Automated Facial Coding for Online Market Research

Quantitative and qualitative online market research, conducted through focus groups and individual in-depth interviews, gives your organization valuable information about how your target audience perceives your company and its products. However, the fact remains that focus group participants still find it difficult or uncomfortable to open up completely and express how they feel when communicating with others or with a moderator. Beyond this, research suggests that often their reactions are unconscious and therefore they can’t really articulate them. Automated facial coding helps market researchers overcome these obstacles by giving deeper insight into a participant’s emotional state, as well as reactions to materials presented in audio and video formats. Understanding this technology and how it relates to your market research strategy will allow you to gather the high quality data your organization needs to improve operations and customer satisfaction moving forward.

Online Market Research

How Does Automated Facial Coding Work?

Automated facial coding works by scanning the facial features of a participant in an online focus group or interview. After the software is integrated into a study, it records the reactions and expressions of the participant and detects whether that person is smiling, concentrating, surprised, or disgusted. It does this by recognizing the human face and setting anchor points for reference in such places as the nose, eyebrows, mouth, and eyes. As a person’s expression changes, the system recognizes this and determines if their emotion fits into one of the four categories.

As a result, the researcher is able to see in real time how a participant is feeling during a discussion, in addition to getting the verbal and written responses desired. Researchers can then see all of their participants’ data and compare it to the group average responses to see the emotions that a particular advertisement or product evokes.

How Do Organizations Benefit from Automated Facial Coding?

Automated facial coding is being touted as the hottest new thing connecting neuroscience to market research. Since it benefits both quantitative and qualitative research, this technolgoy can be used to supplement online focus groups and online individual in-depth interviews. In addition to measuring emotional responses to conversations or various questions, facial coding is especially useful for applications where a moderator isn’t directly involved with the process, because this can be the time when a participant is most candid.

Playing commercials or prepared promotional videos and gauging how a person reacts in real time gives researchers unparalleled insight into what makes someone feel a certain way. When organizations are able to get data in reports and analyze them, they are able to see which aspects of their marketing strategy influence their target audience the most. This knowledge is extremely helpful for clients and for online market research providers.

The president of e-FocusGroups, David Van Nuys Ph.D., says this is but one example of the new technical tools that are increasingly available to us at e-FocusGroups to help our clients probe more deeply and creatively into respondent reactions.

Learn how your company can access even more information about your target market by using automated facial coding in your next online focus group campaign. Contact a representative at e-FocusGroups today to get started at (707) 585-7363.