Thursday, 28 February 2013

Facial Recognition Technology and its use in Marketing

How would you like to walk into a store and be advertised products that are best suited for your age, gender and demographics? How could a store possibly manage to tailor marketing campaigns on an individual basis?

The answer is through facial recognition. If you are unfamiliar with facial recognition, it is technology that scans your face, determining your age, gender and possibly even your name. Military and law enforcement agencies have been using it for years, but now with a potential to be used in the field of advertising, the fun stuff for us marketers begins.

Many opportunities exist with the information that can be collected with facial recognition. For example, you can know precisely what type of customers come into your store at specific times; you can determine even repeat customers across a number of stores allowing you to uncover trends which can be used to your advantage.

Facial recognition technology can be used to solve business issues. For example, you wanted to grow your customer base as the owner of the local pub. Data from facial recognition technology determined that between 6:00-9:00 on a Friday night your pub was 50% full with 75% male customers between the ages of 25-30 years old. Ideally you want your pub to be at least at a 70% capacity, especially on a Friday night. Wouldn’t you consider offering a special on cocktails targeted to increasing the number of ladies aged 23-27 years old in the pub?

In futuristic movies, facial recognition is even used to identify mood and ads are served to cater to that mood. That’s inching onto the creepy side of things in my opinion. I know that I would not like to walk into a supermarket in the middle writing an assignment for Uni, slightly stressed, and be served ads for ice cream and chocolate.

What’s there not to love about facial recognition? Those of us that are concerned about privacy would argue a lot. Where would boundaries be placed in terms of protecting identity? Is facial recognition a marketers dream come true or a Big Brother scenario waiting to surface?

Mina D'Souza
Current student in the Master of Marketing program at the University of Sydney Business School

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