23 January, 2012

Big Brother is coming to your living room

Melbourne Herald Sun, January 20, 2012.

The name Big Brother comes from George Orwell's chilling book 1984. In it, everybody is watched and monitored. Which is why they called the TV series Big Brother. Day or night nothing is missed.

Well there's good news for marketers. You can be a big brother too and know all about your customers, thanks to the latest innovation released at this year's huge Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.

It's a TV that views the viewers. Yes, many new models will have build-in cameras so that you can be watched. Isn't that good? Or is it absolutely terrifying?

In this ever-more connected world, the new TVs will be part of your network with the outside world. They will link you straight into Facebook so you'll be in contact with your friends.

How will the TV know it's you? With built-in facial recognition, it will notice when you enter the room and say, "Hello Julie". Or whoever.

The picture will be brilliant with new Organic Light Emitting Diodes (a new world to learn: OLEDs), and just four millimetres thick. You read it right. Not much thicker than a sheet of cardboard.

What's exciting for market researchers is that they can now get a true measure of TV audiences. They can count who's in the room and recognise each viewer. No more arguments about were they having a toilet break during the commercial.

They can even tell whether you are enjoying the program or are bored, by scanning your facial expression.
Technology has even more delights for you. You don't have to feel lonely any more, even while you're watching TV. A product called DirectTV will tell you what programs or movies your friends are watching, so you can watch with them too.

Another called IntoNow will analyse the audio signal of your friends' program through an iPhone app, and share it with your friends through Facebook.

Maybe I'm the wrong generation but I can't think of any friend who'd want to watch a TV show just because I was watching it. Must be lacking in empathy.

Getting back to the commercials, the new key word is no longer viewers or audience, but "impressions". To quote Rex Harris, from advertising agency group Publicis, "If you're looking elsewhere, then you're not paying attention. We would like to know if we're getting accurate impressions."

So the advertiser wants to know the ad is being watched, but wait there's more. Having recognised you and matched you with their huge database in the internet cloud, they know what you like. So the ads shown will be chosen to appeal directly to you.

Now this is very convenient and time saving for you and - doo-doo-doo-doo-doo-doo - spooky.

What also came clearly out of CES was the interconnection between technologies. Quoting Rex Harris once more, "People are increasingly consuming content on their smartphones, tablets, and now through devices that bring the internet to television - converged TV."

In the book, Big Brother didn't give you any choice whether you wanted to be watched or not. So expect the next big debate: Should you opt in, or opt out?

Already in America the discussion has quietly started. The big buyers of media want an opt-out approach. That is, unless you tell them not to, they will log you on. The civil libertarians want it opt-in. If you want a camera filming your living room, you have to ask for it.

So are you in or out? I suppose it will depend on how many friends you've got - and how much you want them to see of you.

Blog: themarketeer-raybeatty.blogspot.com

1 comment:

Andrew Egan said...

Hi Ray, happy new year, I hope you are well. This is a fabulous read, thanks.
Cheers - Andrew Egan.