Intel has teamed up with Sprout Inc.–a company heavily involved with social media-based advertising–to launch a new interactive Facebook promotion that’s pretty clever, and which might just indicate one possible future for advertising. An oddly disturbing one, at that.
The attraction of advertising on Facebook is obvious–its legion of users and tight social characteristic measuring capabilities mean advertisers can reach huge numbers of potential clients with greater accuracy than, perhaps, ever before. So for Intel to choose Facebook isn’t much of a surprise. What’s novel about the campaign is that it’s actually interactive.
By becoming a fan of the relevant Intel page–one promoting Intel processor-carrying computers–you actually contribute to a lowering of the device’s prices. In other words, by showing Intel you’re interested in its product, Intel notionally “rewards” you with a lower price. Of course someone has done the raw mechanical calculation behind this, and he or she decided it’ll pay off for Intel in the bigger picture. The company gets to promote itself to those interested Facebook users (who themselves get to feel a little more involved the in the process) and all those users then promote Intel via status updates to their friends’ news feeds when they click “become a fan.” It’s a subtle way of promoting one’s company name virally, and presumably it’ll do well for Intel when the actual sale of Toshiba, Acer, and Asus ultra-thin laptops kicks off on Monday.
It’s also an indicator of how advertising might trend in the future, because it’s a more carefully thought out way to exploit viral PR than the usual funny/odd/entertaining viral video route. The ephemeral promise of lower product prices when you become a fan will also pull in many volunteer promoters of the virus. And that’s the slightly creepy part of all of this: Advertising has for a long time leveraged clever psychological tricks to better sell you products. But with this kind of interactive social media ad campaign, the hook the ad uses to grab you is a little deeper. And as the technology and advertisers like Sprout get cleverer, these sorts of Facebook or Twitter ads are going to become a part of our psyches as consumers, which means we will do more and more of the promotional work for the companies.