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Brief Published: 1 Mar 2013

Facial Recognition Delivers Better Ads


A new product from German research group GfK is promising to give advertisers greater insight into the effectiveness of their work. The EMO Scan system uses biometric technology to measure emotional responses to online advertisements, showing which kind of message or delivery works best.

The system uses computer webcams, with the permission of their owners, to track and analyse a viewer’s facial movements, in real time, as they watch advertisements. The product won the 2012 Innovation Prize from the German association for market and social research, and is now available globally.

“A low-involvement viewing experience is absolutely essential to capture people’s spontaneous reactions to the advertising creative,” says Nathalie Mandavit, global director of GfK Communication Efficiency.

Take part in a demonstration of EMO Scan

Other companies have launched similar systems. WPP-owned research group Millward Brown has a system that uses Affectiva facial coding software. Clients include Coca-Cola and Unilever.

Meanwhile, US chipmaker Intel is aiming to bring facial recognition to TV set-top boxes sometime in 2013. The technology would enable Intel to ‘rebundle’ channels and services based on who watches them. It would not, as yet, identify individuals, but could distinguish between adults and children and classify by gender.

As explored in our coverage of Big Data and Life-enhancing Tech, such developments can be of massive benefit to brands, but can also polarise consumer opinion. Some enjoy the tailored content it can provide, while others fear a loss of privacy.