2013 11 13 mindshare digital pov face-scan technology to target ads
& Ollie Killick
Retailer Tesco is installing facial detection systems at
450 of its UK based petrol stations in a five year deal
with digital signage company AmScreen. AmScreen
will deliver content to a weekly audience of over five
million adults based on their age and gender,
scanning and targeting the customers as they queue
at the till, then delivering tailored advertisements in
real-time. The Tesco network will also be the first to
use Amscreen’s audience measurement technology,
which can determine basic demographics such as
gender, age, date, time and number of people
exposed to adverts.
Since the announcement last week, there has been a lot of negative reaction from consumers. The
comments reflect a public sensitivity to privacy issues. AmScreen say that the technology is only
based on face detection, not recognition, and will not record or take any images of the consumers
that can be used to identify them. From a marketer’s perspective this tool should help show ads
that are more likely to interest a consumer. This type of system will soon be able to read facial
expressions too and using this sentiment analysis, along with other internal and external factors
such as news and current weather data, screens could adjust the price of goods in real-time.
AmScreen is not alone in being able to provide this sort of technology, Google and Facebook are
thought to be developing similar technologies. Google is creating a ‘pay-per-gaze’ ad revenue
system, based on the emotions of a user’s face as they look at an advertisement. Facebook on the
other hand has revealed that with its huge amount of pictures and data information, it can also use
face recognition from an individual’s Facebook pictures and target them with products based on
their likes on Facebook.
Plan UK ran a clever outdoor ad last year using facial detection. The charity used facial detection
because it wanted to show different content to different genders. The ads were shown on digital
bus shelters in London for two weeks and the facial recognition tool would determine if a woman or
man was standing in front of the screen before showing any ads. People had to opt-in in order to
see anything, but only women would be showed the full 40 second ad.
Whether the audience and consumers are aware of it or not, most adverts today are targeted in one
way or another. Data is captured from most of our daily activities such as travel, shopping, phone
calls and surfing online. It has also been said that, using your loyalty card when paying in a store
might actually give away more personal data than being scanned by a facial recognition tool.
The use of cameras in AmScreen’s technology and the fact that it makes assumptions based on how
you look could initially upset consumers, however if they are rewarded with relevant offers and
discover suitable products opinions could change, but the balance between privacy and
personalization is going to continue to be a key consideration when using this type of technology.