Launch of a new digital venture

Yeah so here we are, new day, new site.. new post. Thanks for everybody’s well-wishing over the past few weeks. It’s exciting to start something new and really encouraging to have people be so positive about its prospects. And to the clients who’ve jumped on board, thanks for the faith in our vision. The company is up and running and I’ve been having some really interesting talks with with very smart and creative people about projects and partnerships.

This site is not going to be a traditional corporate presence by any stretch. It will be personal and open and and will feature the ins and outs of what we’re up to, as well as what we’re seeing in the world out there. There’s a lot going on in communication, media and technology – and a lot of noise so we really appreciate you listening to us. Now it’s our turn to listen. Onwards!

Add-Art: replacing advertising with art

A Firefox plugin that replaces advertising with art.I was talking to a friend recently about Firefox add-ons and how they played a role in consumers taking more control of their online experience. Browsers have become so malleable that its becoming harder for content publishers to be certain about how their site is being seen.

Where does the act of design happen anyway – in Photoshop at the time of authoring, or as someone loads up the finished page?

One of my all time favourite examples of people taking control of their browser is Add-Art. AddArt is a Firefox extension which replaces advertising images on web pages with art images from a curated database. It’s an open-source project being developed by the very smart people at Eyebeam in New York. It builds on the heritage of ‘adblockers’ which simply empty the ad space. And of course, this is in the realm of the more famous TV ad skipping capabilities of PVRs that are occasionally presumed to spell the end of the thirty second block.

The most interesting element for me about Add-Art is that it challenges the presumed right of advertisers to monetize your attention as you browse around. Most content providers would see it as a fair trade that you’re allowed to freely view content in exchange for being exposed to ads. In the Google context, where ads are targeted to your own explicit search criteria, this is perhaps more bearable. But does the blanketing of pages with extravagant, but not so relevant, banners encourage us to tune out? Obviously there is a vastly greater number of people who simply ignore ads rather than actively replace them with art using a plug-in. But Add-Art should serve as a reminder that advertising is being served up onto a person’s personal lifestyle and/or work machine. Advertisers are going to need to continually challenge themselves to provide more value to their desired audience or risk being locked out, especially if one of these movements really takes off.

(Afterthought: it also makes me wonder what other uses that ad space could be put to? Political causes, collective problem solving applets, micro-donations.. display of government-censored material?)

What’s all this Royals business?

To be honest, there is no clever pun or tag line behind the name Royals (sometimes Royals, sometimes The Royals.. not too fussed). But if anything, it’s intended to indicate that the people with whom we collaborate, are true royalty. There are so many smart, passionate, creative, strategic and talented people who are motivated, in the main, be doing great work. They are Royals. They (we) are a modular, swarming collective of different perspectives and expertise, and they are the individuals who make up the collective contribution to a project.

And yes, I know Royals are also sneakers, a reggae band, a baseball team and a family somewhere in England. But if we’re to pay homage to anyone remotely regal, it’s more likely to be King Britt, Queen Latifah, Princess Peach and the Prince of Parties.