Imagine a world where advertising is a delight, spam email was a treat, and unsolicited approaches via social media were always welcome. Believe it or not, that’s precisely what the people and companies marketing to you are hoping to achieve. Not that you are an undiscerning moron, who knows no better, but rather that despite you being a busy person, whose time is valuable, that their targeting has been so pin-point accurate, you greet their every message with unsurpassed glee.

OK, so maybe that kind of thinking is a fantasy, but seriously, that is their goal. They really, really do not want to waste your time, and their money on poorly targeted marketing that is disregarded, avoided, and that offends those who receive it. That situation is negative marketing, and the very opposite of what they want.

I never watch adverts on TV. I go out of my way to avoid being advertised to. I flip the channels before they even start, and sometimes even avoid whole channels because of the volume of advertising they try to subject me to. I really cannot remember seeing any TV adverts for the last 20 years. (advertisers hate the remote control) Yet most people accept the reality of advertising, and glumly sit through 5 minutes of pitching, whilst waiting for their show to start again – and the inevitable recap, as the break was so long, they have forgotten the plot to Game of Thrones or CSI.

Being the guy that runs a mile from any form of advertising, it turns out that I am that particular demographic that is either advert blind, ad-resistant, or ad-blocking. Yet I am also a person who loves to spend money on particular things, and would be happy to see targeted adverts for them.

Many of the world’s largest Internet companies, like Google and Facebook, rely heavily on advertising to finance their online empires.  But that business model is increasingly coming under threat, with one in five smartphone users, or almost 420 million people worldwide, blocking advertising when browsing the web on smart phones. That represents a 90 percent annual increase, according to a new report from PageFair, a start-up that helps to recoup some of this lost advertising revenue, and Priori Data, a company that tracks smartphone applications.

So how could advertiser’s deliver better messages to prospective consumers in a way that delights, instead of offends? Simple, they need to know us really well, and recognise us as such wherever we are (physically and virtually).

Knowing who we are has been a central and scientifically defined art for the past 50 years. But even still, given the number of markers we leave as clues to our personalities and preferences in thousands of actions every day, an extremely accurate picture can be built. Not only of what we like to do and spend money on, but how and when we like to do it. On top of that, it is now possible to disseminate how we prefer to be sold to, based on our personality type.

Knowing where we are at the point of message delivery is relevant to, and useful for countless media, including bill boards in the street, on our personal devices, on screens in our homes (even in specific rooms), via our social media channels, and even separating our work and personal emails.

Years ago I pitched an idea that seemed crazy at the time. How about Amazon gave away a free 50 inch smart TV with every Amazon Prime Membership? The only condition being that openly stated that they would collect data on your choices and preferences, and marry that to your activity on your Amazon shopping account, your Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and other social media accounts, perhaps even sharing that with additional apps that managed your grocery shopping, and utility bills.

With the immense expanse of data gathered, I bet they could know you (and members of your family) so well that they could accurately serve adverts that were entertaining, educational, informative and welcome. More especially for the advertisers, they would work and deliver actual converted sales.

So when Amazon offers you a free TV, you know what’s going on. Me? I’d grab it with both hands!

Stephen O'Donnell is a lifelong recruiter, internet enthusiast, fadgadget and peripatetic writer.

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