Avigilon has responded to IPVM's "Avigilon's Dirty Tricks" post, justifying their home page advertisement comparing analog to Avigilon's quality. Unfortunately, this raises far more serious questions about Avigilon's approach and its conformance with US laws on truth in advertising.
[UPDATE: This home page was replaced in July 2013 with new comparisons that substantially correct the issues listed herein. Images and analysis at the end of this post.]
Here is the ad / images referenced:
It shows an 'Analog' image vs an 'Avigilon' image but evidently that is not actually the case.
"Nowhere do we say it’s actual, as it's really just meant to visually illustrate how powerful our system can be when compared to analog."
So when Avigilon shows an image labelled 'Avigilon', they do not actually mean it is from an Avigilon camera.
They further explain that they, "created a scene that is representative of what you could do with one of our megapixel fixed cameras when you digitally zoom, as compared to a fixed analog camera." Of course, in the ad, they show an 'Avigilon' image with a larger coverage area than the 'analog' one without any reference or explanation of digital zoom.
Even accepting digital zoom from a larger scene, which one of their cameras will work?
Here's the whole scene with a red box around the area that they claim to digitally zoom:
That's a 70+ foot wide FoV. To digitally zoom and get the level of detail displayed in the Avigilon image (easily 60ppf), one needs at least 4200 horizontal pixels. Of Avigilon's dozens of models, only the two most expensive cameras match (the 16MP and 29MP). [Note: our reference guide to using and calculating PPF.]
Unfortunately, Avigilon uses a widescreen 16:9 aspect ratio and the term 'HD' that can confuse readers into believing it is a regular HD camera, not a super expensive/proprietary megapixel one:
Violating FTC Ad Guidelines?
The US government has rules to protect the public from deceptive marketing. The FTC's guide on Internet advertising explains what's right and wrong:
- "The FTC Act prohibits unfair or deceptive advertising in any medium. That is, advertising must tell the truth and not mislead consumers. A claim can be misleading if relevant information is left out or if the claim implies something that's not true."
- "In addition, claims must be substantiated, especially when they concern health, safety, or performance."
- "Disclaimers and disclosures must be clear and conspicuous."
- "Demonstrations must show how the product will perform under normal use."
However, we believe Avigilon violates a number of these rules:
- Relevant information is left out - the model of the camera especially and the now claimed digital zoom
- The ad misleads consumers into believing Avigilon is showing the performance of a 16:9 HD camera
- The performance claims are not substantiated - indeed Avigilon admits that the images published are not actual
- No disclaimer or disclosure informs the reader of the model of the camera, its resolution nor the fact that the images are not actual
Here are 4 simple changes that Avigilon can and should make to their ad that we believe would help them conform to US FTC guidelines and more accurately express their position:
The basic comparison remains but with more context and information that helps a consumer understand what is being claimed.
Can Avigilon Be Trusted?
Unfortunately, we are left with the 'Avigilon doctrine' - unless Avigilon explicitly says something is actual we must assume it is an illustrative fiction.
They continue with grossly misleading claims. From their current 16MP product page:
This is even worse than their 'up to' claims that Avigilon typically uses to fool consumers. Will Avigilon defend this by saying they didn't use the word 'actual'?
Avigilon should correct the home page ad, the 16MP claim, and carefully change any other misleading language.
Avigilon should be better than these dirty tricks, no?
UPDATE - Avigilon Replaces 16MP Claim
Now, Avigilon has replaced its 16MP marketing claim. Here's the before and after.
The claim to replace cameras has been replaced with 'provide the same resolution'. Of course, that's actually pixel count, not resolution, and has its weaknesses as well (see our resolution tutorial). A first step.
UPDATE July 2013
Avigilon has a new website home page that incorporates our recommendations, fixing the most egregious errors.
Here is an example of the new image comparisons they use: