Changing the Game for Ethnography

May 27, 2014

I spotted a really interesting talk on TED this morning, given by former NFL footballer Chris Kluwe. He was talking about the future of virtual and augmented reality, technologies that are destined to change our lives as much as the internet or mobile phone. Primarily, he was describing their usefulness in sports; in giving athletes extra information at critical moments and in giving spectators a richer experience by showing them the action from the athlete’s point of view.

He finished his talk on a much more expansive note; exploring the idea that this technology can make humans much more empathetic, because in a very literal way, we’ll now have the opportunity to experience the world as others do. This has real meaning for advertisers, because the concept applies as much for brands as it does for people.

There is a relatively well established conversation about how advertisers can exploit VR and AR technologies by inserting their messages into the user’s experience. But what’s more interesting is what advertisers can learn about consumers, by so directly plugging into their point of view. This is the ultimate form of ethnography and if we can harness its power effectively, it should provide us with a new quality of information about everything from users’ experiences with products and services, to the relationships that consumers have with the people in their lives. If brands can use this technology to gain a better understanding of their consumers, they should be able to communicate with their public in a more empathetic, and ultimately more effective, way.

It seems that advancing technology is about to change the limits of what we can learn about consumer behaviour.




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