“Feelings, whoa, whoa, whoa, feelings….” as the Morris Albert song goes…are not always expressed in a meaningful way by everybody.
While it may not matter as much on an interpersonal level, when there are millions of advertising/marketing dollars on the line you may want a better understanding of consumer “feelings”.
For decades, advertising and marketing agencies have employed focus groups to help their clients better understand their customers. However, using the more traditional methods of collecting data isn’t always fool proof.
Today there is a way to take the guesswork out of interpreting focus group results using facial recognition software.
High Tech Answer
There are 2 primary companies who have dove into this field with both feet.
1) Affectiva is a spinoff of MIT’s Media Lab and their software claims to be able to get an accurate measurement of people’s true feelings with what they claim is the largest database of facial expressions, correlate-able to their appropriate emotions.
And 2) Eyeris who have already sold their flagship software EmoVu to 3-letter law enforcement for use during interrogations. Now, Eyeris is exploring how to embed EmoVu into consumer electronics. The idea is to tap into the camera of a smart TV (or phone) to understand what the people in the room are enjoying (or not) and to make recommendations for other programming to watch! Rest assured it’s a feature that the consumer will be able to turn on or off.
Knight Rider Revisited
Both companies are considering their technology for the automotive industry. Imagine a car that will recognize your facial expressions and react accordingly. If you were falling asleep…it might suggest you pull over for a nap or if it saw that you were getting aggravated in traffic it might suggest some relaxing music. Another application might be in hospitals to gauge the true feelings of post operative patients to help make treatment decisions to aid with their recovery.
When it comes to understanding consumer behaviour the implications for this kind of technology are far reaching. Any advertising or marketing firm who want to be able to give the best information to their clients should at least be considering this software.
The technology shouldn’t be used as a cover-all but to help in asking the right focus group participant, the right question. If one subject reacts in a negative way to a commercial or product presentation for example, it opens the door to specifically ask them a question to understand why.
A warning: the data attainable by facial recognition software should be used as an aid, not as pure illumination.
I have always been and remain a fan of Clotaire Rapaille‘s method of gaining insight for his clients, but if you are looking for a high tech solution one of the aforementioned will get the job done.