"I believe the next stage of brand advertising is going to be in the realm of 'branded utility,"' says Palmer. (He co-credits Anomaly partner Johnny Vulcan with coining the phrase.)
Creating something that people need, not aping existing applications because you can, is key, says Palmer. "For the same budget and energy as we expend on current forms of advertising, we could be making something more tangible, useful and reusable that plays a more integral part in the consumer's life. This is 'interactive,' which is not synonymous with 'online,' by the way."
This is exactly what we mean when we talk about branded applications - brands creating something that is useful/valuable to their customers. The SharePriceAlert we did for Halifax last year is a good example of this approach and StattoStatto also fits into the space (although we did it for ourselves rather than a brand). We're currently working on similar projects - including some with a focus on social media such as MySpace and our growing interest in widgets, gadgets and bots is part of this.
It's an interesting area, as it can feel more like branded content than advertising - but we believe that the role of advertising will increasingly be to invite interaction - and these branded utilities will give advertising something interesting to say.
Ads thats say our beans are great, are ignored by consumers - they're just not believed. So why not have ads that say - we've 100 great ideas for feeding your kids using our great beans.
And rather than saying our home insurance is cheaper why not offer an application that allows you to find the real value of your house contents (most homes are drastically under insured) and use that to drive higher value quotes.
Thinking about what your customers would find useful and then giving to them, is a great way of getting competitive advantage.
UPDATE - James at ModernMarketing reminds me of our conversation yesterday about object centered sociality. Could branded utility be the object?