Tuesday, April 22, 2008 Advertising Evolution The Future of Advertising Since joining the airlines as a cabin crew, I have had the good fortune to travel around the world to various destinations and experience each individual unique culture. Yet ironically, regardless of the country I have been to, there are always some things similar around the world that never changes. First of all, a friendly smile always begets another friendly smile. Second of all, toilet bowls around the world, save a few countries, are more or less the same size. Third thing which I have noticed is the similar forms of advertisements all around the world. Being a mass communications’ trained, ahem, professional, most of the forms of advertising, which I have learnt, are pretty much used commonly all around be it in Singapore or India or the States harassing all forms of the mass media. Big outdoor advertisements strategically placed to capture my attention while up the escalators, life-size standees outside shops highlighting the latest promotions and colourful vibrant television advertisements telling me I have to get this product/service if not I will miss out on the joy/fulfillment/excitement/satisfaction of a lifetime. Yet as the world continues to revolve and technology continues to pamper our lazy bones, advertising too, have also enjoyed the fruits of technology’s labour. On a recent trip to the United States of America, I am back at the familiar SFO airport. After checking into my hotel, I headed over to the nearby shopping mall to do some shopping for some gifts for friends and family. Dinner was a sinful meal of 3 beef patties and 3 slices of cheese with a huge serving of freshly cut fries and a fattening milkshake at a Carl's Junior burger joint. :) Whilst chomping down my gigantic burger, I realised something funny happening outside the store… Many adults were doing a double take and staring at the floor for a few moments with some of them moving around a fixed area. Kids, on the other hand seems to be kicking an invisible ball around, happily laughing away. Some of them are even grabbing things in mid air! As I made my way over to join in the crowd, what I saw next really blew my mind away. I suddenly saw Mr Jon Anderton, chief of the Pre-Crime Unit of the 2002 hit movie, Minority Report, right in front of me. While Mr Anderton accessed the numerous images generated by the pre-cog psychics simply by just moving his hands around in thin air, interacting freely with the computers through the shifting of images in a virtual reality keyword that appears to be suspended in mid air with just gestures, this real-life Mr Anderton, unfortunately, though similar in movements, was not as slick nor suave as the real one. Over there, I saw a man waving his arms about frantically like a martial art expert sending out his internal energy exploding inanimate objects like Chow Yuan Fat in the movie Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon. At the same time, images that were on the ground around him started bursting into flames! That, ladies and gentlemen, is the latest in out-of-home advertising from Reactrix, a technology-driven media company that specializes in giving consumers more control over their media experience. The Reactrix Media Network is deployed in 168 shopping malls and movie theatres around America and with their recent tie up with mall operators, they are set to increase their installation base to 480 sites in America! Seems like we wouldn’t have to wait till 2054 to experience virtual reality systems in everyday life! Basically, the whole gist of the system is very simple. The images are projected from the ceiling and a processor and motion detection system beside the projector captures the movement of the people inside the 6� by 8� area. The different advertisements are stored on a central server and are streamed through a broadband internet connection. The projector, processor and motion detection system can be seen clearly in the following picture. There are various types of different games ranging from space invaders to soccer. Each game lasts 30 sec- onds and I had to wait patiently for 3 other groups of kids and 2 adults to finish their games before I can finally have a go at this high tech advertising medium. My first contact with it can be summed up in a single word, “AWESOME!” In the 15 minutes that I spent at the Reactrix site, the setup had attracted a crowd of more than 50 people. Men and women, young and old were all attracted by the display. The experience of being able to be involved hands on and the novelty of this new form of mass media definitely has some future to it I would say. In a research done by international media and marketing research firm Arbitron, Reactrix’s interactive media network is a highly effective outdoor marketing tool. Studies show that 49 percent of consumers who encounters the Reactrix Media Network stops to either watch the display or even interact with the system. This is a far cry from the 13 percent of consumers who view advertisements on plasma screens and certainly way surpasses that of the traditional posters at 4 percent. Close to 70 percent of the consumers who were had interacted with the Reactrix system told at least one other person about their experience within 72 hours and an astonishing 18 percent told seven or more people! This is a really effectively form advertising via word of mouth! I guess their research is pretty accurate from what I can see of the shoppers’ reaction when I was there. I’m very sure that I have told more than 10 person of the system from Reactrix. Now that I’m posting this to my blog, I guess that even more people will get to know about Reactrix’s Mall Network. The following day after coming back from the States, I hopped over to Funan Shopping Mall to get some computer hardware, and guess what!?! There it was, Reactrix interactive media network right in the middle of the shopping mall square. And again, another déjà vu, after Tom Cruise and Chow Yuan Fat, I saw the exact same scene – crowds of people gathering around to watch people participate in a game of virtual space invaders and soccer. I guess some things in life around the world really never changes uh.
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