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.
  • Anonymous
    if you have NO money, what good is an AD?