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Advertisements watching people

Posted: Sun Feb 01, 2009 4:44 pm UTC
by Fett42
From http://tech.yahoo.com/news/ap/20090131/ ... c_nosy_ads:

MILWAUKEE - Watch an advertisement on a video screen in a mall, health club or grocery store and there's a slim — but growing — chance the ad is watching you too.

Small cameras can now be embedded in the screen or hidden around it, tracking who looks at the screen and for how long. The makers of the tracking systems say the software can determine the viewer's gender, approximate age range and, in some cases, ethnicity — and can change the ads accordingly.

That could mean razor ads for men, cosmetics ads for women and video-game ads for teens.

And even if the ads don't shift based on which people are watching, the technology's ability to determine the viewers' demographics is golden for advertisers who want to know how effectively they're reaching their target audience.

While the technology remains in limited use for now, advertising industry analysts say it is finally beginning to live up to its promise. The manufacturers say their systems can accurately determine gender 85 to 90 percent of the time, while accuracy for the other measures continues to be refined.


I'm sure companies wouldn't be doing this and announcing it so openly if it clearly violated a law. I'm not necessarily against it, but it certainly seems wierd... thoughts?

Re: Advertisements watching people

Posted: Sun Feb 01, 2009 4:49 pm UTC
by wst
Anyone want to break it by crossdressing?

Re: Advertisements watching people

Posted: Sun Feb 01, 2009 5:02 pm UTC
by TaintedDeity
Yes, yes I do.

Re: Advertisements watching people

Posted: Sun Feb 01, 2009 5:04 pm UTC
by Diadem
This is just scary.

If it is not against the law, it should be made against the law ASAP.

Surveillance cameras are bad enough. But surveillance camera's that are hidden and viewed by totally unknown people, for inscrutable purposes. No thank you.

If I knew of such a ad screen near me, I would destroy it. I'm serious. Civilians can not afford to tolerate this.

Re: Advertisements watching people

Posted: Sun Feb 01, 2009 5:20 pm UTC
by Megatriorchis
If I'm looking at an ad for a video game and it suddenly changes to an add for cosmetics, I will promptly make a disgusted face and walk away.

Re: Advertisements watching people

Posted: Sun Feb 01, 2009 5:29 pm UTC
by teamcorndog
Diadem wrote:If I knew of such a ad screen near me, I would destroy it. I'm serious. Civilians can not afford to tolerate this.


How is it worse than more standard types of advertising? The point of an ad is to make YOU buy something. They're just trying to streamline the process.
I think it would be nice to only see ads for things I'm interested in...but there's no way an ad camera thingy could do that by just looking at me. In fact I'd probably end up seeing even fewer ads I like.

Re: Advertisements watching people

Posted: Sun Feb 01, 2009 6:15 pm UTC
by wst
Megatriorchis wrote:If I'm looking at an ad for a video game and it suddenly changes to an add for cosmetics, I will promptly make a disgusted face and walk away.
They're trying to tell you something :P

If you get loads of people to look at it, will it explode? It looks at me and thinks 'Car magazine', and looks at the kid next to me and thinks 'Gobstopper'. "Gobstopper Monthly" Magazine then?

Re: Advertisements watching people

Posted: Sun Feb 01, 2009 6:43 pm UTC
by Sharlos
These would only really be useful for public TV sets, I doubt anyone would want to have their jounge room open to display to strangers.

Re: Advertisements watching people

Posted: Sun Feb 01, 2009 8:37 pm UTC
by Jahoclave
wst wrote:Anyone want to break it by crossdressing?

I think it'd be better to go all out and show it a picture of a kitty and various other animals, eventually ending with a nuclear explosion.

Re: Advertisements watching people

Posted: Sun Feb 01, 2009 8:40 pm UTC
by Megatriorchis
wst wrote:If you get loads of people to look at it, will it explode? It looks at me and thinks 'Car magazine', and looks at the kid next to me and thinks 'Gobstopper'. "Gobstopper Monthly" Magazine then?
It could be a car made of Gobstoppers. Or a magazine of Gobstopper cars. Or a magazine made of Gobstoppers.

Re: Advertisements watching people

Posted: Sun Feb 01, 2009 8:59 pm UTC
by Jack Saladin
Diadem wrote:This is just scary.

If it is not against the law, it should be made against the law ASAP.

Surveillance cameras are bad enough. But surveillance camera's that are hidden and viewed by totally unknown people, for inscrutable purposes. No thank you.

If I knew of such a ad screen near me, I would destroy it. I'm serious. Civilians can not afford to tolerate this.

... Erm, why? How is it any worse than the few hundred security and CCTV cameras already watching you since you're in a mall already? Hell, if you live in a place like London, you'd be recorded every step of the way from your house to the mall in the first place. The only difference is the application of this particular camera. Your privacy isn't being violated any more than it already is.

Re: Advertisements watching people

Posted: Sun Feb 01, 2009 9:02 pm UTC
by Amoeba
Jack Saladin wrote:... Erm, why? How is it any worse than the few hundred security and CCTV cameras already watching you since you're in a mall already? Hell, if you live in a place like London, you'd be recorded every step of the way from your house to the mall in the first place. The only difference is the application of this particular camera. Your privacy isn't being violated any more than it already is.


Because, presumably, CCTV cameras and security cameras are at least ostensibly there for your benefit (and you generally know where they are), whereas these ad cameras are hidden and there just to help marketing departments?

Re: Advertisements watching people

Posted: Sun Feb 01, 2009 9:08 pm UTC
by roc314
Amoeba wrote:
Jack Saladin wrote:... Erm, why? How is it any worse than the few hundred security and CCTV cameras already watching you since you're in a mall already? Hell, if you live in a place like London, you'd be recorded every step of the way from your house to the mall in the first place. The only difference is the application of this particular camera. Your privacy isn't being violated any more than it already is.
Because, presumably, CCTV cameras and security cameras are at least ostensibly there for your benefit
Hahahahahahahaahahahaahaahahahah. For your benefit? Hahahaahahahahaha.

EDIT: If you have a really good excuse for something (even if it's not true), that makes it okay?

Re: Advertisements watching people

Posted: Sun Feb 01, 2009 9:09 pm UTC
by Jack Saladin
Marketing departments and stores already install plenty of hidden cameras around malls and shopping centres to keep tabs on your shopping habits - how long you spend in each store, the path you take, how often you buy things. It's been going on for many years.

And fucking lawl@ CCTV and security cameras being there for "our own good." Jesus fuck, you're a totalitarian governments dream citizen, ain't ya? CCTV cameras have been used for discrimination, spying, violations of privacy, private gain, and profit ever since they were introduced. Honestly, just using a camera to change what's on a billboard is pretty innocent as far as these things go.

Re: Advertisements watching people

Posted: Sun Feb 01, 2009 9:20 pm UTC
by Pa-Patch
Have you ever been to a store where a talkative clerk tries to bond/level/talk with you based on your appearance? Like, "Hey, a big man like you could sure you some of these big ol' steaks!". It may not be that common these days, but it's far from unheard of, and pretty common in certain places like car dealerships.
It's annoying and stupid, yes, but really this is just replacing that guy with a machine. It's pretty far from ominous.

And guys, CCTV isn't exactly Big Brother. If they forced them into our homes, then it would be bad. In public places or private institutions, they mostly (exceptions exist, of course) just make it easier to identify criminals. Basically right now they just enforce laws. If you're worried about totalitarianism, worry about what's illegal, not how hard it is to get away with things.

Re: Advertisements watching people

Posted: Sun Feb 01, 2009 9:23 pm UTC
by Amoeba
roc314 wrote:Hahahahahahahaahahahaahaahahahah. For your benefit? Hahahaahahahahaha.

EDIT: If you have a really good excuse for something (even if it's not true), that makes it okay?


Ah, grow up. Ostensibly. You see that word there? I'm not arguing either way whether security cameras are or aren't a good thing, just pointing out why someone might see a difference between them and cameras in a billboard.

Re: Advertisements watching people

Posted: Sun Feb 01, 2009 9:24 pm UTC
by Heft
I don't really see anything wrong with this, especially since it's not being used to monitor people, but just to try to refine advertisements. I don't really understand how it would work effectively in a crowded mall, but assuming it somehow does, ohwell. It doesn't sound like anyone is actually watching the tapes or anything like that, and there certainly isn't any sinister intent in it.

Re: Advertisements watching people

Posted: Sun Feb 01, 2009 9:27 pm UTC
by Jack Saladin
Amoeba wrote:
roc314 wrote:Hahahahahahahaahahahaahaahahahah. For your benefit? Hahahaahahahahaha.

EDIT: If you have a really good excuse for something (even if it's not true), that makes it okay?


Ah, grow up. Ostensibly. You see that word there? I'm not arguing either way whether security cameras are or aren't a good thing, just pointing out why someone might see a difference between them and cameras in a billboard.

Well this is "ostensibly" to benefit you as well. It gives you the ads you might actually be interested in. Not to mention, like I said, there are plenty of cameras already in shopping areas that are there solely for marketing purposes, and to observe your shopping patterns. How is this any worse than those? Why isn't that guy out destroying all the millions of those cameras?

I think they just need to wack in some cheesy salesman AI and a voice synthesiser with a southern accent, and people will be much more comfortable with these signs.

Re: Advertisements watching people

Posted: Sun Feb 01, 2009 9:38 pm UTC
by JayDee
wst wrote:Anyone want to break it by crossdressing?
My first thought was to mess with their statistics by getting people to just stand there staring for ages.

Re: Advertisements watching people

Posted: Sun Feb 01, 2009 9:41 pm UTC
by Jack Saladin
Or getting cardboard cutouts of people and leaving them there.

Re: Advertisements watching people

Posted: Sun Feb 01, 2009 9:44 pm UTC
by bigglesworth
I forgot the difference in reaction between British and American people over cameras. "Eh, get on with life." vs. "Break out the guns!"

Re: Advertisements watching people

Posted: Sun Feb 01, 2009 9:52 pm UTC
by Megatriorchis
bigglesworth wrote:I forgot the difference in reaction between British and American people over cameras. "Eh, get on with life." vs. "Break out the guns!"
More like, "Meh, I don't mind," vs. "This might lead to invasion of my privacy."

Re: Advertisements watching people

Posted: Sun Feb 01, 2009 10:31 pm UTC
by Jahoclave
bigglesworth wrote:I forgot the difference in reaction between British and American people over cameras. "Eh, get on with life." vs. "Break out the guns!"

Well when else are we going to get out the guns, not like the red coats are keen on coming over for round three? We got them, might as well break them out.

Re: Advertisements watching people

Posted: Mon Feb 02, 2009 12:37 am UTC
by Jahan
This is not as creepy as my home towns screens. They have a nigh photo-realistic cgi woman who looks as people go past next to the words "Welcome to Blackburn Shopping Centre". She tilts her head or moves it as if she is watching you walk past the screen. Sure it occasionally breaks for ads but it's still creepy.

edit: You should get a load of nuns to stop infront of a screen showing off lingerie.

Re: Advertisements watching people

Posted: Mon Feb 02, 2009 1:20 am UTC
by Jesse
Just because we've allowed our privacy to be invaded in many ways does not mean we should now feel blase about yet another invasion of it. We should be chalenging this kind of thing wherever it appears, making a stand that this was one step too far, then work to remove the invasions of privacy that already exist.

Re: Advertisements watching people

Posted: Mon Feb 02, 2009 1:45 am UTC
by 4=5
I like salidin's idea of cardboard cutouts. You can make thier data useless in a nonviolent way.

Re: Advertisements watching people

Posted: Mon Feb 02, 2009 1:58 am UTC
by Malice
Pa-Patch wrote:And guys, CCTV isn't exactly Big Brother. If they forced them into our homes, then it would be bad. In public places or private institutions, they mostly (exceptions exist, of course) just make it easier to identify criminals. Basically right now they just enforce laws. If you're worried about totalitarianism, worry about what's illegal, not how hard it is to get away with things.


The problem with that idea is that by the time they've made "being gay" or "talking out against the government" illegal, they'll already have all the pieces in place to enforce that law and crush anybody who tries to break it in secret or fight back. The defense of privacy is an early line of defense against tyranny, not a late one.

Re: Advertisements watching people

Posted: Mon Feb 02, 2009 2:11 am UTC
by Jack Saladin
Not to mention, even if the laws are fine, you still have to rely on a whole bunch of people to not take advantage of that system regardless. I don't trust security companies, I don't trust cops, I don't trust governments, and I don't want any of them watching me.

Re: Advertisements watching people

Posted: Mon Feb 02, 2009 2:38 am UTC
by Pez Dispens3r
The biggest reason I don't have a problem with CCTV is that the cameras might be constantly monitoring us but the people aren't. Once at work I got told not to do something slightly naughty because the cameras are watching me. I know how many cameras there are in the store, I know where the computer is they can be monitored from, and I know how often managers sit there watching the cameras... virtually, never. Even if they want to review footage... hours and hours of watching several screens... they're not gonna ping me for something unless they already know I'm doing it and have set a trap for me.

Re: Advertisements watching people

Posted: Mon Feb 02, 2009 6:48 am UTC
by Clumpy
Does the screen display ads for piercings and Public Image Ltd albums for people who flip it off?

Re: Advertisements watching people

Posted: Mon Feb 02, 2009 7:21 am UTC
by Dream
Pez Dispens3r wrote:I know how many cameras there are in the store, I know where the computer is they can be monitored from, and I know how often managers sit there watching the cameras... virtually, never. Even if they want to review footage... hours and hours of watching several screens... they're not gonna ping me for something unless they already know I'm doing it and have set a trap for me.

And if some manager takes a dislike to you, and decides to go looking for "evidence"? This isn't about these technologies being used properly, as in to stop staff doing naughty stuff. It's about installing a pervasive, powerful system and just hoping that no one abuses it. The potential for abuse with these things is absolutely scary.

Re: Advertisements watching people

Posted: Mon Feb 02, 2009 8:07 am UTC
by diotimajsh
Fett42 wrote:That could mean razor ads for men, cosmetics ads for women and video-game ads for teens.
Well that's not fair, what if I want cosmetics ads?!

Re: Advertisements watching people

Posted: Mon Feb 02, 2009 9:01 am UTC
by Brooklynxman
Id wanna put a cutout in front of one all day just to get it stuck (or maybe a couple different ones so it loops in confusion)

Re: Advertisements watching people

Posted: Mon Feb 02, 2009 9:37 am UTC
by fyrenwater
Note to self: Make faces, move things in front of cameras, flip it off...

Also, this is scary. Let's devise a plan to destroy these adver-cams!

Re: Advertisements watching people

Posted: Mon Feb 02, 2009 10:46 am UTC
by Jesse
I wonder how it copes with trans people.

Re: Advertisements watching people

Posted: Mon Feb 02, 2009 12:11 pm UTC
by EstLladon
What if instead of camera it was actual booth with actual person inside it instructed and paid minimum wage to change the ads according to gender and age of person standing in front of it? It doesn't seem so frightening and privacy intruding.

Edited for slight stupidity.

Re: Advertisements watching people

Posted: Mon Feb 02, 2009 12:18 pm UTC
by Princess Marzipan
Jesse wrote:I wonder how it copes with trans people.

Easy. They're not real and don't count as far as any lawmakers are concerned, and the advertisers agree.

Re: Advertisements watching people

Posted: Mon Feb 02, 2009 12:58 pm UTC
by Jesse
EstLladon wrote:What if instead of camera it was actual booth with actual person inside it instructed and paid minimum wage to change the ads according to gender and age of person standing in front of it? It doesn't seem so frightening and privacy intruding.

Edited for slight stupidity.


That's because there's not a visual record. If the guy took a photo of everyone who looked at it, it'd still be invasive.

Re: Advertisements watching people

Posted: Mon Feb 02, 2009 1:34 pm UTC
by EstLladon
What if you just count numbers of ad changes and how long particular ads were playing? It would give you a lot of information and has little to do with any privacy. Or the guy in the booth could have photographic memory so he collects the data anyway. This line is very very hard to draw. And "It is ok to collect data but it is bad to analyze it" is in my opinion a pretty ridiculous stance to have.

Re: Advertisements watching people

Posted: Mon Feb 02, 2009 2:02 pm UTC
by 22/7
EstLladon wrote:What if you just count numbers of ad changes and how long particular ads were playing? It would give you a lot of information and has little to do with any privacy. Or the guy in the booth could have photographic memory so he collects the data anyway. This line is very very hard to draw. And "It is ok to collect data but it is bad to analyze it" is in my opinion a pretty ridiculous stance to have.
Good thing he didn't say that, then. It's almost like he said
Jesse wrote:That's because there's not a visual record. If the guy took a photo of everyone who looked at it, it'd still be invasive.