Interactive Advertising

Hyper Island & WeSC Interactive Storefront

Over the last few years the use of interactive store front windows has begun to become more common place in larger markets where retailers are willing to experiment with new ways of attracting an audience. I have been fascinated with both the technology, and design implications that come out of this kind of work.

Most of the time the interaction is fairly simple; there are short videos followed by a touch based web page projected on the window, or interaction with movement at street level is presented. What Hyper Island has done here for clothing line WeSC is create an experience that extends beyond the window allowing you to build a portion of your experience online using a set of tools that allow you to upload your own image and build a unique background pattern. All of this mirrors the street level experience of the interactive store front, which uses infrared cameras to measure movement in front of the window, and control the projected image.

The people in the display were shot against a green screen with a Red One camera. I’m not sure what the programming component is, but I have a feeling it might be “processing”. Below is video of the window in action and the how they made it video.

Designed and built by Beatriz Areilza, Gustaf Engström, Lucas Lima and Marcus Wallander.

Tronic’s Interactive Walls for Target and Marriot.

One of the things that sucks about traveling, id being stuck in an airport that offers nothing to do except wait for a charging station to open up, or a way to clog your veins with fat filled goodness from Sbarro or some other god awful fast food joint. One thing that is true, airports are an environment that is ripe with opportunity for advertisers to take advantage of, if they choose a compelling and unique way to deliver their advertising content.

I have been interested in interactive walls, and projected interactive media for some time now, and I think this execution from Tronic for Xerox and Target are spot on examples of how great this medium could be.

Working in partnership with Young and Rubicam New York, Tronic designed and produced two interactive, live action productions for Target and Marriot Hotels. Both segments were created to promote the Xerox business-to-business campaign that launched in September of this year. The two productions run in rotation on life-sized, nine-screen interactive video walls at Atlanta, Denver, Los Angeles and nine other airports in the United States.

Tronic is known for its ability to blend digital and physical media in unique ways, and this campaign showcases the way Tronic was able to create a new form of advertising that mixes gesture based interactivity with live action commercials. What works really well here is how the advertising is no longer a passive experience, but instead how it is now disrupt and interactive. How a standard commercial has transformed itself into something that is actually fun and offers an almost game like experience.

10,000 Live Bees Send an S.O.S. Signal

Yesterday I read on the BBC that ELO founding member Mike Edwards was killed in Devon England when a giant hay bale rolled down a hill and crushed his car. Then today I was surfing around the internet, and came across an article about the first billboard made using live bees to create the image. I started wondering if Mike Edwards was in Devon to see the billboard, which I guess we will never know the answer to. OK enough of that, what I wanted to post about was the billboard. I’ll leave the eulogy to someone else.

World-wide honey bee populations are in severe decline, but beekeepers and scientists are unsure what is causing these losses.

To address this problem the British Plan Bee is working together with the environmental friendly winery Banrock Station to raise awareness about the situation.

Plan Bee created the world’s first billboard with live bees. They used queen-bee pheromones to attract about 100,000 bees from a nearby honey farm to spell out an “SOS” (Save Our Swarm) message on the billboard. Banrock Station is also donating 5 Pounds for every bottle sold.

Clare Griffiths from Banrock Station Wineries told the BBC: “We thought there was no better way to raise awareness of the British bee decline than get the bees to tell their story themselves. We hope the billboard has created a bit of a buzz in Devon and beyond.”

iPad Interactive Books Let You Choose Your Own Adventure.

Remember those choose your own adventure books? You know the kind where if you wanted to follow the right path you’d turn to page 210, and if you wanted to go through door on your left you’d turn to page 163, and so on. They were primitive yet effective interactive narratives that worked really well. The content was for the most part engaging, and there were multiple possible outcomes. Well guess what, they are back and they have been updated for the twenty-first century.

Tool of North America and Domani Studios teamed up to bring 4 interactive stories to the iPad. By touching, shaking and turning your iPad, you can navigate, unlock and reveal unexpected variations in each of these stories. Shot by 5 different directors, these interactive, live-action, short stories evolve storytelling in ways that haven’t been done before on the iPad.

Click Image to Play the Video on Vimeo.

So what does this mean for things like branded content and interactive advertising? Well it means everything. The game changed, because now, you can create sticky engaging advertising, that plays out not like an ad, but like passive content. Content that engages and hooks your targeted audience for an extended period of time.

It also changes the way these kinds of stories and books can be developed, but I got all worked up about the clever advertising potential here and went off on a tangent. Anyway, if you have an iPad, you can download the books for free here.

Uniqlo Lucky Switch

As banner ads go, most are fairly mundane, uninviting, and uninspiring. This however is an exception to the rule. UNIQLO Lucky Switch features great  in context interactivity,  a solid driver to execute return traffic and click throughs. Watch the video and take note of the numbers at the end. The total volume of clicks and the sales increases. It is what makes this banner ad a true success.

Old Dog, New Trick. Apple iAds.

Most of us have probably seen the recent Apple iPhone  4.0 presentation given by Steve Jobs. This presentation included a few minutes on their planned new iAds platform for the iPhone and iPad. (you can watch it here, and iAds start around 44:00 minutes).

Now, this is a pretty cool thing for everyone involved in an industry that wants to make ad money (marketers, developers, agencies) but, I have a few things that come to mind.

Question one: Do current conventional online ads really deliver no emotional experience, and isn’t fairly plausible that iPhone ads will have the same problems with things like click through and retention?

First off I am going to disagree with somethings Steve Jobs said. (big surprise here since he has been on this fan-boys shit list since the iPhone 4.0 key note. See my post on Flash from earlier.)

Contrary to what Steve says, I think there have been many examples of online ads that have  an emotional ad experiences, and a compelling reason to click through and find more. The real question here is, are they all relevant in the end user’s context? I don’t care who you are, or what medium you are using, people hate being interrupted in what they are doing with ads, but when they go to an online portal it seems accentuated. So how will this be that much different on an iPhone?

I agree with the Apple folks that click-throughs will improve.  This will happen because now you have a seamless transition between the application to ad and back to application. Let’s not muddy the waters here though: In reality this is just fixing a problem mobile apps have while online portals really don’t. You can easily go back to the portal/website from an advertisement. In the end, our human behavior of hating to be interrupted by advertising will probably stay the same. Now, even though you will have your iPhone/iPad with you almost all the time, and even though it’s location aware it’s not like iAds and the examples Steve Jobs showed are that much more interactive or interesting than anything you have seen on a Microsite in the last ten years. Development of a compelling action is solely a function of how creative the brand or their agency wants to make their application, or in last ten years, a microsite experience.

I think Steve Jobs just played the “it’s more emotional” card to make iAds look more interesting to brand managers, who are driven by the notion that Advertising has to be more emotional and creative. In addition, Steve Jobs is attaching this promise an amazing track record for creating new platforms for those brands. And this is something no brand manager can say no to, especially because there so much frustration in the online marketing community with online metrics and really understanding what to do. So, if Apple can make their community happy through delivery of a simple to use platform,  it will make a lot of money.

Question two: Do people really ignore “search” on their iPhone when they really want to find something?

Without a doubt, when you have a content and subject issue that is covered by one of your applications, you are going to use that app to search for a result. No matter what that app is. Now ask yourself and be honest, how many application do you have on your iPhone that you rarely, or never use? On mine, it’s about 75 percent. In reality it goes like this, at the end of the day you love the idea of what the application is, and you downloaded it, but you haven’t made it a part of your daily experience. So at the end of the day, the iAds works well for the apps you use on a regular basis, but on many applications getting people to connect with your branded content is still just advertising. the same type you click “Igonre” or “Skip”, in traditional online browsing experiences.

So I’m not really sure how that argument even helps with Apple’s case. I doubt people who search things in a topic area that is not embedded  directly in their daily lifestyle will first try to find an application that matches their need in the App store, then make the decision to purchase, and then go on to evaluate the application and use it to search on a regular basis.

And let’s be honest here: in the end aren’t many of the iPhone applications we use just like web portals, and iAds are just like embedded online advertising in these sites? Think about it. When you go to your few favorite news, sports, and topic of interest site, in many ways is like your favorite often used apps on the iPhone. As for the Ads well, there are ads that try to interrupt on those sites you go to, and now they will be everywhere on your iPhone. In many ways this is brilliant. Especially when you think about the size of the overall iPhone user base. And when you think about it, advertising has paid the livelihood of all mediums so far:  print, radio, tv, and websites. I guarantee that in the future it will pay for application development as well.

The difference is that this media channel is owned only by Apple, and the channel is owned by Apple. In addition the delivery and distribution platform is owned by Apple, and guess what? The media agency is also Apple. To that I say well done Apple.

Now for question number three: Say What… Only 60% revenue goes to the application owner?

In many ways this is like paying for product placement in a grocery store. Just like Coke pays Safeway for premium shelf space to display its products. Think about this, you are paying Apple 40% to advertise your product, and Apple is only giving you the platform to advertise on. You still have to do all the leg work you still do the strategy, the creative and program  the interactive ad. Wowza, When you figure in your development costs your ROI is slipping even further.

Now I admit that right now iPhones users still represent are very interesting and affluent target audience. But still, 40% percent? That’s huge.  If anyone can pull this off, it’s Apple. It will be interesting to see how all of this shakes out for Apple in the end.

In the end it’s an old dog with new tricks, where the new trick is a single platform business and license to print money. Apple, and Genius.