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Back to the Future of Marketing and Advertising with Emotion AI

09.30.19

Graham Page, Affectiva’s new Global Managing Director of Media Analytics, explains how Emotion AI can transform marketing practice, and why he left a 25-year long tenure at Kantar Millward Brown for a tech innovator.

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For the first time in 25 years, I’m the new boy. Well, sort of. It’s true that I spent over 25 years working in brand and communications research for Millward Brown (now Kantar), but I spent much of that time innovating the research tools that Kantar now deploys on a global basis. As part of that, I founded the Neuroscience Practice, that both developed and then embedded relevant tools from cognitive science, to help marketers better understand the emotional responses of consumers to their brands and campaigns. In 2011, I came across this little tech start-up that claimed it could automatically measure emotional responses by coding facial expressions--9 years and 40,000 ads later, Kantar and Affectiva now use “neuromarketing” methods at a greater scale than any other business on the planet.  So while being a full time Affectiva employee is new, I know the business better than anyone as a partner, and am really excited to be able to help grow the use of Emotion AI further, from inside the business. 

I do feel that Emotion AI is only at the beginning of its growth curve. Emotion is at the heart of human experience: it frames our thoughts and shapes our behaviors. Business increasingly understands the power of emotion, as cognitive science ideas such as behavioural economics and “type 1” processing have become more mainstream. So, measuring how people react to content, experiences and communications is increasingly important, and businesses are changing their approach to get better metrics here. Similarly, building greater emotional intelligence into businesses’  often faceless interactions with customers and consumers is a growing challenge, as technology increasingly becomes the first point of contact for customers. So Emotion AI becomes an even more critical tool for businesses to deploy, to ensure that they can continue to connect with, and delight their consumers. 

It can be argued that consumers are more than able to tell businesses how they feel, and with social media, have more avenues than ever to do so–but they only will if they can be bothered, which is less often than we think; and while people can say how they feel, they are far less able to remember which moments triggered their reactions, and why.  

Affectiva’s Emotion AI therefore allows businesses to:

  • Measure emotions and responses in the moment
  • Identify trigger events that drive emotional response and behaviour
  • Understand responses to socially sensitive issues and topics

So, the core value is that we can help businesses understand how their customers and consumers feel when they can’t or won’t say so themselves, so they can act on that to improve those people’s experience.

That means the goal we’ve set in the media analytics division is to help businesses forge better relationships with their customers, consumers and stakeholders, by building in more emotional intelligence to their dealings with people. By understanding how people react and why, businesses can build better experiences, communicate more effectively, and build stronger, more meaningful brands.  All of which leads to happier customers, and profitable business growth.  

With an unrivalled track record in helping Fortune 500 businesses understand consumer responses to brand content, all over the world, Affectiva technology is both mature, and scalable, and offers unique depth of contextual learning to help interpret cultural and market nuances in response to different types of experience. So I can see a huge opportunity for the expansion of this technology to many more applications in marketing than brand campaign research.

I’m also really excited to get my hands on the amazing dataset based on over 45,000 ads and more than 8.5 million faces analyzed. The learning about what drives emotions and human experience in this dataset is amazing. I’m looking forward to sharing some of that learning at the upcoming Emotion AI Summit, where I’ll be presenting work  Affectiva did in collaboration with Kantar about Brand Purpose. As consumers increasingly expect businesses to have a wider benefit to society, aligning around a purpose and then effectively communicating the difference a brand makes is becoming more important. So I’ll be discussing new evidence about how to ensure that a brand’s purpose resonates with customers.  I hope many of you will be able to join us in Boston to hear about it on October 15th.  Sign up here

Emotion AI Summit 2019

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