The 2002 movie “Minority Report” portrayed a futuristic vision of advertising as the lead character, John Anderton, enters a shopping mall that identifies him from retina scans and pitches personalized ads to him as he walks by: “John Anderton, you could use a Guinness right about now.” That scene influenced a generation of marketers.
I riffed on this premise with a cartoon a few years ago in which John Anderton is publicly subjected to ads for hemorrhoid medication and incontinence pads based on his purchase history (cartoon at the end of this post).
The rise of voice AI and the internet of things opens up another domain of personalized advertising more personal than the mall — the home.
A few months ago, Google Home plugged the new movie “Beauty and the Beast” in what appeared to be an unsolicited voice ad. Here’s how one person explained it:
“This morning while I was getting ready for work, I did my usual “Okay Google, good morning”. After information about the time and weather, my Google home said something along the lines of ‘By the way, Beauty and The Beast opens in theaters today.’”
Google issued a statement afterwards that this wasn’t intended to be an ad, but it nevertheless gives a glimpse of how the future of paid voice search could work.
Voice search raises a conundrum for marketers. With regular search results, a brand can thrive as one of many results on the SERP (search engine results page). With voice search, users only have time and attention for one answer — the “right” answer. As brands jockey to become part of that one answer and as voice platforms (Google, Amazon, Apple) figure out their roles as arbiters of the right answer, this will be a new battleground, particularly as those platforms begin to offer their own products and services, like Amazon Basics.
As voice AI spreads beyond smart speakers to other devices, as voice platforms consider paid search in addition to organic search, and as smart devices become more proactive parts of our world, the future of advertising in that world will be hotly debated.
Here are a few related cartoons I’ve drawn over the years.
“The Future of Advertising” August 2013
“The Internet of Things” January 2014
“Marketing with Virtual Assistants” January 2017