Ever chatted with a Transformer?
From the UK, an example of “bot marketing”, an emerging way of targeting MSN’s instant messaging users, interacting with them through the IM itself. The Transformers action kicked-off last week, with the creation of a “bot” (sort of an intelligent avatar to be added to your IM contact list – firstname.lastname@example.org) that allows users to view trailers, side either “protect” or “destroy” and refer friends in return for exclusive Transformers images. The bot uses the Windows Live Messenger Activity Window creating an interactive experience using Flash.
The campaign, developed by InsideC, targets the audience who watched the cartoon in the 80s (25-35) and the younger generation (12-25) who are excited about the story line and special effects. The purpose of the bot is to increase awareness of the movie and reach new users via the viral referral program. IM campaign is of course supported by online and offline banners which are asking users to add the bot to their contact list.
“Bot marketing” is emerging as an appealing tool to interact with teens (and not only). I’ve seen also some presentations of actions created by Yahoo! with its own IM system, and the results are quite impressive. Of course, we have to consider the power of the “novelty” effect, that can be a crucial driver in boosting word of mouth. In my opinion, after the first campaigns, it’s already time to look forward, and start thinking creatively about the possible applications and features of the bot. The question we (marketers) should ask ourselves is pretty straightforward: who do you chat with via IM? Friends, relatives, colleagues. People who are relevant to you as individual, and with whom you can have an interesting conversation. So, ok, technology is there, but let’s concentrate on giving users a good reason to talk with our artificial character. And I’m not sure, from the minimal interaction I experienced with him, that the Transformer bot is worth being on my contact list. But now it’s too late, looks like I cannot remove him!