Apps have become fairly ubiquitous in our culture. However, they continue to evolve and shape how consumers interact with each other and with media. The new age of apps has developed a sort of sixth sense. They are beginning to understand user behavior, preferences, and daily routines to deliver relevant and personalized content. At times, they begin to fathom certain characteristics of the user that he or she may not even know. In fact, 87% of Gen Xers and Ys say that they rely on apps more than they did a year ago, and 62% of people aged 18-49 believe that by the year 2050, apps will be more relevant than websites.
Perceptive media and anticipatory search is the brainchild resulting from a co-mingling of big data, GPS, and social media. This relationship allows apps to connect the dots on user behavior more efficiently than the user himself can do. Similar to how big data reveals complex social patterns that are invisible to the human eye, perceptive media and anticipatory search have spawned a sort of digital third eye that can look past the here and now to predict what consumers are likely to want, seek, or share next.
Pandora, Last.fm, Spotify, and most recently iTunes Radio all implement highly adaptive recommendation algorithms that supply the user with songs and albums that they might be interested in based on listening history. Netflix does the same for film and TV content. However, these are largely limited by data gathered over time from past use.
Google Now on the other hand, acts as the ultimate personal assistant by pulling information and content that users want, before they ask for it. The result is a slow fading of the “search box” and the rise of an age where information is automatically pushed to the consumer. For instance, Google Now will combine GPS, mail and calendar information to autonomously look up weather and traffic information. In the morning, it will remind the user to grab an umbrella due to inclement weather or leave 20 minutes early because of high-traffic on the route to a business meeting.
The growth of this technology may very well enhance, or even topple the ways in which society traditionally consumes media. Perhaps in the not-so-distant future, content will be specially catered to each individual. In other words, the cable box will no longer tell the viewer what he or she can watch at a given time, but rather, the audience will pick and choose to view content when and where they want to view it.
BookScout, a new book-discovery app developed by Random House, pulls data from Facebook likes, comments, tags and other general information to predict what books will interest readers. It then generates customized reading lists for the user.
Monsieur is an artificially intelligent robot bartender that syncs with its app counterpart to provide a truly unique drinking experience. While the user can go the more traditional route and use the touchscreen to choose a specific cocktail, the exciting bit is that Monsieur actually adapts to user preference, habits and schedule. For instance, it will know if you had a long day at work and might offer a double-shot. If you have company, it will offer to make multiple drinks; it will even calculate when your favorite team scores a goal and could offer you a celebration cocktail. The system also estimates blood alcohol level and might recommend calling a taxi.
Consumers will soon expect apps to anticipate their needs and desires and deliver smart content without them having to actively request it. The brands that will come out on top are those that cater to the growing need for personalized, interactive content and information.
Brands must also respect consumer privacy. Many people will say that they are willing to trade their privacy for a more enhanced user experience. However, they will also expect to fully comprehend specifically what they are giving up. Brands need to be transparent in their opt-in agreements.