Gender-Specific Ads in the UK use Facial Recognition

The newest development in the UK doesn’t involve smart phones or smart televisions, but rather, “smart advertisements.”  PlanUK, a non-profit, has produced an ad that plays different messages for men and women.  The ad itself has employed facial recognition technology to deploy a certain message based on whether the person in front of the ad is a man or a woman.

PlanUK is an organization dedicated to helping children in developing countries.  This specific ad is garnered to their “Because I’m a Girl” campaign, which sponsors the education of girls, with a gender-specific message.  When a man walks up to the ad, a video incorporating statistics about girls’ education and its importance plays.  When a woman walks up to the ad, a much longer and sentimental video is shown.

I think that this type of advertisement is very innovative, but there does not seem to be a way of measuring how successful it really is compared to other non-gender based ads.  Another problem can be with the facial recognition technology and its quality.


6 responses to “Gender-Specific Ads in the UK use Facial Recognition

  • hmfraser

    This is very interesting to me. It is amazing how honed advertisements are at finding their targeted populations (for example, how Facebook uses cookies to track where you go after you leave or log out of FB). I would like to see a study that quantifies targeting genders, however this is something that has been done since advertisement started. The adds in Shape magazine and Marie Claire are very different from GQ or Men’s Health. This goes beyond just the types of products but the add themselves. So this has probably been proven effective in the past, however there will probably be error for determining if you are male or female and this may result in some people being offended.

  • marionrorke

    Being in a gender and sex studies class currently, I’m actually very taken aback. First of all, I believe that this is relating to physical sex, not gender, which are really not as similar as many people may believe. Additionally, I think there needs to be much more of a focus on humanity as a whole and to deconstruct the gender barrier that has been established. Furthermore, like the commenter above mentioned, this could have very bad ramifications if it assumed a different sex, or gender, from the person who was actually there. Also, what if there were more than one person in front of it? How would that work? This also just really creeps me out; if we’re already forced to see advertisements everywhere we go, do we really want them “seeing” us as well? #bigbrother?

  • etherspace

    While I am certainly impresses and can see positive applications of this type of innovative advertising, it frightens me. It could certainly be seen as a violation of privacy. Using a person’s physical features (as read by the device) to manipulate the content of their add seems like a step too far. How long before the same technology is used to identify age or race?

  • hmfraser

    These things are already happening with advertisements and technology. Our lives are far less private than they would have been 40 years ago. But targeting people for race or sex etc is not new. It is just becoming more efficient. The idea of an ad knowing my gender or race does not bother me as much as facebook being able to read my text messages because I have the app on my phone (yes they can do this) or google storing all my searches and selling my information. But these products are FREE and thus they can do what they will.

  • wstewar

    This technology is a little bit scary. I don’t know if I’m ready to live in a world where an advertisement on the street can recognize me. Would future technological advances mean that advertisements will track my interests? Facebook and Google both do this already. But if advertisements on the street are tracking where I’m going and what I’m doing, won’t this resemble a sort of Big Brother society? Yeah, that’s kind of scary…

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