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Updated: Google to Air "Search Stories" Ad During Super Bowl…

By - February 06, 2010

Remember when I wrote about the new “Search Stories” ads for Google’s core search offerings?

In that post, I noted “It’s truly a brand campaign: Google is not selling anything here other than its own brand – that ephemeral sensibility that resides between its customers’ ears.” Well I’ve got a pretty reliable source who is telling me Google plans to hit the branded advertising big leagues this Sunday – the source says Google’s “Parisian Love” ad (below) will air during the third quarter of the Super Bowl.

Now that would be a true turning point for the brand – a brand that, for nearly ten years, dismissed brand advertising as a waste of money (“The last bastion of unaccountable spending in corporate America,” in Eric Schmidt’s words back in 2006), and built its entire fortune on turning the advertising model upside down.

I emailed folks at Google for comment today, and a spokesperson said “Watch the Super Bowl!” That ain’t a no, folks. (It’s not a Screen shot 2010-02-06 at 3.29.23 PM.pngyes, either, but…)

I can’t find the ad in this lineup of SuperBowl advertisers, but I’d not be surprised if Google had asked CBS to keep their name out of the pre-game hype (my source was told Google was keeping this quiet). File this as a strong rumor for now, as I can’t get a secondary confirmation – though Google’s response was pretty telling.

Needless to say, I’ll be Tivo’ing the game….Here’s the ad.

UPDATE: After I emailed Google for comment, Eric Schmidt tweeted this out:


Can’t wait to watch the Superbowl tomorrow. Be sure to watch the ads in the 3rd quarter (someone said “Hell has indeed frozen over.”)

Eric, you trying to scoop my scoop?! Who ever would have thunk it?


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The Friday Signal: It's The Platform, Not the Bowl

By - February 05, 2010

Screen shot 2010-02-05 at 8.35.37 AM.pngFriday is all about the biggest event in television marketing – the Super Bowl. This year (as I’ve noted here before) I’m struck by how many campaigns are integrated with longer term social marketing platforms. That’s putting the investment to good use – promoting what I call a media annuity that will pay back all year long. However, much of the press and some of the marketing still gets it backwards – they see the Super Bowl as something that social media “builds buzz for.” Nope. It’s the other way round, folks. Your brand, which after all is what you’re buying the ad for, right? – your brand lives all year long on the platform you create. That platform is social, mobile, real time. The Super Bowl ad should drive that platform, not BE it.

Super Bowl Advertisers Are MIA on Facebook (ClickZ)

Google to Super Bowl Markters – Give Us Your Ads- and Your Dollars (Forbes)

How Social Media Is Changing the Super Bowl (Mashable)

And in other Friday linkage:

Google Maps To Add “Google Store Views” (SEL)

Googler Quitting To Run AOL Media “Will Be Missed” (AOL, GOOG) (SAI)

Cisco Crushes The Street, We’re In The ‘Second Phase Of Economic Recovery’ (CSCO) (BI)

New Facebook Redesign (HuffPo)

Astronaut Tweets Beautiful Earth Images From Space (Mashable)

Apple prohibits App Store devs from using location-based ads (MacNN) Hmmmm.

Thursday Signal: Are You Checked In?

By - February 04, 2010

Screen shot 2010-02-04 at 11.08.18 AM.png Today is all about checking in. Not so much driven by anything in today’s news, but every week or so I’ll just go off based on what’s on my mind – driven by the news, to be sure, but also by the bricolage of a lot of inputs over time.   

And over the past few weeks, I’ve been developing a thesis around the concept of “checking in.” Now for those of you not playing along at home, “checking in” is the terminology for “declaring where I am and what I’m doing through mobile devices and social media platforms.”

As usual, I’m a late bloomer in this new trend. I joined Foursquare, one of several check-in-based services, about a month ago. I’ve started checking in at work, the gym, various restaurants and local businesses. The service has a strong game element, with social capital earned for checking in, or doing more than one thing in a day, or unlocking action-based “badges,” or repeat check ins over time (Foursquare makes you “Mayor” of a location if you check in there the most. Competition amongst Foursquare nerds is pretty intense for those Mayorships.)

Other services that employ checking in include GoWalla, Yelp, and MyTown. Twitter is adding location services as we speak, which is just another way of saying it’ll support checking in shortly (although most check in services drive announcement tweets already).

And while it may not be clear as to why, I fully expect Google and Facebook to follow suit by enabling some kind of check-in behavior shortly.

Here’s why. To my mind, checking-in is simply another use case on the evolutionary path of search. As I said in the book, each search query is a declaration of intent – you are telling that search engine what you want, and hoping the engine will return a result that satisfies that declared intention.

Checking-in is a powerful new field in the database of intentions. It is a social declaration that “I am here” and, in a more nuanced way, “I am open to appropriate responses/conversations based on the fact that I am here.” Whereas search intent is clearly a request for a specific response, check-in intent is less specific – and hence more open.

I expect this to evolve quickly. I can imagine a time, and it ain’t far off, when we set our mobile devices to automatically check-in at our favorite places, and expect that that check-in will reward us with localized and personalized offers, discounts, and social capital of some sort or another. Furthermore, I expect we will soon expect that if we set our device to “discovery” mode, local businesses (and random strangers too) will be able to ping us with enticements and announcements of all kinds.

Instrumentation of this new social/local/mobile reality will be initially clumsy and fraught, but not for long. The use case is simply too compelling. It’s already happening in various ways – the Chipotle burrito app, the Polo store. Imagine what happens when McDonald’s adopts it? Game changer.

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In other news:

Is Amazon Building a Superkindle? (NYT) Yes, it bought a multitouch technology company, and yes, it’s going to get fun out there in ApplevsAndroidvsAdobevsAmazonLand.

Snickers Uses Social Media, SEM to Support ‘Lead Spot’ in Super Bowl Ads (ClickZ) More proof that social marketing is platform independent/supportive.

He Calls Google A Vampire, But Mark Cuban’s Mahalo Is Doing The Sucking (SEL) Oh SNAP.

Unclear ROI Impedes Mobile Marketing (MarketingProfs) You want proof of ROI? It’s coming. BTW, it’s also already here in terms of higher CTRs, if that’s your thing….(as anyone at AdMob or Microsoft Mobile Ads will tell you).

The IAgency: How the IPad Will Change the Advertising Business (AdAge) Or: Why We Should Emulate the Dying Publishing Industry. Yes please…do.   

Mobile Internet Market to Eclipse Desktop Internet (Brian Solis) Anyone who saw Mary Meeker at Web 2 last year already knew this but it’s worth repeating…

Foursquare Plots Its Business Model (BI) Tick, tick, tick….BOOOOOM.

SlideShare Launches Channels for Businesses and Brands (Mashable)

Weds. Signal

By - February 03, 2010

201002022222.jpgTraveling to a marketing conference in Scottsdale today, so here’s the roundup from last night’s best headlines:

Facebook Marketing Goes to the Super Bowl (InsideFacebook) Over and over again, we are reminded that this is the year the Superbowl ad becomes an adjunct to an ongoing social media platform. Good.

More Than Half Of Mobile Pageviews Are To Social Networking Sites (BI) This in no way is a surprise but it’s worth reiterating: social drives mobile drives social drives mobile drives location drives mobile drives content consumption drives brands.

3 New Ways to Measure the Social Web (Mashable) These are certainly *not* new (we’ve been measuring these and more for years at FM), but any evolving consensus on measurement is worth pointing out, and reinforcing.

Time Spent on Social Media Surges (MarketingProfs) You want metrics proving the social web is huge? Here’s more.

Top Marketing Innovation Killers (iMedia) Well, don’t kill innovation. Just don’t make silly mistakes. And make sure your partner can deliver. That’s certainly my focus.

Google before you Tweet is the new think before you speak. (TheNextWeb) Funny.

The Anatomy of a Large-Scale Social Search Engine

By - February 02, 2010

Screen shot 2010-02-02 at 6.02.56 PM.pngThe folks at Aardvark have posted an ambitious paper over on the ‘vark blog. Titled after Brin and Page’s original “Anatomy of a Large-Scale Hypertextual Web Search Engine”, the paper presents the Aardvark engine and, in its authors’ words: “describes the fundamental differences between the traditional “Library” paradigm of web search — in which answers are found in existing online content — and the new “Village” paradigm of social search — in which answers arise in conversation with the people in your network.”

I have read most of the paper, which has been accepted at WWW 2010 (it reminded me of all the search papers I read in preparation for writing The Search), and found a lot worthy of interest.

First, the paper’s authors, both of whom have worked at Google, clearly have a sense of potential history here, in that they not only crib Google’s original paper’s title, they also mirror the first line (substituting “Aardvark” for “Google”, of course). Now that’s some b*lls. Of course, when Larry and Sergey first presented Google, they couldn’t even get their paper accepted (it took three tries, if I recall correctly. Someone should write a book about that…).

Second, it’s unusual for a Valley startup to lay out its architecture and technological specs as willingly as Aardvark has. There’s a lot of math in here that I couldn’t parse even if I had the will to try.

Third, we learn some cool things about how Aardvark works. Check this quote out: “…unlike quality scores like PageRank [13], Aardvark’s quality score aims to measure intimacy rather than authority. And unlike the relevance scores in corpus-based search

Screen shot 2010-02-02 at 5.57.33 PM.png

engines, Aardvark’s relevance score aims to measure a user’s potential to answer a query, rather than a document’s existing capability to answer a query.”

Also interesting: ” this involves modeling a user as a content- generator, with probabilities indicating the likelihood she will likely respond to questions about given topics. Each topic in a user profile has an associated score, depending upon the confidence appropriate to the source of the topic. In addition, Aardvark learns over time which topics not to send a user questions about…”

There’s a lot more like this in the paper, it’s worth reading. The authors even did a test of Aardvark results against Google, with the results being something of a push (see the last page for details). Not bad for an upstart service.

Lastly, we learn a lot about the service, thanks to a number of charts, including something about Aardvark’s growth, which I had not really anticipated. It’s up and to the right, as you can see from the chart.

Tuesday Signal

By -

A quick set of headlines today, more coming later, after a morning PTA meeting….

Google Is Wrecking DoubleClick, Says Unhappy Client (GOOG) (Business Insider) I’m a DBCLK client and this does not ring true for me, though of course there are always issues with any major business relationship.

Forget Common Sense: Social Media Communicators Must Have Empathy (Shannon Paul) I feel this one.

The Bestest 2009 Industry vet Marc Ruxin always nails it in his annual round up of the best films and music.

Google’s tablet UI concept pictures (Neowin) Oh Lord, it’s a tablet war.

CBS Sells Out Super Bowl Commercials (LA Times) Well that’s not surprising – it’s rare these days to find a place where you can launch a real platform program.

Monday Signal

By - February 01, 2010

Screen shot 2010-02-01 at 8.20.53 AM.png

Happy Monday, folks. Today is all about poker. Over the weekend, the buzz was hearsay about Steve Jobs’ distaste for Google and its ‘don’t be evil’ mantra, as well as for Adobe and its Flash technology (this is all second hand reporting from Wired and other sources, repeating what Jobs reputedly said at a Friday town hall for Apple employees. The story became instantly reported “news” all over the blogosphere.)

Whether or not the sources got their quotes right, what’s really interesting is the Texas Hold’em playing out across the computing, media, and Internet industries. Apple, Google, Adobe, and others (including Microsoft) are playing their hands as each market card is revealed. New standards are tested (HTML5), old standards are questioned (Flash), new devices are introduced (Droid, iPad), and old alliances are shattered (Google, Apple – it was less than a year ago that Schmidt was on Jobs’ board, recall?).

I love it. Our industry has never been more fascinating.   

Meanwhile, other interesting headlines:

IPad Can’t Play Flash Video, but It May Not Matter (NYT) See above and my prior Signals from last week…

Google news Jeff Jarvis talks with Eric Schmidt at Davos and reports his findings, including that Google is toying with making AdSense splits “transparent.”

Who is the MVP of the Marketing Bowl: Social Media or Super Bowl Ads? (Forrester) A research note that details how social marketing is finding its footing in large platform plays – IE, don’t spend that money on a SuperBowl ad if you’re not going to amplify it through social media, or, honestly, vice versa: the SuperBowl ad should be a platform for the social media program, not the other way around.

Tesla Files For $100 Million IPO (BI) IPOs filings are starting to appear left and right, but this one caught my attention because it’s Elon Musk (of various Web startup fame) and it’s electric cars/motors.

The Birth of the Virtual Assistant Siri’s CEO quotes a guy name Battelle to show how his new product fulfills the future of search. Clearly the guy’s been drinking over the weekend.

Microsoft to Test Ad Exchange Business (AllThingsD)