I have to say that I love the trend of democratization that technology is bringing. Anybody can put up a blog, a web page, video on YouTube, a MySpace profile. Any some stuff out there is actually quite good. Along with this comes new opportunities for small to medium businesses to promote themselves.
The key is content
Remember the old time radio and TV shows that were not only sponsored by, but produced by the advertisers? You might have the Camel cigarette variety hour, for example.
I believe that this trend is coming around again, as soon as businesses figure out how to capitalize.
Microsoft has announced the launch of its XNA Game Studio Express. For a license fee of $99, the tool will allow those with some programming experience to create and distribute their own rudimentary X-Box games. So what?
Well, imagine a smart small business that teams up with a local high school computer science lab. The small business provides the licenses and maybe some instruction, and the high-schoolers could compete in teams to create branded games to distribute. The prize could be a small scholarship, but the learning experience would be invaluable.
Now you have a game - developed at very low cost, and distributed on a popular game console. The game would carry the brand of the company and, if it's good, possibly bring global viral attention to your business.
This is a plan that is eminently achievable, and would undoubtedly generate secondary press for a company that handled it well.
With this new set of tools, Microsoft has promised that simple games could be developed in a matter of weeks not months. I am sure that other console makers will be soon to follow suit - if they know what's good for them.
In any kind of sponsored content endeavor it's really important to remember that if the content appears too much like an ad - it will not get nearly the attention that it should. Think product placement in movies.
I am excited about anything that gets people to think creatively. I think the XNA Game Studio Express may be a fantastic opportunity for some smart smaller businesses.
J D Moore - Marketing Comet