Advertisers harnessing image recognition tech to scan social media images

Advertisers are harnessing image recognition software to scan social media images for brand logos on pictures posted to social media accounts such as Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and Tumblr according to a privacy campaign group.

Big Brother Watch cite Procter & Gamble, producer of household brands including Ariel, Duracell and Oral-B, as an enthusiastic adopter of the technology to help it glean marketing information for targeted advertising.

Although such activities are legal, assuming the photographs are public, campaigners say many social media users are unaware that such tactics are being employed, which now even stretch to identifying the context in which the brands appear, be it a picnic, party or event. It can also read geocoding information to identify where an image was taken.

David Rose, chief executive of Ditto Labs which produces the logo detection software, said that it was an important market research tool. He said: “That’s the primary use of this — listening. So they know how the product packaging should be changed or who they should be aligning with for sponsorship.

“Say that you’re Manchester United. How does Man U make a good case for bringing in a new sponsor? They can look at photos of people in Man U branded clothing and see what other brands appear.”

Emma Carr, director of Big Brother Watch, argued that this was going too far however: “Scanning our photos for logos and certain backdrops will go far beyond what many would expect. Explicit permission should be sought.”

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John Glenday

John Glenday is responsible for compiling The Drum's daily morning bulletin and ensuring that overnight breaking news is covered while you're still brushing your teeth. Can also make a mean cup of tea.

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