More than Advertising

What makes the web such a great tool for advertising is its ability to:

Intervene at different points in the buying cycle,
Assemble groups from individuals distributed by time or space
Support interaction between buyers and sellers

These are the same features that make it such a powerful tool for disrupting supply chains. Of course this has a fancy name – disintermediation – which really means cutting someone out and taking their piece of pie.

It’s also possible to make a whole new pie – just by organizing users into bakers.

Take a look at Kiva, a non-profit that is making micro-finance to a whole new level by making it very personal on both the lender and borrowers side. In Kiva’s world small lenders pool their funds to help small entrepreneurs. And the web connects the lenders and borrowers resulting in personal connection – and a high repayment rate.

Other examples are “my foot ball club” a group organizing 50,000 individuals to become owners of a UK football team (for $70.00 a piece).

What’s interesting about these sites is the show users will do more that click on ads, if you give them the opportunity. They will connect around a common purpose. It’s hard to think that Kiva’s 60,000 users don’t promote the microlending (and the site) whenever they talk about who’ve they lent to. And if my football is successful and buys a team – it will be interesting to see how quickly stands fill with 50,000 owners (or how loud they are).

It’s by engaging their user’s aspirations, and connecting them with similar people that these sites meet their objectives. That’s more than advertising – that building on mediated social activity.