Tag: SplashCast

Lunch 2.0 at SplashCast in Old Town is Tomorrow

splashcast.jpgSeems like ages since it was announced, so in case you’ve forgotten, the kind people at SplashCast will be opening their doors to the seventh iteration of Portland Lunch 2.0 tomorrow from 12 to 2 PM.

Ideally, you’ve already RSVP’ed on Upcoming, and you know where you’re going. The space isn’t huge, so we closed the guestlist a few weeks ago to avoid a crushing overflow of hungry Portlanders.

If you don’t feel like taking a chance and fighting a crowd, never fear, there’s always the October Lunch 2.0 at the Art Institute of Portland. That’s an enormous space, so bring your coworkers and friends. It’s still good to RSVP so they can plan the catering.

Anyway, I hope to see or meet you tomorrow.

Upcoming Portland Lunch 2.0s

  • October 15 at the Art Institute of Portland: This space is huge, plenty of room for everyone, so bring friends and colleagues.
  • November 5 at the Eclipse Foundation

In addition, I have soft commitments from hosts in the works for December, January and February. Looks like Portland Lunch 2.0 will see its first anniversary. Thanks to all the hosts and people who’ve made this a success.

If you want details about hosting, let me know in comments.

SplashCast to Host Lunch 2.0, Friendly Ghosts Invited

Last Friday I signed up two more Lunch 2.0 hosts at two very cool places in Portland.

First, SplashCast wants to show off its new(ish) office space in Old Town, and not just any building in Old Town, the old Merchant Hotel.

You know, the same building that Old Town Pizza inhabits, directly above the infamous Portland Shanghai Tunnels, the haunted one. That building.

While the Merchant’s old lobby is the home to OTP now, SplashCast is up on the third floor, presumably occupying space that once was one or two guest rooms way back in the day. Kim Ramage has done a great job fixing up the space, and she’s eager to have you all come by for some lunch. So, now the skinny:

splashcast.jpgHosts: SplashCast

Where: 226 NW Davis, 3rd Floor, Portland, OR, 97209 (we’ll have signs and spirit hosts to guide you)

When: September 17, 2008 from 12:00 to 2:00 PM

RSVP on Upcoming

The space isn’t huge, so the RSVP if you’re definitely coming. We’ll turn off the list at 60 or so; if you’re not sure, decide on that day and cruise by later. The crowd generally thins out after 1:00 PM as people head back to work.

As always, if you want to nom veggie or vegan, add a comment on the Upcoming event indicating your culinary desires.

In case you missed it, Rick is celebrating his first birthday as the Silicon Florist with a Lunch 2.0 on August 13 at CubeSpace. RSVP for that event here, and stay tuned for another Lunch 2.0 announcement for October.

SplashCast lures MySpace exec, goes Hollywood (literally)

Portland-based SplashCast, a service that has become one of the entertainment industry’s favorite ways to create immersive advertisements for social networks and Web sites, has finally gone Hollywood by luring a MySpace executive to the company.

Today, SplashCast announced the launch of its Los Angeles office with the hiring of Tim Lane from MySpace—not to be confused with Tom from MySpace, who is everybody’s friend.

According to the release, the hiring and expansion was sparked by the traction the company has seen in the entertainment industry, especially with regards to MySpace where SplashCast currently owns the lion’s share of top music apps:

SplashCast’s Los Angeles-based office will open later this summer. This expansion reflects the company’s recent successes in helping major brands reach social network site users. According to statistics presented on the MySpace music application directory more SplashCast music applications in general have been shared and installed on individual MySpace pages than any other artist-specific applications across the entire MySpace application platform.

As far as Lane’s role goes, he will be heading up the SplashCast sales team and helping manage the company’s continued—and apparently aggressive—expansion plans. Which will likely be fueled by SplashCast’s funding, announced earlier this year:

Lane will be responsible for managing SplashCast’s sales team based out of the company’s new Los Angeles sales office scheduled to open later this summer. In his new position, Lane will be responsible for managing SplashCast’s US based sales team out of the company’s new Los Angeles office and opening offices throughout New York, Chicago and San Francisco within the coming months.

Given this continued interaction with companies outside of Portland, one would begin to wonder if SplashCast was long for our Portland climes.

Well, okay, I wonder.

Not that it completely allays my fears, but one thing that might point to them sticking around Portland is the fact that they’ve recently graduated from the Portland State Business Accelerator to their own digs in Old Town.

Time will tell if the draw to a more big-media hub is in the works, or if the LA office will simply remain a satellite for this Portland-based company.

For more information on SplashCast, see the SplashCast release on the expansion and the new hire.

SplashCast makes advertising more immersive, hints of Blade Runner and Minority Report

Having been a marketing guy for most of my career, I’ve always been struck by those movie scenes inspired by Philip K. Dick‘s somewhat nightmarish vision of the future. Like the scenes from Blade Runner (“Let’s go to the Colony!”) and Minority Report (“Hello Mr. Yakamoto! And welcome back to the GAP!”) where the advertising has moved from today’s static format to a more immersive and inclusive medium.

Sure, kind of creepy. But at the same time, in a reckless optimist kind of way, it’s that same type of personalization and interactivity that might actually make advertising relevant—instead of just interruptive.

And while the retinal scans and 3D environments may be a ways off, Portland-based SplashCast could be ushering in a new feature that helps advertising technology take a step in that direction. Case in point: its new SplashCast HotSpot.

So what is it? Well, in simple terms, the SplashCast HotSpot is an interactive product placement. Taking the familiar concept of product placement and extending it to a more interactive and informational component of video.

SplashCast Hot Spot Editor

Huh? Okay, let’s step back.

So, let’s say that you’re watching a video of me writing my latest post on Silicon Florist, trusty MacBook Pro at my side. (Exciting! You need to get out more, my friend.) As the camera pans over the Mac, it’s highlighted. A click on the highlighted area gives you information on the specs and lets you know where you can buy one. Pan by a half-eaten slice of Hot Lips Pizza on my desk, it highlights, and you have the opportunity to order your own slice for delivery. Pan to the screen where you see me working in WordPress. It gets highlighted, and from there you can get information or you could start your own blog on WordPress.com.

Miss the chance to click on one of the highlights? No worries. The links appear on a toolbar at the top of the video, allowing you to access them at any time.

You get the idea. It’s like “choose your own adventure” with product placement. Or, to put it another way, it’s hyperlinking video in the same way we’ve been hyperlinking text and images for years.

When I put it that way, it gets a lot less creepy, hunh?

And while the applications I’ve proposed are fairly remedial—and for the most part trivial—I’m a big believer in people smarter than me. I know someone will come up with some wacky ways to use this new platform for hyperlinking video elements.

Maybe it will be a new way to convey information in video format. Maybe it will be a new way of documenting and tracking video. Maybe it will be a new means of educating folks.

I can’t wait to see how people incorporate this.

Portland widget startups on the cusp of something big

Portland is well-known as an creative town. Especially when it comes to marketing and advertising. It’s hard to avoid the moniker with a powerhouse like Wieden+Kennedy in town.

But, anyone who lives here realizes that it’s not just W+K. There are marketing and advertising agencies and boutiques of every size dotting the Portland corporate landscape.

Within that environment, it’s not surprising that marketing and advertising wend their way through the culture of the city. Lately, however, I’ve begun to see this marketing influence popping up in a rather unexpected—but extremely interesting—space: Portland’s Web startups. Specifically those startups that focus on widget development.

It seems that the heretofore lowly widget is taking on the role of something more than a cute small-footprint app. It’s beginning to appear that it may be more than just a way to serve up some content, remotely. Today, in fact, it’s becoming clear that the widget is starting to take on a very important role in the world of marketing communications as one of the most tangible means of interacting with customers.

And two Portland startups on the leading front of widget development have the potential to capitalize that trend.

Earlier this week, Portland-based SplashCast revealed that the company’s Facebook widgets for popular recording artists were outperforming traditional online advertisements. Well, that might be an understatement. SplashCast pegs that performance at “75 times better than the clickthrough rate of traditional banner ads.

Now, to put that in context, SplashCast is seeing about 3% clickthrough rates on those Facebook apps. And that 3% is 75 times better than banner ads are performing.

But, the dismal downfall of banner ads as a format is not the focus, here. The point is that banner ads are an accepted and prevalent format for advertising that don’t hold a candle to the performance of widgets.

Later in the week, SplashCast continued to tout this finding by beginning to describe their apps, not as widgets, but rather “social advertising”:

SplashCasting represents a new form of online marketing called social advertisements – tools marketers use to reach the growing demographic of social network site users.

Social advertising. I might have left it at that, had not another Portland-based widget-building startup taken a tangential and complementary position on the issue.

That startup is StepChange (conspiracy theorists may begin churning on the “companies named with a capital ‘s’ and capital ‘c'” theories, forthwith), a small consultancy that both develops widgets for a number of customers and has some widget-based side projects in the offing, as well.

StepChange is beginning to notice a similar trend. And StepChange’s insight only lends credence to the position that SplashCast is taking on the world of widgets:

While we’ve done some basic Flash/Feed widgets, most of our design and development work has been on Social Media Apps that function more like true “applications” – with our clients requiring a relatively high degree of administration, content management, targeting reporting and integration.

I think these kind of ‘super-widgets-turned-applications’ need a better name, so I’m going to start calling them Distributed Marketing Applications.

In my opinion, the position that StepChange and SplashCast are taking is one that makes absolute—if not completely obvious—sense: social media marketing should be, well, social.

Social media is about interactivity. And feedback. And conversations.

Traditional online advertising—with its dancing gifs and whack-a-mole come-ons—just isn’t cutting it anymore. Traditional advertising is not, for lack of a better term, “interactive.” It’s one way. It’s broadcast.

And those who are deeply engaged in social media are hesitant to consume—if not completely avoid—those grating and annoying advertising formats, leftover remnants from last century’s dotcom failures.

Today’s Web consumers are wanting more. And they’re wanting something with which they can interact.

Widgets—and by extension Portland’s widget developers—offer that interaction for users. They offer something more than broadcast. They offer the potential for communications that are far more interactive.

To put it quite plainly, widgets offer us a form of marketing communications that we, as those being marketed to, “can actually do something with.” And if Portland’s widget developers can crack that code for the untold billions interested in interacting with us as customers, then they stand to have marketing and advertising executives beating a path to their door.

StepChange’s Kevin Tate makes a bet:

I’m also willing to bet that, as more and more companies look to extend their existing sites and services into Social Media, we’re going to see a significant market need for these types of platforms.

I’m beginning to agree with him. And I’m excited to see Portland continue to serve its role as a creative town. And, as a leader in marketing and advertising for what could truly be the next generation of ads.

SplashCast “social advertising” tees up $4 million

Man oh man. With all of these Silicon Forest startups attracting funding, it’s about time I establish a “graduating class.” And here’s one of those startups that’s definitely in the running for Salutatorian, if not Valedictorian: Portland-based SplashCast.

First, the funding. Because that’s the real news here.

SplashCast announced today that it has secured $4 million dollars in Series A funding, led by Mark Bayliss, an Australian (remember the Australia trip not too long ago?) media and advertising executive veteran of some of the world’s largest advertising and media companies who runs in the same circles as fellow Aussie and media mogul Rupert Murdoch. Emergent, an emerging growth investment fund also with strong ties to advertising and consumer brands, was a follow-on to the round.

I asked Mike Berkley, SplashCast’s CEO, to put this funding—and the organizations providing it—in perspective for me.

“What does this mean for the company?” said Berkley. “The relationships that Bayliss and his partners bring to SplashCast gives the company a monumental step-up in social marketing.”

Which bring us to my second point. I’m a marketing geek. So, let’s talk about SplashCast’s newest take on their positioning. Or better yet, let’s not use some stupid buzzword. Let’s talk about how SplashCast is describing their product as of late.

If you haven’t been watching SplashCast, this probably would fly right by, unnoticed. But, I’ve been watching these guys ratchet down on the language they’re using and their efforts to make the product more attractive to a broader big-media advertising market. They continue to make definitive changes in describing what they do. And they seem to be honing in on something new.

SplashCast started in user-generated content. Then they moved to more of a “branded content” sort of play, building custom apps for big names like Justin Timberlake, Britney, and Hillary Clinton. Now, they’re directly positioning themselves as an alternative to what—as silly as it sounds for me to describe it this way—can only be referred to “traditional” online advertising models.

SplashCast calls this new focus “social advertisments.” I call it “advertisements that actually do something.” But regardless of what you call it, they’re pushing this message very strongly as of late:

[SplashCast’s] New Social Marketing Solution Viewed As Breakthrough For Advertisers Looking To Reach Users On MySpace, Facebook & Other Social Networking Sites

And:

Splashcasting represents a new form of online marketing called social advertisements – tools marketers use to reach the growing demographic of social network site users. SplashCast’s video-based social advertisements on average receive click-through-rates that are about 75 times higher than typical banner advertisements used on MySpace, Facebook or other social network sites.

This seems to be their new home: taking on traditional online advertising. And that puts them directly in the sites of some very big players.

Now, some may look at these recent changes and cast aspersions. Claiming that this belies a lack of focus.

In my opinion, these changes don’t seem to be wishy-washy or “searching for a problem to solve.” These are simply the pains that any growing company goes through as it works to figure out where its true market lies.

And there’s a very clear reason that the messages have been moving in that direction.

You build a product based on your ideas and passion. You tend to build a company based on what people will buy.

And given that SplashCast is securing funding and landing customers with this new positioning, it only makes sense—from a business perspective—that they continue pursuing this stance.

I, for one, will be continuing to watch them.

For more information on the funding and social advertising, visit SplashCast.

SplashCast adds MySpace to its friends list

Mashable‘s Kristen Nicole is reporting that Portland-based SplashCast has jumped on the MySpace application platform making them one of the first applications to enter this new bastion of social network media.

According to Mashable:

Now that the MySpace platform has finally launched its first approved applications, Splashcast was ready with a distributed plan to roll out applications for its clients across the MySpace network as well. This includes SonyBMG, Universal Records, Warner, and even Hillary Clinton.

In my opinion, one of the most compelling aspects of the SplashCast approach to this new platform is the way that the SplashCast application appears as the artist, not SplashCast. See, for example, the Chris Brown splashcast on the early list of MySpace music apps.

This approach has two particular benefits. First, it gives SplashCast the opportunity to create innumerable instances of its applications where other apps are stuck with one specific instance. And second, it gives SplashCast the opportunity to curry further favor with the labels and artists, by highlighting the artist instead of the application delivering the artist’s content.

Given the prevailing MySpace demographic and SplashCast’s recent repositioning as “the deepest, most sticky relationship between [sic] brand, content, and consumer,” this move promises to solidify SplashCast’s position as a big-media-company tool with a flare for interacting with youth on the Web.

Given the pageviews that MySpace continues to garner, the property remains a leading venue for many. As such, the new MySpace application platform has launched with a full cadre of applications in the offing.

For an overview of the new platform, I would highly recommend Portland-based Marshall Kirkpatrick’s write-up for ReadWrite Web, which focuses on the win for OpenSocial applications:

MySpace users are going to be happy to share their contacts and info from other applications off-site with apps on the MySpace platform because they’ll be able to do so securely. MySpace is about to become the biggest use-case of the oAuth authentication protocol, something many sites are scrambling to implement.

I’m not tracking any blog posts or press releases from SplashCast, yet. Should more relevant information become available I will post an update. In the meantime, please stay tuned to SplashCast for more information as it becomes available.

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