The fall and rise of advertising

Like many things – billing for example – the future of advertising lies in its death. Or at least the death of the traditional model. While the communications industry knows that bombarding customers with offers and ‘in your face’ advertising will make them switch off, it is worth looking at what the advertising industry itself is doing to keep advertising compelling.

The fundamental of good advertising now is engagement. Advertising and content go hand in hand, one must become the other and many channels and techniques must be used. With the emergence of data that can provide advertisers with context comes the concept of a captive yet engaged audience. Examples are becoming widespread. Car companies are producing 30 minute videos about their latest model. Not because everyone will even consider watching a 30 minute video about the latest model, but because those people considering buying the latest model probably will.

Or as Google put it (ironically) in a newspaper ad, ‘Who do you want to tell about your hairdressing salon? People looking for a hair cut.’

We have said before that there is a danger of getting it horribly wrong, losing customers’ trust and doing more damage than good. That said, with the advertising industry beginning to get to grips with the concept of personalisation, there is hope. And it might be bright.

One technique that is emerging is augmented reality. A company called Blippar is leading the way. This is a market that could be worth $5.2 billion in just three years, according to Juniper Research. Essentially what happens is you see something that interests you and point your smartphone at it, and lo and behold, you have access to all sorts of content and information (presumably beautifully presented) about the product that you are pointing at.

This may seem far-fetched, even ludicrous but one thing is definitely in its favour. The customer is initiating the request for more information, not the product producer or distributor. It also has ‘cool’ appeal. With the maturing of paper and packaging to take advantage of augmented reality – you can point a smartphone at the packaging of a train set and a 3D train starts chugging round the screen, showing off new bends, stations and carriages –  it will certainly be tried once.

One thing is for sure and that is the next Age of Advertising will be full of experimentation and many ideas will be thrown down many channels. Traditional advertising will become just another channel. Operators will, if they are clever, be one very effective distribution channel, working with brands to get their messages to exactly the right people at the right moment.

Let’s see whether there is anything that augmented reality can do to a bill – if consumers even need one any more.

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About Alex Leslie 400 Articles
Alex was Founder and CEO of the Global Billing Association (GBA), a trade body focused on the communications sector. He is a sought after speaker and chairman at leading industry conferences, and is widely published in communications magazines around the world. Until it closed, he was Contributing Editor, OSS/BSS for Connected Planet.

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