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Changing Channels: The Future of Advertising

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Imagine the day when all ads become digital and the lines between channels become indistinguishable. With the advent of tablets, iPads, iPhones, Pandora, Hulu, Youtube, that day is fast approaching and eventually one channel will emerge with the best features of each.

While walking through Times Square on a gusty fall day I came across a crowd of people looking upwards in amazement. In a city where we seldom stop for anything, a large group of people stopped to engage with a giant 61 foot Forever 21 digital billboard above their store front. The ad created an augmented reality experience. The display was a live feed of the people passing by the storefront, overlaid on top of the feed was a virtual woman who was interacting with the crowd. She'd pick a random person, identify the shoes they were wearing in the picture, highlight them, and show them what they'd look like in a new pair. There were multiple iterations of scenarios that involved the crowd, but the point was that it was engaging, personal and entertaining.

As we think back to the convergence of media and the all-encompassing singularity of the future "super channel", this digital billboard was a perfect example of the future of advertising . It was out-of-home, digital, steaming video, real time, targeted, dynamic, interactive and most importantly broke down the barriers and limitations of traditional channels to form a unique experience. The results? Unbelievably high engagement and lots of buzz. And when people are excited in today's world, they capture and share their experiences via Twitter, Facebook, and the many other social networks.

The winners in this new media will be the ones who think outside the box of limitations, combine the best elements of various channels, and create an experience worthy of a few moments of our time. I feel as if advertising is on the verge of this great renaissance. If you look close enough, you may find that it is already here.