A new report sensationally entitled "The End of Advertising As We Know It" predicts that "persistent personal assistants" -- consultant-talk for Amazon Echo or Google Home's Assistant -- will protect users from traditional advertising, since they scrape only the most preferred information from social media platforms, calendars, email, search history, GPS history, media use, etc., and leave ads behind.
As people spend more of their time with PPAs, they will spend less doing interruptible things on interruption-friendly devices. So brands will have to move away from traditional digital advertisements and more toward building "intelligent, conversational customer relationships," the piece suggests.
My first reaction is to imagine why anyone thinks that "intelligent, conversational customer relationships" will be any less interruptive than, say, display ads or TV commercials. Is it because they will be more "in context" with what interests me at the moment? So I guess it will be cool for the PPAs to ask if I want to buy an umbrella since it will rain later today? Or suggest some stupid-assed movie that just opened when I ask what time a film classic will be broadcast later tonight?
I'm kinda thinking that there will be something seriously creepy about a PPA that sits between me and all of my devices, machine learning its way toward delivering me a branded message on a topic resident in my "profile." Not unlike when a parent found out his daughter was pregnant when Target shopping data analytics sent her coupons for baby items.
Might make me think twice about asking my PPA to look up anything related to medical conditions, finances, or even that moron in the White House, lest it "thinks" my frequent queries are a sign of support. So we are back to "What will the weather be today?" or "Play the Rolling Stones on Pandora, level 8."
Look, if PPAs really want a place in my heart, they will take on some of the more onerous tasks of modern life, like hitting the next button on a customer service phone tree and saying "representative" until a live person comes on the line. Or making sure that when the tickets go on sale, it out-bots the brokers and gets me a couple of seats on the aisle, ten rows back. Or tells me in advance that they have closed a lane on the Merritt Parkway (again) and driving will be hell from Westport north.
The question then becomes how brands can fit into those situations with "intelligent, conversational customer relationships." Alexa: "Since you will be on hold for at least 15 more minutes waiting for Dell, ever think about dumping those bozos for, say. Lenovo or Corsair? just asking..." And when I say, "Yep, been there, done that," does Alexa back off -- or perhaps launch an unwanted debate? And if it does back off, will that opening salvo count as a served impression in the new world of "The End of Advertising As We Know It"?
Since how we now relate to PPAs is verbal, does that mean a new era of radio-like ads?
Only asking because I find them to be among the most annoying ad interruption on the planet. And if I start to hear that crap coming out of Echo, it will be in the curbside trash can in a New York minute.