Eye tracking technology in OOH

How Eye-tracking and Face Detection technology is tackling accountability in Out of Home

Eye-tracking and face detection technology has been around for a while, but is now being used more overtly in some Out of Home platforms, as the industry ramps up its focus on accountability and smarter planning. The latest launch from video network C-Screens, follows Amscreen’s OptimEyes technology and individual uses by other media owners in more isolated innovation campaigns. Others are using data to monitor contacts to supplement or contrast with Route data. In any case, we can now evaluate real (and real-time) contact levels, including dwell times, gender, age and expression metrics.

At Talon, we welcome the use of technology in driving greater accountability to Out of Home. We are using the data to drive smarter planning, in addition to other key sources, including mobile data, Route and other sources. Whilst it’s been suggested that eye-tracking can become a viable metric or currency across the whole Out of Home environment, this is unlikely to materialise for many reasons rooted in practicality.

Such technology will however offer greater accountability to screens in some environments (particularly where we lack a Route measure) and enable a step towards greater trading flexibility where consistent measures exist. A lack of scalable and full-campaign availability means we cannot just rely on such data to the exclusion of robust, media-approved metrics; however we welcome the chance to fully embrace more accountable data and the insights it brings to drive smarter planning and greater client confidence around the ability of the medium to reach large, segmented audiences.

The use of eye-tracking is now prevalent in many areas of media and research and like a number of measures (from neuroscience to click-through) is a wholly viable way of measuring consumption and driving accountability. The Out of Home market has numerous examples of employing real-time eye tracking and face detection data and the industry is moving towards using the data more widely and adding to our understanding of volumes, profile and minute-by-minute patterns of viewing consumption.

But the technique will not become a currency in the short term. Many of the new media owner investments in panels – particularly in digital – have camera technology embedded; but this does not extend to the entire estates of media owners, and validation across pedestrian and vehicular audiences for the all OOH inventory has its own problems of consistency.

What does exist is providing us with a valuable insight into patterns of consumption, demographics and dwell time. Talon is working directly with a few media owners to analyse the more dynamic data this gives us and some clients have worked directly with this data for single or groups of panels to track and validate engagement.

Examples of this data exist across Amscreen’s sizeable forecourt network, where they are using their OptimEyes technology as a trading mechanism to offer fully flexible and accountable screen impacts. Advertisers can buy actual and real-time audience impacts with confidence. The data shows sufficient and robust variation by location, daypart, day of week and around events that stimulate a wholly dynamic interaction with audiences that Out of Home delivers. Ocean Outdoor has used camera technology to measure its audiences at Eat Street in Westfield London. Clear Channel has also used the data at its bus shelter environments to track attention, as well as serving gender-based messaging; a real opportunity for advertisers to deliver smart, efficient and head-turning communication.

In the more complex area of roadside advertising, a number of media owners are looking at using camera technology. Ocean and JCDecaux have used camera technology to identify specific vehicles and serve messaging accordingly; in terms of counting cars and applying a metric, this is more complex, but is being looked at by some of the big roadside players.

There are additional synergies with what JCDecaux has brought to the market through its Smartscreen digital initiative at Tesco, where sales data has been assimilated into the planning process, offering a real-time data-led opportunity to adjust impacts around times when people are most likely to shop the brand and category.

Let’s also not forget we have our Route data that includes a very accountable and highly measured metric for a contact; visibility research has used eye-tracking to gauge probabilities of audience engagement across different formats and imposes a robust netting factor that makes Route amongst the most accountable audience measures.

In addition to this, we are able to work in tandem with advertisers to target integrated OOH and mobile messaging and to identify the real location of planning audiences through our direct access to smartphone data that unlocks location and real behaviour. This smarter planning approach is giving us more accountability and greater efficiency in reaching audiences, realising real results in how we can affect the delivery of optimised advertiser impacts.

Smarter data is rally adding to smarter planning. This is already realising a demonstrable difference in how we reach people by location. Out of Home has become a more accountable option to reach audiences in the relevant place. Route data is just one example of how we can highlight and position the efficiency of reaching key audiences; e.g. 15-34s which over-deliver impacts by 15% relative to all adults.

But we are in an era of technology empowerment and data accountability. The use of eye tracking will open up a clearer understanding of how people are consuming Out of Home communication. Combined with smartphone data, allowing for more dynamic granularity around location, and measurable coverage and frequency metrics across formats from Route, more direct data is a welcome step towards smarter planning and demonstrating accountability to ensure greater confidence among advertisers that they can reach and engage large and relevant audiences.