Nov 8, 2017

Six second ads and consumers

Seems like the whole of advertising industry is moving towards shorter ad formats. Driven primarily by behemoths YouTube and Facebook, and taken up by other digital publishers, even TV is embracing six seconders as the next big thing. Is this just us admitting to the fact that consumer attention spans are rapidly shrinking or just that we can't be bothered to properly craft the story with the time and attention it deserves or maybe a combination of both?

There's definitely a strong case which can be made for the six-seconder. A brand which has already reached threshold levels in awareness may benefit by using it to amp up the frequency, and thereby, top-of-mind recall - major FMCG brands being an obvious example. There are also many brands with creatives which are worth watching over and over, in infinite loops of six seconds each. But when everyone jumps on the bandwagon, I'm not too hopeful the thinking will last, and we will end up being pummelled by them.

In a hyper-fragmented landscape of infinitely scrolling timelines and unlimited media choices, the primary benchmark by which creative and media efficacy should be measured is very simple - relevance. Are we reaching the right audience in the right context and telling her a story that she finds useful, and maybe even enjoys? Chances are, she will appreciate the effort and remember us for it. Or would we rather cop out and hope that she forgives us the six second intrusion, since there's so much less of it to hate?

Jul 15, 2017

Perspective is everything

The new job now takes me on a longer commute, through the insane Bangalore traffic at rush hours. Having avoided it for the last three years, thanks to Namma Metro, this was something I was dreading.

Podcasts to the rescue. There's nothing better than Radiolab and This American Life, with Snap Judgement and The Moth sprinkled in for good measure, to help endure the never-ending, bumper-to-bumper traffic and the ensuing road rage. I would strongly recommend these and a few others (refer sidebar for links) to make time on the road a little more bearable.

As Rory Sutherland so eloquently puts it in this video, perspective is everything.

Nov 24, 2015

Raspberry Pi 2 : Getting started

Not having played around with Linux for a long time, I finally decided to set up a Raspberry Pi 2 project. For $35, this tiny computer does pack a punch. This spec sheet details out everything. You can basically set up a small web, mail, or home automation server and more.

My idea was to turn it into a VPN gateway that sits between my TV and home router and serve up a US IP through OpenVPN. This will basically let me stream Netflix or Hulu directly on the TV, without the need of Miracast or DLNA devices/software.

Having dabbled with OpenVPN and basic routing when setting up my VPS, this was fairly straightforward. I was inspired by this Makezine guide, which used two Wifi dongles - one for connecting to the local network and the other for hosting the VPN access point. Picking the correct dongles is also important; it would need to support the soft AP function. I used an Edimax EW-7811 Un and a Tenda W311MI. Both are fairly cheap and robust, although the Edimax one seems to drop a lot of packets.

In addition to stock Raspbian (a Debian-based distro, optimized for Raspberry Pi), you would also need to install hostapd which will turn the dongle into an AP and also dnsmasq for basic DHCP and DNS for clients connecting to the AP. Once done, you would need to use iptables to do the routing, which basically takes the traffic from the wifi subnet and forwards it to the VPN tunnel. Any client connecting to the AP will have a public IP address of the VPN server.

Performance in terms of VPN throughput remains a concern. My Android phone, connected to the VPN directly, gives 18 Mbps down, whereas the Raspberry AP only gives 3 Mbps. Many discussions suggest this could be due to a bottleneck, as the Ethernet and USB ports share the same interface and the traffic has to traverse the bus twice. Switching the inbound interface from USB to Ethernet didn't improve the situation either; some commenters also suggest that the CPU itself could be a problem. However, 'top' didn't reveal much load on the CPU.

3 Mbps is barely enough to provide a SD stream, so HD is pretty much impossible. Still needs some digging around to identify where the bottleneck is. Even so, I would consider this project a 'fruit'ful one.

With the case open

Up and running