'Eye'-spy ads, Twitter in deep, and b-to-b 'vibes'

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EYE OF THE BEHOLDER. In an effort to break out of a 6-year unemployment cycle and raise money for charity, 29-year-old London Web entrepreneur Mahmood Choudhury turned advertising conventionalism on its head in late February with a 10-day online auction for ad space on his eyes. “Companies [would] pay to have a small logo of their brand placed directly onto a contact lens [I'd] then wear for a minimum of seven days—thus advertising their brand in a totally unique and eye-catching way,” Choudhury said in a statement. Logos could be transferred onto the pupil, iris or sclera of one, or both, eye lenses—with an estimated turnaround time of a few days to four weeks. Interested parties were directed to book advertising slots through the promotional website ( or place a bid via Choudhury's eBay auction page, starting at 99 cents. The auction ended with no bids placed, but Choudhury remained hopeful about the future. “In the long term, I'm looking to find a network of people willing to follow in my footsteps—maybe kickstarting a brand new advertising phenomenon,” he said. —Tanya Meyer TWITTER DOWN UNDER. Marine scientists at the University of South Florida recently introduced a solar-powered robotic submarine that can independently collect and analyze water samples, then tweet its findings to the world to help scientists analyze environmental conditions in real time. Tavros #2 (Greek for “bull,” the university's mascot, and an acronym for The Autono-mous Vehicle and Remotely Operated Sensing) currently has more than 160 followers and tweets data (@tavros02), such as water temperature, every 10 minutes. “We were interested in getting machines taking in data and tweeting it back to us intelligently,” said David Fries, director of USF's Marine Systems Technology Group, in a statement. “We wanted to figure out how we could have them objectively communicate data without human input. Using Twitter linked to artificial [intelligence] programs allows us to do that and distribute to a large user group,” he said. According to a university statement, Tavros researchers are now working with officials at the Florida Institute of Oceanography to develop a system that translates the submersible's numerical findings into easy-to-understand phrases addressing sea water phenomena, like fishing conditions and oil spill news, among others. —James Podolny SECOND THAT EMOTION. A study last month from Chicago-based marketing agency Upshot found that a person's emotions affect the way he or she reacts to b-to-b messages, and that effective b-to-b marketing should target those emotions while delivering the selling point. “Proving the Value of Emotion in B2B Marketing Communications” was based on a survey of 261 b-to-b sales and marketing executives at small, midsize and large U.S. businesses. Upshot partnered with BrainJuicer Group, a London-based online market research company, to conduct the study. Before viewing the same presentation for a new digital magazine concept, half the participants watched a depressing 60-second video while the remaining group viewed an equally long, inspirational clip. The “inspired” group had a significantly more positive response and higher purchasing intent than their “depressed” counterparts. “Against all cynicism surrounding b-to-b marketing, tapping into people's emotions absolutely has an impact on their reactions to marketing messages,” Lionel Knight, senior VP-planning at Upshot, said in a statement. “B-to-b marketers should work to inspire their audience with creativity, be it a conference event, website, sales presentation or advertising.” —J.P.
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