Various media are reporting today that Google will be funding and operating an 8,000 square foot "headquarters" -- called the "Big Tent" -- a few blocks away from the Democratic convention in Denver. (A similar facility will be set up in St. Paul, Minn., for the Republican convention.) For $100, 500 bloggers, citizen journalists, "new media" journalists and assorted members of the stodgy MSM will have access to a candy buffet, free massages, smoothies, meals, couches for napping, a "YouTube kiosk," and, of course, all the free WiFi they can eat. (If you're interested, sorry, registration is already closed.)
But seriously, what does Google get out of this? By providing an environment that's a cross between my home office and a college dorm lounge, does it really hope that bloggers are suddenly going to wake up to the awesome power of Google? Is there any blogger out there who doesn't know about Google?
I mean, OK, sure, Google wants to show off Power Reader in Politics, essentially a way to share reading lists of RSS feeds. In other words, now I can read what Obama, McCain or even Arianna Huffington want me to read with a couple of mouse clicks. This essentially is just Google Reader, which debuted three years ago. These bloggers are either already using it, or are using some other similar application/service to follow what all the other blogs are saying. I don't get it.
And a YouTube kiosk? Seriously? Yes, YouTube didn't exist during the 2004 convention, but I really don't need to see random bloggers taking jarring clips of themselves while trying to pull their best Campbell Brown impression. Seriously. You know where Campbell Brown will be? On the convention floor, not uploading to YouTube. Plus, if you've spent any time at all on the Internet in the last three years, you already know about YouTube. Especially if you're a blogger.
I guess it's just marketing, pure and simple. After all, Coca-Cola is a perpetual sponsor of just about everything, including the Olympics. There are even some folks in Beijing who've never had a Coke before, believe it or not.
But here's the key difference; Coke is looking for new markets in China, reports the Wall Street Journal:
Coke has plugged its flagship cola at other Olympiads for decades. But this blitz is especially important for the brand as the Games present a chance for it to vault ahead of arch rival Pepsi-Cola in the race for China's 1.3 billion coveted consumers -- a market that Coke says could be its biggest in the future.
Coke is the global leader in the cola wars, with roughly half the market, more than double PepsiCo Inc.'s soft-drink share. In China, Pepsi-Cola is No. 1 -- but early results show Coke's Olympics push, which began in early 2007, is eating into Pepsi's lead. Last year, the Coca-Cola brand claimed 22% of the country's carbonated soft drink market, up half a percentage point from 2006. That still left Coke trailing Pepsi's 22.9% share, which dipped from 23.3%, according to research firm Euromonitor International.
But there isn't exactly an equally untapped market of bloggers (political or otherwise) who've never heard of Google.