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Facial tracking gets advertisers salivating

Advertisers using Facial Detection

The technology of facial detection is advancing so rapidly that you could soon be targeted by advertisers based on your facial reaction and emotions.

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August 13, 2012 12:03 by



In a world with increasingly overwhelming developments in gadgets and camera technologies, the gnawing concern continues to raise the question of how far some will go to take advantage of it. Advertisers are beginning to salivate at the increased availability and feasibility of using facial recognition and tracking technology in outdoor ads and billboards. Why? Simply because it would allow them to track and measure every facial movement of their targeted audience and subsequently multiply the effect it has on them.

Humans will no longer be looked at as ‘beings of the earth’ with fully-sized aortic pumps but rather as cash-filled piñatas waiting to be smashed. The smile of an innocent child or woman as they chuckle at an advertising campaign will no longer be heart warming but rather translate (to the minds of the advertiser) into cash, or at the very least, the possibility of cash. Much like how a computer responds to binary codes of digits, advertisers will respond to our facial reactions to gather their data of effectiveness.

It is no injustice that advertisements consume our day-to-day lives. They fill up the television channels, radio stations and street billboards but it has developed only as society has allowed it to. They are given the freedom and attention to create a societal image of needs, wants and awareness to what others need and want. For instance, gaming companies develop online strategy games that attract players all around the world, the players then realize that they need a faster Internet speed or a higher graphic card for their computers to be compatible and the business cycle begins.

An article that caught Kipp’s eye on Forbes brings a case-in-point; what do Jell-O, Kraft and Adidas have in common? They all want to know your face.

The concept of consumerism in today’s world is no longer measured as progressive but rather as ‘all-consuming’, with no pun intended. We all want to have the latest gadgets because we have become addicted to them. Our fondness of them doesn’t stop at their use, but rather at the value that we believe they bring to us. You may not have the money to buy it nor the willingness to spend that money, but you have the will to want it and that’s half of the advertiser’s job done already.

If the next time you look at a billboard it is looking right back at you, don’t be surprised because it could be watching you, detecting your face and measuring the micro expressions of your muscles as you notice it. Your face will help them determine how effective or ineffective the ad was, but don’t be fooled into thinking that it ends there as a simple black and white area, because it runs in the grayest of oceans. The technology of facial detection is advancing so rapidly that advertisers use it to detect your gender and age from a certain distance and show you an advertisement that is statistically more likely to appeal to your nature or emotional state at the time.

According to Forbes, Plan UK, a British children’s charity group ran a bus stop ad as part of their ‘Because I Am A Girl’ campaign and wouldn’t you know it; women passing by were shown the full 40 second clip of the campaign but men were merely given a message directing them to the website. The tracking system was not only able to detect the gender of the majority of viewers but had shown separate sides of the campaign based on what research tells them is more likely to create an effective memory.



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