New Sophisticated Profiling – Friend or Foe?

smile copyA recent article in the Times, ‘Smile, the advertisers are watching’ explores a new software developed to scan an individual’s photographs shared across social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Pintrest and Tumblr to gauge a profile of a person’s buying habits to determine tailored adverts that will appeal to the profile being analysed.


From a marketing perspective – the idea seems genius – unleashing massive profiling potential that will appeal to big brands and deliver highly targeted marketing.


From a personal perspective – the concept itself seems intrusive – and frankly an invasion of privacy of an individual’s personal records.


So, where do the boundaries lie? It is not illegal to carry out such practice, but is it morally right that companies should be accessing our personal photos?


Photos are sentimental to people, whether they be of family, nights out, Christmas times and other special occasions and the thought of companies scanning personal sentiments may seem a little seedy.


Big American brands have naturally already shown a very keen interest in the new software which analyses facial expressions, clothing brands and the location in which the photograph was taken. From using the software they can carry out highly targeted campaigns, as opposed to a scatter gun approach.


The article features a great example of how the software can be used, which is explained by David Rose, the Chief Executive of Ditto Labs, the US company behind such software. He goes on to suggest a company such as Manchester United can use the software to bring in a new sponsor. Analysing their fans clothing, understanding what brands they are into, will create insightful data into which sponsors to approach.


The theory behind such software is flawless and can create significant value to companies adopting such a targeted approach. It will, however, be interesting to see how the general public will react to their personal life being further invaded by advertisers and marketeers.