The Future Of Advertising – Biofeedback.

From the desk of Razvan Rogoz
Dear friend,

Being the proud of owner of a FitBit Flex, an amazing piece of technology that tracks your movement and sleep patterns (it’s more than a glorified accelerometer since I’ve tried to trick it to track data artificially and I’ve failed), I’ve started to think more and more of passive wearable technology.

Technology evolved in an interesting way and I’m almost certain that this decade is all about technology we wear on our body (or it is integrated directly) and allows us to automate our life. It’s the next step of evolution. We’ve first had computers then laptops than PDAs. We’ve had fixed line phones, mobile phones, smart phones and now wearable computers running IOS or Android.

And now we are starting to use technology that requires less and less input from us. Instead of adding a task, we can use Google Now or Siri to simply mention it. Instead of opening the garage door, we have RFID chips that automatically open the door when we come close to it. Instead of entering a password, we use our fingerprint.

None of these technologies are new. RFID exists for a while now so do fingerprint scanners. But the way it is applied in our day to day life is relatively new.

In a few years, I envision a future where our voice, gesture and passive devices will direct everything around us. Instead of using a key to open our door, we’ll use an RFID chip in our phone (or better said, NFC) or we’ll enter a keycode. Instead of tracking how much we walk daily, we’ll use smart devices like the FitBit (also Jawbone, Nike Fuel, etc) which will track every movement we take and provide us with huge bases of analytics.

Because in the end, the FitBit is nothing more than an information gathering device. Yes, it motivates you to exercise or walk more but beyond that, it is a device that tracks your movement and that’s something I find fascinating. Just as Peter Drucker said „you can’t improve what you can’t track”, these devices allows us to optimize our lives, find patterns into what we are doing and take more informed decisions.

I envision that in five years or less we’ll wear a bracelet that will track everything from our movement to our heart rate, blood sugar, stress levels and maybe even provide us a real time bio-feedback of our health. That’s the future. The 2010 – 2020 decade is not about communication but about analytics – about collecting the seen and the unseen and exporting it into a format that we can all understand.

In a few years we won’t have to go to the doctor for our yearly check-up because our smart devices will do these for us. They will either collect blood or use some non-invasive method to provide us with a real time bio feedback. We could have a device that based on the nutrients in our blood to suggest what we can eat next, a device that will tell you to relax and take a brake when you are too stressed or a device that could give you some kind of emotional metric regarding other people – giving you a better assessment on whom you should have around and who not.

Of course, this at an analogical level exists. It’s called journaling. But instead of journaling (and never reading our entries, I’ve journeled almost daily but I’ve never read any of the entries) we’ll get quantitative data. Instead of saying that „that person makes me happy” we’ll have a log that based on proximity and other factors will give a score between 1 and 10 of emotional arousement around another individual.

Instead of tracking how much water we are drinking (as many of us are, using Android or IOS apps) the app will log this automatically since it will have a direct connection with your organism. Input was first done by typing, on keyboards especially. Then it moved to touching, using touchscreens. Recently, it became popular and rather effective using gestures (like the Galaxy S4) or using voice (Siri on the IOS).

The next step of evolution is either mentally (we’re not there yet) or a direct connection with your organism through your skin, pulse, blood or any other valid indicator that can show us what we are experiencing directly.

And this has some interesting applications too from an advertising point of view. I’m almost sure that someone at Google already thought about this. If we are emotionally aroused in a sexual way, our feedback devices (as phone / glass / computer displays) could show us PPC based ads about condoms and hotels. If we are stressed our, about meditation and yoga. If we suffer from a particular problem, let’s say diabetes, it could show us treatments and doctors.

What better than is there to deliver contextual ads if not the one based on what we are actually feeling, not saying or expressing interest for. An ad for a coffee shop when our organisms show us that we are sleepy or for a cinema when we feel bored.
The applications are almost limitless. Now we are receiving ads based on behavioral patterns shown by our actual actions. These are accurate but not always spot on. For example, I already use a top notch to-do management program which I’m paying about $40/year for. I was curious about a competitor so I’ve visited their site. Now their banners follow me almost on every site even if I have no interest whatsoever in buying that subscription. Plus, computers are generally shared and it’s not like I’m signing out from my Google account every time someone borrows my phone or computer.

So even if the algorithm is good, it’s rather hit and miss but it’s the best that can be done at this time. But if Google for example would have an ecosystem of bio-collecting devices (devices, not apps, since a computer program can’t interact directly with our body, only an actual physical system can, an app can only manage and transform the feedback into something useful) it could deliver real time, contextual ads based on our deep, true needs.
It will be like showing up in a helicopter with a bottle of water for someone who is wondering in the desert lost or having that pizza delivered right in the moment you decide you would like to eat pizza tonight.

Therefore, a new dawn in marketing and advertising is upon us. Advertising was first about understanding human nature and leveraging this. Now it’s in a crude form about data collection and analysis so predictable trends can be found and leveraged. In the future it will be only about data collection and analysis, at a deep level, from our behavior to our bio-feedback so it will appeal not to our rational mind but to the deepest needs of our psyche and body.