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Thursday, August 15, 2013

All I Got Was a Lousy T-Shirt

What is the most recent gift that you received that is, well, not your favorite? My daughter tells a story of a jar of sand from the beach in Florida that her grandma gave her (note to self: never ever open such a jar; the smell of beach after months is not pleasant). I'm presently holding two T-shirts that will likely sit in the bottom of a drawer that I may as well call "the thought counts" container.

However, the gifts (or self-purchased items) that I am least pleased with are the countless items of technology that have run their course long before the knife set I won during my high school senior night party in 1985. How many cellular phones have you had since 1987? Computers since 1995? Application based stand-alone devices (you know you had a stand-alone calculator and dictionary device in your bag as some point) since 2000? Too many. I have six computers that are presently unused, done, finished and just collecting dust. That seems to be the bargain we make with technology and chocolate: quickly used up.

Yet, we're also eager for the next item in technology. We want to be surprised, jolted by the cool factor. Well, there just might be something that's coming that will make you say, "wow" while also simultaneously turning everything you presently own into a relic. It has to do with the display. Right now you are staring at a screen that is pushing light toward your eyes. In the future you may be looking at a screen that is itself lit from the front. This technology is being developed under the watchful eyes of Jeff Bezos of Amazon fame. Read about it in Christopher Mims article for Quartz.com.

How does this relate to marketing and advertising? Well imagine this: a paper-thin device with content that updates in real time. While you presently have a device (tablet, phone) that is about 1/4 inch thick, the screen size is limited to a frame that can power enough light to brighten your screen. New technology that is discussed in the article can be powered with less energy while still producing easy-on-the-eyes readability. It also will likely follow other form factor changes in technology that pack more power into less space, and it offers longer battery life. Remember the curved TV from Samsung? Here's an image to remind you of what's already possible.

Again, why does this matter to advertisers? Well with a paper-thin device that updates real time and weaves in optimized demographic information, you'll be able to display your message to just the best prospects at just the right time in the context of the most motivational moment. It would be like merging great technology with great content and advanced website analytics. You'd have to be someone like Jeff Bezos in order to take hardware as discussed in the article with all the knowledge of a company like Amazon and the journalism expertise of a source like the Washington Post. Wait a quick minute, doesn't Bezos own these all now? So maybe you have a Kindle that is tucked away in a drawer now, but the advancements in screen displays it has made have opened the door to new goals and new potential mash-ups of content, technology and analytics. That's great for marketers.

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