In an experiment, advertising giant Dentsu Inc. plans to bring so-called targeted advertising, an increasingly popular sales method in cyberspace, into the physical world.
Dentsu’s team, with support from chipmaker Intel Corp. and three other information technology companies, will start running outdoor digital ads as early as June that collect and analyze people’s interests and instantaneously promote products to them based on their data.
Targeted advertising is already in wide use on the Internet. Based on such data as web browsing history and purchase history, advertisers are looking to judge consumers by demographics or personal traits so they can hawk the items or services most likely to attract them.
The first step will be to set up a digital sign board specifically tailored for drivers near a major highway in Tokyo.
By using video feeds from street cameras, computers will automatically analyze passing automobiles to gather clues on brand and type so the company can display pre-programmed ads to the drivers, said Dentsu’s Ichiro Jinnai, who is leading the project.
“For example, let’s say Lexus was the sponsor of the advertisement. When cars of BMW, Mercedes-Benz and Audi are approaching, the digital signage displays ads telling how Lexus cars are superior to these competitors,” Jinnai said Thursday.
Although it will only display car ads to begin with, the technology will be used to promote other products in the future by using big data to analyze what drivers want, based on the types and brands of cars they are driving — like promoting coffee to long-distance truck drivers to urge them to take a break — he said.
After this experiment, Dentsu plans to run the targeted ads at places such as shopping malls and tourist spots, as well as to use the technology on people rather than machines.
Asked about privacy concerns, Jinnai said there are “no privacy issues” because images from the cameras will not be stored, meaning any information that can be used to identify individuals will not be available for the ad agency to use.
“We do not intend to identify each individual nor to obtain any personal information. We will only judge people’s gender and age from their facial characteristics,” he said.