Expect Your Face To Be Counted

Facial recognition is on the brink of becoming mainstream with the news Apple’s new iPhone X is equipped with facial recognition technology that unlocks the phone. Even if you wear glasses or grow a beard it will recognise you. The technology has become incredibly good at recognising facial features. If we look to China, a face is the security code to conduct financial transactions and provide access to government facilities, as well as playing a key role in identifying criminals. I’m in favour of it if it reduces the number of passwords I’ve to remember! 

So it got me thinking how will this impact on digital advertising. To date viewability metrics have enabled us to understand what people are looking at on a screen, via their interaction with a mouse. Facial recognition could take this to a new level. It would provide very tangible results on people’s attention and emotion to advertising and would have implications for the communications eco-system. Advertisers would have the opportunity to tailor the subsequent message served based on the emotion elicited. What would John Lewis do with your data if it knew its Christmas ad moved you to tears? I could be losing the run of myself, but this is not far-fetched when you read Facebook’s secretive Building 8 division are looking at technology that allows your brain to type, with no device or keyboard in sight. Now that’s mind blowing!   

Marmite’s newly launched Gene Project  has taken facial recognition a step further by allowing people to share the results of a facial recognition taste test in an edited video on social platforms. It uses facial recognition app TasteFace to encourage new consumers to try the product to reveal their taste experience of Marmite based on facial expressions.  

The outdoor industry has the capacity to use facial recognition, but the high volume of eyeballs passing an outdoor unit at one time proves difficult to personalise a message. The UK’s Women’s Aid has a clever interpretation of facial recognition. As more people watched the screen, the bruises on the face of the model disappeared from her face insinuating if people take notice, domestic violence can be halted. 

Of course there are serious privacy concerns in this area and the law is moving towards tougher opt-in rules around the consent of using personal data coming into law in May 2018. Personalised communications based on facial recognition may never transpire, but there is no doubt your face will be counted.