What's Next, Ad-Supported Coffee? Actually, Yes

from the daily-fix dept

Ad-supported business models have been popular for a long time, but people still seem confused about when they make sense. For things like content or services with little marginal cost, the ad-supported model can be a good fit. On the other hand, it doesn’t really work for physical goods, like computers, despite many attempts at pulling this off. Now a company in Japan is experimenting with an ad-supported coffee vending machine. If the buyer is willing to watch a 30-second ad, they can get a free cup of coffee. The cup will have an ad as well. The problem is that advertisers aren’t likely to get much value out of this 30-second spot, such that it’s worth subsidizing someone’s java fix. It’d be pretty easy for a customer to just ignore the ad while waiting for their fill up. The one context where it might make sense is in an office where the employer already subsidizes its employees’ coffee, and is looking to defray some of the costs by selling ads. Still, this might just annoy workers, and the lost productivity from spending time in front of the vending machine would probably cancel out any advertising revenue. Perhaps instead of an ad, the machine could use the time to play a daily motivational speech from the company’s boss.

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Comments on “What's Next, Ad-Supported Coffee? Actually, Yes”

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Leon says:

Re: Enforce Ad

That’s what Virgin Mobile does. You can watch ads to get free minutes added to your prepaid mobile, but they quiz you after, and you have to get the answers right if you want your free minutes. Some wag in a tech column pointed out that this business model was doomed to bust, since the only people with that much free time on their hands were university students and people who couldn’t afford a real mobile. I bought a prepaid just to try it out and I ended up giving it a poor bloke on the pogey who needed a cell for emergencies, and I kept my regular mobile.

Shohat (user link) says:

You are silly

You don’t know much about anything, do you
Coffee ingredients cost very little (we are talking vending machine quality), electricity is somewhat of a problem, but this can be actually dumped on the person that wants the vending machine there such -as a hotel, or a supermarket… (you pay for coffee ,they pay for the electricity)
A free coffee vending machine which plays 30 second ads and has branded cups (sponsored by the advertiser, no cost here) that is stationed in the street/busy lobby is worth no less than 2000$/month for the advertiser.
Even though it’s small money, 100 such machines can probably be a small successful company.

Celes says:

Re: You are silly

Unfortunately, this wouldn’t be such a good idea in a hotel, or at least none of the ones I’ve worked in. Most hotels already offer complimentary coffee free of annoyances. And even if it takes a guest more than 30 seconds to make their own cup, the time isn’t spent waiting. It sounds ridiculous, I know, but people just don’t want to wait anymore. (Doesn’t it seem like forever if a web page takes 30 seconds to load?) And the hotel industry is the one place where people never think twice about complaining about things like having to wait a full 30 seconds for a cup of coffee, believe me.

I do think there are venues where this might be successful, such as the supermarket you suggested, but hotels probably aren’t it.

Just One Guy says:

30 second ads?

I’d take just about 30 seconds to prepare the cup of coffee anyway, so why not asking the guy to watch the screen instead of looking somewhere else while he’s waiting? It’s not that in an underground station or at a bus stop there’s much around to look at anyway.

Furthermore, if the ad was interesting and fun, why not answering a quick question at the end? I don’t see a problem: you have a captive audience, stationary, bored, waiting for their bus or rain to come in, dying for something else to do than looking at the same bored faces around them, day in day out.

Furthermore, coffee machines are EXTREMELY localized. You could get feedback on your recent TV ad campaign or localized info: which ad you liked best? What do you think will happen next in the storyline? Which upholstery would you choose with this body color? What would you think if our restaurants in the area (up the stairs, 100 yards down 34t street, to your left!) extended serving breakfast up to 11:30?

Collect this kind of information, cross it with socio-economic data about the location in which the coffee machine is located, and you have a pretty reasonable neighborhood profiling, bus stop after bus stop, underground station after underground station. At the cost of a few coffee cups.

Cheap cheap cheap!

Nasty Old Geezer says:

Re: Pavlov's Dogs

How about those company announcements via e-mail that nobody reads anyway? Especially the really stupid ones, like where to evacuate in case of fire, who’s gotten a promotion and is now uour new boss, or financial results that show your company’s about to go under — trivia like that.

|333173|3|_||3 says:

Question answers

This could work if put up in the CS labs at at Uni, since then the students would, even if they had to watch a 30-sec ad and answer a question on it, still find that better than walking over to the Union cafe to buy coffee. Students are good at finding shortcuts in computerised test, adn they would be able to beat a coffee machine quickly.

Daniel says:

Heck, right now I just stand in front of the machine and pace back and forth while it brews my coffee. I’d watch an ad just for the entertainment value (as long as they showed a different one each of the cujillion times I get a cup of coffee each day).

But then, my coffee machines at work are free anyways, so maybe that isn’t such a good idea.

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