Posts Tagged ‘Advertising’

Mustn’t Spoil Cloverfield!

January 18, 2008

CloverfieldWell, it’s finally 01-18-08, and Cloverfield is out (in the States at least), which leaves us Brits on the other side of the Atlantic with two whole weeks in which to avoid seeing any spoilers relating to the film (it’s not out until 01/02/08 over here).

Of course, anyone who’s online can hardly go five minutes without seeing a link to a review or a “reveal” of the monster. So now the trick will be summoning the effort to resist clicking on any of these things for fear of spoiling the surprise!

I’ll leave you with the latest official TV “spot” (I guess this means “advert”) to keep you guessing, although I’m sure that by tonight there’ll be hundreds of dodgy phone videos from first night screenings uploaded to youtube — if there aren’t already: I refuse to search for “cloverfield” on youtube for the next two weeks!


Cloverfield Trailer Released – Speculation Continues

November 24, 2007

The trailer for JJ Abrams‘ hotly anticipated new monster movie, Cloverfield, was released officially earlier this month. You can see it at the official website:

Cloverfield – 1-18-08

CloverfieldThe level of speculation over the film’s plot and — crucially — what the monster will look like has reached fever pitch in sci-fi geek online communities over the past several months. Even the title has been the subject of intense debate: originally Paramount released a trailer with Transformers last summer which showed the decapitated Statue of Liberty shot (the iconic image of the movie) and the release date 1-18-08, which, for the non-transatlantic amongst us translates to the 18th of January 2008.

Now, however, it seems that the studio have gone for “Cloverfield” which has been a known working-title since the start of the hype. But still nobody’s sure about whether this is a Godzilla-type movie, or something darker — H.P. Lovecraft’s Cthulhu has been cited as an inspiration in several quarters.

Slash Film has a post which shows a slow-mo clip of several frames from the trailer apparently depicting the monster. Another version of this is shown below, from Youtube:

Intense. But I’ve still got no idea whether it’s a 200 foot alien terror-arachnid or a murky shot of the StayPuft Marshmallow Man from Ghostbusters. The jury’s out, in other words, but what’s indisputable is that Abrams and the Paramount marketing team are doing a great job of generating interest in what could be a run-of-the-mill monster movie.

Numerous blogs are dedicated solely to dissecting any scrap of information about the movie as soon as it is released. This is then rehashed and repackaged on hundreds of other non-specialist blogs, like mine, and the meme spreads. It’s a truly viral campaign, and it works because a very tight lid has been kept on the script, with no leaks so far.

Given Abrams’ credentials, I’m pretty confident Cloverfield will at least give sci-fi enthusiasts like me something to talk about come the new year.

Ask vs. Google

October 28, 2007

Google UKGoogle has always been the king of search; so much so that it’s become a household name — and, more than that, a bonafide verb. Sure, there’s always been Yahoo! and MSN/Live Search, with the latter in particular receiving a massive amount of traffic partly because it’s the default search engine for Internet Explorer. However, for years Google has been the tech-head’s search engine of choice.

But recently — formerly Ask Jeeves — has been aggressively marketing its search engine on primetime TV here in the UK as the all-singing, all-dancing alternative to boring old uncle G. Here’s a taster of Ask’s “can your search engine do this?” campaign:

Full credit to the marketing team: the ads are attention-grabbing, original and, above all, they really do make Google look like the kind of old-fashioned search engine only your mother would use. But is it really? And which is better when you actually want to find relevant information?

While I fully realise I’m by no means the first blogger to try this, I decided to run a small test to compare the two. The search term I used was “Lincoln”, my current place of residence. I also restricted results to sites from the UK. Here’s what Google came up with:

Google - Lincoln


And here’s the same search on

Ask - Lincoln

The main difference is that Ask has a three-column layout, whereas Google is limited to two. Moreover, when you’re used to the clean Google search, Ask’s results page can be a little discombobulating at first, but it’s fairly logical once you get used to it.

You have the search bar on the left, with suggestions to narrow your search, and the search field itself has autocomplete suggestions as you type, which is a pretty nifty feature. On the right are samples of images, music and video searches, which in this case were actually pretty useless, but I can imagine situations where you’d want them (for instance, when searching for a band, Ask will bring up weblinks, photos, videos and song clips all on the same page.

Ask also has a nifty ‘binoculars’ feature, which is a preview snapshot of the linked webpage when you hover the mouse over the relevant icon. This is similar to the feed preview feature on Bloglines, or indeed the Snap preview here on WordPress.

One thing I didn’t like about AskΒ was its ‘sponsored results’ which are directly above and below the main search results, so you have to scroll down a little before you find the links that aren’t paid for. What’s more, it doesn’t mark its sponsored results very clearly; there’s an incredibly pale blue box around them, but it’s tough to spot. In contrast, Google clearly separates most of its sponsored results by placing them in the right-hand column. Sure, you sometimes get sponsored links just above the results on Google too, but it just feels easier to differentiate than on Ask.

I’ve been talking a lot about Ask’s features, but Google has one or two tricks up its sleeve. For example, if you’re logged in it tells you how many times you’ve visited a particular website. It also allows you to ‘note’ or ‘clip’ a particular weblink for future reference, rather like social bookmarking sites, such as Finally, at the bottom of the results page are further search suggestions.

In terms of actual results, there really isn’t much to separate the two. Both ranked City of Lincoln Council and Lincoln University highly, while the Cathedral came slightly lower down the front page.

Bottom Line: I’ll probably stick with Google for now. Ask has some great features, but the results page feels a little overloaded for my taste.

Adsense Turns Ugly

July 30, 2007

Earlier this month Google announced that they’re planning to bring Adsense — their context-sensitive per-click web advertising service — to the world of videogames:

Full story (via Topix)

Although Google didn’t show any examples of the ads in action, they did say they’ll be rolling out the system “soon”. Bad times lie ahead.

I’ve never been a fan of (real life) adverts in games, primarily because games are all about the ability to enter into the gameworld. Seeing an advert for a show on the TV later this evening is jarring — potentially destroying the carefully constructed fantasy world, and therefore undermining the gaming experience.

I remember when SWAT 4 added in-game adverts with a patch: there was an outcry among the community. Even in a game pitched in a contemporary setting, in an urban environment, even — in short — in locations where adverts weren’t horrendously out of place, they still looked… well, out of place. One of the big problems in that case was the fact that (surprise, surprise) the advertisers got greedy, and started hogging wall space in each map with more and more posters for the new episode of this, or the latest deodorant, or car. It ended up looking ridiculous and making a mockery out of the gritty atmosphere of the game. Here’s an example from SimHQ:

Swat 4 ads

Of course, it turned out that SWAT 4’s adverts were actually doing a lot more than just pimping whatever new TV show happened to be airing that week. They were also tracking which ads players looked at, and for how long, and they were sending that data back to the advertiser’s server. This is not on. As the Inquirer put it back in 2005:

“Gamers are therefore providing huge amounts of free market research into what is and is not working – something which advertisers usually pay millions of dollars to do in often times less than precise ways – in a videogame which they have paid the full price for.”

Maybe Google can do in-game advertising better — maybe they really can “do no evil” and serve a realistic number of ads which don’t impact negatively on the gamer’s experience. I doubt it.