Straight out of science fiction movies, behavioural advertising is being touted as the next big thing in marketing.
When Tom Cruise’s character in the Steven Spielberg film Minority Report walks through a shopping centre he is bombarded with custom-made adverts calling his name and offering products based on his mood and likes.
According to a report written by the Centre for Future Studies and commissioned by digital display specialist 3MGTG, the technology that enables this type of targeted advertising is not far off.
Consumer electronics company NEC has already made this concept a reality in Tokyo. A camera installed within an electronic billboard uses facial recognition technology to determine gender and age, then displays an advert based on the demographic.
Frank Shaw, foresight director at the Centre for Future Studies, predicts that developments in behavioural advertising are going to accelerate over the next five years.
‘This interactive technology will know not just gender but also age and personal preference and will talk to the consumer in a very personalised way,’ he says.
The report explains that emotion recognition software creates a 3D face map that isolates 12 key areas. A face-tracking algorithm matches facial movements in those areas to six basic expressions, including anger, sadness and happiness.
As with any technology that relies on using personal data, there are privacy concerns. IAB Europe, the trade association of the European digital and interactive marketing industry, has released an online behavioural advertising framework that identifies adverts that target users based on their internet activity. An icon will allow the user to turn off this type of advertising on sites that sign up to the framework.
The Advertising Association’s director of communications, Ian Barber, says, ‘I think the industry has a challenge, making sure that throughout the process consumers know what’s going on and that ultimately, if you don’t like it, you can opt out.’