Japan’s space agency helps to target advertising with satellite photos of crops

Japan’s Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) and marketing agency Dentsu have developed a means to use snaps captured by satellites to smooth out agricultural supply chains and enhance advertising.

As explained in a Thursday announcment, JAXA and Dentsu worked with the Tsumagoi Village Agricultural Cooperative Association to assess the growth of crops by analyzing images captured from orbit. Those efforts accurately predicted the volume of 2023’s cabbage harvest in one village.

Next steps in the project will see weather data added to the mix, to enable predictions of when the harvest will come in.

Dentsu plans to use those predictions to improve forecasted shipping dates for produce, and guess at prices.

Those estimates will then inform advertisers about when and where to promote their wares – both fresh seasonal produce and related products like seasonings used on cabbage.

Which, of course, assumes anything can improve cabbage.

JAXA and Dentsu's cabbage space scheme

JAXA and Dentsu’s cabbage space scheme – Click to enlarge

But we digress. Dentsu already operates an application called RICH FLOW that allocates television advertising slots. Analysis of satellite images is being fed into that app.

The marketing agency hopes that doing so will mean advertisers’ money will be spent at the optimal moment, which could translate more stable prices for produce and more predictable incomes for farmers and agricultural workers. Less food waste is another hoped-for outcome.

“We have been working with some distributors, such as retailers, to implement sales promotions that increase demand at the point of sale when the supply of cabbage increases,” states JAXA’s announcement (after machine translation). In 2024, the participants plan to “further strengthen and expand this, aiming for a multifaceted development that more closely links in-store and advertising.”

What a time to be alive. ®


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