It would take some sort of rocket scientist to create a model of advertising that doesn't suck. No coincidence, then, that Roger Toennis used to work on projects such as the autonomous lunar rover, Titan 4 rockets and air-to-air missiles before creating Loyal2.me, a product that promises to actually make advertising not only a useful, but even an enjoyable experience.
The basic idea is remarkably simple yet revolutionary: put the consumer in control of the marketing. "Marketing now is non-personal and not very timely," Toennis explains. "That is really not working anymore, especially with the younger generation. The eighteen-to-thirty demographic is used to ignoring everything on the web they're not interested in." And it's been well-received thus far: At the last minute, Toennis decided to show Loyal2.me at the DaVinci Institute's recent Colorado Inventor's Showcase -- and it won the show's award for Best New Software product.
Instead of marketers guessing at what we might like based on our age, neighborhood and what websites we visit, what if we told them what we like, what kind of ads we're willing to look at and when we're willing to look at them? It's a win-win: Marketers get a receptive audience, and consumers get to find out about deals they are interested in and not be bothered by a bunch of stuff they aren't. (Look, just because I'm in the 35-49 age group does not mean I need your frigging Cialis, thank you very much.)
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Customers opt in (meaning you sign up for it) and pick from the businesses that are signed up with Loyal2.me. Then you can select just about everything about what you want to see -- the who, what, when, where and how of your marketing experience. Only want to see ads for electronics from Best Buy and MicroCenter on Sunday afternoons, after the Broncos play, via text message? Or you want to see restaurant deals from Italian and Mexican places after work via e-mail during the week, but no drink specials because you're recovering alcoholic? Okay, no problem -- or it won't be, once everything is up and running and those businesses have signed up.
Currently, the product is in testing in Boulder with a few hundred college students and a handful of businesses. Toennis says that since consumer-driven marketing is so new, his company is intent on developing best practices to ensure the experience is positive for users. But he does encourage people to sign up now for beta invites -- the more interested people in an area, the sooner it will come there.
The end result, if everything goes as planned, will be a Facebook-like experience for marketing. New companies will have a chance to grab your attention with a one-time message (assuming you choose to opt in to those one-time messages, it's all up to you), so newcomers won't be left out in the cold. You'll never see ads for things you're not inclined to buy; marketers won't waste their time marketing them to you. It took a rocket scientist to figure that out.
You can follow Toennis on Twitter at @Roger_Tee for more info about Loyal2.me and his other projects.