Engagement's the thing wherein I'll catch the attention of the consumer! So goes the current thinking. Forget all that push stuff we can't break through. There's too much clutter, too many
channels, too many brands, and 30-second spots don't work anymore anyway. Everyone either gets up for snacks during commercials or screens them out with TiVo. I'll use the Web instead, and then
consumers will seek me out and bathe in my brand to their hearts' content.
But with more than 80 million Web sites out there and a new blog created every
second, the Web has become more cluttered and fragmented than any other medium.
It's no longer enough for a brand to use digital communications merely as a platform to deliver a
message or create an experience. Now smart brands take it a giant step further: They strive to make their communication channels provide a service value, too.
To do this, they
build what we call "advertools." An advertool is a communication channel, created by a brand, which offers in itself a functional utility to consumers free, and with no strings attached.
Advertools don't just make your brand easier to sell. They make it easier to buy.
Of course, Google dominates this space, because it built its business model around providing valuable
digital services in exchange for the right to deliver messaging. But other brands are beginning to develop creative advertools, too. Here are our six favorites:
Ben Richards and Faris Yakob are senior strategists at Naked Communications.
(firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com, http://farisyakob.typepad.com/)
- Google Desktop: This one allows you to search your computer as though it were the Web. It's an awesome application, and it's far faster and more powerful than Windows Explorer. It delivers
great value while keeping you hooked on Google. desktop.google.com
- eBay Watcher: You'll never miss an auction when you have eBay Watcher, another gem among the many
recently released Google Gadgets. It sits on your desktop and allows you to view items from your eBay Watch List. And it tracks the current price and time remaining on each auction.
- Honda Mobile: Honda understands that life on the road isn't quite as glamorous as it sounds. So the company created Honda
Mobile, a free tool for your cell phone that helps with some of driving's daily hassles, like keeping track of all your travel expenses. honda. co.uk/hondamobile (scheduled to launch in
- Yutaka Loves London: Here's an entertaining and useful guide to London, all from the point of view of Yutaka, an obsessive Japanese fan of the city. And should
you want to go, Virgin Atlantic, which provides this tool, will be glad to fly you there. yutakaloveslondon.com
- Verizon Beatbox Mixer: This free mixing tool allows
budding musicians to craft their own homemade beatbox masterpieces. The mixer is the latest expression of Verizon's "Richer, Deeper, Broader" broadband push. beatboxmixer.com
- Google Spreadsheet: Google's free version of Microsoft's Excel is an advertool so powerful that together with Writely, Google's word processor, and Google Gmail and Calendar it
could seriously damage Microsoft's Office business. spreadsheets.google.com.