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The Future of High-Tech Advertising

February 2, 2012 by Kevin Michael Gray

Last year over 300 million smartphones were sold (that's not including the hundreds of million smartphones that have already been sold).  With the advent of 3G and 4G technology we (the advertiser) should really be marketing to and taking advantage of the booming lightning speed fast technology that is currently being harnessed in the pocket computer sector (i.e. smartphones).  Extreme Tech brings an interesting and rather compelling argument to the table in today's featured article.  They discuss how the advertising sector has failed to harness the untapped smartphone advertising potential.  This article talks about the measly banner ads you occasionally see on 'free apps' downloaded from the app store as not being enough.  How do you think the advertising sector will evolve over the course of the next few years in the smartphone arena?  Do you think mobile is the future of advertising agencies?  Read the article below and as always tweet your response to @futureagencies #futureofagencies

 Future of Advertising Agencies

 
Advertising — the art and science of diverting and targeting attention on a specific object or service — is one of the oldest and most mature industries in the world. For as long as humans have had anything to trade, be it crops, tools, or even their bodies, advertising has existed. Today we think of advertising as annoying pop-up ads and massive, digital billboards in Times Square, but the hand-painted shop signs of yesteryear and the monumental cathedrals that reach to the heavens are also adverts.
 
Back then, of course, advertising was only a shadow of what it is today. Bight colors, imposing columns, and stained glass windows were the state of the art. Today, advertising is a trillion-dollar industry that utilizes behavioral psychology, crowdsourcing, viral marketing, semiotics, stereotypes, and dozens of other sciences, arts, and skills to persuade an audience — sometimes numbering into hundreds of millions for large sporting events, but increasingly just a single person — into doing something new. The other big change is the scale of advertising: Historically, ads would be local — signs, leaflets through doors — but today, due to globalization and the commercialization of everything, almost every channel of communication is saturated with advertising. TV, radio, billboards, websites, newspapers, video games, movies — you name it, almost everything that receives your attention for more than a few seconds is a prime target for ads.
 
The advertising of the future, then, will hinge entirely on new communication channels. In much the same way that highly-targeted advertising couldn’t exist before the internet, web browsers, and tracking cookies, future ads will leverage the mediums by which we consume content and communicate with others.
 
To start with an easy example, look at advertising in Minority Report, which uses two novel ideas: biometric retina identification and digital signage. By tracking you in the real world, digital signs can display relevant ads. If you’re a vegetarian standing outside a restaurant, the digital sign will show the tastiest vegetarian options. If you’re outside a clothes shop, the sign will show you what it thinks is suitable clothing — or, if you’ve shopped there before, it will know exactly what to show you. We’re actually very close to this kind of advertising already, though with facial recognition rather than retina.
 
What about the cell phone? With GSM and now 3G and 4G, we are looking at one of the most exciting advances in communication ever — and yet, as far as advertising is concerned, all we have is a few banner ads on apps. 400 million smartphones were sold last year, and they produced almost zero advertising revenue. I guarantee that, right this minute, thousands of highly paid advertising execs are trying to work out a way of monetizing smartphones.
 
With Ice Cream Sandwich, we have a hint of how mobile advertising might play out. In ICS, there’s a feature called Face Unlock — it unlocks your phone when it recognizes your face. Imagine if every time you picked up your phone it took a quick snapshot of your face. Imagine if your identity was then made available to apps, websites, and advertisers; it would be like Minority Report, but on a much smaller and more intimate scale. We already have the tech to do this; it’s just a matter of getting it approved (which will be hard).
 
The scary thing is, though, Google can already do the same thing, but simply using tracking cookies and your Google account. When you buy an Android phone, you have to link it to your Google account — and now, with Google’s unified privacy policy, your search and surf habits will be available to mobile advertisers and vice versa. In short, it’s very easy for Google to see that you regularly search for something — beer or video games, say — and then to plaster the Android Market on your phone with relevant ads (or ads from competitors). This will be just the beginning of mobile advertising, I assure you.
 

 

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