Can we have better Ads ?

We don’t have a cable connection; actually we don’t even have a TV either.

I used to get a lot of Triple-play offers from Verizon and Cablevision and I had a hard time explaining to them that I don’t need Triple-Play since I don’t have a TV. We made this decision a while ago and we have never regretted it. We get our fix from full-episodes available on the internet (J-Stew, Colbert, Parks &Rec, British TV shows). We have this daily ritual for dinner- we eat while watching the previous day’s episode of Stewart and Colbert. If we are not sleepy, we will catch some Father Ted or Black Books on a week day, or Midsomer Murders or George Gently on the weekend. We love this arrangement.

The Daily Show with John Stewart has this really annoying ad-rotation between segments. They play the same-ad (or a mix of 2 ads) over and over again between segment breaks. Then when you switch over to Colbert Report, you see the same ad repeating over and over again.

Hey Brian, can I have some WHheat Thins?
Can I have some WHheat Thins?
They’re Wheat Thins.
That’s what I said. WHheat Thins.
Wheat Thins.
Say Wheat.
Now say Wheat Thins.
WHheat Thins.
No, you can’t have any.
Have any what, have any WHheat THins?
WHheat Thins!
Can I be in your commercial?
It’s our thing, we’re doing it.

Even my love for Stewie cannot get past the annoying repetation.

I was wondering if we could improve this ad-viewing experience.

CONTEXT: Every year during Super Bowl, Doritos has this Crash the Super Bowl Contest where users vote-up Ads posted by people. The ad with most votes wins a million bucks. I believe the Next-4/5 ads with the most votes also get some prize. Doritos would air the top 5 ads during Super Bowl half-time.

VIDEO-PRODUCERS: We have a sizeable video content-producing market who upload on YouTube and other video sharing sites everyday. Can we have some Dorito style contests for Ads ?
The idea is to have a pool of ads, and have them rotate during segments. You keep the ads fresh, and the viewer doesn’t start hating the brand because the ad is boring them with repetition.

How does this Work ?
a) Brand X signs-up for an Ad-Exchange and starts a contest. They encourage video-producers to post 20 second clips like Crash the Super Bowl contest and offer cash-prizes for the Top5 or 10 Likes by End-Date. Video-producers produce and edit their videos to XX seconds and get them voted up. This can be linked / cross promoted through Social Media. The Top-X (10?) Ads get picked-up for rotation by the brand-manager and released for distribution to Ad-networks.

The video-producers get compensated $XY,000 if their ad is in top-10 rotation (Depends on the brand / budget etc.)
The Brand gets to pick many ads, instead of picking just one for distribution.

b) I understand that there is some kind of a deterministic nature of the video content of the ads (X Seconds, has to fit between the segments). I also understand that the TV / Media Networks may not allow real-time programming of their ad-segment, lest something blows up. Media Networks would want to bake the Ad + Colbert Report and then release it for distribution.

I think they can achieve this by passing on these restrictions to the Video-Producer and have a script verify these stats. (Accepting Ads for only 20 seconds.) You can do a standard editing of the TV program factoring in the 20 second slots between breaks.

Does this mean that you cannot have the diversity in Ads during breaks ? I think this can be controlled with upfront QC on the video-producers end. Also, this means more brands should enroll in the Ad-Exchange which will ultimately lead to ad-diversity.

Can you measure “jaded” ?
I believe that there must be some-way to track this through existing means (Neilsen NetRatings ?)
Or you catalog the common non-ad watching behaviors (Turn off Volume, Look-away, Get a Refill…) and try to minimize that in a controlled setting.

To summarize:
1) The brand-manager gets a diverse set of videos to choose from.
2) Video-producers get paid. They have an incentive to produce better videos. They are already doing this on Youtube for practically no fee anyway.
3) Ad-agencies may join in at a higher $$ number and still maintain their presence, as long as they are in the rotation.
4) Cost of producing Ads goes down.
5) Ad Consumers don’t get jaded from repetition.

If consumers are not irritated, maybe they wont hate the brand as much.

ASSUMPTIONS: I forgot to mention 2 important assumptions:

1) Everyone can make ads. You don’t have to work in an ad-agency to come up with something which consumers can relate to.
All you need is a good story about that brand.

2) We lived through decades of 360 degree branding. Maybe we can try something different in an era where consumers don’t want things “sold” to them or brands to be “in your face, everywhere.”

I really don’t know why the 360 degree branding had such a huge impact. Maybe everyone read the same books and thought that was the right thing to do. Maybe it was a good idea to sell during a pitch.

We don’t live in an era where you can achieve message cohesion. I am not sure if message cohesion is desirable either. Message cohesion looks scripted in a spontaneous world. Also ads with message cohesion may go the “banner blindness” way, where a user mentally ignores the ad-banner. I am not saying that there shouldn’t be any message cohesion, I am just saying that Advertisements may not be an appropriate place for it. I may be wrong, I am just speculating here.

I believe that with ad-rotation and ad-diversity, consumers can get a better user experience while watching TV. I don’t believe it’s a trivial objective. Two dudes from Stanford achieved world dominance in search through a few innovations in advertising: Text Ads and Advertising Marketplace.

This idea has legs.


How do you like a Song ?

The title might be misleading.

Let me give you the backstory.

My wife came home from college and said “Honey !! You’ve got to listen to this…” and started playing this track by this band called Fun: We are Young. ft. Janelle Monae

I muttered something stupid and got back to what I was doing.
Went back to work…the song is playing in my head.
While driving back stopped by at a gas station, it’s still playing.

Had dinner. Watched Colbert and J-Stew. It’s still there..

Fired up Google.

Here is my working set:
1) Can you measure the likability of a song ?

2) Can you measure replayability ? (Malcolm Gladwell in Blink, why Kenna’s music career never took-off because his songs were never picked-up by Radio stations and played over and over)
This has huge potential for music industry if you can figure out some way to measure “re-playability”.

3) In a WSJ Article Michaleen Douclef stated that, Adele employs a musical device called a “appoggiatura”.

An appoggiatura is a type of ornamental note that clashes with the melody just enough to create a dissonant sound. “This generates tension in the listener,” said Martin Guhn, a psychologist at the University of British Columbia who co-wrote a 2007 study on the subject. “When the notes return to the anticipated melody, the tension resolves, and it feels good.”

Are all likeable songs “appoggiatura” ? That’s too narrow a domain. Results might be misleading.

4) Can we split a song into X-variables like pitch, tone and do some analysis to find songs in a particular “zone” ?
(I honestly dont know what these potential variables are..)


5) Thinking like a System Admin:
Can we create a Bayesian Filter like Spam Bayes and train it to spot a good-song from a bad-song?
Lets not take songs in random.
Lets setup the test with Top200/500 in Billboard and evaluate “good mail” from “spam mail”.
We are trying to predict which songs in Top 100-500 range will break in to Top-50/100
If we are wrong, we train the filter.

Can we actually do a Bayesian Filter for mp3’s ?

Let’s see if we get somewhere…