Posted by Andy Brattle
23rd August, 2017

Insights emotive tech Insights emotive tech

Brands are using tech to read your emotions.

As market leaders you know that if Apple are adopting a new technology, then it will become common practice for others to follow in their lead. It has been rumoured that Apple’s next iPhone will incorporate facial recognition technology to allow users to access their device. This will be just the beginning, it starts as a security tool and no doubt will evolve into a marketing aid for brands looking for more targeted and effective marketing methods. Several US start-ups, along with the likes of Microsoft and Apple, are already developing software to read and track our emotional responses. It’s only a matter of time before this technology becomes an important component of marketing.

Many brands use marketing methods that tug at the heartstrings and sucker punch the soul, but what if these campaigns could read your response and make an even more powerful connection with their target audience? Generally speaking, it’s the more emotive ad campaigns that tend to get talked about and shared on social media. Festive campaigns like the John Lewis Christmas ad are eagerly anticipated. These ads make you think or feel something, they generate more conversations and have a more lasting impact. Emotive marketing is an important technique, but it’s not a new concept. What is advancing is the technology that enables us to tap into the individual, measure real-time responses, and from that create more effective and longer lasting marketing campaigns.

It’s all in the eyes

In a 30 second advert it may be that certain scenes resonate with many, whilst other images, or words, are less effective in stirring an emotional response. Realeyes is a company that uses webcams to monitor the response of consumers from movement of their eyes and head. Clients of Realeyes can even select the audience it wants to target by geography, genre and age. Realeyes has worked alongside Mars to prove that it can positively gauge the emotional value of something, and present that as a measurement of how well it will sell. The results of the test had a 75% accuracy rate, and the study was not a small sample; they tested 149 adverts across 35 brands and 22,334 people in six countries.

Evaluating emotional response can go beyond facial monitoring. Data linked to heart rate, motion, temperature, energy and audio produced by people, can all be tracked to better understand emotional responses. At Hillary Clinton’s 2016 National Democratic Convention speech, US based company Lightwave gave devices to people watching the speech. These devices monitored the audience’s heart rate, motion and body temperature. The results of the study highlighted which parts of the speech caused the most heightened emotional responses. It also enabled a better understanding of who was most moved by Hilary Clinton’s speech. This kind of insight could be invaluable to politicians and speech writers, giving them a truer understanding of their audience and the most compelling emotive language. Of course, this technology doesn’t stop at politics. It could be applied across many aspects of life, including education, retail and marketing.

Emotions are the next frontier in analytics

This method of gathering insight and consumer data relies much less on assumptions, surveys and plain guesswork. The technology is providing direct insights and data from individual consumers. Companies such as Lightwave believe that their technology will overtake click rates when it comes to measuring consumer response. As it stands, the technology is still costly and not widely available, so for the time being it is only the bigger brands that can afford such insight; however, it’s estimated that the market for facial recognition and detection could be worth $36 billion by 2021. The technology will become commonplace as cheaper models become available, so emotions are the next frontier in analytics, which poses significant implications for brands. We will see a time in the not too distant future when marketing teams will rely on their emotions database to shape the next campaign — how scary is that?

Andy Brattle is Director at Beyond, a strategic creative agency specialising in feel-good brands.