The Flying Car is Just Around the Corner

Screw you, flying car. You haven’t been invited, and you never will be. Screw you, Fox News. I’ll believe it when I’m riding a terraguia flying car that cost less than $50K. I’ll be riding it with my hover board under my seat, and the animated head of Walt Disney on my lap. 

Sure we'll have flying cars as soon as we invent time machines and hover boards.

Sometimes when you’re trying to be controversial, you end up being right. Around 2001 I kept hearing that “electronic medical records” (EMR) were just “one or two years away.” I’ve since joked that it is indeed “one year away” perpetually (no matter what the year is). I’ve not been significantly wrong yet.

Here are some more pathetically pessimistic statements I’ve made about the future of technology and advertising, but they haven’t failed me yet. If I’m right, please remember that. If I’m wrong, I respectfully which to join the top 87 bad predictions about the future (that have been wrong). Perhaps I shall rank as high as “Everything that can be invented has been invented,” which is attributed to Charles H. Duell, an official at the US patent office in 1899.

  • Mobile-Marketing: While working at KPMG Consulting more than a decade ago, I was asked to speak about the future of mobile marketing. Naturally I knew almost nothing about the subject but most didn’t. So I did some fast research and made up some decent crap that seemed plausible. Then, to ensure I put my own touch on it, I expressed a contrarian opinion or two. Most over-zealous experts were predicting that we were just years away from mobile ads that gave you real-time promotions based on geographic proximity. The most-viral example was a Starbucks “offer” that summoned a person back if their device’s GPS told the advertising network that the individual passed a store (see parody below). So I cried “nonsense,” and said those wouldn’t be coming for a very long time, and that usage would be minimal. Just a hunch, but I was right. Here we are 11 years later and here’s 8coupon and how many people use these things? >>> Sure mobile marketing is a big deal, but we’re not idiots… we’re going to find ways to ignore intrusive spam and let very select companies and brands into our smart phones. Or, arguably the phones (and their owners) are not really smart, right?

  • What's the matter, Coyote? Did you step onto that TOTALLY fake hole. It's just a piece of black circular velvet, dude.

    Customized Marketing: Yeah, right. The Tom Cruise scene in “Minority Report,” created the character with competing talking voices by ads mentioning his name and specific tastes. I cried “bullshit” because Chief John Anderten (Cruise’s character) clearly hadn’t opted in for so many programs. Furthermore the audio delivery would need to be incredibly precise to target an individual’s ear without spillover. And did I mention that fake hole the Coyote uses with Road Runner is total and complete bogus. I’m so sure. A black circular sheet that creates a whole wherever you place it. Utter bullshit. We barely ever see custom digital ads, which would be incredibly easy to create and deliver. It’s because media buyers are too dumb and lazy (except you, dear reader). >>> We’ll get better at custom marketing, but the vast majority will not be conspicuously targeted. It’s best that the buyer not know the magic we’re using to reach them. It’s creepy.

  • Y2K Will Be Anticlimactic: Having a contrarian opinion about a popular belief makes you more interesting and credible. Like when I did a Y2K interview I decided to take the “nothing bad is going to happen” approach. I had no real facts, but I figured if I was wrong nobody would remember. And if I was right I’d be a genius (which, of course, I am). >>> Most of the warnings of Y2K turned out to be hogwash. One of my sisters packed a “Surviving the Apocalypse” supply of food and water, and still has it. Another called me in tears in the last minutes of 1999.
  • No Flying Cars: When I spoke last fall at my son’s fourth-grade class (about writing and my book) I told them that when they’re adults they will desperately need to write, even if that writing may occur in radically different ways (like using the voice or swiping the fingers in the air). Ways they couldn’t even imagine. Then I told them when I was in fourth grade I predicted flying cars by the age of 2000, and I was wrong. Before I could observe what was coming out of my mouth, I heard my lips say with great ferver, “there will NEVER be flying cars.” >>>> Sure the elite might have magical flying cars, but I don’t see them as a travelling device for the unwashed masses. Too many accidents in the sky, a place that does not very well accommodate such things as red lights, speed bumps, stop signs, and white/yellow paint. Sure could find electronic equivalents, but I’m betting it’s not in any reader’s lifetime.

And now here’s PC Magazine showing the 12 flying cars that led to Terrafugia. Yeah, right. Terrafugia (see commercial example). George Jetson called. He wants his briefcase packed with a flying car back.

"The flying car, something I imagined in fourth grade, will never happen," I said.

Who is the Target Lady?

Maria Bamford helped turn our anxiety about the holiday rush into a playfully self-aware celebration of the insanity we call Black Friday.

Target’s Black Friday campaign staring Maria Bamford spawned loads of “word of mouth,” and captured AdAge’s attention by ranking #2 on the AdAge Viral Chart with more than 1.5 million views in a week. Sure that’s still far below my definition of “viral video” (I’m thinking the new definition is 4 million views in a few days). But the campaign, by Portland, Oregon agency Wieden & Kennedy, clearly has become more than a 2010 footnote. Here’s Target Lady’s highlight reel, which culminates in the fantastic shot of her running through target wearing a parachute to slow her down.

Naturally Steve Hall (AdRants) hate’s it, but TV Critic Roger Catlin gave it a “an hail Target ad lady Maria” review. AgencySpy was most impressed with the Rocky IV tune. But the real surprise, to me, was when my wife said: “wait- look at this…everyone’s raving about it on Facebook.” According to ClickZ, some sponsored ads fueled that Facebook fire.

Click here to see YouTube’s Target collection, ranked by most-viewed.

Some of these spots are good enough to stop you from fast forwarding TiVo. Maria Bamford has a wonderfully crazy and self-deprecating style that makes even ME feel sane. She’s not new to Target — check out her subtle “Target” reference in this video from years ago (below). She’s funny in standup (effinfunny.com), but translates even better to web video and was a perfect fit for this wonderfully insane Target campaign.

I hope to see her back, since I think she’ll appeal to Target’s target customer. We’ll still need our “cool” target ads, but this is distinctive and fun, and a refreshing departure from me-two department store ads (wow we’ve got deals… zzzzz). I could honestly see the Target Lady pulling a mini Old Spice video-reply campaign with personalized videos… the mad rush for holidays is far from over, but there’s not likely time for a new campaign. Hey Wieden & Kennedy- if she’s answering questions I’d like to know how many cups of coffee she drinks a day and how many hours of sleep she gets. I’d also savour, like fine wine, some behind-the-scenes outtakes from the commercial shoot.

If you like Target Lady, write WK agency (contact information) or be sure to write Maria’s mom. Mothers need affirmation sometimes, and maybe she’ll let Maria out of the attic to reward her. Or heck, pick up a piece of no-soap made by her dad.

Getting Your Videos Seen With Search

Last week I wrote one of my more seminal posts on the convergence of paid search and video. Those who comment on my blog, of course, are rather indifferent about these vital topics and would just prefer me to stick with such topics as farts and YouTube drama.

Alas, I finally know how our summer Spanish teacher felt when our class (a motley crew of rejects that simply needed a passing grade to graduate) insisted that she play Spanish soap operas and stop trying to teach us vocabulary. For the most part, we’d just put “o” at the end of the word and it would sound sufficiently translated.

That said, I must persist and I have a ruler in my hand. You see, the percentage of video views attributed to search engines is growing rapidly. And I had forgotten sweet ReelSEO which had fallen accidentally on my iGoogle when I took it for a strict SEM blog. It has some great articles on video too. Here’s a recent piece by Michael Bunnell that has some summaries of the “Video Search Engine Optimization” session that took place in San Jose at the SES (search engine strategies) conference.

Check out the comments by Greg Markel, founder of Infuse Creative, LLC. He’s got some nice wisdom, including a remidner to have your killer link in the top of your description as the rest gets truncated. It might help that paultry view-to-click ratio (although I’d expect 1-4 percent tops anyway).

mike abundo with his sassy poseIn related news, Mike Abundo (pictured here in a sassy photo and see his blog here) writes about how marketers and creators may be able to buy YouTube text links on search results to support the SEO techniques Markel suggests.