Family TV Viewing May Be Undervalued, According to Facial Recognition Research

As Number of People in Room Increases, Distractions From Program Decrease

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Family programming may be undervalued, according to facial recognition research.

MediaHub, the media arm of Mullen Lowe, partnered with TVision Insights last spring to test their facial recognition technology, which promises to analyze second-by-second viewer engagement and attention during TV programming and commercials.

The test found that audiences were more likely to pay closer attention when co-viewing a program. As the number of people in the room increased, the number of distractions from the program decreased.

As the entire ad industry struggles to find a way to measure audience engagement, ad agencies and marketers are turning to facial recognition technology to provide another layer of insight.

The objective in many cases is to discover what creative performs better among certain types of people.

"TVision's passive analysis of TV viewer attention and reaction enabled us to understand different advertisements' effectiveness in garnering audience attention on different networks and programs in a key market," said Steve Kalb, senior VP-director of video investments, MediaHub. "While standard ratings data can tell us about viewership and household demographics, TVision takes it a step further and provides the contextual analysis to understand true TV viewability and engagement at every second, and how specific advertisements perform in terms of attention and reaction. It marries the positive aspects of both TV and digital video measurement data."

TVision uses Microsoft Kinect Sensor technology so they can not only see the TV sets that are on and the programming being watched, but also who is in the room and if they are paying attention to the TV set or doing something else. The startup has its own media center PC that's pre-loaded with its computer vision software.

MediaHub tested TVision for several clients, but declined to identify specific marketers. There were 400 people in the test, which ran in the Boston market from April to June 2015.

The test also showed that in some instances shorter is better. A 15-second spot with a strong climax outperformed 30-second commercials. For one client 15-second ads garnered four times the attention of 30-second ads when the brand, channel and program were contextually linked.

A more obvious finding -- there are a lower percentage of viewers in the the room when the TV is on during the morning hours and fewer people are engaged with the programming during that time.

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