Advertising, we all see it. We might see it when we are at home relaxing, sitting on the tube and even just on an evening out with your friends. Whatever the event in your life, the chances of seeing or hearing some kind of advertisement is more than likely.
But how you would feel to know that more and more businesses and social media websites want to personalize your advertising and know you better, by learning about everything you have or will have purchased. We want to decipher whether these tactics are clever with their level of personalised consumer relations or just plain stalker-ish and creepy.
I would feel quite shocked for a business to be able to instantly personalise everything I may wish to purchase by tapping into my buying history. They would have to start at ASOS, then visit Amazon and then GAME. It’s all very extra ordinary and for the few of us, there may be some purchases we wish to keep a secret.
What first came into my mind a few weeks ago, after visiting ASOS and then leaving the website, is that ASOS appeared in the ‘advertising feed’ that was on the other website I began to search, with <em>exactly</em> the same items I either viewed or purchased. I was stunned to see this, I thought someone else had as much style as myself, then realised it was the clothes that I had purchased, not egotistical at all.
Tesco is one of the organisations that are currently introducing a ‘scanning shoppers for advertisers’ mode. The supermarket giant is expected to install hundreds of hi-tech screens that can scan the faces of queuing shoppers to detect their age and sex for advertisers.
The store has signed a ground-breaking deal with Lord Alan Sugar's Amscreen in a move which, last night, sparked fresh concerns from privacy campaigners about the growing use of ‘invasive’ technology in the nation's shops.
The ‘OptimEyes’ system will be introduced to 450 Tesco petrol forecourts, which serve millions of customers a week. This, to me, sounds ridiculous, although to you it may not.
I agree that this is very invasive and really unnecessary to those customers who do not want to be scanned for advertising. There could be a negative impact on Tesco from customers, who feel their privacy is being infiltrated, by leaving the large-chain and going to competitors who are not introducing this scan.
An article written by the Telegraph explains, “It works by using inbuilt cameras in a TV-style screen above the till that identify whether a customer is male or female, estimate their age and judge how long they look at the ad.
“The "real time" data is fed back to advertisers to give them a better idea of the effectiveness of their campaigns and enable them to tailor ads to certain times of the day.”
Imagine your shopping, be it a weekly shop or an impulse purchase, being fed to advertisers and then back to you through the Internet. Would you feel uncomfortable knowing you are being ‘scanned’ to be fed information? Or do you think that it will prove an effective way to help customers, themselves, understand what they didn’t even know they needed? And even then, how reliable is this ‘age bracket detector’?
Simon Sugar, Lord Sugar's son and Amscreen chief executive, said, "Yes it's like something out of Minority Report, but this could change the face of British retail and our plans are to expand the screens into as many supermarkets as possible."
He added, "We're extremely excited to call Tesco a screen network partner." He insisted that the OptimEyes technology does not store images or recognise people but simply uses face detection software to determine gender and sorts customers into one of the three age brackets.
I’d be interested to see this being tested, although I wouldn’t like to be tester on myself. I also question how the details are stored from consumers? Is it reliable for Tesco to be doing this, especially after the attack on personal information on Ebay.
Confidentiality is no doubt a worry with such a scanner, images being taken without consent from the customer is not good news, nor should it be tolerated. One party that will obviously benefit though, is the advertisers. Imagine how easy it would be for them to make and push sales through? Salesmen could be cut out of the equation and the B2C model would be much more effective, that, of course, being that the customer is happy with being ‘stalked’ at the checkout.
Moreover, the social media websites knowing my information and other websites seeing what I have viewed and purchased does invade my privacy, but what can I do? Call for a protection on my uncontrollable spending counts? Or leave the Internet altogether? I don’t think I could manage that.
I suggest Tesco leave this ‘scanning customers’ idea behind and continue using the club-card to know about their customers’ product interests, otherwise they could really lose customers. I say more creepy than clever.
By Content Assistant – Matthew Clifton - @mattcliffy25