How Brands are Using Facial Recognition Technology

November 14, 2017 | by Carlie Miller

Among the recently released iPhone X’s myriad new features, the ability for the device to handle facial recognition has probably been the most widely discussed (and critiqued) over the last several weeks. While many consumers have taken to social media to voice their skepticism of the technology, citing a “creepy” factor, there is little doubt that the technology is here to stay.

Over the last few years, we know from many AI Quotes that we’ve already started seeing brands utilize facial recognition technology in their marketing to turn heads and garner attention. Here are a few campaigns based around the technology that particularly caught my eye.


GMC’s Digital Billboard Campaign



This out-of-home digital billboard from GMC placed in a busy mall in Santa Monica uses facial recognition to encourage interaction with the advertisement. The ad is able to detect a person’s age, gender, expression and engagement. Once a person has been profiled, they’re shown the most fitting of 30 videos, including videos that reference the number of people in front of the billboard, whether there are kids present and if the person is smiling. While I’m not sure if this ad was responsible for selling any GMC cars, this is an excellent example of how to use technology to get people to engage with a brand.


Douwe Egberts’ Bye Bye Red Eye Campaign



This campaign for Douwe Egberts coffee is actually a few years old, but likely would still be a head-turner if it popped up today. The promotion used a self-dispensing coffee machine placed in the O.R. Tambo airport in Johannesburg, South Africa, to dispense a free cup of coffee whenever it detected a passerby would yawn. While it appears that many people caught onto the idea and faked their yawns to get a free cup of coffee, the promotion seemed to be a hit nonetheless. Now if only these machines could be placed all around Chicago…


Expedia’s Discover Aloha Campaign



Expedia paired up with the Hawaii Tourism Authority to create a microsite to give users a unique and customized online travel experience. Visitors of the site are asked for permission for the website to gain access to a user’s webcam. Once accepted, visitors are prompted to watch a video of a number of Hawaiian scenes and to smile at the parts that resonate with them the most. At the end of the video, the website provides the user with a customized list of activities that it thinks they might enjoy based on how the user’s react. I tried it myself, and while it seemed a little gimmicky, I appreciated the effort to customize the experience and to try something different.

As facial recognition technology grows in accuracy and advancement, the possibilities for where marketers could take this technology are only just beginning. From Facedeals that provide discounts for loyal customers to custom ads based on demographic profiling, it’s clear that this is just the very beginning of how brands might use this technology in their marketing.

How do you think facial recognition will be used in the future? Are you excited or skeptical for how this technology may impact how we eventually interact with brands?

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