UK Petrol Stations to Scan Shoppers Faces for Targeted Ads

Advertising is a complicated business, and identifying your target demographic and finding a way to connect with them is a big part of it. Tesco is hoping to better connect with customers in its petrol stations with the introduction of screens that will identify customers' age and gender and serve ads accordingly.

The system is called OptimEyes and is developed by Amscreen. The idea is that by registering the viewer's gender and age as well as the time and date, the screens will provide advertisers with real-time data regarding the effectiveness of their campaigns.

While the idea is very appealing for advertisers, privacy advocates aren't exactly overjoyed. Speaking to the Daily Telegraph, Big Brother Watch's Nick Pickles said people would never accept a system that logs the stores you visit if it was suggested by the police.

This isn't the first we've heard of such technology. In fact, Microsoft filed a patent application for a technology that would serve people ads based on their emotions. The system would process a user's activities (emails, online games, instant messaging, or search queries) to determine the tone of the content they're consuming. Then, it would match ads to the user's emotional state.

The solution to be implemented at Tesco petrol stations is a far cry from what Microsoft proposed, but it's not difficult to see why it's making people uneasy. After all, where do you draw the line when you start down that road? Tesco will roll out the screens in 450 of its petrol stations across the United Kingdom. 

Follow Jane McEntegart @JaneMcEntegart. Follow us @tomshardware, on Facebook and on Google+.

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  • Kitlope
    Why not skip all this subtle nonsense and have the people line up to get their chips implanted into their wrist?
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  • CrArC
    Can you imagine that? You're at a petrol pump, and as you squeeze the trigger, the pump interrupts your day and tries to sell you tampons. To make matters worse, you are a bloke.
    1
  • mapesdhs
    Oh no, not another freakin' Amscreen product... 8\ (anyone see the Dave Gorman
    show which covered A. Sugar's PR nonsense re Amscreens?)

    If Tesco proceed with this sillyness, I'm going to insist my gf wears a hat or
    something if she has to go into the building to pay for fuel.

    I really hope people object to it. So far the creep, creep of surveillance
    stuff in the UK has the population acting like a vast horde of slow-boiled
    frogs, ie. people just put up with it or ignore it, or they don't care. Sheesh...

    Normally I would insert a yay for US freedoms at this point, but that seems
    kinda moot given what the NSA has been up to, doubly so since polls show
    the US public doesn't seem all that bothered by what's being done in their name.

    As new Scientist put it recently, it's the inevitable death of anonymity...

    Ian.
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