Sunday, 21 July 2013

Big brother? Or next big idea?

First Facedeals and now Adlive from Lord Sugars Amscreen. This is mainstream advertising's attempt to  catch up with online's ability to target consumers preferences, through facial recognition software. And it's getting right up the nose of civil liberty groups.

But leaving that aside for the time being. What are they?

The two services are quite different. Facedeals is a sign up for service which pushes promotions to your smart phone when it recognises your face at a participating retailer having used your Facebook images to establish your identity. It can then use your Facebook preferences to serve the promotions and I believe there can be a social element to this too, linking back to Facebook.

Adlive is different in one crucial way. It doesn't recognise who you are, just your gender and age, and then presents relevant advertising to your demographic. It also provides loiter time and demographics to further help media placement and retailer customer analysis.

Wow, scary. Or is it?..

I can't see a situation where a law abiding citizen needs to be worried about individual location detection. And lets face it it already exists in the form of the GPS signal from your phone and your bank card transactions. The world would have to become a very deep dark place, which we would all be much more bothered about, before any of this sort of data could be used in some conspiratory way.

What I do know is, I'd really like a discount off my favourite brand of razors when I'm next in Boots. Or to be informed that the charity I support has teamed up with a particular brand of shampoo and my purchase will donate £0.XX to the charity.

If I can see a downside, and I think it's a reasonable downside, it's the potential of decreased band exposure. Just like the diminishment of the exposure to different styles of music on highly segmented digital radio or the reduction in random exposure to subjects on television, that pre-digital caused us to rethink our likes and dislikes, thoughts and views. And then added colourful conversations, by the photocopier, to the working day. Marginalising these happy accidents makes us prone to increased isolation and entrenchment in our preferences, which is never a good thing to encourage.

And here's one last thought... how the hell do these systems deal with transvestites!

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