5 Predictions that might change the future of AdTech

Earlier this week, the acclaimed drama Mad Men aired its final episode. Mad Men had great artistic (that title sequence alone) and business sensibilities (the most masterful and organic run of product placement ever), and it explored the 20th century cultural forces that shaped — and were shaped by — advertising.

That said, I think about the future more than I think about the past. Anyone in and around ad tech can tell we are in the midst of an industry shift that will be greater than anything that has come before it. Looking into my crystal ball, here are my own personal thoughts on what I think advertising will be like in the relatively near future:

  • Our personal data exhaust will be enormous, and fully accessible to the ad tech ecosystem. The proliferation of connected devices will create a real-time snapshot of how we spend our time and money. The combination of GPS signals, location history, beacons, and point-of-sale data will help brands better understand the customer decision journey, close the purchase loop from initial engagement to final purchase, and gain customer loyalty. As always, the key here is to maintain respect for consumer data and privacy.
  • Translucent and transparent displays will change how we think about design. “Mid-century modern” design for this century will utterly transform clothes (wearables) and objects (the Internet of Things).
  • Everything will have a camera. Facial recognition software will become fairly flawless. Bluetooth beacons and wireless cameras will be so cheap that we will leave them behind like breadcrumbs.
  • The notion of a “phone number” will disappear, replaced by branded profiles on social networking sites.
  • Medical and recreational tech implants will be commonplace. Prosthetics will be no more remarkable or noticeable than contact lenses. Smart sporting equipment will analyze and optimize every golf swing and swimming stroke we take.

I think life will be more connected and better informed than it ever has been. It’s a reality that would be impossible for Don Draper or any other 20th century “mad man” to imagine.

But for all those changes, people would remain at the center of the story. The person-to-person connection is, and always will be, essential to advertising. We must never let that get lost amid the devices and the data. Not now, and not in the future.

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