Matthew T Grant


Tall Guy. Glasses.

The Concept of Ad Space Hits a Pinnacle of Ridiculosity

Checked out a story on the New York Times site. It looked like this:

banner example

I know you can see Ford’s prominently displayed banner, but you’ll also notice a wee-little banner up in the right-hand corner.

If you can’t really tell what it’s for, here’s a closer look (more or less actual size):

lame banner

I don’t know how much the distributors of The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus paid for that (it was undoubtedly part of a package deal), and maybe a banner ad that obscure gets some clicks (can anyone out there provide stats on the effectiveness of something like this?), but I can’t help seeing the decision to sell that tiny bit of white space, let alone the willingness to buy it, as an act of desperation and a harbinger of worse to come.

With Google Sidewiki, Who needs AdWords?

At the Community Roundtable lunch with the King and Queen Arthurs thereof, Jim Storer and Rachel Happe, and we were talking about Google Sidewiki and Jim asks, “I wonder if you can add Sidewiki comments to a search results page?”

Well, Jim, it looks like you can!

So, here’s the rub. Why would anyone buy AdWords henceforth (or, rather, once Sidewiki is more widely adopted)?

Or is this all part of Google’s fiendish plan?

Product Placement in the Real World

Another blast from the past, originally published on Aquent’s Talent Blog, December 11, 2006. Summary: Advertisers must consider “all the world’s a stage” and manufacture ubiquitous product placement.

2534254541_06b30f2c59_m“As a result of the growing popularity of consumer-generated pictures, videos and e-mail messages on Internet sites like YouTube and Myspace, advertisers are getting consumers to essentially do their jobs for them,” according to this New York Times article which focuses on the emergence of Times Square as “a publishing platform.”

In brief, thanks to the ubiquity of digital cameras and the rise of user-generated and social networking sites, marketers are finding that “experiential marketing” (aka, “publicity stunts“), such as Charmin’s fancy public restrooms, are growing long legs on the Web. These restrooms alone, “[u]sed by thousands in Times Square [were] viewed by 7,400 Web users on one site alone.”

While this raises a lot of interesting questions about the meaning of “product placement” and whether or not advertisers should start courting, and compensating, particularly popular or prolific private citizens for featuring their products on Flickr and YouTube, I was particularly struck by the formulation “getting consumers to essentially do their jobs for them.” Now it is certainly the case that YouTubers and Flickr-ers are, wittingly or un-, doing things that benefit advertisers and the brands they promote. But so is anyone wearing a t-shirt with a visible logo.

It is not the job of advertisers to wander around the city in sandwich boards; it is their job, however, to come up with novel ways of getting brand-specific messages out to the world. If they create a spectacle noteworthy enough to generate spontaneous buzz promoted by random individuals, then they have done exactly what they are supposed to do. In fact, by now, I’d be astonished if the folks who conceived of and executed these events weren’t planning on a significant “web” effect. In a sense, if no one had posted this stuff to the Web, then you could rightly accuse advertisers of shirking.

Or do I, and not the paper of record, misunderstand what advertisers are supposed to do?

Image Courtesy of funadium.