The Future of Digital Advertising: How Actual Thoughts and Emotions will Soon Replace Browsing History and On-Site Engagement

As technology continues to grow at an exponential rate, we should only expect that industries will evolve and utilize newly developed technologies to enhance their own product offerings. As we move further into the digital age, a new sociological and technological trend is becoming very apparent: marketers are focusing more and more on the individual, despite an increasing social and global focus shift towards community.  In turn, less attention will be placed on privacy as security encryption will continue to pace with technology, allowing the adoption rate of what we now consider invasive devices to rapidly grow.

Cloud-based offerings already allow us to share the same user experience on our devices whether at home, on a tablet or wirelessly connecting to the TV in a hotel room. Seeing the same desktop in any location is already here, but where does technology go from there and which technologies will have a major impact on the evolution of advertising? And how are advertisers evolving the personalized experience for users?

First, Google Glass – yes, they are awkward and large, but we are only seeing phase one of many.  As Google Glass become indistinguishable from normal glasses, for the first time information, and of course ads, will be catered to your personal preferences anywhere you go. We’ve seen this already on smartphones, such as Starbucks sending out custom coupons to app users when they are within Wi-Fi range based upon their own preferences and historical purchases.

As we move beyond smartphones, devices conceptually similar to the Muse headband  will become more popular and advanced and allow your advertising to become completely focused on the true individual interests of each person uniquely and in real-time. Devices such as Google Glass or the Muse headband will be able to interpret emotions and send information in real-time to advertisers, such as if you are hungry and in the mood for pizza, tired and need coffee and so forth. If you think about a hot vanilla latte on a cold evening, you might see Starbucks pay a higher cost to serve ads for ‘Vanilla Latte’ to specific individuals in market geos where the propensity to convert maximized or hits a ‘opportunity to convert’ threshold. This means advertising will eventually shift to a pay-per-emotion or a pay-per-opportunity model – hitting the exact individual with the exact item they’re considering at the right time and in the right location. You may think this is impossible, but we’ve seen more primitive versions of this with Starbucks and Mini Cooper and their individualized billboards with RFID chips.

I’d like to offer up a ‘wilder’ prediction that we will also see advertisers targeting ads to individuals in artificial realities. The continued evolution of devices already in production, such as Oculus Rift and the Virtuix omnidirectional treadmill will eventually make reality and fictional worlds almost indistinguishable. Imagine being able to travel and experience with all senses a scene from your favorite movie, walk the moon of a faraway planet, speak with historical figures or your favorite fictional character within their world and how this could change people’s participation of reality vs. virtual reality.

Google is already testing more primitive versions of this with a game known as ‘Ingress’ which allows users to overlay their actual geography within the game itself and connect and interact with others in the virtual world based on an individual’s actual proximity. These virtual worlds will provide complete new realities as well as trackable ‘big’ data for advertisers. As we begin to engage with these alternate realities, advertisers will find the impact of their advertising and value of data will remain be more similar to reality than we previously imagined. Thus the impact of branding and ads will become as blurry as the ability to distinguish virtual reality from reality itself.

Begin to prepare yourself now because your thoughts and emotions will let advertisers know exactly what you want and will allow them to identify the right time to hit the right customer with the right message. The technologies needed are already in development and as we become more comfortable with the rapid evolution of technology, unique and customized ads for the individual will actually begin to actually make sense to consumers and advertisers alike.

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