Amazon is now offering an ad supported Kindle 3G for $139 and a WiFi version for only $114. The device which comes with a corporate sponsorship from AT&T prompted Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos to thank the wireless carrier.
“A big thank you to AT&T for helping to make the new $139 price possible.” -Jeff Bezos
One form of the device's ads comes as sponsored screensavers. Early sponsors include Buick, Chase, Olay, and Visa. Amazon which normally stays silent on specific numbers hasn't released any information on sales of the new device. Looking at the best seller list where the device is now showing up suggests that consumers are willing to tolerate ads in favor of lower prices.
This may be an indication of where other industries are headed. As middle men are removed from the content creator to consumer chain it will be more of a direct benefit to the creator to include ads and sponsorships. As long as it's helping to reduce the price for the consumer then the inclusion of ads may be welcomed. It's still can be a narrow road to traverse. Include ads in an annoying spot or feature them in an intrusive way and your product may be tarnished.
The new way to present commercials is best shown by today's netcasters, especially by Leo Laporte and his netcast, This Week in Tech (TWiT). The shows include the traditional ad spots but it's done in a unique fashion. Advertisers are always relevant to the audience and the spot is always spoken by Leo or the host of the program. Not only is relevant but it's very conversational and is almost always transitioned to by a well played segue. As an avid listener I hear about Square Space everyday but it has yet to get old since it just feels like part of the conversation.
The video game industry has been using in game ads for a while in the mobile realm but it's starting to take hold in the console market. It's been around in terms of product placement just as the movie industry has done but now TV style commercials are showing up during load times. This doesn't bother me too bad except that load screens are annoying in the first place and generally breaks the feeling of immersion.
One example though of how not to do it is in the game Wipeout HD for PS3 which plays a current Honda Civic commercial during load screens. I downloaded the game for free as an apology from Sony for getting hacked and not having their network up for almost a month. It may not have been planned by Sony, or it may have, but having ads to pay for a product that was suppose to be a loss for the company is frustrating. If it wasn't a "gift" and I was thinking about buying the game I would choose a $4.99 ad supported version of a $14.99 non ad supported game.
As technology gives us the ability to include new features such as this new business models will form and prices will come down. During these new economically driven tech revolutions we will feel the pain of trial and error. Some companies will get it right while others will horrifically get it wrong. I'm all about using ads to lower the price of goods, that is until it feels like the old days of broadcast TV.