If you follow the ad industry at all you know that last week was the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity. Similarly, if you are on Twitter you know that Hyper Island owned the post-event conversation with their The Future of Advertising e-book. Seemingly everybody was tweeting about it, and for good reason, it was distributed via a Pay With A Tweet social payment system. So, well done, HI.
As for the content of said e-book. Perhaps a little hit or miss, but when you consider they put it together in something like two
days (yikes, hours!), it’s a worthy effort. The quick read (it’s 40 pages) is filled with insights and ideas from a host of Cannes attendees all gazing into their crystal balls. Many of the ideas focused heavily on the role of technology. Here’s a sampling:
- Death to Digital
- Up in the cloud
- Free Global Wi-Fi
- Smart Clothes
- Virtual Brick & Mortar
- 3D printers
- And general connectivity (thanks to technology)
While all these seem plausible, they don’t strike me as being unique to the advertising industry. These are back-end issues, albeit important and relevant ones. They didn’t really address the need for fundamental changes in how we do business though.
I did very much like the idea put forth by Asa Marklundand Allison Curran:
Brand-sponsored pills with different themes that you take before you sleep for your preferred experience (eg. your rejuvenation brought to you by Aveda, energizing by red bull, romance by Durex, Happiness by Coca Cola).
I had been playing around with this notion myself this past winter and could see it happening. Or at least I could see it being possible, but there would be many ethical questions, etc.
But here’s what I didn’t see directly addressed in the Hyper Island book that I think as an industry we need to consider: What happens to advertising when we enter the era of the Internet of Things? We keep hearing about a future where your orange juice tells your refrigerator that it is time to get some more OJ, and then fridge beams that information to your shopping list app on your phone. Sounds awesome, right?
Well, what type of orange juice, exactly. Do you just keep getting the same brand? What if there is a new brand or another brand has a coupon or, or…?
How do we as marketers interact with ‘things’ in an Internet of Things era? If purchasing decisions will increasingly be made by computers and artificial intelligences, how do marketers navigate that world and engage consumers? Let’s be honest, most consumers would love to have the tedium of those type of decisions handled electronically. If your bottle of Tide told your washing machine it was almost empty, and the washing machine told your grocery store, or Costco, to put the exact same bottle of Tide in your order, to be picked up (or dropped off at your house!) you’d jump at that. So how do you change a purchase behavior in that scenario?
I think agencies will have to create their own A.I.
An agency will need to create an Artificial Intelligence that can communicate, instantaneously and in real-time across the Internet will all the digital entities that will be in charge of our purchases. An A.I. that can deliver intercepts with information about discounts, new products, etc that are relevant. It would only send an ad to your house for toilet paper when you are running out of toilet paper. Don’t own a dog? You’ll never get an ad for dog food.
I don’t know all the executional/technological how-tos on this, but I’m convinced that agencies will have to have an A.I. as a response to The Internet of Things. But this will require an entirely new skill set to be absorbed into the agency culture. You’ll need a Creative Technologist / coder hybrid to lead a team of people steeped in data analytics, machine learning, semantic analysis and other sorts of computer science.
I think if things move in that direction, and it is likely in my opinion that it will, then agencies as we know them will cease to exist. Or at least an entirely new type of agency will emerge and will, in a very short period of time, wield tremendous power.