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Will advertising ever not be annoying?

Eventually, the TV channels got smart. So when you walk out of the room during the adverts, they pumped up the volume. Why? So you can still hear the adverts while you’re in the kitchen making a cup of tea. It’s a power struggle – the advertisers and the channels are trying to poke the viewer in the eye as a way of curing our increasing ‘ad-blindness’, which is no cure at all…

Eventually, the TV channels got smart. So when you walk out of the room during the adverts, they pumped up the volume. Why? So you can still hear the adverts while you’re in the kitchen making a cup of tea. It’s a power struggle – the advertisers and the channels are trying to poke the viewer in the eye as a way of curing our increasing ‘ad-blindness’, which is no cure at all…

What we really need is more specificity. Do that, and when we see an advert, we might not just switch off, mentally or otherwise.

My dad got an offer through the post. Well, I say offer, it was more of a hands-on market research package. The package included a special remote control for the TV plus a barcode scanner.

The remote control tracks what we watch on TV while the barcode scanner keeps track of all that we buy. The two devices are then connected to the phone line to keep the powers-that-be up-to-date with what my dad & I are doing.

There was of course the obligatory customer survey, which harvests the usual demographic data, all of which will be processed, combined with the data from the remote control and the barcode scanner, de-individualized for privacy reasons and then sold on to the guys that run adverts on the television.

Of course, my dad tore the address from the head of the letter and threw the lot in the recycle bag, and was shot of it.

But by this point, I was busy thinking.

If we look at some of the trends in advertising, we see a point in the near future where advertising seems to be highly invasive.

Advertising is dead! Long live advertising!

But what if in the future, there were no adverts? Or at least not how we imagine them.

Take the concept of in-game adverts for video games, for example:

“While you can see things like in-game advertising adding a sense of authenticity to a video game, in-game music makes for a more engaging experience, and offers a more scalable platform for revenue.

For instance, if you have a preference for a particular artist or genre, and the game permits, or is thematically adaptable enough to allow for the choosing of music, then the sky is the limit.”

And maybe that’s the brick wall for advertising. If you stop laughing for a second or two and give yourself a moment to think, there’s a whole bunch of stuff out there that covers the demographics of video games, even by genre. In time, some of the venues for advertising might just vanish in the future.

If this data is already at hand, then there’s already a pretty good base of knowledge explaining what products or services that demographic are likely to go for.

So in that sense, we don’t need an advert, we just need to drop the product right into the video game.

This is called Product Placement, and it’s not a new idea, either. This has been happening in movies for some years, more recently, there’s heavy product placement to be found in the new live-action Transformers film.

And this could be any kind of product or service, too.

But this is video games, how does this translate outwards into other forms of media & entertainment? Quite fully, actually.

As we know, this kind of thing is happening in movies, we’re pretty sure it either happens directly or indirectly with TV shows, so product placement has been spreading outwards for ages. Video games is merely a very recent development.

There’s even been talk of digital radio offering a service to buy songs directly, so it seems that advertising is in many respects giving way to just letting the product sell itself, either by just being there, or the product being endorsed by the TV, movie, video game or song on a radio station.

As we move further forward, our mobile phones and PDAs will be video-equiped, routinely sporting Google video adverts, embedded either into their own YouTube content, or the content of someone else.

But because of our known viewing habits, and because our consumption of consumer goods will be known too, these adverts might not be all that annoying.

Imagine that? Adverts you want to watch…

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By Wayne Smallman

Wayne is the man behind the Blah, Blah! Technology website, and the creator of the Under Cloud, a digital research assistant for journalists and academics.

2 replies on “Will advertising ever not be annoying?”

I’ve heard some advertising agencies are now making ads that are pretty much static for the 30 seconds they run, with the product name on-screen for all that time – it’s so that when people (like me) fast-forward through the ad breaks on their Sky+ (or Tivo) boxes the advert still has a chance of making something of an impression on the viewer. That’s pretty canny.

I’ve also heard that there exists within the Sky system the ability for the broadcaster to prevent the viewer fast-forwarding the ads, but they daren’t switch it on for fear of a viewer backlash … is that true, do you know?

To add to your busy blogging schedule Wayne, I’ve tagged you with a musical task – more detail here: http://www.bobkingsley.co.uk/blog/?p=114

🙂

“I’ve also heard that there exists within the Sky system the ability for the broadcaster to prevent the viewer fast-forwarding the ads, but they daren’t switch it on for fear of a viewer backlash … is that true, do you know?”

I’ve not heard of that particular feature, but I know that TiVo was taken to task over the feature that allowed the view to not record the adverts.

It’s a funny thing, when you think about it; on the one hand, your viewing is ad-supported, but on the other hand, how much can the advertisers dictate our viewing habits?

Similarly, the number of adverts for any given show on telly is getting more / worse.

So is product placement the way forward?

And, where do we draw the line? Surely the emphasis must be of quality of content first and revenues second?

Maybe that’s a whole new topic for discussion…

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