Emerging Markets: Special report

The sight of Tom Cruise's retina being scanned and read by an individually targeted digital billboard in the 2002 film Minority Report stuck in the psyche of many who watched it. In fact, since then, that arresting image has been stuck in the pages of quite a few magazines too - as an illustration of the direction technology is taking marketing communications.

It's probably best to err on the side of caution when suggesting such things will become reality, though. If visions from the 50s of what the world would be like in the year 2000 are anything to go by, it can often be an exercise in hilariously inaccurate conjecture to try to guess what might one day emerge, let alone how media and advertising can take advantage.

But what is certain, is the world is changing, fast. So fast, in fact, that the news agency Reuters has just given one of its reporters the Second Life "patch" to cover. This virtual world of an online game has become so vast, that it doesn't feel like that bad an idea for someone to cover it properly. And agencies seem to agree. With Bartle Bogarty Hegarty, Leo Burnett and Arc setting up virtual shops in the territory, more are sure to follow.

All that's needed now is a virtual sandwich man to complete the online advertising landscape. Although with Domino's having cut a deal to appear in the rival roleplay game Everquest II - whereby users can order pizza via their gaming character, and wait for the real-world doorbell to ring, that might not be far away.

The point is, looking around corners is notoriously difficult to do, but across the following pages we've given it a good go. In particular, McCann Erickson's Dave McCaughan and Denuo's Rishad Tobaccowala offer some great insights. We've tried to bring you up to speed with what's emerging on the horizon of the media landscape, and how it could help clients, and their agencies, deliver their objectives.