Digital Ads Match Online Models’ Hair Color

Digital Ads Match Online Models’ Hair Color

New ad platforms can infer your age, location, hair color and more.

Rachel Pincus
  • 9 june 2014

In an information age where many people have realized Google is a treasure trove for beauty tips, ad platforms have now caught up with users, including one company in particular called GumGum, which has been around since 2008. If you’re curious how hair-color ads seem to match the hair color of the model or celebrity in photos across the internet with seemingly no editorial intervention, that’s GumGum at work. The inventively targeted ads are appearing across more than 1,000 news and entertainment websites, including Tribune Co. news websites, the New York Times, and TMZ.

The process works entirely in real time and collects no browsing data from users, only from images on the page – a relief to those of us who have been pursued around the web by the vestiges of our online shopping history. The real-time aspect means that the advertising can change focus to hair or makeup or outfits according to the interests of the newest advertiser. Thus images, instead of just serving as page-filler or clickbait, are finally coming to be appreciated by advertisers for some of the same intuitively appealing characteristics that keep readers poring over red-carpet imagery.

This approach fits in with the trend toward hyper-targeted advertising that has pervaded online media in the past few years. Instead of relying on input that customers are, perhaps, becoming more skeptical about, GumGum instead takes interest in a certain image as a potentially useful bit of data. The approach is good for business in that it grabs people who aren’t necessarily shopaholics. And it’s good for any and all ad-supported online media; platforms can hope to charge more for their services with innovative methods of targeting like this and therefore better monetize digital advertising and the websites that rely on it, such as news websites.


It’s interesting to note that the Ombre product itself was also produced through some unorthodox digital research. When the brand research and innovation team at L’Oreal noticed a lot of celebrities using highlights that started at the jawline. A Google research and social listening project mostly focused on YouTube then helped the company refine the product, Malena Higuera, senior VP-marketing for L’Oreal Paris, told AdAge. This is a new age of advertising indeed – one that marries information with customers’ desires.


[h/t] AdAge, BusinessWeek

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