Will brands end up marketing to your algorithms?

by on May 8, 2014 at 6:01 am in Web/Tech | Permalink

It suggests a world where an automated guardian manages our lives, taking away the awkward detail; the boring tasks of daily existence, leaving us with the bits we enjoy, or where we make a contribution. In this world our virtual assistants would quite naturally act as barriers between us and some brands and services.

Great swathes of brand relationships could become automated. Your energy bills and contracts, water, gas, car insurance, home insurance, bank, pension, life assurance, supermarket, home maintenance, transport solutions, IT and entertainment packages; all of these relationships could be managed by your beautiful personal OS.

Brands in these categories could find themselves dealing with the digital butler (unless we, the consumer, step in and press the override button), in which case marketing in these sectors could become programmatic in the truest sense.

It’s entirely possible that the influence of our virtual minders could reach far further. What if we tell our OS that we’ll only ever buy products that meet certain ethical standards; hit certain carbon emission targets or treat their employees in a certain way? Our computer may say no to brands for many different reasons.

There is more on that idea here.

ad*m May 8, 2014 at 6:29 am

Oh, delicious first world problems!

“What if we tell our OS that we’ll only ever buy products that meet certain ethical standards; hit certain carbon emission targets or treat their employees in a certain way?” -> what about price? availability?

Oh no, the “OS” will have to balance such bizarre religious convictions with utility. That will be the hardest to implement.

Axa May 8, 2014 at 6:38 am

The price you pay for that comfort is the death of discovery. It happened to me with last.fm online radio service. While the algorithm learned my tastes, it exposed me to music I didn’t know about but when I listened to I came to like it. After 1,500 or 2,000 listened and rated songs the algorithm just gave me the music I wanted and the exploration ended.

It’s a very personal decision for everybody about what you value more and when. Comfort or discovery? I see myself using the service, most of the year of comfort and a few months a year of unfiltered life.

8 May 8, 2014 at 7:10 am

Maybe you reached the “End of the Internet” so to speak. Time to move on from music to say, collectible action figurines and hot sauces.

Just Another MR Commentor May 8, 2014 at 7:33 am

Discovery is overrated, it is mostly a sensation valubed by the left-side of the bell curve set. Intelligent people know comfort and predictability are best.

Mark Thorson May 8, 2014 at 9:28 am

It’s time to throw away your old persona and start a new one.

Z May 8, 2014 at 7:02 am

1) Your link is broken.

2) This is nerded up Aldous Huxley with a dash of Erich Fromm. It does appear to be the shape of things to come. On the other hand, fertility rates suggest that in the face of such a future, we become John the Savage. Instead of hanging ourselves, we simply stop reproducing. We become Panda-man.

Just Another MR Commentor May 8, 2014 at 7:30 am

Savage Panda Men? Listen a lot of this technology is being developed by the Valley know and we all know programmers and engineers get laid a lot so I don’t think they’d be inventing technologies that would have us stop reproducing. Seriously I’m sick of this anti-tech stance some peope have.

Just another MR Commentor2 May 8, 2014 at 11:16 am

The world will only be safe when all the humans are dead

Ryan May 8, 2014 at 7:07 am

Yeah, but, who keeps the receipts?

8 May 8, 2014 at 7:09 am

Hacker’s paradise.

Rory Sutherland May 8, 2014 at 7:26 am

It would indeed be a hackers paradise. High frequency trading algorithms and bizarre predatory behaviours would make their way into the simple act of buying a train ticket.

It is often in the consumer’s interest for consumers’ preferences to be fickle, unpredictable and diverse, since it makes the system difficult to game.

Just Another MR Commentor May 8, 2014 at 7:33 am

I think you’re naysaying is misplaced. Bitcoin has stood up equisitly against hacking and I suspect these future information technology applications to do likewise.

Ted Craig May 8, 2014 at 7:14 am

Most of that lists isn’t brands (e.g. water bill) and most I already have automated.

Ray Lopez May 8, 2014 at 7:18 am

Not only that, but in fact the internet is already segregated by “geolocation”. When you are in the Philippines, like I am now, you get the Philippines version of Google and many other web pages. In fact, some web pages are so restrictive that you have to use a US-based “proxy server” to access a US-only web page of the same company or product. For a while, until somebody in Fairfax fixed it (I complained to TC, don’t know if that did anything), I could only access MarginalRevolution.com using a US-proxy server. Most people don’t even realize this is happening. And let’s not even mention the China Great FireWall.

Just Another MR Commentor May 8, 2014 at 7:22 am

But overall life is more fun in the Philliphines, I mean back in the US people need internet because almost no one can get 19 or 20 year old chicks.

Ray Lopez May 8, 2014 at 8:01 am

@JAMRC (sounds military!) – so right you are. My girl you could not get stateside unless you were handsome and her age. I hesitate about bringing her to the USA since all my DC slum tenants, not to mention others, will be hitting on her. BTW, like TC’s girl, I met her initially though the internet, which sounds bad but is not. 95% of the internet girls are scammers but you do find 5% honest ones like her (I hope).

Just Another MR Commentor May 8, 2014 at 8:06 am

A wise decision – and speaking of matchmaking Im looking forward to when someone develops an app for Google glass that will match your personality with anyone you see who is in your field of vision and if they are a good match for either romantic, business, or friendship purposes then Google glass will show them, otherwise the algorithm will blurr them out so you don’t have to worry about looking at irrelevant people. Definielty lots of opportunity for these kinds of new applications.

NPW May 8, 2014 at 10:12 am

I know you meant it as sarcasm, but that is the first practical purpose that I have heard of for Google Glass.

Just Another MR Commentor May 8, 2014 at 10:17 am

Not sure why I always get accussed of being sarcastic around here. Time for people to update their priors.

Mark Thorson May 8, 2014 at 12:07 pm

Stop it! Too funny! You’ve got the Stephen Colbert schtick down pat!

Church of the Subgenius May 8, 2014 at 9:32 pm

Hate to tell you but IBM has patented every conceivable application of augmented reality. Part of the perk of working there and being bored out of your mind is to right hundreds of patents a year and make some extra money.

Just Another MR Commentor May 8, 2014 at 7:25 am

I think this is a very good development overall since it will help eliminate unproductive small businesses in retail and hospitality. Once driverless cars are ubiquitous only new businesses with the financial backing to pay Google the big fees for being listed on the possible destinations screen will be able to survive. This will make society much more dynamic as losers won’t get a chance to waste people’s resources by starting stupid small businesses.

Axa May 8, 2014 at 7:52 am

This could chill a little your love of small businesses. Poor Latin America is full of them http://blogs.ft.com/beyond-brics/2014/05/06/guest-post-latin-america-the-start-up-continent/

Just Another MR Commentor May 8, 2014 at 8:02 am

No I hate them that’s why I like how technology like driverless cars will do away with them

Cliff May 8, 2014 at 11:18 am

So far the price Google charges for that is zero

Urso May 8, 2014 at 11:29 am

This is pretty naive.

Just another MR Commentor May 8, 2014 at 12:52 pm

Well that’s not very bright of them. I’m hoping they have some business strategy involving building a large network of users and locking them in by initially offering a lot of goodies for free and then later when the cost of exiting are high they introduce all kinds of fees. However I don’t think that’s ever been done in the history of business so you’re probably right that this won’t ever happen.

Ignacio May 8, 2014 at 9:25 am

This sounds like the movie “Her”. Maybe the operating systems can also become our friends and lovers.

dirk May 8, 2014 at 11:51 am

Sounds like the end of brand loyalty, since brand loyalty is the current algorithm people use to keep things simple.

LP May 8, 2014 at 1:40 pm

SEO is a good example of this — as is email marketers’ attempts to get their messages into GMail’s “Updates” folder rather than “Promotions”.

Highgamma May 8, 2014 at 9:00 pm

Of course, some enterprising entrepreneur will give you the OS for free as long as they can keep the data and pierce your ad wall.

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