The Future of PR… Facial Recognition?

Facial recognition software has been a facet in science fiction stories and television for decades. The truth is, though, real, honest-to-goodness facial recognition software has been used for social, security and creative reasons for over ten years now.

Marketers are now getting into the game when it comes to the clever use of this technology. As the future of PR marches down the technological road ask yourself the question – could facial recognition become part of your marketing mix? How could it be used in PR campaigns of the future? Too Minority Report for you? Think again…

Facial recognition is no longer the stuff of fiction, but a technology woven into our everyday lives. Take Facebook for example; facial recognition a key behind the automatic picture tags applied to every photograph loaded onto the site.

Recognition and Familiarity

Empirical studies have shown that when faced with too many choices, buyers will naturally gravitate to familiar sources. This naturally human instinct can be leveraged with the use of some high tech facial recognition technology for successful marketing results.

Consider some such possibilities:

  • Logging into social platforms through facial recognition rather than usernames and passwords – just a glance through the camera in your PC or mobile device and you can automatically have access to Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn.
  • Through retail outlet facial recognition, every time a recognized customer enters the location, a specially designed coupon or offer can be sent to their mobile device for instant use.
  • Televisions can be outfitted with facial recognition technology so that when individual family members turn on the tube, the TV would create a play list based on their preferences and viewing history.
  • Video gamers can log in by just facial recognition and start gaming spontaneously – game manufacturers can incorporate advertising into the game platform geared to each users unique profile.
  • Logging onto such sites as Digg or Stumble Upon, facial recognition would provide users with a personalized list of news items, products or websites that reflect their interests.

“Don’t Forget Your Coffee!”

Does it seem to far-fetched to conceive of a day when upon entering a grocery store, shoppers can receive a personalized shopping list via their mobile device based on regular shopping habits? Specific products can be targeted with reminders – e.g., “Don’t forget your coffee!”

While there is healthy debate over the ethics of facial recognition, and I’m sure some people would have privacy concerns, it’s clear that the marketing implications offer myriad of campaign possibilities. Imagine if every time a user logged on to the net, facial recognition delivers press releases and digital content specifically geared toward them based on their behavior patterns and established “likes”.

The irony of this technology is that as sophisticated as it may be, it plays to the basic elements of human behavior. We are social animals who crave attention and inclusion and the very first thing we do to interpret how we’ll fit in social situations is to search other peoples’ faces.

The everyday application of this biometric may be a while off but the theory behind it is key in today’s marketing efforts – help buyers develop a personal relationship with your brand and you’re bound to increase results. How do you feel about the idea of facial recognition? Let us know in a comment.

What do you think? Is facial recognition a good idea? Do you see the potential for its uses in marketing and public relations campaigns?

About Stacey Acevero

Stacey is the social media community manager of PRWeb. In this role, she engages the online community through PRWeb social channels such as Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn daily with articles and conversation about PR, small businesses, SEO, social media and more. She is all about creative social media marketing ideas as well as building the PRWeb brand. Stacey also pens of some of PRWeb’s case studies. An early adopter of social media, Stacey was news-on-demand project manager and a 4-year veteran of our Vocus media research center before joining our marketing team. She attended the University of Maryland at College Park, majoring in communication. In her spare time, she has managed her own modeling career entirely through social media, launching her own marketing campaigns and landing herself in publications nationwide.


  1. There’s a potential in retail marketing, no question. But logging into social networks and other private stuff by showing my face? Meaning anyone who downloads and prints my picture can do the same? Think again. I didn’t even use the fingerprint scanner on my thinkpad because it can’t beat my good old password when it comes to security.

    Where I as a PR professional always wanted face recognition is networking events and talks. Glasses with a pin camera and a display enabling me to instantly say “Hey Mike, what’s up? I read on your Facebook you’re working on XYZ at the moment?” – Great! At least for about 12 months. As soon as everybody uses it, this kind of recognition might degrade like birthday congratulations already did in times of a dozen reminders.

  2. Wow! This is truly interesting stuff. Most people think of this technology and worry more about the social affects of it when it comes to national security. But marketing it so that now we can be even lazier users and still be involved is truly amazing to me. I am not huge on lots of thing in my face 244/7 but I do like the grocery store idea the best to be honest. As a mom it really would be beneficial to leave my list at home and just go to the store where I am prompted on what I usually get.

    I do like Till’s comment about the security issue of a printed picture. I wonder how that may work for accessing online information. Again from the lazy side of technology it becomes tedious to retype my password every time. However, I do see the print out being an issue.

    Ultimately I agree this tech could lead very far into the future, with new ways of using it for yourself, company, and security that would take away a lot of extra button clicks.

  3. This blog post interested me because in my night class on Monday, we were literally just talking about the future and facial recongition and one of my classmates actually gave the example of facial recongition at the food store. She gave the example of when you enter the food store, an automatic list pops up somewhere giving the individual a list of the items that he or she normally buys. A majority of my class agreed that we would be very creeped out if this were to come true. But I am sure it will within the next 50 years and probably less then that, which is scary.

  4. I really like the idea of a camera in my glasses though. I teach a college class and if I could use that to see what those kids said about me on social sites that would be hilarious.

    I think with all things social it easily become over bearing and depersonalized the more “personalized” they make it. It’s obvious to us all when things are done by a computer versus a person. I know my masters PR teacher talks about being the person who follows all her networks and posts. I think that can make a difference in the world of continued replication. Any page can be “personal” but we all know that nothing we think of hasn’t been done before. Expect maybe social networking!

  5. I think that facial recognition is invading the privacy of people. Personally I think it makes me feel very overexposed. As an up and coming PR professional I put myself out there in the online industry as do many other people and am already feeling like I have exposed too much of myself to the world. As a society I think that many people live and breathe social networking and that there are so many other things to do with your life. Facial recognition is just another way to expose you to the world and give out yet more information. For the majority of the history of our earth no one had internet and this technology and now people can’t function without it.

  6. This post definitely gives some real food for thought. While some of the things that you mentioned that could be done with facial recognition sound extremely cool, I have to wonder if it is too “big brother”. I feel with the explosion of social networks and other social media platforms people and their information are more available than ever to a greater number of people. While it would be great to personalize a person’s retail experience, would this take out some of the engagement of social media?

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