If Moore’s Law were applied to the monetization of online video content, it would say that as the amount of content increases, the ways in which advertisers attempt to understand (read: persuade) consumers increases tenfold. Sometimes, those efforts go even beyond the under-the-radar (and scary) announcement that Verizon plans on sharing its data about user behavior on mobile devices with AOL’s massive ad network. The term being tossed around is a “supercookie,” and let’s be clear — we’re not talking Famous Amos here.
As stakeholders learn more about the inner workings of digital audience behavior, there seems to be no end in sight for clever attempts to dive deeper into the nuances of how we, as a collection of target markets, make decisions. Tracking cookies, Facebook Connect and all manner of tags provide mountains of information, and if wisely analyzed, can reveal all sorts of information that enable those with ad dollars to effectively pinpoint their spend.
We now have entered an era of calibrating emotional response that makes ordinary textbook focus groups look like kindergarten recess. What that means is there are new ways to understand how I react when watching a pre-roll ad for a Kia. Am I smiling (positive response), looking angry (negative response) or expressing some other sort of measurable expression? One way to gather such information is by using artificial intelligence, which is how mobile ad provider Decisive approaches the problem. At a recent Disney Accelerator Demo Day in Burbank, Decisive CEO Dave Dundas showcased his company’s technology, which he hopes to roll out in the next few months.
“Clicks don’t measure engagement in an increasingly social world filled with content,” Dundas recently told MediaPost.
Moving from the world of AI to tricked-out wearables, we find EMOTIV, another presenter at the Disney event. EMOTIV is a bioinformatics company that employs electroencephalography (EEG) to understand mental performance and monitor emotions. To accomplish this, EMOTIV uses a Bluetooth-powered wearable which looks like some sort of cool VR gaming headset device. According to the company’s website, “our detection algorithms enable Emotiv Brainwear to interpret signals measured as either mental commands, facial expressions or brain performance metrics.”
I’m all in favor of ad dollars being spent more efficiently, and only being served video content that is of interest to me, but I question whether the “Young Frankenstein” approach is over the top. The way I see it, the goal of seeking audience cooperation in gathering consumer data must require a significant exchange of value. Google weakly promises (as do others) that if you let us track you, we will make your online experience much better in terms of search results. Nielsen says if you are a part of our TV measurement universe…,” you will receive a gift for your participation. All we want you to do is to watch TV like you normally would.” Is that an exchange of value? Not sure.
At issue is the lack of governance around the way in which consumers are poked and prodded to learn more about what makes them tick. Research, data and analysis are great aids, but without industry rules and regulations that prevent abuses, a hammer in the wrong hands becomes a weapon instead of a constructive tool.