Consumer insight technology & the crawl to monetization

I was talking to a guy I know last night in a pub in Ranelagh about tech R&D in consumer behaviour. Our conversation turned to the startling changes in pace in bringing tech ideas to the market (angel or venture capital, in a lot of cases, rather than direct to the marketplace). My friend works for Fatronik, and he’s working on sensor technology to detect emotions, with the aim of turning ’emotional information’ into data that companies can use to better target adverts, or, more distally, to simply understand what people do at home.

The tech in this areas can be staggering. Proteus Biomedical have gone to the market with a range of ingestible sensors that are placed on pills; stomach acid activates the sensors and passes metabolic data from wristwatch processors to a medic’s laptop, allowing the medic to check that medicine is being taken and that its effects are trackable.  TRIL is a major player in the new market around smart homes, where sensors are located to track the physiology and activity of elderly people, enabling more independent living.

Four things emerged in the chat that I think have been conveniently overlooked by some of the research agencies and companies that are working in the field of next generation consumer insight technology. The first is that there was a rush of applications in the area of e-health around things such as real-time patient behaviour information, and these applications don’t automatically transfer to consumer insight technology. Second, these research initiatives, farsighted as they have been, can look a little outdated when we consider where smartphone apps can go. Third, the cost of the tech can be huge, stopping even large marcomms groups from investing in it. Fourth, it’s not plain how we can analyse the data to better target consumers: most emotion detection tech ends at positive and negative emotion detection, and that’s about it.

Although it’s fairly funky to  see where attitude detection technology can go (see Renault’s use of RFID tech), it’s still far from plain sailing to actually make money out of these technologies, and to construct a convincing business model.  The marcomms sector needs more hardheaded analysis of how to cheaply take up and deploy such technologies.

Posted by Ken.

One Response to “Consumer insight technology & the crawl to monetization”
  1. Enrique says:

    Hi Ken, a very interesting review. I agree that price is still a problem that impedes further adoption of emotion detection technology. An interesting company that has been able to integrate affective computing and marketing research is Emsense ( Cheers

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