Technology Bringing Advertising to Virtual Life

Technology could one day create a revolution in advertising; bringing it to virtual life. The latest report out by the Centre for Future Studies and commissioned by 3MGTG, who specialises in digital advertising foresees the first step to be advertisements that adapt to our moods. The technology has been dubbed 'Gladverts' by the report's authors and they envision a world where emotion recognition software (ERS) can tell if you are happy or sad and then serve up an advert based on how you feel.

Advertisers have long yearned for a world in which they could engage people walking down the street and similar to Steven Spielberg's hugely successful 2002 film, Minority Report, where the film showed the future in the year 2054 where adverts spoke directly to the main character, Tom Cruise. Daniel Steinbichler, CEO 3MGTG's says, "Steven Spielberg got it wrong. It will be more advanced than the director ever imagined. Instead of just recognising consumers by name, technology such as gladvertising will allow brands to offer interactive experiences."

In Japan, technology company NEC has developed a system which can work out a person's gender, estimate their age, and serve up adverts suited to that demographic. Further in the future this targeted advertising may go a step further by not only knowing your mood, but also information such as age, sex and interests, possibly powered by social networking profiles. Naturally, this new technology has got privacy campaigners worried.

Alexander Hanff from Privacy International says, “We have a situation where the boundaries between our online and offline worlds become even more blurred and we currently have no regulatory or legislative regime in place to deal with these dangers." A main concern will be how personal data is collected and by whom, as one idea is to use publicly available social networking information, while, another is to tap in to existing market research. Moreover, the interactive nature of 'Gladverts' may offer a service in return for information, a trend already seen with public Wifi hotspots, which require assorted personal details before use. However, concerns over the amount of data collected by firms operating online has lead to recent changes to the EU's ePrivacy Directive, tightening controls on the types of digital kept.

Across the pond, in the US, Loopt, a social network catered to mobile-device users is using technology to allow advertisers to send alerts to Loopt users, based on their location, when they want to offer them a limited-time deal. So, for instance a restaurant looking to fill empty seats could alert a nearby Loopt user of a special price for a meal if they arrived first. This initiative is called ‘Reward Alerts’ and will begin soon. These latest announcement mark the next step in the evolution advertising and location will be a key component in the future of marketing.

Photo Credit: Greg Knapp

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