I’m with the brand

Advertising Week is, well, just what it sounds like. A week of the ad industry celebrating itself. Among the highlights, the “Procession of the Great Icons”, where you can get a glimpse of Mr. Clean, Smokey Bear, Cap’n Crunch, McGruff the Crime Dog and dozens of other advertising icons strutting through Times Square and up Madison Avenue.

Brand Icons in NYC

Also (drumroll please) the award ceremony for the winners of this year’s brand icons. Last year, the winners were M&M’s brand characters, the AFLAC Duck, Mr. Peanut, the Pillsbury Doughboy and Tony the Tiger. Who might it be this year? Coffee addicts are hoping for an upset by Juan Valdez, maybe riding on Charlie the Tuna. Or will the Doublemint Twins ride off with Snap, Crackle & Pop?

Notably absent, I would think, would be the makeover edition icons. Yes, Twinkie is absent, but LL Koolaid may grab the young urban vote, especially doing his “fat guy in a little coat” routine.

Oh and lest you think that only icons were winners, Advertising Week will also announce this year’s slogan hall of fame winners.

What’s your favorite advertising icon? Slogan? Cast your vote! and check out the previous year’s winners.

I’m with the brand

What I Did on my Blog Vacation

Well, I see that after a long slumber, A List Apart is back, with a new look and a new outlook. So I’m back too.

I updated to the latest version of WordPress, and changed the look of the blog. That default was ready for a change. There are dozens of things about the new look that I want to change, and there are some outright problems with it — but I only have so many hours in the day. If you’re reading via RSS, the only thing to note is that you’re missing a sidebar of photos from Flickr.

Speaking of which … I upgraded to Flickr Pro. Click Click!

I hung out with some web analytics folks who were attending SES in San Jose; even got my picture taken with Ram Srinivasan of FireClick:
Bob and Ram

I watched as Yahoo! Search announced they had tons more stuff in their index, while others tried to prove they didn’t (with some amazingly bad methodology, if I may say) and only ended up proving that Yahoo prunes spam pages better than G. One of the Yahoo engineers responsible for extending and validating the new index was amused.

I prepared (and delivered) too many presentations. I got the book Beyond Bullet Points, and read the associated blog but I can’t say I really applied the concepts .. always preparing presentations on deadline – no time to do the up-front design required. But I like the book anyway.

I stopped reading blogs for a few weeks, and realized that I wasn’t missing much. I fired up my RSS newsreader (NetNewsWire) and retired about half of the blogs I was reading. I’m under 190 feeds now, many which I ignore except for maybe a monthly check-in.

I tried to get into Getting Things Done. I guess I subscribe to the Christopher Walken theory of GTD. Don’t futz around with labelers, hipster PDAs and Moleskine notebooks – just get it done. Of course, maybe I just need the right pen, or software, or …

I re-decorated my office and learned Morse code. OK, kidding.

I saw Black Eyed Peas and the Dave Matthews Band. Before I saw them, I really wasn’t a fan of either. Seeing them live didn’t change anything. Maybe Dave knows Morse code.

I bought a Spyder 2 colorimeter and tried to profile my monitors. The PowerBook display is still too blue, which is OK as long as it’s not next to any other monitors.

Maybe more. The usual raft of work-related fires. If you wrote to me and I didn’t write back, my apologies. I’m still catching up.

What I Did on my Blog Vacation

Y! and WAA

WAA Logo Yahoo!

This is old news, but hasn’t been announced anywhere, so …

Yahoo! has joined the Web Analytics Association as a Founding Corporate Member.

If you look at the bottom of the WAA home page you’ll see logos from the other founding corporate members. Except for Yahoo, they are all vendors of web analytics software. So why is Yahoo! there?

You may have noticed that Yahoo! has made a major commitment to the Web. But it’s also made a major commitment to the data that powers engaged users and interactive marketing. Appointing a Chief Data Officer is one sign of that. Another is being involved in Web-related standards bodies, whether it be helping standardize display ad dimensions, how to accurately collect information, construction of privacy policies, reduction of email spam, etc. The WAA certainly embodies the ideals of community, standards and best practices, so it makes sense for Yahoo to be involved and to support the WAA at this significant level.

Y! and WAA

Yahoo! grabs Konfabulator

Konfabulator is a Javsacript-based engine that makes it really easy to create mini applications (they call them “widgets”). First available for the Mac, a lot of people cried foul when Apple shipped similar functionality (called “Dashboard”) in Mac OS X 10.4 (Tiger) a few months ago. By then the Konfabulator guys had ported the application to Windows. And now Macworld is reporting that Yahoo! has bought the company and will give away the app.

Jeffrey McManus, who worked on making it happen, has a note about it on his blog.

This is a pretty smooth move on Yahoo!s part. Given the huge reach this application will have on Windows and Mac (and maybe more, according to the article), I bet all the cool widgets will be developed for Konfabulator first. I can envision a time when even Tiger users are running Konfabulator, due to the enormous about of stuff that will be available for it.

So hey, check it out.

Yahoo! grabs Konfabulator

Usama Fayyad Named a 2005 AAAI Fellow

Today Yahoo! announced that Usama Fayyad, he Of Many Titles (Ph.D., SVP, Chief Data Officer, head of Yahoo Research Labs…) has been named a Fellow of the American Association for Artificial Intelligence.

I was in a project review meeting with him yesterday and he was right on top of things: asking detailed questions and referencing algorithms, papers and software as if he were still doing active research.

In my experience, it’s rare that an individual can see the curvature of the earth and also be able to strafe the neighborhood to diagnose the blades of grass on your lawn, but Usama does it well – sometimes within the same sentence.

Usama Fayyad Named a 2005 AAAI Fellow

Focus is Local

I’ve been reading lots of stories about Yahoo! vs. Google. No doubt the Clash of the Titans saga makes for good copy, and yes, of course there are folks within Yahoo who are fixated on Google.

But as yesterday’s earnings results show, Yahoo! is a lot more than search. I don’t sit in on other BUs strategy meetings, but I suspect they track the likes of Electronic Arts, Apple & Napster, AOL IM, eBay & Amazon, NBC & CNN, Hotmail, MSN, CNET, Monster, Match.com etc. — in these meetings, I bet Google doesn’t show up on the radar, or is a small blip at best.

Not long ago, Yahoo wasn’t in the search business. The depth and breadth of the offering a couple dozen months later, the favorable impression in the community, and the rapid innovation coming out of Yahoo Search is a testament to the people brought in to deliver on an executive vision. It wasn’t about competing with anyone, it was about becoming a major player in an important space. Now I see that same executive focus on data. I wasn’t at Yahoo two years ago, but I heard stories. In fact about a year ago, one of the employees inside Yahoo told me I should stay far away from “the data group” as it was a morass of confusion. A year later there are a lot of changes in the data group, largely driven by the same executive team that decided we needed to invest in search. It’s both energizing and draining to be a part of those changes.

SDS doesn’t directly compete with the data groups from the companies that Yahoo BUs compete with. But with the influx of folks from those other companies to Yahoo, when we visit them and tell them what we can offer them today and what the roadmap looks like, there’s universal feedback that SDS has a compelling story relative to the businesses they just came from – a roadmap that will allow all the BUs to run their businesses on data-driven analytics and insights. That’s why I keep going to work.

Focus is Local

When Your Worldview Needs to Change

Ben, I know how you feel.

Sometimes the investments required to improve our lives seem like so much work. Getting out of one’s comfort zone can be disorienting. It’s like the frog that sits in increasingly warmer water – he senses he’s uncomfortable but doesn’t do anything about it, until it’s too late.

But Ben – it’s not too late for you. Some hints: modify your Firefox search box, or install a toolbar. Best of luck.

When Your Worldview Needs to Change