Articles

Why advertisers are tracking your emojis ?

November 18, 2019


This is an ad for the 2018 Camry that Toyota
published on Twitter. They also published this one. And this one. For this one campaign, Toyota released 83
different versions of the same ad, and every version targeted different users — not based
on their gender or their age, their political affiliation or their location. The ads targeted users’ emotional states through
their emojis. A targeted ad is where a company shows their
ads to only certain kinds of people, certain people who are more likely to buy their products
or like their message. That’s why as someone who creates videos
just like this one, I see ads for Adobe’s video-making products in my Facebook feed. But in 2016, Twitter began giving advertisers
access to emoji data like who is posting what and when and which emojis are the most popular. That is totally unique compared to advertising
before this. Emojis have an emotional context paired with
them and that lets advertisers better gauge the feelings expressed in people’s tweets. With emoji targeting, every highly tailored
ad would be triggered by the emojis a user would post, in real time. Tweet a pizza emoji and Domino’s would reply
with a coupon. Tweet any emoji at Google and get a handy
link for the top search results on their platform. Tweeted a heart eye emoji today? Well, Toyota might determine that you’re feeling
positive and serve you this ad while you’re in that feel good mood. Some emojis are pretty obvious right. Smiley face, I’m happy. Frowny face, I’m sad. But you know there’s a bunch of emoji which
are much more — the line’s much more fine between what that person is actually feeling
or thinking at the time. For those emojis that express more ambiguous
emotions, advertisers can use artificial intelligence to predict if an emotion is used in a positive
negative or neutral context. Let’s look at Toyota again. In January of 2017, Donald Trump tweeted a
major criticism of the company for planning to build a plant in Mexico. After that tweet was posted, the number of
social media posts about the automaker spiked. But if you look at this chart, you can see
how people felt about Toyota not just how much they talked about it. Right after Trump’s comments, the percent
of negative posts spiked when compared to positive posts about the company. For an advertiser, knowing how people are
feeling is immensely valuable, and they can target consumers with positive feelings and
avoid those with more negative ones. Emojis are just one more tool for advertisers
to assess people’s emotions. The idea is that if the advertisers are using
it effectively going to see more relevant ads. But regardless of how relevant those ads are,
the process is never going to be fully transparent. As a consumer it’s difficult if not almost
impossible to tell what information a marketer is using to target you. Most advertisers argue that tracking the emojis
you use is no different than tracking the keywords you use on Google, because you volunteered
that information publicly. You shared that data freely with a free website
that is ad supported, you should be able to understand that the same type of thing is
going to happen on a social media platform. But consumer advocacy groups disagree. They argue that advertising to people
based on a psychological profile of their emotions is intrusive. About half of Americans
share a similar skepticism, many of whom aren’t confident that social media sites actually
protect their data. And emojis are part of that data. For all the privacy concerns, emoji advertising
is still in its infancy and though it only exists right now on Twitter, it wouldn’t be
a far leap to see multiple platforms offer a similar service in the future. And in the best case, we may get ads that give
you immediate and valuable information. Maybe you’ll post an eggplant emoji and Durex
will send you a condom emoji with 10 percent off your next purchase. Or if you don’t like your emoji data being
used, maybe you just don’t use emojis. Yeah, right.

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