the future ads up

in the steven spielberg film minority report, john anderton (played by tom cruise) is a marked man. scanners sweep his retina as he walks the streets of this 2054 landscape, and the electronic billboards and displays around him change to fit his personal profile. one ad calls out: “hey, john, you look like you could use a guinness!” later, when the character steps into a gap store, an electronic voice welcomes him back and asks him if he liked his previous purchases.

far-flung sci-fi conjecture? think again. already, electronic billboards in the san francisco bay area and sacramento are equipped to profile commuters as they whiz by — and then instantly customize ads based on the wealth and habits of those drivers. it’s not quite personal: these billboards key into the radio stations motorists are listening to and then tailor their ads for a station’s composite demographic.

but the personal touch is on its way. marketers are eyeing ways to send personalized ads and coupons to mobile phones and pdas using location-based technology. others are looking at 3-d holograms, virtual reality ads, even projecting images into the night sky using lasers.

although privacy concerns will certainly weigh into the equation, particularly for highly personalized marketing, it’s clear that we’re about to enter a new era — one filled with greater interactivity, personalization, and technology. says denise garcia, a media and advertising analyst with gartnerg2, “as consumers become numb to all the advertising, the stakes keep getting higher.”