Last month, in my post, “Maybe a Little Big Brother is OK,” I wrote about behavioral marketing on the Web. By that I mean when technology tracks what kinds of things we seem to be interested in by our Web browsing behavior, and then serves up advertising tailored to our apparent interests. I talked about how what at one time seemed somewhat scary now seems benign and even helpful. At least I certainly find it helpful and most people I talk to feel the same way to the degree that they notice it at all.
But that’s on the Web. Now new technology is being brought to market that has the potential to change the way we experience brick-and-mortar shopping — shopping in stores — just as significantly.
Last month, at Digital Signage Expo 2011, we (Flypaper Studio) got a lot of attention when we demonstrated a Flypaper/Intel solution that served advertising content on digital signs to passers-by based on their gender and estimated age. It’s an example of facial recognition technology. It uses a camera built into or attached to the sign. In our case, the camera was delivering the video stream to Intel’s AIM Suite software, which would assess if anyone were actually looking at the sign. If anyone was, either individuals or groups, the software would determine their gender and estimate their age. It would then send that information to the advertising content that had been built in Flypaper, and the content itself would determine which ad or ads to display.
The benefit to the viewer of the sign is that they see advertisements (or information) that are more likely to be of interest to them. The 65-year-old male doesn’t see a Baby Gap ad, for example. The benefit to the advertiser is that their ads are displayed to people who are more likely to be interested.
When the digital signage is touch-screen, as ours was, the possibilities are even greater, because the content can measure effectiveness and utility. For example, of women ages 30-40 who were shown version A of an Ann Taylor ad, only 25 percent approached the sign and began interacting with it. But when they were shown version B, 35 percent did so. Again, both viewers and advertisers benefit.
This is only one example of the types of things that are becoming possible. In future posts from time to time I’ll describe how loyalty programs (think VIP cards for grocery stores), mobile devices like smart phones, and digital signage can all work together to improve shopping experiences out in brick-and-mortar land.