Thursday, November 08, 2012

The Making of a Video

I attended Ad:tech NY this week.  As part of the re-launch of Infolinks, our company sponsored a session in which I presented, we arranged for a meeting room (which got a ton of use by the five folks from Infolinks who attended the show), and we had a full page ad in the conference handbook.  But the most challenging thing I did was participate in a web video interview.

Video set up before they started filming
I was interviewed by AllVoices at the conference, and the process they used was interesting.  AllVoices does video interviews with experts in their field.  They have freelancers who conduct the interviews and capture the video.  In the video, a question is shown as white text on a black background and then the interviewee is filmed answering the question.  This allows almost anyone who knows how to capture quality videos to do the job.  Luckily, the free lancer working on this video was very prepared with smart questions.  The biggest challenge for me was to explain Infolinks and banner blindness in a way that would translate to the audience for AllVoices, since it is broader than the online advertising industry.  Let me know how well I succeeded (or failed).  It's already received 10K views, so hopefully it worked!  Here's the finished product -- all four minutes of it:

Monday, October 15, 2012

Infolinks Launches

Today is a big day for Infolinks.  We are announcing In3, our new platform, three new ad units, a new logo and a new web site!  Our aim is to address some of the biggest challenges in display advertising: banner blindness and declining engagement rates.  Unfortunately, these are self-inflicted wounds.  Our industry has become so effective at creating and monetizing ad space. We have scaled to the point where users have gotten used to seeing irrelevant ads by the truckload.  Thousands of times a month, users see ads that don't speak to what they are doing at that moment, and each ad reinforces a tragic message: ignore me.  As a result, users now don't even see the ads.  Their eyes wander down a page and instinctively ignore the traditional places where ads appear.  That's why click through rates have plummeted over the past 12 years from 2% to .1%.

Well, we're going to change that.  In3 analyzes one trillion words per month in real time, across 100,000 active sites in 128 countries.  We determine intent at a keyword level, and then render ads in non-traditional locations on the page in order to increase relevance and decrease banner blindness.  

Here are some links to learn more. Our new site is at, of course, so check it out.  You can also read our press release.  I wrote two blog posts: one on banner blindness for iMedia Connection and one on saving the ad supported Web at MediaPost.  Additionally, AdExchanger published a very long Q&A with me.  Here's more coverage of our announcement from WebSite Magazine, Biz Report and Advertisement Journal.  Laurie Sullivan from MediaPost also mentioned Infolinks in the top news article in Online Media Daily, which was centered around the new Facebook Exchange.

Since the initial launch, we've been speaking at conferences across the country.  Digiday published a link to a tech talk I gave at their Publishing Summit in Palm Beach on Oct 22.  Topic: A Cure for What Ails Display.  If you are in the industry and want to hear a 5 min summary of the biggest challenge facing online display advertising, give it a click.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Patently Ridiculous!

I'm a proud papa and need to share that the United States Patent and Trademark Office just issued Patent # 8,234,166.  Thanks go to Bob Filice, my co-inventor, who in point of fact did most of the work to file this patent, and to Yahoo!, for believing in this enough to invest the legal cycles necessary to get this across the finish line.  For their efforts, they now own the patent for "Automated user segment selection for delivery of online advertisements"!

You don't need to know what that means, unless you are involved in buying digital advertising based on the predicted value of the user seeing the ad.  If you are, beware.  Yahoo! has not historically been aggressive at defending their patent portfolio, but competitors stepping on their IP should read carefully!

Monday, August 06, 2012

Tesla Model S: Dreamy in many dimensions

Thanks to a friend, I got a chance to ride in the third Telsa Model S to roll off the production line last month.  It happened to be in the Signature Red, which is only available to the first 1,000 cars sold.  It was a stunning beauty, but more than that, it was a heart-stopping machine that raises the bar for sedans worldwide.

Telsa Model S in Signature Red, as seen in downtown Palo Alto.

I'm not exaggerating.  The acceleration alone is worth the price of admission, but the simple utility of this amazing car staggers the mind.  You can fit five adults and two kids comfortably, in a sedan.  No joke.  In addition to a full-sized trunk, there is a bonus trunk in the front of the car (the "frunk").  The 17" touchscreen dashboard does for a car what the the iPhone did for phones.  No matter how fast you accelerate, and you can seemingly accelerate faster than any production car on the planet, the cabin remains blissfully quiet.  And you never need to go to the gas station again, ever.

I don't mind saying that I'm on the list to get one of these, and am anxiously awaiting my delivery date later this year.  It could be the car that changes the automobile business forever.  And I forgot to mention that it is built right here in the Bay Area.  Wow.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Online ad targeting run aground

The targeting of online ads is alternatively accused of being so exact that people fear for their privacy and so untargeted that people claim to ignore ads completely due to irrelevance.  As with most things, the truth is in the grey middle.  Online ad companies make huge efforts to increase the relevance of ads, but most of the ads served to people fall short simply because of frequency.  Internet users see over 2000 ads per month!

Once in a while, however, the veil is pierced and users can not only see the targeting working, but see it not working.  Today, it was not working to hysterical effect.  Below is a story on Yahoo! about the cruise ship that ran aground.  It was a spectacular sight and had life and death ramifications.  You can't help think of the Titanic when reading this story.  Yet, as you scroll down, on the right rail there sits a 300 pixel wide, 250 pixel high advertisement for Holland America cruises.  I'd bet my next balcony suite that the Holland America campaign was targeting content related to cruises!  As Homer would say, "Doh!"  This is a clear failure of the advertiser, their agency and the targeting companies involved to avoid content with the words "sink", "capsize" or "aground".  But it's great material for Jay Leno...