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[Clickworthy] High school basketball announcer gives Gus Johnson a high-pitched run for his money

I don’t always share awful play-by-play clips on the blog, but when I do, I prefer the ones that make milk squirt out of your nose.

Check out the closing moments of this Marist (Chicago) High School basketball playoff game against Curie, as shared by High School Cube.

(I am cursing WordPress and Vodpod today for the inability to embed this.)

Click and enjoy.

UPDATE: We now know the name of this announcer, and his Twitter handle. Check out @bigsnowman40 to get a glimpse of Brian Snow. Trust me, seeing what he looks like will make the call even better.

And if that’s not enough, the snowman struck again. Same team, same postseason basketball run, same squealing. You have to admit, this guy is getting one heck of a stretch of games to call.

NASCAR’s Keselowski sets Twitter on fire

I watched my first NASCAR race in at least five years Monday night. By early Tuesday morning, Matt Kenseth had won the Daytona 500.

No one cared about that.

It was a weekend full of rain, and when the race finally started, it might as well have kept on pouring to save us from endless laps of drivers laying back and playing it safe.

Then, Juan Pablo Montoya crashed into a jet dryer during a caution, sending gallons of jet fuel pouring down the steep bank of turn three. Whole thing caught on fire. Big fire. During the two-hour red flag, we endured the FOX broadcast team’s filler antics and learned a new use for Tide laundry detergent.

Meanwhile, Brad Keselowski, relatively unknown driver of the #2 Miller Lite Dodge, was sending this Tweet – an in-car view of the fire on the track. Keselowksi had his phone with him in his car, and during the red flag stoppage, took to Twitter… a lot.

Keselowski Tweeted 39 times over the next two hours. When the race finally resumed, he fell victim to one of many wrecks in those final 40 laps. Just minutes after his battered car came to rest upon the midfield grass, came this:

https://twitter.com/#!/keselowski/status/174367097344884737

Fans – the hardcore and the casual – ate it up. Keselowski boosted his Twitter following by more than 100,000 people, the exact number depending on your source. The first interaction with fans from a driver while he was in the car on the track… pretty cool stuff. And while it was true that he – along with every other driver on the speedway – was stopped, it still gave birth to the notion of texting and driving at 200 m.p.h.

Perhaps a Facebook poke while bump drafting? Too much?

I couldn’t help but think that the sport’s first in-car Tweet would also be its last. After all, Major League Baseball, the NFL, the NBA – none of the major sports allow the use of social media in-game. Coaches want their players’ heads in the game, not in the Twittersphere. Owners don’t want their players sharing something stupid in the heat of the moment with their Facebook fans.

But this is the brandiest of all sports brands. CNBC sports business reporter Darren Rovell said as much during his coverage of the race (on Twitter, of course). Tuesday morning, NASCAR announced that Keselowski would not be fined for his actions:

“NASCAR will not penalize Brad Keselowski for his use of Twitter during last night’s Daytona 500. Nothing we’ve seen from Brad violates any current rules pertaining to the use of social media during races. As such, he won’t be penalized. We encourage our drivers to use social media to express themselves as long as they do so without risking their safety or that of others.” [emphasis added]

In a sport where drivers spit, cuss, and hurl helmets at one another and it’s a good thing, what is there really to lose by allowing live Tweeting? And there is plenty to gain. FOX’s Daytona coverage was all about the Tweety bird, and the stars of the event participating would only add to the experience.

I’ve already written once this month about how Twitter has become the world’s sports bar. When big games are on, reading a Twitter feed can be just as entertaining as the event itself (if not moreso). But while we can read the thoughts of reporters, insiders, and the uniquely witty, LeBron James isn’t part of our immediate Miami Heat discussion. Chad Ochocinco isn’t jumping into his team’s game chatter (anymore). Even the Florida erm… Miami Marlins’ Logan Morrison, who is a bigger star because of his Twitter presence than his on-field presence, isn’t allowed to chime in until after his game is over (and even then, he better be careful).

NASCAR could be different. Of course, it may not seem like it would matter much. After all, chances are you’ll hear those same drivers being interviewed moments after whatever they could have Tweeted. That’s not the point. It has more to do with this feeling of interaction – that the drivers themselves are participating in our Average Joe discussion (Of Keselowski’s 39 Tweets,  34 were replies or retweets). That brings the sport closer to home than any other league has managed thus far. And that could make 800 left turns at Daytona a little more engaging.

[Clickworthy] How companies learn your secrets (a “Target”-ed case study)

We are very conservative about compliance with all privacy laws. But even if you’re following the law, you can do things where people get queasy.

So says Andrew Pole, a researcher for Target. The major retailer’s name seems more accurate than ever after a lengthy piece in the New York Times Magazine by Charles Duhigg about data stores collect from consumers… and what can be done with it.

(If you’re not up for the 9-page read, Forbes blogged an abbreviated take on the story.)

The highlight of the article is the story of a Minneapolis teen who received personalized mailers from Target that started offering her maternity and baby products. Her father complained to the store, furious that Target would seemingly promote teen pregnancy. But they weren’t. What Target knew – even though the father didn’t – was that his teen daughter was indeed pregnant.

Pole explains how Target calculates a so-called “pregnancy score” based upon common purchases over a period of time. Buying unscented lotions and particular vitamins? Expect to see coupons for diapers in a few months. Subtly mixed with other offers, of course. Target wouldn’t want you to realize you are in the Matrix.

And it’s not just consumers who enroll in a variety of rewards programs. We know the drill there – we give you access to our purchasing habits, you give us a few pennies off our toilet paper and sodas. It’s a deal most people are comfortable with.

In Duhigg’s piece, we learn that retailers like Target track each credit or debit card swiped at their stores for future purchases. They then use that credit card verification – which includes your name on the receipt – to seek out and purchase, if need be, even more demographic information about you.

Retailers constantly complain about credit card transaction fees, but it appears they have found a convenient way to profit from our love of plastic.

The question is, do we really care? Sure, when it is explained on it’s face, we are discomforted, but is it enough to give up rewards programs; to switch back to cash and constant trips to the ATM; to avoid shopping at certain stores altogether?

I would argue we are perfectly content sacrificing our privacy for discounts and convenience. What say you?

Super Bowl good for advertisers, great for social media, Twitter, Shazam

What a #SuperBowl Sunday night! The game between the #Giants and the #Patriots came down to the wire (not the one that Richard Simmons-esque character was bouncing on during the #Madonna halftime performance). I couldn’t think of a #betterway to end the football season than watching Eli and the G-men go with #whatworks as they vanquished Brady and New England (#SoLongVampires). To #makeitplatinum, the coin toss earned me some #freepapajohns before the hours upon hours of commercial messages turned my brain to #mushymush.

(Also, Jack in the Box went with #marrybacon. Don’t know how you fit that one into conversation, but it was an interesting strategy nevertheless.)

Worth the price of admission

We know the Super Bowl is all about marketing your brand. A 30-second spot this year went for $3.5 million. General Motors spent $28 million on 4 minutes worth of advertising for their Chevy line alone (plus whatever it cost to sponsor the game’s MVP award and the hashtag #superbowl on Twitter).

I’m of the inclination that the return is worth the investment. No other event attracts such a large audience among all of the major purchasing demographics. The cost per thousand viewers (CPM) for the 2011 Super Bowl was $27. A successful primetime drama or sitcom will charge near, or many times, north of that figure. Other special events, like award shows, often demand an even greater CPM.

Plus – and this is a major plus – what other event do audiences watch for the advertisements? News and entertainment programs leading up to and following Super Bowl Sunday will spend hours of additional airtime reairing the ads for comment at no charge. Not to mention the Super Bowl ad galleries that are featured prominently Monday on YouTube, Hulu – even the Google homepage. That’s why it’s not surprising – to me, at least – to see Forbes claiming that networks with broadcasting rights could easily fill the 70 available commercial slots at double the current rate. Yes, that’s $7 million for 30 seconds of celebrity cameo or cute animal stunts.

But that’s not the point of today’s post. That stuff happens every year. What was new – at least on a large scale – was the incorporation of social networking into the Super Bowl spots – particularly Twitter and Shazam.

Continue reading “Super Bowl good for advertisers, great for social media, Twitter, Shazam”

How Google (and maybe Wikipedia) won the anti-SOPA/PIPA campaign for the Internet

I tend to check at least one Wikipedia page per blog post. It’s a simple way to double-check the little pieces of information that make a post come together.

I use Google more times a day than I’d ever care to count.

Today, two of the most-visited sites on the Internet have gone black – one symbolically, the other quite literally – in the most publicized opposition to date of anti-piracy legislation SOPA and PIPA.

A visit to any English-language Wikipedia page today was met with a rapid redirect to a black screen with a brief paragraph not-so-subtly suggesting that your favorite open-source encyclopedia could one day be blocked by some overzealous federal button masher:

Continue reading “How Google (and maybe Wikipedia) won the anti-SOPA/PIPA campaign for the Internet”