Feb 11

The Billboards are Alive, Judging and Profiling You

These billboards, in malls and other large public places, will chat at you with dynamically selected advertisements most relevant to “you”. How? Based on a new “smart” camera tech NEC has developed to make an advertiser’s wet dream come true.

The billboard can make instant assumptions about the buying tendencies of passer-byers based on physical characteristics such as body build, gender and age. It could easily and might make racial profiling assumptions as well though the ramifications of such would be heralded by civil rights activists.

It could get interesting: by monitoring and tracking which stores you enter and what you come out with, depending on what you do or don’t buy, ad hoc discounts or bonuses could instantly be offered. An omni-present intelligence inventing ways on the fly to encourage patrons to dump more money.

It’s happening, just like in the Minority Report

While rather different technology than acute audience targeting on the internet, it has a similar gut privacy wrenching reaction.

Feb 11

Coincidence or Acute Audience Targeting in Ads

Bargin and Luxury in an Ad pair

Targeting the Rich and Thrifty

Why did these two ads appear side by side as and when they did? Could they possibly have known I recently visited both slickdeals (thrift) and sites containing Mercedes (wealth) content?

Straight out the gate, this was likely coincidence. Disclosure: I work deep in the underbelly of internet advertising, and specifically on the audience segmentation and targeting technology that powers modern day website ad serving. The sheer amount of information exchange and processing required to match this up in-real-time in a cohesive and sale-able way is not (yet) happening.

Google is certainly close. And the more I think about it, the more I think this wasn’t coincidence at all. All the disparate information necessary to make the map is in their arsenal. They could have made this match.

A few factoids feeding the not-coincidence conclusion:

  • I primarily use Chrome
  • I am signed in to a Google account
  • I use Google search often
  • most every blog and site has Google Analytics
  • Ads were served by Google (adsense)

What do you think? Have we entered the era where even remnant banner ads speak specifically to our interests and tenancies?