Companies have always looked for better ways to target their customers. The growth of digital and mobile has allowed brands to serve contextually relevant ads to their desired demographic in a way which has so far been unattainable in outdoor environments.
Tesco aims to change this paradigm. The supermarket behemoth has announced plans to integrate face scanners at its 450 petrol station forecourts throughout the UK in order to better target its customers with appropriate ads. The technology, developed by Amscreen, part of Lord Sugar’s portfolio of companies, uses a camera to identify a user’s gender and approximate age before serving demographic-specific ads.

Tesco’s announcement of the platform certainly raises privacy concerns. Many have called the new technology ‘intrusive’ and beyond the supermarket chain’s moral remit. Amscreen has responded, declaring no data or images will be stored within the system. Whether it is ethical or not, the screen is expected to reach five million UK consumers.

Attempts at targeting users by integrating digital experiences into traditional adverts are not new. Technologies such as augmented reality and companies such as Blippar have extended user engagement by allowing consumers to use their mobile device to reveal hidden layers within print ads. However, Tesco’s offering has one key differentiator: users are opted-in to the digital aspect of campaigns, whether they like it or not.

Posted November 21, 2013

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