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Plan UK Billboard Campaign Takes Gender Targeting to New Level

Plan UK is launching a campaign to highlight the plight of the world's poorest girls, using a mix of DOOH technology—and the latest in facial recognition apps to emphasize its message.

On February 22, the interactive ad will debut on a bus stop on Oxford Street. Besides facial recognition technology, a touchscreen and sound are also part of the viewing experience. The advert uses facial recognition software with an HD camera to determine whether a man or woman is standing in front of the screen. The content that is next displayed depends on that person's gender—namely men and boys are not given the choice to see the full content in order to highlight how women and girls in many nations are denied choices and opportunities.

Women and girls viewing the ad are able to see more about the Plan’s work in these countries. The campaign focuses on three girls from different countries—their voices intercut with everyday footage of their lives.

Viewers are invited to give their opinion at #choicesforgirls.

The ad will run for a two week period. PSFK says the  system has a 90% accuracy rate in analyzing a person’s facial features and determining if they’re a male or female.

Other Examples of Facial Recognition Technology

Facial Recognition technology is growing in use among marketers. However, Plan UK’s deployment of the technology-–that is withholding or not content based on the person's gender –is said to be a first for it.

Clearly, though, that is the point of facial recognition technology. Last year Adidas partnered with Intel to install and test digital walls in the U.S. and U.K., according to the Los Angeles Times.

The paper gave the example of a woman in her 50s stopping in front of the display. The wall recognized her gender and approximate age and the majority of shoes displayed were in those categories.

However, these technologies are being continually tweaked to go beyond mere gender awareness with a goal of developing ever more astute and real-time insight into what a person is thinking, feeling–and likely to do–or buy.

Reading Facial Expressions

Forbes tells of new technology developed at MIT that can read facial expressions over a webcam, which has proven difficult for computers to achieve. The researchers embarked on the task to help people with autism read others' emotions more easily; now, Forbes reports, it is becoming commercialized to help businesses read their customers.

Another example is Omnicom Digital, which is experimenting with technology that allows billboards to tell if a passerby is paying attention and then send messages accordingly. The technology "actually recognizes faces. If you raise your eyebrow, it can track that," says Jonathan Nelson, CEO (via the Wall Street Journal). "We're exploring the applications, and they are endless."

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