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Sunday, September 03, 2006

Spam, in your face!

For those of you who have seen Minority Report, you probably all remember the futuristic, omnipotent eye-scanning technology that can easily locate, pinpoint and track anybody with a blink of an eye. The scanner coupled with a retailer's massive advertising campaign becomes a perfect tool which provides advertisement tailored specific to the individual with a single eye scan, as depicted heavily in the movie. This is what I called the ultimate "spam in your face" as it is virtually impossible to escape the annoying ads. I could not imagine a technology like this in the world we live in today.

Fortunately, as of now, we don't yet have a fully-developed iris-scanning technology. The contemporary technology is constrainted by people's movement. For example, the iris recognition solutions offered by LG Electronics currently requires one to position himself in such a way that the recognition would work (in their literature it is termed 'quickly position themselves properly' before a scan). I'm sure LG currently has few divisions of engineers and computer scientists working towards a solution to combat this fundamental problem. Until then, we're on the safe side. However, the retailers whom masterminded the massive advertising campaign are less forgiving.

With a last year spending of $6.3 billion in the U.S. along by advertising industry, it is no surprise that the retailers are constantly seeking new ways to attract consumers. It is now evident that the ad agencies are fine-tuning the ads from personal ads which targets you and me, to both gender-specific and chronological ads which are specific to the gender type and the time of the day, respectively, for a more profound impact. The advertisers are also targetting the gaming community by offering real-time in-game ads as described in this article from BBC:
Massive Incorporated is a company that delivers advertisements on behalf of clients to video games in real time, known as dynamic product placement.

The company can precisely place and monitor the commercial in any geographical location. They can change the message minute by minute if needed and get instant feedback about the number of seconds a player sees it for and how often.

Soon Massive will debut their newest technology that takes advantage of broadband connections. It does not just replace posters on the walls, but the actual objects within the game, such as vehicles.

CEO of Massive Incorporated's, Mitch Davies says: "We can work with the car companies to launch a new car across 20 different video games in the month of October. And then in November we would show another car, real time, in those same 20 titles."
It was recently reported that EA Electronics is now using this real-time ad placement technology in its upcoming games. Will this massive ad campaign turn off the gaming community? Will the gamers be susceptible to in-game ads? Only time will tell. But, for sure the next time you finish an EA game the only thing you'll remember, aside from its hollow content, is most likely to be what are the latest consumer products and where to buy them. Keep in mind that one of the reason people play videogames is to escape from the ad-plagued TV programs.

What this ultimately comes down to is, can we, as consumers, really escape from the hawkish retailers aiming at saturating our loans, credit card bills, and debts? People say that "technology is for the betterment of mankind", but in a massive consumer culture we're living in today, technology would probably do more harm than good. With ad agencies striving to tailor ads specific to you and me, it is only a matter of time before we surrender all our privacy and personal information.

With the assist of technology, another explosion in the vast culture of consumerism is imminent. It is the ultimate wish of the retailers to turn all of us into brainless drones, buying goods without thinking and be content with our consumerism lifestyles. Are you willing to submit to their control and sacrifice your personal identity?

This will probably be the only update for a while as it'll be harder for me to update more frequently. I'll update more often, but who knows?

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