1. It looks like Google finally got round to “improving” Gmail ads

    Posted April 21, 2011 in ephemera  |  2 Comments so far

    If you’re a Gmail user you might have noticed – and responded sarcastically to – a little message that started to appear a few weeks ago. The message promised that better ads would be coming soon to Gmail.

    better ads in Gmail

    The excitement in the air was palpable. Gmail.com is great in many ways but its lacklustre adverts have long been a source of bitter disappointment. Would Google be able to deliver on its bold promise to address this failing? Well it looks like today they did (or at least to me anyway, you may have been seeing these for a while):

    We finally got better ads in Gmail

    I’m overwhelmed – I never thought it would happen. But yes, that is indeed a 200×200 banner in Gmail. Google has delivered, and then some.

    Having experienced the joy of better ads in Gmail, a new day has dawned for me. I hope you feel the same way too.

  2. Gap are targeting annoying people this Christmas

    Posted December 6, 2010 in ephemera, marketing  |  No Comments so far

    I saw this window display at the Moorgate branch of Gap this morning:

    "Social media whiz" wants "epic hat" (click for full size)

    I don’t know where to begin…

  3. Encountering the future over an omelette

    Posted August 5, 2010 in ephemera  |  1 Comment so far

    Yesterday I was in the Workers Café on Upper Street eating an omelette, when I encountered the future. Or at least it felt like the future, for a couple of seconds anyway.

    The café has a TV on the wall which shows Sky News, whose stream of “breaking news” is regularly interrupted by ad breaks. It was during these ad breaks that I had my brush with the world of tomorrow.

    My eye was lazily watching the screen when an advert appeared for the Samsung Galaxy S, a new Android-powered mobile phone. The usual stuff happened – the phone was lit in an appealing fashion, it spun around invitingly, a disembodied hand did things with the screen.

    One of the things the disembodied hand did during the advert was open up Google Maps. And in Google Maps, the street being shown was the street I was actually on – “The A1, Upper Street”.

    But I didn’t think, “what a strange coincidence”. Instead my first reaction was to assume that the advert was somehow geo-targeted, dynamically displaying the TV’s location on the phone’s screen.

    A second later however I realised that while this might be technically possible today it’s unlikely that a greasy spoon café, however venerable, is equipped with that sort of kit. It’s also unlikely that something as expensive as dynamically geo-targeted video would be used so casually, to show a particular street on a phone’s screen for around half a second on a daytime TV advert.

    The feeling I was left with was a strange one. My initial, subconscious assumption was that the ad was geo-targeted rather than that an unlikely coincidence had taken place, so I was a bit disappointed when I realised I was expecting too much from the cafés TV and Sky’s ad platform.

    So what looked like the future turned out to be a false positive. The ad break ended, Sky News went back to its gentle newsy clamour, and I went back to my omelette.