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Using Visual Recognition to Tap into the Consumer Mindset

Marketers have been trying to capture that magic moment when a potential consumer is actually looking to interact with your brand. Back in the day, we had to rely on “inferred interests” gathered from demographics, psychographics and other data to estimate what segments might have higher than average propensity to have that interest and then broadcast various messages at them, hoping we just might hit them at the right place and at the right time.

But in the past five years things have dramatically changed. With nearly ubiquitous smartphone coverage, we finally have a way to access consumers’ mindsets at almost any time in a meaningful way. What’s more, not only can we tap into each magic moment but also consumers actually want to participate in it.

Current smartphone technology allows for nearly infinitely granular targeting based on behavior, third party data, contextual data like location, and universal sign-in profiles. All of these allow increasingly relevant interactions to follow a consumer across apps and the mobile web, all while waiting for the right moment. While interesting, however, this is not what I am talking about. This is just a refinement of existing approaches to targeting. It’s nothing new.

What I’m talking about is giving consumers control, a tool that allows them to quickly and easily learn something about a specific product or service. I’m talking using our smartphones to create intuitive gateways that bridge the real world with related digital experiences. Whether you call it Web 3.0 or the “internet of things,” this is what mobile is all about and I believe visual recognition technology will play a key role in making it happen.

Google Glasses are already showing us ways in which visual recognition and augmented reality can be combined to provide a dizzying array of overlays and information. This beta product offers an exciting peek into one vision of what might be in store for marketers and consumers alike.

Other companies like smartsy are showing a more targeted approach to visual recognition, allowing consumers to use devices they already have and apps they already use to interact with the world in specific ways. They allow consumers to snap a picture of whatever they are interested in, be it a can of Coke or a Louis Vuitton bag, with any visual recognition app on their mobile device and interact with the brand in real-time.

Both approaches have their pros and cons but they share the common goal of creating customer engagement. Ideally if you want to tap into what a consumer is doing with your brand and well as when and where they interact with it, you will want to allow them to use visual recognition in different ways. Who’s to say which will work best? Its still early days of visual recognition but I’d love to hear your thoughts on how you think it will play a role in consumers’ lives and marketers’ strategies.

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