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Fame, interactive ads, and online reputation

As marketers try to find ways to join the conversation enabled by social media, they face the challenge of scale. The virtual third space is becoming increasingly fragmented, to the point that engaging into every single thread of discussion pertinent to your business is no longer practical. In that scenario, can you meet the expectations of a target audience increasingly craving for individual attention? Can you effectively manage your online reputation?


Brian Solis and Jesse Thomas summarized the extent of the online conversations in the social web nicely in their conversation prism graphic:
Going through the petals of the chart above, it’s evident that the online chatter is much bigger than just Facebook, MySpace, and Twitter. And it’s not getting any smaller.
In his best-seller book Here Comes Everybody, Clay Shirky pointed out that the web did not completely flatten publishing and broadcasting, as fame gets in the way of the elusive many-to-many communication nirvana:

The Web makes interactivity technologically possible, but what technology giveth, social factors taketh away. In the case of the famous, any potential interactivity is squashed, because fame isn’t an attitude, and it isn’t technological artifact. Fame is simply an imbalance between inboud and outbound attention, more arrows pointing in than out.

That imbalance can lead to unmet expectations on both sides: companies being frustrated by trying to join an ever growing number of online social spaces and customers demanding individual attention they can’t possibly get.
To mitigate this issue, some organizations have been relying on interactive or personalized online video ads that provide a middle ground between the one-size-fits-all model of traditional media and the many-sizes-fit-many model described by Chris Anderson in his book The Long Tail. Here are four examples:

Burger King and the Subservient Chicken

BurgerKingChicken.jpg
Launched back in 2004, this widely popular website (20 million hits within a week of launching, 14 million unique visitors in the first year) is still online after all these years. Its simplicity was captivating: a man in a chicken costume would perform actions based on what users asked him to do. It was based on pre-recorded footage, and more than three hundred commands were available. Sadly, it no longer reacts when you tell him to get a Big Mac.

Ms. Dewey

MsDewey.jpg
Ms. Dewey was launched two years ago as an experimental interface for Microsoft’s Live Search. If you search for “Tiger Woods”, Ms. Dewey may surprise you by making a comment about professional athletes before showing the results. Behind the scenes, the apparent interactivity is achieved via an algorithm choosing one of 600 video clips that may fit the keywords you entered.

Antarctica Beer and the Tatoo Ad

AntarcticaBeerTattooAd.jpg
As a friendly warning, know that this ad may be a bit too racy for some audiences. I like it for both the humour and the perfect execution. In the future, expect to see even more sophisticated techniques, mixing custom audio or even images with pre-defined content. You can find a rough translation from Brazilian Portuguese to English for the full video in my personal blog.

MoveOn.org Viral Video

MoveOnVoter.jpg
This blog post was actually drafted before the US elections, but I preferred to not publish it back then, as the intent was to discuss interactive ads, not to favour one candidate or the other. MoveOn.org effectively used this personalized video showing the November 4th election being decided by a single voter, whose name is digitally inserted in newspapers titles and video captions.
Interactive videos of course can only go so far. As the amount of user-generated content skyrockets, better tools will become available to marketers for following conversations, detecting trends and managing your company’s reputation.
Living in exponential times entails developing exponential listening and conversational abilities, for both companies and individuals alike. It’s going to be a bumpy ride, but you certainly can enjoy all the fun along the way.

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Aaron Kim

Aaron Kim is the Head of Digital Social Collaboration at the Royal Bank of Canada, and led the efforts to bring social business and social collaboration to an organization of 79,000 employees. He’s also been a public speaker at several events across the globe, from the Web 2.0 Expo to JiveWorld, from Singapore to Barcelona. He has a passion for innovation and for making work smarter, more meaningful and rewarding to all. Born and raised in Brazil, to a Korean father and Japanese mother, he also volunteers in several diversity initiatives, inside and outside RBC. In the past, he worked as a consultant both at IBM Canada and Unisys Brazil, having played the roles of solutions architect, Basel II analyst, performance engineer, Java programmer, Unix administrator and environmental biologist. He holds an MBA from the University of Toronto, and a bachelor’s degree in Biology from the Universidade de São Paulo. He lives in Toronto, Canada, is married to Tania and have a son, Lucas.

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