Snapchat Scares Up Some Paid Advertisers

Did you get your Ouija board out after watching Snapchat’s Inaugural ad?  Or did you miss it and have no clue what i’m talking about?  If it’s the latter then have no fear, the second part of my Halloween series of posts covers this spooky tale from the Snapkeeper.

This week the many millennials on Snapchat could be heard screaming, their terror heralding the dawn of a new domain of online advertising, as Snapchat opened its gates and allowed its first paid advertisement to its American users.  The 20-second trailer for the horror film Ouija appeared in everyones “Recent Updates” section, daring everyone to hold their finger to watch the entire ad without having to restart the timer over again.  With a lifespan of 24 hours, before it disappeared from the system as eerily as it arrived, the ad, according to Universal Studios, received millions of views but reserve final judgement on its success until all the analytics are in.

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While this is the first paid advertisement in the app, it isn’t the first time advertisers have promoted their products to Snapchats millennial audience.  Taco Bell, an early adopter to Snapchat, has gained a strong following on Snapchat with more than 200,000 friends.  Considering their Snapchat followers as “crazy engaged,” Nicholas Tran, Taco Bell’s official storyteller, considers Snapchat “one of the most engaging places for us to play“and each Snap it sends receives an estimated 80% engagement rate (with 90% viewing the entire Snap).

The important question is, if Snapchat continues to open the doors to paid ads, can brands continue to achieve these levels of engagement?  Or will the flood of ads start to ruin the goodwill earned by brands like Taco Bell and Doritos who have spent the time to earn the trust of its millennial audience?

So Snapchatters, were you scared by Snapchat’s first advertisement this week? Or just annoyed that ads have made it into your favourite social media app?  Raise your pitchforks, light your jack-o’-lanterns and storm the castle of my comments section below.

The Soundtrack To Your Life

I’ve spoken before on how music and sound can affect the words you hear in casual conversations and about the power of the brain to fill in the gaps to those same conversations.  But it is also important to note how those same words and music can affect us emotionally and physically.

The soundtrack to our lives guide us through our days (or nights), they lift us up when we’re feeling down or motivate us to do foolish things and take chances.

For the majority of the 20th century it was the power of radio that provided that feeling of release.  It helped make time go faster while driving, to give us great songs to listen to that inspired us to keep on excelling.  Before television it gave us radio shows that inspired the brain with amazing stories that only our imaginations could visualize.  Without those radio shows we wouldn’t have had Star Wars or Indiana Jones.

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Then it changed.  With the invention of a device that became known across the world as a “Walkman” and became the defacto slang name for every portable music device until the invention of the .mp3 player.  Suddenly there was a device that could actually give your life a walking soundtrack.  Music to pass the time while you took the subway to work, biked to school, or had that second input jack so that girl you admired could listen to your latest mix tape.

It altered how we used music in our lives.  It became more personal.  Playlists became our generations mood ring and we now use those songs and movie themes to emphasize our daily lives.  Ringtones that resonate with our inner being.

For me nothing gets the blood pumping more than going for a nightly run listening to the score to my favourite horror movie.  A flicker of shadow or rustle of a plant in a dark abandoned city path can get your heart racing as your imagination fuels your base fears.  It pushes you to go faster, the pulsing beat of electronic terror.

Music guides your life.  It makes us dance.  It makes us cry.  It holds us back ,lost in key moments of our past, but it also drives us forward to explore new frontiers.

So what is the soundtrack to your life?

Overcoming Fear

There is nothing more terrifying that seeing a person engulfed in flames.  Watching them stumble around, arms flailing, until gravity finally wins and they fall to their knees in front of you submitting to their inevitable fate.  It’s something you never forget – even when it’s just staged on the set of a movie.

While a primal part of you is in awe at the fearsome sight of it, that same primal part has you recoiling in fear.  That’s because deep inside of you, your instincts know that even in the most controlled of environments the danger is still real.  One wrong move or forgotten layer of protection and the worst still can happen, even if you’re a stunt performer.

The hardest part is to be able to overcome fear and panic and remain calm during the chaos.  Stay levelheaded while others are losing theirs.  Now that doesn’t mean that you will stop feeling fear after a while, that’s the worst thing that can happen.  It’s good to be afraid, it’s healthy.  What I mean is that over time you learn to control it instead of it controlling you.

I find that one of the best ways to do this is to challenge yourself on something you’re afraid of, even if it’s minor.  Personally I’m deathly afraid of heights.  Now that fear of heights is also a primal instinct, some would call it a genetic memory, hailing from our primitive ancestors where like the monkeys of today we’d reach the top of a tree and realize there was no branch above to support us.  It’s that fear which seizes your stomach and begs you to grab ahold of something fast, hug it tight for all it’s worth and to not let go.  Kind of like love, just as dangerous but that’s  a different primal instinct.  So do I let that grip of fear control me?  No, not any more.  Over time i’ve challenged myself enough to be able to push back and maintain a rational calm while it tries to scream in my ear that “This is a really really bad idea!.”  After years of pushing myself the peak of overcoming my fear of heights came on a trip to Spain where I came across a metal pole that had been imbedded into a rock on a mountain edge for over 50 years.  It was a great view that I knew I couldn’t pass up so I grabbed onto it and leaned over the edge of that cliff.  It was scary yet liberating and I wish I had the photos to show that amazing view and the shot of me holding the metal bar while leaning over.

These baby steps work.  Even if two hours later I almost slipped and fell to my doom on that same mountain.  Note:  It took a week to get that dirt out from under my fingernails from stopping my slide over the edge and pulling myself back up onto that icy mountain path.

Now in a real crisis level event, no matter how much you’ve challenged yourself there is always a chance you will still freeze.  We’re only human and every person has something that their brains just won’t be able to handle at a certain time and moment.   So don’t be too hard on yourself if it happens.  After all in times of war sometimes the strongest men and women crack under the pressure only to be held together by that person who was afraid of their own shadow until the proverbial crap hits the fan.  It’s those moments that truly define you but luckily i’ve never seen true war and I hope I, and yourself, never have to.  Not that I haven’t felt the force of explosions and come close when a blank once misfired and ricocheted over my head (that’s why you never point guns at people, especially on a film set).

But in the scope of our everyday lives it can help you.  So climb that tree.  Ask that attractive woman with the tattoos out for drinks.  Grit your teeth and swallow that fear because you can control it even when you’re watching wooden shrapnel fly around you after some actor kicks open a door with enough force to shatter it (and you can’t make a sound or else you ruin the take).  Trust me.  And don’t let that attractive woman try to talk you into getting any random tattoos – At least not until she at least buys you a few drinks first.

Misinterpretation and Human Nature

As the old adage supposedly goes, “Music soothes the savage beast”.   Everyone knows it because everyone misquotes it.  And NO, for the fifty-seventh time, it wasn’t written by William Shakespeare.  Even Bugs Bunny, that wascally wabbit himself, misquoted the actual misquote when he looked at our childhood selves through the magic of television and proclaimed that “Music calms the savage beast”.

Originally penned by William Congreve in 1697 for his play “The Mourning Bride” the real quote goes “Music has charms to soothe the savage breast”.  So why is it that throughout time not only have we misquoted the original saying but even misattributed the person who wrote or was saying it?  Is it human laziness that leaves us unwilling to try and discover the truth behind what we hear and see as being correct?  Was it censorship of a North American culture that couldn’t handle the word breast in a quotable saying?  Or is it our trust that the quote was always written that way and we just accept it as the truth?

In my opinion I feel that part of it is our own desire to own the words that we say.  We adapt something to suit our current emotional or physical needs at any given moment, be it to impress someone we are attracted to, to intimidate someone or to make us sound like we’re smarter than we really are.   An example of this is the game “Telephone” (or “Chinese Whispers” as it once was known) that begins with one person whispering a message to the person standing next to them.  As the game progresses the message is whispered from person to person around the circle until it gets back to the original whisperer.   There is no winner to the game except to see how distorted the message is by the time it circles the entire group.  We want to own the words we speak and make them ours; so we try to embellish what we say or censor a word we are too prudish to repeat.  Sometimes we just aren’t paying attention to the words that are being spoken and instead are paying attention to another part of the whisperer’s anatomy.  Like the curvy bits.  We all like the curvy bits.  This brings us into the next reason we tend to misinterpret the things we hear or read: distortion and distraction.

Imagine this.  We are standing in a crowded room.  All around us music is playing and the background noise is roaring all around us.  That’s when somewhere nearby we hear a snippet of a conversation that we suddenly find interesting.  It strikes a chord with us.  Maybe it had something to do with those curvy bits we’ve been hearing about.  Only we didn’t catch the entire phrase because something had distracted us.  Either we were half-drunk, busy dancing or even ignoring that person until after an hour of them droning on they finally said that one lone thing that caught our attention.  So what happens next?  Easy, our minds fill in the blanks to the best of our ability.  We’ve all seen those Facebook posts sent to us from the best friend of your sister’s roommate’s cousin that show us how we miraculously put together sentences with missing words in our heads.  You know this because you scored a 9 out of 10 on it last week and are secretly proud of that achievement.  Congratulations “Music has charms to soothe the savage breast” has just become “Music soothes the savage beast!” and we’ve come full circle.

To put that into a context we can easily identify with we’ll look at how the lyrics to our favourite songs tend to be the first casualties of misquotation, especially when we’re not paying attention.  Listen to Creedence Clearwater Revival’s song Bad Moon Rising.  Hear it playing in the background and practice some impromptu juggling while it plays.  Odds are that by the time you’ve finally gotten to the chorus you’ve had to restart your juggling attempt at least twice and somehow managed to knock over your nearby coffee mug.  So while you are mopping liquid off the floor chances are that in the background the chorus will start to sing to you that “There’s a bathroom on the right!” and you will believe them.  That is a prime example of our minds trying to fill in the blanks in what we think we hear when the message gets distorted.

This example applies to everything we see or hear in life and is the main reason that we should take the extra time to make sure that our messages are clear and concise.  Not just in music or literature but in everything you say.  Fights have been started in crowded bars for less and we all know that the most general miscommunication in the office occurs when you use the wrong enunciation or emotional emphasis on a word or sentence.  That “breast” might become “beast” and then chances are you’re going to get hit for it (or charged).  Although to be honest, chances are you were going to get hit, sued or charged anyway for saying it.  It is after all, human nature and could be the difference between solicitation and bestiality.  So just practice what you preach and if you are worried that what you say might be misinterpreted you can always  grab some friends and Telephone it around the circle for safety.