The strange, weird and possibly scary future of marketing technology

Facial recognition technology is something we’d normally associate with security. However, this technology (as well as other similar technologies) are being developed in many different industries for a variety of different purposes and combined in unexpected ways. And surprisingly, is likely to have a major impact in Marketing and PR.


We’ve become accustomed to receiving targeted advertising online. But there are now plans for taxis (at least in Japan) to use facial recognition technology for targeted advertising. The plans don’t go as far as identifying the individual person themselves, but the technology could identify demographic characteristics, such as age, gender etc. of the rider. Which would make advertising much more effective. One potential benefit for the customer could be reduced fares, provided customers don’t mind being bombarded with video advertising while traveling. Or alternatively, customers couldsimply ignore the advertising, while still benefiting from the reduced fares.

Online advertising

Eye tracking technology has been in use in many areas ofacademic research for some time. But it could also have applications in marketing. And certainly could have applications in online advertising. One issue with online advertising is that payments are made for advertising regardless of whether the customer even noticed the advert on the screen. The majority of people are now so used to online advertising that it’s simply ignored. However, revenue payments could be determined by eye tracking technology, paying out only if the customer notices the advert. This could also provide valuable feedback on the effectiveness of the advertising and even feed into customer data itself.


Face recognition technology is also being considered by retailers. The technology could track customers through the store. Including their route through the store, items viewed and items being considered for purchase etc. This data could be used for targeted advertising, discount offers and promotions, in addition to data already collected by their use of store cards. Technology is also becoming increasingly effective in reading facial expressions, as well as body language in general. Coupled with eye tracking, this could provide valuable data not only to produce data for targeted marketing, but can also provide valuable feedback on theeffectiveness of marketing and advertising campaigns as well. This would represent the ‘holy grail’ of marketing data – real time emotional reactions to the products for each specific customer. However, even with the restrictions of privacy laws, bulk anonymised demographic data would also be invaluable to marketing companies.

Issues and crisis management

This technology could also have applications in issues and crisis management. Eye movement coupled with emotional responses to each part of a news stories would provide very specific data as an issue develops or crisis unfolds. Coupled with demographic and psychographic data, these technologies could transform the industry. And consequently lead to more effective responses to important events, increase understanding of a company’s publics and allow more effective preventative measures to be taken. Such data would also have significant impact on marketing strategies, product development and public relations communication generally.The data could even be fed into AI and Machine learning systems, which can pretty much predict our behaviour already.

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