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Face detection technology promises convergence of outdoor with online advertising

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New face detection technology with echoes of Minority Report promises to bring outdoor advertising into the digital age.

In Minority Report, the 2002 science fiction film starring Tom Cruise, outdoor adverts adapted as they recognised the person walking by. It’s a technology now widely used online where behavioural targeting results in display ads that adapt to reflect the previous internet use of the computer user.

Now outdoor advertising screen network Amscreen is to use face detection technology to tell advertisers exactly who is seeing their outdoor ads. The company says the development represents the convergence of outdoor with online and “will revolutionise the advertising industry”.

Cameras installed in Amscreen’s digital advertising display screens will be used to tell the gender, age, date, time and number of viewers, using Quidivi-based face tracking data. That’s combined with data including EPOS information and footfall data to provide information that will be used to tell brands whether they are reaching the right audience.

“Measurability and flexibility are at the heart of the Amscreen business helping to deliver an ad solution that now more closely reflects a convergence of ‘Outdoor/Online’,” said the company’s press statement.

Amscreen currently has more than 6,000 digital screens which it says are seen by more than 50m people a week. In the UK alone it has more than 4,000 screens, seen by more than 30m adults a week in densely-populated areas. Screen locations range from convenience stores and garage forecourts to GP surgeries, by way of branches of WH Smith.

Amscreen chief executive Simon Sugar said: “It is time for a step-change in advertising – brands deserve to know not just an estimation of how many eyeballs are viewing their adverts, but who they are too.

“Through our Face Detection technology, we want to optimise our advertisers campaigns, reduce wastage and in-turn deliver the type of insight that only online has previously been able to achieve.”

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