Yesterday I caught a funny video on YouTube, called “The Future of Advertising. It’s a cartoon, set in the future, showing how ad technology has progressed to the point where they pipe them into our dreams.
Then I did a search on the phrase, “The Future of Advertising” and I found an interesting article that shows just how invasive advertising is becoming. It’s written by David H. Freedman. He starts by giving us a tour of a new technology that feeds subtle commercials into your living room. The company involved will put your family photos together for you in a professional looking display for no charge. Their fee is the right to slip subtle ads in your family photo show that mirror the content of your photos.
Freeman goes on to say:
and inexpensively embark on ad campaigns that hit exactly the right
prospects — and hardly anyone else — with entertaining,
hard-to-ignore messages that can follow people via new high-tech media
into their cars, offices, living rooms, and bedrooms”
In other words, it’s reasonable to expect advertising to become more rather than less invasive, much like the cartoon suggests.
The good news (if you can call anything about this possibility good) is that ads will be more targeted than ever before. This brings some peace of mind to me as I look forward to a Saturday evening movie without all the drug commercials.
But I think it’s also a big dose of bad news. Just because we have a greater ability to jam commercial messages down people’s throats does not mean we should. Maybe that’s the lesson too many promoters forget. The ability to do something does not in itself provide a reason to do it.
There’s a fine line between forcing your message on someone and having them be a willing participant in the communication. And with super-duper extra highly targeted advertising, this line gets blurry. It’s too easy to say the relevance of the ad justifies its delivery.
I don’t know how this will play out. But I do know one way to keep the advertising of the future working for good rather than evil.
Put the customer first.
Make sure all your intentions and all your actions are based on helping your customer get what they want (in the context of your product or service). If a specific ad campaign does not meet this standard then cut it loose. Try something else.
Technology and creativity will always bring us more ways to deliver our messages than we can imagine. There will always be the temptation to put yourself and your chosen media first. It’s easy to get so caught up with the glitzy, sexy technology that we forget why we’re trying to deliver a message.
Our goal should be to help people.
Work from that standard and your marketing will be more effective, no matter what the latest greatest technology is.