Amnesty International’s bus stop ad is a great example of how interactivity and eyeball-aware ads can be used to engage viewers and add another level of meaning to the overall message. The ad is for a campaign that aims to bring awareness to the problem of domestic violence, and uses a small camera to detect faces. When no one is looking, the screen shows a man abusing his wife. When the camera detects a face, the ad waits a few seconds for the message to sink in, and then the couple stops fighting and does their best to look normal. It’s a subtle message, but definitely drives home their tagline, “It Happens When Nobody Is Watching.”
It’s easy to see why an ad like this would be effective. Usually, when a viewer looks at an ad, they may only see the message for a few moments before looking away. However, with an interactive ad that responds to the viewer’s gaze, they’re more likely to look longer to see what will happen. Thus, views last longer, and the message has more time to sink in. (It’s important to note that video ads for the sake of movement is not what we’re talking about here. The movement needs to be a part of the message to really be effective at enhancing the overall ad.)
Taking the concept a step further, imagine an ad that ‘talks’ to the viewer. Since the technology gives ads self-awareness, a donut shop could create an ad that says good morning to anyone that walks by, or a clothing store could create an ad that compliments (or mocks!) outfits in the crowd. The technology would also allow advertisers to incorporate a video that starts only when someone is looking, rather than playing over and over again on a constant loop.
In addition to enhancing the message, an outdoor ad that’s aware of when people are looking at it ushers in a whole new level of measurement, as view numbers no longer need to be rough estimations of foot traffic and awareness. Instead, each ad can be bought and sold based on accurate view numbers and actual engagement, giving advertisers proof that they’re getting what they’re paying for, and allowing media companies to price their high profile ad placements with the premium they deserve.
Like any new ad format, eyeball-aware ads are in their creative infancy, and I would expect to see many more uses emerge as advertisers start to understand and explore the technology, but as an effective and engaging means of enhancing a message, this is definitely one format to keep an eye on.
- Uses eyeball-awareness to enhance the message and engage the viewer.
- Allows for advanced measurement techniques that take into account actual engagement.
- Expensive technology makes ads difficult to scale.
- Ads that are viewer-aware allow advertisers to create more interactive messages and engage the viewer in new and unique ways, while better matching cost to value.