3D – the future of advertising?

Took myself and the boys off to see Avatar at the weekend. OK Sci Fi story but the 3D special effects were magnificent.

It has to be the future of video – and video advertising. Cars would leap out of the screen at you; well-honed bodies would thrust  beauty and grooming products at you; and you’d positively want to reach into the screen to help those poor freezing meercats.

But is this realistic? Whether or not film studios decide that 3D is the future of block-buster movies, the future of TV is far more uncertain. It isn’t that 3D-capable TVs would be massively expensive to manufacture. Or that home audiences would be reluctant to wear 3D glasses.

There just isn’t a lot of  money around in TV studios at the moment. Sky (buoyed up by subscription revenues) is planning a 3D TV channel later this year. But it is unlikely that many other commercial broadcasters will be spending a lot of money on creating 3D programming. Even with the benefits of Moore’s Law, this would require an unrealistically  large investment in new equipment for several years yet, as well as the development of new skill sets within TV production and artistic staff.

Nonetheless 3D advertising does have an allure that perhaps advertisers will find hard to resist. So if they cannot find an outlet in TV, where will they look?

Well, cinema of course is one place. Wrigley launched a 3D cinema ad last summer. And more recently brands like Royal Caribbean have created ads that do make good use of 3D technology. But cinema, although a fine place to display high quality advertising, is limited in terms of reach and frequency.

Perhaps the future lies elsewhere. Increasingly TVs come ready for connection to the internet. And “watching” the internet on TV – whether it’s for catch up TV, looking at Youtube videos or simply communicating via Facebook – is increasingly common. Is there an opportunity then for TV-delivered internet to be the place that 3D advertising comes alive?

Hmm – I can’t see many people donning those 3D glasses to just to watch advertising! So if 3D advertising is to succeed it will have to be placed in a context where people are already wearing their specs. Where could that be?  Well, some might argue that 3D effects make more sense in a video game than in a movie. And certainly 3D video games are going to be big business in the next months…

Could “in-game” or “advergaming” be the future of 3D advertising? The medium has beeen around for years (remember the Peperami animal game?). But it’s never really taken off. Perhaps this time round it will.

Building online networks

In the last few weeks I have witnessed a couple of occasions when people who have been asked for “friendship” on social media sites have reacted aggressively.

In one instance a woman (we’ll call her Eva) on LinkedIn asked for reassurance when someone she had tried to connect with rebuffed her approach and told her not to “misuse” the system. Unsurprisingly she received a lot of support and sympathy from other members.

And then, more recently, I read a vigorous discussion in the Association of Internet Researchers (AoIR) about the rights and wrongs of someone (we’ll call him Reid) on the list asking another member for friend status on Facebook. In this case the reactions were far more mixed with as many people decrying this as an intrusion as supporting the attempt at building a network.

So who’s right? What is the etiquette here?

In LinkedIn it seems perfectly in order to ask to connect with someone who is a member of the same professional group that you are a member of. Surely that is what online networking is about.

It’s like being at a party or a business networking event: you may not know someone there but you talk to them because you have friends or colleagues in common. And if the person you approach doesn’t want to connect with you all they have to do is say “no”. There is no need to shout and scream about “misusing” the party!

But is Facebook any different? Well, I suppose Facebook is often more closely aligned to friendships in the physical world. But not always.

Increasingly Facebook is used to set up interest groups (in a similar way to Ning I guess.) And in the case I am talking about the “victim/criminal” was using Facebook to promote a professional grouping on Ning. So it seems perfectly reasonable for him to get in touch with people asking them to “friend” him and join his new group. And again, if people don’t want to connect, all they need to do is say “no”. (I did accept Reid’s invitation, even though I have never met him.)

My conclusions?

First there are plenty of plonkers in the world and if you ever raise your head above the online parapet you should do so in the expectation that one of them may well have a pop at you. So make sure that your skin is at least reasonably thick.

And second, if you are approached by someone you don’t know, and don’t want to know, in a social networking environment, just say “no thanks” politely. To respond to a social invitation with rudeness implies that you are either bizarrely terrified of other people or massively puffed up with your own importance. Neither says much about you.