Monday, February 27, 2012

New Media Advertising?

Facial Recognition Billboard Only Lets Women See The Full Ad


By Yi Chen on February 21, 2012

A new kind of outdoor advertisement is being trialled on Oxford Street in London’s West End. The interactive advertisement uses a high-definition camera to scan pedestrians and identify their gender before showing a specific ad. The built-in system has a 90 per cent accuracy rate in analyzing a person’s facial features and determining if they’re a male or female.
The £30,000 display is set up by Plan UK, a not-for-profit organization that helps children in third-world countries. Female passersby will be shown the full 40-second video of its ‘Because I’m a Girl’ campaign that promotes sponsoring a girl to receive proper education in a developing country. Males won’t be able to see the full ad and will be directed to Plan UK’s website instead. The purpose of this was to show men “a glimpse of what it’s like to have basic choices taken away.”
The ad campaign will run for a two-week period and hopes to raise quarter of a million pounds in donations over the next four months.
Image credits Plan UK

via PSFK:


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  2. Jarett, I agree that this campaign is running some risks. Offering men “a glimpse of what it’s like to have basic choices taken away” assumes male ignorance or insensitivity toward women in the developing world - and could come across as condescending. (Or I'd feel condescended to if a campaign assumed my ignorance of or insensitivity toward a "men's" issue.)

    Should the creators of the campaign have created a more inclusive message? I guess the question is whether the risk of alienating half the potential audience is outweighed by the possibility of buzz and discussion around the innovative nature of the campaign. It would be interesting to know why this decision won over the possibility of creating a separate but equally engaging video for men.

    It's going to be really interesting to see the development of selective advertising over the next few years. I look forward to Facebook advertisers progressing beyond their clumsy attempts to sell me herbal weight loss remedies and age-erasing cosmetics (which I assume is all about Facebook's knowledge of my age and gender) - but, at the same time, it's uncomfortable to see how clearly a company like Amazon "has my number" based on my previous browsing and purchasing habits. Perhaps the selective advertising of the future will be so carefully orchestrated that we won't even know it's selective.

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    2. Thanks, Jared. Great article. A very short while aqo, I thought that if I didn't post something online, my secrets were safe. Now I have to remember to do what exactly? Get resigned to the new targeting? Be careful not to click on anything? Distribute my purchases between multiple stores? Or maybe just don't get pregnant :)

  3. Jarett, thanks for sharing that article on Target's targeted advertising practices. It's interesting that Target has realized that if they *appear* to be creeping on customers' profiles, the customers will become uncomfortable - so they've learned to mix targeted coupons with random ones to avoid raising suspicions. I clicked through to the NYT article cited in the Forbes article, and came upon this quote from a Target rep: "Just wait. We’ll be sending you coupons for things you want before you even know you want them.”

    One of Jenkins' participatory literacies is judgment. I believe that Jenkins focuses on the need for individuals to use judgment regarding abundant information. Perhaps another part of judgment in the new media environment is developing awareness of how data is collected on individuals, and how that data is being used. It's obvious in the case of the Targets and Amazons of the world - but we tend to overlook the fact all kinds of platforms are, to varying degrees, also data mining.

    Duhigg, C. (2012). How Companies Learn Your Secrets. Retrieved from

  4. I think the decision to launch an ad campaign that excludes men is powerful and will initiative conversations. By initiating conversations around gender exclusion the Because I am a Girl Campaign will result in more awareness of the message with both men and women. Yes, there will be those individuals who will decide not to participate due to the exclusion from the ad but word of mouth is very powerful.

    In terms of facial recognition it has been used primarily in security but there are a lot of negative implications i.e. the Target article mentioned by Jarett. I found an article posted on Forbes discussing how facial recognition can be used to obtain personal information like a Social Security Number again alluding to the need for security standards with modern technology.