This Is Your Brain On Marketing
This Is Your Brain On Marketing

Brands toy with sensors to better understand their customers.

Patrick Kulp

Behind the seemingly blank gaze of every web user staring at a screen lies a wealth of data. Subtle cues—a change in palm sweat levels, a flicker of facial expression, a fleeting sideways glance—can reveal more about what people want from a web experience than they themselves can fully articulate.

Or at least that’s the bet consumer-facing brands are increasingly making with the growth of a new set of biometric technologies meant to better quantify the process of building an online user experience. Companies are using focus groups with tools and techniques previously reserved for scientific research like eye-tracking headsets, hand sensors and facial analysis to design and debug ecommerce sites, banking interfaces and other online platforms.

“Certainly in the last five years, there’s been an explosion of interest in like, ‘How can we get a little deeper in the user experience than just knowing what they click on and how often they scroll and which links they go to?’” said Mike Bartels, senior research director at Tobii, a Swedish hardware firm that makes biometric products for these and other purposes. “For a lot of companies that we work with, the lightbulb has kind of gone on.”

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March 4, 2019