Gaming the System?

November 26, 2007

The pre-cursor to getting people to stick around on your site is obviously to get them there in the first place. As we all know, most of us are a mere blip in a giant universe of electronic noise. I note with interest, therefore, a bit of a ding-dong happening at Techcrunch over a post by Dan Ackerman Greenberg following his outlining of the methods his marketing company takes to ‘help’ a video become viral.

What I find interesting about this is that, apart from the fact you never normally hear such honesty, the techniques he describes for garnering interest are nothing new. Sure, we’d all like to think that the ‘net was somehow much more pure back in the day, but the reality is is that offline marketing techniques have simply switched online and have done so for a long time. Ever seen a print advertorial? How about news items that are clearly just press releases? Ever received a free-sample of something or trial products to use at your club or society? Remember the ‘Gabbo’ advertising from the Simpsons (which a number of books and films had used in real-life). Or let’s go back further still: ever think that the first audience member at a sale or market isn’t just the brother of the seller? Ever been to a nightclub and wondered why there were three or four people always first out on the floor (paid by the club to seed the dancefloor).

Personally I’d love more of a ‘fair-go’ for those of us with limited resources and budget. A happy chance of random encounters with whatever media we choose to produce. Fact is there probably isn’t a lot of interaction you can have with any product on or offline without your actions having been ‘influenced’ to a degree. The classic and best examples would be supermarkets and big-box retailers.

The noise over at TC will fade away, and the cynic in me thinks that Mr Greenberg may have pulled off one of the best promotional coups of his career. For the rest of us, we have to deal with living in the self-promotion society we find ourselves and deal with it accordingly.

So, enjoy your Soulja Boys and your Teen-15s over at YouTube, but remember .. there’s a pretty good chance you will have been helped along the way to find them!


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