The talk that you will often hear whispered in the hallowed halls and corridors of traditional advertising agencies is that ‘Interactive is the way to the future and it will, in a few years time, possibly replace print. With more and more agencies jumping on the interactive bandwagon and more clients willing to spend, we in the interactive space should wonder what the future of interactive is. It goes without saying that the interactive space in India has a lot of catching up to do when compared to the West. The question however for those in the interactive space is what could be the future of interactive? Dare we even think what can replace interactive and change the game once again in a few years time?
One need only to turn their attention to what is happening to Japan; to get an inkling of what the future could hold. In particular, the 47 inch billboard in Shinagawa that uses an inbuilt camera and sensors to identify a person who is standing in front of it. This interactive billboard system is able to create a profile of the person standing before it based on age and gender, it then offers the viewer a soft drink based on this profile. This is highly targeted marketing communications, the type which we have only seen in movies like Minority Report. What could be the next step? A retail outlet that is wired with cameras and sensors that creates a database of the shop’s repeat visitors. This database then works with a content management system to produce personalised advertising messages. Tie this system up with a store’s rewards program and you may just be able to offer enough of an incentive to trigger a purchase.
So who does it fall on to build such a system? As Jan Leth Vice Chairman of Ogilvy Digital stated in his speech at this year’s Goa Fest, there is a growing need to incorporate live data to engage with audiences. His example was IBM’s interactive outdoor that changed colour to match the clothes you were wearing. Driving this movement is a breed of people who are known as – “Creative Technologists”.
Google the term and you will notice some of the leading ad agency networks are out hunting for these people. These are people with so called ‘Digital DNA’ but who are also experts in traditional communication and advertising also. These are people who understand what engages the customer, build the brand and have the technology skills to design, produce and execute the campaign.
As Mark Avnet a creative technologist at VCU Brandcenter describes it – “CTs understand the business of advertising, marketing, and branding, take a creative, strategic and people-centric view of how to connect people and brands, and understand the kinds of mediating technologies that can best be used to make those engaging experiences where the connection happens.” This is an integrated approach and not merely technology for technology sake.
The view that creative technologists play an integral role in the communication process is catching on. It has even been suggested that the creative technologist becomes the third member in the age old creative partnership of the art director and copywriter. There are even institutions that are now offering courses in creative technologists. It is only a matter of time the trend catches on in India. This is what the future of interactive advertising will look like and it is already here.