Tracking Your Attention Please

An acquaintaince of mine passed this along: billboards that customize their message based on the electronic gadget a user is holding. I’d mentioned something similar to him when we were discussing how virtual worlds can function like crystal balls in helping designers to forecast what might develop in meatspace. I’d also suggested to BW’s Heather Green, over on Blogspotting some time back, that this sort of thing was coming.

The best/worst part of this story though, depending on your point-of-view, is the thought that software agents are going to bickerbid over which ad gets shown in the event certain conflicting situations arise. From the New Scientist article (Link):

If more than one person is standing in front of the screen, however, the system must try to choose material seen by as few of the current audience as possible.

It does so using software “agents” to represent different adverts. These agents have a fixed advertising budget and bid against each other depending on the number of new exposures their advert is likely to get. Greater exposure results in higher bids and the agent that bids the highest wins.

“The agents are interested in showing their content to people that haven’t seen it before,” says Alex Rogers who developed the screen with colleagues Terry Payne and Nicholas Jennings.

Cookie for your Bluetooth? Certainly sounds that way:

“It can uniquely identify devices but keeps the person anonymous.” In the future, Rogers suggests, users could identify themselves to get more personalised ads: “Adding profile information would make the display more relevant.”

Who’s he kidding – “keeps the person anonymous”? Right. More targeted, more relevant and more invasive, he means. There are already reports that people finding lost cell phones are blackmailing owners who have saved personal information on their devices (like video of their wife dancing naked). When are people going to realize just how easy it is to connect the dots… especially when they’re leaving so many crumbs?

I’m beginning to wonder if we need a countdown ticker to a backlash. Nah. Apathy rulez.

Thanks, Joe