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Monday, March 08, 2010

"You can't use my eyeballs for free"

Let's look forward 10 years.

We've all got augmented reality browsers on our handsets, or perhaps our 4G-connected sunglasses. They can overlay all sorts of data and images onto our field of view.

There's a plethora of micropayment systems available, accessible via APIs to any developer with the right tools.

There are open and closed appstores. Any app you can imagine is available for unlocked devices.

Operators are starting to monetise contextual advertising - there are digital posters, sponsorship of content, location-based coupons.

And then there's the sudden backlash.

"You can't use my eyes for free"
"My visual cortex isn't a dumb pipe"
"I spend lots of money on contact lenses & eyetests"
"Let's prioritise certain aspects of our visual input"
"We should charge advertisers for access to our retinas"

Until, finally, the inevitable:

"We've created a deep-photon inspection (DPI) application for your smart AR glasses, which uses new visual-processing chips to recognise low-value-per-wavepacket images. It blocks or degrades incoming advertising traffic, unless the advertisers pay you a fee for guaranteed quality-of-sight (QoS) and delivery"

So there's the challenge for all of you marketeers talking about the future of personalised, contextual advertising, based on data-mining our phones and location and Internet usage. If you reckon you're so good.... well, let's see you pay us a deposit before you beam your messages to us. If it's relevant, informative or entertaining, we'll give you a refund and might even buy your product.


John Hamill said...

Yes Dean ... but would users with a rudimentary understanding of quantum mechanics (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Double-slit_experiment) be able to charge advertisers on the double?

Davide said...


I see your point of being bombarded with huge amount of non-requested advertisements. However, it all depends on how it is going to be done.

The Google ads model has been very successful and now some companies are trying to push advertisement over mobile.

The company http://www.admob.com/ seems an example of success in mobile advertisement. How do you see development of mobile advertisement performed in that way?

Gareth said...

and what about retinet Neutrality!

Dean Bubley said...


Google bought Admob last year.

I have my doubts that mobile advertising has the potential to be as important as many think.

The contextual aspect that many observers assume will occur is actually very hard to get right, with data locked in many silos across the operator and 3rd parties.

SMS spam is unacceptable, and mobile web banner ads are questionable on any phone without a Grade-A browser experience. The idea of interruptive location-based adverts and coupons is utterly ridiculous as well.

Some forms of mobile advertising can work well, but they need to be "engagement marketing" rather than force-feeding.

My long-term view is that unwanted, unengaging or irrelevant adverts will be screened out before hitting eyeballs.

Personally, I want a menu of brands that disinterest me, or general areas of industry, and my phone / AR / contact lenses replace the adverts with something more attractive or valuable in my line of sight. I don't want to see ads for washing machines, mortgages, BMWs, hectoring government departments and so on.