Video Of The Week: BB8 by Sphero

This is an advertisement, but its a fun one. If all ads were like this one, there might not be ad blockers.

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Comments (Archived):

  1. jason wright

    are ads native to the web?

    1. JimHirshfield

      What does that even mean?

      1. jason wright

        well, is advertising not just a nasty virus infecting the web ecosystem?

        1. JimHirshfield

          No, not totally.

          1. jason wright

            hedging :-)yesterday’s post got me thinking about the future of the web. a command line keyboard combined with a bitcoin wallet and blockchain seems powerful and very disintermediating, especially locally.

          2. JimHirshfield

            There are many irritating ad formats, but not all ads are bad. So, not hedging, just observing.

          3. jason wright

            it’s not about irritation. google took advantage of the conditions of the early web environment and created an artificial supply/ demand imbalance. it won’t last. i’m betting that in the future advertising will not be necessary as web technologies will make the environment naturally ‘transparent’.

          4. JimHirshfield

            I don’t understand what you’re saying.

          5. jason wright

            then i’m half way to a contrarian thesis :-)once i have the other half i then need to work out what a product or service would look like, and get to work building it.

          6. LE

            The basic rule is “the way I earn money is ok the way you earn money isn’t legit and I despise it”.Like my neighbor with his “no solicitors” sign on the door. Because it’s annoying to him personally for some reason that his fat receptionist has to talk to the 3 people per month that come cold calling who interrupt her eating cookies while she is sitting right there at the reception desk.

      2. LE

        Natives you know like with bones through the nose….

  2. JimHirshfield

    “This is the droid you’re looking for” – brilliant!

  3. Richard

    Yep, ads can be done right. Look at Disney (which now owns the Star Wars franchise) as the master if blending ads and content

  4. Robert Heiblim

    Lots of fun, and great firm. BTW, I think the Sphero is much better than the Hasbro BB-8. Have you compared?

  5. pointsnfigures

    Saw this, it’s cool and cute. The makers should incorporate technology so it can wirelessly recharge instead of going to a base.

    1. LE

      I don’t think for this particular application (a toy that has infrequent usage at least after the thrill has worn off) the addition of this technology would move the needle in sales.As opposed to an Apple Watch where if I didn’t have to remove it and place it on the inductive charger every night (I have a watch stand so it’s actually not even that big deal) or my fitbit (needs to be plugged in) which is a daily product which could benefit. [1][1] For an iphone or an Apple Watch sure it would be great to get into your car and have the phone charge or at your desk without plugging in and so on. That would be a reason for someone to upgrade their device but not necessarily a reason to buy one device over another. I wouldn’t switch from iphone to Android for this particular feature but I would upgrade my iphone if it had this feature.

    2. Erin

      Holy smokes, no they shouldn’t. We don’t need even more rampant radiation than we do already. There is NOTHING wrong with placing something on a base (at least two feet from the head of your bed) at night time.

  6. William Mougayar

    Cute.Just in time for Christmas!

  7. iggyfanlo

    Fred, you’re spot on, but in this case, the content that the publishers are producing exceeds the value of your attention & data.In most cases on the web, and also with the overall average content value, the opposite is true. Hence, ad blockers, where user agents are implicitly saying that the value of their attention/data exceeds the value of the content. Unfortunately, it then values the content at zero, which may be unfair to the publisher. We need to be able to flow naturally back and forth, either you pay extra (pay wall plus advertising), pay explicitly (subscriptions/pay wall), equal exchange (attention/data=content) or receive monetary value (attention/data>content). We need to remove the zero bound that “free content” has caught us in…Given this reality, I foresee a coming world where we will have infomediaries for users, either DIY or 3rd party agent.We will see a world soon where the zero bound is eliminated and publishers are paying users for viewing their content.

  8. Salt Shaker

    Ad blocking tech is a good thing for advertisers. Why? It will force them to be more creative and develop ads that are entertaining and engaging, rather than repurpose the :30 drivel they air on traditional TV as pre-roll. The reason why native ads are relatively successful is they provide contextual relevancy. IAB units, such as banner ads, are generally the equivalent of postage stamps or ads found on match book covers, and adv are surprised when click through rates are infinitesimal. Ad blocking tech should and will raise the bar on creativity.

    1. bsoist

      Watched a bunch of YouTube videos this morning and I was thinking of this. Advertisers get 2-5 seconds to earn my attention or I skip. That should lead to more engaging advertisements.I wonder though what impact that might have on truth and substance in ads.

      1. awaldstein

        if you could block ads on youtube no one would watch them.

        1. bsoist

          If I could never see any, I would probably take that option, but my point was that the option to skip might be pushing advertisers to create “better” ads. I don’t remember ever watching a full ad, but some have sparked enough interest that I have actually watched past the point at which I could skip.

          1. awaldstein

            of course i understand. and i’m with blocking ability is a game changer for the internet and couldn’t be happier.i just think it is naive and not possible that the trillions of dollars of budgeted ad spend that drives the wheels or our world will somehow get good enough to be chosen to be dont’ suck cause we have no choice they suck mostly cause ads are hard and times have changed.we have 100% tolerance for billboards and emblazoned logos on our clothes and zero percent tolerance for broadcast interrupt.

          2. bsoist

            Except for the last sentence – which I had trouble parsing – I agree 100%

        2. LE

          Youtube is supposed to have a paid option so you don’t have to watch ads. I am anxiously awaiting that. My guess is that they have yet to balance the amount that they make from the existing ad rolls with what they feel they can charge an average user to avoid seeing ads. As well as how to divvy up the spoils.…What remains to be seen, however, is whether the subscription revenue will be able to replace ad revenue for YouTubers. All the partners who participate with the service will get a cut of the subscription fees, but it remains to be seen how that matches up against the money they would have made from showing ads to those people.Remember when AOL charged per minute and wanted to get people to be online for as long as possible and then went to a flat fee? Changed everything.

          1. awaldstein

            yupa paid option to remove ads is something I just don’t think will think the model is tied to the past and will need to be reinvented.about to post a bunch of videos and may simply put them on facebook. everyone on the planet has an account.

          2. LE

            To me, for a business, the best option is to host the videos on a paid vimeo account (which you can link to) and also on youtube (because why not?). That way you can deliver the videos without ads. It’s not that expensive and the quality is much higher. When I shot videos of my brother in laws wedding a few years ago I paid for a vimeo account just so that anyone viewing it would get a better experience.I am amazed at the times I am on a company website and I see that they have put videos on a free youtube account.

        3. JimHirshfield

          You can indeed block ads on YouTube with an adblock browser extension. Or soon, pay Google $10 per month for an ad-free experience, as reported yesterday by re/code.

          1. awaldstein

            thanksno braineryoutube interrupt ads are torture and internet monitization at their very worse.

          2. JimHirshfield

            Yes. However video ads are the richest form of monetization currently. That’s party of the problem :-/

          3. awaldstein

            But the YouTube format simply sucks. No one likes it. Everyone is annoyed by it and eventually it will be gone.I think that disruption of massive incumbents is possible for no other reason than their model is hated and fostered down the throats of consumer cause they can.

          4. JimHirshfield

            Yup. As our friend from Austin, TX says, I agree with you more than you agree with yourself.

    2. awaldstein

      spoken like a parent telling their kids to eat vegetables.vegetables I believe in, ads i don’t.if the ad industry needs to earn the attention it needs to display ads it will need to reinvent itself. and they best cause without their horrid interrupt patter the internet itself has no model.i agree with you that it is good. I disagree that this is an industry with consciousness.native ads as successful–from the perspective of having the ability to be chosen and then chosen–example please.of the endless thousands of pics and graphics on facebook how many are ads? in my feed zero.sorry a hot button for me.

      1. Richard

        speaking of vegetables, Cokes investment in suja is a pretty big deal.

        1. awaldstein

          $90M for a one third approx stage is a big deal indeed.good for everyone.

      2. Salt Shaker

        If the ad industry doesn’t reinvent itself, then many ad rev dependent businesses will shrivel up and die. Fact. Apple’s motive by offering ad block apps was as much, if not more, a way to shove it up Google’s ass, rather than provide a consumer service.Never said ad industry has a conscious. Far from it. That said, if done right ads can be entertaining and engaging. Look no further than HBO and Netflix for guidance. More and more, the ad industry needs to become storytellers, and stop beating consumers over the head by overtly communicating attributes and benefits, especially when there’s no competitive advantage. It’s an antiquated strategy. Brands need to develop more emotional connectivity w/ prospective users. Currently there’s a disconnect and a lot of dissonance. Businesses that are ad rev dependent can help the cause by sharing and imparting more knowledge about their user base (e.g., psychographics). IMO, to flip this model requires both a creative and educational reinvention.

        1. awaldstein

          great comment. really in bulk to drive mandated marketing spend will simply not get better cause they have to.if we have to chose to allow someone to show us advertising, advertising as we know it will die and a section of the economy along with me the real question is what is the next evolution of promotions. buying public services with the same dollars. citibike and citi? buying cell companies and using the spend as a branding are a branding tool. brand as the end result opens the door for a lot of creative alternatives.and–super insightful on the why of why apple did this. you have a great read of this segment and i appreciate it.

        2. LE

          Repetition is a problem even with something creative. For example the other day I linked to two videos in a comment that I made. One of the steadicam scene from Goodfellas, and another from the boardroom scene from Boiler Room. I like both of those. However I wouldn’t want to watch those everyday or even 1 time per week. It would get annoying. Why I’m not even repeating it here today. That’s advertising in a nutshell. Even if you like something it doesn’t mean that you want to see it ad in·fi·ni·tum. But unfortunately you do. All ads repeat. It’s the nature of the brainwashing process crossed with the cost to create the content.Ads and ad dollars are really rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic. Why I want to laugh everytime I hear of startups creating jobs. Most times they are just taking ad dollars where one person had a job for one company and putting that person out of work so that they can employ an entirely different person. Same with food startups creating jobs. People can only eat so much food. [1][1] Actually that isn’t correct. Part of the problem with people overeating and eating crap is that food and eating has become a sport as well as entertainment and to far on the enjoyment scale.Gets them to eat more than they need to. That’s not a good thing obviously. It’s clearly an addiction for a large part of the population.

        3. Twain Twain

          Jason Calacanis on Apple’s ad-blocking strategy.*…Ads have gone from pure push (“You’re sitting in front of TV — so captive — and we’ll shove ads at you) to permissioned push (“You’re on browser and can skip the ad”).What advertisers don’t realize is that it’s still PUSH broadcasting. Just because there’s now some fancy “Big Data” algorithm on YouTube that calculates what we’ve browsed before so advertisers get some probabilities of what ads we’d likely be interested in, this doesn’t detract from the fact it’s PUSH.There’s a way of doing customer PULL prior to advertiser push but that would require a complete overhaul of the advertising methodologies and systems that have been built up since 1930s.

  9. Stephen Voris

    I’ve noticed at least one website – possibly StackExchange, but didn’t see any ads when I visited to check – lets users upvote/downvote its ads. It was maybe too subtle – the options only showed up on hovering – but I like the idea.

    1. Kirsten Lambertsen

      I think it’s Reddit that does this.

    2. Ana Milicevic

      Hulu has a variant of this too but it’s unclear how they apply your preferences.

  10. LE

    If all ads were like this one, there might not be ad blockers.I disagree. One of the reasons that ads are disliked is because they are interuptive. If I am at youtube and want to watch a music video I don’t want to have to wait 15 or 30 seconds to see something else first. Even if it’s creative and entertaining. If I am at a restaurant and want to order my dinner I don’t want to hear a funny joke from the waiter before I place the order or before he puts the food down on the table. The point being that if you are in the flow of one thing you don’t want another thing to take you out of the flow or that zone of expectation.And those youtube prerolls are totally out of control as are prerolls on video before some newspaper videos. Way to long (30 seconds in some cases) a total fail.

    1. sigmaalgebra

      Here you are being both quite correct and perceptive but also something of a kill joy! It’s a darned good ad!Of course, there’s another good ad: The music is in most respects as music nothing like as good as the John Williams music the droid ad used from ‘Star Wars’, but, still, it’s a good ad, maybe good enough to be worth an interruption?…Ah, after an ad like that, need some more dance music:…a bit more bombastic than Delibes or Weber!

      1. LE

        Yes but a darn good ad is one that sells product. So the question is, are you going to buy one of these and do you drink Budweiser?Budweiser advertising works by brainwashing. Keeping their name in front of you. They simply have to keep coming up with creative ways to keep from annoying you because of all of the ads that they run. So they create cute ads that entertain you. And they sponsor sports events where they get to display their logo. That way you think they are still relevant and haven’t faded away.I saw one of those CNBC specials where they showed the Anheuser Busch factory. Was quite impressive. It actually looked like they were trying to make a good product! Instead of a mass produced product. If I drank beer (I don’t) and it wasn’t called Budweiser I might buy it based on that documentary.

        1. sigmaalgebra

          You are fully correct. On the floor of my basement I have a 24 bottle case of Budweiser long necks several years old and still about half full.As beer, Budweiser is okay with me. It’s been good with Chinese carryout, pizza, and late night snacks with cheese, crackers, and pepperoni slices on top!Nearly all dry white wines and likely also beer starts to taste awful after two years or so. Arnold would scream if he knew about some of the good, French white Burgundy, Macon, I waited too long to drink!If I want beer, I’ll drink some Bud.But the Bud ad won’t influence me — neither will any other beer ad.But I liked that Bud ad for the same reason millions of other people did and close to the same reasons Fred liked that droid ad. They are darned good, i.e., fun to watch, in some cases, worth watching.Bluntly, the John Williams music and the Bud ad are great art — right up there. No joke. Anything that good deserves to be watched, and I’m eager enough to watch it.Both the Williams music and “Don’t let her go” have a common quality of good art — universality. That is, both apply quite broadly in life. E.g., with definiteness more clear than a 50 pound sack of crushed ice in the face, the “Don’t let her go” applies to much more than just puppies. For every million people who see that Bud ad for less than five dozen times, there are fewer than 100,000 dry eyes. Those two are good work, darned good work. Really, really good work.Since we are liking the really good John Williams music, I attached some more good music, and some close artistically to the Williams music, and, then, for balance, attached some more music less bombastic.Can such ads also be good for selling? I suspect so.

          1. LE

            With John Williams you have to wonder if Steven was lucky to find John or if John was lucky to find Steven. By that I mean would a Spielberg movie w/o that music be anywhere near as good? Would John Williams be just another good composer if he hadn’t had an opportunity to work with Spielberg? I am seeing that Williams did quite well prior to Spielberg but I think he really took off after Spielberg and Lucas. Further to that point what if John’s family hadn’t moved to LA? The thing that lead to the thing.

          2. sigmaalgebra

            Sure. For a career for a composer, nothing like writing prominent, dramatic music for some Hollywood summer block buster popcorn movies. And the music is just crucial to the movies, and also the ad Fred featured.But the potential of Hollywood movie music for a classical composer has been clear going way back, e.g., Erich Wolfgang Korngold and Max Steiner. Korngold did, e.g., the music for King’s Row, i.e., the movie where Reagan screamed “Where’s the rest of me?” when he discovered that the sadistic doctor had cut off his legs. Also it was a sexy movie — suggested that a couple in the movie, as grade school or middle school students, went skinny dipping in a local pond on the way home after school. Korngold also wrote music for some Errol Flynn movies.Max Steiner wrote the music for Gone with the Wind. IIRC, Betty Davis resented Steiner and his music stealing the show in one of her movies!Both Korngold and Steiner were darned good musicians. Korngold was an opera composer before coming to the US.And there were some other good composers who at times wrote for movies.Korngold wrote some concert music for violin, and Heifetz recorded it. Sorry, to my ear it was not very good!When I was in college, I was starting to get into music and, in the dorm, played some music for a music student and asked him to name it. Heck, two bars or less in, and he said with contempt, “Hollywood movie music”. He was correct.Actually, as important as music from good composers is for movies, really it’s not up to Bach or Richard Strauss or, with some irony, opera music by Wagner, Puccini, or Verdi.Much of what Pavarotti sang from Italian opera is about as good as music gets. There is also Callas singing Tosca, Un bel di vedremo by Montserrat Caballe…or Renata Scotto…At times in life, I’ve been too close to that emotion.For ballet music, as much as I like Delibes, Coppalia, the music is not up to the best. But, I can’t say the same for all of the Tchaikovsky ballet music — The Nutcracker, Swan Lake, tough to beat. Magical. Poor Tchaikovsky had some problems, but writing good music was not one of them.Just why Hollywood movie music is not as good as the best opera music I don’t know.Gee, one can argue that Star Wars and Wagner’s four Ring operas are both stories about transgression, retribution, and redemption! Still, somehow, maybe in Star Wars the Williams Imperial March would be more welcome than, say, the overture to Die Die Walküre:

      2. LE

        By the way the best commercials on TV are pharmaceutical commercials. Here is a question for you. Why does every commercial end with “ask your doctor if Smecovib is right for you!”. Why does every commercial feature all sorts of entertaining distractions?

        1. sigmaalgebra

          Ad production is not part of my expertise!Maybe pharmaceutical commercials are relatively well done because there is a lot of money involved.> Why … “ask your doctor”?My guess is lawyers: Can’t give medical advice in a TV ad.> Why … entertaining distractions?Get people involved, as in good story telling, and keep them watching and, thus, remembering the product.

          1. LE

            My guess is lawyers: Can’t give medical advice in a TV ad.While that could be a reason the reason that I have reversed engineered goes like this. The following is my theory totally.- Doctors have many drugs to choose from.- Doctors are bombarded with ads in both regular mainstream publications, on tv, and in medical journals.- Doctors have to decide what drugs to read more about and/or let the detail man detail them on or give thought to. Guess what? They don’t think about all of the drugs that they can prescribe 24×7. They need something to peak their interest in many drugs.So given all of the above what could be better than having a patient ask a Doctor about a drug and even multiple patients so the Doctor pays more attention to the advertising or concentrates and actually reads up on a drug? [1] Human nature at work.Get people involved, as in good story telling, and keep them watching and, thus, remembering the product.Well certainly a reason. But my theory is that they are playing the happy scenes while they are talking about the side effects of the drugs. The happy scenes are to distract you from paying to much attention to the negative information. Just like in “Jaws” it’s no boating accident. All carefully planned. Kind of like a magician does.[1] Similar to when, as a consumer, you start to notice things that you are buying that you ignored before? (Like if you are buying kitchen cabinets all of the sudden you notice your friends kitchen cabinets..)

          2. sigmaalgebra

            Sure. You are correct.> Detail men?Got involved in that once! Given a list of doctors and drugs to sell, what doctors to go to, what drugs to feature, what drugs for the second tier of the selling, how many free samples to leave?That’s a somewhat important problem in optimization in operations research. Once I addressed that problem, found a clean, solid solution and was writing the software when some people got a tummy ache.You are likely correct about the human nature part — a patient coming in with a request, maybe a news article, may stimulate sales of that drug. E.g., the doctor may already have some free samples of that drug and be pleased to let this patient try it.

    2. JimHirshfield

      You’re spot on. Video ads are the only digital ad format (the others being display, search, and text) that by definition interrupt you from getting to the content you set out to consume.Additionally, survey data shows that more than any other format, video ads drive users to adopt adblocking.

      1. Alejandro Weaver

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    3. Ciaran

      Yes, but. What if your dinner was free and being interrupted for a few moments was instead of a bill?If you don’t want to see video ads, pay for the video content you’re going to see. Then you won’t get any jokes from the wait-staff.I exaggerate (slightly) but the point remains the same – someone has to pay for this stuff, just like someone picks up the bill in a restaurant.

  11. Kirsten Lambertsen

    It’s so true. RedBull comes to mind. I long felt that if Radio Shack would have just cranked out tons of this stuff, they could have owned the Maker movement:

  12. sigmaalgebra

    Clever product. Good work getting Disney, Star Wars, etc. to go along. Cute ad, especially the ending “This is the droid you are looking for”. Of course, for that need to have seen and remembered ‘Star Wars IV’.But, all that said, really terrific music. John Williams is a darned good musician.Can see a special thing about such music: It doesn’t mean anything that is specific, but it can represent many related things and, in some cases, still do a darned good job, as in both the movies and the ad, together with no doubt other applications.Similarly for, say, more famous bombast,…Ah, the final 16 Hz organ note helps!So, what does it mean? How about something heavy’s about to start! For more such, there’s of course,…But nicer things are also possible:…For more nice music, and a lot a lot prettier than a droid, there’s, of course,…The whole thing is available on DVD and just darned good.

  13. Twain Twain

    In 2012 I was invited to be a judge at one of the first UK hackathons to feature Sphero so have been a fan of their work since then.LOVE BB-8.Jason Calacanis wrote an interesting blog on the whole Apple ad-blocking issue the other day:*…To be sure, I LOVE Disney’s innovation in lots of areas and I can’t wait for Star Wars!!!

  14. WA

    Great! I’m in. The ad works. The rest is academic.

  15. Ana Milicevic

    Well-done ad for a fantastic product (I’ve now run out of all excuses not to get one). At the same time I wish it wasn’t so clearly genderized – where is the boy’s sister who would undoubtedly find the droid interesting – especially the ability to interact w/ it and control it from your mobile device. This type of imagery is incredibly important. I hope that companies like Sphero understand that and reflect it in their marketing. Is this droid meant only for boys?Hasbro has also released a larger, dumber, and cheaper version of this droid. I say dumber because it’s basically an r/c car in the form of a cute robot that buzzes around minus the most interesting aspect for me which is the programmability and app interaction. Something to consider when buying.

  16. Ciaran

    It’s a fun ad because it’s for a remote control droid. I’d be worried if it wasn’t fun.I often say that anyone can make sneakers look cool (or remote controlled droids); the truly great ads are the ones that make things like bleach or washing liquid interesting.

  17. awaldstein

    i will looki understand what native advertising is. i simply don’t believe it is real.

  18. Matt A. Myers

    Is there a closest example to what you might consider native advertising?