Just 13 years ago, Steven Spielberg’s Minority Report envisioned the year 2054 as one in which marketing and advertising are so invasive that holograms make frenzied, customized sales pitches to people as they walk through the mall.
In an unnerving scene, protagonist John Anderton’s eyes flashed as retina scanners identified him from a customer database and pushy holograms pitched him items based on his previous purchases, personal attributes, and preferences.
We still have almost 40 years to go until the film’s setting, but it’s already pretty obvious what the screenwriters got right about the future of marketing (big data, personalized ads) and what they probably got wrong – aside from our endless cultural obsession with holograms. Hollywood often shows us how exotic technologies might revolutionize well-worn concepts like display advertising (or heck, even malls), but how well does it predict the totally new concepts that might replace them?
The inescapable sales chatter in Minority Report’s mall scene was meant to raise privacy questions, making 2002 audiences uncomfortable with how much marketers might know about each consumer in the future. To marketers, the scene demonstrates the potential of big data and why marketers need a complementary personalization strategy to make a better first impression.
Now, cue content marketing, which provides value to people and businesses researching their purchases. Its softer approach may be the thing that spares us from the suffocating ad bombardment Spielberg’s film predicted.
One marketing channel is always on
In 2015, businesses have a content channel from which their target audiences never walk away: mobile.
Last November, mobile ad company Flurry found that Americans now spend nearly three hours per day on their mobile devices – more than they spend watching TV. Even more remarkable is that mobile time jumped almost 10 percent in just nine months. As wearable technology enters the mainstream in 2015 and beyond, one would expect that mobile time to grow.
Today, most of us sleep within reach of our smartphones, continuing to read them late at night and first thing in the morning. If a question comes into our heads as we hit the pillow, we have to Google it before we can fall asleep. It’s not difficult to imagine that these habits may even affect our dreams.
According to a Salesforce Marketing Cloud study, searching for information online is the third most frequent activity performed on mobile devices – surpassed only by checking emails and text messages, and more popular than social networking.
If someone in your target audience has a problem that you can solve, the only important question is whether your content is relevant and comprehensive enough to be the best answer on the web during your prospects’ mobile searches. That is the difference between tons of business and very little.
We know quality content is increasingly important to marketing, and that trend is likely to continue as search volume creeps higher. So how could this affect the way marketing is practiced later in the 21st century? Or is 2054 marketing already here?
Advertising will build a better case for products and services by figuring out whom and what we trust
Unilever Senior Vice President of Marketing Marc Mathieu says, “Marketing used to be about creating a myth and selling it and is now about finding a truth and sharing it.”
Minority Report was right to imagine advertising messages tailored to individuals based on their behaviors, interests, and purchase histories. But rather than using unknown virtual sales assistants to make the pitch, today’s brands highlight social media recommendations from our friends and colleagues. If those aren’t available, they send us the kinds of stats or stories to which we have a history of responding.
Expect this trend to continue as our homes become populated with web-connected technology. In 2054, if you start preparing Korean barbecue tacos with Huy Fong chili paste on your “smart” countertop, the kitchen interface may ask if you want to share this recipe with friends. These friends might receive an ad informing them that you use this brand and a list of the recipes you’ve made with it – or even a video of you putting the meal together.
Big brands will purchase virtually all major media companies
In the short term, media companies will continue to amass portfolios of niche and special interest publications to increase ad revenue. This makes them increasingly attractive to major brands, which are starting to see the media outlets as a way to immediately acquire engaged, targeted audiences to whom they can advertise directly.
Many people might consider this to be a dystopian future for journalism – one that would scare away readership. But the Content Marketing Institute’s Joe Pulizzi does a good job of explaining why brands might actually do a better job of delivering quality content than today’s media owners.
The things you talk about will influence the type of content marketing you see
If you use Gmail, you know that Google has been serving you ads relevant to the topics discussed in your emails for years. The same concept is expected to be applied to wearable devices that will be able to transcribe your conversations. Advertisers already can tell some of our interests by analyzing our hashtags and follows on Twitter and Instagram. But as image-recognition technology improves, brands will be able to understand what we care about by identifying the subjects of our photos and videos.
Content will be delivered based on our activities and emotions, not just our location
Location will continue to determine the kinds of ads we see. For example, our favorite local retail store may send a mobile notification about a sale to us as we walk by the shop. Wearables also will give businesses plenty of other data such as heart and perspiration rates, and even emotional states so they can determine when content might be welcome and when it might be considered a nuisance.
Some brands will invest in wearable products primarily for the potential to create content relationships that strengthen brand loyalty. Imagine receiving a personal evaluation and video tutorials on adjusting your running style from a fitness brand after jogging in your new Ralph Lauren fitness tracking shirt. Or maybe your future shirt “learns” you typically run between 6:45 and 7:30 a.m., starting at the intersection of Damen and Wabansia streets. So a brand monitoring your wearable-tech shirt emails you a blog post about the best breakfast foods to eat before a run and lists stores and restaurants near the beginning of your route that are open.
And if we leave our Microsoft HoloLenses at home, we won’t be harassed by holograms
After all, public three-dimensional projections look the same to everyone and isn’t mass messaging a bit old-fashioned?
Image: Microsoft HoloLens Image credit: Microsoft
Cover image by Archbob, morgueFile, via pixabay.com