Sometimes an article is produced that really makes your mind wander. An article of that dignity has recently been featured in TechCrunch and is written by Cavan Canavan, co-founder of the motion tracking company FocusMotion. The topic at the table is what currently is labeled as biometric marketing.
The area of biometric marketing is very sparsely covered in the tech press, which is why this field seems so intriguing and novel when one begins to contemplate around the matter. Actually, the article published in TechCrunch is the only one of its kind we have found this far. It deserves far greater attention among all the entrepreneurs, marketers and aspiring futurists out there – so we will try our best to bring increased interest and convey why biometric marketing could be so extremely impactful.
Firstly, as we all probably have observed, the smartwatches and fitness devices currently appears quite stagnant where it comes to what they can do. This statement is not synonymous to saying that the wearables industry lacks momentum, as Mistbreaker earlier has argued in the article “IDG Critiques 2015 Tech Trend Predictions – But is it a Joke?” It simply means that the industry is stagnant where it comes to useful features. Actually, as many as 285 million fitness devices could be worn by humans by 2018, whereas smartwatches might be present on the hands of 92 million individuals.
Conversely, the TechCrunch contributor argues that the current wearable devices are a commoditized mess, and we could not agree more. The few, simple, features delivered by today’s wearables are not exactly mind-blowing. These are just neatly packaged and compiled functions that we have seen in devices such as pulse watches and step counters for more than a decade. Many are the ones wishing that the wearable devices could do more than just count steps and track sleep.
Disappointingly, small companies seldom hold the internal level of creativity and innovative capacity that is needed for continuous evolvement – even if they launched the innovation from the beginning. The pace needs to be sustained and continuous development is a must! A great way of doing this could be to open up the devices’ internal world of sensors to third parties and utilize open innovation.
However, we are presently standing at the frontier to something big. The parameters brought about by biometric sensors will be able to give insights into VO2 max, sympathetic nervous response, blood glucose level, EKG, temperature and other factors of medical interest. The devices will not merely tell us how we performed during a workout, but will provide surveillance of our overall medical condition and also help people with deceases in their daily struggles.
There is more though, since this type of data is not only beneficial to individuals but to companies serving these individuals as well. Real interesting scenarios suddenly become closer to reality when we think about the sensory data used in what is called biometric marketing. An array of new and individually tailored services will very likely emerge, since understanding of customers will be available on an almost creepily granular level.
We are not going to weigh in on whether users would want to share the new data or not, since it is definitely a double-edged sword. In any case, it currently seems as if there is no limits regarding how much information customers are willing to share if they experience the offer on the table to be worth it. Thus, we just focus on the possibilities and not the inevitable downsides of the technology. Feel free to read the Pew Research article “The Future of Privacy” for interesting information on the matter though.
Regarding these insinuated possibilities of biometric marketing, Canavan claims that we can soon find the answers to a new “how” question in marketing. He founds this extremely exiting. How are users doing? How are they feeling? Being able to answer these questions means that the biometric sensors will not change the world at the point of interaction, but in the back where the sensors are located. The usage of the granular data regarding our perceptivity and mood could be extremely powerful in almost unprecedented ways.
Biometric responses gathered while you are watching Netflix, interacting on Facebook or having a Starbucks experience could greatly enhance personal customization. Your entertainment choices could be built around your emotional preference for the moment, which would reduce the risk of disappointment. Similarly, companies would not have to rely on pen and paper surveys anymore, since they will now exactly how you react to their offerings.
In the world of computer and smartphone games, the providing companies would have direct access to your emotional response to a specific stimulus. By having this information, each player’s experience could be tailored to fit that specific individual where it comes to rewards and other in-game features triggering emotional reactions. The digital dating business on the other hand, could leverage biometric profiling to align similar emotional response patterns.
Moreover, everyday consumption could change as well. The stores you walk into could monitor your state in every situation, from entering a store to encountering an employee to other various points of interactions taking place in-store. However, in the imaginary future impacted by biometrical marketing the largest segment could actually be advertising.
This is both horrific and exiting, and advertising will probably fulfill its purpose of making us buy more by responding better to their timely offerings by utilizing the collected biometrical data. At the same time, there are obvious benefits for the individuals. Imagine a daily life where you would not get particularly disturbed by advertising, at least not to the current extent. Companies will exploit biometrical marketing in order to penetrate your emotional fence, targeting you when you are in a specific mood.
If you are angry and not having a particularly happy day in general, you would probably get annoyed by certain types of commercials – you are just not perceptible to happy and smiling faces. Similarly, there are certain types of commercials that will not break through your emotional fence when you feel at top of the world.
The new field of marketing is inarguably interesting and we will probably encounter it sooner than we think (as often is the case with technology). We need to be aware of the ups and downs, but since it is Christmas we will force ourselves into a bewildered state for now. Our emotional fences evidentially have big gaps right now, so companies please come and get us.