Elbe Smith, CEO of tech communications firm TQ Group believes that it is critical for retailers and financial institutions to know their customers and understand their aspirations so that in-house digital content can be customised to respond to those aspirations.

“AVA is key to being able to understand and serve customer’s needs and ultimately for providing proper measurement and ROI on the money spent on marketing.

Smith explains that traditional use of AVA provided basic information on the number of people that passed a digital screen but little more.  But adds that this technology is now being used in much smarter ways.

TQ Group, responsible for in-house digital content for some of Africa’s major financial institutions and retailers have taken their use of AVA several steps further in order to enable them to gather information on the length of time customers engage with digital signage and thereby tailor the content accordingly.

“Using embedded camera sensors to detect and scan the face of the customer and, using sophisticated algorithm analytics, we are now able to identify the age and gender of the customer and the length of time that the customer engaged with the screen for”.

Smith adds that this information used in combination with TQ’s scheduling software makes it possible for TQ to deliver and play captivating and relevant content that will hold the customer’s attention for longer. 

Also underway is a pilot project where TQ has linked AVA to the point of sale (POS) system in a retail environment. This enables the retailer to collect data on the age and gender of her or his customers, what they bought and what they spent in store.

“This really pushes the envelope as far as ROI is concerned”, says Smith.  “Because for the first time we are able to provide real bottom line information that helps the retailer drive sales by stocking what people want”.

Smith adds that TQ’s follow on project is an exciting app that tracks the products that customers examine in store and which in turn triggers digital signage content and allows the retailer to target advertising to existing and potential customers.

Important to note, says Smith is that, unlike facial recognition software where the programme matches a specific face to a database, AVA is entirely anonymous and uses pattern detection, such as dark pixels where eyes should be and lighter pixels where cheeks should be, to determine the demographics of the person watching the screen. 

“The live data, taken from the video camera, is then converted into statistical information which can then be imported into a spreadsheet for evaluation purposes and because only data is being saved for reporting purposes, privacy legislation such as the Protection of Personal Information Act (POPI) is never breached”, she concludes.