Don’t ignore this tech

What are you risking by ignoring facial recognition technology?


People hate the idea of Big Brother watching them. 75% of surveyed consumers have said they would not shop in a store that used facial recognition technology for marketing purposes.


Facial recognition technology for marketing

That number dropped to 55% if consumers knew a benefit was associated with it. 


You don’t need to be a conspiracy theorist to have misgivings. Consumer Reports is one mainstream organization jumping on the facial recognition vs. privacy bandwagon.


Fast-forward a few years and this could be a nonissue for consumers. Remember the early days when consumers freaked out about retargeting them with display ads? Now those ads are commonplace and accepted for their relevance.


Facial recognition has the potential to become an important part of marketing’s new “Age of the Individual.” Guessing a person’s gender or age based on facial characteristics may have a bit of a creep factor, but when you know who this person is, you can treat him or her as a real person—an individual, in fact.


Some of the more obvious marketing opportunities provided by facial recognition tech include a smoother customer experience with identity authentication, particularly at the point of purchase, and perhaps better targeting.


There are other, less obvious opportunities, as well. Affectiva has developed an impressive database of facial emotional reactions that purport to measure emotion in real time to provide customer insights into reactions to ads, products and more. Affectiva reports the ability to predict changes in purchase behavior with 76% accuracy.


Do those opportunities outweigh the risks of offending some customers?


That’s not only something worth testing, it’s worth continuing to test, as consumer backlash may lessen or grow.


Marketers need to move beyond the novelty of the approach. Facial recognition technology has far more value when used to improve personalization and the entire user experience.