Nowhere is safe from ad creep

No matter where you turn these days, it's hard to avoid ad creep. You cannot escape it.

Today reports that ads will be coming to US supermarket conveyor belts at the checkout. Currently most of the grocery stores are still testing, and the majority of advertisers are local.

Alltel, the nation's fifth-largest wireless company, based in Little Rock, is the first major advertiser to buy conveyor ads, though the company said it's limited in how it can use the medium. "It really only works to raise brand awareness," said Andrew Moreau, VP-corporate communications. "You can't promote on it and can only change the message every two weeks. In our business, it's hypercompetitive in pricing but it's too difficult to get a pricing message on something like this. It's much easier to change a newspaper or online ad."

Thankfully you can pile all your groceries on the thing and block out the ads rather easily if you don't want to look at them.

Yet another article tells of advertising on golf courses, using computer screens installed on golf carts.

HBO and Cadillac each began with small trials and then converted those to larger national efforts. Initial recall results are promising with a post-golf poll for Cadillac showing that 42% of golfers noticed the ad, and more than half (54%) remembered specifically that the ad was for Cadillac.

Currently the ads have no sound and are only static images. Although one ad trial going on currently allows the golfer to place an order to the snack shack for the drink in the ad.

Then there's Freeload Press who is aiming to make college textbooks free by placing ads inside. Students simply fill out a survey and then can download a pdf of the book.

As to objections that textbooks shouldn't have ads, Doran notes advertisements already appear in academic journals. He says Freeload's ads won't be distracting; they will be placed only at natural breaks in the material, and won't push products like alcohol or tobacco. Schools with other concerns could customize their standards; for instance, Brigham Young University, founded by Mormons, could reject ads for caffeine products.

Another recent announcement of ads on cell phones in hopes to get the same click through rates as online.

Sprint Nextel Corp. and Verizon Wireless have been running trials of banner ads on their wireless information and entertainment services since earlier this year. Sprint is also conducting trials of video ads, which appear for 10 seconds or so before the desired service appears.

Although during this weeks Digital Hollywood's Building Blocks 2006 conference in San Jose it seems that video and rich media ads may be a ways away, for now.

Jeff Doiron, president and co-founder of Fuel Industries, an Ontario, Canada-based interactive shop best known for advergames and branded content. Doiron believes advertisers are wary of moving onto cell phones, because they don't want to upset users, and because there's no protection on how content could be reused by consumers. "Advertisers are terrorized their brand is going to be bastardized," he said.

Of course, there were proponents of media-rich advertising on mobile phones, but they appeared to be in the minority at this conference, and even they hedged their bets. One advocate is Martijn Lopes Cardozo, SVP of corporate development for VOD provider Tandberg Television.

"Mobile ads are going to be very, very big," he predicted. "It's an untapped market right now." But even he admitted, "Advertisers are moving forward cautiously. As soon as content finds its way on devices, advertising is not far behind."

In addition, Reuters reports that advertising embedded in television or movie plots will more than triple by 2010.

Paid "product placement" across all kinds of media, from TV to novels, surged nearly 39 percent in 2005 to $2.21 billion worldwide, and that figure was expected to grow to nearly $7.6 billion in 2010, the study by research firm PQ Media said.

Consumer watchdog groups lament the growth of product placement, in which a brand name will literally be written into a story line or a product will feature prominently in a scene, because it blurs boundaries between entertainment and advertising.

But despite suggestions that consumers will grow weary of blatant product references in their entertainment, advertisers are spending more on the tactic as devices like digital video recorders enable viewers to skip traditional TV ads.

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caffeinegoddess I'm a creative director and copywriter with digital, integrated, and traditional expertise. I love sound strategy and great executions.