Saturday, February 21, 2009

Book Review

Title: Advertising 2.0: Social Media Marketing in a Web 2.0 World

Author: Tracy Tuten

Published in 2008

While most of this book focuses on the marketing potentials of Web 2.0 tools, there is some information on games as advertisements that I found interesting. This post will focus on those parts of this book.

Today, some of the most valuable advertising methods are practically free. They're no longer one-way messages. They engage and interact with their audience, brands invite consumers to participate. Brands must strive to make their messages personally relevant to consumers. One way of doing this is through games.

The book does not contain many examples of the techniques it describes. One example is when Chrysler sent out a quiz "game" asking "what is your travel personality?" A number of companies and bands have successfully used advergames to market a product or album. Nine-Inch-Nails hosted an Alternate Reality Game (ARG) to promote an upcoming album. It was pretty intense and started with their European tour t-shirts having certain letters highlighted, which spelled out "I am trying to believe," which led fans to go to" which had clues to continue the game. Everything was mixed between online and real-world. A thumb drive was intentionally left in a concert bathroom that just had one track from the upcoming album followed by static. Players used high-tech software to unscramble the static to find a hidden message... obviously players must cooperate to share all of this information. The game was reported to be a success.

Games can be turned into Facebook applications. I quickly checked this out and you seem to be able to turn a .swf (Flash) file into a widget on Widgetbox. I assume this is easy, but haven't tried it yet.

Brands should strive for high levels of "stickiness," which is "the degree to which the message inspires action." Games can be a successful way to market because they have a high amount of stickiness and most Americans play some type of video game, even if it is just "casual games." Brands are also sponsoring games, or placing ads within major games. Games can be as
simple as Chrysler's "what is your travel personality" quiz, which was supposedly successful.

Overall, I thought this was an excellent book. It does not provide very many examples, but it does describe enough material that was new to me to spark many ideas. It is intended for for-profit institutions rather than specifically for libraries, so a library reader will have to adapt the information to a non-profit setting themselves. The book is careful to note that before a brand dives into any of this, it must commit to high quality and must "embrace" all consumer opinions, good and bad. Each chapter ends in a list of questions a company should ask before getting involved with this type of marketing.

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