Search engines are powerful tools. Nowadays, it’s the first place people turn to when looking for answers to questions—whether it is for medical guidance, or restaurant recommendations. As such, search engines have evolved to cater to consumer’s needs—most recently with visual searches.

While not an entirely new concept, more people have been using visual searches instead of just typical keywords. Case in point: websites like Pinterest generate more than 600 million visual searches monthly, and the numbers are similar on other platforms like Amazon.

So what does this mean for brands? Over the last decade, SEO has become an entire industry in its own right, with digital marketing experts Ayima emphasizing its importance in creating strong brands. Not only does it ensure your product or service stands out from the rest, but it also means you know how to deliver content that’s relevant to your target audience. Visuals are useful because they’re simply more captivating and memorable. Combine it with SEO, and you’ve got a strong strategy to take your brand forward.

However, we’re not just talking about typical posters and graphics anymore. The next advancement in the world of search engines is none other than facial recognition. If you’ve got a smartphone, you probably already use this technology, or at least heard about it on the news.

Facial Recognition in Marketing

Facial recognition technology is what it is: a way to verify the identity of a person. It’s mostly used for things like phone security and law enforcement. Recently, there have been plenty of efforts to integrate this technology into marketing campaigns. In 2013, Virgin Mobile launched its Blinkwashing campaign—a choose-your-own-adventure game where the plot changes based on your eye movement. More recently, Walgreens has been piloting a line of smart coolers that are embedded with sensors to scan the faces of its shoppers. Based on the detected approximate age and gender, it would then send them relevant ads and other targeted messages. The vast potential is definitely evident—from boosting brand creativity, to improving customization.

Issues on Privacy

Of course, facial recognition has not come without its fair share of controversies. Perhaps the biggest criticism of this technology is its invasion of privacy. After all, most systems record what customers look like—and that information could be dangerous in the wrong hands.

However, Zenus Inc. suggest that facial recognition is actually one of the least intrusive technologies on the market. Most of the time, the technology doesn’t even need to register your actual face—just general features like its size, presence of wrinkles, and such. Iris movement won’t even register anything other than your eyes. So it’s completely possible for facial recognition to provide enough valuable data without breaching consumer privacy.

For SEO marketers, facial recognition is definitely changing the game. It has opened the door for numerous possibilities. But like any tool, it depends on your own responsibility in using it.

*Photo credit: Josh Rose on Unsplash