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What’s the future of advertising?

In many respects, the future of advertising lies on the Internet. However, despite much the same audience being present as in print, TV and radio, the rules are very different…

In many respects, the future of advertising lies on the Internet. However, despite much the same audience being present as in print, TV and radio, the rules are very different…

The irony is, as a medium, the Internet offers almost self-organizing demographics, whereby distinct groups of people can be readily found aggregating around certain types of forums, websites, ‘blogs, social networks et cetera.

But the perception of advertising on the Internet is that people feel they’re being intruded upon. Lazy, cheap and often haphazard / irrelevant adverts don’t help matters.

And therein lies the challenge to advertisers — how do they become less annoying but still make a profit?

I’m certainly no expert in advertising, but because advertising is so reliant on our emotions, I find advertising a fascinating subject.

Advertising — new avenues for revenue?

Take for example a recent Rugby Union game on TV which featured a very unusual take on advertising. Rather than appealing to the emotions, Paddy Power probed our curiosity, which is powerful stuff, when it works.

More recently, the worlds of the wide web and of advertising have come together in unexpected ways; embedded adverts in PDF files, experimenting with “in video” advertising, as well as “in-game” advertising to name but three examples.

I’ve given some thought to the future of advertising before, from the point of view of a very simple yet highly nuanced question: will advertising ever not be annoying?

It’s a strange sort of question, but a recent article outlining the best kinds of advertising drew a comment out of me:

“Is there not an argument for adverts that aren’t interrupting or annoying?

If we accept that demographic profiling is to become more accurate and that our individual needs better known, then the specificity of advertising might mean that with media channels of the near future, we’re only getting the stuff that we want.

So in that sense, advertising becomes exceptionally targeted. It’s worth looking into APML as an example of how we can now manage and share our likes & dislikes.

Think in terms of targeted advertising interwoven with DVR technology and interactive TV, so that when we see something, like maybe a guy wearing a T-shirt we like the look of, we pause play, click the T-shirt and create a sale tag that we can come back to and buy later…”

Which is a summary — or maybe a distillation — of the ideas I’ve had about the future of advertising.

Much has been said about convergence in technology. How we all like to imagine our favourite gadgets merged into one. Or plucking disparate technology trends out of thin air, hoping to marry them in some way, to create a better whole.

But what is technology, anyway?

Perhaps the greatest convergent technology will be the one that sees TV, radio, video playback merge with the web, creating a super media service, one that takes the strengths of its constituent parts while doing away with their weaknesses.

Advertising has been around for an exceptionally long time, in one form or another. As new mediums emerge, it’s the job of the entrepreneurial advertiser to populate that new medium with must-have offers and eye-catching deals.

It’s easy to say that the Internet is the future of advertising. The same must have been said of television and then the radio before it.

But as a medium, the Internet will pull together those other venues to create something so vast that advertising will be thrust into the heart of this super medium itself.

Maybe in the not too distant future, many of the things we do on the will be free?

Instead, the past, present and the future of the Internet, TV and radio are reliant on the continued successes of advertising, whatever shape or form they may be…

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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.

6 replies on “What’s the future of advertising?”

i think a new form of advertising could go hand in hand with RFID, where the RFID tag would contain certain information about location, age, sex, likes, dislikes, and then could be linked with any advertising medium to display the most relevant ads that are specifically targeted at that one person. everyone has different likes and dislikes, even within the same small group.

My problem with in-game advertising is that advertising is supposed to help cover the costs of development, but they still charge the same amount to buy the game. so where’s the money going form the advertising? other than the obvious place (the pockets of the CEOs)

Hi Doug! The principle stumbling block with RFID technology is that of privacy infringement.

The arguments for were always about the increased level of control over goods and sales patterns. But the feeling is that the downsides outweigh the good stuff.

“My problem with in-game advertising is that advertising is supposed to help cover the costs of development, but they still charge the same amount to buy the game.”

Which is exactly the point I make in the linked article on that subject.

Chances are, some idiot studio is going to roll out a video game that’s totally overloaded with commercial endorsements.

The plus side to this is that title will die a quick but exceptionally painful death…

unfortunately it won’t die out, look at burnout paradise, madden, or any other EA game. they are loaded with advertisements but the consumer never sees a discount on the price of the game. it will never change because games keep getting more expensive to create, and the people want more money to create them.

Now you’ve got me going! I’ve written a ton of stuff on this subject. LOL

You’re right, in-game advertising is here to stay. But on the whole, it’s not intrusive, which is the key difference.

There are also different types of media that can be woven into games, which sort of steps over advertising and goes direct to sale, such as in-game music, as an example.

Anyone who’s played Grand Theft Auto will attest to the great selection of tunes on the radio when you got in a car!

Fairly recently, Hellgate: London becaome a good example of bad ad’ intergration, which kicked up an unholy stink by all accounts.

The level of sophistication in video games is only ever going up, as will the price — as you mentioned. My theory is, the games developers and the movie studios will have to work together to help cut costs and increase the realism of a game.

In the end, from the point of view of in-game advertising, the consumer decides. It just depends on how much we let the games developers get away with…

To be fair, I can’t imagine popup ads, roll down ads or any other cheap attention grabbing online advertising techniques ever not being annoying. There must be some correlation between bad products/scams and the level of annoyance of adverts. With good products, less is more.

Hi Nick, those things sadly aren’t going anywhere. They’re certainly not the future of legitimate advertising, but they’re bound to be the future of spam and will continue to annoying!

Because ‘blogging is a good venue for conversational marketing, it’s probably the right time for “advertorials” to make the big leap from print to web.

I suppose PayPerPost will say they’re doing that kind of thing already, but the emphasis is all wrong.

Thanks for the comment, Nick. Speak soon…

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