Digital Out-of-Home: Advertising screens will learn to recognize our mood

Chief editor - Vladimir Krylov, PhD
Deputy chief editor - Michael Nikulichev, PhD

Sources: “Up Front and Personal Report” by Centre for Future Studies (CFS) / 3M|GTG, ScreenMedia daily Magazine.

A revolution in digital outdoor advertising media will apparently soon break out in the digital OOH market. According to the UK-based consulting firm Centre for Future Studies (CFS) within the next 12 months digital out-of-home media will rapidly begin to adopt technologies enabled with emotion recognition software that will adjust a signs message depending on the facial expression of the viewer.

A person controls screens or screens control him? A person controls screens or screens control him?
Photo credit: elianealhadeff.blogspot.com

By 2012, DOOH networks will acquire and install emotion recognition software based on face-recognition packages. In addition, Near-Field Communications (NFC) will enable customized messaging between digital signage and mobile devices which represents a long expected turn towards greater interactivity of digital screens.

A recently released “Up Front and Personal Report” is based on the generalized opinion of leading developers, operators of outdoor digital advertising and other professionals of the media market. This totally new form of advertising was preliminary dubbed “Glad-vertising” while the sign messages generated using the mood-recognition technology maybe called “Glad-verts”.

In fact, the emotion recognition software (ERS) will classify photographs of shoppers and passers-by after receiving them from in-shop or CCTV cameras and then tailor the advertising messages and clips to their mood. This intelligent technology uses a face-tracking algorithm to match movements of the eyes and mouth to six expression patterns corresponding to happiness, anger, sadness, fear, surprise or disgust.

These rather wide categories will allow marketers to influence consumers with tailored advertising. For example, if the system identifies unhappy consumers walking towards a digital billboard, advertising for a sunny holiday vacation might be displayed.

This approach will require a completely new level of advertising clips and messages that are hypersensitive to emotions of potential customers. According to the report, digital out-of-home advertising innovation is being driven by the trend toward mega-cities. With two in three people expected to be city-dwellers by 2050, advertisers are looking to capitalize on opportunities to reach consumers in urban areas with smarter technology. Consequently, the technology is driven by the need to cover the largest possible number of shoppers and to classify them into broad consumer groups.

While most of the new technologies are implemented only gradually, the experts believe that this new smart personification and mood recognition technology will be in hot demand from the very start. The fact is that people are ready to embrace these new technologies after exposure to touch screens interfaces such as the iPhone and iPad, gesture-based controls such as Microsoft's Kinect, 3DTV, and augmented reality applications.

Across the UK and European Union countries, digital advertising screens are slowly replacing traditional paper billboards, yet they only offer one-way communication. The Centre for Future Studies report reveals outdoor advertising technology is going to get a lot more interactive in the near future with advertisers providing immersive brand experiences.

What we should expect from digital outdoor advertising in the near future

Some innovations which have already been or will soon be announced are:

Contextual advertising: Digital outdoor advertising adapted to specific real-life situations

For example, a person waiting at a bus stop may see display advertising advocating the benefits of car sharing, or if it starts to rain a digital billboard could display advertising for umbrellas with Gene Kelly serenading passersby.

Multi-sensory advertising

Digital-out-of-home experts are developing advertising that stimulates a variety of senses. For example, subway platforms could combine holographic video, sound, mood lighting, and smells to multiply the advertising's impact and extend consumers' recall time.

Personal preference profiles

Super-charged personification profiles that are more in-depth than social network profiles will include details on the user's body type, allergies, anniversaries, favorite food, color, etc. Consumer's personal profiles could then be identified and interact with digital out-of-home advertising via Near-Field Communications (NFC).

Gesture-based interaction

With the success of Microsoft's Kinect technology, marketers have the opportunity to introduce interactive, gesture-based games that connect user with brands. For example, a sports brands could challenge consumers to a virtual shootout competition outside their stores with the winner receiving a coupon sent to their NFC enabled phone.

Advanced High-Definition vending machines

Wide gesture-controlled 3D screens will become an integral part of vending machines and will enable consumers to see and feel products before buying them. The possibility to control the digital screen by hand movements takes advantage of a user's sense of touch which is considered the strongest sensory anchor.

Whatever the case, future seems to be much closer to us than could have been expected only recently. A few years ago we were all fascinated by Steven Spielberg’s Minority Report where he showed us the 2054 technology of screen control by hand movements. Well, the principle has already been put to practice. By 2015 the use of haptic controllers will be commonplace and will significantly increase the efficiency of outdoor advertising.