Friday, June 22, 2012

The Future of Advertising Has Passed.

This morning, the BBC posted an article about innovations in the films Blade Runner (1982) and Minority Report (2002) that have come to pass. Both films are based on sci-fi legend Philip K. Dick's novellas. Some advancements from the films are far away from reality. Others came to pass years ago. Still others are on the cusp of everyday use.

Advertising innovation has accelerated the fastest, so it's no surprise that Blade Runner's futuristic representations of advertising in 2019 are now commonplace.

In an iconic moment from Blade Runner, Harrison Ford's vehicle is seen flying past an animated billboard on the side of a building.

By the Early 2000s, Tokyo already had these animated advertisements, as seen in Lost in Translation (2003) when a Dinosaur walks across the side of a building.

However, Blade Runner accidentally downplayed how dominant animated billboards would become in metropolitan centers. For instance, look at the absurd amount of animated ads in the following photograph of Times Square by Raindroppe.

Thus far in Kansas City, billboards are not allowed by city ordinance. However, a current push by advertisers to ease Kansas City billboard regulations is being duked out in City Hall right now. We may yet end up with advertisements covering the sides of our building
Another way ads were displayed in Blade Runner was by an "Ad Blimp" hanging low over the city streets, advertising vacations and residencies off world.

So far, we don't have blimps with the navigation capability to maneuver between skyscrapers, but we do have ad blimps hovering over sporting events and outdoor concerts.

Blade Runner was a critique of capitalism and classism and had a more pessimistic view of our opssible future than Minority Report. For Minority Report, the future was a backdrop to the story about choices, fate, responsibility and inevitability; therefore the fate of capitalistic prosperity in the US was not under attack. Steven Spielberg simply wanted to portray future advertising as accurately as possible. He hired futurologists to help map out how advertising would likely be used in the moderately near future of 2054. The road to all the advertising tactics in the film have been long underway.

Early in the film, Tom Cruise is jogging as an advertisement bounces from wall to wall as he passes them. It is following him. We learn later that his retinas are being constantly scanned and custom tailored ads for his character pop up around him. While scanning retinas is not yet used for advertising, custom ads that follow people around are alive and well on the internet and cell phones. It's called behavioral advertising. You can see it in use by visiting sites like Amazon, which keeps a log of your browsing habits and then recommends items that may be of interest. Google, Bing, Facebook and other megacompanies have already created complete profiles on us, our browsing and buying habits, our location and in some cases, our relationships. All of this is used to advertise to you more efficiently. If Google knows you like skiing, you will notice as you visit sites with Google ads ski vacation deals and skiing equipment. Currently, facial recognition software is more advanced than retina-scanning, so we may soon enough have advertisements following us around city streets and that's not creepy at all.

Holograms are on their way too. CNN already has a weirdly unnecessary one on set. Some TV companies aren't pushing their 3D TVs because holographic television is being developed and is only 5-10 years from realization.

The time in which Blade Runner is set is closing in and we already know many things it got wrong (namely people being allowed to smoke inside in Los Angeles).  But the advertising has outrun reality. Soon, we'll find out how accurate the predictions in Minority Report will be.

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