Bill Gates: 'Technology will change advertising'

It’s time to stop taking television addicts for granted, Microsoft chairperson Bill Gates told advertising executives.

For years, advertisers depended on the prototypical couch potato who sat through commercials while waiting for the next television show to arrive on the screen.

Now, Gates said on Friday, advertising executives need to prepare for a world in which people will watch TV how and when they want to—and advertisers will need to figure out how to get commercials to them anyway.

The pace of technological development won’t just influence the way we do everything from talk with friends to make business deals, Gates said at a Microsoft conference for advertising and marketing executives. It’s also poised to change how advertising reaches people.

Gates is one of many in the technology industry who have raised this issue over the past few years, and he admits that it’s still not clear how technology will eventually change advertising.

“Nobody has a crystal ball that says how this is going to come out,” Gates said.

But for advertisers—and their target audiences—he said there are pluses and minuses to such a new world.

Gates noted that new technology will create better possibilities for targeting advertisements to certain demographics, such as by age, geography or gender. He cited an oft-used example in which a person walks by a store or billboard with a cellphone, and the advertisement is immediately targeted to that person because the cellphone identifies who it is.

But new technology also means advertisers will have to find a balance between targeting audiences and annoying them.

Online pop-up advertisements seemed like a good idea once, Gates noted, but went too far.
Now many companies, including Microsoft and the internet search engine Google, are making software to block those ads.—Sapa-AP

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