Word-of-mouth advertising is worth big bucks but it can be so hard to control or encourage.
Google, Inc has announced their intention to monetize daily human interaction by paying people to undergo a minor cerebellum modification that will make the patient, or human ad host, promote a product when certain keywords come up during a casual conversation.
The algorithms for the conversation based product placement ads are very similar to Google AdWords but instead of bidding for ad placement on small online ad slots, advertisers will be able buy real life conversation space.
Advertisers can get the audience they want by browsing the participating human ad host candidates based upon the host’s interests, levels of social interaction, mediums of socializing (whether it’s through Facebook, Twitter, Xbox Live, or face to face conversations at a university or gas station), ages, jobs, and their places of residence, among many other variables.
Advertisers will bid on the human ad hosts that interact heavily with the advertiser’s desired market. For example, a human ad host living in a trailer park who drives a lifted Chevrolet pickup truck and interacts heavily among other people with similar interests through face to face conversation at the closest gas station hangout may be a desirable human ad host for a beer or gun manufacturing company.
On the other side of society a hip young urbanite who goes to a large university and spends lots of time discussing political issues of the day among his peers may be a good human ad candidate for a local coffee shop or online news blog.
Google claims positive results with their pilot program which has been running in Portland, Oregon for several months already although successful wasn’t always the word used to describe the breakthrough program.
Thaddeus Reinholds is a lead researcher on the Google team. “We’ve had some situations where people thought our human ad hosts were demon possessed.” He says this was a result of a tweaked nerve that caused the hosts to suddenly switch to a deep, throaty voice and roll their eyes back in their head whenever the conversation keywords were triggered. “We’ve ironed out those wrinkles since then and on our way to transforming society as we know it.”
Human ad hosts in the breakthrough new ad medium have several key word configurations available to choose from; the more keyword triggers they have programmed into their subconscious, the more compensation they will receive.
Chuck Tedrow was one of the first human ad hosts. At first, he says, he opted for the maximum amount of keyword triggers they could give him. “I was raking in money like crazy,” he says, “until all my friends stopped hanging out with me. They were tired of me clamoring about Wawa gas stations every other paragraph.” Tedrow says he has since changed his configuration so that the advertising is more subtle. Still, he says, once people have you marked as “Spam” in their mind it’s hard to pop up on their radar again.
Will this new, controversial ad medium pay off? Google seems to think so, investing over 600 billion dollars into the program in the last six months.