The Brilliantly Creepy Future Of Advertising

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The future of advertising is very bright and conceivably a bit creepy.  Emerging technologies and advanced data mining have resulted in astounding possibilities for advertisers in recent years.  For the first time in digital marketing history, brands have the ability to capture specific information about individual consumers and then deliver customized messaging to them based on a variety of data points such as browsing history, demographics, and interests.  Google Analytics even released a feature that allows marketers to view consumer behavior occurring on their websites in real-time.

Taking it a step further, Re-marketing technology allows companies to serve ads to consumers that have previously visited their websites.  As those consumers browse the Web, marketers can serve them personalized ads based on the behavior they previously displayed.  For instance, our agency could serve ads with “free account audit” messaging to people that viewed our ‘Paid Search Services’ page, but did not contact us.  At Lead Horse, we like to say, “Re-marketing is a second chance to make a first impression.”

While the current advancements in technology are incredible, the future possibilities are nothing short of amazing.  Wearable technology is a very hot trend and Google is one of the companies leading the way with their Google Glass product.  Google Glass is a wearable Android-powered computer built into spectacle frames that operates hands free.  The display is perfectly within a person’s field of vision, allowing users to film, take pictures, search on the go, and even run specially designed apps.

Although Glass is still in its infancy, it seems Google could be planning for an ad based system utilizing the technology.  Dubbed “pay-per-gaze” advertising, Google received approval for a patent last year which would employ a Google Glass-like eye sensor in order to identify when consumers are looking at advertisements in the real world and online.  Ad costs would be relative to how long the user saw the ad and what kind of emotional response it generated.  From the patent application filed in 2011:

“Pay-per-gaze” advertising need not be limited to on-line advertisements, but rather can be extended to conventional advertisement media including billboards, magazines, newspapers, and other forms of conventional print media. Thus, the gaze tracking system described herein offers a mechanism to track and bill offline advertisements in the manner similar to popular online advertisement schemes.”

If the world’s largest search engine was granted a patent for ads that literally flash in front of your eyes, just imagine the future possibilities.  Instead of merely hovering your mouse over a YouTube video ad and being charged based on the length of time watched, Google would get paid when it can determine that your pupils looked towards an ad and for how long.

In five years, perhaps we will live in an advertising world wherein augmented reality and wearable technology are king.  Imagine cost-per-clicks being replaced by cost-per-emotions and Quality Scores being determined by involuntary pupil responses to gaze tracking advertisements.  Envision walking past a store and the digital billboard in front of you changing instantly based on your personal style and purchasing history.  If we can overcome privacy concerns and the creepiness factor, it is very possible the future of advertising could be brilliantly individualized.

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