SHANGHAI: Outdoor marketers in China are being offered opportunities for more precise targeting as China Post, the postal service, has upgraded its 20,000 digital outdoor screens to incorporate features such as facial recognition technology.

In 20 cities across the country, cameras attached to the screens can take a series of images of viewers with the system then able to compare them against a database of biometric profiles before linking these to programmatic buying information and delivering dynamic content.

That means, for example, that a car brand could choose to show a male consumer information about engine capacity while female consumers might view information about safety and fuel efficiency, Campaign Asia-Pacific reported.

Viewers are also able to scan QR codes or tap NFC interfaces to get e-coupons from advertisers, so increasing the chances of completing a sale. Later enhancements will include through-screen payment options and augmented reality features.

"There was a real lack of understanding who your audiences are, but now you can put a number to it – say, 5,800 people have seen your ad – definitively," declared Doug Pearce, CEO of Omnicom Media Group Greater China. "You are not buying general headcounts," he added.

Omnicom has worked with Heli Media, the licence owner of the technology behind the system which is aiming to dominate the digital out-of-home market in China.

Pearce conceded that media rates would likely rise for users of the system but argued that the fact there was little wastage made up for any increase.

And he added that the programmatic buying facility meant the system would automatically select those screens that best suited marketers' particular aims.

"Bad programmatic is a race to the bottom with real-time bidding," he said. "Good programmatic buying is when you can quantify and qualify your audiences."

Omnicom plans to deploy another 60,000 such screens next year with a range of partners.

Data sourced from Campaign Asia-Pacific; additional content by Warc staff