Monday, 6 September 2010

Technology gone mad or sheer genius?

My recent blog about talking billboards seems quite sedate compared to the latest invention coming from Japan.

Developers in Japan have created a billboard that scans the person in front of it to decide what advert to display. There is a camera behind the screen that will capture the person's image and a sensor that then determines their approximate age and gender. This then triggers the screen to play adverts which then match the person's profile. 

If you were to tootle on over to Shinagawa Train Station in Japan, you would find a drinks vending machine using this futuristic technology to vend drinks to the public. The touch screen monitor on the machine scans the person standing in front to recommend which drink fits their profile.

This naturally raises privacy concerns as there are currently no regulations that prevents signage systems from storing image. People walking past a billboard won't have a choice whether they are scanned or not. 

There's a lot to be said for targeted marketing, the more relevant we make the marketing message for individual consumers the better. It means advertisers potentially get a better ROI and consumers don't have to be bombarded with messages that they aren't interested in. In my humble opinion, I think the drinks vending machine that recommends a drink for you based on your age and gender is a gimmick. The old saying 'Don't judge a book by its cover' comes to mind. Will it really get to a stage where we have machine's deciding which drinks we want? Time will tell as to whether this technology will revolutionise billboard advertising in the future, my view is that cameras and sensors in a billboard won't provide enough information to successfully determine what consumers are interested in.


Monday, 2 August 2010

The future of direct marketing? - Talking billboards that know what you want to buy

IBM is currently working on the development of technology that will result in billboards that talk to consumers as they walk past. As if this wasn't futuristic enough, the billboards will only communicate relevant adverts to that particular consumer walking past the billboard. This is thanks to the development of a chip which will be encoded with preferences and shopping habits of individuals.

Sound familiar? Have you seen the film 'Minority report'?

Good or Bad?
The emergence of this kind of technology will no doubt get marketers and businesses excited with the prospect of the ultimate in direct / personalised marketing platforms for the future. Some consumers however, may question this as an invasion of privacy. It's my opinion that if you knowingly give up your information for marketing use, then you have to expect some direct marketing thrown your way. The big plus for marketers and consumers is that these boards will only play adverts that are relevant to you as an individual rather than bombard you with products that don't interest you, that is as long as accurate information is collected for the chips.

One thing I do know is that this level of direct marketing will come with a hefty price tag and the likes of Coca Cola, Nike and Virgin will be lap it up. Personally, I think commuting and walking down your high street may become annoying in the future as the talking billboards constantly chatter to passers by. Maybe this will drive even more people to do all of their shopping online?