Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Tech Magazine → Lifestyle Magazine → Dirt Bike → Musician → Be an Astronaut

Cross marketing is a vexing thing. Although there's currently no Wikipedia definition for cross marketing (gasp!), I consider cross marketing to describe 2 related business circumstances:

  • Intracompany Cross Marketing: The purveyor of Product A (which you've purchased) encourages you to buy Product B (which you haven't purchased).
  • Intercompany Cross Marketing: Purveyor B purchases the right to contact some customers of Purveyor A to offer a product that they believe to be of interest to Purveyor A's customers.
On the positive side of cross marketing, you have the work of Amazon.com, who (through their Customers Who Viewed This Also Viewed and Customers Who Bought this Also Bought features) seem to open a window into the human psyche — recognizing that customers who like Product A also might like Product B allows people to uncover new (albeit superficial) ways of being that they otherwise might have missed.

Usually, when discussing the darker side of cross marketing, folks hearken to Big Brother themes that focus on violation of privacy or cavalier use of sensitive information. I'll avoid rehashing these topics. Today, I'll just point out that cross marketing can occasionally be so unrelated as to seem profoundly silly.

Permit me to explain.

I subscribe to Wired Magazine. The demographic subscribing to Wired Magazine must be an attractive (disposable income-wise) set, because other entities are constantly cross marketing other magazines and products in our direction.

Today, I receive an email from Wired on behalf of GQ, offering me a chance at a free dirt bike autographed by famed musician Pharrell Williams.

This is akin to cross marketing by mad libs. Or perhaps GQ is running a cross marketing machine that has run amok and can't be shut off.

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