Up Next: personalised Mass Communication

A friend of mine has a view that advertising will be dead quite soon.

Having done publishing and advertising for many years, I don’t think so, but I believe it will radically evolve.

Because I like advertisements when they help me find what I need, especially when I forget I need it.

I always wonder, why instead of asking me, all these web services try to profile me, to categorize me and to guess what I may need?

Why bombard me with useless daily offers based on wrong guesses and don’t try to ask me what I am really looking for?

Even if they ask, they offer me tons of choices, instead of offering few or accepting plain English responses. A bit of intelligence would help those services to dramatically increase their effectiveness.

For example, the business partner of mine is 57. Whenever he fills in his date of birth online he starts to receive offers of goods and services for retired people. None of these services is smart enough to google him (or at least to ask him) to find out that he is a super marathon runner, who have run almost 300 marathons and 3000 miles across different deserts.

At the same time, some systems try to go to another extreme and collect my personal preferences without my permission.

personalised mass communications have a big future yet to come. We could glimpse how it can work in the movie The Game (1997) in the episode where Nicholas Van Orton is viewing financial news on TV mixed with the messages addressed directly to him by the same anchorman. You can watch this episode here (the video will start from 5:04) and notice how he starts paying attention when his name is just mentioned for the first time (at 5:17).

Our names are the most powerful keys to our attention and still most automated systems fail to use them properly – out of multitude of automated Xmas messages received this year none used my first name. No wonder I pay little attention.

But just using (and abusing as some mass marketers do) our names is not good enough – what follows should be relevant to us (the same video at 5:29 and at 5:55). Otherwise we will react as we would on the street when a stranger calls our name – we lose interest even faster than we have expressed it, as if being embarrassed.

So it is still a long way to improve and to personalise mass communication even at the existing technology level, and it will yet take some R&D to make a personalised TV feed a reality.

But when it happens it will be a fascinating new life of advertising.

And we will pay as much attention to mass communication systems as they pay us. Σ

PS Please scroll this video to 5:04.

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