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Virtual Reality and Subliminal Marketing

Virtual reality (VR) has become a reality, as nearly every tech company has created a product that features it, and it is now seen by many as mainstream. Facebook-owned Oculus Rift, PlayStation VR, and the HTC Vive are just a few examples of household names that have launched us into the future of the immersive experience.

There is little doubt that VR has the potential to revolutionize the entire entertainment, tourism and even learning industries if audiences adopt the concept of strapping a device to their heads. At the same time, there will be those who feel instantly compelled to compare the technology to such fads as the first 3D television.

However, if the masses embrace VR as predicted, should we be concerned that this completely immersive experience could lead us once again down the dark road of sinister subliminal advertising?

Applied to VR equipment and other, similar technology, subliminal advertising has the increasing capability of wielding a much deeper impact on the unknowing user. given the vast, immersive characteristics of the VR environment. Consider one concept we’ve seen, where music apps and a smartwatch claim to play subliminal messages at a frequency overlaying music that cannot be detected by the ear, but only by the subconscious brain. This seemingly harmless idea could be incredibly valuable to savvy advertising agencies, as well as to candidates running for office.

Removing the everyday distractions of modern life and locking consumers away in an entirely immersive experience is every marketer’s dream — so before “plugging in,” we should all consider the potential implications of the use of this unregulated technology to manipulate us.

When we take a closer look at the advertising that surrounds us, it’s obvious that subliminal messages are real and powerful, as seen in one 2015 example created by a Brazilian advertising agency. The advertisers placed a billboard of people yawning at a busy metro station in Sao Paulo. This contagious billboardwas fitted with a motion sensor that automatically detected when commuters were passing by and then displayed a video of somebody yawning.

The campaign aimed to convince passers-by that they were tired by using infectious yawning. The billboard followed the yawning video with this message: “Did you yawn, too? Time for coffee!” If it is possible to convince busy commuters to buy coffee by broadcasting a subliminal message, can you imagine the power potentially wielded within an immersive virtual reality experience that is completely free from distraction?

The gathering of data from our online purchases already allows subtle messaging for influential purposes, so the adverts that pop up and the messages we receive are certainly no accident or coincidence. Everywhere we turn, we are unwittingly subjected to product placements in video games and movies, but we congratulate ourselves on being able to see the messages and resist their pull. However, would we be as resistant to such messages if they appeared while we were completely immersed in virtual reality?

There is an enormous responsibility for any advertising agency considering bringing any form of advertising or marketing to virtual reality. If the consumer experience is in any way tainted by the out-of-date and detested marketing messages from our past, consumers will fail even to adopt the medium.

The main problem is that the current method of advertising is broken, and billions of dollars are wasted on ads that are either not seen or deemed irrelevant to a consumer’s lifestyle. This change in customer behavior is ushering in a new era of marketing called “targeted display advertising” (TDA) that uses consumers’ own data to deliver personalized ads that resonate with them.

Organizations finally have a handle on big data, and they will be able to leverage our mobile devices to learn what we’re interested in even before we clearly know ourselves, based solely on our browsing histories.

As we drift between devices and screens, we have surrounded ourselves with wave of white noise that has become a frustrating obstacle for any advertiser striving to stand out amongst all the distractions. However, a headset that removes any form of outside interruption by pumping sound into a consumer’s ears and preventing his or her eyes from wandering could make subliminal messaging hard to avoid.

Before becoming paranoid about what’s to come, it is important to understand how this technology can also be used for the greater good, too.

Virtual reality can make a positive difference in our lives by opening up fantastic opportunities for learning, rehabilitation, teaching and tourism. But I would like to see more conversations and debates about how subliminal marketing messages should be used in that environment, to help solve any problems before they occur.

What are your thoughts on the immersive experience virtual reality delivers to audiences, and about the benefits and downsides of its being leveraged to deliver subliminal messaging?

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When Your Toilet is Clogged You Don’t Hire a Chef

No one likes to think about turnover, but it’s a problem that keeps general managers (GM) and business owners up at night. Why? Because deep down you know how critical it is to the bottom line.

Here’s a scenario:

You run a multi-million-dollar dealership and you are hitting the numbers despite margin compression. (Hallelujah) You’re managing to win the volume game. The below-the-line money is essential to keeping the lights on and your team manages to keep their Customer Service Index numbers at passing levels. If you are the GM, the owner stays away for the most part while you continue to help money hit the bank account. If you are a hands-on owner, you cannot stay away because you are steering the ship. This is your legacy.

So, why are you losing sleep?

Could it be the fear of missing your bonus program requirements from the manufacturer and losing the “below the line” money that is vital to your survival? Or is it the fact that you know your toxic sales manager is on the verge of creating a mass exodus on your sales floor and all you can think is, “Hiring is a bitch.” Maybe it is just that you don’t have time to get everything done in a day.

The fact is, you know you have a few core needs that require a shift and you know you need help to make those shifts happen. What you don’t know is where to begin. After speaking with dozens of GMs and owners, it’s become clear to me that, time and again, the place to start is a deep dive into your ethos and an understanding of your level of employee engagement.

When your employees are disengaged, your showroom floor or service drive is a disaster, and your customers turn right back around to the front door to get the hell out of dodge. When you finally get a new employee to start, either they quickly feel the vibe of a lackluster culture and bolt, or they hang on a bit and join the disgruntled masses.

Either way, your managers are tired. They are pushing to hit the numbers to keep you off of their back and their family fed. They don’t have the bandwidth to rein in the culture or to hire right. Frankly, you know this is your responsibility, but, damn it, how can you do it all? The answer is: you can’t and shouldn’t.

When you need your computer fixed, you go to an expert that specializes in technology. When it’s time to replace your air conditioner, you hire an HVAC specialist to do the job. How about your toilet? When it’s clogged, you’re not hiring a chef – or at least I hope not. The reality is that no one person can do everything well, and a successful leader hires the right people to close gaps whether they are environmental or performance-related.

At Shift Awake Group, we specialize in closing the gap on the two critical topics of culture and employee engagement. In order to repair your culture, you have to find out where the bodies are buried and work to mend the cracks in the foundation. Once your culture is repaired, the focus shifts to hiring right the first time while elevating employee engagement and kicking turnover to the curb.

I do not know a single owner or GM that doesn’t want to increase their gross profit margin. Unfortunately, too many believe that focusing on volume will help their income statement and, in turn, everything else will just fix itself. While this can work sometimes, it’s more advantageous to focus on a different, more sustainable metric by increasing your Operating Profit Margins (OPM). When you reduce turnover, costs affecting your overhead are reduced at the same time OPM is increased. When employee engagement improves, simultaneously, there is the perfect storm of opportunity to positively impact gross profit margin with a happier, more fulfilled workforce selling the perfect vehicle to your customer.

If that perfect storm sounds like it could help you finally get a good night’s sleep, it is time to empower an expert to take control of these two pain points that will not spontaneously heal and, in fact, are likely to get worse the more you say they will “fix themselves.”

How can we serve you?

Jacqueline Jasionowski is the founder of Shift Awake Group. Her “soul” mission is to help others connect with their purpose through a higher level of consciousness that will both drive results and enable innovation along the way. Please contact 614.403.6540 for info.

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How Technology Changed the Billion-Dollar Ad Game

The advertising industry has had a long and successful history. It has been a very big business, especially for brands like Procter & Gamble, which topped AdAge.com’s list of the world’s five largest advertisers with $10.5 billion in advertising spending.

For decades, the personal care company kept its products front and center in the minds of consumers – on TV, in print and eventually online. The formula was simple: P&G would spend a huge amount on advertising and loyal customers would respond by buying its products.

That is no longer the case. Technology has changed the ad game for P&G – and not in a good way.

Brief Timeline of Advertising Game-Changers

So if your company is like P&G, what should you do? Start with a fresh look at how much technology and advertising have changed over the last 30 years.

As you look at this timeline, pay attention to how technology worked for – or against – advertisers throughout recent history. Then, use my Hard Trends Methodology to predict what’s next.

1990s – Hundreds of cable channels and the Internet launched, and advertisers jumped to buy space wherever their audiences would be.

Early 2000s – TiVo was one of the first disruptors to these seemingly endless advertising avenues. For the first time, consumers had power over when they got their content and began to skip the ads.

2001 – Next came iPods, which could play downloaded media while consumers were on the go.

2004 – Amazon.com launched as a virtual bookstore and began laying the groundwork for online retailers

2006 – Social media pioneer Facebook opened the News Feed, in which anybody – and any brand – could self-publish content. Facebook ads, for which advertisers once again had to “pay to play,” wouldn’t come until later.

2007 – Netflix went from DVD to streaming and never looked back. Consumers could now also choose what to watch, whenever they wanted to.

Also in 2007Smartphones came on the scene, allowing consumers to carry all types of media in their hands. The ad industry had to go mobile – often in addition to going traditional. Though it wasn’t easy to navigate at first, by 2015 mobile ad spending would top $28 billion.

2008 – Spotify started running on advertising dollars initially, but also offered premium, ad-free packages to consumers at nominal prices.

2009 – In the late 2000s, YouTube began allowing pre-roll ads; advertisers were once again able to recapture a very captive audience.

2012 – Facebook purchased Instagram. It would be five years before the $1 billion gamble would pay off, but in the meantime, real people became the faces of brands. The newest media-buying currency was the influence of the crafty, hip or carpool moms who had become spokespeople.

2015 – Amazon.com hit a milestone as it accounted for at least half of all e-commerce growth. Many experts attributed sales success to the debut of the company’s one-click ordering.

2018 and beyondNot only is data-driven advertising becoming more popular, it’s expected in today’s “show me you know me” consumer culture.

If you use my Hard Trends Methodology to look ahead to the future of advertising, you’ll be able to anticipate that the next decade will move even faster. Even more devices are likely to be developed, and they will ultimately be connected to each other as an integral part of our lives.

Now is the time to learn to anticipate the next wave of technology. Start with my book, The Anticipatory Organization, which is fittingly available with one-click ordering on Amazon.com right now.