I met Gokul Rajaram (Product Development Director, Google Adsense) today to have a chat. A few minutes into our chat, he began talking about his take on the future of the online advertising industry (Trust me, his views matter. He is the strategy guy behind Google's Adsense!)
One of the things he stressed upon was the need to deliver advertising that is deeply embedded into content. The thing about content, he said, is that good/interesting/whacky content has an intrinsic nature to spread virally - more efficiently than a carefully planned buzz advertising campaign. I think that makes a lot of sense. And companies today are trying to explore different ways in which they can use content to deliver their messages.
Gokul gave me one example of such advertising... It's a rap video on YouTube called 'Tea Partay'. The song is pretty crappy by most standards. But it is one of those videos that you might share with your friends. And that's what's important. The interesting part is that it is actually an ad by Smirnoff. Nowhere in the video do they mention that it is an ad. However, there are some cleverly placed references to the brand - enough to create a few impressions on the viewer's mind. Check out the video here:
While emphasizing that this is the direction that advertising might take in the near future, Gokul also raised the issue of scalability. The key is to find a way to make a scalable model that allows advertisers to advertise using videos and content. Videos with rich-clickable content could be around the corner too. Google is doing some interesting stuff with video advertising, but obviously, Gokul wasn't going to delve into the details of that.
I think there might be a lot of potential for startups to explore this emerging area. A new generation of smart online advertising is just waiting to take off.