The Organic Marketer

Smarter Marketing via Gaze Tracking & Location Detection

Gaze tracking is for real. Minority Report, any one?

Gaze tracking is for real. Minority Report, anyone?

As if The Minority Report wasn’t already a frightening glimpse of the Big Brother future with its crime prediction and eye scans that deliver targeted marketing on the fly, a new patent application from Philips Electronics would monitor what consumers are looking at as they view a retail store’s display window and then provide more information about what is being looked at via video displays or other methods.

Another application I’ve seen for this is tracking gazing trends for large groups of consumers. Presumably, one could test different layouts or displays to measure effectiveness of different presentations or even what times of the day or week are likely to make passers-by stop and look.

This isn’t the first time recognition tracking has been used. British newspaper, The Mail, reported that hi-tech facial recognition cameras and software are being used to monitor underage alcohol and cigarette purchases at the popular London Budgens convenience stores. That system compares quick images taken by monitoring cameras to a database of past minors who have been unable to prove their age. The cashier is immediately notified and the sales canceled.

And our final conspiracy theory report comes from the Times Online, which is reporting a new cellular-based monitoring system which can tell when cell phones come into detection range, how long they stay there and when they’ve left. The article does cite some interesting uses. A shopping mall could, for example, find out that there were a large number of consumers still in a store at the end of the day (near closing), helping to make a case for longer opening hours, or that a majority of customers who visited The Gap also went to Starbucks, which could useful for marketing purposes, like lease rates based on preferential and relationship data.

In one example cited for a mall located in England, managers were surprised to discover that an unusually high percentage of visitors were German — the receivers can tell in which country each phone is registered — which led to the management translating the instructions in the parking lot.

For certain, technology is allowing us an untold level of monitoring, tracking and reporting. While many of these examples might seem invasions of privacy, marketing has always walked the fine line between being too intrusive and providing benefits and advantages to consumers.


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