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What We're Looking Forward to at CES 2013

Next week, AMP will be heading back to Vegas to the 2013 International Consumer Electronics Show. I hope that we find a ton of awesome technology to bring back to our clients and, on a personal level, that I consume much less Sbarro than last year. Here's a quick outlook of some of the things we're looking forward to: Who's Going to Step Up? 2012 marked Microsoft's last CES booth and keynote, and even though Windows 8 will be on a ton of devices, this is the first year they won't officially be there. So that begs the question; who's going to be this year's big dog? The Next Big Thing Tablets, Ultrabooks and 3DTV have been some of the biggest stars from the past few years. This year, there's a bit more mystery on what will be considered 'THE thing of CES.'? Will it be this?! It might be, but honestly, I have no idea what that even is. Eureka Park If I had one regret from last year, it's that I didn't get to visit the inaugural year of Eureka Park. It's where all the up-and-coming entrepreneurs will be sharing their big ideas, products and services. Last year, companies like Tactus and Kogeto made a splash. This year, the area has grown which makes me think there could be a few diamonds in the rough just waiting to be found. The Mobile Apps Showdown I'm cool with anything that makes use of an Applause-O-Meter. The basic idea is that developers have 2 minutes to demo their app and audience applause determines the winner. Not a thing you can hate about that. Last year had a few awesome ones, so we eagerly await the competition. BONUS! 3 Tips for Having an Awesome CES Wear comfortable shoes: There are roughly 35 football fields worth of exhibit space and hard, concrete floors. If you can't wear your new Jordan's, either invest in Dr. Scholl's or some post-conference foot massages. Pack a power strip to make friends: Assuming most people will be carrying somewhere between one and three devices (unless you're Steve Wozniak), that leaves the outlet-to-device ratio at the Las Vegas Convention Center somewhere around .00001:1. Pack a power strip and make someone's day when they're looking to charge up. Spend most of your time at the weird stuff: If you're going to CES to check out the TVs and tablets, you're better off spending a few hours on TechCrunch next week and saving yourself some time and money. The big items and brands are going to get covered on every tech site out there. If you're looking to get the most out of the week, make sure you don't overlook the corners of the exhibit space showcasing the truly bizarre stuff that is most likely years away from a viable market introduction. Feel free to follow #CES2013 throughout the week or stalk us via the usual channels (Twitter, Facebook, or this blog) to get live updates, photos and videos.  

Video Strategy, Insights Lab Episode 14

"Video" is tossed around like it's such a simple content format but in the digital media world, it has a whole host of implications for brands. Video impacts content, production, advertising, and viewing devices. With the proliferation of multiple screens, there are various channels available to view video in a digital form'TV, tablets, desktop/laptop and smartphones. For marketers, multiple screens mean multiple ways to reach the audience. In this week's Insights Lab, Sonny Kim, AMP's SVP of Digital Strategy, shares recommendations on how to approach video with Matt Rainone, Senior Manager of AMP's Integrated Group. Tweet us @AMP_Agency to let us know what topics you want to hear about!

The Facebook Rumor Mill: Potential Facebook Acquisitions & Expansions, Insights Lab Episode 13

With Facebook's recent IPO, the rumor mill is abuzz with talks about Facebook moving into the smartphone and mobile browser space given the hiring of ex-Apple hardware engineers and the potential purchase of Opera. Additionally, there has been speculation that Facebook may acquire the Israeli facial recognition software, Face.com. Hear Matt Rainone, Senior Manager of AMP's Integrated Marketing Group, discuss these rumors and his thoughts on Facebook's growth strategy. Tweet us @AMP_Agency to let us know what topics you want to hear about!

The Facebook Rumor Mill: Potential Facebook Acquisitions & Expansions, Insights Lab Episode 13

With Facebook's recent IPO, the rumor mill is abuzz with talks about Facebook moving into the smartphone and mobile browser space given the hiring of ex-Apple hardware engineers and the potential purchase of Opera. Additionally, there has been speculation that Facebook may acquire the Israeli facial recognition software, Face.com. Hear Matt Rainone, Senior Manager of AMP's Integrated Marketing Group, discuss these rumors and his thoughts on Facebook's growth strategy. Tweet us @AMP_Agency to let us know what topics you want to hear about!

And Now, An Argument: Pre-Releasing Super Bowl Ads

With the Super Bowl only a few days away, every aspect of the matchup on the field has been ruthlessly dissected, overanalyzed and predicted. Almost equally as important to the action on the field, is the drama that will happen between TV timeouts, namely the commercials. With a record cost of ad placements, the country will be tuned in to watch the best and worst spots and discuss them over bagels at work on Monday morning. One trend that has been picking up steam as of late is the strategy of releasing these marquee spots AHEAD of the big game and seeding them online prior. Is this a good strategy? As in most cases, there's no simple right or wrong answer but an argument to be made for either side. Today, Matt and Ellis defend each point. Rainone: Super Bowl Sunday. Advertisers are paying a ton of money ($3.5million) not just to reach the largest television audience each year, but also to create conversations. What's the big deal if those conversations start the week before? In fact, that's actually more coverage for the brand now as opposed to next week when ALL of the commercials are going to be dissected. Watts: The goal of the spot should depend on the individual advertiser. While some may want the buzziest of buzz, others might simply want tangible results (i.e. sales, drive to web, etc.). While conversations are great, it may not be the end goal. Take for example the 'Old Spice Guy'? campaign. It debuted during the Super Bowl, had TONS of coverage and viral-ness (virality?), but actually didn't quite catapult sales as much as everyone thought as it was supported by an unprecedented, national couponing effort. Another factor here to keep in mind is how that campaign / experience was refreshed with a boatload of great content, not just hammering home the same commercial over and over again. Rainone: If advertisers are confident that they have developed great commercials, it should be good enough the second or third time viewers watch it. Watts: How many times can you realistically expect a viewer to watch a commercial with complete interest and intrigue? It's not like the audience is watching 'Inception'?. While we industry folks may have a romanticized vision of a captive audience getting caught up in the artistry of a :30 second production ' the reality is anything but that outside of Super Bowl Sunday. The GEICO caveman wasn't funny the first time I saw it, and it won't be on the thirtieth, no matter when it airs. Rainone: We also have a bit of a skewed outlook on this since we're in the industry and we're actively searching for the spots. In reality, that the majority of the Super Bowl audience probably hasn't seen the commercial by the time it airs. The ad that's probably getting the most attention this year is the Ferris Bueller/Honda spot. At the moment, it is hovering just under 15 million views if you aggregate views across a few sites. Assuming there's probably going to be almost 100 million more people than that watching the game, it's safe to assume that there's no harm in doing an early release. Watts: I wouldn't look at is as, 'what's the harm?'? but rather, 'how can we make this even better?'? For those that consider an early release, the opportunity to deliver a simple 'refresh'? of the spot, still exists ' that way it's entirely new to new viewers but still rewards those that have seen it. Refreshes can range from introducing a longer spot (from a pre-release :30 up to a :60) with additional scenes and longer narrative to a simple tag that drives online for more info / entertainment. Doritos has been pushing their user-generated 'Crash the Super Bowl'? contest for a couple of years now and it's possible that some of the best entries won't make it to air (or even as finalists). I'm expecting to see a call-to-action somewhere for viewers to go online and view the other finalists. Rainone: What's the worst thing that could happen for advertisers that do pre-release? Someone says 'oh, I've already seen this one'? and then gets up to use the bathroom. What's the net loss in impressions there? 0. The best thing that could happen is that someone says, 'oh, I've already seen this one, you guys, quiet down so you can hear the punch line.'? What's the net gain on that? A fully-attentive audience. Watts: I wouldn't say there's absolute harm in it per se, aside from losing some thunder from the anticipation and reveal when it first runs. With information moving faster than we can even understand, and an era where spoilers are released in the blink of an eye, this shouldn't come as a surprise. You want to consider the worst case scenario? If the Super Bowl no longer becomes about releasing the latest and greatest, the idea of it being an event-within-an-event is lost as well. How intently did you watch the commercials during the AFC Championship? Imagine that same level of bland interest except that the advertisers paid a fortune for that time when you're planning your next trip to the nacho platter / bathroom (not necessarily in that order). Boom. Super Bowl ad dystopia. Terrifying stuff.

Five Groundbreaking Apps from CES 2012

One of our favorite events from this year's CES was the Mobile Apps Showdown. Hosted by Howard Stern regulars Jon Hein and Gary Dell'Abate, this event gave ten app developers four minutes to pitch their app concept to the audience and conduct a quick on-stage demo. The top app was determined by an Applause-O-Meter winning a shiny trophy, the admiration of attendees and a landslide of CES media coverage. In a previous blog post (http://bit.ly/zJTZje), we discussed 'CIA: Operation AJAX'?, one of the top ten finalists. Today, we take a quick look at five finalists that inspired our imaginations. Aurasma Lite by Aurasma Developer's Description: Aurasma is a new technology that brings the physical and virtual worlds together. Available as a free app for iOS and Android devices or as a free SDK for developers, Aurasma uses advanced image and pattern recognition to recognize and understand real-world images and objects in much the same way as the human brain does. It then seamlessly blends the real-world with interactive content such as videos and animations we call 'Auras'?. Auras can be created for printed images, products, clothing and physical places. Users can even use the simple tools in the app to create and share their own Auras. Since its launch in July 2011, Aurasma has had more than two million downloads. Over 1,000 partners around the world in markets including consumer electronics, retail, sport, automotive, entertainment, advertising and publishing are using the free technology. Aurasma was developed by and is part of Autonomy ' an HP Company. Cost: Free Link: Website (http://bit.ly/ycTMoX), iTunes (http://bit.ly/zHWYVf) Ellis' Take: This platform has HUGE upside. Augmented reality is something that to most is complex, confusing, and costly. This app empowers everyday users to tag and affect the digital world around them. Will it evolve into the next big digital platform or linger on as a simple novelty adopted and loved by a core group of hobbyists (like a new evolution of geocaching)? Matt's Take: Interesting opportunity here for brands. While augmented reality is something a lot of brands are looking into, the price tag is usually a barrier for entry. Being able to utilize pre-existing technology to create branded information with your products is something that should be very enticing for most brands, especially in the retail space. Magisto by Magisto Developers Description: Magisto is an amazing app that takes your raw videos and turns it into a beautifully edited & produced clip perfect for sharing. And it does it all in a click, for free. Right now, all these special moments are too long and boring to share. With Magisto you can create videos that your friends actually want to watch and you can do it with minimum efforts and maximum quality. Magisto will analyze these videos, understand it, find the best parts and make it look amazing! Now you have a way to express yourself and to capture those special moments that you want to share with the people around you. Cost: Free Link: Website (http://bit.ly/xwXL3P), iTunes (http://bit.ly/xPbikY) Ellis' Take: Three easy, mindless steps to create a highlight reel from videos of my dog. Win. Matt's Take: Really liked this at first, but upon further review, all videos need to stream from the site and you can't actually 'own them'?. Their plan is to move to a 'freemium'? model that gives you added capabilities for a price. Cinefy by App Creation Network Developers Description: Cinefy is a mobile video editing platform for iPhone where users create and share videos mixed with high quality special effects. Cinefy empowers users with no editing skills to quickly insert footage, add music and apply visually stunning effects with its intuitive and simple interface. 'As a former television director, this is a thrilling product to see in action'? said Gary Stover, Product Director. In Cinefy, individual themed or branded effects packs are available for in-app downloads, offering TV and game studios the ability to market products in a way that creates exciting and massive viral exposure potential. 'We made Cinefy to put the most exciting Hollywood quality production tools directly in the user's hands,'? said Dan Hellerman, CEO of App Creation Network. 'The ability for studios to promote their brands, by empowering users with actual effects elements themed to their shows or games, is an explosive marketing tool.'? Cost: $2.99 Link: Website (http://bit.ly/w6dl86) Ellis' Take: I don't know if this will make home videos better'?¦just different. For brands with user-generated content strategies in place, this could be a valuable tool that you may want to encourage consumers to consider. It could certainly raise the presentation of user-generated content, adding more value to those campaigns. Matt's Take: Much like Magisto, I like the idea of being able to easily create better videos than the ones most people are uploading to Facebook now. SecuraFone by SecuraTrac Developer's Description: SecuraFone is a multi-purpose smartphone app that functions as a powerful, personal safety solution. SecuraFone helps prevent distracted driving and accidents, provides instant emergency response, and offers 6 other GPS tracking and alerting features including: real-time tracking, historical tracking, geo-fence alerts, SOS alerts, and covert, emergency help calls to emergency response centers or the primary account contact. The alerts are sent using email and text messaging. 45% of teen drivers text while driving and 11 die each day in accidents caused by distracted driving. 35% of seniors will fall each year ' the leading cause of injury-related deaths among seniors. Employers spend over $60 billion a year in medical costs, legal fees and property damage related to employee driving accidents. SecuraFone serves as a tool for instant communication in this type of emergency situation and as a proactive solution to prevent accidents and dangerous conditions before they occur. Cost: Free Link: Website (http://bit.ly/xKPtOv), iTunes (http://bit.ly/A10nYP) Ellis' Take: It was interesting to hear the audience reaction to this app being presented. While many of the other apps received 'oohs'? and 'aahhs'?, this app had a strange impending sense of 'big brother'? to it ' especially when the developer referenced being able to track your employees locations in real time. You can imagine that at a conference held in Las Vegas, the response to that feature was rather lukewarm. Matt's Take: Absolutely horrifying. I must download this immediately. Foam Fighters by AppGear Developers Description: AppGear is an innovative line of apps that seamlessly interact with cool, collectible toys, shifting digital gaming into your reality. Foam Fighters is a collectible line of detailed foam airplanes that really fly and look fantastic on their own. These foam fliers also unlock missions in the digital world by scanning them into a smart device. Once unlocked, these planes are attached to the front of the device with the included arm, then dive in to the digital world and battle for control of the skies. The plane is mounted on the front of the smart device, dog fighting and taking digital damage in the app. The real world plane is now flying in the digital battle for the skies. This new product category will redefine game play by upgrading the physical experience with digital action. Cost: App is free; Retail play set is $9.99 Link: Website (http://bit.ly/xG1g1r) Ellis' Take: Is it wrong if I wish I was ten years old again? Or if society didn't have a stigma about adults playing with toys that they've outgrown by two decades? We're seeing augmented reality starting to enhance playtime, a trend that is very likely to continue as brands look for ways to connect real-world, physical play with digital extensions. Another great A/R example at CES was Intel's booth that featured a demo of LEGO's Intel-powered augmented reality retail display (http://bit.ly/ycmj3T). Matt's Take: Meh. I understand they're trying to be creative mixing in the physical plane with the game, but it seems like the game could be just as successful without having to attach a foam plane to your tablet. It just seems like an unnecessary step.

The New Media Experience

Last week I visited the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas and there were by my count 25,000 tablets being displayed (that number might be slight hyperbole). To be honest, I really only checked out a few of them ' one or two Androids and this Windows tablet being featured by Intel. The hardware wasn't really what caught my attention with the 2012 tablets, especially since tablets at this point aren't really differentiating themselves all that much. What caught my attention was how people were using them, talking about them, the overall capabilities that tablets offer and how they're shaping our media experience. So that led to this interesting question for you tablet owners out there. What's your favorite experience on your tablet? Is it reading, playing apps, or watching movies? What if I said that some day in the not too distant future, you'll have a hard time differentiating those experiences because you'll be doing all three at the same time? And this isn't a post about some new tablet that allows for multitasking. I'm talking about tablets redefining our media experience and storytelling as a whole. Take a look at the 'CIA: Operation Ajax'? application that's available for the iPad. It tells the story of a real-life CIA operation in Iran that took place in the 50's. It is currently classified as an 'app'? in the iTunes App Store, but is that REALLY what it is? To me, that seems to be much more than an app. On the surface, it's a graphic novel ' not exactly something that you would expect to find in the App Store. But once you look deeper into how you interact with it, it becomes something that is almost indefinable. It takes the passive pieces of literature and cinema and mixes them with the active experience of an application. You become fully-immersed in the story because you're not only reading it, but touching it, listening to a full score and pulling up interactive content that a traditional media experience doesn't allow. If you think about it, the concept isn't even that new. Many book publishers have had cross-device experiences where you can get additional information on a website, and DVD extra features have been around for years. Being able to have the entire experience on one device is just so much more immersive. And while Marvel Comics has an app that has minor animations and the iBookstore has enhanced books, this is the most in-depth experience I've seen to date. So what does this mean? In a nutshell, the opportunity for enhanced content exists. Think about reading a novel with its own soundtrack, with character back-story and short movie clips. Imagine watching a movie on your tablet and instead of playing the 'where have I seen this guy before'? game, a simple tap of the screen on the actor's face will bring up an actor bio with IMDB integration. Just think about what this will do for the textbook industry where you'll someday be able to not only read about dissecting a frog, but also dissect one on your tablet without having to smell the formaldehyde. Kermit rejoice! The capabilities are there to one day ditch the passive media experience and embrace a much richer, fully-immersive media experience. At this point, the only question that remains is whether or not content providers are going to make the investment into this enhanced content. So what do you think? Would you pay a premium price for the enhanced media experience?

Early Impressions from CES

It's definitely been a great start to CES. We primarily hit the conference track panels yesterday with some brief time on the exhibitor floor in between. One key theme we kept hearing was around the idea of convergence. While this is nothing new, as we continue to move towards an always-connected, always-open-for-content lifestyle, it's something that isn't going away anytime soon. Technology brands are increasingly looking to own both hardware and software with a way to augment content across their own devices. Apple has been incredibly successful with this structure and many brands are late to the party and undergoing the associated growing pains. And while it was an ongoing theme, this goes beyond the idea of content across multiple screens and devices. We're moving closer and closer to a day when all of our devices and appliances are going to be connected and communicating with one another. From our brief time on the exhibitor floor, it's apparent that 2012 won't feature any game-changing products. We caught a glimpse at LG's 55" 3D OLED, which is every bit as crave-worthy as you'd imagine and Sharp's portable flat screens which are every bit as head-scratching as you'd imagine but nothing has really owned the show so far. After seeing some of the big guys, we're thinking that if there's going to be anything really ground-breaking, it's going to be from some of the smaller exhibitors.     Looking forward to the next few days; we will have plenty to report back on this week.

What we're looking forward to at 2012 CES

This week a small cadre of AMP's most tech-minded individuals (nerds) will be going to the 2012 International Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. And fortunately for all of you, what happens there will not stay there, but instead be blogged, live-tweeted, filmed, twit-pic'd, and recapped for your viewing pleasure. While this isn't our first CES rodeo, this will be the first year that we'll be covering our trip there in such detail. Here's a quick outlook of some of the things we're looking forward to seeing next week: Microsoft's Last Keynote We're praying that it had more to do with Microsoft's product cycle timing and not because they heard we were coming and decided that the show jumped the shark. The next gen versions of everything Keeping our fingers crossed for hover boards, but will certainly settle for anything mobile, makes great use of social media, or can be used in an event atmosphere to improve a branded experience. 2011 was the year of the tablet, 2012 is destined to be the year of the Ultrabook. Having a sneak preview of the new generation of sleeker notebooks from our friends at Intel has us super psyched about the new ones that will be coming out in 2012. TV Wars In the past few years, mainstream TV innovation has been a mixed bag. HDTV costs have dropped quite a bit. 3DTVs have become more accessible (and all signs point to that trend continuing) but additional features such as connectivity and applications have been met with lukewarm response. This year it sounds like LG and Samsung may be unveiling their latest OLED (Organic LED) TVs ' a display type that has the potential to greatly reduce TV width and more importantly, cost. Additionally, it will also be interesting to keep an eye on MDTV (Mobile Digital TV) that hasn't quite picked up yet, but could become more widely adopted in 2012. Fewer Wires Wireless could be a big theme with more advances coming across a suite of consumer electronics from mobile phones hooked up with NFC (Near Field Communications) to allow mobile payments, Bluetooth 4.0 and a sneak peek at inductive charging. The Mobile Apps Showdown We're cool with anything that makes use of an Applause-O-Meter. The basic idea is that developers have 2 minutes to demo their app and audience applause determines the winner. Not a thing you can hate about that. We're also going to try to get a few video interviews with some of the ones that pique our interest and relay them back to you all ' so that will be fun. Feel free to follow #CES2012 throughout the week or stalk us via the usual channels (@AMP_Agency, Facebook.com/BrandAMPlification) to get live updates, photos and videos.

The Startup Every Employee Should Love and Fear

It's like the Sporcle of the business world, and that's scary as hell. Smarterer ' no, the extra 'ER'? does not stand for Emergency Room, though that's where some resumes may end up if this catches on ' is a new startup that's trying to put everyone's job skills on an even playing field. Let's say that you look at 100 resumes. Every single one has 'proficient in ______'? on there, but how exactly do you measure that? One person's 'proficient'? might actually be another person's 'skilled'? and what the heck is a hiring manager to do when a 'Microsoft Office Rock Star'? comes around? Other than immediately disqualify that person for unnecessary hyperbole, up until now, there hasn't been much to do. That's where Smarterer comes in. Smarterer ' currently in beta ' offers business professionals a chance to prove their proficiency at some of the most popular business and web applications used today. Without going into the most-likely complex algorithm that Smarterer was built on, I'll give you this; take a test and get a grade. You pick an application you want to get graded on, like Twitter, PowerPoint, Photoshop or CSS for example, answer a few multiple choice questions and then get a grade based on how well you answered them. If you get a score of 500-599 you are considered 'Smart'?, 600-699 'Smarter'?, and 700+ 'Smarterer'?. Then import that grade to all of your networks and into your resume to show off just how great you are. It's so mind-numbingly simple it's a wonder why no one has thought of this before. So how does it work? Pretty well, actually. I took it for a test drive yesterday and other than being extremely nerve-racking since you're basically qualifying your entire professional career in a 60 second test, it seems to work pretty well. I seem to be most 'smart'? at applications I use every day (PowerPoint, Word, Twitter), and somewhat below proficiency in applications I rarely use (Photoshop, Illustrator). And just for the heck of it, I took a test for Javascript, something I know absolutely nothing about, and tallied a 165. So, it seems to be pretty accurate. For the most part, you attain the majority of your final score in the first few questions. Then you tend to lose more points by getting questions wrong than you do by getting them correct. This will help ward off the potential for taking the tests over and over and blindly clicking away with the hopes of upping a score. I've taken a few of the tests multiple times, and after the first few, it's somewhat hard to increase your score drastically, so you really do need to know your stuff. Though the site does warn against cheating and hacking, I'm interested to know what other safeguards are in place to thwart potential work-arounds to up scores. And similar to any type of standardized testing, there is also the fear that those with high scores may not necessarily be the most proficient, but just happen to be good at memorizing facts. Though that begs the additional question, if you know the facts, doesn't that make you proficient? Overall, it's a very interesting idea, and something that employers and the workforce will need to familiarize themselves with over the next few years as it has the chance to become a standard in grading out business expertise.

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