Monthly Archives: October 2007


From the company that inspired a South Florida hardcore band in the mid-90s to write a song titled “America on line” summing up the pain of using and being used by said online service proclaimed, “…there’s a difference between using and being used, you’re being abused…” comes the new America Online.

Since 2006 AOL has been a free service. No longer requiring the $24 each month for unlimited service the once dial-up ISP giant has been struggling to tread water with concrete shoes made by Google, Myspace, Yahoo and other innovating industry behemoths.

Before Myspace profiles and Facebook poking there was AOL Instant-messaging (still used) and chatrooms that owned the 90s.

After an innovation hiatus, the company is making sub-headlines again by introducing its first made for Mac OS application in years called AOL Desktop that features MapQuest integration that is apparently ready for mobile use and may soon include GPS for AIM users to find each other. Could be exciting if Google doesn’t beat them to it.

Finally, AOL has made itself a partner in the NBC/Fox venture called Hulu. You may have heard the sad news about Apple and NBC not getting along on with an iTunes contract. Hulu is going to essentially be to iTunes what the Zune is to the iPod. But either way, AOL is making press releases and innovation on any scale is good for everybody.

When you have a fan base like Apple, no need to say that tons of creative user-generated content about the brand is posted on the lovely Interweb, from fantasized product mock-ups to fake ads.

So when last September, Nick Haley, a 18 year-old British student, fell in love with the iPod Touch and decided to make a commercial about it, I bet he was just hoping for his 15 gigabytes of fame on YouTube.

But the Ad Fairy was also watching and Nick’s work got noticed by some ad execs in Cupertino who decided to fly him to LA to re-shoot the video in hi-resolution with the help of their ad agency, TBWA \ Chiat \ Day. The result was broadcasted this weekend during the World Series:

Compare it with the original, and yeah, that’s right, they’ve hardly changed a thing! Coming from Apple, whose lawyers are more trained to send cease-and-disease letters, that’s a surprising move. In case you didn’t believe the 4th slide of the Summer ’07 Trendwatch and needed another proof that the web engaged a Socratic dialog between Brands and Users.

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Talking about User-Generated Videos, I invite you to discover or rediscover, a TV channel that gives assignments to its viewers, from serious (Is affirmative action racist?) to lighter (Stuck in porn?). The channel was launched by Al Gore and Joel Hyatt who, after the 2000 U.S. Presidential Elections were disenchanted with the existing news networks, especially CNN. Rapidly, the concept evolved into a viewer-generated channel with young people as its viewer base. Few weeks ago, Current TV won an Emmy award for Best Interactive Television Service. From a design standpoint, don’t miss the TV guide/schedule.

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In the same trend, Raphappy, a website developed by 2 NYU students, just won the $100,000 prize of MTV and Cisco’s “Digital Incubator” contest. It’s web 2.0 for amateur rappers, encouraged to share their rants and engage in battles, with the de rigueur Facebook application. Videos and concepts from Raphappy are already finding their way to the multiple MTV broadcasting platforms.

We all need inspiration at times – that’s why sometimes people gather some of the best websites that involve the consumer in the Brand’s world. It might be too aspirational at time, or sometimes it is not enough, but it definitely gets a message through.

 Special mention to HBO’s Voyeur Site, which definitely has an amazing integration online/offline.

It was 13 years ago last Thursday when the first 468×60 pixel banner hit the web. It happened on October 25 1994 in HotWired’s website, and the ad belonged to AT&T.

Now, 13 years later, the Web is definitely established as the youngest, fastest growing mass media out there. It plays an important part on our everyday life and also on the lives of the millions of people all around the Globe. On the other hand, having viewed so many millions of pages containing banner ads, most of us have unconsciously developed visual blocking techniques (due to the same old, boring standard ad locations).

Having learned this, the online advertising industry developed new IAB standard formats, however also these ceased to be a novelty, becoming victims of the unconscious visual blocking techniques developed by Internet users.

This is why Web marketeers, designers and programmers work hard to make Display Advertising sexy, interesting and appealing, most of all.

There are many great examples of Display Advertising out there, thanks to designers who really commit to the exploration of the creative possibilities of existing formats; great eye-catching ads with good use of interactivity and high quality multimedia; or innovations like banner ads with integrated RSS feed, remotely updated by the client himself through his cell phone.

With this kind of creative and technical means, all it is necessary to fight the natural formation of the visual blocking capabilities is for the publishers to grant even more custom locations and formats, along with the necessary cooperation of the Ad Serving software Industry.

Happy birthday, Banner!


Manuel is passionate about the Web, ever since he bought his first Internet Access when he received his first salary back in 1995. He was influenced by his older brother, a pioneer Portuguese user in Telnet and BBS’. He’s been working at DMC Portugal for almost 2 years now, but he’s been planning Internet advertising campaigns since 1999. When he’s not online, Manuel enjoys riding MTB on the countryside, bodyboarding, taking pictures of street/urban art for his geo-tagged graffiti Flickr project and making wood sculptures, using objects he finds outdoors as ornaments.