Google and all the major players starting to add these little apps to their sites. These guys are the leaders and people are going to follow. Over the next couple of years, companies that can combine marketing savvy with smart user interface design are going to have a big competitive advantage. And happy customers. (by the way, Traction is really good at this stuff).

In my opinion, the entire internet is going to be rebuilt. Boom.

Niemen Marcus has a piano player to give customers a better shopping experience. At Walmart I think it's the Blue Light Special (I'm not sure because I've only been in a Walmart once and that was at 10:30 at night to get a fishing license because we were going catfish hunting). Every brand thinks about how to make the customer experience better in retail stores. How can they do that online? This is it.

Ad Week Hot List

As if to confirm my thumb on the pulse of industry, I just picked up the latest copy of AdWeek. In their annual Web Site Hot List, 4 out of the top 10 sites they list feature user-generated content.

User-Generated Content

OK, so back to my trend list.

1. User-Generated Content. I had coffee with Ron Bloom over at Podshow close to a year ago. I worked for Ron and Adam Curry (MTV VJ now calls himself "The Podfather") when they ran Think New Ideas in the late 90s. Ron says to me "In five years, the majority of entertainment is going to be user-generated." We were having a conversation about podcasting at the time, but with the rise of YouTube, MySpace, Yadda, Yadda and Yadda, it's looking like maybe he wasn't too far off.

Now user-generated content means a lot of things, but basically it's all about harnessing the power of the collective consiousness of the web. That covers a lot of territory:
- online communities
- video/music/photo/review sharing sites (from Amazon to PornoTube)
- the notion of "tagging" (where users rate and/or rank content)
- blogs, podcasts, mobile blogs, rss feeds
- brands getting their customers to submit content (Converse did this two years ago by asking people to create TV spots and then actually running some of them. The entire Coke website is now all about content submitted by users).
- Google AdSense (uses an algorith based on user behavior to determine placement of ads)
I'm sure I'm missing dozens, but you get the point.

Stay tuned....

AK Fresh 2.0

So, I decided after a while AK Fresh was an incredibly stupid name, so it's gone. BlogTraction is pretty lame, but I'm just gonna leave it at that until I'm inspired.

Made a discovery this morning. What's the one good thing about having to get up with a crying baby at 5am every day? It's a great time to actually post to your blog. Maybe I'll actually do this.

So, got an email from the Web 2.0 Expo looking for an agency to do a campaign for them. They found Traction online and liked our work. I was talking to someone about it and they asked "What is Web 2.0 anyway?" For a split second, I looked at him like he just asked me "What is a banana anyway?" Quickly, I realized .oO( Boy, just because the closest thing I have to a hobby is reading advertising, technology and business magazines in the can, doesn't mean this stuff is mainstream. )

And of course, I didn't have an eloquent definition at the ready for him, because this stuff is murky territory.

So, for the uninitiated, this is what you need to know.

1. People really like to argue and wax poetic about what Web 2.0 is, what Web 2.0 means, and whether or not Web 2.0 really exists.

That being the case, I'm gonna just skip it and talk about a few trends in technology that affect what advertisers, marketers and/or web developers need to know and understand these days.

Shit. The baby woke up. I guess that will be my next post.


post one

Here we go. My blog. Ya.

This blog is brought to you by AK Fresh. Today's post will be brief.

First, my blog credentials: When it comes to putting it out there, I'm O.G. Way back in 1997 or 1998, I started writing Outrage. I would head up to the Gold Cane in the Haight, have a couple of double Jameson's on the rocks and start scribbling like a madman about whatever pissed me off. Then I'd stumble home with a fist full of bar napkins and type whatever I had written on my computer (hand-coded HTML, none of this modern blogspot fanciness) and post it to nunzi.com. You can still find it on the Way Back Machine. Click on "Outrage Archive" in the left nav to read some of that stuff.

I also had a brief stint writing Gnomeless People when someone stole my gnome and starting mailing me Polaroids.

I've been on hiatus quite a while.

AK Fresh is not the first name I tried to get for this blog. I may trash it on a later date if something better comes along. Here's the list of names I tried to get and why, but were already taken on blogspot.com (apparently, just about everything seems to be taken)

This Ad Sucks (thisadsucks.blogspot.com) - That's what I do now. I run a creative agency that does advertising, web stuff, branding, marketing strategy, yadda, yadda and yadda. I've got lots of opinions and I pretty much foresee this blog being about very sundry topics in the advertising and marketing world. The name, unfortunately, didn't work out.

Nunzi (nunzi.blogspot.com) - When my dad was a kid in the Bronx, his first job was running the numbers for three bookies named Nunzi, Funzi and Guido. When he had kids, I became Nunzi. When I moved to SF and got my first email adam@sirius.com was taken, so I took nunzi@sirius.com. Now, a lot of folks call me Nunzi (particularly ones who knew me before I had kids). Taken.

Outrage (outrage.blogspot.com) - See my little story above.

Outrage 2.0 (Outrage2.0.blogspot.com) - You can't put a . in a url

Fustercluck (fustercluck.blogspot.com) - Just how I was feeling at the moment.

AK Fresh (akfresh.blogspot.com) - The winner. Back when I was in junior high, AK Fresh was my rap name. I kid you not. I had a refrigerator box that me and my homies (Big B, Divine D and Jazzy J) all graffitied our rap names on and dragged out into the street to practice our break dance moves. I was very into rap in 8th grade. I think I was the only Jewish kid at Spring Valley Junior High with fat shoelaces and my very own refrigerator box in the garage, but I have no way of confirming that.

Alright, I'm going to bed.