Posts Tagged ‘nontraditional advertising’

Google Gadget Ads

September 19, 2007

Google has announced a new advertising program: Google Gadget Ads, or, as Advertising Age put it, “AdSense, Now With Widgets.”

A little over a week ago I posted a quick entry about a new advertising program Google would be announcing. My post was almost all hyperbole, and as the days passed I lost my excitement. First, because I thought maybe it was just my geek side getting riled up. Second, because the news was released a few days after I thought it would be. But now the day has come and the more I think about it, the more I believe that if utilized to its fullest potential this addition to AdWords could eventually change the face of the web experience. Why?

1) Widgets enrich the web experience. Now advertisements don’t merely have to be flashy .swf files (ha! sorry, I couldn’t avoid the pun) or moderately interesting video ads (please don’t misunderstand me: there are some incredible flash and video ads), but rather ads can exploit the immense functionality of widgets. Imagine an ad for the newest pop musician that has tabs with YouTube videos, song previews, and a list of the most recent print/web news stories about that particular musician, all of which can be viewed without leaving the web page.

2) Widgets can instantly monetize advertising for companies (and increase instant gratification for the consumer). Because the placement of these ads will be powered by AdSense, we can assume that they will show up at (somewhat) relevant sites. Reading blogs about the upcoming season of Heroes? Maybe there is a widget ad on the blog your reading that displays current prices and the time remaining for EBay auctions for the season one DVD’s of ‘Heroes’. Or maybe you’re using Yelp to find a good Thai restaurant in your neighborhood. What if there is a widget ad for a Thai restaurant (that has rave reviews on Yelp) through which you can place your dinner order and have it delivered in the next thirty minutes?

3) Widget advertising has a social component: for instance, the widgets can be pasted on someone’s MySpace site, outside of Google’s normal distribution (if I understand the model correctly). That means you have guaranteed distribution through the AdSense network (where appropriate), but also the possibility of distribution through social networking sites, meaning the chance to spread your widget virally. And if you’re spreading things such as, say, a widget that searches and books Kayak flights among travel enthusiasts… then, wow.

I graduated with a degree in English, but I must say this: Don’t tell me that’s not hot.

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Advertising And Web 2.0: Toward An “Adventure Education Model” of Social Media

May 30, 2007

I need to preface this post by admitting that my understanding of adventure education should be considered (less than) entry-level; it is a field grounded in psychology that has been successfully applied to educational theory by many academics and professionals; being neither of those, I do not want to slight the tremendous work these people have done by pretending I’m an expert. Nonetheless, here is my analysis:

Adventure education, at its core, is experiential learning through social interaction. It is centered around games that are meant to require group participation, which in turn can develop leadership, problem-solving, teamwork and other skills. Most models of adventure education can be distilled into three distinct and sequential phases:

  1. The Goal
  2. The Experience
  3. The Debriefing

During the first phase, the goal of the game is established and a minimal amount of instructions are given (as well as safety information for ropes courses). During the experience, the teams do what they can to achieve the goal. The art, and true heart, of adventure education comes during the debriefing phase, wherein a team leader facilitates an in-depth discussion of what happened during the game, usually following a what/so what/now what progression: the facilitator asks for a brief summary of the experience, followed by questions about the significance of that experience, and then takes time on how to apply those lessons (it is critical to note that the facilitator leads this discussion through questions, and rarely offers his or her own opinions unless appropriate, since the aim is to lead a group through a thought-process to their own discoveries).

Many years ago, during a trip in Mexico, a group I was a part of had trouble working together, so the team leader took us through a “sherpa” exercise in a park. We closed our eyes and attempted to follow the leader by moving towards the sound of his intermittent hand claps. During the debriefing, we all voiced the frustrations we experienced during the exercise: some were speeding ahead, while others had lost their way and fell far behind. Eventually the leader mentioned that a couple of people at times momentarily stopped following the claps to search out and group with other team members nearby. As a group we realized we should all have done the same, since the goal of the game was to get safely and quickly to the finish line as a group, not as individuals.

A while later I was part of a club in school that I felt faced similar issues. To facilitate teamwork, a co-leader and I planned a weekend getaway, and one night I had a chance to lead the group through the “sherpa” exercise. During the debriefing, I tried to direct the conversation towards the subject of teamwork, but the participants kept talking about the issue of trust (such as, “I had to trust that you were leading us around the large pine tree, rather than into it”). Afterwards, I was disappointed and felt I failed to get my point across. In retrospect, I did fail to get my point across, but I should have realized the point was not mine to make: I should have taken the group’s point about trust and nurtured that line of thought instead.

With social media, we do not have control over content. As with adventure education, each person and group has their own subjective experience, so that in debriefing the subject matter will be the participant’s own. Similarly, in social media the consumer is in charge of the content, or what I called the “point” in the previous paragraph. We can no longer control the “meaning” of the advertisement anymore, but we may be able to set in place structures that allow us to facilitate and guide that meaning.

So what would an advertising campaign that utilizes the basic principals of adventure education look like? Check this out…

Once Again…

May 22, 2007

… let’s take a moment to remind ourselves: know your audience. It doesn’t hurt to repeat: know your audience. Know your audience. Know your audience. Know your audience.

I came across an article from the New York Magazine titled “Publisher Struggles to Get Anyone to Notice Its Innovative Gorilla Marketing.” Evidently to coincide with the release of author Steven Hall’s novel The Raw Shark Texts, Canongate (the publisher) created an alternate reality game that utilizes MySpace, YouTube, etc. So far, not many people have noticed (or cared). Publisher Weekly reported that booksellers are even handing out cards to customers to generate interest. Since I am not familiar with the book, I may be wrong, but it seems that the market for which this book would appeal does not overlap with the market of people interested in these types of games. For instance, it was sci-fi fans and movie buffs that made the A.I. campaign/game ‘The Beast’ so popular; a group of fans even formed a network called ‘The Cloudmakers‘ to solve the mystery of Evan Chan’s death, a network that at its peak consisted of approximately 7,000 people. I doubt high(er)-brow, contemporary fiction readers spend much time on MySpace, or would want to slog through that and other websites to complete this new alternate reality game.

So again: know, remember, keep in mind, always be aware of your audience.