10 Cool Technology Ideas to Market Your Business or Campaigns

Marketing isn’t what it used to be. Technology has changed that!

Do you know that today we’ve got:

  • billboards that can ascertain our ages and genders
  • movie trailers that can change in real time depending on who the viewer is and
  • mobile apps that can detect what commercial is airing on TV and send viewers related coupons on their phones.

And that’s just a start. There’s no doubt technology is ushering in some fascinating new ways of connecting brands with consumers. In fact, to say technology is rapidly evolving doesn’t even fit anymore. Disruptive is an adjective more likely to be used today because, honestly, tech exponentially builds on itself, resulting in a veritable sandstorm of innovation.

Here is my roundup of 10 of the latest developments in technology that can impact your marketing.


1. Facial Recognition Technology

Giving away free product is a great way to build your brand, right? Unilever, the company that makes things like CloseUp Toothpaste and LUX Soap also makes ice cream and figured it would use some of it to get customers to smile—literally. It made a vending machine called “Share Happy” that uses facial recognition to give people ice cream bars for smiling.

They even designed the box so people can upload their smiling mugs to Facebook, pushing the brand even farther out into the consumer space. When the machine debuted in Lisbon last year, it vended 52,000 ice cream bars in two days with no media support or advertising. That’s about 600 percent more than a regular ice cream machine.

The award-winning box is now on world tour doling out brand recognition as it goes.

Facial Recognition is being used not only on experiential campaigns but even on digital signage. We have evolved from broadcasting messages to delivering more digitally precise messages. But actually understanding the context of the situation or the conversation…increases the likelihood of better engagement between brands and people.

There are also possibilities to use a mashup of rear-projected video, touch, gesture recognition and facial recognition.

According to The Los Angeles Times, The Venetian Resort in Las Vegas is using facial recognition to tailor restaurant and entertainment ads for passersby and big brands like Adidas are installing and testing digital walls with facial recognition in a handful of stores to display age-appropriate shoes to customers.

2. Hyper Targeting Technology

While targeted advertising has been around for a while, today the big thing is to make ads super specific.

When people spend time online—surfing, shopping or commenting on social networks—they leave a digital footprint that data-mining systems can track. That means advertisers can profile nearly everybody today in terms of preferences, habits and demographics using technology. The results from that narrowly focused segment end up being five times better than when the company only uses one attribute.

3. Eavesdropping Apps

While they’re still mostly in a concept stage, companies are starting to play around with advertising through new apps that can tell what show you’re watching on TV or listening to on the radio.

Yahoo bought a company called IntoNow, which has a fingerprinting technology that can listen to and identify what’s on TV, and let people check in to a show or ad.  Pepsi Max ran a promotion where if you tag their ad when it runs using this app you can get a coupon for some free Pepsi Max.

The media synchronization that can recognize the audio track of a TV show can also be used on radio so if you’ve got a mobile phone and there’s a radio ad, for example, you might be able to use that to distribute a coupon directly from the audio, sort of like an audio QR code directly from the ad to the mobile phone through the microphone.

4. Augmented Reality

Swiss watchmaker Tissot, used Augmented Reality (AR) in London to let people “try on” its watches—virtually. They handed out black and white paper wristbands and when someone stood in front of the company’s large LCD screen, a webcam behind it sent the coordinates of the paper watch into an AR system which then displayed video of the person on the screen wearing a 3D virtual version of the watch. The person could even play around with the watch’s touch screen features.

AR is now being used for a wide range of marketing activities—in everything from riveting displays at conferences and for sales pitches to loyalty programs at the Point of Sale.

5. Mobile: QR Codes and Spot Targeting

Quick Response (QR) codes are the little black-and-white pixilated squares commonly found in print ads, on products, displayed on TV, and even stitched into the fabric. If you have a phone with a camera and the right kind of reader app, you can scan a QR code to display text, contact information, or open a Web page.

People are also scanning UPC barcodes—especially the ones found on products you’d find at a grocery or drug store—for product pricing and information.

New York City-based Scanbuy has seen an 800 percent increase since a year ago in the number of barcode or quick response (QR) code scans it processes and is now doing more than one per second.

While Scanbuy currently has 8 million people using its ScanLife app on their phones and has worked with big companies such as The Home Depot and Taco Bell on huge code campaigns, the company is rolling out a platform that will allow regular people and small businesses to create their own QR codes starting at $25 a month.

In addition to smartphones giving consumers near-instant access to marketing or product information and digital content, they also are empowering businesses to do local spot targeting that only serves ads to people near a certain geographic location. For instance, a movie theatre could broadcast show times to only those smartphone users within a mile radius who happen to be doing things like playing Angry Birds, listening to Slacker Radio, or other similar activities.

6. Video

Video space is seeing some interesting innovation, particularly in the area of what he calls “dynamic creative” that lets a company or advertiser change video content in real time.

You might re-edit a movie trailer on the fly depending on whether the viewer is male or female or in the North or in the South.

Cloud-based Flite is an ad platform that allows for real-time editing of ads. It can incorporate real-time content streams such as videos, polls, and other interactive elements into an ad, and even pull in social media content from Facebook, Twitter and YouTube—all of which can be switched up at any time.

For instance, a restaurant having a slow couple of hours could update its display ad with a flash deal that includes a poll and its Twitter stream that mentions the promotion.

7. Incentives and Virtual Currency

Incentivized ads in games such as Farmville, Ludo Star, Mafia Wars and Angry Birds tap into a huge audience of social gamers who play every day. It’s the idea of giving people game credits or virtual goods or other things that they can use in a game in exchange for watching ads or interacting with them or otherwise engaging with the sponsor’s content.

You can either create your own survey here using the Lab42 dashboard or they’ll do it for you.

8. Peer-to-peer promotion

Calyp is a network that rewards consumers with cash, gifts and discounts for promoting products they like with their friends and networks. Using either the Calyp mobile app or Calyp.com, an endorser can broadcast a Calyp link—through a text message, blog post or social status update—that features her favorite line of clothing, for example, and let people know there’s a big sale going on. When her friends or followers click on the link, she gets the credit.

9. Social Analytics

Today there are great analytics tools that help brands engage with customers and potential customers on social networks. Traditionally, marketers have focused on analyzing data that is theirs – visitors to our Web site, callers to our call center. But social data lives on social networks – outside the walls of the organization…It does not belong to the company, but the ability to analyze and act effectively on it is key.

10. Web

Is your Web site doing the best job it can for you?

Plenty of great tools now exist for getting measurable data about the effectiveness of your site design and how well you’re marketing to your traffic.

EyeTrackShop is different. It’s a Sweden-based digital marketing research firm with offices in New York and Los Angeles that conducts eye-tracking studies to gauge the effectiveness of not only Web site pages but also online ads, banner ads, print ads and packing designs to see if your audience will notice what you want them to. Some of their clients include P&G, Google, SnapFish and Clorox.

You simply send your sample design to EyeTrackShop, along with the demographic you want to test. From there, EyeTrackShop enlists its U.S. database of 6 million users who use their own Webcams to send video to EyeTrackShop, which then uses retina scanners to gauge gaze duration and location.

EyeTrackShop says it returns results in 48 hours, charges $2,500 for one stimuli test and $1,800 for two tests. Another useful tool you might check out is  Gigya, which you can use on your Web site to allow users to log in using their preferred social identity.


What Else?

Whew! That’s quite a roundup, but no doubt much more could have been mentioned. You can knock Sunny Rabius Sunny for doing all these.

What else should be on this list?