Imagine a world where you walk down the street with monitors, screens and billboards all yelling your name! Calling to you! Wanting your time! It sounds like the perfect Hollywood dream, right? A study conducted by Ipsos MediaCT and Yahoo found that out of 6,000 respondents, 54% were more engaged by personalized ads. Although it’s only a slight majority, the desire for personalized ads, personalization, and feeling like the suns of our own universes isn’t a new idea. But with technology far exceeding the imaginations of our modern times, we’re reaching newer and higher heights at mindboggling speeds. Even Icarus couldn’t catch us now.
I remember visiting Disney World when I was just a wee young lad and being amazed with the incredible experience technology could produce — the true magic behind the man. There was an Alice and Wonderland exhibit in which you actually interacted with the T.V. screens: “Should Alice go down the rabbit hole? Yes, or No?” My siblings and I yelled “Yes!” because what’s a little fun without a rabbit hole, or two? But it struck me, the future that is: talking to the characters on the screen, being the god of my own fictitious worlds, controlling their lives with just utterances of a “Yes,” or a “No.”
It sounds exciting. Empowering. But maybe in all the wrong ways.
The flip side to this individualized consumer paradise is, of course, “Minority Report.” It was the 2002 dystopic sci-fi movie starring Tom Cruise as he breaks all the rules, in order to right all the wrongs. Or at least some of them. A fantasy world where eye scanners literally queued screens to advertise directly to you: “The road you’re on, David Fontana, is the road less traveled . . . Lexus,” “You could use a Guinness David!” And while both of those may be true, I’m not sure if I’m ready to spiral down into a “reality” of drugs, backroom eye surgeries, and a police force run by coma-induced fortune tellers. Although it certainly has a nice ring to it (said no one — ever).
Ipsos and Yahoo noted that most people in the study didn’t mind having marketers use their browsing information and personal profiles on social media to help cater to this individualization of the advertisement world. However even those who were comfortable with sharing their personal habits still wanted a semblance of control over what information was viewed and how. But how long will it be until all you’ll need to know about a person can be read in the retina of their eye? How long until Big Brother slips into our homes? Our hearts? Our minds?
Alright so you can call the conspiracy police and have them lock me up for being straight-up crazy. For now I’m just content having the choice to click on an ad for YouTube‘s hottest new Epic Rap Battles of History, rather than sitting through a commercial for some new woman’s feminine product (now supplemented with Moroccan Oils).
But who knows, maybe with wings made of metal and electricity Icarus really could’ve reached the sun. Would that have been as good of a story? Would we have learned as much? Would we still be talking about him today?
I wonder what 6,000 individuals would have to say about that.
Watch this video to see what Apple has to say about it, and learn how they saved the day, and quite possibly the whole world.
Blake Chastain is a writer and marketer. His obsessions are media, technology, and video games. Blake lives in the Rogers Park neighborhood of Chicago with his wife and daughter.
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