July 22, 2009

Book commercials unstoppable, say the new cultural arbiters

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“Books are among the last bastions of ad-free content. But they won’t be so forever if Amazon has its way,” reports Rita Chang in a story for Advertising Age. Inspired by Amazon’s filing for patents related to their desire to “stuff digital books with contextual advertising” (see the earlier MobyLives story) Chang notes that Amazon almost surely won’t be the only ones to try it — “industry insiders and watchers overwhelmingly say e-books will inevitably integrate advertising,” she says.

Indeed, some are already doing it: “Wowio is giving readers several entrees to its catalog of e-books, allowing them to pay for the books, which start at 99 cents per title, or download the free advertiser-sponsored PDF versions. … Other Wowio advertisers have included Verizon Wireless, which gave away e-books as thank-you gifts to subscribers who converted to paperless billing. At DailyLit, which has more than 300,000 subscribers, users can specify the frequency with which they want to receive their online e-book installments, which are free if underwritten by advertisers. Unsponsored e-books start at $4.95.”

Advertisers, meanwhile, are salivating.

“I see e-books as part of a broader mix of new electronic reading technology which is going to revolutionize the print medium,” say Maria Mandel, senior partner and executive director of digital innovation at OgilvyOne. “They offer up the same type of targeting, tracking and optimization that you see in the online world, making it very interesting for advertisers as a new way of intelligently targeting specific demographics or contextually relevant placements.”

Dennis Johnson is the founder of MobyLives, and the co-founder and co-publisher of Melville House. Follow him on Twitter at @mobylives

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