For your eyes only: Val Morgan ramps up programmatic facial recognition ads

By Lucy Clark | 25 March 2014

Val Morgan will roll out facial recognition technology to almost 500 petrol pump ad display units by September, and serve ads programmatically to those filling ther cars based on age gender and mood.

Val Morgan told AdNews it has 1,200 digital screens at service stations around Australia, with a monthly audience of about four million. That will rise to 1,800 by the end of June and to 2,000 by the end of September – with the firm claiming an estimated monthly audience of eight million. About 25% of the screens will feature hidden facial recognition technology.

“Within milliseconds, we are able to determine, with about 95% accuracy, a person's gender, approximate age, and even make an estimation based on their facial expression of the type of mood they are in," said Anthony Deeble, managing director of Val Morgan Outdoor. "We can also measure the level of engagement, picking up if the person looks away.

“At the petrol pump, it's a one-to-one platform and, on average, the waiting time is about three minutes. This means we are able to serve bespoke content in the truest sense.”

Deeble said Val Morgan's programmatic trading platform, first announced at the end of 2013, is at the trial stage and will be rolled out this year. “It will mean we will be able to give a whole range of clients a more dynamic opportunity to access our audience base,” he said.

Val Morgan's digital network also includes about 250 shopping centres and will be introduced to another 180 centres by the end of 2014 – with about 30 featuring facial recognition technology.

The relationship with consumers here, however, is one-to-many, with the technology picking up trends in audience demographics.

“It will become the largest digital integrated out of home network in the world,” said Deeble. “The network is able to be day-parted and targeted, so for example we know the audience is majority female in the early afternoon.”

He added: “That means we can direct advertisers to the right audience at the right time with the right content. That equals ROI. There has never been this type of accountability tool in outdoor in this country.”

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