My son is eleven years old and has an Oculus Quest.
He meets his friends in virtual reality; he’s created art on Dall-E and sold it on Roblox. He doesn’t have Instagram, or Facebook, or Snapchat, and he hates TikTok. He consumes all his media on YouTube. The car he craves is a Tesla.
He is the perfect candidate for Zuck’s vision of the future.
When Planable approached me to contribute to their blog, inviting me to “write whatever you want” – of course, I had to say yes. It’s exhausting (and boring) to only write about professional expertise, so when this opportunity presented itself, a moment to write freely on digital marketing, a subject I am passionate about, I had to grab it.
But where I’ve landed and what I think about the most is the future.
I’m 7 years into my digital marketing career, and almost twenty years into entrepreneurship and business, and I can’t stop thinking about where “it’s all” going.
What is the future of digital marketing?
Where do I fit into it (I’m 40)?
How do we keep growing as marketers in the “now”, and how do we support our “future” talent in marketing?
Is “influence” as powerful as we think it is?
Will the kids be ok?
Will the digital machine replace me?
If you work in any kind of marketing, one of these questions has been on your mind. For me, this week, the future of digital marketing and what that technology looks and feels like has been present.
What kicked it off was my nighttime treat: Netflix Korean drama “My Holo Love”. I’m 10 episodes deep with 2 more to go. The basis of the story is that a lonely tech inventor creates a “hologram” AI assistant named “HOLO” that is a physical replica of himself (only nicer). The inventor can see and operate Holo with a pair of glasses.
The AI’s name is “Holo” and he lives with his user “Seoun”, a female marketing executive.
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He does everything from the mundane to the incredible: in one scene, they cook together, and in another, he saves her life. He’s an amped-up version of Alexa or Siri, except gorgeous, stylish, and has a humanlike physical form. He knows what to say, when to say it, and gets smarter as time passes.
His only instruction is to “take care of” his user. It’s really no surprise then that she begins to fall in love with HOLO. He is, after all, the perfect guy.
I forced my mother to watch the show with me, and my 11-year-old son jumped in around episode 5 – last night at dinner, we had a big debate.
Is it possible for a human to fall in love with an AI Hologram?
Could this be the future where everyone has their own personal AI Hologram? Can AI in any form express emotion? Is that emotion real if it’s not actually real or human?
My son said YES it’s possible; you could easily fall in love with a chatbot.
My mother said NO because it’s not human, and it wouldn’t be love if it’s not human.
I’m not sure where I stand.
As the show progresses, “HOLO” is launched commercially to the world, and it can be customized and modified, and every additional interaction with HOLO requires a paid unlock.
For me, as a marketing executive, that feels really familiar, and it’s exactly what I’d expect from a Hologram AI as a tech or software as a service business.
What would a piece of technology like this mean for the future of marketing?
In the future, could we buy media or schedule content on AI systems?
If HOLO can, for example, monitor user health, and it knows when your temperature is abnormal, could it offer a diagnosis, and suggest the perfect meds, at the exact time you’re walking past a pharmacy?
Could we potentially use artificial technology wearables and environments to sell harder, and segment deeper? According to this Reddit post, we’re already headed in that direction.
Imagine that you have a conversation with your AI Hologram about taking up jogging, and your personal AI suggests 3 pairs of sneakers that are perfect for you! The colors you like, the price in your “average” budget, maybe your favorite brands. A version of traditional search but tailored specifically to you by your user data?
How much would a brand pay to be the first recommendation on your feed?
Zuck’s deep investments into Oculus Quest and the “Metaverse” are a burgeoning vision of this.
Many folks believe it’s too early, but I’m with Zuck on this one. How we live in our environments and how we connect with people is going to be drastically different in twenty years.
When I linger on the possibilities of what the future holds in technological advancement,no idea seems too big to happen, and certainly, as long as there are men and women with money and vision it’s possible we could all be living in a version of NEOM, that’s either real or until it’s real virtual.
Perhaps the best-laid plans come through virtual reality first.
And then, there’s the money. Whoever owns the search engine of virtual reality, and its spin-offs will be the richest brands and companies in the world.
Google’s Advertising Revenue in 2022 was an estimated 280 Million dollars; if Google could play in a virtual space of infinite advertising potential, then there are no limits to the kind of money that could be earned.
This future world is so exciting. But it also feels uncertain.
Are we, as marketers destined to create monster marketing campaigns that influence and control consumers as they live in all spaces at all ages? Influencing love, purchases, self-esteem, relationships, emotions?
Have we ever considered our moral obligation and ethics in relation to what we do as marketers?
It’s honestly something that I’d never thought that deeply about until today. Do we even have a moral obligation, or are we simply participating in the inevitable because someone has to, and it might as well be us?
Only time and our future selves have the answer to these questions, and I hope I’ll be in play to see some of the concepts here delivered, but not all of them.
Laura Little is the founder of “That British Chick” Marketing Company, helping startups, founders, and brands with strategies in Digital Marketing. In 2020 she created the Females In Digital Marketing Platform, an online collective that supports over 15,000 women globally through education, workshops, jobs, and community. Laura is an advocate for women in business, and enjoys meeting new people, traveling, and writing.