I’m not sure why everyone is so shocked by news that an artist created a cover for The New Yorker using an iPhone app. Big deal. It’s a tool for creative outlet. That’s what it does and therefore we shouldn’t be all that surprised by its use for that purpose.

I have to wonder if these people, had they been around at the time, would have been quite as breathless about a news reporter using a photographic contraption to capture a scene as part of a newspaper story.

WordCamp SF coverage

Just a reminder that I’m at WordCamp SF right now (no literally – right now) and will probably be posting brief notes to Twitter. I and the rest of the team will be posting throughout the day and then doing recaps of the highlights and key takeaways on VoceNation. I’ll cross-post here whatever I write there as well as point to the coverage from the rest of the team.

Going deep beyond the update

My latest contribution to VoceNation that might also be interesting to readers here explores the need for search that indexes not only the status updates on Twitter and elsewhere but also the pages that people link to:

It’s all well and good to know what the conversation is on micro-blogs and status networks. But with so many of those status updates and short posts including links to blog posts and news stories it’s going to be increasingly important that the search functionality on those networks go deep into those links so that, if we’re monitoring a keyword or phrase, we can see who’s linking to stories containing that phrase even if they don’t include it in their update.

Read the whole thing here.

Marketing Madness in 60 Seconds: 5/29/09


The CW is launching a campaign for their new fall shows that will acknowledge the current variations on the idea of “talking about” a show. The ads will feature copy such as “TV to blog about” and “TV to text about” and more. If you ask me the campaign says more about The CW’s target demographic than it does about communications technology.

Gotta say, the video of Jimmy Kimmel’s routine in front of ad buyers at ABC’s upfront comes off a lot less like a “kick in the crotch” to the network and more like a “cynical take on the reality every knows but doesn’t acknowledge.” Isn’t the role of a comedian to point out the ridiculousness of an institution?

One of the biggest challenges facing advertisers these days is finding a way to effectively tap into and monetize the real-time web. The problem is that advertising is, by and large, a laborious process that does not adjust easily or quickly and the web is increasingly doing just that.

The online classifieds category has more than doubled since 2005 according to Pew Research, with newspapers and traditional purveyors of classified advertising missing out on almost all of that while craigslist and its ilk have been the primary sources of that growth.

Marketers are very worried, according to a new survey, about the hijacking of their brand online, but many don’t know what to do about it.

Yahoo’s Newspaper Consortium is actually showing signs of success, with some papers saying participating in the program has increased their online ad sales and subsequent revenue.

If you watch Hulu and find the volume of PSAs to be…interesting…since it means that spot was unable to attract an advertiser here’s why: Media buyers don’t know what to do with it. It’s too big to warrant a traditional online video approach but too small to fit into a traditional TV approach. Bank on this – When Hulu figures out how to maximize its revenue and get over this roadblock the advertising world will be in for a rather substantial shift.

In an effort to retain ad dollars some online publishers are becoming more agreeable to full-site takeover ads, a type that advertisers love since it gets in front of people’s eyeballs in an aggressive fashion. I’m not saying they’re the best idea, but I’d expect to see more of them on high-profile sites that want to make brand advertisers happy.


Good luck keeping up with and finding the people who are illegally using your copyrighted material, says Liz Gannes. The cutting edge will always include a small subset of people determined to misuse the creations of other people and the way the law functions means companies are constantly playing catch-up. For those looking to try to find out where their content is being ripped off, there are a couple of tools profiled by Forbes.

The economic reality of printing the title has cause the Newspaper Association of America to cease publication of Presstime, the trade group’s magazine on the industry. Presstime will continue to exist online, but you have to marvel at the meta of the decision.

YouTube is giving content partners, especially those from networks and other media companies, more control over both the advertising within and the presentation of their shows and videos on YouTube’s site. The idea, as is often the case with YouTube, is to make the content more attractive to brand advertisers and bring more of their money to that site.

Social Media

As Jordan at MarketingPilgrim says, don’t quite take a study reporting people don’t have their purchasing behavior influenced by social media at face value. There are lots of ways it, like any other advertising platform, influences thinking that isn’t immediately recognized and so it would seem niave to say it doesn’t influence people at all.

Have fun with it, but make sure social media isn’t taking over your life.

Industry Moves: 5/29/09

agency-chair-bigBladimiar Norman has joined publicity agency 42West as their new head of digital marketing and communications. Norman has previously been at Paramount Vantage, Warner Bros. Home Entertainment and Sony doing online marketing in some shape or form and will bring that expertise to the agency, which does a lot of movie marketing.

Stephanie Sperber will head up the newly created Universal Partnerships and Licensing division, a creation resulting from the combination of previously separate licensing and partnership units. The new division will have control over all promotional partnerships and licensing deals for the studio’s properties.

Finding an Audience: Distribution Notes for 5/29/09


More people play video games than go to the movies according to a new study from the NPD Group. One factor in the shift – and I hope Hollywood is paying attention particularly to this – is that current games are available in a variety of ways, whether as a physical disc or download. I have some questions about this study but they’re probably not going to throw off the results too much. The reality is that distribution is shifting and Hollywood has yet to leave the “denial” stage of any paradign change period.

Exhibitors are doing alright in the current recession despite the fact that ticket sales are generally flat largely because ticket prices are higher and the fact that some people are buying more concessions, where the real money is made. If that latter trend continues you can expect studios to start looking for a cut of that as well.

Home Video

A new report from Nielsen says that the drop in sales of physical DVDs is due to the recession and the tightening of budgets and not because there’s a tidal shift over to digital downloads. When they do buy they’re choosing value centers like Wal-Mart over electronics retailers like Best Buy. But “rental” is becoming an increasingly popular way to watch new release films, which is good news for those companies but bad news for theater owners.

Blockbuster is hoping that the addition of movie-themed swag to their shelves will bring people back to its brick-and-mortar stores.


Matt Dentler points to a story on how Warner Bros. says its strategy of releasing films to VOD on the same day as their DVD is not hurting disc sales.

Quick Takes: 5/29/09

filmstripGotta love this: A whole bunch of movie posters recreated with Lego figures. I’d pay for some of these.

Chris Albrecht at NewTeeVee talks about how movie commercials on TV are increasingly being presented in letterbox format, something that allows some studios to slap the URL for the movie’s site in that blank space, a URL that’s still readable even by those fast-forwarding through the commercials. The first time I noticed letterbox TV spots was for 2007’s The Simpsons Movie, when I pegged the tactic as a way for the studio to differentiate the big-screen feature from the TV show.

Peter Kafka picks up a huge, full-screen ad for Night at the Museum: Battle for the Smithsonian that appeard on Ask.com’s front page and points out it’s just the sort of thing that Google wouldn’t do. The ad was not paid for but appears via a deal with the studio that trades it for product mentions within the film. [via Brian Morrissey]

I’m not quite sure why, in the wake of Night at the Museum besting Terminator: Salvation, there’s so much hand-wringing going on over WHY WHY WHY WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN. The math isn’t that hard: When two marketing campaigns are equally effective, the movie that allows for more ticket purchases will win the weekend. I know Terminator was PG-13, but it still wasn’t going to attract families, which range in size from two to five or more. Some groups probably went to see Terminator, but the Memorial Day weekend allowed families to all go see Night/Museum together, resulting in bigger box-office.

There’s also a MediaPost story about Night at the Museum’s tie-ins with Washington D.C. tourism groups.

William Goss at Cinematical is talking about trailers that feature footage that’s later cut from the movie and how audiences feel about that.

The Brand New blog looks at the evolution of the title treatment for RKO Pictures, one of the most iconic in the history of Hollywood.

An Indiana-based market research firm is looking to bring on some Hollywood studio client and gets help in the form of a New York Times profile. It’s not all that revolutionary – the agency says it can help studios cut costs while maximizing reach – but it could be interesting to watch. Scott Kirsner uses that story to do a little riffing that’s also well worth reading.

Warner Bros. wants to build more iPhone Apps, citing their low cost and high rate of interactivity and ability to extend their entertainment brands into the mobile space easily.

The Washington Post (via The Chicago Tribune) assembles a panel of experts to analyze some of the posters for the summer’s biggest movies.

So many of the most-anticipated – or at least the most-hyped – video games of the year are based on movies, either past or present.

Picking Up the Spare: Terminator Salvation, Angels & Demons, Up

bowling-pinsTerminator: Salvation

Warner Bros. partnered with Machinima Inc to create a machinima animated prequel to the events of Salvation. The six-episode series, released on iTunes, follows the character Blair Williams on a mission taking place two and a half years before the events of the new movie. You can view a trailer for the series here and a preview of Episode One here. The only problem I see is that it’s being released in weekly installments beginning now, when I think it would have been a better tactic to get them out before the movie hit theaters when interest was still high.

Pizza Hut’s promotion to give a free pizza to anyone named Sarah Conner or John Conner got a good amount of publicity but also might have been really smart considering there seem to be very few such-named people.

Warner Bros. is releasing comics that act as prequel lead-ups to the events of the movie that can be downloaded and viewed on iPhones or iPod Touch devices.

Angels & Demons

Sony has apologized for an advertising effort they engaged in that involved spray-paining graffitti-like ads for the movie on the sidewalks of Los Angeles. The chalk used is bio-degradable, it says, and will wash away easily, but one guy in particular is still outraged by the effort, which Sony has said it won’t use again. Seems like a pretty small issue – sidewalk ads have been pretty common in Chicago and elsewhere – but I guess they felt like an apology is necessary, though I’m not sure why.


The Newseum in Washington, DC is helping to promote the film by giving away rides in an easy-chair attached to a bunch of balloons that will take people 50 feet up in the air.


A batch of really smart and savvy people at The Chicago Tribune have launched ChicagoNow, a blog hub that features a lot of people sounding off on various topics. Leah Jones has high praise for the site after being one of the beta testers and I’ll check it out more deeply based on her recommendation alone.

On a related note, the Trib has one less of those folks around now that Daniel Honigman – the creator of the more-than-a-little-awesome Colonel Tribune character – has been hired into the PR agency world by Weber Shandwick. That’s great news for Weber as Dan is a bright guy who’s not afraid to try new things.

“Let me tell you why I *suck* as a salesman…”

I’ve been doing a bit of…soul searching lately regarding what I’m writing online and where I’m writing it. Here are some conclusions I’ve come to, in no particular order:

  • I have no idea what I’m doing
  • Movie Marketing Madness will never be the most popular blog on the internet for at least two reasons:
    • I don’t think many marketing people read it because it’s about movies
    • I don’t think many movie bloggers read it because I often mock them and find their chase after headlines either irresponsible or at least unseemly
  • My RSS feed subscribers on MMM are growing while my actual site traffic is absolutely tanking. I’m actually alright with this, even if it does take my ad revenue down with it, since it means more people are reading the latest stuff.
  • I have about 12 posts that are written but are sitting in a Google Doc for any of the following reasons:
    • I don’t know where to post them, MMM, VoceNation or CT.WP.
    • I think they’re good but feel like I’m going out on too far of a limb rhetorically
    • I don’t feel like they really add anything new to the conversation
    • I’m concerned people won’t like them
  • I really want to avoid two things:
    • Making myself look like an idiot by declaring something great or bad
    • Posting crazy rumors that only have a negative impact on someone else’s business
  • A level-headed rational mindset that likes to keep things in proportion, not go overboard in blaming people and put the best spin on everything is probably the root of most of my problems
  • The rest of my problems probably come from those pesky self-esteem issues
  • I’d really like to avoid becoming popular at the expense of turning into an asshole
  • Some days I really don’t like the internet. There. I said it. Feh.
  • I’m just an awful self-promoter since I actually feel bad about it, like I’m spamming people whenever I talk about something I’ve written or a project I’ve worked on.

So there you have it. It’s like my whole online persona is a pet and I occasionally say “Hello there pretty little pet, I love you. And then I stoke it, and I pet it, and I massage it. Hehe I love it, I love my little naughty pet, you’re naughty. And then I take my naughty pet…” you know how it goes.

I think I just needed to get all this down and out of my system. I’m constantly trying to tweak things and optimize and all that in terms of what I’m doing online. Probably won’t figure the whole thing out any time soon but at least I’m hashing it out. When I hit on the right formula I’m sure I’ll be surprised at how easy it is to maintain. Until then…more hand-wringing.