The Target Audience of One

In 2010, Unilever ran a campaign called Share Happy. It was an ice-cream vending machine that prompted consumers to smile onto a screen before they were dispensed the goods. Facial recognition technology made it all possible.
Since that time, Facebook has startled users with its intuitive ability to tag photos for them, and marketers have published speculations as to where this will leave us in the next few years. Associate professor Brian Mennecke at Iowa State University predicts that marketers will use what he calls “mavatars,” or marketing avatars that are a representation of the consumer standing before the screen.
Recognition could be as simple as guessing your age by measuring the length of your nose or distance between your eyes to complexly identifying who you are with information from Facebook, Google and other social media. It then takes layers of the consumer’s identity and produces a personal ad experience for the 35 year old female pet lover who is no longer the girl walking into the store.
Digital displays at the Venetian hotel in Las Vegas already tailor dinner and entertainment suggestions to passersby and entrepreneurs at SceneTap have set up a system that identifies the ages of patrons and male to female ratio at clubs and bars. Lager companies like Kraft and Adidas are also in the works of using face recognition for advertising and coupon customization.
Obviously the biggest concern here is privacy, which can drive this out of control. How far do you think marketers should go to drill into their target audience?
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