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The Internet of Stupid Things

The Internet of Stupid Things

Just because we can put advertising everywhere doesn’t mean that we should, says ISBA‘s Bob Wootton.

I’m indebted to David Rowan, editor of the UK edition of tech bible and coffee-table buster Wired, especially as the publication is quite often the cheerleader for some undoubtedly glamorous but sometimes rather questionable new tech.

But he’s called it out right this time for me. All this talk of an ‘Internet of Things’ should be carefully filtered with the residues going to his aptly-named ‘Internet of Stupid Things’.

He’s outed some truly amazingly-stupid kitchen devices now coming to market, where else but the US. A bluetooth-equipped set of kitchen scales earnestly offers ‘real-time insight to your food’. Like, er, how much each ingredient weighs. Cor. Cool. Nah.

We’ve all been nodding sagely to each other for years in the bars of E1 when someone posits the self-refilling fridge (which has yet to emerge anywhere outside an oligarch’s duplex for obvious reasons).

Of course, it will as ever be ‘all about data’, but here too we should beware the siren voices of the pedlars.”

And we’ve now seen the arrival to the mass-market of useful offerings like Nest and Hive, both promising remotely-addressable domestic protection (smoke and CO detection) and central heating control which could save us decent money and reduce our energy consumption footprint.

Yet sad as I usually am, I remain deeply unenthusiastic about communicating with my kettle, even if it’s to ask it to boil water for my morning cuppa while I’m still upstairs brushing my teeth – with my toothbrush, which is at that very moment deluging my dentist with unwelcome details of how I am brushing and the state of my oral cavity. While my SmartCuff is informing my GP about my heart trace and my smart loo is deluging her with (analytics of) my morning constitutional. Enough of that. And like she will have time to care under the ongoing cuts anyway…

I would sometimes find it quite useful to be able to turn my oven on to heat my dinner when I’m on my way home. But then again, given all the legislation and regulations that clearly reveal how very stupid most of us are or are considered to be by those who govern us, those same people might think it quite dangerous to allow the remote control of devices that might boil, dry or otherwise overheat and set things on fire.

And as for running a bath remotely, I doubt home insurers are going to rush for that one. Now an app that put my bins out – not just a reminder – would be seriously useful, but I’m not holding my breath for that either.

All this gets me thinking about our tendency to try and put advertising everywhere, and how that might manifest itself in an Internet of Things, stupid or otherwise.

I can see a dishwasher with a screen interface and the ability to notify and perhaps even place an order when rinse aid or salt is low, and it would not be much of a leap to imagine ads for dishwasher tablets on that same screen. Similarly a washing machine.

Maybe the screen on my lawnmower (?!) will be able to tell me that I need to empty the grass box while I’m so busy watching it that I run over my foot and sever three toes. Clearly I need this, as just looking at an overflow of cuttings would not send me the same signals at all.

Doubtless there will be the usual headlong rush of enthusiasm for the new and media stunts galore as all this claptrap comes along.”

But can I imagine with enthusiasm the new John Lewis ad running on these things? The good advice of ‘make once, use many times’ is all very well, but just because a piece of AV content can be screened on a device, does it follow that it should? How would it look and come across? Would it do the production justice or just be yet another ‘because it’s there’ outlet?

Of course, it will as ever be ‘all about data’, but here too we should beware the siren voices of the pedlars. Advertising is a cardinal paymaster of a data industry that is showing some signs of being out of control. The press are now beginning to point this out and the regulators are noticing. We need to watch ourselves on this one.

Doubtless there will be the usual headlong rush of enthusiasm for the new and media stunts galore as all this claptrap comes along, but might we perhaps not do better first to sit back and take a rather more level view of how we wish the ads we place to be consumed?

Let’s play tag: tackling online fraud

As I write, news reaches us from the US of an industry initiative to begin to tackle the very serious issue of online fraud.

The independent ‘Trustworthy Accountability Group’ (TAG) is being formed by three industry bodies – The Association of National Advertisers; the American Association of Advertising Agencies; and the Interactive Advertising Bureau. It will be led by Linda Woolley, a former CEO of the Direct Marketing Association.

Not a moment too soon, and I now gather that we too will be getting something similar off the ground here imminently.

I should say, though, that I’ll be pressing for some outputs that are much more convincing than those of another US joint-industry endeavour. The Media Rating Council’s recent definition of viewability – half the pixels in view for one second for static ads and for two seconds for video – falls so far below what we expect of linear TV as to be virtually (sic) meaningless.

Bob Wootton is director of media and advertising at ISBA

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Fiona McNeill, (dare I say) Marketing, SAS, on 20 Nov 2014
“Great phrase! Internet of Stupid Things. Couldn't agree with you more. What will last in IoT are only those things that consumer's care about, as you aptly describe. Companies know what consumers care about by intently listening to them (on all their communicating channels) and taking the time to do detailed analysis of how they do (and want to) interact with 'things'. A bit more on how the analysis of things is being done can be found at: http://www.sas.com/en_us/insights/big-data/internet-of-things.html”
Mr Blobby, Blobby, Bobby Blobby, on 19 Nov 2014
“You are a luddite Bob.. no doubt heard saying 15 years ago, "this internet thing is just a passing fad." IoT is less about cynical advertising than valuable connectivity with real utility. There will be pointless connected devices, though there will be many more good ones in the fullness of time.”
Marco Ricci, CEO, Adloox, on 19 Nov 2014
“Well put Bob. Keen to help you with something similar here, with more stringent output and auditing aligned to quality control+accountability.”

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