Gilbane Digital Content Conference: How Your Favorite Brands Know What You’re Thinking

Nov 28, 2017


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The Gilbane Digital Content Conference kicked off with a deep dive into the customer psyche with back-to-back keynote presentations. One thing is clear: the future is here and it knows what you’re thinking and doing.

Rachael Schwartz, VP, Product Management & General Manager, Keuriguser Connect, Keurig Green Mountain, kicked the morning off with a talk about building customer conversations. How does a coffeemaker converse with its users? Data.

Keurig has built its business model on providing individual servings of coffee, so it only makes sense to take that personalized cup a bit further and recommend coffee to users. But many people simply don’t have the vocabulary to articulate what it is they like (or don’t like) about a cup of coffee. So Keurig built a simple, easy to take quiz and built algorithms to help suggest coffee to users. A couple of days after a user receives their coffee, Keurig checks in to see if the user actually liked the flavor or not. The company then adds that feedback to its data to make better suggestions the next time around.

Of course, Keurig’s model relies on customer feedback. Gabi Zijderveld, CMO, Affectiva told Gilbane audiences how her company is using “Emotion AI” to help brands dig even deeper into customer psyches. During an audience demonstration, Zijderveld showed how Affectiva uses an iPad camera to read faces and determine the likelihood an emotion is present on a scale of 0-100. So, when an audience volunteer smiled into the camera, a happy face emoji would appear on the screen next to him.

Spun out of MIT’s Media Lab, Affectiva uses data from 87 countries, 6 million faces analyzed, and 2 billion facial frames to inform its conclusions. Zijderveld stressed the need for globally diverse data to prevent having bias in the data, and in your algorithm.

Of course, this all sounds a bit invasive and Affectiva knows it has to tread carefully. For instance, Affectiva’s technology can be deployed in a retail setting with a camera embedded on the shelf. ShelfPoint can tell you a shopper’s age, emotions, gender, or ethnicity and then deliver ads accordingly. According to Zijderveld, impulse buys and purchases increase 40% when this technology is in use. But you can imagine how creepy this could be for some people, which is why there are signs up telling shoppers they are on camera whenever this is use.

Affectiva sees other uses for this technology. For instance, a connected car might be able to tell when a driver is drowsy or angry, and compensate accordingly.

Both Keurig and Affectiva talked about the possibility of integrating their systems with other sources of data—like a FitBit—to create even richer sources of data and make other recommendations. It’s entirely possible that within a few years your Keurig maker will tell you when it’s time to switch to decaf based on the sleep data from your FitBit, and your connected car will compensate for your lousy driving based on the fact that Affectiva has told the car you’re sleepy (because you didn’t heed Keurig’s warning and switch to decaf when you should have). Depending on your personal preferences, this is either spooky or really cool.


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