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24 February 2024

The 'cyber cloud' has descended

By Naseem Javed




We are not alone any longer… not even in the most private rooms and quiet spaces that we so dearly cherish. All that beautiful décor and openness that we think is filled with fresh air is actually jam packed with zillions of invisible wireless messages, electronic signals, streaming videos and all kinds of pulses that are fast forwarding our cyber-society of today.


Special eyewear is under rapid development to enable a three-dimensional spectrum view of digital flow in thin air, as seen in The Matrix, where free-floating, streams of digital information will surround us and shock us. These digital signals cover us like a thick blanket, watching and awaiting every single electronic interaction of ours, recording, updating and profiling our habits and patterns based on consumption.


Deeply submerged in the cyber-ocean of information, there are two outcomes to this. Firstly, our existence as a hyper-consuming subject, the second is an interactive profiling system, built on super-sponge-technology that scans our present movements to predict our future ones, offering products and solutions that parallel the speed of our thinking.
This all sounds a bit sci-fi crazy - but in reality, it’s yesterday’s news. There’s more information about us out there this very second than we can imagine. It's like a very fast game of ping-pong: constant action and reaction to just about everything we act upon is being championed. It’s so fast and so instant that it boggles the mind; any of your actionable pulses could go and come back around the globe in a split of a second. See? It just did.
Technology has flattened the Earth and truly curved our daily lives; where cyber lifestyles have us spinning into yogurt, while the clocks seem to be going at double the speed. It’s hard to figure out with all the supposed ease of technology and open access, where the time goes.


Hours seem to be shrinking into minutes. Seconds? What seconds? The hamster-style mobility of the daily grind is keeping most of us from revolting. Even matters of distance have disappeared; you forget where you were few hours ago, which block, which airport, which Starbuck’s... which country?
The increasingly digital state of today’s world has almost eliminated the dimension of time. This digital miniaturisation has blossomed into an interactive-hyper-connected world of mobile technology that has taken over as the most powerful of new mediums. In this setting, the world becomes the largest shopping mall, the customer becomes the prowler, in search of deals, a universe of products and services opens up and only those with commanding knowledge of global marketing response, cyber branding and mobility are poised to make it.


Also in the mix, a soup of multiple technologies and multiple skills combined to adopt multiple messages and unified under a master plan. These future products will hunt us down at the right time and opportunity, coming into play at that critical second just before the purchase decision; striking like a moray eel when a little guppy gets closer.
It’s now like walking into thin air where you see absolutely nothing but the cyber blanket of invisible pulses and wireless information closely wrap around you; hugging you, having full access to knowledge about what credit cards you have in your pockets, your favourite magazines and your major purchases of the last year; all nicely alphabetically organised and manipulated to evaluate your tastes, habits, preferences and even your deepest intentions. Your age, gender, habits and occupational profile are all digital blueprints to decode your identity, style and spending.
The cyber cloud hovers all around you as you approach various shops and your PDA beeps to inform you about a great offer on that watch you wanted, or will alert your bank about a potential overdraft when you enter a diamond shop. Failing to signal when changing lanes now appears on the balance of your next car insurance policy. No, this isn’t a movie script, it's old news.




These zillions of day-to-day, small online interactions add up, collectively developing your consumption profiles. The system can easily determine when you and your friends are planning a trip to Rio, with what budget and what airline. This information is a goldmine to some in the travel business. Such a highly qualified specificity has created a meltdown in the traditional world of advertising, which was historically based on creating wild outbound noise with bottomless budgets. A great thing century ago, but the online era is founded upon the pulse of inward consuming traffic.


Change is upon us. The last century gave us print society, where the printed word was power, and when only the literate could benefit from information. The selling of goods and branding for mass consumerism become the bridge to most of the global economies and the concepts to produce and sell, earn and spend created modern civilisation.


The conveyor belts of the process were managed by the ad industry and herds of consumers were managed by the creative dangling of carrots. Today and every day, the global ad industry spends over a billion dollars creating various types of messages.


But now, most current online and cyber advertising techniques are meticulously precise, measurable and predictable. They have trimmed all the non-essential extra creative AD luggage and mega budgets that allowed for the arrival of the MAD Men TV series produced by the same team behind The Sopranos, correctly portraying the ad-machine that once created public hysteria and great consumer demands, but now lingers close to extinction like a dinosaur. This global rejection of the traditional ad-game is all over us, affecting newspapers, TV and all other ad-based mediums while a new trace-able, track-able, predictable, ROI model of one-to-one advertising sell-first-bill-later is taking hold.


The challenges are on two fronts. Firstly, a continuously modified mass-scale selling of goods and services using traditional models, which have fared well in the past. Secondly, the need of highly exuberant structures of specialised global service agencies, connecting customers on a one-to-one, per-need basis, using hyper-connected, cyber-marketing-processes. Both fronts are serious and work towards creating a shift. Ad shops have always excelled at the creativity component, which separated them from the other related service sectors. They are again required to come up with better ideas and solutions, as on the net, it now takes only seconds to copy, cut and paste recycled campaigns. The winners will be determined based on speed to market response.


Naseem Javed: nj@njabc.com or www.abcnamebank.com.