Consulting firm Accenture has a paper called Invitation Marketing: Using Customer Preferences to Overcome Ad Avoidance. While the paper paints in broad strokes, it is clear that Google has implemented a variation with great (Orkut) and even greater (Gmail) success.
How many otherwise respectable folk have you seen dedicating email broadcasts and blog entries to announcing that they have a few Gmail invites to give away, especially in the last couple weeks? I lost count long ago. Ad avoidance overcome, indeed.
Kudos to Google’s marketing department.
I like Joey Hess‘s take on the Gmail invite virus: stop wasting my time with gmail. Joey notes that the going price on eBay for both Gmail invites and ancient 1 gigabyte hard drives is less than one dollar.