The digital marketing landscape is fascinating in itself. But the future of the way we communicate, use words, share ideas, consume information and keep our data safe is even more fascinating.
In an incredibly fast-changing world, I’m always on the look-out for revolutionary, uncanny and world-changing marketing-related news items. Here are three of the best.
Will the quantum internet be hacker-proof?
When Edward Snowden leaked the NSA’s shocking spying activities, it underlined the need for extra-secure communications. But how to do it? Ask Don Hayford of the Ohio-based research organisation Battelle, and he’d tell you the answer is quantum key distribution, AKA QKD.
QKD transmits photons in particular quantum states, generating a secure cryptographic key which you use to encrypt data sent over an ordinary, non-quantum connection. It’s far more secure than standard cryptography, since efforts to intercept the data changes the photons’ quantum states and warns you not to use that particular quantum key.
What’s on the horizon? Battelle has big plans, namely using existing fibre optic networks to test a much larger quantum network. It might not be long before we can all use the web securely without government spooks – or anyone else – spying on us.
Targeted marketing – TV networks test ad targeting
TV networks are joining organisations like Facebook and Google, attempting to tailor TV adverts to consumers’ preferences. It’s a move that fills me with gloom, having experienced quite enough of the blunt instrument madness that so-called ‘targeted’ Google search results and Facebook ads already deliver.
Your set-top box is spying on you
Apparently US TV networks, inspired by online marketers, are testing advert targeting based on stuff like whether or not the household in question contains children. How do they do it? The not-so-humble smart set top box is the culprit, through which TV networks can target homes using publicly available data.
In the UK, Sky has recently partnered with the credit agency Experian to target ads at British homes depending on their income, home ownership versus renting and all sorts of other demographic factors. But things are already much more advanced in the US, where TV networks can choose from an astonishing 200 household attributes to help them target adverts.
Automated TV ad targeting tools on the horizon
So far the systems are nowhere as near as slick as they could be. Switching the attributes on and off is currently a manual process, as Sky recently found when advertising ice cream in locations where the temperature topped a certain level. But several firms are working on automated tools to do the job with minimal human intervention.
How might it affect you? Your supermarket could cross-refer the data on your loyalty card with a TV network and advertise your favourite foods at you, for example.
Opt-out is essential
As you can imagine, privacy campaigners are preparing for a fight. I, for one, hope there’s an opt-out. There should always be an opt out. But it won’t affect our household either way, since we always turn the sound down during ad breaks anyway. Life is about much more than buying shit, and we can’t stand the inane babble. So we do something more interesting instead: I read a book, Tony plays guitar.
Hunting for the neural basis of creativity
A seventy six year old woman has developed an irresistible urge to write poetry following treatment for epilepsy. And the finding has inspired researchers to study her brain for clues about the neurological basis of creativity.
As the woman’s seizures receded she became compelled to create poems. Ultimately driven to write ten to fifteen poems a day, she became annoyed if anyone tried to distract her.
It hints that poetry isn’t consciously crafted after all. In this case, the poetry’s origins seem to have much more to do with spontaneity than conscious thought. The research team thinks it might suggest certain circuits in the brain, which naturally create a very structured behaviour, have been switched on by the treatment, similar to turning on a verse-creating computer programme.