For Sale: Tin-foil hats

For Sale: Tin-foil hats

Working in advertising technology, I am often asked about the huge investments this year between Google, Microsoft and AOL – which amount to about $10Bn between them. My answer is in ‘convergence’, the cross-play between media channels and the ability to track user behaviour for advertising relevance.

Web 3.0 is knocking on the door and will bring with a range of automated analysis and predictive patterns for determining relevance – of content and/or advertising. With the divergence of devices to consume content upon, how advertising flows between them to bring a personalised message is something all advertising technology companies are keeping a sharp eye upon, albeit within agreed limitations.

Windows Live ID  makes no bones about the idea of a centralised digital identification system that enables a login across a range of media devices connected to the Microsoft Passport Network. Such systems they hope will be key to delivering relevance, and they are not alone as Google has employed its own login system – e.g. linking Search and YouTube.

I often muse the goal of all of this is that you’ll see a TV ad, then perform a search on the web, respond to a competition on a mobile, walk into the underground – and suddenly you will seem surprised that the display boards know what advertsing message to display to you. I sum it up as:

From the moment you wake up to the moment you go to bed (and even while you sleep, if that were possible) they want to ensure that everything your senses are exposed to, that advertising message will be relevant to you.

Well the ‘sleep’ aspect may not be so far off after all. Microsoft has just filed a patent for reading your mind by electroencephalograms (EEGs) to record electrical signals within the brain. Apparently, the company hopes that the data will enable to them to better design easier user interfaces for people. It won’t stop there.

Feel free to read the full Microsoft mind reading patent application for yourself.

Mind Reading technology is nothing new – I blogged about this a few weeks ago about research in Russia. I remember an unsubstantiated ‘urban myth’ s few years ago about the so-called ‘Sony Spookman’ – that was supposed to be a telepathic device allowing users to talk to each other by thought alone… apparently a race was on to try and crack this ‘thought process’ in Japan.

A couple of articles about this kind of research are found here:

But one quote that has particularly caught my eye was an article on the Guardian UK:

“Imagine a computer that could pick the right emotional moment to try to sell you something, a future where mobile phones, cars and websites could read our mind and react to our moods”  ‘Mind-reading’ computers next?

With 10% of any given company’s turnover based around getting their message out to the masses, you honestly ‘think’ that any technolgical advancement won’t be assumed fair game for the advertising community?

Wonder if ‘Ted Baker Tin-Foil hats’ would catch on..?

About the Author:

I am a Digital Transformation Strategist and focussed on global evangelism; helping position clients at the forefront of emerging media and the next generation of consumer engagement. I'm passionate about how storytelling and creative technology can be used to deliver focussed messages – irrespective of the consumer viewing device – and then drive favourable outcomes for brands, whilst addressing concerns over user profiling.

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