Category Archives: TED

TED’s loooong ads worth spreading

Conventional wisdom has it online video spots need to be short, 15 seconds max, because most users click away in impatience if you go longer. Media buyers prefer to stick such ads before the video content users really want, in a format called “pre-rolls,” so users have no choice but to sit through them. So it’s interesting TED has pushed back by promoting ads 2-3 minutes long that run after its online video content … so good, apparently, that users will not only watch but share the spots with others.

Noteworthy because TED is smart, and TED has a rich audience. Since its launch in 2006 TED has become a global conference juggernaut, expanding from a California elite speaking club with the likes of Bono, Bill Clinton and Jane Goodall to 750 subbranded “TEDx” events held annually around the world.’s free replays attract a fine demo: 50% of viewers are age 50+; 33% have incomes $100k or higher; and 23% have gone through grad school. If you’re selling BMWs, TED is your ticket.

What does it mean that an intellectual portal attracting the wealthy and educated is pushing long-form video? Perhaps if your content is good enough, audiences have the patience to pay attention.

Bonus round: If you want to taste TED’s speakers, don’t miss the brilliant Sir Ken Robinson.

Ben Kunz is vice president of strategic planning at Mediassociates, an advertising media planning and buying agency, and co-founder of its digital trading desk eEffective.

The girl who knew what God looks like

If you care about education then don’t miss this 2006 speech by Ken Robinson. He suggests the Western education system is ill-suited for helping children nurture creativity, and yet in a rapidly shifting world — where today’s schoolchildren will retire in 2065 and we can’t predict the future of 2015 — creativity is the most important skill for humanity’s survival. Plus he’s damn funny.

Via Jim Mitchem.

Digital Emily and the future of your flesh

Paul Debevec, the digital effects star behind The Matrix and The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, here shows off the latest evolution of animation. The fake Emily looks so real (fast-forward the video to minute 5:00 to see the technically constructed, moving face) that you can no longer tell the difference between computer graphics and reality.

Perfection of human artifice was bound to happen sooner or later. For decades, animators have struggled to overcome The Uncanny Valley effect — the disturbing vibe you get watching animated faces that don’t look quite real. German psychologist Ernst Jentsch coined the term in 1906, as as we’ve written before, most “human” animation attempts such as the Tom Hanks’ characters in 2004’s Polar Express are as eerie as walking through a wax museum at night. The eyes are dead; the faces look ghastly; we don’t believe it is real. But now, fake reality is here.

Untrue faces may mask the truth

What happens to the world of communication when computers can post illusions of humans, who don’t exist, saying anything the controllers behind the scenes want? The first application is obviously video games, such as Quantic Dream’s “Heavy Rain,” but imagine fake faces intersecting with social media and a computer script that could pass the Turing Test. The possibilities are endless. A company could create a fake public relations spokesperson, as verbally gifted as Scott Monty with the sex appeal of Angelina Jolie. We could elect politicians who don’t exist. The illusion of artificial intelligence would be complete, as long as the lips move just so and the script makes us believe.

How about yourself? Would you improve your own image to the world by creating an avatar that looks like Brad Pitt or Megan Fox? If you go out at night, will it mean typing at a computer while you send a 3-D perfection of species out to mingle in a better, photorealistic Second Life?

The standards for morality will slide in such a future, where our presentation to the world and actions are projected digital ghosts, not our own flesh and blood. Work, advertising, social gatherings, love and war could shift from Earth to the Matrix. It’s all a natural progression from our current use of film and video, which now requires careful costumes, lighting and staging, to a real-time artificial projection. Instead of acting out roles in a movie, each human will simply boot up their animated avatar and leap into the fray. Fake reality, here’s looking at you.

TED shocker: See the internet in the air, with no geeky glasses required

Pranav Mistry, a student at MIT Media Lab, has created something that will change your world in a few years: A wearable device that allows you to interact with the web while you walk through reality. His mockup (demoed above by Pattie Maes) uses about $350 of off-the-shelf components — a small projector, camera and mirror hung from the user’s neck, and a cell phone with wireless internet access. The simple combination allows you to match images from the real world around you with cloud-based profile information, to find out if the tissue paper in the grocery store is good for the environment or whether your new college roommate likes to snowboard.

It all reminds us of a recent William Gibson book in which the protagonist, an über-hip-former-rocker journalist, uncovers an underground world of techies who are melding the virtual world with reality. As Gibson notes, most of us are already using virtual reality by sitting in front of computers for hours a day, but we’re trapped, unable to touch the information behind the screen. The next step will be unhinging virtual information to let it float over the reality we see outside our windows.

Via Eric Gonzalez.