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Oh no, now I need an eyeball transplant…

Oh no, now I need an eyeball transplant…

There’s a revolution in outdoor advertising coming, including advertising ‘tailored to consumers’ mood’, apparently. Samuel Potter is officially freaked out.

March 10, 2011 4:05 by

“Gladverts are digital outdoor adverts that react to consumers’ moods,by using emotion recognition software (ERS) and cameras to detect whether consumers are happy, tailoring adverts to their mood,” says the release. “Gladvertising uses a face-tracking algorithm to match movements of the eyes and mouth to six expression patterns corresponding to happiness, anger, sadness, fear, surprise and disgust.  This allows marketers to influence consumers with tailored adverts.  For example, if the system identifies unhappy consumers walking towards a billboard, adverts for chocolate and sun drenched holidays might be displayed.”

I don’t know about you, but this freaks me out. I don’t want any device reading my face, or reading my eyes. I don’t care how cool Minority Report was (let’s be frank, the plot had some holes). And I really don’t want an advert accessing my mobile phone, or my social network profiles for that matter. Because before you know it’ll I’ll be paying for an eye transplant in some back street surgery…

But seriously, the increasingly invasive nature of advertising actually annoys me. I know what the industry says to defend itself: That having adverts tailored to you personally is a good thing; that it will cut out unwanted or less targeted ads from your life. But you know what? I don’t care. I ignore ads that aren’t relevant or interesting to me. But how can I ignore something that I know has been produced because a machine scanned my face? And what about those random ads that catch you and encourage you to buy something new (the delight of the unknown)? I suppose they’ll be a thing of the past as every advert you pass knows you regularly search online for ‘Funny animal videos’ or something.

Dr Frank Shaw, Forecast Director, The Centre for Future Studies, said: “It is an exciting time for the digital out-of-home industry.  In just a few short years we have gone from neon advertising to LED video billboards.  But consumers are about to see a huge step change with 3D video adverts that react to their mood and context.  It is clear from this report that we are at a tipping point – over the next few years we will see an explosion in intelligent out-of-home advertising that engages consumers with two-way communication.”

“Intelligent out-of-home advertising” that engages in “two-way communication.” Seriously, we’re only about three steps away from Skynet.And that’s freaking me out even more.

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