ivan's blog

Dreamhost site of the month

Dreamhost site of the monthWOW! I just learned that Ads of the World has won the Dreamhost site of the month award! Thank you all for the votes!

And this comes at a time when several big news sites linked the site including Stylegala and Pixelsurgeon. Hope the server can keep the slashdotting whopping 50K page loads a day.

Too bad I don't have time to fix those few annoying bugs on the site that keep it from validating.



Virals are great. They break rules that traditional media imposes on advertisers. You can do sex, violence, racism to an extent and anything that would be a no go in national TV. Actually the more shocking the faster it spreads. The more your audience is outraged the better it works. Whether it does any good to your brand is a different question. You can see some examples right on this site.

They usually spread through personal channels. Mainly email. Friends, collegues and relatives are sending them to each other. Therefore such messages have a personal attachment to them by default. If it's good it becomes a topic of discussion.

However no matter how effective tool viral marketing is, without a good measure of it's success there is little chance a major client would buy into the idea of doing a viral ad. This is where Viralchart comes into the picture. You can add a sprite to your viral videos or games that will enable Viralchart to track your video being played, no matter if it's posted on a blog like Ads of the World or opened as an email attachment.

Unfortunately it won't work with press ads and I don't see how it can be done effectively. One simple way would be to embed the images into a flash or Quicktime movie. Of course it will only last until someone makes a screen grab.

Best rejected advertising

Marithe & Francois Girbaud last supper

Good advertising is always going to be about pushing the limits. About destroying taboos and reviewing old conceptions. However, if you look around the world you will find that over top is a very relative term.

While farting is perfectly ok, showing tits is a categorical no in the USA. Ironically in France the opposite is true. Interestingly a rather innocent beer ad would be definitely banned in Saudi Arabia or neighbouring states, not only because it advertises alcohol, but more importantly because it showcases evolution. However, the most brutal violence on TV or the cinema is ok to show even to small children.

Luckily on the internet with an exception of a very few topics almost everything goes. If you are interested what ads got banned and rejected visit the site Best rejected advertising (via Goodness).


An advertising team is working very late at night on a project due the next morning. Suddenly, a Genie appears before them and offers to each of them one wish.

The copywriter says: “I’ve always dreamed of writing the great American novel and having my work studied in schools across the land. I’d like to go to a tropical island where I can concentrate and write my masterpiece.”

The Genie says, “No problem!” and poof! The copywriter is gone.

The art director says: “I want to create a painting so beautiful that it would hang in the Louvre Museum in Paris for all the world to admire. I want to go to the French countryside to work on my painting.”

The Genie says, “Your wish is granted!” and poof! The art director is gone.

The Genie then turns to the account executive and says, “And what is your wish?”

The account executive says, “I want those two assholes back here right now.”

Via Abdul Rehman's blog.

Out of Beta

The site is six weeks old and I can happily say it's out of Beta. For sure this doesn't mean that everything works as intended, but all major bugs are fixed and all functionality I planned for is in place. There are three small things I still want to address.

The first task will be to make ALL pages valid, because currently they are not. These are small syntax errors, which do not affect the user experience in any way, but still bug me.

The other thing is a midly confusing experience on the video pages. When the user clicks the thumnnail it should start playing the video rather than just reloading the page. This is counter intuitive and will be fixed hopefully soon.

The last thing concerns my "favorite" browser Internet Explorer, which displays the news page slightly incorrectly for a reason I don't yet understand.

Thanks for the amazing interest (300K page loads) and the great feedback! Love ya.

What's up?

I'd like to test a new feature on Ads of the World. I collected several advertising blog feeds from around the world to give you a quick update on what is happening in the industry. It's updated automatically and gives you the links to the original sources. Check out News.

If you'd like to suggest a feed please do so. Also, let me know if you find this feature useful.

AotW / Dreamhost promotion

Ads of the World and it's hosting company Dreamhost brings you a discount promotion.

If you subscribe to Dreamhost now you get US$80 off from your yearly price. So you get 1 year of hosting with Dreamhost for US$40 instead of the normal price of US$120. That's only like US$3.3/month and read on what you get for this money:

  • LAMP – Linux, Apache, MySQL and PHP.
  • One free domain name – convenient if you want to start a new site.
  • Unlimited domains – run all your websites from this single account.
  • 4.8GB of space – plenty for almost any need.
  • 120GB bandwidth – extremely generous.
  • Unlimited MySQL databases – great freedom for testing.
  • WebDAV – mount your webserver like it was an iPod besides FTP.
  • One click installation of a number of different web site engines, such as WordPress, Mambo CMS, phpBB forum, Menalto gallery and several others.
  • Shell access – full control over your server for pro users.
  • Dreamhost wiki, forums and knowledge base are cover every possible topic you can come up with.
  • Very responsive customer support.
  • Showcase your new site through Dreamhost's site of the month programme.
  • Detailed stats about your site visitors.
  • Advanced control panel with Counter, Formmail, htaccess, Jabber IM, Streaming, Miva merchant, SolidComponents, Frontpage, Dreambook and many other services.
  • Ability to create new users to give access to different accounts – very useful if you're going to work with a third party and you want to give them temporary access to your server.
  • Plus, you are also supporting this web site, because I get a few dollars from Dreamhost for every new customer.

So, if you're in market for web hosting service, don't miss out on this opportunity to get this great service and also save some money. Just visit Dreamhost and sign up for one of their packages. The "Crazy Domain Insane" package is the best for a start to get all the above. Follow the instructions and enter the AOTW promotional code to take advantage of the instant 80USD discount.

I hope you like this offer and do ask if you have any questions.

21 days: 100K page loads

What can I say. I'm flattered.

I received dozens of kind emails saying that you enjoy Ads of the World. I received several dozens of submissions. Although commenting is allowed for non-registered users — 85 readers still decided they want to enjoy the enhanced experience that comes with registration. The site received more than one hundred thousand page loads from more than 40 thousand unique visitors in the first three weeks of operation.

The creative ideas expressed in these ads are short bursts of human ingenuity

This level of success is really unexpected and I thank you so much for all this attention. This interest inspires me to keep going and to work further on improving the site.

I'm really happy to be able to share my passion and interest in great advertising with you. I see that many realize that these ads are not just commercial byproducts of our commercialized life. The ideas in these ads talk about the societies we live in. They are based on original insights and sharp observations. They express universal truths. It's contemporary poetry. It's the art of our time.

The key to enjoying life is to find the beauty in life. The creative ideas expressed in these ads are short bursts of human ingenuity. One can not help but admire the cleverness of these concepts. These outstanding ads celebrate the human intellect. The very thing that makes us human. Although watching ads may seem a waste of time for some, but if you do enjoy it you are one of those who understand the beauty of the idea and I'm happy to share this virtual corner of the world with you.

Revamped categories

Reworked the categories of industries. We've got more of them, better named and they cover all the different products and services advertised. Most notably Food, Alcoholic Drinks and Non-alcoholic drinks are separated from each other.

The only thing I can't figure out yet is where services like DHL would fit? Professional services? But than education is professional service as well, isn't it? Hmm..

The next task will be to find a nice way to link campaigns together. Also, flickr style taging was suggested by readers. Let me know if you have any other suggestions.

The ad conceptor

Your brief: product+tone+target

Check out The ad conceptor. The site is a humorous take on the industry and raises some interesting questions about how much of the creative process can you automate. On this site you have to select from a limited choice of product categories, tone of voices and target groups. In return you get an instant concept. Some of the ideas you get are quite good I must say, but of course they are prerecorded.

What if we were to try to make a machine that gives you realtime creative solutions that aren't prerecorded? Very difficult task. Besides the clever algorithms, the system would reqire constant input of social communication to keep the ideas fresh and relevant.

I think good advertising is a very difficult task to automate. Creative solutions by default should be new, so automated processes would need to have an amazing complexity to be even remotely comparable to human ideas.

However, I can see how a sophisticated AI could help the idea generation.

As a first step we could identify the types of ideas that make up 90% of good creative concepts. For example let's take one common tool that used in advertising to dramatize concepts: exageration. See a good example of this practice below for Matchbox.

Matchbox fly

The input sentence for the AI would be something like this: small toy car. The AI would take 4 steps to give you a concept:

1. Take any adjectives and find their opposites. In this case small will generate big, huge, monster, etc.

2. Take any nouns and find related words at least two levels deep. Car will generate wheel, hood, wiper, windshield, etc. On the second round windshield will generate glass, rain, bug, etc. It would run the same query on all nouns.

3. Generate a list of output sentences using the words generated in step one and two. Such as: big teddybear car and huge toy rain that mostly make no sense whatsoever.

4. Put images and words together based on the random senteces that it generated.

Finally, I don't see how the AI would be able to sort out which concepts make sense. A human would have to go through several dozens of nonsensical concepts that the AI generated and pick the one which has an idea in it. He would have to find the visual concept: monster windshield bug and execute it.

We could further enchance such a system to a level where the output is seemingly intelligent, but don't be afraid that your creative job is in danger any time in the near future.

If we look at the level of intelligence chatbots can do at this moment in time, it will take another 50 years till advertising professionals would have to start worrying of AI creatives replacing them.

Unfortunately that's not true for all professions. For example aeroplanes today can fly fully automated. If I were a pilot I would feel a bit frustrated.

Email this page

I've added a function, so that you can easily send any page you think your friend or collegue may find interesting by clicking the email this page link at the bottom of any page. Hope you will this feature useful.

Thank you for helping to spread the word about Ads of the World.

WOW -Thanks!

Just wanted to say that I really appreciate all the kind comments and encouragement. Seems like many of us share the passion for quality ads. We've got more than 15 thousand unique hits in the first 5 days of operation.

I never expected such a positive response in such a short time. I'm very grateful for all the material that has been sent. Keep it coming. If you come accross a smart ad, think of AotW.

Pygmalion effect

You must have heard of the Million Dollar Home Page by now. A 21 year old English guy had an awesome idea to create a medium that is a venue in itself. He's simply selling space on a web page 1$/pixel as advertising space. He has got 1 million pixels to sell, therefore he is planning to make 1 million dollars of advertising money on his webpage. The novelty of the idea draws traffic. And, like an accident on the road - traffic drives more traffic. And, where there is traffic - advertising space can be sold. It's a self fulfilling prophecy.

If you were wondering if he can make it, well he already sold 4% of the space, which made him 40 thousand american dollars. His site made into several blogs and even C|net. As the ultimate sign of success - he got a copycats: The Zero Dollar Homepage, Twenty Thousand Dollar Homepage, The Million Dollar Web, Million Euro Homepage, One Million Pixels and Million Penny Homepage. The ball is rolling and money is flowing.

Moral of the story. You can indeed make one million dollars with a 500 USD investment in the advertising business. All you need is a BIG IDEA!

Squashing bugs

Thank you all for reporting bugs. I've managed to fix a few, but I still have 1 major thing to do:

1. The upload is limited to 2MB, which is obviously too small for movies. I have to bump it to 20MB. I'm not sure if this is a php or Apache issue.

The upload limit has been raised to 7MB.

2. Win/IE and Win/FF displays the front page incorrectly.

I got rid of the details on the front page and bring the thumbs closer to each other vertically. I feel you get a much better overview of many thumbs at the same time, so you get a quick idea of what's new. Hovering over the thumbs will give you a note with the title. Hope it works for you.

3. Right sidebar goes over images in narrow windows.

Removed the right sidebar to give more space for the images on screens at 800px wide.

4. In Windows IE on the front page the right sidebar sometimes overlaps the main content. Weird CSS bug. Thanks for all the help on how to fix it. Working on it.

Managed to fix this issue by adding a conditional CSS for IE only. The layout is fixed (not fluid) for IE, but at least it works. I feel this is a clean solution and will be easy to update once IE7 comes out.

If you find something else please let me know!

Welcome to AotW


Ivan, that would be me.

Thank you for checking out Ads of the World. Let me say a few words about this project.


I always wanted a site that has an ever growing library of ads that is well organized and searchable by keywords. I really like and check out often the Lürzers Archive and read several Advertising blogs (I will post them all here later on). I also wanted to discuss ads, advertising trends and techniques with collegues around the world. I wanted a site that is free and community driven. There are many that can provide several of these things, but not any that has it all. So, I decided to try to set up a site like that myself.


Yes. It's still in Beta, so feel free to report any bugs. I know IE doesn't play well with the front page. Will work on it, until then get yourself a decent modern browser such as Firefox or Safari.

Please check out the about page to read about what the different parts of the site are all about.