April 01, 2007

Are You Looking At Me?

A reminder that our attention is fast-becoming the most valuable asset of all comes courtesy of Contagious News that Blyk , the 'pan-European free mobile operator for young people, funded by advertising' has just announced collaborations with some of the world's best-known brands, including Buena Vista, Coca Cola and L'Oreal Paris.

If at first glance, this appears to have nothing to do with smaller brands, particularly those of SMEs, I suggest you look again. Most small businesses have a strong relationship with their customers and an ability to ask for attention thanks to the trust they've built up. I've seen this at work in our own company, Islandbridge, where customers often ask for introductions to our other customers or events.

Perhaps it's time we considered how this attention might translate into opportunities for us and our customers to offer the commodity part of our proposition for free whilst charging (others!) for the privilege of talking to us and the group we have gathered around our brand.

On the other hand, does anyone else share my own misgivings that this simply catapults us into a Minority Report-type world where every visible surface is given over to advertising of one kind or another and every relationship is up for hire?

(Notwithstanding the claims of Antti Öhrling, one of the masterminds behind Blyk that, "The fundamental principle is that advertising never interferes with primary function of the phone. If you do it in the right way, it's not just how much [advertising] can you tolerate—it's something people find useful and fun.")

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