With digital technology growing cheaper by the day and becoming widely available for marketing purposes, companies are going into overdrive to fill every bit of ad space they can find. Following are a few articles covering this phenomenon.

“What all marketers are dealing with is an absolute sensory overload,” said Gretchen Hofmann, executive vice president of marketing and sales at Universal Orlando Resort. The landscape is “overly saturated” as companies press harder to make their products stand out, she said.

Media and tech companies are falling over themselves trying to get more and more media content onto more and more platforms. Web video on your TV! Music and games on your cellphone! Downloaded movies on your home-office PC hard drive transmitted to your living room home entertainment system!

As I am sure advertising will become part of these platforms, the IPod case brought to you by Google in conjunction with BASF and so forth and amid the growing utilization of technology to press brand management I wanted to focus on a tried yet true method of product marketing, the in-store sample. Due to some recent weather issues I was unable to gather my weekly groceries on my regular schedule, when the least possible amount of annoyances are present. Instead I hit my local Target at noon on Saturday. At the head of every aisle was an employee pushing a sample of juice, granola or frozen organic pizza. As I tried vehemently to proceed down each aisle I was halted by two to three people surrounding the sample cart.

This week I also made it to Target on Saturday, witnessed the same sample carts and decided to stop off for some coffee at the Starbucks and observe. Several times I witnessed a patron coming around the corner of an aisle, stopping to check out the offering, exactly what the store and it’s suppliers want. Meanwhile, there are two to three people stopped behind the sample consumer, slowly getting irritated. By the time this happens four or five times, everyone is in a mad dash for the registers already fed up with the shopping trip. By the time I am finished, there are typically three or four items I have forgotten because I am tired of being in the store, purchases that go to the grocery store up the street.

There has recently been a viral marketing backlash.

Videos such as “Bride Has Massive Hair Wig Out” and those posted by Lonelygirl15 on You Tube may help sell products or kick-start a budding actor’s career. But they also have a more pernicious effect on our tendency to trust what seems genuine.

“I can’t see how they don’t make people more cynical,” says Gillian Watson, a social psychologist at the University of British Columbia.

As business and other pursuits take more of our time, can we expect this same backlash against traditional marketing techniques that interupt our schedules? Are markets that over-utilize the in-store sample loosing sales at the expense of increased purchases of a few items?  Regardless, I probably need to take a few deep breaths before my next trip to the store.

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