08 December 2009

Your Brain on Games

Interesting project in Canada:

Brain games to help those at retirement age keep working
image Toronto's Baycrest centre is staking a claim to a piece of the booming brain fitness market with a new company, Cogniciti, and a new generation of brain games aimed at helping baby boomers keep their minds sharp and boost their productivity in the workplace well into old age.

Brain-fitness industry grows as baby-boomers work to stay sharp.
image … The games rely on two biological principles: the brain's ability to grow new nerve cells, called neurogenesis, and its ability to grow connections between different brain cells, called neuroplasticity.

Some very intelligent folk are taking Brain Games very seriously.  A business colleague is starting a company devoted to Brain Games implementation. It’s a bit early to talk about it, but I probably will soon.

What’s the story with advertising and Brain Games?  That’s been a problem.  Because of clumsy tactics, most advertising/marketing/PR is still doing more harm than good. A post from March:

The Brain Games Game
You certainly get the ‘hard-sell’ impression that if you don’t buy and play these games, eventually your brain will leak out of your nose and ears.  Why not just tell the truth?  These are high-tech, stimulating computer-generated exercises that will help keep your mind sharp - are structured, measurable to some degree (so they’re useful for medical research), and quite entertaining.  And there are a lot of them – so you won’t get bored just playing one over and over.

Dr. Gary Small agrees:

(Robert Lipsyte) Stop me if I'm wrong, but there just seems something a little hucksterish, opportunistic, snake oil about the brain gyms.

image (Dr. Gary Small) It seems snake oil-ish because some of the marketing tends to suggest that it's going to do more than it really can, and there's lots of companies trying to capitalize on this, and a lot of these devices are merely toys.

Click the graphic below and you’ll be magically transported to Life (Part2) on PBS.org:

Then watch the show.  It’s a good one.

05 December 2009

Microsoft & AARP Study: Boomers & Tech II

A colleague mildly chastised Yours Truly for being a bit rough on the ‘new’ Microsoft/AARP study:

I think the guy offered some thought-provoking possibilities about how we might adopt and adapt some technologies in the future: nothing earth-shattering, but slightly value-added.

Colleague correct.  Anybody interested should download the study.  It’s worth a read.

The article/press release on the AARP site.

What I said about it all:

AARP & Microsoft: Technology & Baby Boomers
image … Let’s see how some of their findings stack up to what NostraChuckus has been prophesying for years …  NostraChuckus predicts that in a future post he will predict what they’re probably wrong about.

As the almost errorless Soothsayer predicted, here it is. 


image Digital Fitness. Boomers will wear sensor-equipped exercise clothing to keep track of their physical condition during workouts, their calories burned—and  upload it all to an online record. Even their running shoes will contain sensors and GPS to provide additional data. Their mobile devices may even be set to (gently) remind them when they're falling behind on their exercise routines.

I wonder if most of the above won’t get tired fast.  How biofeedback-onic do you really want to be while taking a walk in the woods or playing some doubles?    

And beepers going off to tell you you’re a lazybones?  It sounds like fun once or twice, but pretty soon some sweats or tennis attaire will be all you’ll put on.  Being wired like a android and having to perform at specific levels every minute while you’re ‘playing’ could cause a slew of new anxiety afflictions.   

Of course, there will always be a few obsessive-compulsives.


Chip Me, Doc. Once Boomers are confident about security and privacy, they will be early adopters of electronic health records—many would even choose to have them implanted as tiny chips. And they'll start keeping their own records online, using digital diagnostic devices to upload their weight, blood pressure, cholesterol, even the results of a mini-EKG.

Is this news?  Already Boomers are all over Web MD and scores of other medical sites. I belong to one where I can keep track of the few drugs I take and lets me know of any contraindications.  (And, interestingly enough, the site offers to transfer my ‘medical history’ to Microsoft’s HealthVault.)

Actually, it’s doctors, hospital administrators, and generally anybody involved in the medical industry that are pushing for computerized records.  All generations will be beneficiaries (or have their privacy compromised – depending on your point of view).


Social Networks. For boomers, social networks will become as commonplace as the telephone—particularly to link them into the lives of their children and grandchildren in a way that's unobtrusive yet meaningful. And personal videoconferencing will be commonplace: High-definition video cameras on the big screen in the living room will enable regular family-to-family chats.

I guess I’m confused.  What is a ‘social network’?  This sounds to me like ‘calling grandma and grandpa’ forty years ago, where we all passed the phone around.  How is that social networking?

And didn’t I blog about this in 2006? The ‘high-definition’ part is new.  That’s about it.


image Video-Game Fever. Boomers will become video-game aficionados, primarily using motion-sensing video game consoles rather than old-fashioned game controllers.

Confused again. Won’t everybody be using “motion-sensing consoles rather than old-fashioned game controllers”? What exactly is the startling prediction here? 

No mention of brain games.  My guess is that Boomers will continue to play cutting-edge video games, but most will want to exercise their gray matter when doing so.  Sure, they’ll play virtual tennis – but for some reason I bet they’ll prefer real tennis.  Wriggling, twisting, and swinging your arms around in front of some newfangled contraption can be diverting – but spending your entire life entangled in virtual reality just doesn’t seem like much of a life to me. 

image And it could be embarrassing.  It’s a mark of honor to sustain a sports injury, but I’d feel rather silly if I were limping about and had to tell everyone, “I fell over while Wii-ing …”   


Employment, Boomer Style. Boomers who are past the 9-to-5 routine but still working part-time will become the masters of tele-presence: videoconferencing with HD and surround sound.

Again – this probably will be standard-issue business practice for all generations.  Variations have been ‘foretold’ by numerous futurists.


Parents. Boomers will lead the aging-in-place movement with their own parents, wiring their parents' homes with smart sensors that monitor motion, power usage, average conversation levels and footstep patterns, and that send regular updates that all is well—or suggest the boomer check in to make sure the parents are OK.

Some monitoring will take place (it is taking place) but keeping track of every burp and twitch … I’m not so sure.


imageHome, Green Home. The boomer dream home will have a full solar roof, plus energy monitoring that lets residents tailor their usage to maximum efficiency. Domestic robots will be increasingly common appliances, and in new homes, designers will make kitchens and floor plans "robot-friendly."

Key phrase: dream house. It sounds good.  Let’s hope all this will someday be available and affordable for everybody.  Microsoft, of course, has been pushing this stuff since 2000.

Maybe I expected fresher insights from two influential  corporate forces.

Update Dec 9 2009 Great post from Laurie Orlov (even if she does join in to chastise me a bit):

What Boomers Want from Technology 2009 and other aging theories

02 December 2009

Social Sites Less Friendly to Video Ads

Here’s something that seems to surprise the researchers, but not me:

image Social Sites Less Friendly to Video Ads
Content venues,
e-mail yield greater engagement
Mike Shields
image Given social networking sites' challenges with monetization, it's perhaps not surprising that users are less inclined to engage with video ads. Yet sharing video is increasingly becoming a key component of these sites. Ariel Geifman, research analyst at Eyeblaster, said the company was somewhat surprised by their findings.

"What we found is that people browse social networks really quickly," he said. "People spend a lot of time in social networks, but it's not on the same Web page."

image The result is that auto-start video ads don't often have a chance to actually start, and that people have few opportunities to stop and linger like they do on content sites.

Download The Eyeblaster PDF

It’s very simple.  Social media sites are not places for advertising. I’ve screamed about this many times. A few shrieks:

5 Reasons Why 90% Of Social Media Efforts Fail

Is roiling ether the best place for advertising?

Snake Oil In Cyberspace
As far as Boomers being tech/web Luddites - I’ve been dispelling that silly myth for years - in my book and blog (Advertising to Baby Boomers, first published in early 2005).

But monetizing social networking sites … well, they still haven’t been able to do that with the Millennial and Gen Y demos. What makes anybody think you can do it with Boomers?

Perhaps … it is simply a case of older users being a bit more savvy about marketing ploys, social networking, and the intermixing of the two.

image Short or long form (2-20 minute) professionally produced marketing/advertising videos on the web work well. Broadband seems to have been made for them. I talked about this in my book way back in 2005 – you can read that chapter on the Advertising Educational Foundation web site.

More of yours truly repeating himself:

The Most Effective Marketing/Advertising Model For Reaching Baby Boomers: What is now called traditional advertising pushing you to an age-friendly, informative product/services web site.

I’m guessing that this holds true for all age demos.

Add to all this a tweet today from Brad Adgate:


Last year I blogged Mr. Shields on a similar subject:

image Social Networks & Banner Ads
As ad budgets shrink, buyers and publishers face growing pressure to prove value of banners …

01 December 2009

AARP & Microsoft:Technology & Baby Boomers

There’s a ‘new’ study with ‘insights’ from two corporate titans:

image Boomers and Technology: An Extended Conversation
Author and futurist Michael Rogers examines the attitudes of today's boomers regarding their use of technology, and what they expect in the future.

Let’s see how some of their findings stack up to what NostraChuckus has been prophesying for years:


When it fits their needs, boomers will embrace leading-edge technology …

Me in 2005, 2007 (Advertising to Baby Boomers):

image“It will be the Baby Boomers who will be the first to pick and choose, to ignore or be seduced by leading-edge technology marketing. There’s a simple reason for this. We have the money to buy this stuff. Experts say we’ll continue to have the money for at least the next twenty years. Write us off at your own peril.”



… they (Baby Boomers) don't consider themselves technology dunces. Instead, they blame manufacturers for excessive complexity and poor instructions.

My book:



Technology is a big part of boomer leisure and creativity.

Me again (2005):

My Favorite Cyber-Myth
How I snicker and roll my eyes whenever I read about Baby Boomers fumbling around on computers, scratching their heads, totally flummoxed.


Boomers are the fastest-growing age segment on such social-networking sites as Facebook, and many log on at least once a day. While not early adopters, they have been drawn in by younger family members and also by business connections.

My Book:







A Blog Post (April 2009):

The big buzz phrase today is social networking.  Because Boomers are worried about their work-related competencies, all of a sudden they’re diving into Facebook, LinkedIn, are Twittering, etc. to find out about it all and make connections. 


The clear message of Boomers and Technology is that this generation's technology habits are not frozen in time. Boomers are thoughtful adopters who are open to new technologies that add value to their lives. And the choices they make—the devices, software, and services they embrace—will directly shape what becomes available as the next generation grows older. Boomers today, in short, are inventing the 50-year-old of the future.

Me from my book and a blog post:



Late Bloomer Boomers
This isn’t like retired people taking on hobbies. The Late Bloomer Boomer Movement is going full blast, and there’s no stopping it. The magic equation: Thirty-odd years of experience plus not feeling old and being relatively healthy plus knowing you have another quarter-century of productivity in you equals . . .

image So not much ‘new’ in this study – although there are some startling predictions.

NostraChuckus predicts that in a future post he will predict what they’re probably wrong about.

Update 12/5/2009: AARP/Microsoft Boomers Tech II

The Latest WOM On WOMM

Wouldn’t it be nice if this were my last post about WOMM?  I think it will be, since prattle marketing won’t be much of an issue from now on:

FTC Publishes Final Guides Governing Endorsements, Testimonials
image The revised Guides also add new examples to illustrate the long standing principle that “material connections” (sometimes payments or free products) between advertisers and endorsers – connections that consumers would not expect – must be disclosed. These examples address what constitutes an endorsement when the message is conveyed by bloggers or other “word-of-mouth” marketers.

imageSo all these posts over the last few years are now officially fossilized:

The Brouhaha Over WOMM (2006)

The Brouhaha Over WOMM Returns (2007)

What's Plaguing Viral Marketing (2007)

What's the Word? (2008)

Smart or Sneaky? (2008)

The Crystal Ball of Common Sense (2008)

My Blog Was WOMMed! (2008)

Internet Hero of the Week (2009)

Snake Oil In Cyberspace (2009)

Harris Poll & Advertising & Social Networking

5 Reasons Why 90% Of Social Media Efforts Fail (2009)

Believe it or not, there are more. But those are so fossilized that they yield little DNA.

Here’s a recent post by Dick Stroud:

Is the wisdom of crowds for the gullible?
A lot is made about the importance of word-of-mouth as a means of informing the decisions of older consumers. The connection is often made between WOM and the user generated commentary that litters web sites from delighted or aggrieved purchasers.

And here’s a sly, insightful fellow who seems to gag on WOMM even more than Yours Truly:

The Social Media Cesspool
image It seems like every company in America has a team of squids working furiously to pollute and manipulate the social media environment with crypto-marketing. These slimy creatures are busy...

  • leaving fraudulent reviews and comments
  • monitoring" conversations and trying to insert their hidden agendas in ways we can't detect.
  • spamming us with dishonest Tweets from nonexistent people

Social media is becoming so compromised by manipulation, its marketing value is suspect before it even gains traction.

For the umpteenth time on these ethereal pages, a slightly tongue-in-cheek quote from my hardcopy (they used to be called books):

imageWhen it all comes out in the wash, WOMM will be the best thing to happen to (silly retronym ahead) traditional advertising. Pretty soon, consumers won't believe anybody - even their best friends. They'll realize that they receive the most honest and straightforward information about a product or service from a TV commercial, radio spot, print ad, direct marketing collateral, or product web site. At least we don't lie about who we are and why we're saying what we're saying.

Remember this: Advertising didn't die with the invention of the telephone.

But don't believe me. This is just some blog, and I'm just some blogger. Who knows if someone's paying me to trash word-of-mouth marketing ...

One thing's for sure: You'll never know.