Gas Station to Use Face Scanners for Targeted Ads

November 26, 2013

Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article. 

1. implement [IM-pluh-ment, -muh nt ] (v.) – to carry out or to execute something
Example: The management of the department store implemented new rules about the employee’s attendance.  

2. novel [NOV-uh l] (adj.) – new and different from what was previously known
Example: The consultants came up with novel ways of addressing the company’s problems.

3. boutique [boo-TEEK] (n.) – a small shop that sells fashionable clothing or other specialty items
Example: According to the owner, many celebrities visit her boutique to buy unique, handmade jewelry.

4. watchdog [WOCH-dawg] (n.) – an organization that watches governments and companies and ensures that they do not do anything unethical or illegal
Example: Several environmental watchdogs criticized the government for its poor handling of the oil spill.

5. discriminating [dih-SKRIM-uh-ney-ting] (adj.) – having the ability to know what things have good quality from things with low quality
Example:  Today’s consumers are more discriminating about the calorie content of the food they buy.


Read the text below.

A gas station chain in the UK has started implementing targeted advertising based on the physical appearance and the shopping habits of its customers.

The company, Tesco, is installing face recognition technology across its 450 gas stations. This face recognition technology can estimate the age and gender of its customers. This information, together with the information about the purchases, will be used to tailor the advertisements that the shoppers will see in the stations.

For example, Tesco would be able to predict that a middle-aged woman buying gas early in the morning might want to grab a coffee on her way to work. On the other hand, a young man would probably be inclined to buy a soft drink.

While it is novel to most people, this technology has actually been used commercially. In Las Vegas, the Venetian [vuh-NEE-shuh n] resort and casino employs video monitors that suggest restaurants and establishments to guests based on their physical appearance. In Italy, some luxury boutiques use mannequins with built-in cameras that monitor shoppers.

According to Peter Cattell of Tesco, these tailored ads enhance the shopping experience of the customers. He also reassured the public that the scanners do not capture images, record videos, or collect any personal data.

Some British citizens, however, worry that Tesco might be going too far. Nick Pickles, head of privacy watchdog Big Brother, believes that if people knew which places in their city use electronic tracking technology, they would probably be more discriminating about which establishments they visit.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.  

Discussion A

·         Do you think it is ethical for Tesco to use face scanning technology in its stations? Why or why not?
·         Do you think targeted advertisements are more beneficial than disadvantageous? Explain.

Discussion B

·         Why do you think advertising is important?
·         In your opinion, what makes an advertisement successful? Discuss.


November 26, 2013