Not a mask to save your face from a foul ball or a hockey puck. No, we’re talking about a Halloween mask or a mask like those worn by actors in a Japanese opera.
If you take offense to questionnaires, avoid survey takers, and hang up on recorded telephone call, you might want to disguise yourself when you go to a sport game. You see, marketers are finding how to get information by looking at you, not for you in new ways to gather personal consumer data.
According to writer Sean Gregory of Time Magazine, there’s a computer scientist at NYU’s Movement Lab who is pushing the field of consumer research. This techie has spent the past three years developing new camera software that scans facial expressions to identify fan behavior. We’re not talking about cheering or jeering. This would be like a Nielsen rating for crowd behavior. Think what is each and everyone doing?
Are they talking on their phone? Looking at the scoreboard? Talking to their buds? Laughing? Frowning? What ARE they doing? One NFL executive, watching a demonstration at the annual MIT Sloan Sports Analytic conference in early March, said “This information is incredibly valuable!”
In better words what happens is analytics software converts the photos to heat maps with different color splotches indicating different behaviors. Getting that kind of detailed feedback could encourage team owners to improve their ads and promotions — even their teams –- to create a more engaging experience and ultimately sell more tickets. Maybe even more beer to a happy grouping! Or have vendors rush ice cream and pop to heat patches of fidgety kids!
From Karsh Hagan’s perspective, layering on this qualitative data would provide more concrete metrics for estimating the true value of sports and event sponsorships. Currently, values are based largely on average historical attendance and potential impressions.
Tracy Broderick, VP of Media at KH says, “This new technology follows the trend of moving beyond generating awareness to building a 1-to-1 connection. The ability for brands to offer a relevant interaction with real-time feedback on an event experience is exciting.”
This new research tool will get a slow rollout starting with one pro-sport organization in late summer. If it works, where does it go? Where does it end? Think airports, concert venues, shopping malls, downtown parties! Could it help with riots? Mob scenes? (Police are researchers, too.)
And, naturally, this tech raises privacy issues. But think painting your face. Or wearing a nylon over your head. That, too, would give marketers some insight into methodology.
Written by Tom Hagan, with commentary from Tracy Broderick, VP Media