Archive for the ‘Advertising’ Category

20130507-224325.jpg Chute, a startup that offers tools for collecting and
displaying photos, has raised $7 million in Series A
Funding. The round was led by Foundry Group, with
participation from existing investors Freestyle Capital
and US Venture Partners. Chute previously raised a
$2.7 million seed round led by Freestyle. The company allows publishers and other businesses
to pull relevant photos from social networks or collect
them directly from users, then display those images
on their own websites and in real-world locations. It’s
also experimenting with other photo collection
methods, like allowing NBC News reporters to post photos of the presidential inauguration directly from a
Chute mobile reporting app. The larger vision, said co-founder Ranvir Gujral, is to
build “a complete visual platform.” He said that
whenever a company publishes visual content, Chute
should be involved in some way: “That doesn’t have
to mean we publish everything — it just means that
we know about it.” The first step in making that happen, Gujral said, is
“growing our marketshare and awareness,” and indeed
that’s one of the company’s main goals with the new
funding. At the same time, he acknowledged that
there’s work to be done on the product side too. Chute is also making a product announcement today,
unveiling Chute Ads, which allow companies to
incorporate photos, whether from the brand itself or
provided by users, into banner ads. This helps brands
tie together their “paid, owned, and earned media,”
Gujrat said. “As a brand, if I’m putting time into creating great
content and posting it to my Instagram and Pinterest,
I want to put it into my own ad units instead of a
static SWF file,” Gujrat said. “We want to kill the
static SWF file.” The first publisher to offer Chute Ads, which are
scheduled to go live in June, is Condé Nast Traveler.
In a press release, Craig Kostelic, Head of Digital
Global Sales for Condé Nast Travel Network, argues
that the ads “give advertisers the ability to also be
publishers,” and that since they pull content in real- time, “audiences will never see the same ad twice.”


20130507-211646.jpg. TenFarms, a startup working on a couple of
interesting mobile product ideas, just announced that
it has raised $2.7 million in funding from undisclosed
angel investors. The company has already released its first product,
Photopoll, which allows users to share photos (you
can pull them from your camera roll,, or
Instagram), tell stories around those photos, and ask
their friends for opinions. There are lots of other
polling apps, but when founder and CEO Nils Forsblom showed me Photopoll, he emphasized the
ease with which users can share multiple photos. The
app has attracted a largely female audience, he said,
and it will be tailoring the experience to that audience
with future releases. More interesting to me is what TenFarms is working
on next — Adtile, which delivers mobile ads that don’t
interrupt the user experience until someone chooses
to view them. If you’re browsing an app with a stream
of content, some of that content might have an Adtile
icon, and if you tap on, say, that photo, it will flip over and show a related ad. Will anyone actually tap on the ads? Forsblom said
that he’s been happy with the results from the early
tests, though he declined to offer any specific
numbers. Forsblom said this approach has some big
advantages over other types of mobile advertising.
For one thing, he said the ads themselves offer a
good user experience. For example, one ad he
showed me not only highlights a relevant product, but
also maps out the location of nearby stores and allows users to call those stores. He said the
experience is designed natively for iOS, and he
argued that it’s almost wrong to call it an ad — it’s
more of “an app within an app.” The other advantage is targeting. Adtile will allow
advertisers to advertise in apps in a specific topic or
vertical, and they can also target by geography. Even
better, Forsblom said, “We understand what’s the
product or thing that it’s showing — when you flip [the
content] around, there should a very, very close relationship with with the ad itself.” At the same time,
he cautioned, “None of these things are ever perfect.” Forsblom said he won’t be selling Adtile units directly,
but instead working with ad networks. He also said
that he wants to experiment with different pricing
models, so that it’s “more democratic” and the ad that
gets served isn’t always the one that comes from the
advertiser with the biggest budget. Before TenFarms, Forsblom founded Fruugo, a
shopping startup that seems to have flamed out
despite raising $48 million in funding. In a recent
interview, Forsblom said that after taking on investors
at Fruugo, he was “basically powerless”: “That was
my biggest mistake, giving those voting powers to the investors and basically just being an employee of the
company.” That’s why he said he’s being careful and
retaining control this time around.

20130507-102649.jpg. im ddeleting the internet [sic]“: A telling re-blog from a teenaged girl on the blogging platform turned social
networking site Tumblr, in a chain of re-postings that
had her pondering Tumblr’s impact on her life twenty
years from now, when her passing, immature
thoughts become fodder for a discussion among her
boss and colleagues at some imagined future workplace. The fact that Tumblr speaks to this younger
demographic, and in particular teenage girls slightly
more so than boys, is known. Why that is the case is
something which many are still scratching their heads
over, even as Tumblr begins to focus on generating
revenue from this very audience, whose online behavior makes it tricky for advertisers who want to
connect. “How do teenagers waste hours upon hours
consuming Tumblr?“, a confused parent once asked
on another time-wasting site, the Q&A resource
known as Quora. The top answer, posted by
“Anonymous,” claims to be from a teenaged user
of Tumblr, though it could just as easily be a sneaky marketing ploy from the startup itself. But it speaks
some truths nonetheless. Tumblr, wrote the poster, “seems like a freedom, as
weird as that may sound.” “Unlike Facebook, I have a clean slate,” this person
explained. ”I really have found myself starting to have
my own opinions. These, in some cases, greatly
differ from relatives or friends, people who used to
greatly influence my opinions.” Whether or not “anon” was a real Tumblr user, or even
a real teenager, it’s an apt enough explanation as to
why the site has found footing among the young and
hormonal. Though worries that a boss might peruse
online indiscretions may one day come to pass,
Tumblr users often use pseudonyms or only first names, making their blogs harder to find by the prying
eyes of parents or HR, for that matter. Tumblr doesn’t owe its success among teens solely
because of its pseudonymous qualities. That helps,
but, more simply, it has become the digital upgrade to
that demographic’s earlier tools for cut-and-pasted
self-discovery: the repurposing of media and content
to reflect their interests and fandoms, likes and hates, newly forming opinions, and more. Read through teenaged Tumblrdom as a grown-up,
and you’ll soon feel very, very old. “i haven’t had my phone on ring for like 3
years,” muses ”Aubrey,” who also once reblogged
“what the frick is friendster.” Don’t worry, Aubrey, you don’t need to know. ~~~~ The real answer to the surging teenaged use of the
site lies not in the lengthy Quora explanations, but in
the examples of the odd, offbeat, and yes,
sometimes inappropriate content kids are sharing. Tumblr blogs tend to lack the glossy, professional,
high-minded design of other social networking sites,
including the behemoth that is Facebook and the
SMS-inspired Twitter. If anything, these teenaged
Tumblrs harken back to earlier web days where users
built their own pages on AngelFire and Geocities, with atrocious backgrounds, upgraded cursors, and
dancing GIF images galore. GIFs, in fact, are so
hugely popular on Tumblr that the company even
began experimenting with GIF-based ads. The teen blogs are also reminiscent of MySpace,
featuring often same general gaudiness, and the
spewing of content on top of content, like the layers
of photos and other decorations teens used to tack up
on cork bulletin boards and bedroom walls. Tumblr now serves that purpose, and more. ~~~~ At the risk of dating myself, I’ll reveal that I was
teenaged in the pre-Web era. We didn’t have Tumblr
then, but rather composition notebooks, glossy
magazines, and scissors. We had mean girl-like
cliques to rebel against, passions, complaints, and in-
jokes. We liked boys. We worried about our looks and clothing and hairstyles. We dissed our teachers and
our parents. We wrote short stories. And we
expressed ourselves on paper with scrapbooks, torn
magazine collages, and shared notes in passed
around “slam books.” (To be fair, we weren’t writing truly awful things, really – that’s just what these books were called.) Now children have the Internet. And Tumblr has
become their platform for those universal, familiar
urges at self-expression falling somewhere in between
the diary, the slam book and the cork board. Notes on
Tumblr blogs range from mundane (“ive been telling
myself ill start my homework soon for the last 4 hours,”) to the confessional (“a cute necklace for
school tomorrow” which accompanies a picture of a
noose – a note whose message would terrify parents
and other adults, but appears to only be commentary
on the horrors of high school life). ~~~~ According to Pew Internet’s study from earlier this
year, 13 percent of Internet users ages 18-29 use
Tumblr, while only 5 percent of those 30-49 do, 3
percent of those 50-64, and a (surprising) 1 percent of
those 65 and older do. Demographic data from Quantcast further drives
home just how youthful a site Tumblr has become. 21
percent of its audience is under 18, 30 percent is 18
to 24, and 22 percent is 25 to 34. Then the numbers
taper off. Site users don’t tend to have kids of their
own, make somewhere between $0 and $50,000 (66 percent do), have either no college (41 percent) or
college backgrounds (48 percent), and tend to reflect
an ethnically diverse makeup, where there are more
non-white users. (Hispanics, Asians, African-
Americans, and “other” all beat out the Caucasian
segment.) Now Tumblr is seriously looking to monetize this
audience, proffering a platform for brand advertising
which CEO David Karp last week explained is meant
to be a place for advertisers to “build amazing,
interactive ads.” “We have a story that really, truly stands apart from
the other big networks right now,” he said. Other
networks are harnessing user intent, then pointing
users to little blue links. “Creative brand advertising
has had nowhere to live on the web,” he said. Ten out
of the ten top Hollywood studios advertise on Tumblr now, Karp also noted, while speaking, too, of ads that
inspire people to go out and purchase, designed by
imaginative types who went into advertising because
of their “Mad Men-like aspirations.” He may have played down the demographics’ role in
Tumblr’s advertising equation during this discussion,
but the site’s teen audience is too powerful to ignore:
there are some 30 million U.S. teens with over $200
billion in buying power. They might not all be on
Tumblr, of course, but if brands can reach a portion of this group, they have the potential to tap into a non-
trivial source of disposable income from heavy-duty
consumers. After all, the U.S. is Tumblr’s top traffic
source. Tumblr’s future, for now, seems to be closely tied to
its young adult demographic, their whims, and
perhaps even their historical aversion to online ads.
This audience has grown up connected, is often
skeptical and cynical when it comes to brand
advertising, and tends to toe a fine line between wanting to express their individuality and wanting to fit
in. It’s not an easy group to reach, which makes
Tumblr’s revenue potential tricky to pin down. Too
much or the wrong kind of advertising, and a fickle
teen audience may find a new home elsewhere.
Though Tumblr is now home to over 100 million blogs,
if a good chunk belong to teens, it’s difficult to count that as serious traction – today’s teens are less
committed to their digital creations than adults,
having already invented methods like “whitewalling”
and “super-logoff” to erase and hide their Facebook
pages, and are now turning to “ephemeral” messaging
apps like Snapchat, which delete their communications upon viewing. They understand just how easy it is to deactivate an
account, walk away and begin again. Content is
disposable, and the web is an impermanent platform
to build upon, they’ve found. These are decidedly
radical views. For Tumblr, the shiftiness of the very group it has
found a home among is one of the riskier aspects of
what appears to otherwise be a strong, fast-growing
and potentially very valuable service. Its revenue plan
is to provide a blank slate to its users and advertisers
alike (“…we want to give [advertisers] the space to do anything – a four-second loop, an hour and a half
video, a high-res panorama,” Karp explained last
week.). But Tumblr will need to be careful with the results of
those advertisers’ efforts. Overdone marketing
messages could sour Tumblr’s most engaged users
on their online hangout. Done well, however, Tumblr
could endear itself to its reblog-happy user base even
more, connecting aspirational imagery and content with those who are still young enough to dream they
can spend their way into new feelings. Whether they’ll
eventually end up “ddeleting” those feelings or not.

20130507-093437.jpg. In order to discreetly reach abused children, one aid
organization designed a clever billboard that only
displays a hotline number for people shorter than
4’5″. The secret is a precisely serrated surface, a
Lenticular lens, that reflects light differently to those
looking from above and below a specified height. Shorter people (children) see the following message
on a street sign: “If somebody hurts you, phone us
and we’ll help you,” along with a confidential number
to call the Spanish organization, Aid to Children and
Adolescents. Adults see, “Sometimes, child abuse is only visible to
the child suffering it.” The ad is especially designed
for children who may be traveling with their abuser. Lenticular lens have been a popular gimmick for
decades, from toy rulers to a Species II movie poster (below) that changes images as a pedestrian walks
passed it. In the future, we could imagine more advanced
warning systems. IBM is reportedly developing ads
that remotely targets a user’s individual interests,
based on radio frequency-enabled cards that they
expect consumers will carry with them. Similarly,
malls can now track users’ cell phone signal as they travel from store to store for marketing data. It’s not
hard to imagine a billboard beaming abuse-notification
messages to a child’s cell phone, or, more discretely,
to a technology like Google Glass.