Facial Recognition Survey: Consumers Not Ready for Technology in Ads

Facial recognition technology is beginning to pop up in more and more places – on social networking sites, in apps and even in marketing and advertising campaigns. But there are also some concerns that people have about the privacy issues surrounding that type of technology. Publications like Computerworld have debated the potential implications of facial recognition technology, especially since tech companies like Facebook and Google have been able to develop really advanced versions of the technology. But how do consumers feel? We asked 1,000 respondents about their thoughts on facial recognition technology.

facial recognition

Facial Recognition

In Ask Your Target Market’s latest survey, 64% of respondents agreed that face recognition technology has many potential uses. However, just 49% of respondents feel that businesses should be able to use that technology. And 51% feel that governments should be able to use face recognition technology. That hesitance about the technology on the part of consumers is likely due, at least in part, to concerns about privacy. 62% of respondents agreed that they are at least somewhat concerned about the privacy issues surrounding facial recognition technology.

Potential Uses

Most consumers agree that there are many different uses for facial recognition technology, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that they approve of all those different uses. 57% of respondents think that government agencies should be able to use the technology for legal or law enforcement purposes. 51% think that companies should be able to use face recognition technology for security on computers or mobile devices. 19% approve of being able to use the technology for tagging photos online. Just 10% think that businesses should be able to use facial recognition technology for marketing or advertising purposes. And 20% don’t think it should be used at all.

Developing facial recognition technology in general doesn’t seem to have a huge impact on consumer opinions. 27% of respondents said that they would be at least somewhat likely to support businesses that they knew were developing face recognition technology. 22% said they would be unlikely to support such companies. And 51% were neutral. However, using that technology for marketing or advertising was seen in a slightly more negative light. 40% of respondents said they would be unlikely to support a company that used facial recognition technology for marketing or advertising purposes.

Technology in Action

In general, 9% of respondents said that they have seen facial recognition technology in action many times already. 19% said they’ve seen it used at least once or twice. 62% have never seen it. And 11% were unsure. Facebook was by far the most popular place where people have seen the technology used. But some have seen it used in unlocking phones or computers for security purposes. And others have seen it on apps like Snapchat.

Those who have seen facial recognition technology in action were more likely to think that businesses should be able to use the technology. They were also more likely to say that they would support businesses that developed the technology. However, they were just as likely to say that they wouldn’t support companies that use the technology for marketing or advertising.

Key Takeaways

It seems that many consumers are at least open to the idea of businesses like Facebook and Google using facial recognition technology, depending on the uses. For example, using facial recognition technology as a security feature for phones and mobile devices seems to be a fairly acceptable option. But for companies that may want to jump ahead and use facial recognition technology to target ads or better market to consumers, doing so could potentially do more harm than good. Like plenty of other tech advances that came before, people seem to be sort of wary of facial recognition. As more people see it in use, those opinions could improve. But for now, it seems like it could be a bit premature for companies to jump right in and use it for things like ad targeting or marketing.

You can view the complete survey results in the widget below and be sure to click “Open Full Report” to take advantage of all the chart and filter options.

Photo Credit: iPhone face recognition works with statues by Alexander Baxevanis under CC BY 2.0

What do you want to know? If you need some consumer insights on a particular topic, let us know in the comments below and we’ll consider it for an upcoming survey post.

Results were collected on July 12 via AYTM’s online survey panel.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Anne Pilon
Anne Pilon brings 3 years experience to AYTM as a blogger and journalist. She has a degree in journalism and marketing communications from Columbia College in Chicago and enjoys writing about business, marketing, social media, and art.

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