Facebook has recently acquired a new patent for technology that could completely change the way advertisers acquire photos using social media. The latest social network scanning technology could effectively sort through your pictures for signs of logos and branding for the products you like. This data could be sent to advertisers to target ads directly to you in sponsored story posts. The patent is known as a “computer vision contact detection system” for sponsored stories.
At the core of this idea, the goal is to apply computer vision algorithms to any user uploaded multimedia on the network. The multimedia object could then be promoted from the users’ newsfeed to an area of sponsored stories.
The best example of this could be going to McDonald’s and picking up a drink and a burger. If you snap a picture with the logo on your cup and then share it to Instagram, the algorithm will quickly pick out the logo. The next time that you check your stories you could see an offer for McDonald’s the moment you log in.
What makes this algorithm even creepier is that Facebook can enter into an agreement with any brand to share that photo with the advertiser as well as your profile info. With the case of a brand like McDonald’s, they could get info on your favorite menu items for targeted advertising or even use some of the user-generated content you create in their advertising later on.
Post algorithms on Facebook/Instagram will also change as a result of this sponsored activity. Facebook post algorithms for your friends could place a priority on sponsored stories where you include brands that they like. The change will place brand related photos over the photos that you would rather appear in their feed. A picture of your new puppy could be blasted to the bottom of a featured album on Facebook in favor of a post of you drinking a coffee from a new café. Depending on the algorithm settings, that same photo could stay at the top of your friends feed for days.
Utilizing a number of them for scanning photos is an advanced technology. The program will very quickly scan a picture, recognize brands within it and then start changing the advertising you experience. It will change the way friends experience your profile too based off of ranking algorithms.
Some of the primary examples cited in the filing included Grey Goose Vodka, Starbucks and more. Facebook demonstrated that it could automatically detect a vodka bottle in a photograph and then determine the brand. The scan would allow for targeted advertising for those drinking competitor products or loyal customers.
The scanning application could change the way that we browse social media and provide limitless demographic information to advertisers. Facebook advertisers could have a heat map of adjustable filters for targeting as well as ongoing demographic data that they receive in reporting. Coordination with online retailers like Amazon also ensures that large companies can have direct purchase links across social media for quick sales conversions.
As this technology is implemented, we will have to see just how social media use is impacted in the future.