Apple to Read Consumers’ Minds?
Will Apple use Mac and iPhone webcams to spy on consumers? External webcams and camera-enabled devices allow technology Apple is acquiring, Emotient, to view consumers and analyze their emotions in order to create opportunities for advertisers.
On Thursday, The Wall Street Journal reported this about the acquisition: “It isn’t clear what Apple plans to do with Emotient’s technology, which was primarily sold to advertisers to help assess viewer reactions to their ads.”
Target Marketing confirmed this with information from Emotient’s site on Thursday.
“Emotions Predict Attitudes and Actions,” reads the headline on the home page. “Emotient delivers insights in the form of three key performance indicators (KPIs), and detailed data on emotions, for every face in each video frame:
- Attention — Is your advertising or product getting noticed?
- Engagement — Are people responding emotionally?
- Sentiment — Are they showing positive, negative or no emotion?
These insights add business value to advertising, media, consumer packaged goods and other industries.”
Apple public relations didn’t immediately return Target Marketing’s call for comment about webcam privacy. This could be a move to compete with Google, which got a patent approved in late 2014 to spy on what consumers were watching on TV: "System and Method for Enhancing User Search Results by Determining a Television Program Currently Being Displayed in Proximity to an Electronic Device."
This information could help marketers with the creative process, as they’ll know if what former Target Marketing blogger Denny Hatch calls emotional hot buttons of fear, greed, guilt, anger, exclusivity, salvation and flattery are succeeding based on corresponding facial expressions.
However, consumers are known to find this kind of technology invasive. Just ask parents in the Philadelphia suburb of Lower Merion. “Lower Merion School District Settles Webcam Spying Lawsuits For $610,000,” an AP article from 2010, says “The Lower Merion School District admits it captured thousands of webcam photographs and screen shots from student laptops in a misguided effort to locate missing computers.”
Does the anonymity-therefore-not-violating-privacy statement rest well with marketers? How have marketers used the Emotient technology? A company video shows it being used on a focus group watching ads.
Please respond in the comments section below.
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