Do Brands Deserve to Know Who is Buying Their Products?

Discussion
Jul 19, 2013

How long ago were we told to "get over" the death of privacy?

Simon Sugar, son of the BBC’s answer to Donald Trump, Lord Alan, was quoted in the Daily Telegraph saying, "It is time for a step-change in advertising — brands deserve to know not just an estimation of how many eyeballs are viewing their adverts, but who they are, too."

Really? Deserve?

Lord Sugar’s company, Amscreen, has launched a new facial detection technology called OptimEyes that it says will "revolutionize the advertising industry."

The Daily Mail, citing the New York Times, makes the point that facial recognition technology is important for brick and mortar retailers that can’t compete with online retailers who use cookies for easy tracking. Lord Sugar’s "online campaign evaluation and optimisation platform," delivers "the type of insight that only online has previously been able to achieve."

Targeting individuals rather than groups, OptimEyes will be installed in doctors’ offices, hospitals, banks, airports and train stations. Only selected retail outlets (convenience stores and gas stations) will have this tool designed to provide information so brands can plan better advertising.

According to a RetailWire piece last November, FTC guidelines specify consumers must opt-in if businesses want to use facial recognition technology. The article discussed how face recognition technologies appeared to be advancing far enough to finally offer "a real solution" for retailers.

Responding to that discussion, Adrian Weidmann, principal at StoreStream Metrics, highlighted the value of video analytics as a sales and marketing tool while deriding facial recognition.

After 30 years using technology for research, Joan Triestman of the Triestman Group maintained, "eye tracking is a strong component of research that determines what attracts consumer attention and gains purchase consideration. However, you must still apply verbal question and answer to get at the significance of the attention."

Eye tracking "allows for detailed refinement of an ad before money is spent on development and implementation, and can be used to measure how viewer perception and behavior evolve during the campaign period," according to specialist company Tobii.

OptimEyes raises important points about ROI and how information is used. Data gathered by brands can improve retail targeting. Maybe retailers and brands do deserve information, gathered whenever/wherever possible.

Is there a role for facial recognition technology at retail? Do you see the technology leveling the competitive ground between brick and mortar retailers and online merchants?

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11 Comments on "Do Brands Deserve to Know Who is Buying Their Products?"


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Steve Montgomery
Guest
8 years 10 months ago

The backlash Nordstrom felt when consumers found out they were tracking their cell phones is nothing compared to what would happen to a retailer, and likely the brands involved, when a retailer installs this technology.

We often hear these comparisons about the difference between online and B&M regarding the difference in technology, but let’s not forget that one of the biggest things happening for web browsers is defaulting to a privacy setting so it is not automatically reveled who is on what site or purchased X item.

Joe Devine
Guest
Joe Devine
8 years 10 months ago

“Deserve” should be considered a relative description of the relationship between customers and brands. I think deserve is defined by the customers whose data we would all want at our fingertips.

There are brands that have cultivated loyalists and advocates. There are brands that have clearly differentiated themselves with their audience. That relationship, trust, and loyalty tends to conjure the idea of reward and reciprocity, the core of the concept of “deserve.” I would say that the only reason a brand deserves any data from a customer or potential customer is based on the relationship a brand is able to build with them, directly, or even indirectly. If a brand strays too far from the relative nature of what they deserve, they run the risk of taking too large a step into untrustworthy waters.

Max Goldberg
Guest
8 years 10 months ago

There are a myriad of ways for retailers and brands to gather information about consumers, some work better online and others in-store. New methods of data gathering, and refinements to older methods, are regularly being introduced. Facial recognition is one method. If consumers opt in, it could provide significantly more information to retailers and brands about the in-store experience.

I’m more interested in taking a holistic approach to a consumer. What motivates him/her to buy a certain product? Does she buy it online or in-store? Why?

Gene Hoffman
Guest
Gene Hoffman
8 years 10 months ago

Yes, there probably is a role for facial technology at retail, good and undesirable.

Personally, I do not like such intrusive retailing. If might level the ground between b&m retailers and online merchants, but it could cause numerous new problems for increasingly harassed consumers and their privacy. So count me as one who now says to tech-savvy retailers, “Get out of my face.”

Zel Bianco
Guest
8 years 10 months ago

The technology sounds like it’s better for recognizing burglars and thieves in the night, not in stores. If someone asked me if they could scan and record my face, I would tell them no. And I’m not sure what my face is telling you that I can’t. Shopping is comprised of so many decisions, at this level, it just sounds like an invasion of privacy. I don’t agree brick and mortar retailers “deserve” to know their audience anymore than online, however, it is a more clearly defined intrusion and most people will decline to participate.

Michael Twitty
Guest
Michael Twitty
8 years 10 months ago

While I don’t think brands “deserve” this kind of insight, I can see the use of facial recognition, eye tracking or other technologies to help marketers communicate more effectively. With our improved understanding of who we’re messaging, how that audience behaves and how to reach them, I expect that the tailored messaging that results will provide greater value to the recipients…right? I mean the recipients will feel greater value from this approach…won’t they?

We still might not deserve this kind of insight, but by providing clear value to the recipients, we might just earn latitude in its use.

Ralph Jacobson
Guest
8 years 10 months ago

This is already happening on a pilot basis at a couple retailers. The movie, “Minority Report,” as mentioned in one of the further reading links in the article, offered a glimpse of this technology. I do believe there is a huge positive potential for this in stores.The vast majority of shoppers don’t mind giving their personal information to retailers or CPG companies, if they perceive a reward in return. It is only a vocal minority that objects to the privacy issues.

If brands can create awareness of the benefits of knowing more about the shopper, then people will eventually become comfortable with this. If this technology is used to identify the most loyal shoppers to the store staff, enabling the staff to provide a personal greeting to the shopper and present them with a free gift, that kind of treatment would be very much appreciated by the shopper.

Cathy Hotka
Guest
8 years 10 months ago

“Deserve?”

If any of us stopped pedestrians randomly on the street and asked them if they’d like machines sending their demographic data back to stores and brands, they’d look at us as if we were from Mars. The benefits of this technology will not be obvious to the average consumer.

Let’s concentrate on the out-of-stock problem first.

Lee Kent
Guest
8 years 10 months ago

Complete facial recognition? Nope! I can certainly understand eye tracking, motion tracking, gender, and age. These things will tell you what attracts each customer type and how they interact with the store.

The need to identify to the full face level? Doesn’t add value. IMHO

David Schulz
Guest
David Schulz
8 years 10 months ago

Consumers should put up with this only when the company employing facial recognition technology publishes the phone numbers of everyone in the company up to and including the board of directors and promises to answer the phone or return all calls.

Herb Sorensen, Ph.D.
Guest
8 years 10 months ago

There will continue to be a leveling of the ground between brick and online. A good deal of my own insight on retail ultimately derives from Peter Fader’s long-ago observation that the click, click, click of the shopper going down the aisle parallel’s the click, click, click of the online shopper. All the rest is just detail. πŸ˜‰

As a side note, when we began RFID tracking of shoppers a dozen years ago, a patent search turned up a patent held by Nielsen (at that time) that used facial recognition at the checkout, to provide linkage from shopping trip to shopping trip.

I don’t know whether this was actively used, or just the result of an investigation. Loyalty cards would have probably sated Nielsen’s need, without the hassle of the technology. Also, the privacy wars were already well under way at that time. See “Spy Chips” by Katherine Albrecht.

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