Drone Week January 19: Surfing Drones

Welcome back to another edition of Drone Week here on BlogCampaigning! This series of posts It certainly seems like drones are everywhere these days, and one area where they're really making a mark is in surf videos.

A lot of waves are tough to shoot from the shore, and filming from the water often means that videographers aren't able to capture an entire ride. Drones are perfectly positioned to capture surfing, and the overhead angle often gives the action a dreamy look.

Check out a couple of examples of surfing drone videos below.

I like to fly from stugibson on Vimeo.  

If you want to capture some of this footage yourself, the AirDog might be a good bet. I'd say that that biggest problem is that it only has a 10-20 minute flight time. As some commenters have noted, you can't even paddle out in that time in some spots.

I feel like this is only the beginning of drones used for surfing footage, and I expect we'll see even better stuff in the future.

Check out past Drone Week posts on BlogCampaigning. 

Rise of the Companion App

For the last few years, advertisers have known that those watching their ads are likely to have a second screen nearby, whether it's a laptop, tablet or mobile phone. What's interesting to me is that game developers are starting to take notice of this. The Wii-U was the first instance a "second screen" experience for gamers, but more interesting to me are the companion apps that are closely tied to a few of the big games that have come out recently or are hotly anticipated. Check out my round-up of these below:


Tom Clancy's The Division - I'm pretty excited for this dystopian police game, but even more excited for what the companion app will do. According to IGN, your friends will be able to join you via their iPhone or iPad to control a drone in the game, pointing out snipers or laying down cover fire.



Destiny - As excited as I am for The Division, I'm probably more excited about Destiny. How can the former Halo developers go wrong? Unfortunately, their companion app (dubbed "Companion") doesn't sound nearly as interesting, and is nothing more than a tool for keeping track of your stats and maybe updating your loadout.

Watch Dogs - Despite a lukewarm reception, Watch Dogs still looks pretty interesting. Rather than supporting you or acting as another player, it pits you against other players in couple of different game modes.

Titanfall - The Titanfall companion app sits in the middle of a few of these, and offers you an interactive mini-map of the current game. It's not groundbreaking, but an interesting add-on to what is supposed to be an amazing game.

Are there any other gaming companion apps I'm missing?


I found this quote on Reddit via user Reasonably Plausible, and really liked it:

"Human beings are scary. We breathe a corrosive gas, drink one of the most potent solvents. Our preferred method of hunting was persistence hunting, where we chased animals until their body simply gave up and died. We can eat just about anything we find, which means that we don't need to stop for food when chasing our prey. If we can't find food, that's fine. Our body will simply begin to eat itself so that we don't have to stop chasing our prey. We walk upright, we sweat, we don't have much body hair, which allows us to radiate away our body heat. This means that excessive time or extreme environment wont stop our hunts. If the animal fights back against us, we can take massive damage to our extremities and lose half our blood and still live. Our entire existence is owed to persistence, endurance, and determination. When we put ourselves to a task, it gets done, period. And this instinct is still affecting us today. 332BC: Alexander the Great hits a stalemate with the fortified island city of Tyre. Instead of going back defeated, he builds a kilometer long bridge in order to raze the city. 49BC: Cesar, after defeating the Gauls and invading Britain, turns a political fight into a civil war by invading Italy with only a single legion. He eventually becomes dictator starting a world superpower whose engineering feats are only recently being broken. 1804AD: A charismatic French general declares himself Emperor and sets off to conquer much of mainland Europe. He is captured, exiled, and then escapes. The soldiers sent to recapture him instead lay down their arms and join him. 1961AD: One man decides that we will go to the moon, despite much of the technology to do so not even existing yet. Just eight years later, two humans stand on the surface of the moon and look back upon the Earth. 200 years ago, we didn't have railroads. 100 years ago, we didn't have airplanes. 50 years ago, we didn't have spaceflight. 25 years ago we didn't have the Internet. We've already inherited the Earth and soon we WILL inherit the stars and anyone or anything that stands in our way will be eliminated one way or another."

Instagram Now Allows Photo And Video Embeds

I really like Instagram, so I'm excited to see that they've made it easy for users to embed photos from the site on other sites. It will be interesting to see what this does to spread Instagram photos and engagement across the web. Here are a few of my own favorite Instagram photos (follow me! Like elsewhere on the web, I'm ParkerNow on Instagram:

How Jewish Is Your Favourite Movie?

Jewish Jurassic Park


If you like movies, you'll probably have fun with the new website that DDB Canada (the place I work) developed for the Toronto Jewish Film Festival. To prove that you're already a fan of Jewish movies, DDB created a website that analyzes everyone who was involved with the movie (from writers to actors and producers) and gives it a score (or gentile percentile) for how Jewish it is.

Check it out for yourself at (and then check out some of the great movies that are playing on the Toronto Jewish Film Festival website)

Kim Stanley Robinson: Science-Fiction and Science

A few weeks ago, I saw a Tweet asking users to submit questions they'd like to ask Kim Stanley Robinson in an upcoming interview. He's one of my favorite authors (he wrote the Mars trilogy, one of my favorite series of books), and he always has a lot of intelligent things to say about the future of humanity and the role science will play. It's a great interview, and I've embedded it below. My question, "On which planet, asteroid or community from your novels would you most want to live?" is near the end. I don't know if it's a good thing or a bad thing that Kim Stanley Robinson's first reaction to the question is "Oh, my lord..." The rest of his answer actually surprised me, but I'll let you listen for yourself (around the 33min mark in the video).

You can also check out the interview on the Mendel's Pod website. Thanks to Theral Timpson for using my question!

The September That Never Ends

Ever since I took a class called "Cyberculture" while attending Griffith University* in Australia, I've been fascinated by internet lore and the stories of  how the web was built. One of these stories that I recently came across was about "Eternal September." It comes from the thinking that when the internet was mostly restricted to university students, websites were flooded every September with new users that hadn't yet learned netiquette. Over the course of this first month, their upperclassmen taught them how to behave online. The result was what were probably pretty well-run little communities.

In 1993 the web became more accessible to the masses with AOL and Compuserve, with new users not yet savvy in the rules of online behaviour arriving year-round. Thus, September 1993 was dubbed the "Eternal September."

If you're super into this type of thing, it looks like there is a little program that you can download here that will calculate the current day of September, 1993 that we're at (looks like it's day 4242 of Eternal September).




Having Trouble Viewing This Blog Post?

I've never been a huge fan of email marketing and the fancy, HTML newsletters that are such a big part of it.

These are the emails you get that start off by saying "Having trouble viewing this email? View it on our website."

How many other advertising (or communications) formats start off this way?

Somehow, I don't think companies would be willing to invest in TV commercials if we said "This TV commercial is going to be great, but most people won't be able to view it right away - they'll have to push another button, or watch it on our website."

Yet these fancy HTML emails persist. They persist at the expense of wasted hours from talented designers and coders whose time could probably be spent creating something way more beautiful and useful.

For a time, my hosting provider (DreamHost) used to send out plain-text emails. They were very simply formatted. They could be read easily and quickly digested. One of these was even sent from an Apple store on one of the demo versions of the first iPhone.

And yes, I'm sure I could set up my email so that that it always displays images and I always see how great these emails are. But I don't. And I bet a lot of other people don't either.

What do you think about fancy, well-designed HTML emails? Worth it or not? Do you read them? Does your email tool display the images for you, or block them?





What Reddit DOESN'T Do

A few days ago Reddit wrote a blog post to celebrate the fact that in December 2011, they had over 2 billion monthly page views and over 34 million unique visitors on their site (and 10% of that is Canadian!). The blog post also points out that in the past year, traffic to their site has doubled and users are spending an average of 16 minutes/visit on the site.

As my friend Fred Moesker pointed out, it's interesting how they achieved this based on the list of things they DON'T do:

  • We don't get traffic through ads.
  • We don’t participate in any traffic trading.
  • We don’t email our users (unless they choose to enter an email and then forget their password).
  • We don’t harass users to sign up.
  • We don’t harass users to invite their friends.
  • We don’t pester you to download our app.
  • We don’t use slideshows and other pageview gimmicks.
  • We don't know anything about SEO.
  • We don't integrate with Facebook.
  • We don't even link to our Facebook or twitter accounts.
In a time when sites are becoming increasingly connected and our online profiles are telling a deeper story of who we, its interesting to see Reddit take almost an opposite approach: focusing on the community of people together, rather than on individual identification.

The Garden Isle and The Valley Isle

A month ago, I wrote a blog post with some photos that I took while I was in Puerto Rico using a GoPro Camera. Over the Christmas break, Heather and I went to Maui and Kauai and used that same camera to make a video. Enjoy!

I edited it using iMovie, and the song playing is Cloud (Plastic Plates Remix) by Sia (I snagged it off of this blog post by Vacay Vitamins).


The Biggest Radio Telescope in the World: "We Want To Be Citizens Of The Cosmos. We Want You To Know About Us."

Yesterday I went to the Arecibo Observatory, the biggest radio telescope in the world. It's in Puerto Rico.

Why? Because I love science and technology, and this is a really amazing piece of human achievement.

Thanks to the Arecibo Observatory, we know that the orbit of Mercury is 59 days and that neutron stars exist. The Arecibo Observatory also helped discover the first 3 extra-solar (as in, not orbiting our sun) planets, and was used by SETI in the search for extraterrestrial life and the Americans in the search Soviet information during the Cold War.

It's also a pretty fantastic piece of engineering: the platform holding all the equipment, suspended over the center, weighs over 900 tons.

I knew some of this before I went, but learned about it in more detail and more on the Arecibo Observatory Wikipedia page. (the visitor's centre is pretty comprehensive but was also pretty full of annoying kids so I didn't stick around too long inside).

While I was there, I was reminded of an episode of NPR's RadioLab about the world's geekiest, yet most beautifully romantic mixtape, a golden record that was put on the Voyager Spacecraft by Annie Druyan, wife of Carl Sagan.


RadioLab is amazing, by the way.


StumbleUpon and TELETOON Retro

The following post was written partially by me and partially by my colleagues at Radar DDB in Vancouver. It also appeared on the DDB Canada blog.

If you've seen the impressive stats in the StumbleUpon infographic that has been floating around recently, this DDB campaign to promote TELETOON Retro's line-up of Super-hero programming using StumbleUpon's Paid Discovery Service will be right up your alley.

The campaign uses Paid Stumbles to drive Cartoon, Comic Book, and Animation fans on StumbleUpon to a few pieces of content, including a promotional video that TELETOON created, and blog posts by various comic book bloggers who've written posts about their "Top 5 TELETOON Retro Villains." While driving traffic to third-party sites may be a tough sell for some clients, TELETOON recognized that these sites could give their campaign greater credibility, and were willing to experiment.

With the appropriate campaign, StumbleUpon can be an amazing way to drive relevant, targeted viewers to content directly through a medium they're already using.

T-Dot Comics - Top 5 Retro Cartoon Villains

TELETOON Retro Promotional Video

The One Thing is a result of the daily 10am meeting held in DDB Canada's Vancouver office, where our digital team meets to discuss new online trends, tools and technologies.

For an archive of the 10am links, visit our Delicious account at

Radar on Twitter:

A Social Media Age Divide

Timothy B. Lee (no, not that Tim B. Lee) is one of my favorite pundits bloggers thinkers writers these days. In a recent blog post for Forbes (The Social Media Singularity), he wrote the following great paragraphs:

Like any skill, the ability to find good Internet content gets better with practice. Intellectuals under about 35 have had access to the Web for their entire adult lives. Most of us rely on the Internet as our primary source of information about the world. We’ve all been practicing finding interesting content and sharing it with our friends for over a decade. Many of us are quite good at it.

In contrast, intellectuals over about 45 had already gotten used to a print-centric media diet by the time the Internet arrived. As a result, they didn’t adopt online reading habits with the same enthusiasm. When social media arrived, few of their peers were using it so they didn’t either. And as a consequence, they never developed the kind of Internet-filtering prowess that comes naturally to many people in my cohort.

There are certainly exceptions to both cases, but I think it is a great way to sum up part of what's happening online today.

Read his whole article here.




One of my favorite things about working at DDB Canada is the incredibly talented coworkers I get to spend my day with. I love the projects that I get to work on, but I also love seeing what other teams come up with for their clients. One amazing project that some of the DDB team recently completed was for Canadian Blood Services. The campaign was called Blood Signal and while it was integrated across multiple mediums (print, guerilla, online ads), my favorite part was the Facebook-connect enabled website that they created.

The pulls information from your Facebook profile to create a customized, animated video about how many lives you and your friends could save by donating blood. Seeing your friends faces appear in the places their from acts as encouragement for you to get them to donate blood, and adds social relevance to the campaign.

Check it out yourself at Then go donate some blood.


Some Non-essential Thoughts on "Essential Facts" About Video Games

The Entertainment Software Association of America posted their 2011 Essential Facts about the Computer and Video Game Industry today, and while nothing in it seemed essential to me, there were a few interesting nuggets of information: 1.) The average game player is 37 years old

I'm sure that despite this, the stereotype of the sedentary, lonely-but-trash-talking teenager will prevail.

2.) Women age 18 or older represent a significantly greater portion of the game-playing population (37%) than boys age 17 or younger (13%)

Seriously - this stat surprised me. I guess when I think about games, I'm guilty of not taking into consideration casual games.

3.) Starcraft Battle Chest is the 20th Best Selling Computer Game of 2010

This package was originally released in 1999! (Thanks, to my friend Richard for pointing this out). The fact that it is still one of the best selling pieces of entertainment says a lot about how good this game is. Quality gameplay goes a lot more than flashy graphics, I guess.


4.) Parents See Positive impact of Computer and Video Games

I've been an advocate for the positive benefits of video games for a long, long time (seriously - I wrote that post in 2007!). However, I never thought that parents would see things the same way. I'd like to see these stats compared to how parents see television in their household. Are video and computer games seen more positively? My guess is yes.

Grab the whole report for yourself here. Props to Joystiq for pointing it out.


Toronto's Mesh Conference: 3 Highlights

The annual Mesh Conference in Toronto is always a big highlight of the year for me (despite the fact that I missed it last year). It's one of the places where, after moving to Toronto, I first realized that there were other people interested in this social media stuff and that the web had more potential than I even thought. How Adult Entertainment is Shaping The Web

Also often referred to as "The Porn Session," this panel discussion with Allison Vivas, Peter Nowak and Patchen Barrs was probably one of the best of the conference. While it didn't exactly get into the details of how adult entertainment was shaping the web, the panelists did talk about how the adult industry was either sinking or swimming as the web becomes the dominate communications platform. As these companies are early adopters and on the fringes, any big technology changes impact them. I won't go into the part of the conversation that was about the potentially booming industry of teledildonics and sex robots.

I will say that the whole thing got also got me super stoked to be working in advertising, as it reminded me of how much traditional media organizations are struggling to come up with ways to monetize their content.

Advertisers are uniquely positioned to create amazing content for free on behalf of our clients. We want people to share it is, pass it along. To us, consumer copying truly is the sincerest form of flattery, not representative of lost revenue.

For your reference, I've included the notes that my friend Brad Buset took during this presentation:

Brad Buset Mesh

Lessons on Gamification: Myths & Misunderstandings Dispelled

I want to preface anything I say about this presentation with the fact that I think the presenter, Brian Wong, is an incredibly smart guy who was a fantastic speaker and that I'm hoping I can catch up with him sometime in the future to hear more about his company, Kiip. Brian clearly understands the concepts of gamification, and has worked them nicely into Kiip. However, his whole presentation got me thinking:

In general, the problem I have with most people talking about 'gamification' is that they only reference other types of gamification, rather than actual games. I see this as a huge miss on the part of the web/app/social media industry. The further away we get from the types of games that spawned this trend, the worse off everyone is going to be. I mean, if the next generation of 'gamified' apps or marketing ideas are just copies of the current crop, where will we be?

Seriously - when was the last time you saw someone speak/write about gamification who you felt actually played some serious games? Modern Warfare is one of the best selling entertainment franchises EVER, and it did so because it is a game that took it self seriously. Let's start talking a look at how games like this treats rewards and badges and, this part is important, the ACTUAL GAME, not how other examples of gamification also use game-like aspects.

Digital Ethnography

I won't go into a ton of detail about this session except to say that BlogCampaign's own Heather Morrison and her colleagues did a fantastic job presenting some of the methodology their agency, Sequentia-Environics, does when researching online communities. She'll be following up with another post soon about this, as well as with some of the results from an in-depth research piece she worked on that was released the same day as her presentation.

Were you at Mesh this year? What were some of the highlights for you?


The Facebook Response Ratio

I've come to love Facebook Insights these days. They can provide you with an incredible wealth of data, particularly about what type of content resonates best with your fans. One of the ways that I've been measuring this is by the Response Ratio: The number response a post has received (comments + likes), divided by the number of fans the page has (often I then multiply this final number by 1000 just so its easier to work with...I'm sure there's a mathematical statistical term for this).

While Facebook provides you with the number of impressions your post has had, and the Feedback percentage for this post, you can't easily get this information for pages your competitors or pages in the same category. However,  Response Ratio allows you to do this, so that you can easily compare the amount of engagement your page has compared to similar ones, regardless of fan size.

Part of what started this thinking was a debate we had at work about how much engagement National Geographic's Facebook page has. Their status updates average something like 3,000 comments and Likes each. This sounds huge, but not compared to their 4.5 million fans.

In fact, despite the amazing content that National Geographic is sharing, their level of engagement is much lower than that of the average brand page (at least, the ones Radar DDB is working on ;-) ). An example of the Response Ratio for their last ten updates is as follows:

As you can see, there are a couple of troughs and peaks. The big spike at 9 is for a post they had linking to a photo gallery Iceland, while other spikes represent a post linking photos of pagodas in China and a post linking to an article about Pi Day. The low point for National Geographic? A link to a picture of a man with his cattle.

In this (very small) sample, our basic analysis says  that National Geographic fans are interested in compelling photo series, rather than articles or single photos. If we extended our reporting period to the last month (instead of the last ten posts), we'd probably be able to build a much better picture of the type of content these fans enjoy. Comparing the National Geographic page to similar pages  (for example, Discovery Channel's Planet Earth) and doing an analysis of the Response Ratio might even give some insight into what types of new content National Geographic should be posting.

In the below chart, I also looked at the Fox News Facebook page

So what was that post on the Fox News Facebook Page that got so many comments and likes?

And with that, I think I've proven my point that the Facebook Response Ratio is a valuable tool for measuring the types of content that resonate well with a page's fans.

However, it will always be necessary to measure the sentiment and types of responses that a page's are updates are getting. While on-page engagement is great, it might not necessarily be the right type of engagement for a brand, nor will it necessarily drive business results.

Do you think you will use the Facebook Response Ratio? Are there any other ways to measure the success of yours or competitor Facebook pages, besides pure fan numbers?


PS: If you like this post, you might like this other post I wrote about the Best Time To Post On Facebook

Adventures in Sydney

As some of you might have noticed, I haven't contributed much to Blogcampaigning lately; not only was I busy sorting out paperwork in order to be able to stay in Australia, but I also started a new job (editor's note: Oh, I've noticed!) As of this month, I started work as a lecturer for game design at Qantm college. It sure feels good to turn a life-long passion into a job.

As you can imagine, talking in front of 80 students in a second language and helping to develop part of the curriculum is pretty exciting. Experience in public speaking certainly helps, but when you walk in your first lecture, all eyes on you, people in the back complaining about not being able to hear anything, other students explaining that there's a microphone you don't know how to use – that's when your heart skips a beat.

A couple of lame zombie jokes later and the ice is broken. Hopefully they're enough to motivate the students to do work. Getting them to actually do something for the course is not going to be too easy, given its rather dry content: project management… Not the most electrifying lecture, but certainly necessary. Somehow I'll get them there!

I also started blogging for the Goethe Institute, Germany's global cultural institute. Their Sydney office started the CityScapes blog. This blog:

aims to make visible what unites us and what may divide us, to create an awareness for the necessity to act locally in response to global issues. It endeavours to research the human condition of the young urban dweller in the 21st century.

Every month three bloggers in 12 cities all over the globe write about different aspects of these cities. There's a text blogger (me), a video blogger and a photo blogger.

Step by step, they will create a kaleidoscope of impressions, opinions, ideas and… plain fun.

In January we covered “My year in the city - Work, Play and get out of here!”; this month we looked into “Going Local - Neighbourhood, Kiez and Suburb in my city”; March will be about a theme you've all been waiting for: "Sex and the City."

You can find my first posts here and here.


Data is so hot right now

Infographics are hot right now - it sees like everyone is getting in on them. And why not? They're fun. These days though, I'm more interested in the data behind the infographics. Maybe it is just because I've been heads-down doing a ton of online research to inform creative ideas for clients, or maybe its just because I like data. I especially like the large data sets that are made easily accessible thanks to social media.

Here are a couple of my favorite pieces of data mining (and I think all of them could make for great infographics):

TorrentFreak predicts Inception will clean up at the Oscars

Per their blog post: "After crunching the numbers, taken from thousands of publicly available torrents, this awards race turned out to be an easy win for Inception. With a staggering 13,780,000 downloads Christopher Nolan’s movie was the clear winner." Note: based on previous years, these torrent-based predictions don't necessarily hold true.

Stumbling During the Super Bowl

StumbleUpon is easily my favourite social media site/tool/distraction, and it was really cool to see the way they analyzed the way people were using the site over the course of the Super Bowl.

Music Download Analysis Reveals Mood of Bahrain

I loved this post that BoingBoing made over the weekend about judging the national mood of countries based on the music that was being downloaded. How has this changed over time? What would it look like compared the current economy?

Comment Profanity By Lanuage

In this little study, someone compared the amount of swear words included in different types of computer code.

Have you seen any other cool bits of data mining and analysis like this?


Choose Your Own Streets Adventure

I'm a big fan of both The Streets and interactive YouTube videos so I was pretty excited to see the promo video for The Streets' new album today. The video series is like a choose your own adventure, with the user deciding how The Streets' Mike Skinner goes about his day. The cool part is that some of the story lines lead you to song samples from the album. Finding the first one was neat, but having to go through parts of the story again to find all of them was a little bit annoying.

Check it out!