How iPhone X’s Facial Recognition Will (and Won’t) Change Marketing
The iPhone X is (almost) here. And it’s got smoother bezels! And a nicer camera! And it retails for approximately $400 more than your iPhone 8. And if you’re not sure how you feel about that…
Well, the iPhone X will soon know exactly how you feel about that.
Most of the discussion about iPhone X has rightly focused on its Face ID feature, a facial recognition system that authenticates multiple images of your face to unlock the device and authorize payments. Just as Touch ID captures your fingerprint from various angles, Face ID captures and compares multiple images of your face, relying on its sophisticated TrueDepth camera system to provide a level of detail previously unseen in camera phones. The feature is programmed to watch and learn how your face changes over time. According to Apple, you can wear glasses, put on makeup, or grow a beard. Face ID will know you anywhere.
Many security and privacy issues have yet to be resolved. However, the device’s ability to read, store, and learn from subtle facial expressions, combined with Apple’s massive install base, makes the iPhone X the key to building the world’s largest database of human emotions. Depending on how (or if) Apple plans to distribute that data, this single feature could revolutionize how brands market to consumers on their phones. For example…
#1: Say Goodbye to Liking Things
Facebook’s Like Button is unquestionably its most powerful brand asset. It has revolutionized how we measure engagement and social currency. And if the iPhone X takes off, it is about to become a dinosaur.
The Like button is popular but imprecise. Did you like this video a lot more, or only slightly more, than the last one you liked? Were there any parts you liked more than others? And by the way, what do you mean by “like”? It was this need for greater precision that led Facebook to introduce its successful lineup of six reactions… but even that cannot possibly compare to the breadth and depth of facial responses that Face ID is able to capture and interpret. Advertisers will be able to see precisely how consumers are reacting to ad content, in real time, requiring absolutely no action on the user’s part.
#2: Say Hello To Your Branded Self
One of the iPhone X’s more lighthearted innovations, Animoji uses your voice and facial expressions to create animated emoji loops you can send as messages. Beyond the fun of seeing how you’d look as a poop emoji, this technology will create massive opportunities for brands, particularly in the realm of entertainment. Imagine being able to create emotionally expressive videos of yourself as Buzz Lightyear or Deadpool… or pretty much anyone.
#3: Chatbots Will Become Care Bears
From your bank’s customer service line to Mattel’s Hello Barbie, chatbots are now dwelling among us and doing fine. Upgraded with emotional intelligence (as with this prototype Emotional Chatting Machine), customer relations management is about to become a lot more responsive.
#4: How You Feel Will Change What You See
Although it may conjure up Minority Report-like visions of ads talking back to you, emotionally aware advertising isn’t as far away—or as radical—as you might think. Facebook reactions have already influenced how advertisers create content to elicit certain emotions. The day when ad content can be targeted to how you’re feeling—or how much weight you’ve gained recently, or how closely you’re paying attention to the ad—isn’t that far from the here and now.
#5: What Won’t Change: Consumers Get the Last Word
Facial recognition isn’t the future of advertising: it’s the present. Tesco, Google, Facebook, Nike, and Virgin Mobile have already experimented with content that’s customized based on face recognition and user responses. Now that Apple’s on board, the experiment is poised to become a common feature of the advertising landscape. The job of advertisers will be to provide a superior experience that rewards consumers for participating in the experience. If they decide they’re getting fair value, then their faces truly are their fortunes.
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