The Holy Grail for marketers and advertising people the world over is the audience of one. The ability to know exactly what you want and when, so they can only advertise the products you are actually thinking of buying and at the appropriate time.
This is what Google has been working for years to achieve and they have come about as far as is possible now without consumers releasing far more personal information about what they are doing and when.
This is the real barrier to improving the way we see marketing messages – we hate inappropriate or intrusive adverts, but to make them more personal the advertisers need to know more about us and a lot of people are uncomfortable revealing their emails and browsing habits.
This is potentially the next big problem for the Internet as a whole – and the social networking platforms that scrap together information on what you like, your favourite music, and where you shop. All this information is being gathered like never before – can you imagine how much stuff about your life you have posted on Facebook over the past 5 years?
Accessing and making sense of all this data could improve marketing the world over, but the issues of privacy and invasive analysis of personal data will probably prevent us seeing a real improvement for several years to come. In fact, one big data loss by a social network provider could create a strong movement towards releasing less personal data to public networks.
For the time being we might just have to tolerate advertising posters in restaurant bathrooms and ads on supermarket trolleys. Ads are not going to get better for some time yet.
Photo by Andrew licensed under Creative Commons