While most billboards are static, or at least programmed, Mini bought electronic billboards in London that projected special messages to drivers. The ads were activated by human roadside spotters with iPads, and offered compliments to Mini drivers, took photos of them in their cars, and displayed them further on down the road. As well, the spotters often provided gifts, treats, car washes, and other incentives after instructing Mini uses to pull over at the next exit. The billboards are part of a “not normal” campaign, which aims to make Mini drivers feel like part of an exclusive clique. Mini has aimed for similar goals before: in 2007 the company used RFID chips to let drivers identify themselves in billboards around the world.
In a very public move to bring facial recognition technology to the fore, Amscreen, a European outdoor advertising firm, is debuting ads using face detection this week. Called OptimEyes, the technology will let advertisers know how many people are viewing the ads – in addition to their rough age and gender. The goal is to use the technology to let advertisers see the results of their advertising spending, which has proved difficult offline. The technology will ultimately allow advertisers to tailor ads specifically to certain audiences as they walk by – though public privacy concerns still abound about the extend to which this technology records, stores, and shares data.