Tesco will use in-store face scanners for targeted advertising

Tesco gas stations will scan your face to guess what else you might want to buy.
Written by Tyler Falk, Contributor on

Usually when you think of targeted advertising you think of digital advertising tools. Advertisements showing up on your browser based on search history or email promotions targeting people in a specific region are just a couple examples of the practice. But now Tesco, the world's third largest retailer, is bringing the practice to 450 gas stations throughout the United Kingdom in the form of face scanners.

Bloomberg Businessweek explains how it works:

The software, created by British digital-media group Amscreen, collects data on shoppers’ appearance to “guess” their rough age and gender. By matching that information with data on their purchases, Tesco can tell that a middle-aged woman buying gas in suburban London at 11 a.m. on a weekday might be in the mood for a coffee, while a man in his early 20s would probably prefer a soft drink.

So as you approach the cashier a new advertisement shows up on a monitor next to the cashier based on the data collected.

It might take some time to get used to tailored in-store ads. But this technology is just one of the many ways retailers are trying to make in-person shopping experiences more individualized and efficient. But many other retailers are relying on smartphones and in-store sensors to meet those goals.

Tesco also assures that the face scanners are not facial-recognition technology, meaning they won't be able to recognize individual customers. Images of individuals also won't be recorded.

Still as one lawyer tells BBC, there could be more legal issues here than with targeted advertising online. "The capture of facial signatures represents a potentially much greater infringement of customers' privacy in the absence of prior consent," he said.

Read more: Bloomberg Businessweek

Photo: Flickr/Alan_D

This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com

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