Creepin On Your Eyeballs

Funny things happen when you are wandering around a conference center at 10:00pm the night before SXSW: bat encounters, security alarm activations, and backstage tours (to name a few). You also stumble upon some cool tech displays in the process of being set up. One in particular that stood out was the Pepsi sponsored Immersive Labs Adaptive Advertising screen.

This screen uses a webcam to track the a person’s viewing habits in front of existing digital signage and then measure the relevancy of the ad that is displayed, and yall: IT IS SO COOL. My SXSW counterpart, Jocelyn, and I probably spent fifteen minutes in front of this screen alone, mesmerized by the real time metrics onscreen. As you approach it, the camera automatically finds your head and calculates your age and gender, and then serves up ads in the top right corner that will be relevant to your demographic. Then, it tracks your eye movements to see how many times you look at the ad and how long you focus on it.

I realize this method of measurement is not groundbreaking or innovative: billboard companies use the “eyes on” measurement, websites can use eye-tracking for banner ads, etc. However, this software makes it scaleable so individuals (retailers, QSRs, trade show booths, mobile tours, whoever!) already using digital displays can add a webcam and this software and tailor their displays to the consumer in real time.

This particular display was measuring pretty standard categories: eye movement, age, and gender, but I wonder if similar technology could capture other attributes and serve ads accordingly. Could it evaluate dress style and give someone in a suit a different display than someone in jorts and a tank? How about looking to see responses to ads: did the person show signs of happiness or anger upon viewing the display? In an experiential environment, could you connect an RFID reader to collect even more detailed info tied to the metrics you are collecting from the webcam?

As a experiential/digital producer, this kind of technology and the potential to create awesome consumer interactions really excites me, and I can’t wait to see what else I find at SXSW this year!

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