Pioneers can reap hi-tech rewards

Progress in technology is inevitable. The rise of the iPod, the PSP and other such consumer-friendly examples of design, new technology and innovation coming together, show us this.

As we all know, media is a great example of this progress in action, as we have seen with the rise of digital television, DAB radio and new innovations in outdoor, such as digital screens.

But, of course, the continual growth of the internet in terms of numbers of users and the money spent on online advertising shows us the impact of this technological progress in the most graphic way.

It's a little bit like the remark F Scott Fitzgerald once made about the rich and how they are different from other people. The internet is different from other media in terms of the rate of growth and the way technology continually offers new routes for brands to find their target market.

Sometimes the rise of novelty formats and different advertising executions - from Skyscrapers to Toast - gives the impression that progress in technology is all for show.

It looks good and, like the backlash against sites which overuse formats like pop-ups, tells us how it can backfire.

But behind the scenes, there can be some less obvious, though no less dramatic, examples of how technology can really help develop the medium.

One way is to bring the web's ability to target specific audiences to bear.

One point about ideas like geo-targeting, and apologies for re-using yet another digital buzzword is, ironically in the UK, this ability to target particular audiences. It is something that internet evangelists have oft-claimed as they promoted the medium's virtues, but only now is this trend gathering speed.

Our article on page 16 shows that AOL UK is set to introduce geo-targeting for its advertisers.

Of course, we might expect an ISP to be keen to bring something new to the market.

However, it is also heartening to hear that so-called old media giants like Guardian Newspapers and Associated Newspapers are turning behavioural targeting, where the ads you see are dictated by the content you are accessing and reading, into a reality.

Technology can be complex and daunting, but pioneers might reap real rewards whichever side of the media fence they sit on.

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