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AI: Will the internet of things eventually kill advertising?


By Johnny Vulkan, founding partner

April 30, 2015 | 3 min read

Using data from all our connected devices, technology is set to ‘know’ our tastes and our needs better than we do ourselves. So where does that leave advertising? Anomaly founding partner Johnny Vulkan takes a look.

It probably won’t happen in my lifetime but there’s a pretty good chance humanity will be eradicated by a legion of super robots running an advanced version of artificial intelligence.

But well before any of that happens I think artificial intelligence (AI) will have

taken out a few other things along the way and advertising may well be one of them.

Our current thinking – at its most advanced – has made us better at targeting people when we think they may be open to a relevant message. At our worst we’re still just popping up to say ‘hey’, uninvited, and in increments of five seconds and more.

AI will dispense with all that by using the data from every connected device in our lives. Some reports suggest we already have 16bn connected ‘things’ with that set to rise to 40bn by 2020. Others say that number will be closer to 100bn with everything, from bulbs to power outlets to an array of new sensors, all linked together. Many of those sensors will be attached to us, starting with the shiny new Apple Watch on our wrists. AI will derive meaning from all this information and start to draw some fascinating conclusions. It will know you are thirsty at a physiological level before you realise it. It’ll understand the level of caffeine, sugar and sodium you need and the perfect drink will be waiting for you to coincide with that walk around the block that your health app just recommended. It’s been put on your tab by the way.

AI will know that what you’re wearing and as the temperature drops may suggest that sweatshirt you looked at online could be delivered by Amazon Prime within the hour to keep you comfortable for the bike ride home. It knows your colour preference and that you’ve spent below average on clothes this month so it’s all good. ‘We’ll just put that on card? Just say OK.’

‘Stuff’ will start to happen preemptively and many of our needs will be met auto-magically. There’ll still be marketing but brands will be spending their money bidding to be the suggestions and subscriptions in our lives. Technology will ‘know’ our tastes and our needs – and maybe even better than we do. To an extent, shopping decisions will be taken out of our hands.

Sound far-fetched? Well several people believe that the intelligent internet of things will be a $7tn category by 2020. Personally I wouldn’t bet against it and I’m pretty sure an algorithm somewhere has probably already placed that bet for me.

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