Using sensors incorporated into its smart glasses to spot what the user is looking at most intensively, Google may be moving towards a new way of charging advertisers, billing them on a ‘pay per gaze’basis.
Google has for long used performance indicators for advertisers who use its platform, as a means of financing the search engine. For example cost per click (CPC) and cost per action (CPA) are ways of measuring the audience looking at advertising on the Internet. Now Google has just patented a ‘Gaze tracking system’, which has been developed for use with its smart glasses. The system will allow the company to measure performance by tracking the user’s ‘gaze’ and even – by measuring eye pupil size – his/her emotions. This invention should enable exposure to advertising, both physical and digital, to be measured, and advertisers could henceforth be billed on a ‘pay per gaze’ basis.
Optimizing ad billing with ‘pay per gaze’
The patent lodged by Google describes an integrated system of sensors and glasses which tracks the user’s gaze and sends the data on an ongoing basis to a server. Using this system of embedded cameras, Google will be able to decide which advertisements the user is looking at and for how long. Images and data can be transferred directly to the billing department, which will then invoice the advertiser. The glasses actually register every time a user looks at an ad, whether an online clip or a physical display advertisement – in newspapers, posters, magazines etc. For the moment Google is not planning to show advertising directly on the Glass interface, and has moreover forbidden app developers to sell advertising space. But other services, for example Google Now, the smart app search engine, will be opened to advertising content.
Towards measuring emotion?
“Pay per gaze” is only a first step in the development of performance measurement in the advertising sector. With this app Google can in addition measure the level of a user’s pupil dilation and thus gauge his/her emotional response. This functionality could give advertisers a much better understanding of consumer reaction to its marketing. They could then work harder on the emotional pull of their ads so as to encourage people to buy their products. Other wearable technology accessories, notably the Muse smart headband, already go some way towards measuring a user’s emotions and send the data to digital communication devices.