I am not sure if the media-savvy among you have already heard of this phenomenon, but apparently the newest trend in super-creepy-and-invasive advertising is ads that watch you watch them. This new technology, made by a company called Quividi, uses face-tracking technology (and yes, I guess that is a thing) to determine the age, race, and gender of the person viewing the ad. Then, the ad may change based on who is watching. WTF?
Ideally, the technology is supposed to save advertisers money by allowing them to target specific audiences. For example, a woman walking up to an ad screen at her local mall might see an advertisement for lipstick, while a man who walks up after her might see an ad for aftershave. Kids might see ads for candy, older people for adult diapers, and so on.
The technology is accurate in guessing which demographic a person belongs to roughly 80% of the time, which is enough to make advertisers interested in the product. Apparently, the cameras behind the screens look mainly at cheekbones, eyebrows, and “fullness of the lips.” Ew. In their defense, the people at Quvidi say that the cameras will not store data but will instead only use images of people to determine which ad they see, and then erase any records once the ad has been viewed.
I don’t know about you, but this still sounds a little too Orwellian/Huxleyan/Saundersian/insert-your favorite-dystopian-future-author-here for my liking.
To me, this reads as a way to even further compartmentalize people and make sweeping generalizations based on race, gender, and age. Also, I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to have to worry about being on camera every time I walk by an ad kiosk. Sure, it might mean that I have to see less diet cola is ok for dudes too commercials, but I don’t necessarily want a miniature camera to censor what I do and don’t see based on how I look.
I want to hear from you, though. Are these “smart” ads the wave of the future, or just another way for advertisers to invade our privacy and give us the creeps?