I was over at one of my favourite sites, YesButNoButYes, just now, and spotted the box you see at the left in the advertising column of their site. Normally I am blind to banner ads and the like – I’m not sure what drew me to this one. Anyway, when you click on it, you get sent here. You should go look at the site yourself, so you’ll understand what I’m going to write about.
I have already blogged about “advertainment,” the practise of making something interesting and entertaining, then inserting a product plug into it somewhere. This appears to be “advercryptology.” You have to look long and hard to figure out what the heck is being advertised. If I was more into video games, I would probably have cottoned on to this sooner, but it took me 10 minutes to figure out what was being promoted here. It turns out that F.E.A.R. is a first-person shooter game, and version 2 is set to drop in February. The (obviously) fictional company “Armacham Technology Corporation” is a major element of the game – they supply armaments and created the super-human characters featured in the story.
I think this is brilliant. It’s reminiscent of Easter Eggs, which I’ve discussed before, and creates a feeling of inclusion in a special tribe (as Seth would call it) of F.E.A.R. enthusiasts. Only they know what “Armacham” is, so only they are likely to click on the link and only they will appreciate the content and only they will be excited about the fact the the new version is coming on February 10. It’s almost one-to-one marketing, but in a broadcast medium.
The problem is, of course, that Monolith Productions, the maker of F.E.A.R., is paying for a lot of views and some clicks that will be useless to them. YesButNoButYes is a fairly general site – I wouldn’t think they’d get a particulary high proportion of gamers visiting there. And by making their ad generically tempting (to conspiracy theorists, tabloid reader types, believers in ESP, etc.), they will probably get a lot of clicks from people (like me) who will never buy their product.
But maybe that’s the cachet – do you think their fans know that Monolith is wasting money just to communicate straight to them?