“Live” Billboards in Times Square

In the digital age, with new technology sprouting ever more elaborate media vehicles to challenge the traditional media mix, one of the oldest media, out-of-home, seems to be holding its own.

Today, Calvin Klein fragrances launch a living billboard in Times Square for ck cne. It’s a billboard where models will live and be visible to the public both day and night. About 40 models are living on the side of a building as part of New York City’s first-ever live billboard.

CK Live BillboardPedestrians are able to view the models as they live in the billboard throughout the day and night. Young models on the billboard have been instructed to create an illusion of a big party 24 hours a day. The billboard features music as well. The models will work through shifts through Wednesday night. They were reportedly told not to drink on the billboard or perform risque behavior.

It seems that CK wasn’t the first and is deffinetly not the last in this kind of advertising.

On July 27th, Target will stage a vertical fashion show on the side of a building at the Rockefeller Center. This fashion show will feature 15 acrobats who will walk 9 stories down the building

Yahoo created a living billboard in LA, featuring a dating single who lived in the Sunset Strip billboard for three days

Adidas staged a spectacular soccer game on the side of a building between two live players.

Click fraud threat

Well there are of course bumps in the way of online advertising towards its bright future.

And Google has reasons to be nervous. Paid-search advertising generates about 98 percent of its revenues. Red-hot demand for cost-per-click advertising doubled Google revenues in the first three quarters of this year and paved the way for the company’s blockbuster IPO in August.

Google CFO sounded the alarm today, on click fraud issue, calling it the “biggest threat” to the Internet economy.

“I think something has to be done about this really, really quickly, because I think, potentially, it threatens our business model”

The paid-search model is now the fastest-growing form of Internet advertising, according to the Interactive Advertising Bureau. But analysts, fraud experts and now Google are openly fretting about the rise of click fraud.

The main perpetrators appear to be competitors of advertisers and also scam sites set up for the sole purpose of hosting ad links provided by Google, through its AdSense unit, or Yahoo!, through its Overture service. Humans or specially designed software then click on those ad links in order to “steal” revenue from advertisers.

Government watchdogs, primarily focused on pursuing Internet scams that harm consumers, have only recently taken action.

The Past of Online Advertising

In order to finish (at least for now) the subject of online advertising I just found a report of doubleclick.com about the 1995-2004 Decade in Online Advertising (1MB, PDF file).

Online advertising has come a long way since those first ad banners on HotWired in 1994. The
many forms of marketing and advertising it enables—permission email, keywordtargeted search engine advertising, floating animated page takeovers, interactive onpage rich media ads, streaming audio and video, consumer-fueled “viral marketing”, to name a few—have excited early adopters and now mainstream marketers in ways that traditional advertising has not seen the likes of since the early days of color television.

The findings in this report can be summed up in three key conclusions:

  • A seller’s market is emerging in online advertising.
  • Marketers are demanding more accountability.
  • Consumers are demanding more control.

The present of online advertising

Talking earlier about advertisers finding new ways for spending their dollars and about 57 percent of them thinking already about RSS as one of the new channels of online ads, it seems that Google jumped on the opportunity and begun testing the inclusion of text ads in Web content distributed through syndication technologies such as RSS or Atom.

Google’s program, an extension of its AdSense network, will include in the feeds text ads that are relevant to the content being distributed. When readers click on the ads, Google will split with the publishers the fees it charges to advertisers. You can apply here: http://www.google.com/adsenseforfeeds

Even more, it looks like the folks at USWeb.com, a leading Internet marketing firm, have taken the idea of shilling one step further and could very well be in violation of the Federal Trade Commission Act. Their offer sounds like this: Get paid for blogging… We will pay you to post to your blog. We pay $5 via PayPal per blog posting. To start earning cash, email me with your name and blog URL. We are looking for people to pay today. If you don’t have a PayPal account, we can also send you a gift certificate for iTunes if you like.

You can find more comments about the matter and its legallity here: Blogging for dollars

The future of Online advertising

It seems that recent NYTimes.com decision to offer paid content to subscribers has created a lot of buzz around the blogsphere. And even though, from the freedom-of-information-point-of-view, I dislike their decision, I wonder if this will help their business in the long run.

Considering the latest Forrester Research study about online advertising they shouldn’t worry in the next couple of years, and here are some excerpts from this study:

  • 2005 growth in online advertising spending, represents a 23 percent increase from 2004, up to $14.7 billion and it’s estimated to $26 billion by 2010
  • This is not the return of “The Bubble“?. The growth is coming from marketers having to make tough decisions about allocating scarce advertising dollars – in many cases, funding online channels from traditional channels. Back in 1999/2000, spending often came from exuberant spending, fueled by venture money.
  • It’s more than just about search. Search is great, it’s growing, but it’s not the whole story. In fact, I anticipate that search will become much more integrated into traditional brand advertising
  • Marketers will shift channels away from traditional channels to fund online marketing

On the other hand the more and more popular Firefox and Opera browsers (and who knows, maybe IE7.0 will do it to) are giving the users the opportunity to block most of the ads in the webpages they are visiting (and I’m thinking here about the popular AdBlock Firefox extension as well as the powerfull Greasemonkey scripts, and why not Opera’s new features on this).

As such, for advertisers to keep the trend, they have to find new ways of spending their dollars, the same way they moved beyond pop-up’s as soon as most of the browsers gave the users the chance to get rid of them. And it seems they are already considering alternatives, according to the study mentioned before, new advertising channels will draw interest and spending from marketers. Sixty-four percent of respondents are interested in advertising on blogs, 57 percent through RSS and 52 percent on mobile devices, including phones and PDAs.