Technology And The Future Of Advertising: What Do The Experts Predict?

What will the next five years of marketing look like? Will Virtual Reality advertising actually take hold? The UK edition of The Guardian recently held an online discussion about these very issues, asking leading marketing experts how they thought technology and digital platforms would transform the industry.

According to Jide Sobo from MEC, advertisers should view tech as the 'enabler' of how to deliver messages, but not be the message itself. He also felt that creativity needed to keep up with rapidly-advancing tech; for example, tech such as QR codes and near-field communication are already available, but marketers still don't know how to utilize them.

Looking ahead to the next five years, Fergal Downey from BoscaBox points to the vast potential of the Internet of Things to radically disrupt communication as a whole. In advertising terms, this means entering a whole world of potential new markets, as everything will become connected - from ads down to product packaging.

Meanwhile, xAd's Monica Ho, predicts that out-of-home (OOH) advertising will become more prominent, thanks to mobile technology extending the capability of billboard messages - allowing marketers to engage individuals on their device, and even track whether they have actually seen the ad.

RetailMeNot's Matt Wilkins feels that there is still lots for advertisers to learn about smartphone and digital screen ads; but they will need to adapt to this growing market as they realize the evolving nature of the opportunity. People's buying habits are changing - from browsing on their smartphones to visiting retail websites while actually in store - and digital screens can help brands to reach these individuals even more easily.

Commenting on the topic of virtual reality (VR) technology, Mark Brill - a lecturer, consultant and media strategist - predicted that it was unlikely to become a specific media channel for brands. However, it will prove popular in the gaming industry and could be useful in health applications, he added.

Collaborative Robots In Factories

How is the manufacturing industry likely to develop as digital technologies and robotics continue to change operations? A recent article on Forbes spoke to John Dulchinos, vice president of digital manufacturing at electronics manufacturer Jabil Circuit, about his vision for factories of the future.

Jabil Circuit recently launched the Blue Sky Center - an innovative facility that helps customers engineer growth, using automation as its focus. As well as programs to assist customers with design-for-automation, there is advice on how to set up flexible automation.

Speaking to the publication, Dulchinos explains that a key component of the company's automation strategy is the deployment of intelligent robots that are able to work together.

Confessing that he is "a long-time robotics fan," Dulchinos notes that robots are now evolving from machines with "traditional manufacturing capabilities", to "smart, collaborative robots that deliver three very key capabilities to advance manufacturing."

The first component is that these robots are able to work with humans, as well as alongside them. This means not only can they be trained by human staff, but they can work intuitively as humans do, too - changing between tasks and better able to cope with variability.

Secondly, thanks to "the new world of continuous reconfiguration of lines and processes," newer robots will be "easy to deploy and fast to ramp," helping to maintain the vision of more responsive factories, he explained.

The third element will their ability to conduct increasingly sophisticated tasks, with more ranges of motion and even the ability to work on fixtures that would have previously been too small for anything other than human hands.

Critical to the success of greater flexibility in factories will be the gathering and analysis of data and information; and because robots are essentially computers, they will be able to help with this as well.

"Robots will be information management systems that can collect and analyze data on the floor, in real-time and make it available for interpretation," says Dulchinos. "That represents a real break-through in manufacturing allowing us to not only see what is happening now, but able to apply predictive technologies to the information."

And this, he notes, will allow those in the manufacturing industry to look into the future - which, in itself, is a "powerful tool for increasing efficiency and productivity."

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How Robots Will Transform The Future Of Dairy Farming

In dairy farms of the not-so-distant future, cows will take themselves to be milked by a robotic machine that's able to tell when they were last milked, and even the nutritional content of their supply, BBC News reports. 

According to the article, while robotic milking technology has been around since the 1990s, it's only now that it is really beginning to take hold - not just in the UK, but in the rest of the world, too.

Traditionally, dairy farmers would have to manually attach automatic pumps to their cows twice a day in order to extract milk. But with the latest robotic technology, they can sit back and relax - or get on with other important tasks - while the machines do most of the work for them.

Once inside the milking area, cows are individually identified by the 'robots,' which assess whether the cow has been milked too recently - in which case, an electronic gate opens to lead them back out. If a cow is due to be milked, the machine will clean and brush her udders, before a laser finds the best point at which to clamp the pumps, and will adjust the grip to a comfortable setting.

Many cows will enter of their own accord, lured by the offer of food while they're being milked and the chance to relive the build-up of pressure; this could see some being milked as much as five times a day.

Obviously, more frequent milking means higher production volumes, and farmers will have more time to be more productive in other areas of their job. For those who enjoy spending time with the cows, they can still oversee the process and engage with the herd.

What's more, it is thought this could also improve the livelihood of the cows as they become more relaxed and aren't rushing to all be milked at the same time.

However, many argue that there are still some factors preventing the technology from becoming widespread - namely, the cost of the machinery and the fact that most farmers would need to boost their herd numbers in order to justify such an investment.

But with food production levels needing to rise and greater concerns over health and nutrition, it's likely that more and more robots will become part of the dairy farming process.