Wake up people! Cyberdyne’s Skynet is real, sort of.

Advertisements are generally the bane of our existence, more so when you’re targeted by brands that do not resonate with you. (Yes, I’m aware I work in advertising.) With technology taking over every aspect of people’s lives, advertisers are getting smarter in ensuring that their ads reach the intended audience but also evoke an emotional connection that will hopefully garner consumer loyalty and the intent to purchase/consume said product/service. With the rapid advancement of drones, VR and virtual assistants that are taking over the world, marketers are finding new and exciting ways to promote their products so as consumers, you’re kinda caught in the crossfire of these new waves of advertising. So here are some tips on how to stick it to the big guys.

1. Speak Only When Spoken To

The concept of future living made possible by Intelligent Digital Assistants or Voice-enabled Digital Assistants have been all the rage in recent years with companies like Amazon, Apple, Google, and Microsoft dishing out their fair share of artificial intelligent (and possibly sentient) and smart devices to bring the convenience of a personal assistance into the comfort of everyone’s home.

How it works

Basically it’s clever software (artificial intelligence) coupled with specialised hardware devices such as a smart speaker, watch, or phone to provide functionalities that best replicate a human assistant by performing tasks like setting up calendar appointments or requesting for info. The A.I. gets to know you better the more you use it and eventually will be able to provide relevant suggestions based off your past activities. This is all done through complex machine learning.

How to outsmart it

Despite the useful nature of virtual assistants, it’s no surprise that our smart devices are constantly listening to us and feeding advertisers with keywords and our vocal queries so that it refines the kind of ads that reach us. Firstly, you can restrict certain apps from having access to your device’s microphone/camera, just check your mobile application’s permissions and you should be able to tell which apps are secretly playing double agent. Secondly, most home assistants have the mute function, whether it be software-based or a physical button, so you always have an option on when you want Google or Alexa to hear ya.

2. Your Second Life

Many brands are now exploring the possibility of feeding advertising through VR headsets, with Oculus Go TV being the latest in VR set-top streaming box that may have such a functionality from day one. Monetisation of VR is a tricky business as it usually requires a hefty investment by the consumer and is currently still a niche tech that only a handful of tech enthusiasts own.

How does it work?

Virtual Reality immerses the user in a virtual world that they can interact with. VR has the potential to stimulate the human senses, including the sense of sight, touch and possibly smell. The concept of VR is also closely tied to Telepresence technology that enables people to feel as if they are actually present in a different time or place. Successful VR marketing includes Virgin Travel, Volvo Reality and Cupcake flavoured Oreo cookies.

How to outsmart it

3. Shifting Realities

Augmented Reality has been around since its inception in the 1960s though successful implementation of the tech in games like Pokemon Go which gave AR a wider mass appeal. It has since become a viable advertising platform with M.I.A. X Versus Versace, Pepsi Max & Coca Cola X WWF pushing the envelope on how the technology can be utilised to compliment advertising campaigns.

How does it work?

AR works by projecting virtual images over real-world objects, essentially creating an illusion that allows users to engage in a virtual world. You can learn more about the history of Augmented Reality here if you’re into that kinda shiz.

How to outsmart it

AR software requires access to your phone’s cameras and doesn’t really require much outsmarting as the advertisements would normally need user input. E.g.: using your camera to interact with an AR code. So this is an easy one to dodge too.

. Negasonic

If you’re not paranoid enough (you should be), the use of Ultrasonic cross-device tracking is another discrete tech advertisers use to gain valuable insights to our consumer behaviours. In a world where our technologies are “always-on” and listening for our voice commands, marketers have found a way to embed high-frequency tones that are practically inaudible to humans in our entertainment content, advertisements, websites and even on ground retail stores. These unseen waves can be tuned to better under

How does it work?

Ultrasonic beacons are used to emit audio sequences from speakers that are then picked up by our device’s microphones. Some apps can detect the signal transmitted and start to string together a profile of ads you’ve been exposed to (E.g: on your daily commute, while consuming content online), helping advertisers to form a profile of you.

How to outsmart it

The biggest worry about this form of consumer monitoring is that it requires giving an app (or a couple of apps) the ability to listen to everything around you. The best way to prevent ultrasonic interference is to check on your app permissions so that you’re aware of which app has access to your microphone and block/ or restrict further access. Duct tape works too if you want to take the Mark Zuckerberg approach.