graphic of avatar and facial recognition software

Marketing 101: The Current State of Facial Recognition and Targeted Advertising

Facial recognition no longer exists in only science fiction. It has been integrated within our lives for a while —especially through our mobile phones. According to Counterpoint Technology Market Research, 64% of shipped smartphones worldwide will have facial recognition technology this year. 


statistics of users engaged with facial recognition technology

According to a report by the University of Texas at the Austin Center for Identity, 42.5% of smartphone, tablet, and computer users engage with facial recognition technology. They use it to unlock their devices as a form of authentication. Following that is using biometrics for banking access at 17.7%. Buying digital goods rests at 11.2%.

What does this mean to businesses and marketers? How can biometrics like facial recognition drive performance-based results? At the moment, marketers are in the early stage of the adoption curve. When encouraging customers to use biometrics in the transaction process, brands are at the exploration stage. 


According to the research, 56.5% of U.S. companies are using A.I. to personalize content as a marketing strategy. At the same time, 56.5% of companies are using predictive analytics to receive customer insights.

In early 2019, a report by the American Marketing Association, Deloitte, and Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business found that 1.7% of U.S. businesses are using facial recognition and visual search for marketing purposes. This is a small percentage compared to other means of artificial intelligence usage. According to the research, 56.5% of U.S. companies are using A.I. to personalize content as a marketing strategy. At the same time, 56.5% of companies are using predictive analytics to receive customer insights. Targeting decisions are at 49.6%. 

Despite the small percentage of businesses using facial recognition technology, marketers can see the value of it. Walgreens, for example, has smart display technology created by Cooler Screens Inc. The technology can detect faces and suggest items based on age, gender, and emotion. According to Business News Daily, the technology uses proximity sensors to figure out when customers are near. The screens then change which products are displayed based on external information such as the weather. 

Targeted advertising in the form of facial recognition is not only seen in supermarkets. Sephora uses this technology within its mobile app. The app uses a tool called Virtual Artist, which lets customers try on products without having the physical items on hand. Makeup enthusiasts can instantly try out a lip color or mascara before deciding whether or not to make an online purchase. 


numbers of u.s. internet users are comfortable with facial recognition in retail stores

Facial recognition is a tool that drives personalization. However, businesses and marketers should also consider privacy concerns surrounding the technology. According to a survey conducted by Toluna, 50.2% of U.S. internet users are uncomfortable with facial recognition in retail stores. Of those surveyed, 27.6% of them are comfortable. Meanwhile, 22.2% are unsure. 

A study conducted by the Pew Research Centre indicates a similar sentiment. The study found that 33% of U.S. adults do not trust the responsible use of facial recognition by advertisers. Meanwhile, only 2% of those surveyed trust advertisers a great deal when it comes to using the technology responsibly.  


Whether or not your business can benefit from facial recognition technology depends on countless factors such as your target audience, products, and services. There are always nuances to consider and thorough market research that must be conducted before an informed decision can be made. 


Find Your Audience is here to help your business. We conduct in-depth research within multiple industries to advise and provide you with a thorough consultation. You can contact our team at 647-479-0688. You can also email to take your business to the next level.


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