Retailers cannot get into shopper minds, but they can study their behaviors. Who are they? What do they look at? What attracts their attention? These are the kinds of questions that marketing agencies want to know most about shoppers. Now, with newly developed intelligent surveillance systems, finding out critical information to develop effective marketing strategies is as easy as a mouse click.
According to Myra Cohen Doukhan, Marketing Manager of TruMedia Technology, in-store marketing and digital signage unlike traditional media such as newspapers, radio and television remained a largely unmeasured medium. Rapid growth in technology enables video surveillance to enter into different kinds of markets. Companies, such as Axis Communications, IntelliVid, ObjectVideo and TruMeida, provide products that cater to the needs of retailers and marketing agencies. Facilities such as department stores, shopping malls, supermarkets, banks and airports benefit the most from these innovative products.
Take TruMedia's iCapture. By using a high-resolution camera with wide dynamic range, iCapture can capture faces at long distances. The video images are then processed by an internal processor, which can execute real-time audience count and analyze attention spans and viewer demographics. Its functions enable marketing agencies and retailers to optimize the placement of displays for maximum exposure. With more than six years of development in homeland security, this newly developed technology detects and tracks viewers' faces to measure true visual exposure to the displayed advertisement or merchandise. Instead of viewing countless images on loaded hard drives, store managers or marketing agencies can see analyzed results directly in organized graphs, thus allowing quicker research and decision making. An added frill is that because the device only needs to store numbers and data, it consumes less storage space.
Similarly, IntelliVid's Video Investigator can also be considered for users who wish not only to know their customers' shopping behaviors but also to improve their loss prevention. Software such as IntelliVid's can be integrated into existing surveillance systems to allow users to track suspicious characters across multiple cameras, search assets in archive and analyze point-of-sale (POS) operations all on site or remotely.
"Our system is exceptional because it was developed specifically to address the unique challenges of retail," said Warren Brown, Senior Product Manager, Business Intelligence, IntelliVid. The software "watches" the video from surveillance cameras and stores a database of information about the activities of every person shown on camera. In-store or corporate managers can then access this stored data for the number of people who visit the store and the number of people who linger in front of a certain display, and in turn improve the efficiency of merchandise promotions and management with features like computer-aided tracking, intelligent searches, alerts and POS integration. Brown said the capabilities of this product were initially developed to support retail loss prevention; however, intelligence data are equally valuable for marketers, merchandisers and store operations executives.
REGULATIONS AND APPLICATIONS
Although retailers and marketing agencies are happy with this new tool, many consumers feel uncomfortable knowing their shopping behaviors are being recorded and analyzed. Luckily, privacy has not been an issue for IntelliVid, Brown said: "While rules and regulations vary state by state, there have been no privacy or other regulatory concerns for IntelliVid."
Doukhan echoed by saying that TruMedia is "fully respectful of the audience's privacy" and does not record or collect any personally identifiable information, video or still images. Doukhan also mentioned that TruMedia is currently working closely with the Out-of-home Video Advertising Bureau to help develop a comprehensive set of standards that address both methodology and metrics for the out-of-home measurement industry. "Within those standards, there will come a quality control element that every vendor and advertising agency must agree to in order to use our products and services," said Doukhan. "This will allow our industry to grow and provide responsible currency measurement of out-of-home media without compromising the important principals of privacy in our society."
Just recently, IntelliVid was acquired by American Dynamics, a technology brand of Tyco International. "This acquisition provides IntelliVid with a broader range of customers on a global scale," said Brown. "The digital display market is growing rapidly. Audience measurement is key to determining ROI (return on investment) and motivating advertisers to keep on investing, but there is more to audience measurement than just audience size, behavior and demographics," said Doukhan.
The purpose of marketing research is to know in advance how to advertise products to the right group of people, and advanced marketing tools can materialize that ideal. "Proactive advertising is the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. This is the future of advertising," said Doukhan. In the near future, product advertisements will be tailor-made to fit consumers' specific needs and interests more precisely. With the help from new surveillance technology, resources earmarked for advertisements will be utilized more effectively.