tech, blog, detection, emotion

Emotion detection technology: What is it and how will it change marketing?

By 22nd November 2016 No Comments

We hear a lot of different marketing buzzwords that seem to disappear just as fast as they arrive.

But, if the latest hot topic proves to have the substance behind its attractive idea, then it could be something which sticks around a little longer…

Emotion detection technology claims to have the intelligence to change your website, marketing and adverts dynamically, based on your audience’s emotional reactions.

It sounds futuristic and almost Big Brother like, but the realisation of the idea is getting closer and closer to reality and, in a way, it’s already here!

Emotions are the driving force behind purchasing decisions and if you can tap into these emotions through purchasing, you can persuade people to take the plunge on your products or services. Take Christmas, for example…

Every year, the big retailers will release big budget Christmas TV adverts that say little about what they offer or how they offer it, but consistently succeed at tugging the heartstrings. The trick is to make you feel perhaps sad or downbeat, then incredibly happy at the end. You then associate this emotional rollercoaster with the brand and it sticks in your mind, creating a bond between retailer and consumer.

Christmas adverts have now become a huge event every year because of this but imagine you could do this for your brand on a much more inexpensive, smaller scale.

Where is the technology currently?

It’s no secret that the big tech players are investing huge amounts of money into emotional detection.professional-services-marketing

Back in January this year, Apple bought Emotient a facial recognition tech company, that has a patented method of collecting over 100,000 facial images a day. We could well see this implemented into future iPhones which will not only be able to unlock the phone based on facial recognition, but also allow advertisers to serve up adverts directly to people who look like they are showing a type of emotion.

Another company, called Affectiva, claims to have built the world’s largest database of facial expressions and their corresponding emotions, and is using its discoveries to help media companies, market research firms and brands get more detailed consumer insights.

It’s reported that by 2020, the emotional detection tech market will be worth over $20 billion and, as a result, that makes it a highly investible area.

Companies like Unilever, P&G, Honda, Kelloggs, Mars and Coca Cola are already using emotional detection tech to fine tune and split test their adverts, by testing emotional reactions of certain audiences.

Emotional marketing sells

Multiple studies point to emotional marketing as more effective than other forms of marketing. Based on an analysis of 1,400 successful ad campaigns, Brand Immortality by Hamish Pringle and Peter Field claimed that advertising campaigns focused on emotional content performed approximately twice as well (31% vs. 16%) as those with only rational content.

“If we don’t make you cry, we fail. It’s about emotion.” - Lorraine Twohill, Google Senior VP of Global Marketing

As consumers, we first decide on a purchase based on emotion and then try to justify it through the more rational parts of our brain. Brand loyalty comes from repeat, longer term emotional interaction with the brand.

This sort of marketing is also often thought to be associated with B2C, but B2B companies have also successfully harnessed this sort of marketing too. “From Promotion to Emotion: Connecting B2B Customers to Brands” by CES shows examples of big B2B brands marketing personally to the buyer and states that B2B buyers are actually more emotionally attached to the brand they purchased from than B2C buyers.

The future is already here

What you may not realise is that you probably already engage with an emotion detection system, or at least know someone who has.

Facebook recently added the ability to ‘react’ to a post, rather than simply ‘liking’ it. Your use of their little emoticons of happiness, sadness and anger show your friends (and Facebook) how you feel about any given post.

Facebook’s algorithm takes into consideration the sort of reactions you give to posts, showing you more posts that are similar to those you have given positive reactions to and fewer of the ones that you have reacted negatively to. It’s only a matter of time until this is incorporated into its advertising structure, and we could soon see hyper-targeted ads that are shown to people who are in a certain emotional state.

But it’s not just social media that is taking advantage of this new tech.

Technology, like our own phones, computers and even appliances, may eventually have emotional detection built into them. We will see more personalised experiences and messaging based on our facial expressions and type of engagement. For example, your refrigerator might sense that you are hungry and display a series of recipes. It sounds ridiculous now, but within the next 10 years this sort of tech could well be a reality.

Will this sort of tech be a marketing revolution? Well at the moment it’s difficult to say, but judging by how quickly emotional detection technology is moving and the marketing industry’s desire to leverage every little bit of advantage it can find, it could become a core marketing concept, as soon as the technology is a little more readily available.

Author Matthew Wood

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