The Dangling Carrot

One of the most interesting stories I came across this past week was regarding a unique marketing move by Facebook. Here is a quote from a great article that sums it all up: 

"Facebook has just announced an expansion of its partnership with social game offer provider TrialPay on its DealSpot product that gives users Facebook Credits in exchange for watching branded videos."

This move really caused me to think about how we as consumers view and ultimately consume advertising. I've realized that the consumption of advertising and our reaction to what we see is analogous to the psychological principle of intrinsic and extrinsic motivation.  

Facebook here is using an extrinsic model. The dangling carrot being offered are free Facebook credits which, consumers can then use to purchase real items. Seems like a pretty tasty carrot and given the amount of people who play social games on Facebook, this method of delivering an ad - in a social game - combined with the fairly strong reward ... may just work. However, the question still remains to be seen whether these ads will actually be effective. 

The problem with offering an extrinsic reward for something like the act of watching an ad, is that consumers would probably be more interested in earning the reward rather than caring about what's on the ad. Who's to say that the consumer can't just hit play on the video and walk away from the screen? Considering the years of training we've undergone through traditional TV ads, this act isn't totally out of the realm of possibility.  

There is another model to consider here and that is the intrinsic motivation model. In this one, a consumer would naturally seek to do something and gain pleasure from the very act of doing it, rather than from the reward that is waiting on the other side. One of the best and simplest examples of this would be the fostering of brand advocates. In order to do so of course, a company would need to create a product that is worthy enough to be advocated. 

When thinking about applying this to the Facebook/Social gaming model... what if companies tried something truly drastic and gave customers the opportunity to tell their friends about something ... yet not reward them for doing so? Would this prompt customers to naturally want to tell their friends about what they were doing? Is this is a stronger form of advertising? 

It'll certainly be interesting to see how the dangling carrot story unfolds.