Advertisers have long been using the powers of social media to determine a target audience on whom to focus their campaign. The data generated via this method is undoubtedly beneficial, but consumers are bombarded with advertising material especially in the run up to Christmas and many feel frustrated by the influx of irrelevant and impersonal emails that they receive. Marketers must gain a real understanding of their audience’s interests to ensure that they receive tailored and meaningful messages. Facebook’s algorithmic change this year means persistent branded content is no longer acceptable and it is user generated content that is now welcomed. Some exciting advances in digital technology are set to revolutionise the advertising strategy for many companies in the coming year.
People today love taking photos on their phones and those pictures can tell us a great deal about a person’s lifestyle. Ofri Ben-Porat is the Co – Founder and Chief Executive of an Israeli and London based start-up company, Pixoneye, which aims to gather important customer insights by scanning the photo gallery on their smartphone. Ben-Porat says that the photos people take reveal more about them than anything else and he believes that a phone is an extension of one’s self.

Resources are limited and more than ever before companies are seeking to ensure an effective and efficient use of their marketing budget. By delving deeper and looking at a person’s photos, it is possible for marketers to gain a real insight into their interests and more accurately pinpoint a company’s key target audience. This, coupled with brand data, can be utilised to fully engage existing customers and attract new consumers.
A recent article by Mark Ward, a technology correspondent for the BBC, highlighted how current digital analysis based on age, gender, location and browsing data can often produce spurious target audience information. As an example, existing techniques would interpret the Prince of Wales and Ozzy Osbourne as similar individuals as both men are the same age, married, self-employed, spend a large amount of time in London and enjoy international travel. However, the lifestyle and interests of these two men are poles apart and whereas one advert could be relevant for one of them it could have little significance for the other. This is where this innovative technology is expected to make a real difference.

Pixoneye offers picture-perfect solutions that takes targeting to a far greater depth. Over 150 characteristics can be derived from a user’s photo that can extend to their sense of fashion style, holiday destination preference and even level of income. Pixoneye purports that the insights gleaned from photos are far more reliable than those generated from social media. Ben-Porat says that ‘out of a gallery of 1,200 photos, the user maybe uploads 1% to social media to keep the façade alive’. Pixoneye is working closely with app developers to understand how the data from photo analysis can be used to refine adverts so that they appeal to a specific target audience. It is hoped that a more directed advertising approach will be possible and as such, offers and email campaigns can be tailored and altered depending on the end user.

What other innovative digital marketing strategies can we expect to see? Smart home marketing will likely play an important part during 2017. Smart home technology has already entered the market this year with the introduction of Amazon Echo and Google Home but this innovation is expected to develop significantly as will the associated marketing techniques. Being able to make your morning coffee whilst still in bed or putting your lights on whilst you are on your way home is currently possible, but one day a ‘home’ should be able to differentiate between family members and guests using a person’s heartbeat, their body and fingerprints. This will open a whole new marketing opportunity for businesses, for example where smart technology may recommend product brands in response to a user’s question, such as how to remove lime scale from their shower.

Both innovations naturally raise privacy protection concerns. Just as one’s photos are considered their personal property, their home is considered their private space and users will understandably find an invasion of that space unacceptable. Ben-Ofrat ascertains that Pixoneye totally respects an individual’s privacy given that the actual photo is never seen or stored by the business. The processing ignores an object or a face and rather focuses on the angles, textures and colours in the photos and it is reassuring to know that the data remains within the app rather than being passed on to third parties. Developers of smart home technology no doubt understand the importance of maintaining a person’s privacy especially within their home. These are only two examples of advances in digital technology that we expect to see during 2017 and it will be exciting to see what else the year brings.