Marketers love technology for its ability to create excitement and make people feel part of something innovative. AR and VR have contributed to some of the most creative and intriguing campaigns which have made people feel engaged in the experience and part of a future-infused world.
Computer vision is not just another cool toy which can create amazing moments and turn regular people into brand ambassadors through astonishment, but a way to revolutionize the way we interact with computers. It will replace text search with camera search and keywords will turn into key images. Computer vision consultants from InData Labs are confident that voice search and image search will soon replace text search and filters.
Marketers need to take a closer look at user experience, the way they create emotion and measure it, always being aware of the current limitations of the technology.
Tech tools should help marketers answer age-old questions like Who are my customers? What do they want? What would they pay a premium for? What motivates them? These are the same things marketing departments would study a few decades ago using mystery shopping or in-store observations. Computer vision provides smart tools that use Big Data algorithms to enhance the company’s knowledge about their clients. These have the advantage of working almost in real-time.
Connecting the CCTV system from a shop to an analysis platform can offer valuable insights into the demographics of shoppers. It could also count people by using fast object identification. By looking at information about gender and estimated age and correlating these with the moment of the visit, retailers could develop customized selling strategies.
Another critical dimension is understanding their behavior in the confined environment of the shop. By looking at footprint heatmaps, managers could identify bottlenecks in the flow through the store, key items which are considered more attractive or even the best places to display products for maximum exposure.
Designing User Experiences
After understanding the mindset and desires of their customers, marketers have the right information to design excellent experiences. Computer vision can also help with this step by providing the framework to create frictionless shopping.
One of the ways to sell more is to minimize all the customer’s pain points. These include selecting the right item for their needs, navigating through the aisles or the website and payment.
Amazon has understood this and is continuously refining ways to make clients happier. They were the first to introduce the one-click checkout online and now, through their brick-and-mortar Amazon Go they are taking this idea offline. By attaching RFID to each item and spreading sensors throughout the shop, the client can just pick what they need and leave the shop confidently. They will be charged accordingly. Other retailers have followed Amazon’s idea of minimizing pain points and through AR let clients create a realistic avatar which can then try on any of their clothes conveniently.
Marketing is all about managing emotions and using them to make customers more attached to the brand. The way we interact with brands can make us feel more connected, and some of the most innovative technologies, especially the immersive ones, have the power to convert fans into buyers.
Augmented reality and virtual reality represent safe ways to get different sensations and to explore otherwise costly or dangerous experiences. What if your brand could put the client on top of Mount Everest without them leaving the mall? Inspired by this idea, North Face has already created some 360 experiences which make potential clients want to be like the hero from the short films.
Most people are possessive creatures and encouraging them to have the emotion that they already own something could be the fastest route to make them buy the item. This is what Ikea did when they launched their app which lets you replicate your room and fill it with Ikea furniture until you are happy with the final look. Most likely you will be more inclined to make a purchase once you see the final result.
A good lesson for marketers is to understand that computer vision is not only a great toy, it can also serve as an in-depth analytics tool. The difference, when compared to existing options, is that it captures unfiltered reactions in real time. For example, a camera on top of a publicity panel can record the facial expressions of the people looking at the commercials. Later, these could be used in a sentiment analysis algorithm which can determine if the ad was successful or not.
Another way marketers could make the most out of computer vision as an analysis tool is to scan social media accounts for references to their brand. Right now, this can be done via tags or hashtags on some platforms, but not all people take the time to tag the brands which appear in the photos they upload. Just imagine if you could add a new layer to your targeting and serve ads to the people already interested in your brands.
The same technology can be used to assess the visibility of paid advertising and evaluate if the company receives the right value for the money they are spending. For example, if you sponsor a sports team, you can determine where your logo should be placed on the players’ shirts for maximum impact.
Limitations of Technology
Although computer vision can boost retail by offering marketers the right tools to get into the mind of the clients, create better experiences and generate strong emotions, there are some limitations to be acknowledged. These include the fact that object recognition algorithms are not entirely flawless. In fact, most of them still struggle with simple questions like “dog or food”. The good news is that with each training round the accuracy improves and the algorithm becomes more trustworthy.
The bottom line is that marketers need to see computer vision as a tool which offers them the ability to perform real-time analysis, generate emotion and design seamless experiences.