Ultra-personal ads to be produced offshore?

“Extremely targeted advertising will become indistinguishable from content.” Nicholas Negroponte, Being Digital, 1995

Targeted ads are in your email, on your search pages. Companies already track your habits and push selected ad content at you. That’s old news.

But how will people feel when “ultra” personal ads start showing up 24/7 on all subscription media: inserted in TV programs, popping up on cell phones, beaming in on satellite radio?

According to an Aug. 6 story on the New York Times’ website, CEO David W. Kenny of Digitas, an ad agency recently purchased by Publicis Groupe, thinks producing these ads in offshore “ad factories” then shooting them to an electronic screen near you is the way of the near future.

Kenny’s goal is to change the digital advertising strategy for the entire Publicis worldwide conglomerate: Saatchi & Saatchi, Leo Burnett, Starcom MediaVest Group and the accounts of Procter & Gamble, American Express, Hewlett-Packard, and General Motors.

Kenny acknowledges some U.S. companies are already running thousands of ad versions for a single brand, but his vision goes much further:

“The plan is to build a global digital ad network that uses offshore labor to create thousands of versions of ads. Then, using data about consumers and computer algorithms, the network will decide which advertising message to show at which moment to every person who turns on a computer, cell phone or—eventually—a television. . . . The goal is to transform advertising from mass messages and 30-second commercials that people chat about around the water cooler into personalized messages for each potential customer,” according to the Times article by Louise Story.

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Digitas already uses data from major search companies like Google and Yahoo plus customer data from advertisers to feed its models. The results indicate which ads will be pushed first, which ad the returning visitor will see, what is seen after a purchase, and more. The ads also take into account such things as the customer’s age, location, and past exposure.

Ultra-personal ads embedded in all of your digital media content, zeroing-in on what kind of car you drive, what you ordered for dinner last night, your upcoming anniversary, and things that might make you blush.

Will it be too creepy for some, inviting a backlash? Or seen as a value-added service and a smart move for savvy advertisers?

Will the successful business model be to outsource ad production to offshore factories—churning out not sneakers and T-shirts, but sneaker and T-shirt ads, “handcrafted” just for you?

And from the vantage point of MarketingExperiments, how best to measure success?

peg.d@marketingexperiments.com

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