A Study on Privacy Notice Design for Digital Signages

I See You

Author: Sumanth Kunisetty,  Dr Yaxing Yao


Informing users when collecting, holding, and processing their data is mandatory. Technologies like digital signages are breaching this practice and gathering all the information for analytical as well as marketing purposes. Privacy notices are necessary for digital signages to inform people that they collect data. The digital out-of-home advertising industry itself should commit to follow privacy standards with respect to fair information practices. I did a google form survey on 50 participants to see how many people do know that digital signages have a camera that records and collects information. Additionally, if users want to know whether there's a technology something like this, they want to get notified, and the best way of notifying them is documented. According to the survey results, the majority of participants were unaware of the camera and desired to be told when it was recording. As a way forward, digital signage could feature an interactive QR code scanner to gather consent, provide opt-out options, and alert consumers about the information acquired while also allowing them to control data.


Digital signage, also known as "digital out-of-home" or DOOH, consists of screens with different sizes that display dynamic content such as digital images, videos, streaming media, and other information utilizing technologies such as LCD, LED, UHD, OLED, super AMOLED, and projection.[7] They are located in public spaces such as streets, malls, supermarkets, stadiums, hospitals, schools, retail stores, airports, gas stations, exhibitions, museums, corporate offices, etc. to provide advertising services and create opportunities for service provides in digital signage and digital out- of-home (OOH) advertising industries...[8] These digital signages also take a few other forms known as projectors, kiosks, and billboards and use aurdiono boards that have an internet connection to control content and gather information from the location of digital signage.

This medium played a prominent role in shifting traditional offline media advertisement to communication and interactive advertising. Over the last decade, digital signage has exploded into a multibillion-dollar industry. In 2020, the worldwide digital signage industry was estimated to be worth USD 21.49 billion. From 2021 to 2028, it is predicted to increase at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 7.5 percent.[7] The market's expansion can be attributed to the growing demand for digitized product and service promotion to grab the target audience's attention successfully.

A few years ago, a digital signage advertising platform was one of the expensive mediums to advertise for product or service providers. The challenge for signage providers as well as their customers is to determine the number and what kind of audience watch advertisements at particular digital signage. This made it difficult for digital signage providers to track the size of the audience for a given promotion. [7] Similarly, this also made it challenging to display target advertisements in a particular location for a specific audience considering the audience's demographics in the place of digital signage.

To overcome these challenges, the digital signage industry has experimented with a number of technologies aimed at improving audience measurement and interactivity.

These technologies frequently gather a variety of information about customers, depending on the system. Individual consumers can be identified, tracked as they move from place to place, and detailed information about their preferences and actions can be stored using some of the technologies. The following are examples of emergent technologies:

Facial Recognition

The above picture illustrates how and what type of data is collected from digital signage that is located on a super market. They include gender, age group, ethnicity, mood, time spent watching the screen, and approximate distance from the screen.

Facial recognition technology is used in digital signage to assess faces in a fraction of a second and categorize them by age and gender. A small data sensor positioned in front of a computer screen scans the scene for human faces as they appear. The data is collected at each digital screen and then transferred to a cloud-based data aggregation service on a regular basis. It is feasible to determine the attractiveness index of a marketing message by evaluating the ratio of attention considering dwell time.[4] For example, Face-tracking technology is being used by an outdoor advertising panel on Sydney's George Street to measure people's facial reactions before giving coupons for a free yogurt smoothie in a nearby store. [5] A machine-learning algorithm is trained to recognize facial orientation and evaluate the user's emotion. Depending on whether the customer is happy or 'hangry,' a specialized vending machine is triggered to deliver the appropriate voucher.

Computer Vision and Bluetooth Beacon

A mobile application has been developed that allows displaying content from digital signage to user smartphones in their desired language. Whenever a user approaches digital signage, will pop up notification mentioning to translate, view, or save the digital signage picture using a Bluetooth beacon and then uses OCR optical character recognition to understand the language and uses the extracted information in google translate to do this.

Radio Frequency Identification (RFID)

The addition of RFID to digital signage devices expands their capabilities: interactive kiosks can now inform, encourage, and collect valuable data on client behavior and preferences. The data from the tag will be read by digital signage, which will then analyze it to display expected content to the customer. The device can also collect information about a customer's shopping habits and preferences.

When companies spend money on marketing, data about the target audience is extremely valuable. Advertisers on television want to know who their target audience is and how many people watched their commercial. Similarly, online and offline advertisers are aiming towards the same. They want to know who their opportunity audience is, their demographics and generate ads considering their interests. However, too much personalization with ads will lead to rejection due to fears of spying and surveillance.

Digital signage can clearly incorporate a variety of technologies to capture a wide range of consumer data in a variety of settings. The privacy suggestions in this document are meant to educate and inform people about the data being collected and analyzed.

Data collecting in digital signage could be profitable for the industry, similar to how behavioral advertising has been profitable on the Internet. Because the privacy invasion connected with digital signage is no longer a minor concern, many advertising firms are using digital signage as one of their services that deliver precise measurements, identification, analytics, or interactive capabilities.

The controversy surrounding this type of digital signage marketing is similar to that surrounding online behavioral advertising. Two-thirds of Americans "certainly would not" allow marketers to track them online, even if the surveillance is anonymous, according to a 2009 survey of consumer attitudes toward behavioral advertising. In addition, the majority of adults in the United States (66%) do not want marketers to personalize advertisements to their preferences. Furthermore, when Americans have notified the popular ways that marketers collect data on people in order to target ads, even more of them - between 73 and 86 percent - say they would not want such advertising. Young citizens, which advertisers sometimes depict as unconcerned about privacy, more than half (55%) of those aged 18 to 24 do not want personalized advertising. [1] According to the same survey, Americans wanted openness with marketers when it comes to behavioral targeting, and they also wanted to know how exactly their data is being collected, used, and have control over data that is collected.

PDI - Power Distance in China, France, Japan, and United States


The above flowchart elucidates the process of my method to carry out the survey.

I conducted a Google survey to gauge participants' familiarity with digital signage and how it operates. The purpose of this strategy is to discover What percentage of the participants are aware of digital signage? How many individuals are aware that these signages are equipped with cameras and recorders? How many people are aware that these cameras gather data? How many individuals would like to be told when digital signage records and collects data? Finally, for one type of digital signage(kiosk), I offered three various forms of text information that is written on the bottom left corner below the screen. The goal of the text is to emphasize that this particular screen records and collects data. The study included 53 people, 48 of whom had no prior knowledge of advertising or the marketing industry. Five of the participants, on the other hand, had prior experience in the industry. All of the participants were between the ages of 25 and 40, and both male and female genders were represented.


There were 53 participants that partook in this interactive survey about Digital Signages and Digital Out-Of-Home advertising (DOOH). When asked if they've ever seen a digital Signage using a sample image, 77.4% of the participants selected "Yes," 13.2% of the participants selected "No," and 9.4% of the participants selected "Maybe." After providing some context about the Digital Signages to the participants, when the participants we asked if they think that the signages could get their information, 73.6% of the participants selected "Yes," 17% of the participants chose "No" and a 9.4% of the participants chosen "Maybe." The participants were then informed about the usage of cameras in the signages and asked if they were aware of the screen records them using a camera. 87% of the participants were not aware of this, and just 13% of the participants were. When asked if the camera recording them via signages concerns them, more than 72% of the participants were "Very Concerned." The participants were then informed about how Digital Signages work. What information they collect, i.e., Gender, Approximate Age, Verified View with respect to the screen, Time spent interacting with the screen, and what emotions did the viewer portray while looking at the signage. Now, when asked again if the camera recording them via signages concerns them, more than 82% of the participants were "Very Concerned." Around 68% of the participants opted for an option to get notified when they're being recorded. When asked for the type of message they prefer while being notified, 70% of the participants selected the option "This screen records you for business purposes for analytics", 17% of the participants opted for the option "This screen records you for business purposes," and 13% of the participants selected "This screen uses an analytical camera and records you." The pie charts and graphs in the left margin portray the findings of my survey.

PDI - Power Distance in China, France, Japan, and United States


The survey's overall findings revealed that the majority of participants are unaware that such technology exists and would like to be told when it is recording or gathering data. People who are already familiar with the advertising and marketing business, on the other hand, are aware of the capabilities of digital signages, according to the survey. However, they believed that data acquired from digital signages were kept private, and they were unsure regarding the information flow of the data collected. Automation, on the other hand, can employ encrypted information to assess user preferences and can also be used for behavioral targeting in today's world. Similarly, few consumers, lawmakers, regulators, or policymakers are aware of their capabilities or the extent to which they are used.

Advertisers and businesses are deploying new types of sophisticated digital signage networks in both public and private locations. Simple people-counting sensors put on gateways, mostly invisible facial recognition cameras mounted in flat video panels(kiosks)

These digital signage technologies may collect plenty of information about customers, their habits, and their personalities.

The widely established Fair Information Practices should serve as the foundation for digital signage privacy guidelines (FIPs). Many privacy regulations in the United States are based on these internationally recognized principles, which are also the basis of more comprehensive privacy laws, such as the European Union's Data Protection Directive.

The privacy risks associated with digital signage are significant, and no one has completely addressed them. If left ignored, digital signage networks have the potential to generate a new type of covert and extremely sophisticated marketing monitoring, with the risk of unfairness, discrimination, and access to personal information.

The following consumer privacy principles serve as an initial point for debating whether consumer protections should be included in digital signages.

Scope: The purpose of digital signage is to show ads that are pictures, videos, or any other type of digital information, and to collect data from an individual or group of individuals for analytics and behavioral targeting using a camera, sensor, RFID, network, or any other technology.

Notice: Every digital signage must have a label in its vicinity that clearly discloses the purpose of data collection.

Deletion: Any data gathered by digital signage should be automatically deleted 14 days after it was obtained.

Privacy: The data must be subject to a privacy policy that covers all eight principles of fair information practices, and the policy must be published at the time of the information collection.

Children: Any digital signage that collects any sort of information from someone under the age of 13 must be deleted immediately.

Prohibitions: No digital signages should be located in sensitive areas, such as restrooms, locations where children gather, changing rooms, locker rooms, health care facilities, gyms, and areas where over-the-counter medications are dispensed.

Display: No picture or data from digital signage of an individual may be publicly exhibited in a way that makes the image or data visible to anyone other than the data's subject.

Accountability: A digital signage operator or the data controller is responsible for adhering to these guidelines.

PDI - Power Distance in China, France, Japan, and United States


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