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What do Netflix, Nike+, Nokia viNe, and Kashi have in common?

The Internet has made available a plethora of webware and advertising that has transformed the marketplace. The consumers of the digital space actively consume online media, engage with websites and webware, and interact with digital advertising on a daily basis. If I may say so, interactive advertising is losing interest as quickly as it gained its popularity. Advertisers love the precision and metrics it offers but consumers hate its end product. Banner ads receive less than a 1% click through rate. Why you may ask? They shout advertising and desperately demand attention. YouTube’s in-player ads are targeted using the latest and greatest algorithms but don’t receive much attention. Microsites are elaborate but advertise in a very traditional way — speaking to the customer rather than with them. Interactive advertising needs a make-over. Here is my analysis:

Netflix's Suggestion

Web applications like Netflix.com offer suggestions for movies based on your personality (determined by your order history) which is extremely effective. So effective in fact that Netflix offered a grand prize of $1,000,000 to anyone who could rewrite their algorithm to get a 10% improvement. Why does Netflix win? They offer something to improve the lives of their customers. They surprise them by suggesting movies they may like. We often receive suggestions in real life but its missing in the online ad world. Why are advertisers so stuck on creating online advertising that so closely resembles the traditional ad world? We need to reach out to our customers by being engaging, informational and social. These are the most important characteristics of Web 2.0.

Kashi Challenge

Kashi.com is a site designed by the Barbarian Group that closely resembles Facebook.com. Kashi.com’s visitors can challenge themselves by joining groups and recording their daily progress. The site helps you avoid bad foods and asks you to exercise on a daily basis while making Kashi foods more enticing. Users leave comments like “I started eliminating HFCS from my diet 3 months ago and I feel great. Kashi products are great!” While microsites are great, engaging Web 2.0 sites like Kashi.com go above and beyond in trying to engage the customer.

Following Kashi’s example, I looked into the work of R/GA and found some interesting things. R/GA is a very interesting company with a very unique past. They have continually reinvented themselves by experimenting with emerging technologies, social networking, and collaborative online websites that create communities. They started as a motion graphics studio Now they are an interactive ad agency. Combining their previous expertise in motion and VFX they make some of the strongest online interactive experiences I have seen. Their secret formula is to focus on technology. They often do the product development and let the advertising follow. All of their end products are applications that are highly engaging. R/GA has truly learned that in the 21st century the product needs to be the advertising. Here is some of their most award winning work:

Nokia viNe is a breakthrough mobile application that records photos, videos, songs, text, voice and bookmarks onto a multimedia map of your life. It’s an easy way to relive, search, and share your experiences, just how you lived them. To start your vine, simply load the application on your GPS-enabled device. Press record, then do what you were doing already. As you move through your day, each photo you snap and video you capture appears on your vine exactly where you take it. Songs appear where you listen to them. You can even use GPS to bookmark your favorite locations. Nokia viNe is the ultimate travelogue tool that lets you capture and share all dimensions of your life. –RGA.com

Nike+ Human Race
The largest one-day running event in history, and the next evolution of the award-winning and industry-changing Nike+. With a little help from technology, runners around the globe came together, both physically and virtually, to challenge and inspire each other, and raise money for some very worthy causes. In the end, the Nike+ Human Race was one of Nike Running’s biggest success stories:

  • Nearly 800,000 participants representing 142 countries
  • Nearly 2.5 million training miles logged
  • 280,000 new challenges issued

–RGA.com

NIKEiD was introduced as the world’s best online customization tool, then as a 23-story digital sign experience in Times Square, to a customization destination at NIKEiD Studios worldwide. This year, we took it to a new level. With Nike’s help, our team set out to evolve the NIKEiD consumer experience. At the heart of it is the new NIKEiD builder. Now, the product is the interface: guests are welcomed to the experience by a hi-res photorealistic shoe, where they actually customize color on the shoe (or product) itself. The site seamlessly integrates image rendering of guests’ designs, giving them 360-degree views of their creation. The zoom feature lets guests get see stunning detail of the stitching, fabrics and form. What’s more, guests can now customize performance aspects of Nike products, like selecting from a variety of cleat options.
Another key addition is Design Search, a feature provides instant access to thousands of designs created by the NIKEiD community, searchable by color and other filtering options, helping to inspire NIKEiD designers everywhere. –RGA.com

Team One Advertising, a subsidiary of Saatchi & Saatchi, has also made some inroads into the integrative ad space. Check out these campaigns:


VCG worked together with advertising agency Team One to launch an innovative web application as part of a campaign for Lexus to support the launch of the all-new Lexus IS luxury sports sedan.
The website featured an interactive photo mosaic of the IS which was made up of thousands of photos submitted from visitors to the site. Photos uploaded by visitors to the website for the mosaic were randomly projected on the world famous Reuters board in New York City’s Times Square.
The ground-breaking site was created in Flash technology for the front end, and programmed in Java for the back end functionality. Guests to site were treated to stunning imagery composed of a photo mosaic of random images which simultaneously highlight the dramatic lines and classic styling of the new IS. Selecting major categories on the website led to the rotation of an innovative homepage “cube” that directed visitors to the next section. The entire website fully encapsulated the vision that Lexus had for a major launch website, and was accomplished under a very tight timeline.

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