Advertising as Entertainment
Social networking site Bebo and the creators of Lonelygirl15 - the teen video blog that turned out to be an actress with a script - are teaming up in Britain to make a spinoff that will serve as an advertising channel. Kate Modern, as it will be called, will be a 19-year-old art student living in London. She will post videos and have a profile on Bebo where users can interact with her and be exposed to advertisements.
So, why should you care about this?
The original Lonelygirl15 series has drawn more than 50 million hits online. That's 50 million opportunities for an advertising message for a bare minimum production cost - essentially a video camera and a computer. The interesting bit is that the creators of Kate Modern are flat-out telling the world that this fictional character is an advertising machine. And they feel that this radical transparency will reap big rewards.
The whole concept of advertising as entertainment benefits by the ease of access of online video. Most people would gladly watch a one- to two-minute advertisement if it provided some entertainment value, rather than a pre- or post-roll ad considered intrusive - a method Google is now testing with their online videos.
This mode of advertising brings up another advantage of the Web and a big plus for small business owners. The most popular videos online are, of course, user-generated - and they look like home movies. Web video brings reality TV to everyone online, capitalizing on people's natural voyeuristic tendencies. What this means is that you don't need a big budget, fancy equipment or hired actors to create a hit video. In fact, it's quite the opposite. And as long as you're providing entertainment or some education value, you stand a good chance of getting some really cheap advertising. It's a great way to bring your product to life and generate some real interest in your brand. For example, who knew Diet Coke and Mentos could be so much fun? There was no ad copy and no hard branding, but you can be sure that sales for both products soared as the result of one brief, grainy and entertaining online video.
Try it out. Find an angle to entertain or educate people, mix in your brand and see what happens. Just don't forget to show your viewers your website address early and often.