How brands are using tech to target consumers more accurately than ever before

There has been a huge buzz lately around the implementation of Amscreen in supermarkets and petrol forecourts. For those of you that don’t know, these are advertising screens that also scan customers’ faces as they stand in line to pay.

The scans feed back to a central system that determines age and gender, so trends can be picked up, and advertising can be tailored to the type of customer entering a particular shop at any given time of day.

Concerns have been raised by companies such as Big Brother Watch regarding privacy issues, and while there is general displeasure at the thought of facial scanning being used for targeted advertising (which understandably some may find intrusive), it is worth noting that this is face detection software, not recognition. People’s details aren’t stored.

However, from a Consumer PR and Marketing perspective, this future trend is a simple reflection of pre-existing digital strategy.

When assessing the value of Social Media, consumer engagement metrics and demographics play a key role in determining how effective a campaign has been. Facebook offering targeted advertising is nothing new. Surveys and competitions are even more ancient, and still a much used Consumer PR stalwart. Perhaps a grey area for consideration is that the latter operate on much more of an opt in/out basis for their aims, whereas the opposition to facial scanning is, well, shop with your head down or shop somewhere else.

As long as PR Campaigns remain transparent about their use of consumer’s details and offer an opt-out, then there should be no need for moral outcry. However, with digital trends accelerating far more quickly than their offline counterparts, it will be interesting to see what the next technological mastery will be put in to place to make you buy that little bit extra at the till.


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We're passionate about communications, and we have our own views on what's going on.