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The Future of Advertising

March 04, 2013

The Internet of Things, a term coined by MIT's Auto-ID lab co-founder Kevin Ashton some 15 years ago to describe physical objects becoming connected to the Internet through ubiquitous tags and sensors, is already playing out in some industries like consumer electronics and manufacturing. Cars and aircraft engines are already sharing information with humans and other machines and in the not-so-distant future we will see more "dumb" things turn into "smart" ones. 

The Internet Of Things is also high on marketers' radars, with clear benefits for creating stronger brands through the interaction between products and consumers, corporate advisor Jeffrey F. Rayport says in a blog post for Harvard Business Review. Just consider what the UK-based company Evrythng did for Diageo's spirits marketing in 2012. It ran a pilot project in Brazil for Father's Day, enabling consumers to use their smartphones to scan product codes on individual bottles of liquor, turning each bottle into a uniquely identifiable object of digital media. The gifter could use their smartphone to create a video for Dad and upload it to the cloud. Dad, the receiver, could then download the video to get the giver's message. The result was increased personalization of the brand experience, increased loyalty to the brand and increased insight for the spirits maker about how its products were used.  

This is an example of how marketers, without using high-tech augmentations of products, can create totally new advertising experiences where the product itself becomes its media vehicle. What's new here is how advertising is redefined in at least five ways. First, the advertising message is integrated into the social flow of everyday life. Then it calls upon the gifter to create the ad message to augment the product and enables the user to personalize the product in unique ways. It converts existing products into smart ones that can deliver dynamic ad messages and it gives consumers the rationale to have an ongoing relationship with the brand.

That's the future of advertising, which is so elegantly flowed into the life of the customer that it bears no resemblance to the conventional one-way, broadcast-style messaging and delivery.