Companies and brands spend a huge amount of money each year on advertising and marketing to promote their products. Some of those ideas work, but others are a complete failure. To avoid over expenditure on campaigns that attract more negative than positive attention, the advertising sector needs to know if the strategy that a company considers good for its target audience will really work. By using some leading edge technologies, that is exactly what Cristina de la Peña's company, Synapbox, is dedicated to doing. Her novel approach to solving one of the biggest problems in the sector has made her one of the winners of the Innovators Under 35 Latin America 2018 of MIT Technology Review.
To understand how people would respond to an advertising campaign, the tool that was used the most used to be a small-scale study in which the opinion of a handful of people was obtained. Problems in the representativeness of the sample used, for example, could make the result of the campaign diverge from the conclusions of the study once it was launched to the general public.
Another shortcoming of traditional methods is the fact that people lie or simply are not completely honest when expressing their opinions and feelings, sometimes even unconsciously. Expressed opinions after participating in a study, or responses to a questionnaire, may not really reflect the effect that the advertising content has had on people.
Synapbox has managed to solve both problems through technology. The company collects, measures, and analyzes the reaction of people in real time while viewing the promotional material that a company wants to launch. "All that is needed is for the end user to follow a link in a device that is equipped with a front camera," the Mexican entrepreneur explains. This approach allows "the increase of the number of people sampled without having to take them to any room. They will simply see the advertising in their usual environment, as it would happen once the campaign has been launched," she adds.
By following the link, the user is directed to the advertising campaign while the front camera of the device is activated. The system works for different types of advertising formats, whether they consist of a video, a web page, or any other type of multimedia material. While the user sees, reads, or moves through a webpage, a series of artificial intelligence algorithms interpret the reactions according to what the camera captures.
"Technologies such as facial recognition, identification of emotions, and eye tracking offer real-time information about the reactions of users without having to answer a questionnaire of forty questions," De la Peña explains. A later analysis of all of this information determines which elements of the campaign work and which ones do not, to which people, and under what circumstances.
The success of De la Peña's technological approach is measured by its customers: Coca-Cola, BBVA, Televisa, and Samsung, to name some of the largest. The founder and CTO of SimMachines, Arnoldo Müller-Molin, winner of Innovators Under 35 Central America 2014 and jury member of Innovators Under 35 Latin America 2018, states: "[Synapbox] is the company that I would like to manage if I was not in charge of mine."