Viral Advertising – simple and effective?

Having a professional interest in advertising I really liked the link my colleague Bruno Müller-Clostermann sent to me. I obviously had to try it with my picture 🙂

My hero movie:

The example of the personalized video shows that it is intriguing and that it is potentially viral – but I am not sure if it is effective (or did you get what the advert is for?).

In general the concept to make someone a part of an advert is very powerful. At Mensch&Computer 2008 we published a paper that explores this idea in the context of public displays [1]. The public display project was part of a student assignment in a course I gave in Linz.

[1] Johannes Schönböck, Florian König, Gabriele Kotsis, Dominik Gruber, Emre Zaim, Albrecht Schmidt. MirrorBoard – An Interactive Billboard. Mensch und Computer 2008. Lübeck. Oldenbourg Verlag, 2008, p 207-216.

Workshop on Pervasive Advertising at Informatik 2009 in Lübeck

Following our first workshop on this topic in Nara during Pervasive 2009 earlier this year we had on Friday the 2nd Pervasive Advertising Workshop in Lübeck as part of the German computer science conference Informatik 2009.

The program was interesting and very diverse. Daniel Michelis discussed in his talk how we move from an attention economy towards an engagement economy. He argued that marketing has to move beyond the AIDA(S) model and to consider engagement as central issue. In this context he introduced the notion of Calm Advertising and interesting analogy to Calm Computing [1]. Peter van Waart talked about meaningful adverting and introduced the concept of meaningful experience. To stay with the economy term consider advertising in an experience economy. For more detail see the workshop webpage – proceedings will be soon online.

Jörg Müller talked about contextual advertising and he had a nice picture of the steaming manhole coffee ad – apparently from NY – but it is not clear if it is deployed.

If you are interested in getting sensor data on the web – and having them also geo-referenced – you should have a look at This is an interesting open source software system that appears quite powerful.

Florian Alt presented our work interactive and context-aware advertising insight a taxi [2].

[1] Weiser, M., Brown, J.S.: The coming age of calm technology. (1996)

[2] Florian Alt, Alireza Sahami Shirazi, Max Pfeiffer, Paul Holleis, Albrecht Schmidt. TaxiMedia: An Interactive Context-Aware Entertainment and Advertising System (Workshop Paper). 2nd Pervasive Advertising Workshop @ Informatik 2009. Lübeck, Germany 2009.

Workshop on Pervasive Computing in Advertising

We got a good set of submission for our workshop and had about 20 participants who joined us in Nara to discuss how pervasive computing will shape advertising in the future. The papers and a selection of talks is online on the workshop website:

One question that was central to our discussion was: what is advertising and how is it different from information. It became quickly clear that there is a lot of information that has an influence on behavior and in particular shopping decisions and some of it is considered advertising but much is not. Hence it seems really interesting to imagine a world where advertising is replaced by information. One could image that replacing advertising by information (e.g. as it happens already in some domains such a hotel recommendations) would change the whole approach for creating product or providing services.

We have presented in the workshop our work on contextual mobile displays. The idea is that in the future we could have mobile displays (that replace current printed items, like bumper stickers, bags with printed logos, and t-shirts with prints) could become active and could act as contextual displays. Have a look at the paper for more details [1].

[1] Florian Alt, Albrecht Schmidt, Christoph Evers. Mobile Contextual display system. Pervasive Advertising Workshop at Pervasive 2009. (contact Florian Alt for a copy of the paper)

Final Presentation: Advertising 2.0

Last term we ran an interdisciplinary project with our MSc students from computer science and business studies to explore new ways in outdoor advertising. The course was jointly organized by the chairs: Specification of Software Systems, Pervasive Computing and User Interface Engineering, and Marketing and Trade. We were in particular interested what you can do with mobile phones and public displays. It is always surprising how much a group of 10 motivated students can create in 3 months. The group we had this term was extraordinary – over the last weeks they regularly stayed in the evenings longer in the lab than me 😉

The overall task was very open and the students created a concept and than implemented it – as a complete system including backend server, end user client on the mobile phone, and administration interface for advertisers. After the presentation and demos we really started thinking where we can deploy it and who the potential partners would be. The system offers means for implicit and explicit interaction, creates interest profiles, and allows to target adverts to groups with specific interest. Overall such technologies can make advertising more effective for companies (more precisely targeted adverts) and more pleasant for consumers (getting adverts that match personal areas of interest).

There are more photos of the presentation on the server.

PS: one small finding on the side – Bluetooth in its current form is a pain for interaction with public display… but luckily there are other options.

Poster on mobile advertising displays at HotMobile 2009

We put together a poster discussing some of our recent work on mobile displays for HotMobile. While presenting the poster I got a number of interesting ideas and concerns. One idea is to widening the idea of advertsing and fuse it with traditional classify ads by private people (e.g. advertising a flat or telling the world that you lost your cat). The big question is really how to measure audince exposure and eventually conversion. There are several ideas how to do this – but looks more like another master project on the topic than a overnight hack 😉

The abstract for the poster:
In recent years many conventional public displays were replaced by electronic displays hence enabling novel forms of advertising and information dissemination. This includes mainly stationary displays, e.g. in billboards and street furniture, and currently first mobile displays on cars appear. Yet, current approaches are mostly static since they neither do consider mobility and the context they are used in nor the context of the viewer. In our work we explore how mobile public displays, which rapidly change their own context, can gather and process information about their context. Data about location, time, weather, and people in the vicinity can be used to react accordingly by displaying related content such as information or advertisements.

When spending some time in Montain View I was suprised how few electronic screens I saw compared to Germany or Asia. But nevertheless they have their own ways of creating attention… see the video below 🙂
Some time back in Munich we look at how interaction modalities can effect the attention of bystanders, see [1] for a short overview of the work.

[1] Paul Holleis, Enrico Rukzio, Friderike Otto, Albrecht Schmidt. Privacy and Curiosity in Mobile Interactions with Public Displays. Poster at CHI 2007 workshop on Mobile Spatial Interaction. San Jose, California, USA. 28 April 2007.

CfP Workshop on Pervasive Advertising

We organize at this year’s Pervasive computing conference in Nara, Japan a workshop on Pervasive Advertising –
We expect that there is a lot of interesting research going on in the area and it is clearly a controversial topic. Being an optimist – I see the new options that arise. In particular a future with less annoying advertisements is one hope 🙂
But many people are focusing on the risks that arise – an interesting positing with some criticism of our workshop objective can be found at the near future laboratory  I do not share their views 🙂
To me the idea that if you do not research it, it does not happen seems not a very viable option. I still think with research we can shape the future!
I am already looking forward to the submission and to the workshop. You have a contribution? Deadline is Feb, 11 2008.

Trip to Dublin, Aaron’s Display Project

Visiting Dublin is always a pleasure – even if the weather is rainy. Most of the day I was at Trinity College reading master theses (which is the second best part of being external examiner, best part is to have lunch at the 1592 😉
In the evening I met with Aaron Quigley and we talked about some ongoing display and advertsing projects in our groups. He told me about one of their recent workshop papers [1] on public displays where they investigated what people take in and what people remember of the content on displays in an academic environment. It is online available in the workshop proceedings of AIS08 [2]. I found it worthwhile to browse the whole workshop proceedings.
[1] Rashid U. and Quigley A., “Ambient Displays in Academic Settings: Avoiding their Underutilization”, Ambient Information Systems Workshop at UbiComp 2008, September 21, Seoul, South Korea (download [2], see page 26 ff)

Which way did you fly to Korea?

We got a new USB GPS tracker(from Mobile Action, GT100) and had to try it out on the trip to Korea. It worked very well compared to the other devices we had so far. It got the bus trip in Düsseldorf airport right and the entire flight from Amsterdam to Seoul. Tracking worked well in the taxi from the Airport to the hotel. While walking in downtown Seoul it still performed OK (given the urban canyons) with some outliers.

It did not get any signal while we were on the Fokker-50 from Düsseldorf to Amsterdam 🙁 I slept a few hours on the flight to Seoul but I think someone took a photo (probably of me) over Mongolia… If you wonder if it is allowed to used your GPS in the plane or not – it is – at least with KLM (according to a random website 🙂

Back in Korea, Adverts, Driving and Entertainment

On the way into town we got a really good price for the taxi (just make a mental note never to negotiate something with Florian and Alireza at the same time 😉 It seems taxi driving is sort of boring – he too watched television while driving (like the taxi driver some weeks ago in Amsterdam). I think we should seriously think more about entertainment for micro breaks because I still think it is for a good reason not allowed to watch TV while driving.

Seoul is an amazing place. There are many digital signs and electronic adverts. Walking back to the hotel I saw a large digital display on a rooftop (would guess about 10 meters by 6 meters). If working it is probably nice. But now it is mal functioning and the experience walking down the road is worsened as one inevitably looks at it. I wonder if in 10 years we will be used to broken large screen displays…   

We presented MirrorBoard at Mensch und Computer 2008 in Lübeck

Last winter term I was teaching a class on Unconventional User Interfaces at the University of Linz as part of the MSc in Pervasive Computing. As part of the exercises the students had to do a project and write a paper on the topic in a group. This required to do a full round in the development (from idea creation to study).

Florian König and his group had an exciting idea for a novel form of advertisement. The user is mirrored in the advert and becomes a part of it. They implemented an interactive poster for a travel agent (users become part of the holyday scene) and tested it in-situ. The paper was accepted at the German HCI conference (Mensch und Computer) and Florian presented it today very well [1].

In the questions there was much discussion about privacy and user acceptance. We discussed whether or not such a installation would be legal in Germany (people mentioned the Datenschutzgesetz §6).

[1] Johannes Schönböck, Florian König, Gabriele Kotsis, Dominik Gruber, Emre Zaim, Albrecht Schmidt. MirrorBoard – An Interactive Billboard. Mensch und Computer 2008. Lübeck. Oldenbourg Verlag, 2008, p 207-216.