Smile, Tesco Big Brother is watching you queue – to cue tailored ads ( Facial Recognition )

Chris Stevenson

Sunday 03 November 2013


Customers at Tesco now face the prospect of having their faces scanned while they queue for the till as the supermarket tries to better target advertising towards customers.

The system, developed by Amscreen, a division of Sir Alan Sugar’s company run by his son, Simon Sugar, involves screens being placed at the tills of all of Tesco’s 450 petrol stations. Each includes an in-built camera which will use face-detection technology to calculate the age and sex of those queuing plus the location and time – as well as monitoring the customer’s purchases.

It opens up the possibility for the retailer to run tailored adverts, for example by promoting women’s magazines if it detects women in the queue, or coffee for the morning rush. Tesco and the company, who have signed a five-year deal, estimate the “OptimEyes” system, which will run ads up to 10 seconds on a 100-second loop, could reach up to five million people.

Mr Sugar told The Grocer that while it sounded like something from a sci-fi film, he was looking at rolling out the system to a number of supermarkets. “Yes, it’s like something out of Minority Report,” he said, “but this could change the face of British retail.” He added that customers should not be worried about their privacy when the system was in use.–to-cue-tailored-ads-8919781.html


Okinawa cancels plan to use young women’s thighs as advertising space

National Feb. 03, 2013 – 06:48AM JST

Okinawa cancels plan to use young women’s thighs as advertising space


The Okinawa Convention and Visitors Bureau (OCVB) along with the prefectural government have cancelled their plans to use space on women’s bare thighs for marketing the islands as a graduation trip destination to students outside the prefecture. Citing criticism, the two bodies stated, “Placing temporary tattoo-like stickers on the thighs of young women to advertise Okinawa is not in line with prefecture’s brand image.”

With “thigh advertising,” a new method of marketing gaining traction in Japan, young ladies wearing miniskirts or short shorts parade around town with promotional stickers placed on the area of exposed thigh showing between their skirt or short hem lines and knee socks — an area known in Japanese as “zettai ryoiki” or the “absolute territory”.

After the prefecture’s intentions were reported by the local Okinawa Times, government offices received numerous complaints criticizing the plan as “undignified” and “not an appropriate use of taxpayer money.” The prefecture followed up by instructing the contractor to find another approach.

When asked for a further explanation regarding the project’s cancellation, the prefecture’s tourism promotion section replied, “Though we believe it would prove to be instantaneously effective in marketing to young people, when looking at the image of the prefecture as a whole, the demerits are considerable.” The OCVB said, “As funding is coming from national government coffers, we decided it was not worth fighting those opposed.”

The OCVB was commissioned by the prefectural government to carry out part of a promotional project for spring tourism and was using lump sum subsidies provided to the prefecture by the national government. Part of the plan presented by the winning advertising agency included “thigh advertising.” A screening board consisting of four management-level personnel from the OCVB and prefectural government asked questions concerning what type of companies had employed this type of advertising to date, however, they failed to debate the pros and cons of implementing such a method.

We can imagine the brains of the screening board members were more than likely short-circuiting after viewing PowerPoint images provided by the advertising agency, and hey, as Japan’s continuing slide down the slippery slope of insolvency shows, bureaucrats here are very capable of coming up with novel ways of spending the taxpayers’ yen.

Source: Okinawa Times

Google starts watching what you do off the Internet too

Published: 20 December, 2012, 22:24 Edited: 20 December, 2012, 22:24


The most powerful company on the Internet just got a whole lot creepier: a new service from Google merges offline consumer info with online intelligence, allowing advertisers to target users based on what they do at the keyboard and at the mall.

Without much fanfare, Google announced news this week of a new advertising project, Conversions API, that will let businesses build all-encompassing user profiles based off of not just what users search for on the Web, but what they purchase outside of the home.

In a blog post this week on Google’s DoubleClick Search site, the Silicon Valley giant says that targeting consumers based off online information only allows advertisers to learn so much. “Conversions,” tech-speak for the digital metric made by every action a user makes online, are incomplete until coupled with real life data, Google says.

“We understand that online advertising also fuels offline conversions,” the blog post reads. Thus, Google says, “To capture these lost conversions and bring offline into your online world, we’re announcing the open beta of our Conversions API for uploading offline conversion automatically.”

The blog goes on to explain that in-store transactions, call-tracking and other online activities can be inputted into Google to be combined with other information “to optimize your campaigns based on even more of your business data.”

Google is all but certain to ensure that all user data collected off- and online will be cloaked through safeguards that will allow for complete and total anonymity for customers. When on-the-Web interactions start mirroring real life activity, though, even a certain degree of privacy doesn’t make Conversions API any less creepy. As Jim Edwards writes for Business Insider, “If you bought a T shirt at The Gap in the mall with your credit card, you could start seeing a lot more Gap ads online later, suggesting jeans that go with that shirt.”

Of course, there is always the possibility that all of this information can be unencrypted and, in some cases, obtained by third-parties that you might not want prying into your personal business. Edwards notes in his report that Google does not explicitly note that intelligence used in Conversions API will be anonymized, but the blowback from not doing as much would sure be enough to start a colossal uproar. Meanwhile, however, all of the information being collected by Google — estimated to be on millions of servers around the globe — is being handed over to more than just advertising companies. Last month Google reported that the US government requested personal information from roughly 8,000 individual users during just the first few months of 2012.

“This is the sixth time we’ve released this data, and one trend has become clear: Government surveillance is on the rise,” Google admitted with their report.


More dodgy stats misleading the child protection debate

Last month we detailedhow one of the key statistics being relied upon by campaigners calling for ‘default blocking’ of some internet content was based upon one very dubious survey in a single school.

This kind of deliberately misleading scaremongering undermines the discussion about how best to protect children, and now it’s clear that commercial pressures are also leading to dodgy stats being pushed into the debate.

This week, the Advertising Standards Authority has rebuked Carphone Warehouse for it’s marketing of a service we’ve previously been very critical of, Bemilo. The service hit the headlines for it’s feature that allowed parents to read the text messages of children, prompted by our warning that parenting is not spying.


Four claims made in advertisements were challenged, relating to how children use mobile phones and the effects it has.

1. “33% are sleep deprived”;

2. “1 in 10 receive bullying texts or calls”;

3. “25% of children call or text in a class during school”; and

4. “33% spend up to 5 hours a day browsing the web on their phone”.


When the ASA investigated the claims, it found that the first three points the advertisement breached CAP Code (Edition 12) rules 3.1 (Misleading advertising) and 3.7 (Substantiation).

On the fourth point the ASA found it breached CAP Code (Edition 12) rules 3.1 (Misleading advertising).

In other words four key statistical claims in the advertisement were misleading, and three of them could not be properly substantiated.


Carphone Warehouse has been told not to run the advert again, and we hope that this will once again demonstrate how the child protection debate is being driven by vested interests whose primary concern is not the protection of children.