Magazine article Marketing

Mark Ritson on Branding: I Spy the End for Ads

Magazine article Marketing

Mark Ritson on Branding: I Spy the End for Ads

Article excerpt

How can marketers reach an audience that won't look at their ads? They'll have to work it out, fast.

You might not have heard of it yet, but Prail Technologies is set to become one of the most famous companies in marketing. The San Francisco-based operation is about to launch a digital filter which, when attached to a pair of spectacles or sunglasses, eradicates any and all advertising messages.

Yes, you read that right. Prail has produced a chip that can recognise advertising messages and then remove them from a person's line of sight using a patented procedure in which ads are digitally blocked from the user's view.

The processor that enables this incredible feat is called OLOF, short for the Optical Limitation Option Filter. Using smart recognition technology, the chip scans the user's line of sight 12 times a second and, when it recognises billboards or print advertising, creates a calming haze that blocks out the ad without disconcerting the viewer.

Chad Smith, chief executive of Prail, claims the device already filters out more than 90% of all encountered advertising with further improvements planned in 2010. 'We have taken advanced technology originally developed for missile defence, and applied it to one of man's biggest annoyances - advertising,' he said.

I was one of the first people to try out the technology last week and the results are extraordinary. Wearing lightweight OLOF sunglasses transformed a walk down Oxford Street from a cluttered, ad-heavy zoo into a relatively calming, enjoyable amble. The spectacles weigh little more than a regular pair and look no different from sports sunglasses From Oxford Street, I took the Underground on a Tube devoid of commercial material. Piccadilly Circus station was transformed into a surprisingly calming white space, the escalators were free from invasive ads, and when I left and walked out past the statue of Eros, I was immediately struck by the calming effect of an ad-free Piccadilly Circus.

One safety concern is taxis covered with advertising, which are rendered partially invisible by OLOF and led to a couple of close calls for me when crossing Bond Street. Apparently Prail is aware of the issue and when the retail version of the OLOF glasses launches later this month they will render all cabs in a distinct, but ad-free, black.

The performance of these spectacles is perhaps even more impressive when you try reading a newspaper or watching TV. …

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