These are a few of my favorite things/marketing tactics

Scrabble is my favorite game in the world, because of Scrabulous. I had never played Scrabble before, but a friend invited me to play Scrabulous on Facebook and I was hooked. Scrabulous was the only game I ever played on Facebook and I remember the day it just disappeared without any explanation. I never actually knew about the legal battles surrounding it. I never knew that it wasn’t run by Hasbro. I was just disappointed that I couldn’t play it anymore. So instead, my friends and I bought secondhand copies of the original Scrabble game from Goodwill and started playing in person.

mcMac - normal: Srabulous is going away.Burby - surprised: But they have Amazing new features coming.mcMac - curious: Hasbro is shutting them down.Burby - scared: But that's my favorite game!! ARGH!!mcMac - normal: Perhaps the amazing new feature will be disappearing.Burby - surprised: No! Maybe Hasbro has bought them out?!mcMac - surprised: Focus Burby! This is the real world.Burby - normal: Doh! Oh well. That was my only reason for staying on FB.

After reading Qualman’s account in Socialnomics of Hasbro’s litigious reaction to the game, I am finding myself not wanting to support the company, which may be a little vindictive of me since it was early in the days of social media, and companies have really all had to adjust how they approach marketing. Social media simply has changed how we interact in most spheres, and it isn’t entirely fair to hold a company’s slow transition against them. But really, who wants to have anything to do with a company that punishes people for helping to promote their product?

As Qualman pointed out, Hasbro would have done better had they followed the examples of other companies and had endeavored to “beg, borrow and make better.” Hasbro could have taken a different tactic and been more successful. Companies need to adjust their thinking to understand that advertising happens differently through social media and their response needs to be about incorporating the efforts of their customers rather than attempting to control them.

It is interesting how even as companies are having to adjust their methods of advertising, they really don’t actually change. Qualman points out the rediscovered joys of product placement in his examination of ESPN’s fantasy football podcast. Basically, instead of commercials fully devoted to the product, it is becoming necessary to incorporate advertising into content that the customer actually wants to experience. It reminds me of eighties movies, where product placement was so blatant, though not obtrusive because it was incorporated into the content. Who can think of the movie ET without thinking about Reese’s Pieces?

Qualman posits that we may see a similar kind of product placement in E-books. Then not only would the story mention that the protagonist enjoys Diet Coke, but that it would have a link to take you to a website. I am happy to see that this idea has not come to fruition. While I think that advertising within enjoyable content is something that can be done well, there comes a point where I don’t want to be bothered by clunky advertising. If it infects my e-books, I think I will likely go back to buying giant mountains of books from Goodwill. Perhaps other people would not find it annoying, but the fact that this form of advertising has yet to transpire suggests that perhaps I am not alone in thinking that there needs to be a point where advertising stops.

Posted on October 20, 2013, in Social Media, Society. Bookmark the permalink. 9 Comments.

  1. evelynmartens13

    Yes, I do remember the Reeses Pieces product placement! It evoked memories of something to do with M&M’s, so I looked it up. M&M’s missed the boat because they were offerred the opportunity first and turned it down, and then sales for RP went up something like 65%. The execs at M&M didn’t quite “get” what product placement was. Great example of innovation and Qulaman’s concepts.

    Here’s a link to the RP versus M&M story:

  2. Thanks for your post! I hope we do not enter the age of advertisements in ebooks. If we are, I think it will take a while because people like me will refuse to buy ebooks and continue to purchase the traditional books. Enough is enough. I can take advertisements when I’m on the computer, but when I am engaged in a novel or textbook, I would prefer not to have the distraction of advertisements.

    • I totally agree. Even though a hyperlink is not that distracting, I still don’t want it. I like real books and it would be worth it to me to switch back in order to avoid such a ridiculous way of advertising.

  3. E-books are one area of technology that I have not adopted, and the discussion about advertisements makes me want to continue to steer clear of them! Realistically, though, how much would it distract me if certain terms were hyperlinked? It doesn’t bother me when reading content on a website, but perhaps I’m just used to it on websites. Would I (we) just get used to it in e-books?

    • I think we probably would get used to it. But, do we really need to? It reminds me of Anne of Green Gables and Dian’s clunky advertising for the Rolling Reliable baking powder company, Which makes me cringe in horror. It is possible, however, that I may be overreacting just a bit…

  4. I think your point about how some companies do not truly change, even though they may have changed their advertising techniques, makes a lot of sense. Qualman positions ESPN’s product placement incorporated into their podcast as a way to make consumers actually want to listen to and relate to commercials. It seems that underneath it all, though, this might actually just be a mechanism of forcing consumers to listen to commercials.

    • I think it does function that way, but that is the point of advertising, and personally, I don’t mind it as long as it fits into the content without being distracting. I do think that it is interesting that companies are having to reinvent old marketing strategies in order to effectively advertise with new technologies though.

  5. I think, like anything, some companies can do placement marketing better than others. We all like the more subliminal messaging, the ones we don’t even realize are happening, but the obnoxious ones stick in your mind just as easily. I have a Nook and even now, if I hold my finger down on a word, a pop-up screen will show up giving me the option to look up the word which then sends me to an online dictionary. I don’t use it very much but I like it when I need it. I kind of envision potential advertising in e-books to be similar to this but as someone else mentioned, will authors be tempted to over-load their books with this kind of placement to make more money? I agree that we are not ready to have advertising invade our books. At the end of the day, it is the advertising that pays the bills so I guess we are stuck with it for the duration in many other parts of our lives!

  6. I see I wasn’t the only one to hone in on the advertisements inside e-books. I personally haven’t adopted them yet, although we do have a Kindle… somewhere. Eventually, I probably will, and I would prefer it if the books are kept free from unwanted advertising. If people want to read a book, they should be able to without being bothered by ads.
    I studied advertising and psychology in college, and that experience has led me to dislike most advertising. I particularly dislike ads hidden in the content. These are ads that are read by the radio host and appear to be discussion or personal endorsement, or ads in magazines that look like articles. I feel like the approach is dishonest and misleading.

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