Contrary to the phrase coined by Marshall McLuhan in the 1960’s, the medium is no longer the message. Take print for example, the once holy grail of advertisers is once again becoming a vehicle to deliver advertising to the masses but not in the form of ink. According to The Gaurdian,Â Entertainment Weekly magazine is about to debut two video-in-print advertisements in the September issue of the publication for subscribers in the Los Angeles and New York areas. These auto-play videos will come in the form of tiny cell screens that will display short clips when the magazine is open to that page; similar to greeting cards that play a tune when you open them. Advertisers CBS and Pepsi will promote various products in the micro-video ads and are hoping to target their messages to people who enjoy getting their entertainment information from print. But are they going too far? Clearly the novelty of the medium can be a good thing and to be honest, I can’t wait to get my issue in the mail. But the message in these videos had better be pretty entertaining for readers like me not to get annoyed that advertisers snuck in a video in their favorite magazine. Recently I had the pleasure of going to AMC theaters to watch “Inglorious Basterds” and was not shocked to see television commercials being played before the movie previews. The first one was for Starburst and I have to admit, it was entertaining and funny, so I gave them a hearty thumbs up. The next two were pretty lame, which led me to direct my displeasure at both AMC and the advertisers. I say if you’re going to shove advertisements in front of unsuspecting faces, you’d better at least give your audience something more than a sales pitch. But I suspect that television commercials running before movie trailers will become the norm unless people start to complain about them, or ignore them. In regard to the micro-videos, Clickz says this may be a moment in history akin to the old VW lemon ad that supposedly marked a change in how advertising agencies got their message across to the masses. According to Clickz,Â “We can start sprinkling interactive experiences all over the place.” I say, please don’t! We already have enough “sprinkling” of advertising out there. In fact, so much so sometimes I even step in it. Outdoor media companies like Clearchannel and CBS have a networks of digital billboards all over Los Angeles. Drivers and pedestrians rubberneck to see the scrolling ads that flash full color messages even in the light of day. Digital billboards are not new, but they are novel. Now, you can expect to see a proliferation of next-generation media coming at a (fill in the blank) near you. Will this mark a new era of in-your-face advertising? Or will it be accepted as the norm as advertisers continue to find innovative ways to get advertising messages in front of you? I believe it will depend not on the vehicles (billboards, in-print videos, etc.) but on how entertaining or interesting the ads are and if viewers get some kind of value out of them. Will advertisers give viewers something to ignore, or will they offer up something of interest? If advertisers want to continue their conquest of innovative media, I would suggest they focus on the latter.
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