Apr 112012
Authors: Lydia Jorden

While driving down the street, you are instantly startled by a billboard depicting a meth addict. Next to the text, “Meth Project,” you recognize those red eyes as yours, that sparse hair as a full head you once had and those freckles on your grey skin confirm that this is indeed you.

You speed up to get as far away from the disturbing image as possible while writing it off as simply someone who has the same features.

As you take the next exit, there is a Calvin Klein ad with an attractive male and female physique. You begin to fantasize about running on the beach in a “Baywatch” style manner, and continue to look up at the face staring down at you while driving. Upon looking up, you realize that the fantasy is real as this is certainly your face on the model’s body.

No, you haven’t completely lost it — this is the result of advertisers utilizing various technological advancements, including Autodesk 123D Catch, that use technology to transform a photo simply to 3-D matter.

This type of facial recognition may soon be mainstream in the near future. Technological advancements constantly enable advertisers to go above and beyond to have influence in a person’s life.

This means that those days of longing to experience yourself in an ad are long gone. Advertisers want to make the transition to buying, using or experiencing a new product as easy as possible so it is no longer necessary to picture yourself in an ad — just have technology do it for you.

Privacy issues are a huge concern among consumers regarding this type of tracking, but this type of technology is not as far off from our everyday advertising as you may think.

Tracking cookies, for example, gives advertisers a glimpse into an Internet user’s surfing tendencies. It can be looked at as mildly intrusive, or it can be looked at as attentive, ensuring that the user is presented with relevant material that adheres to that individual’s lifestyle.
If you don’t live under a rock, you’re going to be advertised to — isn’t it better that the material is related to you?

People seem to complain about the need to disable cookies, etc., but advertisements will always be present. This type of technology will make life easier because instead of finding competitors on your own to figure out whom you want to purchase a product from, the product will be directly presented to you.

Facial recognition, on the other hand, already exists in advertising. Billboards can detect facial features to identify women from men and alter their ad accordingly, but you don’t know it. Showing the face of the viewer is simply going one step further.

In the same light as tracking Internet user’s cookies rather than looking at this new technology as disturbing, take a different stance. While browsing in the mall, you no longer need to try on that suit because the advertisement already tries it on for you.

Can’t figure out whether to bundle up for Alaska or pack the swim suit for Hawaii? At least now you can literally see yourself experiencing both places.

The technology creates a more efficient way for advertisers to meet the needs of the consumer while eliminating any work of the end user.

Different forms of advertising are appearing everywhere. Advertisers are now going so far as to advertise on Facebook user’s actual walls. This new type of innovation is becoming more and more mainstream and soon the facial recognition technology will be replaced with something so advanced that this type of advertising will seem outdated.

I’ll be able to virtually experience what I will look like in an ad to figure out whether I want to invest my time in a certain product, that’s what I want, and that will make my searches more efficient.

Whatever your thoughts, cool or creepy, keep an eye out on that cereal box you pick up. You may just be the face on it.

Advertisers need to place their audience in a situation to be able to effectively advertise, and although I may not have that model’s body in the billboard model ad, I can sure think about what it would be like… or just look up the next time I’m driving.

Lydia Jorden is a junior business major. Her column runs Thursdays in the Collegian. She can be reached at letters@collegian.com.

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