Five years ago, if you were told that someone was tracking your whereabouts and monitoring your personal data, you’d likely consider calling the police. But as marketers seek new ways to target individual consumers, this type of tracking is becoming commonplace. On a recent episode of “60 Minutes” Lesley Stahl reported on facial recognition technology and the new ways in which marketers are using it.
We know some retailers are tracking your path in their stores. But Stahl found a more in-depth form of tracking taking place. In one instance, companies are developing digital ads in the mall that use facial recognition to determine gender and age. So if I walked up to a billboard, it would determine that I am a 31-year-old female and then show me a sale on shoes or one of those giant pretzels with cheese. Sounds very “Minority Report,” right?
And it’s not just through media placements that marketers are taking advantage of facial recognition. Brick-and-mortar businesses are taking it a step further by partnering with Facedeals. On “60 Minutes,” Stahl walked into a restaurant that had Facedeals technology on the entrance door. She immediately got a notification on her cell phone prompting her to opt into the Facebook app. Once she did, she received a discount for a free soda at the restaurant. The discount was for a Pepsi because Lesley had “liked” Pepsi on Facebook.
So what does this mean for the future of advertising? Some consumers will think it’s an invasion of privacy and a slippery slope to giving Big Brother more and more permission to track our every move. But some consumers may appreciate the convenience of targeted advertising and discounts. If you aren’t the coupon clipping type, you might welcome an appropriate discount arriving on your phone when you need it. Or, instead of going into every store at the mall to find what you’re looking for, you’ll see an ad written just for you when you walk in (though I usually don’t need an ad to tell me where to buy that giant pretzel with cheese…).
What do you think? Is this a sign of the times, a genius way to deliver more personalized customer experiences – or too creepy to think about?