Microsoft Patent Hints At Emotion-sensing Ad Delivery System

The ad industry already works to serve us ads based on our interests and whatever demographics we fall into, but Microsoft could be looking to take things to the next level if a patent application is anything to go by.

Microsoft is apparently looking into serving advertisements based on users' reactions to content. No doubt you're familiar with pop-ups asking if the ads you just saw are relevant to you but a patent application from Microsoft details a method of figuring that out without having to ask you.

The application describes a scenario in which advertisers would specify desired emotional states of users they intend to target with ads as well as emotional tags linked to those desired emotional states. A user's online activities (the application mentions browsing history, webpage content, search queries, emails, instant messages, and online games) during a period would then be processed to identify a tone associated with the content the person is interacting with during that time period. Then, the system would monitor the user's reaction to that content via their facial expressions, body movements and language, and even their speech. Based on the user's reaction, the system's integrated ad engine would match ads with emotional states and serve up content based on that. This system would also have an emotional state database that would be configured to store the emotional states assigned to users, as well as advertisements and targeting information.

When you look at it from the point of view of advertisers, it's an interesting concept, and one that could help fine-tune the practice of serving relevant ads and bring it to a whole new level. However, from a consumer perspective, it's a little bit scary to think about. This patent application was filed in late 2010 but was just last week published by the USPTO.

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  • wiyosaya
    Personally, I think the advertising industry already caters to the emotions of its buyers. Think of beer ads that suggest all men who drink beer will be surrounded with women, or of make-up ads that imply that women will be irresistible when adorned with makeup.

    As I see it, this only works to a point. If ad viewers are informed about these attempts to play to their emotions, then ads like this will become less and less effective.

    It seems that what this patent suggests is that emotional feedback be actively collected. It will only take a few activists to point out to the uninformed what is going on, and this patent will become useless.

    As I see it, this is another level of scum being added to an already manipulative industry.

    Even if you do have a web cam, they are fairly easy to shut off. That is another way to render this kind of advertising moot.
  • faster23rd
    Serving adds based on our reaction? I have the same reaction to every ad I've ever seen and will see, a f@#king straight face.
  • if you have NO money, what good is an AD?
  • dextermat
    So if I'm pissed off at adds, they won't I wont see any...

    Probably not: nice move M$. Another thing that make me nauseous.

    Trying to sell me stuff with idiotic character in adds WON'T make me wanna buy crap. My IQ is higher than 40 and if you need to advertise your crap to sell it, it's definitively not worth it.
  • teddymines
    How about the consumer specifying what they're interested in hearing about as far as products and services go, and then serve up relevant ads? For example, I am interested in homebrewing, getting a good price on an Intel i5-2500k, an SSD, a blu-ray player, Gillette Fusion blades, an oil filter for my lawnmower, and Gatorade. Besides those products, ALL ADS WILL ANNOY ME AND BE SUBJECT TO MY WRATH.

    I'll tell you what I'm interested it, not the other way around.
  • ta152h
    Microsoft would have any easy time with me, if I see the word Microsoft, I want to hit something.
  • Would be nice if it were able to sense my "adblock" emotion and back off.
  • On another thought. This could really be a very useful feature that maximizes both the "consumer's" and "producer's" surplus:

    Remember Windows 8 would start associating your offline profile to your Windows Live ID? Well:

    If it detects a person really likes one of the actors in the ads, it will suggest more ads involving the actor or actors that looks about the same.

    If it detects a person is turned off by an ad, it will disable it in the future.

    When it detects a person is annoyed by ads in general, it will conclude that "if I keep showing the ads of these companies, the person will be less inclined to purchase those. To maximize my partner's profit, I should stop showing ads altogether". Then it will work with all its partners (who are also interested) to block all ads!

    Ain't that a nice piece of technology? They can also collect statistics on how many people would like seeing advertisements. Maybe one day the companies will start to realize they should stop giving readers text-blocking, attention seeking advertisements. Or maybe it's just a dream... :(
  • Hellbound
    Would the system crash if I said - "if I see another ad I'll kill myself"?
  • bigdog44
    Like it or not, ad$ makes the world go around. If this this gives bonus/free content to those willing to deal with the ads, and an opt-out for those that don't, there should be no issues. I can put up with ads on my phone with games I get for free and if I buy a game, its ad- free. In my view it allows me more content based on what I'm willing pay for vs be exposed to ad-wise.