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Friday, June 14, 2024
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EditorialsUp Front 01/11

Up Front 01/11

The way that people behave in shops has been monitored by marketing experts for some time, and over the last ten years or so, similar monitoring has been used with great success to analyse how website visitors react when shopping online. Technology has also been tested to help high street shop owners direct customers to products that they may have more interest in. Recently a consortium of European researchers, using video monitoring to help with escalator safety, has found ways to use this technology for more commercial purposes. Surveillance cameras, used to detect situations such as accidents on escalators, could stream video to be analysed by computer software that determines what people stop to look at in shops. Knowing what has sparked their interest could allow shoppers to be directed to products they are more likely to buy. Decades ago I worked for a company that used an audio visual system to show in-store commercials to roaming shoppers. We used a ‘people sensor’ that automatically started the commercial when someone walked by. The first words were always ‘Hello there!’ It became monotonous for us but amused shoppers for a while and certainly confused quite a few small dogs and any other animals that might have passed by. How times have changed. Where once we were gently reminded or alerted by relatively low level advertising, these days we are influenced by product placement in films and TV and now manipulated by hidden surveillance cameras, and herded like robots into the sweetie corner. We might just as well give our money to the bank and let them spend it for us. But then that would just be silly …wouldn’t it?

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