Three Clicks: Baltimore Sun Takeover Ad, Twitter Spam and a Digital Blueprint

Did you see the ad that dominated the Baltimore Sun's homepage Monday? 

If you clicked on baltimoresun.com , you couldn't miss it.  The same can be said if you follow people on social media who post about the media, marketing and/or advertising. Most of them *hated* it.  

The reaction to the ad for Jarvis Appliance was one of three stories that caught my eye in the last week and I thought were worth sharing here.  So read on below the screenshot of the now-infamous Sun homepage ad for quick thoughts on the Sun ad, Twitter spam and a blueprint for digital success.

Baltimore Sun homepage takeover ad.

1. Baltimore Sun Home Page Takeover Turns Back Online Advertising's Clock

(Source: AdAge

Tim Peterson recapped the reaction to the Baltimore Sun ad and admirably listed both pros and cons.

The cons are obvious: It's an ugly ad, it looks dated, it's a bad user experience and it doesn't seem to fit on a site whose brand is important, respected journalism.  

Peterson quotes and paraphrases advertising experts to pull out some possible positives for Jarvis and the Sun, such as:

"[Jarvis] will reach a good percentage of the people who live in the surrounding areas." ...
Maybe The Baltimore Sun and Jarvis Appliance noticed the '90s resurgence taking place in the fashion world and decided to bring it to online advertising. ...
Readers don't need to click through, or to wait out an elaborate video, to know exactly what's on offer this weekend. ...
Maybe ugly can sometimes perform.

Okay. Maybe.

I think the blog post is cutting Jarvis and the Sun too much slack. Let's put it this way: When an evaluation of an ad you ran includes the sentence, "Now all that said, the ad looks terrible," that tells you something went really wrong. 

2.  Researchers Pose as Scammers to Cut Back on Bogus Twitter Accounts

 (Source: The Verge)

Working with Twitter, researchers from George Mason University, the International Computer Science Institute and the University of California-Berkeley purchased more than 127,000 fraudulent, automatically-generated accounts in an effort to figure out how to beat seemingly ever-present spam on the social media service.

The piece by Dante D'Orazio is worth a read if you want to know a little about how spammers on Twitter work and what is being done to stop it. 

An interesting tidbit from the article: Spammers "use digital 'sweatshops' in places like China to have humans solve" spam-defending CAPTCHA codes.

3. Justin Smith’s Blueprint for Modern Media

(Source: Digiday

 Brian Morrissey distilled the introductory letter sent to Bloomberg Media Group staffers by their new CEO, Justin Smith. The blog post breaks down Smith's vision for media, honed at the Economist, the Week and the Atlantic

It's Smith's version of "How to Succeed in Digital Media," but several principles apply  to any business trying to make digital work. Three highlights:

Embrace change: The simple act of choosing to live on the new, wide-open frontier is a powerful step toward success.
Accept uncertainty: When there’s no obvious right answer, we’re forced to experiment, and examine new, sometimes uncomfortable, ideas. 
Quality always wins: No technology will ever erode this demand. It’s our job to keep our standards high as we experiment. 

What have you read recently that's worth sharing? Leave me a link in the comments or send a tweet to @SquarelyDigital

- Jon 

Video on Your Website: Why Use It, or Why Not?

“Are you doing any video?”

That’s a question I asked a potential client this morning, and one I ask just about every time I do a free consultation.  

I don’t think every organization or business needs video on its site, but there are some great reasons to do it. I won’t list them all here. (Go search “why should I use video on my website?” and you’ll find plenty of answers.) But I’ll note two video opportunities I noticed recently -- one seized, one squandered.

Opportunity Seized: British Airways’ “Perfect Day Live - Rome” video. If you don’t want to book a flight to the Eternal City after these 2 minutes 31 seconds, I’m not sure you ever will.

You probably don’t have British Airways’ marketing budget, but you don’t need that to create a video that engages the viewer and ties in to a business goal. That’s the foundation “Perfect Day” is built on.

Opportunity Squandered: Apple’s App Store. When you’re considering watching a new movie or TV show on your iPhone or iPad, you can watch a short preview in iTunes. However, if you’re thinking about downloading a new game or productivity tool, all the App Store gives you is static screen shots.

Many developers create promotional videos for their apps and post them to on their websites and/or YouTube. If you want to know what it’s like to use an app, obviously videos do a better job than screenshots.

If app preview videos appeared in the App Store, right under that gray rectangle that lists the app’s price, you have to figure more users would download apps (the good ones, at least). Not that Apple needs my marketing advice …

Note I: For a deep dive into the pros and cons of setting up your own YouTube channel, check out Phil Nottingham’s SEOMoz post, The Marketing Value of YouTube. Among the highlights: how he differentiates between video you should host on your site and video you should post on YouTube:

  • "Content that you want your site to rank for (conversion focused) is self hosted/hosted with a paid online video platform."
  • "Content that you want to share with those who aren’t yet part of the conversion funnel (branding focused) is be placed on YouTube."

Note II: I would be remiss if I didn’t take this opportunity to recommend Synthesis Multimedia Productions, a Washington D.C.-area company that has been a friend of Squarely Digital from the start. If you’re considering hiring a video production team, check out Synthesis.

- Jon