Is Avigilon 95 Camera Claim Violating FTC Guidelines?

Author: John Honovich, Published on Jul 23, 2012

One of our industry's most ridiculous marketing claims is Avigilon statement that their 29MP camera "can replace up to 95 conventional cameras." Grounded on the resolution = quality myth, virtually no one will ever replace 95 cameras with the Avigilon 29MP. Despite this, it makes great ad copy. Fortunately, the US FTC is cracking down on ‘up to' claims with tightened guidelines. In this note, we examine how this will impact surveillance manufacturers like Avigilon.

Background

Marketing people love to use ‘up to' claims because it allows them to promote a very aggressive, unrealistic number (e.g., lose up to 100 pounds, make up to $100 million, etc.) even if the typical results are dramatically less. They know from experience that non experts will regularly mistake the maximum claim with the average experience. Defenders of this practice will laugh and say "ha suckers", ‘buyer beware' or ‘they should have known better'.

Thankfully, most governments have departments that regulate and restrict unscrupulous marketers from taking advantage of buyers. In the US, that department is the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).

US FTC Guidelines

While the FTC has always had guidelines on ‘up to' claims, until now they have been fairly subjective and broad. Past rulings said that ‘up to' marketing had to have, "appreciable number of consumers under circumstances normally and expectably encountered by consumers" to meet that claim - whatever that means. Additionally, the National Advertising Division, a self-regulatory group, advised that at least 10% had to experience the maximum benefit claimed.

Now, the US FTC has strengthened those guidelines based on a newly released study. In it, the FTC found that a significant percent of people mistook ‘up to' claims to be exact claims (i.e., instead or ‘replacing up to 95 cameras', the survey respondent believed that it was ‘replacing 95 cameras'). Based on the study, the FTC declares that:

"Advertisers using these claims should be able to substantiate that consumers are likely to achieve the maximum results promised under normal circumstances."

This is a much tougher test that many advertisers, including Avigilon, will struggle to meet.

The ‘Up To' 95 Camera Claim

Get Video Surveillance News In Your Inbox
Get Video Surveillance News In Your Inbox

The Avigilon ‘replacing up to' 95 cameras fails on many levels:

  • While the Avigilon 29MP camera can only be installed at a single location, multiple conventional cameras can and normally are used at many locations to get different angles and more direct views of subjects.
  • Many of the pixels are wasted as the Avigilon only has a single FoV while multiple conventional cameras can be optimized for specific target areas and to avoid obstacles / walls, etc.
  • The Avigilon camera has 93% lower frame rate than conventional cameras (2 vs 30) and 75% lower than what is typically used (2 vs 8).
  • The Avigilon camera consumes 10x the amount of bandwidth per pixel than conventional cameras (JPEG2000 vs H.264).

This does not mean that the Avigilon 29MP is a bad camera. While it can play an important and somewhat unique role in surveillance systems, it will not replace anywhere near 95 conventional cameras.

Another surveillance example of ‘up to' claims is NVR manufacturer Timesight who used to claim storage reductions of ‘up to 90%' leading to a classic IPVM debate. That noted, today, most of the ‘up to' claims in surveillance center around camera replacement (Arecont is another frequent offender here).

Avigilon's Response

We shared our concerns with Avigilon, noting the FTC guidelines and calling out their 95 camera claim.

Avigilon says they adhere to the FTC Guidelines noting that, "comparing purely pixels you would need up to 95 analog or conventional to capture an image of the same resolution." Indeed, their product overview page notes that the 29MP "gives you the same resolution as 95+ VGA cameras."

Avigilon declined to answer what percentage of customers replaced 95 analog cameras with a single 29MP camera nor what percentage were planning to deploy 75+ analog cameras choose instead to use a single 29MP camera. They stressed that they are, "speaking to the resolution equivalency to help people understand the scope of coverage they can achieve."

If Avigilon wants to speak purely about resolution, than they should do so and refrain from talking about camera replacement because replacing 95 cameras is rarely, if ever, feasible and does not seem to meet the FTC's guideline that "consumers are likely to achieve the maximum results promised under normal circumstances."

Impact on Manufacturers

Ultimately, the impact will depend on how afraid manufacturers are of FTC penalties. FTC monitoring is traditionally not as vigilant as local policing so many advertisers can fall through the cracks. As such manufacturers may view it as a tactical risk worth taking.

That noted, strengthened guidelines empower the public to protest and to file complaints directly with the FTC. We are excited that the FTC has done this. These marketing claims hurt the industry by rewarding unscrupulous manufacturers. We look forward to calling out future egregious ‘up to' claims.

3 reports cite this report:

Avigilon HD Multi-sensor: First Varifocal Multi-Imager Cameras on Apr 15, 2015
2015 is the year of multi-imager cameras, with Axis unveiling a 33MP model, Pelco announcing DragonFly and DW coming out with a 48MP...
Avigilon First to Demo 7K Cameras on Apr 06, 2015
While many manufacturers are announcing and showing 4K cameras, Avigilon has declared it will be the first to demo 7K cameras. In this note, we...
Stop Careless Mistakes on Oct 06, 2014
Careless mistakes are a big problem, especially among inexperienced people who naively scan, skip or assume. Whether you are reading a quote,...
Comments : PRO Members only. Login. or Join.

Related Reports

Dell Launches IoT for Surveillance on Sep 05, 2018
Historically, Dell has been a PC and server provider (e.g., "Dude, you're getting a Dell") and widely used for surveillance storage. However, in...
Hikvision FIPS 140-2 Cybersecurity Certification Examined on Aug 27, 2018
A week after the US government passed a law banning Hikvision, Hikvision announced it had obtained a FIPS 140-2 certification from the US...
$25 Million US COPS SVPP School Security Funding Examined on Jul 24, 2018
The US Congress has authorized the School Violence Prevention Program (SVPP) to fund various security measures and training to mitigate active...
Fail: Dahua "Didn't Check The Lux Levels but It Was Dark" on Jul 20, 2018
Dahua UK has been promoting their camera quality on LinkedIn: I, and others, asked what the lux level of the scene was. (background: Lux Rating...
Directory of Video Surveillance Startups on Jul 18, 2018
This directory provides a list of video surveillance startups to help you see and research what companies are new or not yet broadly known entity...
Drops Dahua, Fenner Becomes ISS CMO on Jul 09, 2018
Hired to improve Dahua's miserable marketing just last year, Janet Fenner has quit Dahua, joining VMS manufacturer ISS as Chief Marketing...
Pelco Is For Sale on Jun 27, 2018
Pelco is for sale, being shopped by an investment bank, IPVM has confirmed from multiple sources. The company, acquired by Schneider Electric in...
Snap Surveillance Profile on Jun 26, 2018
There are not a lot of video surveillance companies that survive 9 years with only one feature that makes their product stand out. In the case of...
Hikvision Covers Up Racial Profiling And AI Error on Jun 25, 2018
Faced with global scrutiny, led by the US government-funded Voice of America (VOA), Hikvision has covered up evidence showing their racial...
IFSEC 2018 Final Show Report on Jun 20, 2018
IPVM attended the IFSEC show for the first time this year. The Chinese took over the show, centered on Hikvision, flanked by Dahua, Huawei and a...

Most Recent Industry Reports

BluePoint Aims To Bring Life-Safety Mind-Set To Police Pull Stations on Sep 20, 2018
Fire alarm pull stations are commonplace but police ones are not. A self-funded startup, BluePoint Alert Solutions is aiming to make police pull...
SIA Plays Dumb On OEMs And Hikua Ban on Sep 20, 2018
OEMs widely pretend to be 'manufacturers', deceiving their customers and putting them at risk for cybersecurity attacks and, soon, violation of US...
Axis Vs. Hikvision IR PTZ Shootout on Sep 20, 2018
Hikvision has their high-end dual-sensor DarkfighterX. Axis has their high-end concealed IR Q6125-LE. Which is better? We bought both and tested...
Avigilon Announces AI-Powered H5 Camera Development on Sep 19, 2018
Avigilon will be showcasing "next-generation AI" at next week's ASIS GSX. In an atypical move, the company is not actually releasing these...
Favorite Request-to-Exit (RTE) Manufacturers 2018 on Sep 19, 2018
Request To Exit devices like motion sensors and lock releasing push-buttons are a part of almost every access install, but who makes the equipment...
25% China Tariffs Finalized For 2019, 10% Start Now, Includes Select Video Surveillance on Sep 18, 2018
A surprise move: In July, when the most recent tariff round was first announced, the tariffs were only scheduled for 10%. However, now, the US...
Central Stations Face Off Against NFPA On Fire Monitoring on Sep 18, 2018
Central stations are facing off against the NFPA over what they call anti-competitive language in NFPA 72, the standard that covers fire alarms....
Hikvision USA Starts Layoffs on Sep 18, 2018
Hikvision USA has started layoffs, just weeks after the US government ban was passed into law. Inside this note, we examine: The important...
Chinese Government Praises Hikvision For Following Xi Jinping on Sep 17, 2018
The Chinese government council responsible for managing China's state-owned companies praised Hikvision’s obedience to China’s authoritarian leader...

The world's leading video surveillance information source, IPVM provides the best reporting, testing and training for 10,000+ members globally. Dedicated to independent and objective information, we uniquely refuse any and all advertisements, sponsorship and consulting from manufacturers.

About | FAQ | Contact