InScope: Biometrics; the new normal

Steph Pearson, is the Director of Social & Innovation in OMD Create Sydney, leveraging channels & technology to reach audiences in meaningful ways.

Biometrics can identify you in a heartbeat. That might sound scary, but Biometrics provides an exciting opportunity to deliver innovative, human-centred advertising solutions for our clients.

So, what exactly is biometrics?

Biometrics uses unique personal traits to identify or recognise you. Everyone has unique biometric traits and these can be roughly categorised into two main types; physical identifiers and behavioural identifiers.

Physical identifiers are related to the unique shape of someone’s body, such as their face or fingerprints. Behavioural identifiers are related to a person’s individual behaviour patterns such as how you walk or how you type on a keyboard.

While physical identifiers are limited to a fixed set of human characteristics, the only limits to behavioural identifiers is the human imagination.

Behavioural identifiers can include all the different ways you behave in your world. The angle you hold your phone, what fingers you use to tap, where you go in the morning for coffee, where you drive in the afternoon for work. These all fall into the same category of behavioural identifiers.

Examples of physical and behavioural biometrics:

Biometrics information can therefore reveal a huge amount of information about you – and the ability to gather this information has never been easier.

In 2014 only 40% of smartphone models launched, featured fingerprint sensors. By 2017 this had risen sharply to 65%*, and in 2020 all devices are expected to have biometric capabilities.**


And the technology is seeing significant consumer uptake.


Biometrics is still mainly used to unlock technology, via finger prints, eyes and facial recognition through a quick tap of a finger or awkward stare into the front camera. However, consumers are becoming more and more comfortable using the technology to improve and personalise the experience they have with brands.


Innovative brands are taking advantage of this shift in consumer behaviour to not only use biometrics as an enabler of business transformation but to also:

  1. Improve advertising and content through creative testing
  2. Drive deeper connections with consumers through creativity in advertising

Examples of brands using biometrics for creative testing?

Case study: The Telegraph Branded Content

The Telegraph is a great example of using biometrics to improve its branded content creative. Rather than just using standard focus groups, The Telegraph has been using biometrics to generate entirely new sets of metrics to model KPI’s against. A great example of this, was where The Telegraph worked with Peugeot to figure out when to place products, to ensure branding occurs precisely where memories are being formed. Another, was pretesting creative variations using galvanic skin response technology to determine what creative for an entertainment brand will cause the desired response of goose bumps.

Case study: Formula One

Formula One’s research team pioneered the world’s first live, in-home, in-game, biometric engagement test for sporting events. The analysis of the data provided useful pointers to the TV production team, on how they should deploy the cameras on board the cars and how the commentators could better discuss the action on the track.

Examples of brands applying biometrics to creativity in advertising?

Case study: Petz Pet-Commerce
Physical Identifier: Facial recognition

Petz has introduced Pet-Commerce to let your pet choose the perfect toy for them. The website combines facial recognition and artificial intelligence to help dogs make their own online shopping decisions. Dogs are shown products like bones and balls and if the dog responds positively to an item, the site will then place that object in the shopping cart.

Case Study: Fill your heart with Ireland
Physical Identifier: Heartbeat

Tourism Ireland invited a couple to take a trip to Ireland, wearing custom-made heart monitors and head-mounted cameras to track their physiological responses and capture all their experiences. The data provided by these heart-rate monitors determined what footage would be featured in Tourism Ireland’s advertising and resulted in the world’s first-ever marketing campaign to use tourists’ biometric data.

Case Study: Street Vet
Physical Identifier: Urine

Purina drove innovation in OOH by building technology into billboards to analyse dog’s urine. The technology uses pheromones to attract dogs in order to get them to pee against the foot of the billboard. The billboard then runs a series of tests for health problems and will either recommend a Purina diet, or recommend that their owner takes their dog to the vet for a check-up.

People are now expecting user journeys to be tailored and personalised. Brands have looked to deliver personalisation through the collection of data such as age, gender and purchasing behaviour, however consumers have yet to see discernible benefits.

Biometrics, however, is the ultimate in personalisation. Data tied to a consumer’s emotional state allows for much more tailored interactions and deeper relationships with brands. This type of benefit may diminish consumers’ reservations to share information, while also ensuring that engagement with a brand is at a time where someone is most receptive.

Early adopters who trial the use of biometrics to deliver real consumer benefits are likely to reap the greatest benefits, so it’s imperative for businesses to think differently, be brave and do things that have never been done before in order to get their audiences attention.

Within the ever-evolving technological space, the potential application of biometric data to creativity is endless and only bound by informed consent.

So how can your next campaign leverage biometrics to find different and better ways to connect with consumers?

*Acuity Market Intelligence Sep 6, 2017
**Juniper Research
***Deloitte Mobile Customer Survey 2018 (Australia).

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