Hi-Tech Marketing Faces Privacy Requirements In Japan
New facial-recognition technology created by NEC is currently being tested in Japan: interactive billboards equipped with hidden cameras that determine the gender and age group of people who pass in front of them. The goal is to display advertisements that are tailored to each individual, so that they are better suited to their interests.
So far, 11 railway companies have launched a one-year pilot project, and set up 27 of the high-tech advertising displays in subway commuter stations around Tokyo. Each billboard includes a built-in camera and flat-panel monitor. Information about age and gender is sent to an internal computer that picks an advertisement to display. The longer a person stands in front of the sign’s camera, the more accurate the choice. No information about individuals is stored, only generic statistics about age and gender.
Behind the News:
Given the high level of Internet penetration and long-standing familiarity with mobile Internet, interactive marketing technology is nothing new in Japan. But local privacy requirements are also higher than in most other markets. For instance Mixi, the local equivalent of Facebook, does not have a “wall-to-wall” function. Hi-tech individualized outdoor advertising can only be successful if it is clear that personal data is not captured.