Bidooh is watching you.
Bidooh, an ad tech startup based in the United Kingdom, has created digital billboards that show you 10-second ads based on what you look like. (Yes, its creators were directly inspired by the mall scene in Minority Report).
Here’s how these smart ads work:
When you walk past a Bidooh board—most likely in a mall or another high-traffic area—a camera installed in it analyzes you: it assesses your gender, age, and even the emotion on your face. Future versions of the boards will be able to identify the brands you’re sporting and the color of your hair.
Based on what the Bidooh board sees, the advertisement displayed on its screen will change to something it thinks you’d be interested in. For example, if it sees you’re a man with a beard, it may show you an ad for beard conditioning cream or precision facial trimmers. Then, when it notices the woman behind you, it might change to an ad promoting a sale for one of the brands she’s wearing.
Not only can these smart ads deliver hyper-targeted ads to consumers IRL, but they can also send real-time demographic info to advertisers—bringing some of the biggest benefits of online advertising into the out-of-home (OOH) advertising space.
According to its creators, the data Bidooh collects on passerby is “anonymised” for consumer privacy: “Any information analysed is either automatically made anonymous or deleted to avoid future misuse or inadvertent loss,” the company explains in the official whitepaper detailing their technology and business plan.
“We can identify how many people saw which advert using facial analysis and facial recognition,” the whitepaper continues. “Such a level of data allows marketers to make the right decisions on how and where their adverts are placed for maximum impact, effectiveness and for the best conversions. Real-time audience data and demographics allows marketers to spend their budgets wisely and ensure that their campaign performance is being continually optimized.”
It’s no secret that advertisers need to know who’s interacting with their ads—otherwise, we’re pretty much in the dark. This is one reason Bidooh will likely cause a huge disruption in the world of OOH advertising: currently, it’s hard to tell if people are buying the things they’re seeing on billboards (much less whether anyone’s even looking at them).
Having this data available in real-time—that is, not having to wait weeks or months to get a vague analysis of possible footfall data—marks a substantial shift in how OOH advertising may work in the future.
It takes more than just analyzing facial features to make an effective marketing strategy. To deliver all the valuable insights advertisers want to get their hands on, there’s a bit more tracking Bidooh has to do.
Since advertisers need to know whether their ads really work—meaning, whether they can get someone to make a purchase or not—Bidooh has to track consumers just a little longer than the time it takes them to walk past a digital screen.
The company proposes additional cameras installed in stores. These cameras will recognize shoppers who have looked at the store’s ads on Bidooh boards. Then, Bidooh will make a record of whether these consumers purchase anything in the participating stores. This is another upgrade to OOH advertising: before, it was difficult to be sure if the ads you bought on billboards and other signage led to any conversions.
The key takeaway here: in order for Bidooh’s advertisers to be satisfied, consumers have to be watched from the instant they walk past a smart ad to the moment they make a purchase. But how will customers react to this method?
To help ease the anxiety that may come from being watched, Bidooh has a way to incentivize shoppers to consent to being tracked: the DOOH token.
Customers can earn these tokens—Bidooh’s very own cryptocurrency—by interacting with the ads they see. “Interacting” can simply mean looking at the ads, or it can be as involved as touching them or spending time on a brand’s website.
Consumers can then spend the tokens at the stores they “earned” them from. When stores receive these tokens, they can use them to purchase more Bidooh ads: one DOOH token for one 10-second ad on any board they choose.
Bidooh spins this as customers being in control, explaining that the token system “rewards you for consuming advertising and providing your data.”
They write in a blog post titled “Own your data with Bidooh!“:
“As the consumer, you are rewarded with Bidooh tokens (DOOH) for viewing and engaging with this onscreen advertising. Through this digital interaction, advertisers can customize their advertising to your preferences without the need to buy your data from a farmed-out database owned by a megalithic corporation. Instead, you are rewarded for sharing what you choose to share. Bidooh offers a revolutionary approach to advertising that rewards the data provider—you—instead of the data collectors watching your every move on the internet.”
In other words: in exchange for discounts at their favorite stores, consumers can decide if they want their faces to be recognized by advertisers and retailers. Will cryptocurrency be enough to encourage them to participate? Or, like in other instances of artificial intelligence in advertising not quite hitting the mark, will the facial recognition tech prove too intimidating?
What Bidooh Means for Advertisers
As it grows, this new platform could cause some exciting disruptions in the out-of-home advertising industry. Take, for instance, traditional roadside billboards: they’re expensive, time-consuming to purchase and design, and notoriously hard to track the success of.
Bidooh aims to make it easier to buy, design, and report on the performance of out-of-home ads. The question is whether they’ll end up alienating consumers in the process.
These smart ads are certainly innovative, and it’ll be fascinating to see where they go from here. However, considering how sensitive a topic privacy has been lately, Bidooh may not get quite the global reception they’re expecting. In addition, cryptocurrency—which is already a notably volatile industry—adds another facet of risk that could either make or break Bidooh.
So, the verdict: are these smart ads too smart? From an advertising standpoint, not at all—they solve a lot of problems that have plagued the OOH industry for decades. But for the consumer, Bidooh boards may be a bit too invasive. As the tech spreads, we’ll have to see how customers react. Then, we can find out just how far consumers—and advertisers—are willing to go for personalization in advertising.
If you’re considering an out-of-home advertising campaign, contact Kirkpatrick Creative. What we lack in facial recognition technology we more than make up for in proven experience and some of the best minds on the market. Give us a call today!