Some condominium corporations allow digital advertisements to be broadcast in their elevators. This can be a win/win scenario for both the condominium corporation and the advertisers. The corporation receives advertising fees, which are applied to the operating and maintenance costs of the condominium, and the advertisers get a captive audience for their messages.
While having a captive audience is a plus for advertisers, technology now exists that enables an advertiser to identify the demographics of those riding the elevator and to target ads to those who are in the elevator. The video screens in the elevators that display the ads can be equipped with cameras that collect date for advertisers.
Visio Media’s website states that its Elev8 software has an anonymous software detection system that can detect whether the riders are male or female and which age group they fall within. This enables the system to display ads that are targeted to different sexes and age groups. (There are 4 age categories: 1- 13, 14 – 35, 36- 65 and 65+.) Some ads are only displayed when there are only women in the elevator while other ads will only be displayed when there are only men in the elevator – plus there are other ads that will be displayed when there is a mix of men and women in the elevator. Different ads can also be targeted to each age category. Ads can also be geographically targeted by address, postal code or neighbourhood. Different ads can also be displayed depending on the weather conditions – whether it is a sunny, overcast, rainy or snowy day.
Visio Media maintains that the system does not engage in facial recognition and does not record or store video images – it just provides aggregate numbers about age and sex – so there are no privacy issues. It was recently reported in the media that some residents of a Liberty Village condominium that have the screens with cameras in their elevators are not comfortable with this. Those residents expressed concerns about the control over the images taken from the elevator. There are some residents that may also object to the dissemination of advertising in the building which they have no control over.
Condominium corporations that are considering the installation of advertising screens with rider detection software in their elevators need to weigh the concerns of the residents with the financial benefits when considering installing this type of system. If a corporation decides to go ahead, management or the board should communicate to residents how the system works and what the benefits are to the corporation.