AI is revolutionizing neuromarketing

February 12, 2018

An unfortunate fact about humanity is that people lie. While this is a chronic issue for human relations, it's one that may be less of an issue for marketers of the future, thanks to non-human intervention.

For most of marketing history, the best way to find out if consumers liked a proposed product was to ask them what they thought about it. But in focus groups especially, people tend to stretch the truth, undermining the value of the entire study. In recent years, AI has offered a huge boost to neuromarketing — the science of reading consumers' minds to gauge their reactions to marketing stimuli.

Here are three of the key technologies helping neuromarketers provide more effective marketing campaigns through AI integration.

Facial recognition offers a window into the subconscious

Scientists estimate that 90 percent of human decision-making is driven by the subconscious. Facial expressions offer a window into that subconscious by communicating six basic emotions: happiness, surprise, anger, disgust, sadness, and fear. As Mona Lisa's enigmatic smile illustrates, it's not always possible to get an accurate read of complex emotions. However, using machine learning, facial detection systems can scour millions of images of faces to read emotions more accurately than a human.

Among marketers, one of the leaders in using facial recognition is Disney. The company has used the technology to read viewers' faces as they watch a film. Facial tracking tests have been run using some of Disney's most recent films including Star Wars: The Force Awakens and Jungle Book.

Biometrics offer more data points about emotion

Facial recognition and biometrics offer the means to read emotions. In 2015, Jaguar gave biometric wristbands to select Wimbledon spectators and tracked "exciting” moments during the event. These biometric wristbands could measure the wearer's heart rate and temperature — two variables that increase when the consumer feels the excitement.

When combined with AI-based facial recognition, biometric insights can offer even more accurate data about consumers' responses to marketing messaging. Such data could be a boon for event marketing in particular.

Watson reads the roar of the crowd

IBM's Watson — the company's computer system that answers questions delivered in natural language — doesn't use biometric data to gauge the excitement at an event. Instead, it relies on cues like the roar of the crowd and fist pumps to create a highlight reel for the Master's golf tournament. This technology could easily be translated to a variety of additional use cases. For example, Watson or another AI system could identify signs of shopper interest, like reading a label or an extended glance, to track burgeoning hits and successful formulas for packaging.

What makes these methods more than merely interesting is the fact that they provide the means to obtain data about consumers' emotional reactions in real time and adjust marketing messages accordingly.

With consumers' consent, there's no reason marketers can't take the approach with marketing messages in various industries. Such use would end the need to go with your gut to develop an effective marketing strategy. It would also make unreliable focus groups a thing of the past. Once AI is fully adopted in neuromarketing processes, marketers will have the ability to call on consumers to crowdsource their marketing campaigns without the fear of collecting unreliable data.

Lexi Golden is an accounts manager at Glassview, a marketplace for brands and publishers.