A few years ago I had a chance to check out the Toyota Mirai - a hydrogen powered electricly propelled car that Toyota claimed was, rather than its Pruis line or the trending battery electric vehicles, the wave of the future.
Suffice it to say I didn't agree. hydrogen is not a sustainable or ecologically friendly fuel source at this time - maybe never.
Still, Toyota put a lot of $$$$ into the research and development of the thing and they still believe that this thing, which allows for the continued time, energy and money drive-to-pump model of re-fuelling, in addition to the fact that one needs CNG or LNG to produce the fuel, is a product that Toyota hopes will take off.
To that end, Toyota has reached out to LA-based ad agency Saatchi to develop advertising materials for the series of poor logistical and ecological choices on four wheels that is the Mirai.
To that end, the ad agency took to IBM's Watson Artificial Intelligence computer, where time and energy was spent programming the supercomputer to write phrases that would appeal to every single type of consumer that would be interested in the hydrogen-powered Mirai.
The computer was able to find myriad new ways to describe the vehicle to potential buyers. Unfortunately, the data neglected to mention that tech-savvy, eco-minded buyers, are not necessarily into under-powered vehicles that have to be powered by fuel that's only available at select pumps in or around California. Especially when they realise that hydrocarbons are needed to create that fuel in the first place.
Still, the method of advertising is novel. While it's not clear how well crafted the data set was that determined the targeting for this campaign, there are plenty of ways to identify users and consumers who are in the market for this or that trinket. The added benefit of AI is that it can make the messages more applicable to potential consumers and, eventually, it holds the promise of being able to do that in real time with the latest available data. Did your Android Watch recently report that you just finished a run? How about a smoothie?
It may sound "creepy" at first, but relevance is everything when it comes to saving time and money in the ad space. I'd rather be enlightened about something I want than be annoyed by ads that interrupt the flow of my day, pushing products I have no real interest in.
So what's the takeaway? We're that much closer to Minority Report, which is, in more ways than just advertising, the holy grail of so much of tech.