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A&E Uses Augmented Reality to Market New Series

If you’re in NYC on Thursday, March 3 and you happen to see a man in an orange prison jumpsuit, don’t call 911. Just dial up the Breakout Kings app on your iPhone and you could win a prize.

A&E is going all out with an augmented reality promo for their new prison break / conman series and I fear it will be the Mafia Wars incident all over again.

Though I’m sure the actors playing prisoners on the loose will be clearly marked with a Breakout Kings logo, certainly their presence in the city will cause some confusion and spark a few calls to the cops. Right? A&E is ready to take that chance maybe because even if they end up paying a fine to the city, it’ll only help them make bigger headlines.

Behavorial Advertising Takes Another Hit from Washington

This morning, Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) was named chairman of a new Judiciary subcommittee for Privacy, Technology and the Law. The list of activities that the committee will oversee is a long one and it includes the collection of information for behavioral advertising and privacy in social networks.

Says Franken:

“The boom of new technologies over the last several years has made it easier to keep in touch with family, organize a community and start a business. It has also put an unprecedented amount of personal information into the hands of large companies that are unknown and unaccountable to the American public. As chairman of this new subcommittee, I will try to make sure that we can reap the rewards of new technology while also protecting Americans’ right to privacy.”

Will You “Like” Facebook’s New Ad Format?

If you’re not a fan of Twitter’s new sponsored tweets ads, then you’re going to be somewhat grumpy by the time you get through reading this post.

You see, Facebook’s decided that it too would like to turn status updates into sponsored ads and is launching something similar. According to AdAge, advertisers will be able to convert a “like” or check-in–and some other kinds of brand interaction–into a Facebook ad.

How does that work? Here’s an example…

…if Starbucks buys a “sponsored story” ad, the status of a user’s friends who check into or “like” Starbucks will run twice: once in the user’s news feed, and again as a paid ad for Starbucks. Though clearly marked with the words “sponsored story,” the ad — which will includes a user’s name, just like the news feed — is not optional for Facebook users.

Time Inc. Merges Print and Digital Sales Units

There was a day when offline and online were two very distinct paths through life. These days, however, that’s not really the case. Watching TV and reading for pleasure used to be strictly offline behaviors but now many people do both online. Why go to the computer to get your email when you can get it on your phone? And thanks to Samsung, I now sit down in front of the TV to catch up on Twitter.

Time Inc. has seen the writing on the wall and that’s why they decided to merge their print and digital sales unit into a new unit they call “Time Inc. Branded Solutions.” It’s a fancy name for a pretty simple idea – positioning your brand next to their brands without worrying about boundaries.

Online Ad Spending Beats Newspapers by Year End

We’ve seen it coming but the day is finally here, by the time we ring in the new year, spending on online ads will have passed newspaper ad spending for the first time ever.

According to eMarketer, print advertising in newspapers will fall to $22.8 billion while online ad spending will rise to $25.8 billion. They expect the difference to be even more significant by the end of 2011.

This past October, the Associated Press published a report that noted a 5% drop in newspaper circulation and an 8.7% drop the year before that.

Says the report:

Circulation declines hurt newspapers financially not only because they are losing revenue from subscriptions, but also because the bulk of newspaper advertising revenue is still generated by printed editions rather than their websites.

DirecTV Close to Rolling Out Targeted TV Commercials

I don’t have a pet and I have no interest in male enhancement products, yet during an average week, I’ll see plenty of commercials for kitty litter, dog food and ExtenZe. DirecTV says that’s going to change and it may happen as soon as the summer of 2011.

According to an article in the Wall Street Journal, DirectTV has a $10 – $20 million dollar commitment from Starcom MediaVest, a company that buys ad time on behalf of heavyhitters.

Under the new program, the ad buyer would list the characteristics of their target household and DirectTV’s system would search the data pools to find a match. A variety of commercial options would then be loaded into the box and the box itself would decide on the most appropriate commercial for each occasion.

Commerce Department, Ma’am. Privacy Division

I can see it now. The black screen, the ominous ba bum sound and then the words, Law & Order: Privacy Division. They’re federal agents who put their lives on the line every day so that you, the internet user, can surf without fear of being molested by targeted Old Navy ads and free lunch coupons on your birthday. Sure they’re making it hard for the small business marketer to sell his wares, but hey, that’s the way the browser cookie crumbles. Get over it.

So, maybe it won’t be on next fall’s TV schedule, but it may be coming to a computer near you, if the federal government gets their way. Yesterday, the Commerce Department released the Internet Policy Task Force Privacy Green Paper which is loaded with recommendations “aimed at promoting consumer privacy online while ensuring the Internet remains a platform that spurs innovation, job creation, and economic growth.”