The Internet of Things (IoT) offers a unique opportunity for marketers to influence their users and customers in previously not possible ways. The IoT will enable marketers to understand the user’s intent, need and habit and offer the optimal message or experience or solution at the right place at the right time.
The directionality of IoT enabled devices will be a boon for marketers, producteers and service operators. Being able to understand the user’s context and adapt the behavior of their product and services to maximize the value delivered to the user will be a boon. In addition, vital clues will be collected in real time, matched against the historical patterns established by usage and will be used to predict the user’s next action. The predicted action will then lead to the product and service adjusting and adapting in real time to best service the customer.
We can’t escape screens any more
One remarkable difference from just 10 years ago is the prevalence of screens all around us. We carry and have on us at all times and locations a plethora of screens e.g the smartphones in their pockets, the watches on their wrists, the tablets in their hands and the laptops/desktops that surround them at work. We are constantly scanning these screens to connect, work or simply avoid boredom. These screens carry messages and content that either we have self curated or has been curated for us by the service to which they subscribe.
Beyond what we carry on them or own are the other bigger screens that increasingly surround us. From digital billboards on highways to massive screens in public places (think Times Square) or screens that surround us at airports, public transit systems, grocery stores to screens that surround us in cars, we are constantly being streamed information that we process and to which we react.
The new breed of smart screens
Screens by themselves are not a completely new phenomena however the difference now is that these screens are: connected to the internet and enhanced by sensors.
These screens are remote controllable and the message and content displayed on them is replaceable and editable in milliseconds. In essence, these screens are advertising vehicles that can, in real time, serve ads, offers and messages to best service the need of the user given their intent.
The real IoT enabled breakthrough is that these screens can now be surrounded by an intricate set of sensors that can see, listen, feel and recognize users and what, where, when and how the users are doing what they are doing. This information can be collected and transmitted to central servers in real time. This information can then be analyzed in real time, matched with known patterns and models and a new suitable message can be identified, generated, transmitted back to the screen and displayed. The reaction of the user can then also be “sensed” and recorded in the backend for offline quality analysis.
Smart screens = mind control
With these connected screens surrounded by sensors, advertisers and marketers selling a varied set of products and services will have the capability to influence what users think about at a given time and location. Screens will be able to adapt in real time to either subliminally or explicitly speak directly to a user.
However, the more concerning aspect of smart screens is the increased prevalence of subliminal stimuli that these screens can propagate. This is again not a new concept but the impact on users is exponentially magnified as the subliminal stimuli can now follow users as they move from one screen to the other, from public screens to private screens and from group screens to individual screens. Marketers will now be able to constantly and consistently enhance and influence the user’s environment (through the network of Internet connected screens) and subliminally impact the user’s thoughts, feelings, mode and intent.
Smile, you are on camera!
Next time you are in front of a public screen or using your smartphone, be aware that the screen has probably already noted your phone’s unique id (MAC address), possibly taken your picture, tagged your identity with your location, the time, the weather, the speed at which you are traveling, the altitude at which you are and other clues about your environment and context that will be used to generate the most relevant and precise message for you.
The real irony is that a lot of these clues are being generated by the smartphone that you carry in your pocket. Marketers will work hard to combine the clues generated from your smartphone with the clues collected by these screens to build a complete picture of your presence at a moment in time and then combine them into a full profile.
A brave new world
As users and consumers, we will need to realize that the IoT has inherently made everything connected to the Internet and has a screen adaptable and impressionable. The likelihood that something you are watching or interacting with is random and purely controlled and intentional by you is very low. The reality of the future will be that the messages and notifications that we receive in an IoT world are manipulated and curated. We, as consumers, will need to accept this reality and apply the relevant filters and checks before we let ourselves be mind controlled.