April 13, 2010

Discovering Future Media Weaponry at ad:tech


Yesterday's ad:tech Day One series of events began with the spotlight on NBC Chief Digital Officer, George Kliavkoff. The main topic was NBC's digital arsenal, which includes a large artillery of advertising weapons such as Hulu, deals with YouTube, iTunes, MP3 devices and various other digital guns.

The topics focused in part on how much trigger time NBC's digital arsenal gets in the 2008/09 upfront frontline. The upfront TV battle is still the largest hand-to-hand media combat on the planet. George covered some of the boot camp training issues which Ryan Barrett will report on later today. However, in addition to her analysis, based on what we have seen out of San Francisco so far, it appears there are at least two other intelligence-based creative sources to help understand the state of marketing war in 2008:

1. ad:tech's Military Industrial Exhibitor Complex - Some very cool new F14-level fighter pilot tools which we'll report about later.

2. Discovery Networks "Future Weapons" TV Program & Interactive Game which we played with during the panel breaks.


"Future Weapons" is hosted by "Mack" -- a really scary guy you would definitely not want to meet in a media department conference room, let alone a dark alley.

To promote him and the networks program now in it's third season, Discovery tapped Inhance Digital to create an ad campaign designed to compliment the shows content, and of course get you interested in checking out the show. Although I am clearly not the target demo, I have to admit that after previewing the link, I was intrigued so I caught an episode. Afterward I found myself fantasizing about flying one of the latest gen fighter planes an F-22 Raptor -- but I digress. The advertising unit itself is a cleverly designed game called "The NLOS Cannon Challenge." In case you are wondering, NLOS stands for Non-Line-of-Sight. This new cannon is capable of rapidly firing a number of different rounds -- from what appears to be out of nowhere so the NLOS-C can accurately put the kibosh on enemy movement quickly, effectively and with decidedly less collateral damage.


"Future Weapons" has really gained traction since it launched, so Discovery felt that promoting the show by actually experiencing one of the weapons would be intriguing to viewers. "It's interesting that Discovery came to use to us to create this game" explains Maziar Farzam, President and Founder of Inhance Digital, "because we actually did an educational piece for Pearson a while back, and the goal was to illuminate the physics of trajectories. When we created this game we were able to program real trajectory physics so the fundamentals of the games are, in terms of programming, really simple."


Warning: the game itself is deceiving. It doesn't look difficult; it's a search and destroy-the-target mission and there is no enemy firing back at you. Based on reading the rules of the game you might think "how hard can it be?" Given that you quickly find that it's based on physics and adjusting the games trajectory and velocity to successfully hit the target, it takes as much maneuvering to find the perfect combination of those variables to be able to hit her target as it does getting through the ad:tech's panels and keynote speeches. If you miss a shot, there is a trail of smoke left behind where your last impact point was, so if you are at all competitive, this game could keep you entertained for hours. The feedback is pretty much the same as the one we're having out here in San Fran, where reports coming in from the field indicate that this is ad:tech is the largest one attended to date.

If you want more detailed information about the NLOS-C or other weapons, click on the "Weapons Zone" or "How Things Work" areas of the site. Not surprisingly, Discovery provides incredibly detailed information about all the weapons featured on these seasons episodes. I guarantee when you're finished you'll know as much as Mack about an XM307 or AH-64D -- although you may not want to tell him that.


What's all this mean? The fight between digital and traditional media in the next upfront will be bloody. That's it for now. Here on the frontlines of 2008 marketing, at ad:tech San Francisco, war is still hell.

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