Friday, December 01, 2006

i n t e r a c t i v i t y

As a college student, an equestrian, and a female, I know all about competition. Essentially the world is just in a state of heightened competition that will only keep growing. Colleges are harder to get into (and more expensive, cough cough), ribbons are harder to win, good men are harder to catch, and media is harder to differentiate. But we all stand up to the plate when it comes time to bat. Media has twisted and turned into guerilla, viral, and attention-demanding marketing. The central link that holds together these new faces of media is i n t e r a c t i v i t y.

There's so many ways media is exploring interactivity and agencies are only getting more and more creative with the expanded competition. The level of involvement the ketchup packets obtain from users is through asking the audience to take an action. It's not just something to look at, watch or ignore. It's a small but potent experience. And the Pilot watch uses a different technique. They don’t demand anything from the customer. Rather, they take an action the consumer will most likely be doing anyway, and expand on it. By taking this small but habited action, you are immediately in the ad without having to step outside your normal, everyday activities.

Netflix used a different and more conventional tactic in getting their audience involved. It was the good, old prize incentive. While this method is by no means new or original, it's definitely a classic way to get the audience completely involved with the brand. Hastings, Neflix chairman and CEO, told the New York Times, “The beauty of the Netflix prize is you can be a mathematician in Romania or a statistician in Taiwan, and you could be the winner." When Saatchi & Saatchi used life-size cut outs of men urinating all over New York City, it's effectiveness gained ground in the competitive battle for consumers’ attention. If the consumer wanted to know what this figure was all about, they had to physically walk up to the "guy" and read his shirt. This doesn’t demand anything of the consumer, but rather simply draws them in with the need-to-know factor. If they want to be "in the know" they have to take the steps toward the cut out.

Similar to the peeing cut out campaign, the sidewalk lined with crosses asks the public to read to find out. However, the crosses are below eye lever and I feel this makes them less demanding of the passerby. Of course, it ultimately depends on the lifestyle of the consumer and state they're in at the moment their passing by, which is an unavoidable factor in consumer behavior. There is a very thin line between demanding too much and not demanding enough. The best way to avoid this line is the customization option. Allowing customers to personalize their product or even player (as seen in the Northwest Airline advergame) can only lead to positive associations. Who doesn't want to give their plane a 1970s afro? Customization is one of the best ways to cut through the competition and land on top.

Customization comes in all shapes and sizes as we see with the Durex Dickorations. While they might be a bit personal and invasive to some, the generation that's pulling through the new millennium is much more comfortable with sexuality. And lets be honest, these Dickorations and Durex condoms in general are not aimed at senior citizens. Lastly, I can't discuss interactivity without talking about viral videos. I have to admit, I'm not a huge watcher yet but after this assignment, I've been to almost daily. It's an amazing technique to use especially since our generation is such heavy television users. We adore media that accesses more than just one of the senses.

In conclusion, as the world grows into an elevated state of competition, interactive media is one of the best ways to open doors between media and customers. It effects our level of awareness, the media used by agencies, and, most importantly, our perception of products, companies, and ideas. Our generation is jam-packed with experiencers (from VALS). Interactive and viral marketing ask the consumer to come into the ad and make it more than just an ad, make it an experience. To flip the scales, blogs are a picture perfect example of the new wave of interactivity. Our wonderful world wide web has become a community of communicators and what we used to simply read has now become an experience to take part in.