Avatars to Mavatars: The Role of Marketing Avatars and Embodied Representations in Consumer Profiling
26 Pages Posted: 10 Oct 2012 Last revised: 14 Mar 2013
Date Written: July 31, 2012
Recent trends in advertising and social media that include facial and body recognition technologies will change how people need to think about their digital representations and privacy and how managers can use these technologies to interact with customers. The term avatar is usually associated with a video game character or a pictorial representation on a social network and among other components of the definition of the concept is the notion that users control the avatar’s appearance and actions. Facial recognition and video analytic technologies being applied in public digital signage displays and on social networks like Facebook capture and create an embodied biometric database that is essentially an avatar-like profile that will be used for marketing products and supporting consumer applications. In this paper we discuss the nature of these new “marketing avatars,” which we call mavatars, and offer a framework for understanding where and how these embodied profiles are and will be used. We also discuss and speculate about how these representations and the applications they will spawn will evolve, where they will be used, and the ramifications of these embodied representations for consumers, managers, and society at large.
Keywords: facial recognition, avatar, marketing, customer profile, mobile applications, privacy, management of technology
JEL Classification: D18, D23, M31, M37, O33, Z00
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