Digital 101: The List

October 5, 2010

If you can't see this image, your phone or computer sucks. Just saying.So, you wanna know what’s going on in the world of digital advertising, eh? After talking to a couple people here at my new digital agency, I created this list of blogs and websites to check on a regular basis.

I’ve officially now been on the digital side of this business for a full 91 days. And one thing I can tell traditional copywriters who are aspiring digital copywriters… it doesn’t hurt to be a bit of a geek. It helps if you understand web design to some degree. It REALLY helps if you’re extraordinarily organized. And it also helps if you can separate folly from function. (i.e…. Online consumers aren’t as likely to jive with your apps if they’re just “fun.” They need to be impressive, well-developed, functional, and creative in their functionality.)

At least that’s my impression so far.

Anyway, here’s the list. I’m finding it very helpful so far. So, I figure I’d pass it along.

Mashable: the self-dubbed “Social Media Guide.” Lots of good stuff here.

Mobile Marketer: if you’re really getting into mobile, here’s a great place to check out what’s going on.

Mobile Awesomeness: great little site for looking at what mobile sites are going up. Wonderful place for seeing design possibilities… what works, and what doesn’t.

Banner Blog: whether you like it or not, banner ads are still a big part of online advertising. See some great examples from all over the world showing how it doesn’t have to suck.

TechCrunch: focuses more on the business of being in mobile. They define themselves as being “dedicated to obsessively profiling startups, reviewing new Internet products, and breaking tech news.”

Engadget: Gadgets and everything that goes along with em.

Gizmodo: more gadget and tech geekery.

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By now, you’ve probably seen one of the many stories about the iPhone 4. How some young engineer from Apple got shitfaced in a bar and lost it. And then some guy found it and sold it to Gizmodo. And then Gizmodo did a whole spread on it. And then how Steve Jobs blew up and called Gizmodo himself, demanding it back.

Here’s some of the coverage:

Gizmodo’s Expose

Article about the Debacle

After reading all this and discussing it with my coworkers, we were on the fence. Was this a stunt for free PR? Or real?

Would the kid who lost the phone have to move to Micronesia and live out his days fearing the wrath of Steve Jobs? Or was this all planned?

If Gizmodo really DID buy “stolen” property for $5,000, then… how does that reflect on them as journalists? Or, well… bloggers?

My gut reaction is this: Apple didn’t need this stunt. Sales of iPhones had no sign of slowing down — only increasing. Apple has a cult-like following of fanboys, and frankly, a stunt like this seemed almost BENEATH them. They just don’t need it. The new iPhone would sell itself.

If we find out that it was a PR stunt, I’ll be pretty disappointed in Apple. I like that they’re a class-act (for the most part), and a shameless ploy like this would just make them seem kinda… base. Ick.

Anyway…  just in case you have ill feelings about Gizmodo after reading this, consider this article.  After reading that, how can you not still LOVE them?

Back when I was in ad school, I had a hard time getting sooooo much work done. Truly, it’s hard enough to complete a crapload of work and also do it well.

To beat drowsiness, I drank a lot of Diet Coke and espresso. It was especially easy to down 8 Diet Cokes in a sitting back in Atlanta — free refills everywhere you go! NYC restaurants aren’t usually quite so generous.

By the time I’d had about 3-4 Diet Cokes, I’d start to get buzzy and spinny. I’d be louder. I’d get hyper. And my ideas got crazier… and by crazier, I do mean better.

Soon, I figured out that I truly wrote better on a lot of caffeine. And then, I couldn’t write well at all unless I was completely high on diet cola.

I’ve been on and off with caffeine addiction. On those days where I pound a couple liters of diet soda, I definitely work better. But I also become extremely irritable. I bounce around like a freakin cokehead for 4 hours and then crash hard for 12. It’s very tiring being a caffeine addict.

When I look back at my portfolio, I can often remember when/where I thought of my best headlines or ideas. And 99% of the time, I was off-the-wall high on caffeine. “Oh! That one was at Starbucks!” “Oh yeah — that was at Panera after my 12th Diet Pepsi.”

Do I owe my career to caffeine? Would I be a secretary or a cell phone salesman if not for that precious molecule? Or would I, in my addictive nature, have reached out for a harder substance? And become a full-on addict of Naughty Snorty?

And how many ad creatives could attribute many of their successes to caffeine consumption? I doubt I’m alone. I tend to think this entire industry owes a LOT to this nasty little chemical.

Anyway, I’d like to take this opportunity to thank caffeine for all its given me. Thank you for all the laughs, for getting me jobs, the late nights and early mornings. Caffeine, I salute you.

By now, if you haven’t bought an iPad or physically touched one or seen countless fluff pieces about it… well, you’re probably just finishing up a 7-month trek along the Appalachian Trail. Or playing space tourist on a Russian cosmo-craft. Or something.

The other day, my dog and I hit the Apple Store before our evening walk. I was lucky enough to get my hands on an iPad almost immediately and started opening apps and sweeping my fingers across its bright, impressive display. My fingers enjoyed the experience so much, they almost found their way down into my wallet for my credit card…

But then I noticed something. Many of the apps that were installed on the iPad were not… well… iPad apps. They were iPhone-sized apps that were compatible with the iPad platform. Which basically means, you can use a tiny little 3-inch app in the center of this big beautiful screen… or hit the “x2” button and it will enlarge, filling the whole screen. When it enlarges, it also gets ridiculously pixelated. Which is kind of a lip-curling turn-off.

Big Screen, Tiny Apps.

What’s the point? If I wanted to use iPhone-sized apps, I’d download them on my iPhone.

The HD (or full-sized) apps looked amazing. Totally gave me an understanding of why someone would want an iPad.

The video looked fantastic. The books looked pretty good… although, I’m still conflicted about reading books on iPad. The point of the Kindle was to give readers a screen that didn’t feel like a screen on the eyeballs. It feels more like paper. The iPad can’t deliver this… but it certainly can deliver full-color publications, which the Kindle cannot.

So, did I finally whip out my credit card? No. Here’s why:

  • Early adopters always get burned. Can you imagine buying the first iPhone? Before they added GPS and the App Store? Ugh. What’s the point!?
  • Fill that App Store with Full-Res iPad apps, Apple. I really have no reason to buy an iPad otherwise. Those life-altering apps are the selling point for me.
  • Waiting for v2 could mean all kinds of goodies for less money. I’d rather save my pennies for the version with more memory and a camera… for probably $399. (obviously a guess, but not a bad one)

Any agreers? Disagreers?  Tell me what you think.

You may notice this blog has a whole new look now. (I got the header photo from the web… no pencils were harmed in the redesign of this website).

Well, there’s a reason for it. A reason why the “widgets” – links and whatnot – are located all the way at the bottom of the page. Why there’s only one simple column.

The iPhone.

Yes, I have finally joined the ranks of millions of deliriously over-joyed iPhone owners… wandering city streets with our faces down, almost getting run over by rogue taxis. Never bored or out of touch. And part of what could finally f*&k Bill Gates in the @$$.

The format of this site is optimized to be viewed on mobile devices and the iPhone. Why’d I make the switch? Because mobile applications and websites specifically optimized for handsets aren’t the future. Unless today is “the future.” And apparently, it is.

According to an article in Time Magazine, Bill Gates’s biggest mistake was never embracing the web. He poo-pooed the onset of the Internet Age and just kept developing applications that allowed people to work, but didn’t effectively connect anyone… with the exception of a few Exchange, email, and server apps.

He never jumped on board to help the common man connect to the world and all of his peers. And because Microsoft ignored this obvious need, they might flounder in the coming years. What will become of Bill’s empire?

Mobile sites have sprung up over the past few years, but never with the amount of urgency and finesse as they have lately. Major sites like NBC will redirect iPhones to a special nbc.com/iphone version of their site… specially optimized for the device and allows for streaming video. (Not great quality yet, but give it time…)

But even mobile sites may play second fiddle to speedy, slick-interfaced, ready-at-hand mobile applications. Google is saying its new phone will launch with at least 1,800 new applications. The iTunes app store apparently launched with 1000. A venture capitalist has even started a $100 million fund to support the development of great iPhone apps.

In the first FOUR DAYS that Apple’s free iPhone SDK (Software Development Kit) was available to the public, it was downloaded 100,000 times. It makes mobile application development super easy. Heck, even teenagers will be able to program their own applications in the near future. You might find the next big app designed by that zit-faced Chad guy from down the block… and his ugly mug is on the app icon just to prove it’s his.

Suddenly, people won’t just want to build their own websites and blogs… they’ll express themselves through applications… and put their work out there so the public can carry around a little piece of their genius.

Granted… a lot of this is could be considered speculation. But things move faster in software development than hardware development… and if you give people the right tools, you can ignite a cultural phenomenon.

Look at Facebook… just a networking site like MySpace. For a long time, it wasn’t even as dynamic or useful as MySpace. Then Facebook added apps. Changed the whole game. Suddenly, people had a reason to visit and use the site… over and over… hours on end. In some ways, Facebook was almost a precursor to the iPhone.

Will the iPhone be a precursor to Google’s phone? Or a cooler iPhone? Or something even bigger and un-thought-of?

I guess we’ll just have to wait… and, in the meantime, try not to get hit by oncoming traffic while texting.

Ok. Maybe not the LAST person to know… but yesterday when Steve Jobs made his live keynote speech and announced the arrival of the 3G iPhone, I DIDN’T KNOW IT WAS HAPPENING. I’m the geek who made special lunch plans with JD back at BBDO so we could hit the “refresh” button over and over on Gizmodo to get keynote coverage during iPhone introduction.

I have let down my geek genes. I feel ill.

Anyway, I’ve been talking to people for probably 8 mos about the impending intro of the 3G iPhone. Everytime people asked why I haven’t bought an iPhone yet, I’ve always replied, “Because I’m waiting for the 3G version.” Then, they look at me cross-eyed and dismiss my dorky nonsense.

Well, here it is. I told ya so (I guess). 3G. Faster. Better. More functions.

And hallelujah (I couldn’t have predicted this part), CHEAPER! Woohoo!

I gotta say… I even kinda dig the ad for it. Not your typical Apple ad, but frankly, that’s a good thing. Time to branch out, Chiat. And it’s nice to see an ad with a message instead of just… colors and music. Ya know? It gives me a reason to care instead of just… colors and music.

Happy St. Pat’s

March 17, 2008

I know it’s been a while. I’m back. I swear.

And I have a fun anecdote.

Today, I was talking with an AD friend of mine here at the agency. He noticed my kelly green shirt (in honor of St. Pat’s) and I asked him where his obligatory stupid green shirt was.

He said, he wanted to, but today he kinda felt like wearing blue. So he wore a yellow shirt with a blue sweater. And as far as he’s concerned, blue + yellow = green. So he IS dressed in the spirit of the holiday.

Gotta love Art Directors…

This is a tee-shirt available from BustedTees.com. Not a bad headline.

Best of Both Worlds.

January 3, 2008

Today, I found a posting on Gizmodo about a new patent filed by Apple. Basically, they want to create a docking station for their ultra-slim laptops… owners of both units would get to have a sweet-looking iMac and a MacBook… That way, you can look tragically hip both at home and at your loathed (beloved) Starbucks.

Ever wondered why we need 3000 lb vehicles to move one or two 170 lb humans?

Guess what: we don’t. Bikes have been proving this for centuries, right?

Loremo is out to prove that a car can be both light and safe. Their 2-seater weighs about 10 bucks (that’s 1000 lbs for you reg’ler folks). And because it will have less weight to pull than other cars, it gets a whopping 150 mpg.

In terms of safety and wind resistance, the entrance to the car is not through 2 side doors, but through a giant gate in the front. It’s pretty cool.

Basically, hybrid technology is all great and good (and expensive)… but it seems aerodynamics and some new materials could save us drivers just as much at the pump.