Face-Recognising Billboard Only Displays Ad to Women

Exclusion or clever marketing? Either way, the fact that this is even possible changes the game...

After just reading this article on TechCrunch.com, my mind is buzzing, or is it boggling? Plan is one of the oldest and largest children's development organisations in the world, and has no political or religious affiliations. In the UK, they have just released an advertising campaign which makes use of a game changing billboard - it "has a camera that scans passersby and if one stops to look, it determines their sex and shows them a 40-second video if they are female. Males only get a link to the advertiser's website."

Costing £30,000 for a 2 week placement, the system claims a 90 percent accuracy rate - your call as to whether or not that is money well spent or even how ethical it actually is, but two things are very clear:

  1. Advertising as we know it is going to change dramatically. To use an example from TechCrunch: What if you load up a hundred videos of people in different outfits, and then match that to whatever the person viewing the ad is wearing? "Nice red blazer. But we like this one better. Only $25 at H&M." (or Myers, David Jones, etc)
  2. Face recognition abilities will no doubt reach a lot further than just male or female. With a whole range of information potentially available (Gender, Age, Race, Religion, among a tonne of other assumptions) to advertisers, their marketing budgets and analysis just got a whole lot more accurate and that space at the bus stop just got a whole lot more valuable ;)

What do you think? Is it money well spent? Does this kind of advertising exclude people or is it simply clever marketing? Could there be privacy concerns resulting from the face recognition?

Have a look at the full TechCrunch article by clicking here, or you can watch the video below:

Image at beginning of article sourced from TechCrunch