Marketers Look to Facial Recognition for Customized Pitches

Exactly how big can Big Data get? Imagine walking by an outside billboard and seeing an ad directed at you, personally. This type of ad is dependent on facial detection technology and may be part of our not-​too-​distant future.

Facial recognition technology is already at work in many out-​of-​home ad campaigns. Marketers can now target passers-​by using age and gender and serve up a customized ad. Writing for Singularity, Tarun Wadhwa explains that a current ad campaign might show a full video to women walking by a billboard where men might see only a message showing a firm’s website address. Marketers like Adidas are already taking this kind of marketing to the next level by showing  shoes styled for older women to any female appearing to be over age 50 who passes by a billboard.  This kind of technology is already making a big impact on sales. For example, new high-​tech vending machines have been equipped with facial recognition capabilities. As these machines serve up age and gender appropriate ads, they've been been selling up to 3 times as many products as traditional vending machines. That result underscores the marketing effectiveness of this technology.

There’s no word yet on exactly when marketers will have affordable access to technology that will allow them to target  individual consumers with custom pitches based on facial recognition. Some analysts wonder whether this strategy could raise privacy concerns. But, over a decade ago, consumer privacy watchdogs predicted that we’d never allow marketers to track our moves online, either.

[Sources: Li, Shan. And Sarno. Advertisers start using facial recognition to tailor pitches. Latimes​.com. 21 Aug. 2011. Web. 21 Aug. 2012; Wadhwa, Tarun. Jell‑O, Kraft and Adidas all Want to Know Your Face. Forbes​.com. 8 Aug. 2012] 
Kathy Crosett
Kathy is the Vice President of Research for SalesFuel. She holds a Masters in Business Administration from the University of Vermont and oversees a staff of researchers, writers and content providers for SalesFuel. Previously, she was co-​owner of several small businesses in the health care services sector.