The ads that watch back: Mediacorp investment in Mentorica

Guillaume Sachet, Mediacorp
Wednesday, 4 October, 2017

The next time you’re standing at a bus stop and you find yourself staring at one of Mediacorp’s outdoor ads, the ad might be staring right back at you.


At the moment, ads simply deliver a message. But with new technology developed by our partner Mentorica, a Singapore-based company that specialises in retail analytics, street advertising will also be a way for companies to pick up valuable insights about their potential customers.


Mentorica uses facial recognition technologies and artificial intelligence to figure out in real time how many people are looking at it. The technology can also be used to deliver a more tailored ad to a specific audience. If it’s an outdoor video ad, for example, it might figure out that everyone at the bus stop is male, and serve up an ad for men’s watches or for jeans. Or, if it’s six women and one man, they might see an ad for Chanel. 


The technology can also read facial expressions to figure out if the ad is eye-catching enough to grab everyone’s attention, or conversely too dull for anyone to notice. Or if people are reacting positively or negatively. These kinds of insights are invaluable for advertisers. 


Although it uses a camera, this is not privacy-invading technology. The ads are in public places, and they only collect summary statistical data. Any pedestrian walking down Orchard Road already appears on hundreds of security feeds and in the background of dozens of selfies. All of those images are recorded. Mentorica’s technology, on the other hand, doesn’t store any record, any footage or stills.





We are excited by the possibilities that Mentorica’s technology offers, hence, we’ve invested in them through our startup incubator program, Mediapreneur. This partnership is valuable for both Mentorica and Mediacorp. Mentorica gains a major customer as well as a real world test bed for their technology. They’ve also told us that the length of the incubator program is a key reason they partnered with Mediacorp. This is complex technology, and the year-long program gives Mentorica time to refine it, and more thoroughly investigate the market opportunities for their products. 


This technology is just a small part of what Mentorica does, and outdoor advertising is just one application for their technology. More broadly, their goal is to deliver an omnichannel analytics platform to retailers. Mentorica’s software brings together online and offline behaviours to give companies a better idea of exactly what is happening in their stores and in social media.


While Mediacorp doesn’t have any retail spaces to worry about, the partnership is great for us too. Mentorica’s technology is a great way to add value to out-of-home advertising, which is one of the key pillars of our advertising revenue growth together with mainstream media and digital.


This technology has great potential, and we expect the partnership will help both Mediacorp and Mentorica. Here’s looking at you.