1. Congratulations are in order, we think, to HootSuite, the Vancouver-based software company that Twitter has chosen to be the first to deliver ads directly into users' streams. We say "we think," because when the ads - from Verizon Wireless, Bing, Starbucks, and others - began rolling out this week, some users pledged to switch to a different (ad-free) platform. An AdAge columnist cheered, saying it pointed the way to a legitimate revenue model, and HootSuite played it cool, saying there was little backlash. But just in case you don't like the development, you can always buy the premium version of HootSuite which - whaddya' know - includes the ability to strip out advertising.
2. Of course, even before the HootSuite announcement it was sometimes tough to differentiate between ads and regular content on Twitter: one recent study found that 70 per cent of tweets contained a brand reference. And advertisers are finding more ways to work themselves into streams. This week, Svedka vodka introduced a campaign that asks people to scan a QR code (that alien-bug-looking black-and-white square popping up in more ads) with their smart phones and send it to @SvedkaCanada, which will result in a tweet in their stream containing a link to the vodka's new ad. Now if only someone could tweet us and explain what exactly robots have to do with vodka.
3. Too young to drink? Have no fear - you can still have your own ad-related interactions! Redken, the line of hair care products sold exclusively through salons, has co-developed Busy Scissors , a role-playing hairstyling game for the Nintendo Wii and DS platforms. The idea is that girls aged eight to 16 might be more likely to visit a salon after playing the game than, say, their moms, who have been cutting back on salon visits (and, thus, Redken purchases) because of the availability of high-end home-use products. Now all Redken has to do is figure out how to tear the girls away from their video consoles...
4. Well, at least good causes don't need any publicity help from video games. According to the fourth annual "good purpose" study from Edelman released Thursday, 67 per cent of Canadians say they're more likely to patronize a company if its brands support good causes (up seven points from last year), even though 48 per cent believe such support is driven purely by business imperatives rather than a genuine desire to do good. The news came across our desks shortly after we saw a smart send-up of cause marketing by comedy troupe Upright Citizens Brigade that pitched pink cigarettes as a fundraising vehicle for cancer. It's on our Twitter stream ( @simonhoupt). With no assistance from HootSuite.