perjantai 4. toukokuuta 2012

Facial recognition – cool or creepy?

It isn't just something that appears only in sci-fi movies. In fact, it is reality - facial recognition, with which marketers can do miracles, is here. Using facial recognition in the ads is one of the most recent inventions within marketing. Whilst the usage of this tehnology is still in its infancy, I believe that within a couple of years' time only the sky will be a limit and we will see a more creative ad after another. Some might say that it is one of the coolest things on Earth while some might argue that companies are using the information gathered about consumers unethically and trying to trick them to consume more.

Facial recognition software is trying to define the gender by length of hair, lips or jewellery, age by wrinkles and mood by forehead and lips. Defining the gender and age will enable to show ads which are relevant to certain segments and therefore companies would be able to reach their target market more effectively and the cost of advertisement would eventually be reduced when companies would be able to reach the desired target market. The more the technology develops the easier it is to show relevant ads to consumers.
Magnum recently announced that it will be the first company in Australia which is using facial recognition in its ads. The ad will recognise when a person is smiling and thereby it causes an interactive element which enables the viewer to eat the Magnum – virtually of course. This is a step further from segmentationally tailored ads. An example of this kind of ”discrimination” of showing ads to certain segments only was the campaign ”Because I am a Girl” by Plan in the UK. A huge group of people, that is all males, were excluded of seeing the full ad which demonstrated the situation of those girls in developing countries who don't get the same chances as boys do. Effective? Totally.

When the technology develops further we are sure to see individually customised ads which are directed only to you. Companies might gather the data from various sources and the companies owning the information are going to make a lot of money out of it. Such sources might be for example companies' databases which include a lot of valuable information about demographics and what customers have bought. Moreover, one of the most valuable sources which consumers might not even think about is Facebook. People voluntareely share a lot of details of themselves and what they do like – all of which is desired by many companies. If companies have an access to that database they can produce ads which are directed to each consumer. Cool but creepy.

Like said, the sky will be the only limit when putting this into practise. While I was batting I came up with one idea. If I went for a holiday it would be cool to see restaurants, music events or shops nearby based on the things I like. Furthermore it could tell more information in detail, for example the opening hours, the route to those places and how to get there as well as the price to name but a few. Or if I was in a shopping centre, the ad could show what kind of clothes I should go and have a look at based on the brands I like. On the other hand, that would require that whoever has created the ad would have an access to my Facebook profile information. I am not quite sure whether I would like that to happen or not.

Furthermore, it might also be an effective tool in some campaigns for example showing ads about the dangers of tobacco to people who are smoking. Or when you are entering to a supermarket a billboard might show you an ad that you might start gaining weight (if having bought one chocolate bar too many lately) and suggest some healthier snacks instead. 

What kind of an ad would you like to see?

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