Sex addicted, debt-ridden, body-obsessed, astigmatic, game-playing gadget-phile: but enough about me, what does advertising say about you?

What_ads_say_about_me some recent ads that define me.  or do they?

what does advertising say about me?  that's the question I'm increasingly asking myself as the broadcast model wanes and targeted advertising becomes the norm.  I'm imagining a future where my Glee is interrupted by messages from fat-burning miracle powders, or where my 30 mins with Modern Family is interspersed with messages for help with sex-addiction or an encouragement to buy some oil shares.

you see the ad-serving paradigm – with which anyone who has worked in online advertising will be more than familiar – will in the future spread beyond the computer screen.  to hand-held devices and then, as IPTV gains traction, to TV screens.

it's one thing to see niche targeted ads on my computer screen; it will be quite another to see them on my TV…  but as the ability to target on TV becomes widespread, niche advertisers will increasingly be able to ad-serve specific messages to targeted audiences at a fraction of the cost of even a small TV campaign today.

on one hand the future is potentially very bright…  we engage more with brands that we like and therefore, theoretically, as ads become more targeted and better tailored to our interests and passions, advertising will be more engaging and, theoretically, more engaged with.

at least that's the theory.

but there's a potential downside…  the lowering in the cost of entry will allow hundreds of advertisers who previously couldn't, to advertise on TV.  the result is inevitable, a lowering in the average quality of the ads that get produced.  this is inevitable.

to escape the race to the bottom, we're going to need choice…  the only solution to such a wave of ads will be to have choice over which ones we receive.  there's a double benefit – for advertisers there will be increased engagement (we do engage more with ads that we've chosen to watch), and for audiences there will be the algorithm…

because unlike broadcast, where we all have to endure the same ads as everyone else, an ad-served model offers the possibility of a world where only content that get engaged with (clicked on, liked etc) gets further propagated.  if Google served TV ads (beyond their current very limited scope) they'd use a quality score (based on relevance and preformance of the ads) to propagate ads that are reaching the right people and being engaged with, and suppress ones that aren't.  and that can only be a good thing?  can't it?

out of interest, what does advertising say about you?

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