Four ways technology will change advertising in 2010

Advertising will encourage you to stay on web pages longer and could soon bring the technology from 'Minority Report' to your cell phone. And you can buy stuff for your online self, too.

Russel A. Daniels/AP
Willo O'Brien demonstrates a device called Square on her iPhone in San Francisco. It lets iPhone users swipe credit card information into the phone, where it is encrypted and sent to authorize a purchase.

From print to radio, TV to the Internet, businesses trying to sell you stuff have quickly taken to new technology. Today, this means targeting social networks like Facebook, online video sites, and that smart phone in your purse or pocket.

The advertising trade publication Adweek has tracked ten trends in digital marketing it anticipates will affect consumers most in 2010. Most are for marketing insiders, but here are the ones consumers will likely notice most.

Social gaming. Online gaming sites like FourSquare, Mafia Wars, and FarmVille became big news in 2009, allowing users to create avatars – fictional characters used to represent oneself online – that are better looking and lead more exciting lives. It also revealed an unexpected trend: People are willing to purchase virtual items for their avatar with real money.

“It surprised a lot of people. It’s an activity that showed up first in Asia and many people thought, ‘Oh well, people will never do that here,’ ” says Brian Morrissey, Adweek’s digital editor.

It’s already happening on Facebook, which charges users for sending some virtual gifts.

Engagement pricing. How can you make money from the Internet? It’s the question of the decade as advertisers struggle to create a business model that works. The model currently holding sway – click-based advertising – determines the price of ads based on page views.

The more page views, the more money that advertisers will pay, which means sites have embarked on a mad scramble to lure visitors under any pretense. Look for advertisers to reward sites that engage their visitors more in 2010.

The idea is that the click-based models encourage surfers to skip across the Internet rapidly. Getting visitors to slow down on a page – in essence, hang out and play with the toys: social media, video, photo sharing – might bring advertisers more bang for their buck.

“They know the more time you spend with their brand, the more likely when you go to the store, you’ll chose that brand,” says Mr. Morrissey. “The way advertising is measured and priced right now doesn’t match up to that.”

Augmented reality grows up. Remember the digital screens that overlapped the physical world in the Steven Spielberg film “Minority Report”? It won’t arrive next year but we’re getting close, says Morrissey. Soon, you may be able to point your camera phone at a restaurant and have the view overlapped with user reviews.

“This is something marketers have wanted to do forever,” he says.

With smart phones integrating all forms of digital media, augmented reality is the next step in bringing the virtual and the real together in one experience. “It’s a part of a larger goal – how do you make marketing useful? That’s the holy grail for everyone,” he says.

Privacy wars. Next year, social networks and other media are likely to push the limits of how much they can exploit private information. Online advertising will, too: Google and Yahoo are already rolling out virtual dashboards that offer ads targeting the user’s preferences. The discussions, which Morrissey says will likely involve policymakers, go back to how the Internet was originally intended: as an open community. That default is something that, decades later, many users still do not want to accept.

“The onus is still going to be on the consumer side,” says Morrissey. “Consumers need to take more responsibility for their privacy online.”


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