Print

Sales & Marketing >> Browse Articles >> Advertising >> Offline

Rate

Device Plays Personalized Advertisements

Device Plays Personalized Advertisements

Jennifer Wang, Entrepreneur

Technology researchers are working on something big: a device that combines a digital screen and camera to analyze your physical characteristics and play back personalized advertisements. It isn’t ready for market yet; but, when it finally is, it could revolutionize the way businesses reach out to their consumers.

Here’s how it would work. When shoppers pause in front of a monitor, a computer reads their sex, age, race and expression to gauge interest levels, and then decides the best commercial to play. If the person turns or looks away, the device attempts to draw attention back to the screen-perhaps the music will suddenly crescendo-and the customer will see a different product the computer thinks may be of interest based on the information gleaned earlier.

Spearheading the project, called “Targeted Advertising Based on Audience Natural Response,” or TABANAR (thankfully) for short, is NICTA, an information and communication technology center established by the Australian government. According to Glenn Downey, NICTA’s commercialization manager, progress depends on how quickly researchers can develop sophisticated ways to identify emotional cues from facial expressions. She says a breakthrough would represent a transition from dynamic to responsive technologies. “Next generation technology will react to interest levels and shift content accordingly.”

What’s Available Now?
TABANAR is a work-in-progress, but there are existing technologies that businesses use to get a read on what customers are thinking.

For example, mining video for customer data is gaining popularity. Rajeev Sharma, founder of Pennsylvania-based VideoMining Corporation, created the company in 2000 to meet demand for retail intelligence revealed through image recognition software. In VideoMining’s client stores, feeds from security cameras are sent to a main computer, which extrapolates information on everything from what products people are looking at to how long they stand in front of a particular display.

The business applications are clear. “The store design and merchandising would be fairly critical for all business owners, and there’s a growing interest in video mining because everyone is trying to compete, small or big, and trying to differentiate their stores,” Sharma says. With this kind of feedback, store owners can assess the effectiveness of a display and alter the design of the store to maximize sales.

In one grocery store, Sharma recalls, they discovered there were too many product types in the juice section. “Ten percent of shoppers spent 90 seconds in front of the display before leaving without buying anything. We pinpointed that people must be overwhelmed by products. They responded by reducing the number and organizing it better. It worked.”

Right now, VideoMining’s clients are mainly large chains and consumer brand companies, but, Sharma says, any business with a storefront can benefit from a better understanding of consumer shopping behavior. And services are more affordable than you might think, given that the biggest cost is usually outfitting the hardware.

Next: Real-Time Analytics>>