Tuesday, June 17, 2008

TruMedia's promise: we'll never record, share face data

TruMedia and their competition took it on the chin two weeks ago when a NYT article noted the rise of tracking technologies to give out-of-home advertising companies an idea of who's actually looking at their static billboards and electronic signs. Given that the story's slant was pretty negative, and the host of publications that picked up on the story afterwards were undoubtedly so, one of the chief villains of the original piece - TruMedia - took it upon themselves to explain to the world that current-generation tracking technology is probably less invasive than lots of things that pedestrians in the average city already do every day.

Specifically, they noted that they don't record actual video, they have no way of identifying that an individual that walks past on day #1 is the same guy who walks past on day #2, and that they'd never share or store clients' data.

On the one hand, TruMedia did the right thing by trying to confront the problem head-on. Not a lot of people are familiar with today's tracking technologies, even inside the digital signage industry. So when the average joe writer at the Times got wind of this "story," it was not exactly surprising for him to completely blow it out of proportion. However, I'll say one thing: I've seen TruMedia's pitch a number of times, both at conferences and in my office. It's compelling. It's interesting. But it shows a video of a bunch of people looking at a camera, and that makes it confusing. Every time they show a "demo" of their wares, I can see my face, or the faces of prerecorded folks, up on the screen. Perhaps they need to think of a way to better demonstrate their capabilities without giving the uninformed such a thing to latch on to. After all, it's awfully hard to say "we don't store video" while showing stored video.

Yeah, you and I may know it was done expressly for the demonstration, and they had everybody's permission in that case, but companies like TruMedia would be better off never having to try and explain that after the fact.

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1 comment:

Unknown said...

Hi Bill,

You are most definitely correct. All prerecorded video demonstrations are of TruMedia employees who volunteered to demonstrate the system's tracking capabilities (if you look really closely you'll even see me :-)). As for our live demonstrations, even though you can see your face on the screen being tracked, we don't record the images so I can't go back and look at it later. You are right however, about how it might get a bit confusing and we will definitely look into how to better demonstrate audience measurement without giving the wrong impression (pun intended).

Marketing Manager, TruMedia