The advent of digital signage has created excitement, hype and hyperbole for advertisers drooling to influence consumer purchase decisions. Headlines read: “Killer App,” “Digital Billboards Replace Placard Signage,” and “Enhanced Sales Lift,” chasing the elusive gods of measurement. Seminars focus on discussing, ad nauseum, the benefits of implementing a digital display strategy in stores and public spaces. Evangelists for this technology herald the vista of a new frontier: employing facial detection and recognition software solutions to focus on viewers to deliver directed messages during the three-to-five seconds of engagement with the digital sign.
Face detection/recognition and digital signage?
Knee-jerk reactions to embrace technological advances “not for intended purposes” create an interesting dilemma. The thinking is: ‘if it works here, why not here?’ Can traditional security surveillance tools be adapted for advertising effectiveness to influence consumers’ buying decisions?
Human nature and curiosity are tapped by advertisers who emphasize their brands by making media buys, offering promo codes and coupon discounts.
And advertisers would pay big bucks to obtain direct consumer information related to point of sale purchases. They are inching closer to this scientific measure by augmenting the digital message with supplemental technologies. Interactive kiosks provide a direct experience with the consumer offering a vehicle for obtaining opt-in information at the source. Two discrete viewers could separately analyze the live and recorded video stream for completely different purposes and conclusions. Retail store loyalty cards are used by millions of consumers on a daily basis. Personal information is provided in exchange. People leverage the use of cell phones to interact with smart digital signage by obtaining QR codes, texting responses or calling a number displayed on the screen.
Suffice to say we are still at the early stages of these converged technologies. New thinking places a camera in close proximity to a digital sign and then ties the back-room systems together to trigger directed ads to age, gender, ethnic audiences engaged with the signs. If these end-point locations could be dual-purposed eyes on consumers and unobtrusive surveillance collection points, the capital investment would be a private/public share and maximize the dollar spend. Naming rights and sponsors are solicited to offset public funding of institutions so why not expand this concept for this application?
Law enforcement applications
The deployment of cameras on street corners, buses, train stations and red lights has been evident for a number of years. And funding is via the Department of Homeland Security as an anti-terrorist measure. Fusion centers and emergency management offices record thousands of hours of video for incident command.
But these capital expenditures are single purpose and not intended as a vehicle to obtain marketing information for potential sales lift. In addition, these cameras are not necessarily located at direct point of sale locations. Intelligence gathering focuses on identifying known urban criminals and their associates on street corners or transit locations where crimes occur. The latest daily crime sprees include hoards of criminals invading a business establishment or grabbing smart phones or iPads on trains or buses.
Don’t expect the disparate silos of law enforcement and advertising to cooperate or share data. There is certainly no channel for sharing information between these stakeholders. The capital investment in infrastructure, hardware, software and network support services is substantial. What’s more, the purposes of the interpretation of information garnered from these cameras are too diverse; or are they?