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Blinks: (Almost) Subliminal Audio Advertising
We've all seen examples of subliminal visual ads. Quick blinks of brand names or ideas on a television screen between frames of what we're actually watching. I think the jury is still out whether visual subliminal ads are effective, but I think the jury is very much in the general sense of ill will that most people hold against the idea.

Blinks is a Clear Channel Communications, Inc.'s (NYSE: radio ad initiative. While not exactly subliminal, Blinks are short (like a single second long short) clips inserted in between songs or other audio on Clear Channel's radio stations. They're designed to work best for established brands because there's no time to explain anything in the spot.

Fox Broadcasting Company is taking the bait and running some spots for House, The Simpsons, and Jail Break. There's more info and some sample Blinks over on FMQB.

Jason Becker from Gabcast very correctly ponders what this could mean for podcasting.

It's funny because this is the second time in as many days that some type of "minimalist" podvertising topic has come up. I find it funny because I experimented with a single-penny-per-download podvertising mode last year. While Blinks aren't small in terms of money, they're definitely minmalistic ads.

Once I had listened to the samples on FMQB, it became very easy to envision Blinks being used in podcasts. They're so quick and relatively unobtrusive (they're over before you know it!) that a 1/2 hour podcast could run a couple of them per show without causing any grief to listeners.

Fox's model won't work for podcasts, however. Fox appears to be using Blinks primarily to remind people of what feature shows are on the air on any given night. The time-shifted nature of podcasting wouldn't work well for that, but I'm sure many clever marketering types can come up with other ideas.

All in all it's interesting stuff and almost tailor made for podcasting. I just wonder if it will ever make it over here.

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