Digital Essays 2021: Merging the realms of humans and technology, Boopin’s Toseef Butt

By Toseef butt, head of performance, Boopin

Technology already plays a critical role in all our lives. In this article I’ll be talking about the immediate and long-term impact technology will have on our lives, while predicting how artificial intelligence (AI) may affect society and advertisers in the future.

The internet of things (IoT) – can advertisers disrupt the media status quo?

Here’s a crazy statistic: the global smart-home penetration rate in 2021 is 12.2 per cent. That’s an astonishing number, which continues to grow at an exponential rate year on year. The usage of home assistants (such as Nest, which is owned by Google and can be controlled via its Home devices) is one of the key drivers of this change.

A lot of research has been conducted over the years, which indicates Alexa is more likely to recommend an Amazon Prime product when a brand name isn’t specified – here lies one example of power being given to the advertiser.

I believe it is only a matter of time before other advertisers become the new SSP (sales-side platform). Let’s think about home appliances. Some manufactures are advancing their AI capabilities, which can now notify you when certain ingredients in your fridge have run out. You can probably see where I’m about to go with this.

Is it only a matter of time before the likes of Amazon start to develop their own smart appliance, powered by their existing plethora of e-com user data? How long before a brand like Samsung launches or integrates with an SSP, enabling FMCG brands to bid against which product the fridge will recommend? Thus, shifting the status quo in favour of the ‘advertiser’ – Samsung.

With the appetite for smart homes growing, could it also be having a subconscious impact on how we accept other aspects of technology to rule and integrate within our lives?

Everything is going digital

Your friends, your identity and now even your assets with cryptocurrencies. Mark Zuckerberg’s vision of creating a ‘metaverse’ capitalises on these existing behaviours.

This triggers some food for thought as to how close we are to the acceptance of such an immersive environment/experience and the opportunities for advertisers that lie within.

Humanity could be on the cusp of entering a terrifying new reality where our digital life is worth more to us than our physical life. This will, of course, not happen overnight; however, we have already witnessed the gradual change in behaviour over the last 20 years or so.

We’ve already seen existing iterations of the metaverse in gaming environments with the likes of PUBG, Fortnite and GTA. GTA is arguably the closest thing to the metaverse, where users can purchase food, homes and cars and maintain the health and fitness of their characters (or avatars even). Zuckerberg announced the development of GTA: San Andreas earlier this month for the Oculus Quest 2. One can only imagine that this will be the test run prior to Zuckerberg embarking on his journey to creating the metaverse.

We are already in a state where if you were to ask a lot of people “What matters more – what you look like in real life or what you look like on Instagram?” it would be a hard pill to swallow. Online status slowly starts to mean more than your real-life status. Some would even argue that NFTs (nonfungible tokens) are the new Rolex.

I think it’s only a matter of time before NFTs are triggered by AR – bringing your digital assets into the real world. How ‘cool’ would that be? How long before NFTs are introduced into digital open worlds as the importance of online status continues to increase? Pretty sad, if you ask me. However, this would provide a huge opportunity for advertisers – imagine owning a one-of-a-kind pair of Nikes that only your avatar can wear? Impressive.

The Singularity

Some of you may have heard of this term but for those who haven’t, ‘The Singularity’ is the moment where artificial intelligence surpasses human intelligence.

Right now, Zuckerberg’s vision of a metaverse consists of everyone having avatars and living in a digital world. Imagine how much more information we will start to reveal about ourselves to Meta. Instead of algorithms predicting which products we may be interested in purchasing in the real world (based on content we interact with), what if we start to utilise these products in the metaverse? Could this be a more deterministic way of establishing an ‘in-market’ audience?

It will be interesting to see if planting non-branded digital assets for users to own in the digital world will have an impact on real-world purchase intent or behaviour. Although I’m sure there will eventually be an opportunity for brands to introduce their own assets into the digital world for avatars to flaunt, that will be the more interesting statistic I’d like to see. The meaning of online vs offline sales will be redefined. You may even be able to purchase real-world items in the virtual world or maybe even go to a drive-in cinema to watch the latest Universal production. The possibilities are endless.

Right now, we focus about 50 per cent of our attention on digital screens and it’s likely that this will rise to more than 90 per cent in 15 or 20 years from now, maybe even sooner.

By Toseef butt, head of performance, Boopin