If you are watching an ad on a video screen in a mall or supermarket, it might be watching back. Face-tracking technology is the new growing trend in media. It’s also known as face-based audience measurement, gaze-tracking, face counting and countless other variations.
Whatever you call it, the concept is simple and not at all as “Big Brother” creepy as it sounds. Small cameras are embedded in or around the video screen to actually track the faces of people watching and determine their age, gender and sometimes ethnicity. If the camera recognizes you as a male, it might show you an ad for razors rather than birth control. If it identifies a teen it might show an ad for video games.
Face-tracking also allows advertisers to see if they are reaching the right people. It would be a shame if a brand put out an ad for in-home senior care and only teenage girls were seeing it.
The technology is not widespread, by any means. So more than likely you aren’t being watched, yet. Yet. It’s growing quickly and could be a big idea in the future.
The concept might be off-putting to people at first. I had the same jerk reaction accompanied by frowns and a furrowed brow–maybe even a scoff. But then I realized it only categorizes people by outward appearances. The technology can’t drill down to any personal information. The man isn’t capturing and storing information about “Jane Doe” on Strongs Blvd. They just want to show the right people the right ads, so you don’t have to sit there watching stuff you don’t care about.