Monday, September 10, 2007

USA Today Debuts Widgets

USA Today Debuts Widgets
Friday, Sep 7, 2007 6:00 AM ET

USA Today is offering readers the ability to install "widgets" on their blogs and personal Web pages that contain news updates and other information from the newspaper.

Widgets are a Web accessory that people are using in rapidly growing numbers to jazz up their home pages, blogs and profiles on social networking platforms like Facebook or MySpace. They are aimed at making money through advertising offered on them, though no advertisers have signed up so far, USA Today spokeswoman Alex Nicholson tells The Associated Press.
The newspaper's widgets are compatible with many blogging platforms and social networking sites, including Facebook, MySpace, Blogger, Typepad and Google Inc.'s iGoogle.
The first three USA Today widgets are all related to travel. The ones to be offered in coming weeks will have news on pop culture, top headlines and celebrities and informational graphics like those that run on the paper's front page.--Tanya Irwin
buzz this Avatars to Star in Taco Bell Ad Avatars to Star in Taco Bell Ad 
by Karl Greenberg, Friday, Sep 7, 2007 6:00 AM ET

TACO BELL HAS CHOSEN THREE fans to star as virtual actors in an ad for "Fourthmeal," the late-night meal between dinner and breakfast, set to debut worldwide during the 2007 MTV Video Music Awards on Saturday.
The winners were chosen as part of Taco Bell's "TV Me!" contest, in partnership with Gizmoz and MTV. Gizmoz is an online program that enables people to create avatars of themselves. In less than two weeks, consumers created more than 17,000 Gizmoz clips, which were viewed more than 920,000 times.
The contest, launched in early July, earned each of the 3-D animated talking actors 30 seconds of air time during MTV's music awards show. Following the debut on the VMAs, the winning auditions can be viewed on
Using's photo-realistic avatars, consumers were asked to audition by uploading a digital photograph. The Gizmoz program creates a 3-D lifelike head and personalized body. Consumers could also record their voices for their 15-second, lip-synched audition. Contestants were judged on personality, originality, overall appeal and ability to express themselves.
Irvine, Calif.-based Draftfcb created the TV spot, and added the winning avatars into the "World Stops for Fourthmeal" environment. The 15-second spot will run first, followed by the debut of the new spot that includes the three winners. Karl Greenberg can be reached at
buzz this