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Using Personalized Face Composites for Visceral Targeting

Researchers: Alessandro Acquisti, Ralph Gross, Sonam Samat, Eyal Pe'er

Research Area: Privacy Protection


Online behavioral advertising has helped marketers target products to individuals based on their demographic information, browsing history, or previous purchases. The foreseeable future involves marketers exploiting individuals' personal information to tailor the advertisement itself, personalizing it in a subtle and undetectable manner. We investigate whether combining an experimental participant's face with the face of a stranger, and using the resulting "face composite" for personalized marketing, can influence purchasing behavior, without the individual realizing that targeting has occurred. Participants' pictures from a popular online social network were used to create personalized face composites using a face morphing software. These composites were then presented either as spokespersons on an advertisement for a product or as previous customers reviewing the product.