Sound familiar... 'Big Brother' ads can watch who's watching
February 2, 2009
Full article:- http://technology.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/tech_and_web/article5640034.ece
Watch an ad on a video screen in a shopping centre, a health club or a supermarket and there is an increasing chance that the ad is watching you.
Face tracking, by which small cameras embedded in video screens
analyse those who are watching the ads, is a growing marketing trend. Several companies have developed software that can determine the sex, ethnicity and approximate age of those within range of the cameras.
This gives the advertisers useful information about who is watching their ads and which ads make people watch more. The type of ads being shown can even be changed depending on the audience
, so that if several men are watching, an ad for razors could be screened rather than an ad for leg waxing.
This sort of consumer feedback and targeting is invaluable for advertisers. Analysts say that software devised by companies such as TruMedia Technologies in Florida and Quividi in France are beginning to live up to their promise. The manufacturers say that the systems can determine gender accurately 85 to 90 per cent of the time, while accuracy for the other measures continues to be refined.
Concerns about the "Big Brother" nature of face tracking has prompted companies to reassure consumers. The analysed data is retained but the manufacturers insist that no other record is kept
. TruMedia says that it is "fully respectful of the audience's privacy and is completely anonymous: no personally identifiable information is ever collected; no video or still images are ever recorded and there is no personal data repository."
Privacy campaigners say that the public should be informed about being filmed.
TruMedia has signed several deals recently, expanding the reach of its technology, including one with True Colours Distribution, a UK digital signage distributor. Ian Croft, business development manager for True Colours' digital media team, said: "With the digital signage market moving at such a fast pace, a system for gathering analytic data about a target audience is vital."
Adspace Networks in the US is trialling TruMedia technology on some of its 1,400 video screens at 105 malls across the country. Quividi recently signed a deal to put face-tracking technology into video screens in golf clubs across France.