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Foursquare Flail


describe the imageIn 2009, Twitter became the talk of the town.  The next year, daily deal sites like Groupon and Living Social kept the social media community on its toes. As 2011 approached, Geosocial applications like Foursquare and Gowalla looked as though they would become the newest communications craze. Even Facebook prepared for such a possibility by adding a Places feature to its networking options.

But as the third quarter winds down, the year no longer seems ripe for a check-in revolution. A survey by the Pew Internet & American Life Project reveals that while 28 percent of cell phone owners use location-based services for directions and recommendations, but only 5 percent are checking in.  When looking specifically at smartphone owners, the former figure jumps to 55 percent while the latter only increases to 12. 

If Facebook were an oracle hinting at Foursquare and Gowalla’s potential growth, perhaps it is also a harbinger of their decline.  Just two weeks ago the social networking giant dispatched Places in favor of more versatile (and less stalker-like) location functions. 

The failure of geosocial services to find traction could be attributed to a myriad of reasons, not the least of which is privacy.  While some critics might site safety concerns, others simply do not want to broadcast their location across the various networks.  Although check-in applications didn’t become this year’s social media darling, such services could always make a late-game resurgence.  After all, it took Facebook six years to turn a positive cash-flow.

 — Nicole Duncan  

Offline is back on


gmaillab unpluggedSomewhere along the way to smartphone ubiquity and tablet trendiness, offline became an unsavory word.  Not as repugnant as dial-up or spam, but certainly not magnanimous like 3G.  Social networks, web searches and general connectivity became more important than offline activities like word processing and Minesweep.  The short-lived popularity of netbooks is a testament to the notion that if you’re not connected, you might as well turn your [insert device] off.

But what if you’re in a cafe that has no wireless?  What if your Aunt Elsie’s house is out of range of your 3G network?  Unless you had the foresight to download your work beforehand, such situations serve as flashbacks to pre-2008 computing.  The only difference is that now your choice of activities is even more limited as offline has been left to the wayside by many digital innovators.  

One of the tech behemoths that started this shift was Google: It introduced free programs like Gmail and Google Docs much to the chagrin of software developers.  This May the company released its own netbook, the Chromebook, which seemed to solidify its commitment to the online occult.  

You can imagine my surprise when I learned that Google was rolling out an offline version of Gmail.  The application, which can be downloaded through the Chrome Web Store, is similar to its tablet version in appearance and functionality.  As a dumbphone user who loves frequenting wifi-free cafes with my laptop, the ability to read, respond and sort through old e-mails without a connection is a major boon.  Traditional mail servers like Outlook, Thunderbird and Apple Mail have worked offline for years, but their mobility limitations, screwy settings and bland appearance kept them from reaching Gmail rock star status.

Google announced that it plans to extend this capability to Google Calendars and Docs as well— the latter of which will prove tricky given its collaborative nature.  And if the search-engine-turned-tech-giant decrees “offline” to be an option for the 3G world, others may soon follow in its path.

Nicole Duncan

4th Annual OMMA Social: Daily deals soar, Facebook Studio fizzles


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Internet Week New York would not be complete without an assembly of social media mavens.  On Thursday, MediaPost hosted its fourth annual Online Media Marketing & Advertising Social Program at the Marriott Marquis.  With more than 30 speakers, panelists and presenters, the event brought together the socially savvy from gaming developers to digital entrepreneurs to branding specialists. 

Experts emphasized that simply attracting followers and heavy users is no longer sufficient; companies must now seek out the heavy influencers to help spread their message.  CEO of Optimedia Antony Young argued that seven of the 10 most influential touch points are still word-of-mouth.  The “socially connected” will drive the discourse.  As Kailei Richardson of PointRoll noted, “Consumers will talk about you— you have to be part of that conversation.”

The social media landscape is still full of uncharted terrain.  Groupon increased by 250 percent in the past year with Living Social close behind at a 182 percent.  Whether such growth can be sustained by participating businesses remains a point of conjecture.  In addition to daily deals, marketers continue to face surprises with interactive platforms.  A senior vice-president with NBA Digital quipped that company executives first learned of Shaquille O’Neal’s plans to retire from his Twitter page. 

While some of the presentations offered little insight (the Facebook Studio demonstration was unceremoniously bashed via Twitter), OMMA Social gave professionals the opportunity to learn, share and reflect.  Panel moderator and AGILITI CEO Jason Heller grounded the sometimes-abstract nature of the new marketing vehicle:

“Social media is just a lens that magnifies what happens in the real world.”

To read more about OMMA, see #OMMAsocial on Twitter.


Nicole Duncan

303,824,646 Coke Zeros

On the weekend celebrating our nation’s independence, Coke Zero shows that it bleeds caffeinated (yet non-caloric) red, white and blue. If any one of the Coca-Cola sponsored drivers wins this weekend at Daytona then everyone in America wins a free Coke Zero. You will just need to visit and print out a coupon…so really its for everyone in America with internet access. But still, America, how can you beat that? Cheer on Tony Stewart, David Ragan and Greg Biffle (they are on my fantasy NASCAR squad).

Prevailing Winds of Advertising

Remember those kids in Trigonometry who got excited when the teacher would throw "cosine" into an equation?  Their faces lit up, their eyes widened, and their hearts raced with anticipation as they were about to dive into a challenging problem.  I wasn’t one of them.  I was busy turning my pencil into a spaceship and drawing planets and asteroids on my notebook for it to explore. 

In other words, there’s a lot of things I don’t understand.  At Renegade, I’m surrounded by super-geniuses who spend half their day working on the next great marketing campaign and the other half splitting atoms … with their minds.  Rob is one of, if not the the ultimate, super genius here at Renegade.  He pointed me toward this article regarding the web replacing newspapers as the largest ad medium.  I started reading it, but by the second paragraph I began wondering who would win in a fight, Smokey the Bear or McGruff the Crime Dog.

In truth, the article is rather insightful about advertising forecasts and where things are headed.  And if it’s too much for your feeble little mind to comprehend, just stare at the image of the adorable kitten I’ve added to this post.



We have all, at one time or another, walked into one of those Build-A-Bear Workshops where you spend an hour waiting on line and stuffing an animal which will thoughtfully be given to your kid or spouse, who will spend all of 15 minutes doting on it before diverting their attention to other matters. But if you want to spoil yourself on something more luxurious, may I suggest Build-A-Nissan? This is the vehicular dream version of Build-A-Bear, complete with color and accessory picking. And if you have completely fallen in love with your creation, you can even get a quote at the end of the building process. My baby is the image that you see up there, but I don’t think that it would look attractive if my plush seats were covered with all of that bear stuffing inside.

Down with the Sickness


Raia02The amount of Purell I put on my hands on a daily basis has destroyed at least five layers of my skin.  Between the subway, the bathrooms, and volunteering at the Ebola research facility, germs are all around me.  I just don’t like to be reminded of them. 

And we’ve all felt the spray.  That sprinkling of water you want to attribute to a light morning mist, but more likely flew out of the mouth of the guy standing next to you on the subway following his seemingly exaggerated sneeze.  A Brazilian company has zeroed in on this phenomena and created ads where water vaporizers mimic "explosive" coughs and sneezes.  The tagline reads "Flu is in the air."

It’s worth noting that Sao Paulo has banned all outdoor advertising as it contributes to visual pollution. The creators of the ad worked around that challenge and came up with the effective and fun campaign.

(Via Creative Social Blog

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Did They Ever Find the Beef?


NbcI have a serious aversion to television commercials. Those damn buckets of KFC Crispy Strips are keeping me from witnessing another self-important television special from Oprah.   How am I supposed to see how she created a learn-to-read center for disenfranchised ragweed allergy sufferers when I have to sit through three minutes of Pontiac Commercials?  I’m only human.

Luckily, my DVR (aka: the item in my apartment to which I’ve bequeathed all my possessions, including a limited edition autographed Debarge LP and my girlfriend) allows me to skip all those commercials.  You may start viewing Lost at 10, but I opt to head to the "worst island imaginable" at around 10:15 in order to skip over the commercials.  Yet sometimes shows slip through the cracks.  I gave Heros an early cancellation prediction and never watched it.  I’ve realized the error of my ways and have been slowing catching up on past episodes via NBC Rewind.  They make me sit through 3-4 commercials an episode, a good price to pay for television at my fingertips.

This could be the future of advertising for television … give people any show they want at whatever time they want, and I’m sure they’ll happily watch a few commercials for the convenience. 

When Bad Ads Happen to Good People


Piracy2You know that feeling when you’re girlfriend is having a night out with friends, your best option on your DVR is a re-run of The Hogan Family, and that Thomas Pynchon novel is acting more like a doorstop than a book?  You’re all alone in your apartment and that Failure to Launch DVD is just staring you in the face waiting to be viewed?  You put on some chamomile, light some candles, and prepare to dive into non-stop Matthew McConaughey/Sarah Jessica Parker hilarity.  Suddenly, you’re confronted by a five-minute commercial slapping you in the face repeatedly and calling you a pirate.

"But I bought this DVD at Best Buy!" you say, while attempting to dry your never-ending tears.  The MPAA has taken a cue from the Patriot Act and assumed that everyone’s a suspect.  Many DVDs, bought through entirely legal channels, have a stern warning at their start explaining the lengthy prison sentence you’ll most likely endure as soon as your pinky hits that download button.  What this does is reduce the value of the item you’ve already paid for and becomes nothing more than an expensive lesson in preaching to the choir.

At left, you’ll notice an image created by Broken-TV that illustrates, quite accurately, the frustration that most legal consumers experience when treated like malefactors.  (Sorry for the curse words).

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Red Faced Jet Blue


LogoThe perfect airline makes perfect mistakes.  Jet Blue, long the shining beacon of hope in this time of meal-less, delayed, and over-priced airlines, made its first misstep last week.  Staring into the face of a giant ice storm, Jet Blue chose not to cancel their flights, which is standard practice, but to create incredibly long delays for their customers, which lead to many planes waiting on the tarmac for over 9 hours.  They made a mistake, but they’re taking a different approach in how they’re dealing with it.  They’re admitting that they screwed up, and with their stock dropping 6 percent in early trading Tuesday morning, they’re ready to make amends. 

According to, Jet Blue has created a Customer’s Bill of Rights.  The document outlines compensation to customers who are affected by airline caused delays.  While it doesn’t solve the problems that plagued the airline last week, it is a smart move by a company that understands happy customers are the key to a successful business.

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