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The fire that warms can also burn;
‘Better a small fire that warms you than a big one that burns you.’

- French Proverb.

behavioral iconWe are moving into an era of targeted advertising – delivering the right message at the right time. The logical conclusion of all targeted advertising is that technology will bring both a total transparency into consumer life-cyles, as well as be able to ascertain predictive purchase habits. It will facilitate a highly addressable and personalised message to an individual or group of individuals, in order to produce a suitable response required by the advertiser. It is about tying an individual to data collated on their previous consumer behaviours and/or purchase habits and then delivering a sequenced message across an entire range of electronic displays in the home, shopping malls or on the street, etc.

As we enter the third wave of computing known a UbiComp, technology will shrink in size, increase in power and ultimately disappear into the background of our every day lives. A whole new infrastructure will see using miniature remotely powered wireless computers interfaced with sensors as opposed to keyboards. As Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) gets set to link every product on the planet to the Net through Near Field Communication (NFC) and GPS, it will allow the collation of unparalleled levels of data of consumer habits both in and out of the home. This technology will also be able to determine where and when a consumer is in the proximity of any given screen – and potentially looking at it – in order to deliver the correct message and facilitate the delivery of targeted messages to any screen, anywhere, anytime. RFID will inevitably become the next-generation cookie for trans-media advertising.

Always connected and always aware, privacy could become a thing of the past. An immersive connected world is dawning upon us, but as well as the exciting opportunities there are socio-political concerns as we seek to target individuals with tailored, timely and relevant brand messages across the full media spectrum. If addressable advertising is the Holy Grail for marketers, what does this mean for the future of contextual and location-based advertising; where are we at and what can we expect? Will this finally bring the utopia that is being sought by marketers to answer conclusively which 50% of their media dollars are being wasted – and if so at what price to humanity?

The questions I want to ask pertain to ‘just because we can, does it mean we should?’ Even if the answer is yes, assuming the genie is already well out of the bottle, under what circumstances should we pursue this and can an ethical framework be established in which to operate?

“Man is the only creature that dares to light a fire and live with it.
The reason? Because he alone has learned to put it out.”

- Henry Jackson Vandyke, Jr.

Research

Addressable Advertising: An inquiry into targeting individuals using RFID is a philosophical and ethical investigation and analysis into the rise of Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) and specifically its uses within an advertising context in order to target individuals with tailored, timely and relevant brand messages across the full media spectrum. This document will investigate the socio-political dilemma and investigate intervention in light of privacy concerns.

The Original Paper – Submitted to Centre for Media Excellence exploring the future developments and opportunities of advertising delivery.
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This document is the first submission (50,000 words)
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The Final Paper – Submitted to Bournemouth University with compiled interview and survey results.
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This document is the final submission (10,000 words)
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Online Defence – Discourse on a deeper probing into the submission with Bournemouth University,
validating and defending my argument.
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Slideshow – The preliminary presentation I plan on using to illustrate this radical change in advertising approach
that is already underway by highlighting global case studies.

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My aim is to take all this material and re-write this further to become part of book that I am planning.
I welcome all your comments, criticsms and debates. I don’t have all the answers either…

Dean Donaldson. January 2010.

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As a global digital evangelist, I tend to spend my life living out of a suitcase and occasionally getting to indulge my passion of going under water. Yet most of the time I'm just quizzed on my latest thoughts on where I think the digital industry is at.

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