8 brands marketing to moods

Mood marketing is the new kid on the block, but some of the world’s biggest brands are already trying it out. Here we profile eight brands that have got in the mood for mood marketing.

Amazon Alexa plays doctors and nurses

We’ve all heard of robotic technology helping with pioneering surgery, but now – thanks to an Amazon patent – everyone’s favourite robot Alexa could soon identify our symptoms when we’re sick and even suggest products to cure us.

The patent filing covers the tracking of emotions through speech, which means Alexa could identify boredom, tiredness or sickness, just from hearing you speak – and even pick up on coughs and sniffles – before suggesting and ordering products online that can help. And, the tech doesn’t stop there.

Ads could be targeted to people depending on their mood. So a singer-songwriter could reach ‘bored’ people with a new, upbeat single: a handy way to boost sales – and moods.

 

Toyota’s full-throttle emoji marketing

Given that around 5 billion emojis are used on Facebook messenger every day, we’re not surprised that brands like Toyota are utilising them as a source of insight into our mood. As part of their Camry car launch, they sent anybody who tweeted about the car with an emoji a special video to match their emoji mood.

Consumers who tweeted a smiley face, for example, would be served up an ad with emoji faced-people driving the Camry. In total, 83 personalised videos were created to match their customers’ – and potential customers’ – online mood.

 

Snickers spots hungry music fans

Under the umbrella of their famous ‘You’re not you when you’re hungry’ campaign, Snickers has teamed up with Spotify to create the Hunger Spotter – an algorithm that analysed listeners’ historical and real-time music data.

The algorithm worked by spotting when someone could be hungry (in this case the trigger was anybody listening to an out-of-character genre), then playing them a personalised, tongue-in-cheek song reminding them to grab a snack.

 

Spotify tunes into us all

It’s not only Snickers who are plugging into musical insights with Spotify. Over the past few years, we’ve seen Spotify amp up its marketing opportunities to help brands target consumers with ads that match their mood. They’re deduced from the sort of music you’re listening to, coupled with where and when you’re listening to it, alongside available third-party data.

Although there’s nothing especially machiavellian about it, Guardian journalist Arwa Mahdawi finds it depressing that our personal, private moments with music are increasingly being turned into data points and sold to advertisers.

Those of us feeling sad after a breakup and listening to a spot of Adele might now receive ads for pain-alleviating products like chocolate, ice cream, tissues or maybe even dating sites.

Is it morally right that brands should be capitalising on normal human emotions – and even our suffering?

 

Bank of England monitors the beats

Tracking consumer moods through music isn’t only a game for big business; The Bank of England’s Chief Economist believes these new research techniques are less biased – and therefore better – than traditional ‘survey’ approaches.

In a recent speech, Andy Haldane cited a study by California’s Claremont University, which analysed themes in the lyrics of US Top 100 songs, drawing parallels between those themes and the behaviour of the Nasdaq, the Dow Jones, and S&P 500. Songs about ‘surprise’ tended to indicate falls in the market, while those with ‘danceability’ suggested rises.

Haldane believes that, in future, even data around popular books, video games, and TV shows, could be used to ‘create a real-time map of flows across the economy’, which can ultimately help shape financial policy.

 

Ebay and its mood tool

Ebay is helping brands to target shoppers who are in the mood to buy, with the mood marketing tool it launched in 2016.

It uses anonymised behavioural data to detect what mood people are in, in the moment, and shows them the most relevant ad to increase engagement and click-through.

Rob Bassett, head of UK and EU multinational advertising at eBay says the tool will help retailers implement advertising campaigns that are less about selling and more about helping people to buy.

 

Jaguar serves ace ad at Wimbledon

Analysing our moods through music downloads is just one way to gather valuable insight. Another key technique, using AI technology – like facial recognition software or heart rate monitoring ­– is set to become huge in the next twenty years or so. And brands like Jaguar are already exploring it.

For their #Feelwimbledon campaign, they teamed up with Mindshare to capture the mood of the Wimbledon crowd using in-ground atmospheric sensors and biometric cuffs worn by spectators. Combining this data with global sentiment-tracking on Facebook and Twitter, they produced data that could be used to target the crowd with ads aligning with their emotions.

It might not be too long before advertising that reads consumers’ emotional states is out in the ether, whether that’s via facial recognition or voice recognition software. Although admittedly there are a few hurdles to jump first, especially around privacy and consent…

 

Facebook and master manipulation

Facebook is a leader in data mining and mood-marketing, but it’s courted a lot of controversy in the last four years. In 2014, after conducting an experiment where the homepages of 689,000 users were tweaked in order to learn how mood could be manipulated for marketing purposes, Facebook landed itself in hot water.

Last year, the brand found itself in trouble again when it came to light that they were collecting data that would allow advertisers to target emotionally vulnerable young people in Australia. According to a report shared by an executive, the company can monitor posts and photos in real-time to determine when young people feel ‘stressed’, ‘defeated’, ‘overwhelmed’, ‘anxious’, ‘nervous’, ‘stupid’, ‘silly’, ‘useless’ and a ‘failure’ – although Facebook denies the accusations, claiming instead that the information is simply there to ‘help marketers understand how people express themselves’.

 

So where will the mood take us?

Mood marketing is another interesting form of trigger marketing and, with the right infrastructure, could open up exciting opportunities for marketeers. However, we don’t believe that all emotions can be triggers for communication – some are just normal human reactions that come and go.

We also think that the on-going debate around how we collect, store and utilise data ethically could prove a sticking point – so we’ll be keeping a close eye on developments.

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