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The Future of Advertising: Farewell, Mass Marketing

Posted on by Brian Wong, CEO

The article below originally appeared as an influencer post for the Wall Street Journal.

As consumers, we love visions of the future in which breathtaking technologies and electronic wizardry are so common they blend in with the furniture. Think of “2001: A Space Odyssey” (with product placements that included Pan Am and the Bell System), or “The Jetsons,” where morning routines were simplified by robots who brushed our teeth and combed our hair.

Jokes aside, these visions weren’t that far off.

Brian Wong Wall Street Journal

When I imagine the future, I envision a world where connected devices effortlessly unfold in front of us. When alarms go off in the morning, bedroom lights will slowly turn on to ease us into consciousness. Connected coffee pots could be synced to your smart bed, automatically grinding and brewing beans once you rise for the day. Bathrooms might even automate, with self-heating floors and showers that activate on cue.

Lives will be made easier by devices that can predict schedules, desires and needs. And as technology becomes less invasive, advertising will follow suit by becoming more human. Indeed, advertising will have the potential to be incorporated into every device—from fitness trackers to connected cars. But more important, instead of being designed to be loud or intrusive, its goal will be to capitalize on those opportunities when consumers actually invite brands to participate in the everyday moments in their lives that matter most.

Imagine: Exxon will be able to discern when your car’s gas tank is down to a quarter-full and will direct you to the nearest station. A smart refrigerator in your home will recognize when produce is about to spoil and offer a coupon for your next trip to the grocery store. Pacif-i, a Bluetooth-enabled pacifier that monitors baby temperatures, could predict when a fever is on the rise and offer parents a free sample of medicine that will make a tough night easier.

The era of mass-marketed products is drawing to a close. TV and radio commercials are great at reaching millions of viewers, but they don’t offer the best engagement. Instead, advertisers in the future will pinpoint the exact moments and needs that users have—entertainment, retail searches, even sports scores—and supply consumers with the solutions they are looking for in real time. In the next couple of decades, as new wearables and connected devices are introduced, advertising will progress more than it has in the past 50 years.

The idea of rewardable moments is only just beginning. Apple and Google, for example, have lofty goals of controlling our home, health and car apps in one place: mobile. It’s a necessary move with the advent of dozens of new smart devices, as we need a way to consolidate and control our data. Once there are hundreds of such apps and devices—or thousands, far enough in the future—advertisers will compete based on their ability to reach consumers anywhere through the apps and devices on which consumers and brands depend.

Everything will be instantaneous, from how advertisers discover needs to how consumers purchase featured products and services. When you see an ad for an item you like, you won’t have to search for the product online. You’ll be able to immediately purchase it on your device, through a one-touch payment system or a voice-activated command. The focus will be on ease—of search and transaction. Advertisers and technology will work together to make these systems fluid and consumers instantly gratified.

The other great news is advertisers will be able to track, measure and optimize advertising processes better than ever. The industry will benefit from a unique perspective, able to see how consumers react to products and services in real time.

One thing is certain: To future-proof your brand, you have to build a strategy that focuses on human activity. Find the connected moments when people want you to reach them, and add value to those consumers’ lives. Your brand will flourish.

Read the original article in print or online at the Wall Street Journal.

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