Montreal (Canada) – Last week, an article in the Hollywood Reporter introduced us to a Canadian company called First Person Plural (FPP), which has entered the video gaming industry in more than one respect: The company is developing an online game called “Human Limit,” which it says is designed to keep players engrossed for extended periods of time, while at the same time learning more and more about each player. Eventually, the game will be able to serve advertising to specifically targeted segments of the entire player base, using the information gleaned from each player as a guide.
Earlier this week, FPP announced it will be rolling out the technology behind this player targeting system, called “Witness,” as an exclusive technological feature, which may lead some to conclude it’s interested in licensing the technology to other parties. “Witness,” according to the company, will lead to the development of a genre of programs called advergames, enabled “to build a detailed demographic profile on individual users, allowing them to send specific marketing messages to a chosen demographic, collecting consumer intelligence throughout the process.”
Exactly how this demographic ascertainment process will work during what purports to be a “drive-’til-you-drop” car endurance racing game, has yet to be revealed; however, FPP’s Web site, www.humanlimit.com, is taking registrations now (complete with detailed personal information, of course…don’t forget your phone number) for those interested in finding out just what the game is, or how the game is played – or, more accurately, how the games are played.
FPP seems to describe “Witness” as an intriguing system for building a kind of dialog-driven rapport with each user, learning what she likes, what she does, what her hobbies are, and then utilizing information gleaned from those responses to attract her to products and services which address her specifically. If you consider the amount of time we all spend bypassing unsolicited messages with our minds, the idea of creating a laser-beam-like-focus upon delivering messages that customers might want to see, is rather inspired. Advertising as an industry has had plenty of opportunity since the founding of the Web to develop such a focus, with the most prominent example of success in that direction thus far being Google.
Yet somehow, such efforts, once they receive public attention, can’t help but be met with more than a modicum of skepticism, especially from those wary of any kind of a system whose intent is to collect personal information and somehow, inexplicably, perhaps even secretly, aggregate it to conform to its own impersonal will. Perhaps science fiction has done us a disservice with respect to capability to trust those who would collect our identities from us.
That said, it seems FPP already has a targeted audience in mind for “Human Limit” and “Witness,” even without having used heuristics or algorithms to isolate it for them: “Advertisers are increasingly faced with the difficulty of finding the elusive consumer,” FPP’s COO Darren Henriet specifically targeted in his company’s statement Monday, “especially in the coveted 18-34 demographic which is increasingly abandoning traditional media for the Internet. Advertisers need to engage this audience where it plays if they want to remain relevant to this leading edge generation. Using our technology, marketers are able to position their products and services in this rapidly growing interactive space.”
Intrigued by the possibility of attracting this lucrative, well-prepared audience, the Hollywood Reporter reports, FPP has already garnered the manufacturer of LifeStyles condoms. Exactly how the sponsor’s product’s attractiveness among market segments is to be ascertained during an auto driving simulation, has not been revealed.