How will facial recognition technology change online marketing.

If you have one of the latest iPhones you will know it comes with Face ID technology. This technology includes sensitive cameras and sensors to detect the unique facial structures of the person using it. Just now, it is used mainly as a way to unlock your phone securely, just as previous tech used thumbprints.

The new Face Id technology also incorporates some interesting features. It can use detailed animojis to take traditional emoji’s and animate them to reflect your actual facial expressions with an impressive degree of accuracy. Looking forward Face ID technology could be used in even more augmented reality style apps and features.

Customers maybe want to superimpose their face on a favourite superhero or add detail to their animated side projects but marketers will be looking at ways to use this technology for better advertising.

There are many ways they could do this.

 We have seen examples of facial recognition in the past and as such it is not an unknown tool for marketers. Some brands have already tried to use it. One children’s charity used facial recognition in bus-based billboards. These analysed faces of the riders and as such detected the gender of that person and then displayed custom messages depending on what was detected.

2013 saw Virgin Mobile introducing a short interactive ad, which detected user blinks to serve as “clicks” meant to advance a story, and changed the story based on the user’s eye movements.

There are two major differences in modern facial recognition today.  First, facial recognition technology is more sophisticated, it’s more capable of picking up subtle cues.

Second, that technology is quickly rolling out to every mobile user on the planet—not just occasional bus billboards or specially designated areas.

How, in the future will companies take advantage of this new tech?

One of its primary uses will be in applications related to gathering, analysing and using ‘user data,’ with the ability to then offer personalised ads based on what is detected. For instance, by monitoring facial expressions it may be able to analyse the mood of the user or pick up when that user is more interested in a particular part of the app they are using. In this way advertisers, using that data, would be able to serve up better more personalised ads to that user. The idea to better engage with a, hopefully, happier customer.

Just now nearly all online video advertisers pay a fixed fee each time their ad gets viewed. At the moment, the best technology can only tell the advertiser whether a user has downloaded and is currently playing the content in their browsers. It cannot measure a real view, as the targeted customer may be looking away when it is playing or could be ignoring it altogether.

Facial recognition technology, however, could give the advertiser more insight into who and how their ads are being viewed and help them to engage more thoroughly with their customers by optimising the way they view the ads. This may increase engagement rates.

Aggregated data – Data gathered could be used, not just for one user at a time, but to analyse broader market trends. One example of this is its use in retail stores. These companies could use the technology to track what their customers are viewing in the store and use that information to rearrange the store or stock better or different products, in other words, this could help them not just with better customer satisfaction but as a way to boost sales.

Not surprisingly, the use and growth of facial recognition technology has brought up some concerns over user privacy. Facial recognition technologies are biometric technologies and as such have a host of weaknesses that make them dubious security measures, at least for the time being.

For example, already, hackers with a budget of $150 have been able to “trick” the Apple iPhone into unlocking a phone with a 3D printed mask. If facial data is stored on Apple’s servers, is available to third-party apps that access an open AI, or can be retrieved by other people, anyone could easily be put at risk.

Also, once we enter an era where facial recognition is a key component of advertising, what’s to stop facial recognition tech from monitoring your face when you aren’t aware of it? What will companies do to inform you about how they’re gathering and using your personal information? Will you have a say in how it’s used?

There remain unanswered questions about the security, privacy, and future of this technology but it remains a potentially powerful new tool for marketers and advertisers.

If concerns for the responsible handling of consumer information by big tech companies can be overcome, facial recognition as a way to open the door to a new era of advertising—one where all the ads you see are ones you actually want to see, could be exciting.

Companies could save money, customers could see better ads; the question will be, will users be comfortable enough with the new tech to allow it to grow and develop.?