Friday, December 15, 2006

Conversational Advertising

I was reading newly-published patent applications today and I came across "Methods and Apparatus for Conversational Advertising" (App #20060282317).

The patent isn't quite what I expected. The 2317 patent app simply covers methods by which users interact with computer-based ads served by automated agents in exchange for a reward. No big deal. Some company pays you to interact with its advertising rather than being a passive viewer.

Now let me tell you about my first thought when I read the words, Conversational Advertising. I imagined walking around with a little black box on my belt that monitors my conversations. Every morning my black box told me about ad opportunities specifically for me, based on media and products I had consumed in the previous week. Whenever I mentioned a participating product during normal conversation, the black box detected and recorded the instance. At the end of the day I connected my black box to the internet and the value of my reward was calculated based on the quality of my conversational ads and the number of listeners to whom I delivered these ads.

That's right. I simply saw each one of us as a potential talking billboard to generate fake word-of-mouth buzz. It's often quite fun being naive about the meaning of new buzzwords.

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