When talking about Facial Recognition, first thing that probably comes to our minds is Science Fiction and movies such as “Minority Report” and “Gattaca”. It seems a far and untouchable reality, and probably few people realize that facial recognition technology is not something obscure and useless in real life. Advertising, for example, has been using it for a while now in many ways: for measurement and optimization purposes, as a tool to improve creativity, even as a way to identify consumer’s emotions.
As time passed by, the technology improved: computers can identify faces better, faster and much cheaper than before, what automatically expands the field of actuation of the software that initially was thought to be served for security reasons. If facial recognition was initially conceived to support criminal databases, now its usage on advertisement is not only natural, but a must: and we are only in the beginning.
One of the articles I have read states that “the future of advertising is facial recognition”, referring to the power of this technology for measuring emotions of consumers watching ads. Talking about measurements, it is indeed revolutionary. Until now, the only possible way of knowing emotive responses to an ad were through voluntary surveys. If the consumer was not asked “Did you like it or not?”, there was not a reliable way of advertisers know the reaction of viewers. Now there is.
If we think we are in 2013 and advertisers still spend huge amounts of money trying to figure out if ads are being watched, knowing if ads are being liked is the cherry on this cake. The whole technology and how it is actually going to perform is still in test phase, but the first tests show great results and seem very promising: a research with a Doritos ad was running during this year’s Super Bowl. If you take a look at the graph (below) and see the spike of happiness, and then watch the ad, you will understand how accurate it looks. I laughed. I bet you will as well.
Where is Wally?
Another great use for facial recognition that has been widely used for Advertising so far is for targeting purposes. Through cameras that identify the gender and specific age groups, companies can help advertisers optimize specific ads and say for example, which location and time will be better to reach specific groups. In this way, exposure is optimized and we reach here another great goal that could not be achieved without this technology telling exactly who is seeing the ad. More than that: who is seeing, where, when, and how old this potential consumer is. While the technology was first launched to online video, now is extended to other media, such as outdoors and TV. Something unthought a few years ago.
I remember my own speech when I first started to work with the online world and got caught in the magic of it. I used to think about all the outdoors I created and how frustrated I used to feel for not knowing how many people have actually seen those outdoors and the amount of effective action the outdoors generated. And suddenly, the golden doors of the Internet opened to me and everything seemed measurable. Of course that time taught me that ALMOST everything was measurable. But still, was much better that the off-line world, where my advertiser efforts had to be based on intuition and unbelievably expensive market researches. Now, it feels like the boundaries between online and offline world are getting even thinner.
The latest news about these boundaries is the launch of an app called Facedeals, that allows marketers to track consumers off-line as much as they do online. The company installs cameras at the entrance of businesses that scan customers' faces. If said customer opts into the app on Facebook and verifies his or her photograph, then Facedeals texts them about good deals while shopping inside. According to other researches on the subject, it is believed that smart phones may make facial searches as common as Google searches: facial recognition software can sometimes even access social security numbers. But as scary as it seems, there are many ways of protecting our online privacy and we should remember the main purpose of advertising now and in the future is not being intrusive, but voluntary. All of the examples mentioned so far are tools to improve performance, and do not aim at any moment to harm consumers on their choices.
Bye Bye Red Eye…
Want to see a good example on how facial recognition allied to creativity in advertising can be can be cool and effective? Take a look at this promotional campaign featured on South Africa: identifying tired passengers who yawn at the O.R. Tambo International Airport, Douwe Egberts, a local coffee brand, offered free coffee fixes. Absolutely genius.
Technology is no longer a sci-fi word, something we associate to the future. It’s here, it’s palpable, it’s part of our routine. New and amazing technologies are found every day and we all know we are not even half way of all we can achieve. Combining it with creativity, bringing it to the emotional and artistic world of advertising can only benefit us as consumers and human beings: makes the world lighter, funnier, and much more exciting.
Artimedia utilizes its exclusive state-of-the-art facial recognition technology in some of its unique video ad fomats, such as CelebrityRoll™ and LogoRoll™.