Here’s an article I wrote for AdNews last month – it was edited down for publication so here’s the full thing. Uncensored:
We all keep hearing about the pace of change and how much we need to constantly shift our businesses both as agency or client. Sometimes it’s hard to know where to look with so much going on; an ever expanding web and new devices appearing daily in the consumers lounge and pockets … all places we need to harness for marketing success.
Batteries… soon to have a 30 year gap between recharging?
One thing’s for sure, it’s going to get more complicated, not less so I thought I would share five of the key technologies that are set to change the digital landscape in a significant way within the next ten years… here’s my TOP 5:
- Batteries and personal fuel cells.
Sounds boring… but current battery life is a huge roadblock for many consumers and our digital lifestyles in general. Most of us are bound to routines requiring a device recharge which is fairly annoying and limiting. There are many features on our phones (Video, GPS, Wireless) we simply don’t use as much because they render our phone useless within hours. We still need to talk as the primary function so we tend to bypass anything that reduces talk-time. There are a number of developments in the pipeline including the Betavoltaic Battery which in theory would power your laptop for 30 years …continuously. In some ways something like this could be the biggest fundamental leap in technology we have ever seen – akin to putting a motor on four wheels for the first time and giving our consumers infinite freedom, particularly on mobile devices.
- Measurement – Last Click Attribution and Brand Tracking
(Something that greatly affects the industry at present) Unfortunately “Search” takes most of the credit for traffic driven to websites, and often ignores previous brand/display interactions. The net effect is that around 75% of search usage is navigational (ie: users already know what they are looking for when they search) yet the campaign that may have driven the user to search gets no measurable credit – a real issue with ROI clients. Fortunately we can expect new tools to more fairly share the attribution in the very near future. Add to this some of the brand measurement tools in development and the true digital picture will become much clearer.
- Dynamic Product Placement
You’ve seen behavioral banners, but we’re getting close to the point where movies and TV shows can dynamically change product placements within the show environment …at time of broadcast. These will firstly be flat (eg: the poster on the wall has different messages – we’re starting to see some of this within sports events) but eventually these will become 3D so that can of Pepsi being held by your favourite actor can be changed on the fly to any other product – specifically one aimed at your demographic. It also means that overseas shows like Desperate Housewives can be sold with in show product placements specific for Australia.
- Ubiquitous Broadband WiFi/WiMAX
It’s coming – a time where IP connectivity is available as standard and we can access pretty much everything from anywhere we like. It will change the way consumers digest and interact with content, and it will also change the way we are able to measure it and distribute it. Of course this means an even more fragmented marketplace for the media buying landscape as this allows the potential for technologies like IPTV to flourish. The good news is the vision of everything being digitally distributed and highly measurable gets a little closer. Ironically this will most likely be the last of the five in my list to become a reality in Australia.
- Changing Screens
Those poxy little screens on mobile phones drive us all nuts whenever we have to do anything beyond talking. Surfing the web is well, painful at best. Fortunately the iPhone has already changed the way we interact with small devices, but the news gets better still. E-Paper or ‘Paper thickness’ screens (electrophoretic displays) are maturing fast which means we will see new devices appearing with ‘expandable screens’. Although people may not want to carry rolled up screens as big as a broadsheet newspaper the option will certainly be there. The technology varies, but some e-paper screens require no power to retain images so it is likely that outdoor display and POS advertising will benefit from this at some point because the screens could be updated remotely – no need for printing costs. For those on the move these technologies will be a huge leap in being able to digest content that simply doesn’t work on a 3.5 inch mobile display.
Of course there are many other digital technologies besides these on the way or already here in some form. I’m personally excited about the five above simply because they represent a major leap from what we have already – they are part of the next curve for digital. Some of these will be adopted by the consumer and industry faster than others but the innovation leap makes for an exciting time ahead.