Simply put, the goal of advertising is to sell something. Whether that ‘product’ be a cause, a new shoe line, or a political agenda, the ultimate goal is to get people talking about and eventually buying the ‘product’ being advertised.
But it can also be argued that the real purpose of most advertising is to simply invite interaction with a particular product beyond simply viewing an image. Now, especially recently, advertisements have begun to interact directly with consumers and even offer them the opportunity to interact with those advertisements, providing much greater incentive for people to engage further with that brand or product.
There are the less obscure examples, such as Vitaminwater bus shelter advertisements that allow individuals to charge their electronics using the provided USB port. Another similar, but much stranger effort, launched by the California Milk Processor Board, saw several San Franciso bus shelters equipped with scented oils that evoked the smell of freshly baked cookies for a “Got Milk?” ad-campaign.
Other campaigns take the idea of interaction to the next level. In one Ford advertisement, a camera was affixed to a small sign within a mall, and an actor in a remote location (not in the sign) would actually interact with the person in front of the camera.
But in a much larger, and potentially embarrassing example, Mini USA actually created sprawling billboards that would talk to their customers. In 2007, Mini USA handed out Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) enabled car keys to customers that opted into their Motorby advertising program. Whenever those owners drove by one of the billboards with their RFID-enabled car keys, a message targeted specifically towards that person would be spewed out onto the sign for everyone to see. That message might simply indicate that driver’s name or, in other circumstances, their profession, depending on what information they were willing to offer Mini for the purposes of the campaign.
But ultimately, what drives advertising agencies to come up with such intriguing (if not unsettling) advertising is the desire to appeal to new, and radically different consumer tastes. In a generation that’s quickly becoming overruled by people with short attention spans (myself included), advertisers must find ways to engage customers beyond simply creating a visually appealing ad. Sure, the basic form of visual advertising undoubtedly works, as it has for many, many years. But typically, it’s not good enough or attractive enough for us. We can just as easily tune out advertisements that are simply there to advertise.
Like Facebook fan pages, providing a route and an incentive for users to engage in your brand or products will often result in increased interaction and brand engagement as a whole. For some, that interaction can even be seen as a form of validation. A ‘thank you’ for simply sharing your interests with the brand, and a reason to continually seek out that brand in the future.
But as with all things in their infancy, it’s hard to truly gauge the real potential of this form of advertising. With that said, the future of advertising does appear to be in inviting increased interactivity from consumers. By having consumers engage with or be engaged by a brand, as opposed to simply viewing it, and ultimately appealing to more than just a consumers sense of sight. Therein lies the future of advertising.
Beyond that? Consumers choosing the actual content of advertisements, tailored to their own interests and expectations. But hopefully that’s still far off.
Source: MSM DesignZ, Inc. is a Westchester NY Advertising company specializing in social media marketing, web and graphic design, SEO and much more.