Facial analysis firm setting up DOOH advertising deals globally
A small face-scanning ad firm spent the summer pulling together partnerships and at least four digital out-of-home projects.
The positive news for Alfi, however, is balanced by questions about its biggest success to date, getting in the car doors of Uber and Lyft rideshares in 13 U.S. test markets, including Miami.
Alfi uses face biometric algorithms and machine vision to detect and analyze the faces of people looking at ad-bearing still and video displays. Its play is giving advertisers insight into how people react to their digital out-of-home, or DOOH, content.
In the case of the pilot ridesharing project launched in June in Miami, various flavors of video content can play on Lenovo tablets mounted in cars for passengers to view. The tablet’s camera records expressions and eye movements tied frame by frame to what a passenger sees.
Most recently, Alfi partnered with programmatic DOOH network Lemma. Late last month, they announced joint projects in India’s Indira Gandhi International Airport and Denver International Airport. The pair intend to cross-sell and promote each other’s products.
Company executives in mid-August said they were partnering with Grove, a cannabidiol and hemp wellness firm, to market pot products on the Lyft and Uber vehicles mentioned above, although a media release about the news indicates the content will appear in 12, not 13, ride-share markets.
(The ride-hailing companies say they have nothing to do with the Alfi screens; all agreements are with individual drivers.)
Grove’s share price rose five percent on the news. Alfi shares dropped 1.4 percent.
And in late May, Alfi joined with Brazilian digital sign company Neooh to put interactive face-surveilling screens in multiple airports across the South American giant.
Still, doubts persist about Alfi’s business model.
First, some drivers participating in the Miami rollout feel Alfi has gone AWOL, according to a Bloomberg article. Intrigued by the company’s pitch that drivers could get as much as $325 a month hosting the screen, at least some reportedly have received no word or money from Alfi.
Paul Pereira, CEO of Alfi, reportedly told Bloomberg that revenue has yet to start flowing.
Pereira has adamantly insisted in a number of venues that his software only detects faces, estimates ages and categorizes a person’s gender and ethnic background. It does not link these characteristics with demographic data from viewers or perform facial recognition.
The company says it does not store biometric data. But, as Bloomberg has pointed out, Alfi legally can reverse that position without notifying anyone.