Most of the billboards we see carry a message that we can all understand. “Real California Cheese” is pretty self explanatory and there aren’t too many people out there who don’t know what Cheese is. So you can imagine my surprise when I saw this sign as I was driving on the 880 Freeway by the Oakland Coliseum:
If you have ever traveled along this freeway then you understand that this particular billboard gets a ton of eyes and is probably very expensive advertising. It would make sense that AT&T would want to advertise here, but why would they advertise something that only a small percentage of people understand? Most of the drivers along that freeway have barely heard of a blog, let alone understand it to a point where they would go to an AT&T website when they got home to write one.
The second example I saw like this was another AT&T billboard for Podcasting. Again, this is the type of advertising that reaches very broad audiences and Podcasting is not something that a broad audience understands these days.
My feeling is that if you wanted to make a move into podcasting and blogging, why not first go through some of the avenues that we typically see in the online community. There are a lot of opportunities through Web 2.0 sites like digg, YouTube, Flickr, and even MySpace. If you spent the same money and resources on marketing through these avenues then you would be getting a lot more buzz and reaching audiences that actually knew what podcasting and blogging was. This would seem appropriately targeted to me, but there might be a master plan.
Perhaps AT&T wants their name associated with terms that most people don’t understand yet. People that are already web savvy might associate blogging with sites like Blogger and WordPress. It could be possible AT&T wants to make a branding play by leapfrogging the frontrunners and using their massive marketing legs to do so. This is about the only scenario I can think of that would make sense out of this, but I guess time will tell.