Conquesting

by Rob Horning

11 June 2007

 

Before reading this WSJ article, I had never heard of conquesting, and would have assumed it had something people did in World of Warcraft, not a proxy war waged by companies through the means of ad placement.

In an increasingly popular form of online advertising, marketers are taking out ads right next to editorial content about their rivals. The aim is to convert consumers from one brand to another—and also to issue a public challenge.

While it may seem as though the existence of competing and contested claims would make the marketplace that much more opaque and confusing, it strikes me as a clear victory for consumers. If companies are directing their ads at one another, that means they are failing to target their natural enemies, shoppers, who are instead being alerted to the disingenuous of the medium of advertisements themselves. Rather than getting people to change allegiances, seeing companies refute each other’s claims and poses likely leads people to consider all ads with more skepticism. It could theoretically work like negative campaigning, which is routinely alleged to turn off voters from the political process altogether. Perhaps conquesting has the same effect on shoppers.

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