MindBullets 20 Years


Cannes advertising first for technology that wows the family

At the annual International Advertising Awards festival the overall winner of the Grand Prix was, for the first time, an ad for a refrigerator. The LG iSpy Homenet fridge also won the Innovative Marketing award from the Global Society of Marketers last month.

It works just like any other fridge, keeping food fresh and drinks cool, but the convergence of new technologies makes this appliance a communications medium rather than an ice box. The front panel lights up to form a big-screen TV, while Terfenol actuators provide concert quality sound. Besides being connected to the Internet and Freeview digital TV, the iSpy has an integrated Sony PlayStation and can wirelessly scan all products stored in the kitchen, search for best prices and stock availability, and prompt you to re-order.

But it is the ability of the iSpy fridge to stop unwanted advertising that has earned it such acclaim. Since free media programs invariably contain many advertising messages, iSpy will automatically disable adware for products that you have already bought, and filter out spam and subliminal ‘nano-ads’ from programmes, online games and messages. It will even monitor your household’s lifestyle to allow only permission-based advertising relevant to your family. Of course, you can always pay online to block all those annoying ads!

ANALYSIS >> SYNTHESIS: How this scenario came to be

The negative reaction to spam and unwanted advertising, and the increasing level of sophistication in consumerism has made conventional advertising public enemy number one, yet most media services rely on advertising revenues to subsidise their news and information content and distribution costs. The model that suggests itself is similar to freeware on the internet – free services contain embedded advertising, while pay-per-view and subscription services are ad-free.
This situation is further complicated by product placement and embedded messages in movies and online games. Coupled to this is the whole issue of digital rights, file swapping of music and video, and the high cost of copyrighted entertainment. Many consumers will happily endure advertising to receive free movies, music and programs, while others would sooner pay for a premium service that is free of advertising. And if they have paid, they have the right to insist on ‘clean’ content.
The massive use of electronic media and devices has encouraged advertisers to infiltrate all methods of communication and entertainment with sometimes subliminal messages and marketing, prompting a backlash from consumers similar to the universal condemnation of spam. At the same time, advertisers are desperately seeking effective ways of getting their message across to consumers without provoking a negative reaction. The truth is that consumers do not mind advertising that is relevant and considered useful information, especially if it does not intrude on their lifestyle, is not unsolicited, or offers a financial benefit in terms of free services. The challenge is to find the means and methods to combine these disparate requirements into a win-win solution.
During 1992, the Campaign for Advertising, was created in response to continuing legislative threats to commercial free speech and unfavourable consumer attitudes towards advertising. The Campaign has gathered more than $600 million in pro-bono media time and space.
In 2001 spam became a global problem and products such as TiVo let people zap TV ads. Napster created the infrastructure to enable people to swap music – for free.
During 2002 Kazaa took over from Napster – and expanded services to include movies. This time it was based on a peer-to-peer model, creating a network of more than 80 million users, almost impossible to shut down.
In 2003 the first laws were enacted to prohibit spam and outlaw file swapping. Pop-ups become a global nuisance. Freeview launched in the UK. Apple dominates with iPod and launches iTunes.

2004: Consumer choice in advertising
Microsoft vows to kill spam, signs digital rights agreement with Disney.
Sony and others start selling music and video over the internet. TiVo and Replay allow 10% of US TV ads to be ‘zapped’. DVD copying becomes rife worldwide. The recording industry fails to stem the tide. Microsoft announces support for the Media Centre PC, which combines the functions of TiVo, DVD and MP3 player / recorder, game console and broadband connection for TV displays. Wal-Mart institutes RFID marking of all major product lines. Akimbo launches an alternative to ad-ridden TV channels.

2005: No more ads please, except for free
Consumers insist on having ad-free PayTV services. Freeview continues to be the fastest growing media service in Europe. Pop-ups are outlawed. Disney launches ‘free’ movies on the internet, but with adware agreement. Microsoft provides technology for removing adware with online payment. Sony Entertainment follows suit.

2006: Advertisers introduce nano-ads
Faced with increasing commercial losses, TV networks allow the introduction of ads lasting only 90 milliseconds. Although too short to consciously interrupt programming, the nano-ads prove to have a sub-conscious advertising effect.

2007: Nano-ads come under fire
Advertisers perfect nano-ad technology, allowing them to be broadcast virtually continuously without interrupting normal programming, using only part of the available broadcast spectrum. Scientific studies fail to prove that they are hypnotic or more effective than conscious advertising, but some health studies indicate they might be responsible for increased cases of insomnia, anxiety and epilepsy, particularly in young children, although teenagers appear to be unaffected.

2008: Adware disabled by product purchase
Microsoft develops software for disabling product-specific adware from compatible devices, based on proven product purchase. For a premium price, this includes nano-ads. Wireless product tagging enables this to be automated by simply placing the product within the scan vicinity of the ad-jammer. LG licenses this technology for their latest internet fridge, the iSpy, which simultaneously provides wanted marketing messages and media content to its owners.

Warning: Hazardous thinking at work

Despite appearances to the contrary, Futureworld cannot and does not predict the future. Our Mindbullets scenarios are fictitious and designed purely to explore possible futures, challenge and stimulate strategic thinking. Use these at your own risk. Any reference to actual people, entities or events is entirely allegorical. Copyright Futureworld International Limited. Reproduction or distribution permitted only with recognition of Copyright and the inclusion of this disclaimer.