This week, London is set to get its first ‘intelligent’ advertisement, which alters its content depending on who is viewing it. As well as proving the accuracy of the futurology carried out for 2002 film Minority Report, which famously included such a notion, the idea fits very well with one of the 12 consumer trends in Roper’s TrendKey 3.1 framework.
Admittedly, the advert in question is not quite as advanced as those found in Speilberg’s adaptation of the Philip K. Dick story, as the only distinction it makes is whether the viewer is male or female. The campaign is being run by the children's charity Plan UK as part of its "Because I Am a Girl" campaign, which aims to ensure girls in the world's poorest countries are able to receive a good education. Therefore, while women looking at the ad see the full thing, men are only shown a url, demonstrating the effect of being denied choices.
However, it certainly suggests that by 2054, when the film is set, it could be possible for advertisements to recognize and hail us by name, as happens to Tom Cruise’s character. It is also a development of the trend towards products, services and messaging that is tailored to the needs of individual consumers, which forms part of the Identity trend in TrendKey 3.1. Our research tells us that nearly two thirds (65%) of global consumers agree they like to buy products that can be tailored to their needs, demonstrating a real demand among consumers for personalization to some degree.
That said, personalization of marketing and advertising may not be to the taste of all consumers. As well as the objections raised to the new Plan UK campaign by the campaigners Open Rights Group, attempts to limit or alter what individual consumers are able to view and discover, particularly online, can prove controvesial, as the recent debate surrounding Google Search + and its personalized searches has shown. Our research also shows that for some consumers, personal information getting into the wrong hands is one of their foremost concerns. So while personalization undoubtedly has a great deal more to offer, and will in many cases will be enthusiastically received by many consumers around the world, it should be treated with caution, wouldn’t you say?