Free Vending With Video

Posted: May 12, 2007 in Advertising

Lots of advertising is pretty much inescapable. More websites have what I think of as the “interruption site” between you and the content you want. The interruption site is always an ad for something and is about as intrusive as a pop-up. Usually you can click through without hesitation and move on. Ads at the beginning of DVDs are sometimes really obnoxious (I’m not referring to the movie trailers). The worst offender in recent memory is Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest, which must go on for over five minutes. Some locations, such as sports stadia and arenas; Times Square in NYC; South Beach, Miami; or nearly all of Tokyo, Japan; are cornucopias of blinking, glitzy, neon overstimulation. One has to tune out almost everything just to stay sane. Advertising drives at capturing the eyeballs and attention of people (think of them as sales marks), even if only for a couple seconds. A static print ad apparently isn’t riveting enough, so videos and TV-style commercials of 15 or 30 secs. are preferred. The idea has been implemented in Japan by inserting video screens in drink vending machines that give away free drinks. The novel inducement is an obvious one: give away the product in exchange for showing an ad.

Far from disapproving (as I usually do), this seems to me a far better exchange than the interruption site or the deluge of unfocused advertising because the free drink compensates the viewer/sales mark for his or her time and is more nearly voluntary. Advertising is rarely cheap, but this arrangement also makes it clear that the financial burden is on the advertiser. Time spent watching ads isn’t cost-free (especially if there’s a queue), but no one is held hostage. I don’t know whether free vending with video will catch on, though. Once people learn that a give-away is available, I can well image the machines being emptied quickly and routinely.

  1. greywhitie says:

    now, the question is: is 30 seconds of your time worth a savings of 80 yen? if you’re on the clock during that waiting time, then i suppose that a free drink is worth waiting around for the ad to run. the drink company can rake in some hefty profits from the advertisers!

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