If you’re trying to understand why Facebookelicits such an emotional response, look no further than the name.
A study commissioned by Facebook examined how consumers’ brains responded to the site as well as to Yahoo’s and The New York Times‘s homepages. NeuroFocus, the Berkeley, Calif., firm that executed the study, found that of the three, Facebook scored highest on attention, emotional engagement and memory retention. [ Continue Reading… ]
John Lasseter, the chief creative officer at Pixar, was on Charlie Rose last week, talking about Steve Jobs, the evolution of animation and Pixar’s next project, Brave.
The episode is worth watching in its entirety. On the subject of Jobs, Lasseter refers to him as “being like a brother” and talks about Jobs’s drive for excellence. He also points out that Jobs invested more than $50 million of his own money in Pixar for nearly a decade before it ever made a profit.
Lasseter also talks about Pixar’s next film, Brave, which hits theaters in June. Brave features a female protagonist — a first for the company.
Lasseter, who also serves as the Principal Creative Adviser for Walt Disney Imagineering, discusses the importance of fusing new technology and new techniques with what fundamentally makes a great film: A good story.
What continues to make Pixar unique is that it is one of the few companies that fuses technology with stories and characters that stand the test of time.
In the interview, Lasseter shares an anecdote about Steve Jobs and how the late Pixar CEO looked at the legacy of animation. After remarking that with technology, a good product could last at most, five years, he said, “if you do your job right with these animated films, what you do can last forever.”
Google is on fire today: besides introducing the new activities recommendation engine Schemer, and the news aggregator Currents, the company also improved Google+with several nifty features, including face detection.
The new feature is called Find my Face, and it helps tag photos of people in pictures, provided they’ve activated the feature.
Google has obviously learned a lesson from Facebook, which suffered some backlash – even an EU probe – over turning its face recognition feature on by default. In Google+, you can accept or reject someone tagging you or turn the feature on and off and, most importantly, the feature is opt-in.
Find my Face will be rolling out to users over the next couple of days.
Gmail has also been upgraded with a couple of social networking features, making it easier to add people to your Google+ Circles from Gmail and share stuff on Google+ without leaving your inbox.
According to recently released figures from eMarketer, Facebook‘s revenue for advertising alone — which excludes revenue for virtual currencies and other sources — came to an astonishing $1.86 billion for all of last year. Not bad for a web startup that’s yet to see its seventh birthday.
As we reported last month, Facebook was on track to reach the $2 billion mark for revenue in 2010. When other revenue streams are counted along with ad revenue, it’s easy to imagine that the $2 billion revenue was achieved and possibly exceeded in the past year.
As users spend more and more on Facebook Credits, which got an extensive roll-out through online and brick-and-mortar retailers throughout 2010, the virtual currency is likely accounting for an increasing amount on Facebook’s balance sheets. After all, Facebook collects around 33 cents on the dollar for Credits spent within the Facebook ecosystem of apps and games — games that grow more popular with each iteration.
As for the ads, Facebook’s serving more than 50 billion display ads per month and was on track to serve 1 trillion display ads for the year.
A widely discussed article in Wired last summer posited the idea that the web is dead. The argument, which, on closer inspection appeared based on semantics, predicted that consumers would experience the web via peer-to-peer networks like Facebookand, increasingly, apps, in the future.
If that proves to be the case, a dead web may be good for advertising.
The reason? Aside from search, advertising on the web has been tricky. Consumers generally don’t click on banner ads — especially not on Facebook — and tend to view ads as an intrusion on their web-browsing experience. In contrast, a recent report by Appssavvy (admittedly not a disinterested observer) found that in-app ads perform 11.4 times better than standard banner ads, which means they are almost as effective as search.
That said, app publishers have been working on tweaking the “appvertising” model to make it more effective. Below is an overview of what seems to be working.
1. Become Part of the Game
Advertising in games is nothing new, but the the old model revolved mostly around product placement. But, as is the case with the TV and movie version of product placement, advertisers learned that having a Coke can in the background of a scene isn’t likely to sell many Cokes, but having a character drink it in a key moment — especially when the character is really thirsty and that Coke looks so good — is another story. When it comes to in-app games, the thirst-quenching Coke’s equivalent is having a brand pop up in a way that enhances the game experience.
For instance, last year, Microsoft ran a program with Appssavvy for Windows 7 in nqmoco’s GodFinger All-Stars. In that game, players control their own planet. The aim is to expand the planet and earn money, among other things, to get to the next level. So, Appssavvy, working with Universal McCann, brought a Windows Cloud into the game. Players could visit the Cloud the same way they’d visit their friends’ planets and earn in-game currency for doing so. If they wanted to, they could also click through a mobile landing page and learn more about Windows 7. “It leveraged activity [users] were already doing,” says Michael Burke, co-founder of Appssavvy. “They don’t mind the advertising.” Well, at least an impressively large minority didn’t — during the six-week promotion, 10% of the game’s players visited the Windows Cloud for a total of 6.1 million visits.
Another approach is to forget about blending into the game and instead ask players to sit through an ad in exchange for virtual game currency. That’s the premise behind SocialVibe. In a recent campaign, for instance, SocialVibe gave away currency for Zynga’s various games if users visited The Big Game Tournament, which pitted characters from FarmVille, YoVille, FrontierVille and others in a football game sponsored by Kia. The effort had the highest time-spent-per-user of any SocialVibe game to date — 170 seconds.
Does bribing consumers to watch a commercial really work though? Clearly, some investors think so — SocialVibe just got a $20 million infusion of cash from Norwest Venture Partners last month. And a new company, Kiip, has a twist on this idea. Instead of virtual currency, they get real prizes. For example, if a player reaches a new height record in Doodle Jump, a Kiip notification will let the player know they’ve won a prize. Then a user can enter his email address to redeem the prize. Kiip has a roster of brand partners including Dr Pepper, Carl’s Jr., Popchips and GNC.
3. Make Better Ads
Not everyone thinks you have to twist consumers’ arms to get them to look at ads. Many believe that the rise of apps — especially among mobile users — will usher in a new era of more engaging advertising. Chief among the proponents of this belief is Apple’s Steve Jobs, who introduced Apple’s iAd platform in April 2010 as “mobile ads with emotion.” For Apple, though, the platform hasn’t been entirely successful. The company recently cut the entry price for an iAd in half to $500,000 and has reportedly had trouble selling the ads.
But Garrick Schmitt, managing director of experience and platform at Razorfish, says that rich media ads within apps perform much better than standard display ads — though he declines to get specific. Apple, he says, is just reacting to competition. Ads that Razorfish creates on behalf of clients like Best Buy and Westin Hotels are meant to offer more utility — you might say they’re more app-like — than the typical banner ad.
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Many recent years have been touted as “The Year of Mobile,” but 2011 might just live up to the hype. For the first time, consumers are spending more time on mobile apps than on the web, and mobile devices are edging out PCs and laptops in sales.
Yet mobile advertising is expected to hit just $1.1 billion in the U.S. this year, with mobile search accounting for $295.1 million, according to eMarketer. That compares to $31.3 billion on U.S. online spending and $14.4 billion for web search advertising.
Clearly, despite widespread use, marketers and the search giants haven’t yet cracked the code on mobile search advertising, which is shaping up to be a bit different than the traditional kind. Therein lies the opportunity — people who are grabbing their phones to search something are likely one step closer to buying a product or service than someone at home on their PC.