Dispatches from MediaPost: Has Convergence Gone Too Far?
Here’s an example: Ten Square, a Silicon Valley company, is making interactive advertising accessible to everyday life—one gas pump at a time. Under the guise of converging point-of-sale (POS) advertising—one of the oldest marketing concepts in the book—with the interactivity of the web, Ten Square is an interactive point-of-sale broadcasting and publishing company that enhances point-of-sale transactions with interactive ads, making even the shortest consumer transactions—like a two-minute trip to the gas station or the ATM—valuable to advertisers.
To hear them describe it, during idle time at gas pumps, ATMs, kiosks, credit card readers etc., a consumer can choose valuable promotions for local and national online and offline retailers.
According to company officials, by the end of this year, more than 30 million people across the country will be active users of the Ten Square Digital Network, at thousands of gas stations, convenience stores and bank ATMs across the country.
My obligatory professional enthusiasm aside, please don’t tell me the next press release to cross my desk will be “Major researcher launches gas pump Internet usage tracking system.” And what about ad format standardization? I’m sure a trade association is in formation as I write this as well. I’m not ready for any of the above. Not as someone who writes about advertising for a living, and not as a consumer.
And I’m definitely not the only one. After I first wrote about this company in “Just an Online Minute,” many of our readers—advertising professionals themselves—wrote back confirming that very sentiment.
“We’ve had similar types of advertising on the ATM machines here in Milwaukee for about two months or so,” one respondent wrote. “The problem up here is that it doesn’t use ‘dead time’ of the process, but makes you read a screen with the advertisement on it, and opt in or out before your transaction gets processed! That really ticks me off! Usually they are advertisements for home refinancing or debt consolidation (which is funny since it’s an ATM machine!). You have to answer either ‘yes, contact me,’ or ‘no, go away,’ to get your money out!”
Obviously, some advertisers are taking the bait and buying ads on ATM screens. And I’m certain that many will buy gas pump ads as well. And I’m not sure that’s a good idea. It’s not that I’m against inventing new web-enabled advertising vehicles. I’m against advertising clutter, web-enabled or not. It doesn’t just apply to broadcast media, it applies to our daily lives. As much as I love advertising and the Internet, I think we’re taking this “new ad vehicle” thing too far.
Masha Geller is Editor-in-Chief of MediaPost. She may be reached at email@example.com.