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Immersion vs. Facial Coding 

Facial coding is a neuromarketing technique purported to measure emotional reactions by tracking consumers’ changing facial expressions as they engage with content or an experience.*

Facial Coding claims to make an educated guess about which emotions are being shown by a person.

What is Facial Coding?

Facial Coding is founded on academic research conducted by facial expression expert, Paul Ekman, who purports that all humans share 7 universal emotional expressions: Happiness, Sadness, Surprise, Anger, Fear, Disgust, and Contempt. Ekman adapted a system for coding the presence of these facial expressions, called the facial action coding system (FACS), and he offers a certification program where individuals can be trained to code these expressions by watching for the activation of specific facial muscles. Despite the rich history of facial coding, much of this theory has been disproven1

As a neuromarketing methodology, facial coding involves using consumers’ own webcams to record their facial reactions. These recordings are then processed using automated algorithms designed to detect movement in facial muscles linked to Ekman’s 7 universal emotional expressions.

Facial coding results are typically output in aggregate, with metrics conveying the proportion of consumers who showed each of the emotions at some point during the experience. Output also typically includes a line graph depicting the proportion of consumers who expressed each emotion at varying points of the experience. 

*NOTE: Facial Coding has been debunked by numerous studies. As one well known neuroscientist said, "if you’re trying to build software or technology to identify scowls or frowns and pouts and so on and assume that means anger, good luck." You can learn more about challenges to Facial Coding here. 

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The Benefit

Facial Coding is a relatively affordable option in terms of neuromarketing solutions. 

Facial Coding is relatively non-invasive since the cameras are simply looking at participants' faces, not drawing blood or putting on electrodes.

Some software for Facial Coding does not require participants to be in a lab environment. 

 

 

The Drawback

In recent research, experts have contested the accuracy of Facial Coding. This research indicates that facial expressions are likely a poor indicator of true emotional experiences and a weak predictor of future behavior. 

Facial Coding requires very specific environments to properly work with webcams. Consumers must watch in front of their computer, in a place with good lighting, and sit very still so as not to disturb the initial calibration.

Facial coding does not work well on non-white participants thus is not a good option for accurate market testing. 

Facial Coding can be faked. Research has found that responses can be to some extent controlled by humans and therefore the results might be intentionally or unintentionally falsified.

Due to the challenges of using individual webcams, a good portion of Facial Coding data, especially when used by software, is considered "bad data" and must be thrown out requiring companies to over-recruit to make up for the loss.

The intensity of facial expressions can vary by culture and societal norms, which can impact results. 

Dinner Party Fact for Brain Nerds:

The human face has 43 different facial muscles that work together to create over 10,000 facial expressions. Facial Coding  attempts to identify and understand 7 of these as "universal expressions". 

(Makes you wonder what the other 9,993 expressions mean...)

How Immersion is Different

Immersion is not based on what expressions are made externally while consuming content, but rather what is actually going inside the brain, second-by-second results that predict your audience’s future behavior with over 80% accuracy so you can confidently make impactful decisions.

Immersion’s data is clear, direct and provides actionable insights. Your measurements can take place in a variety of environments, improving the integrity of your results in real-world applications. 

With accurate measurements delivered within moments from your measurement - Immersion is real neuroscience that you can easily use to predict market outcomes and create better content that connects to your audience and drives action.

MEASURE IN NATURAL, EVERYDAY ENVIRONMENTS 

Immersion is ecologically valid, meaning it takes place in any environment without requiring specific context from your audience that could interrupt the integrity of their experience. Immersion is scalable to any audience size in any setting - using the smart watch they already wear. 

 

Cohesive

 

 

Improve content

 

RESULTS BASED ON RESEARCH

Immersion is based on 20+ years of research performed by experts in this field and tailored to algorithms that have been proven to predict future action based on emotional response of your audience with over 80% accuracy.

ACTIONABLE INSIGHTS

Immersion pinpoints the exact moments in your content or experience that your audience is most likely to remember. This helps predict future action based on what is happening in those moments.

Published, peer-reviewed research and client use has repeatedly shown that immersion predicts meaningful consumer behavior – like brand engagement, content recall, and purchases.

Practice

 

Facial Coding Immersion
Costs
$ $$-$$$

$ $-$$
Operations
Relatively affordable
Easy to Use
Sometimes
No observation effect
Do participants feel like they are 'being measured?'
Can be used in a variety of environments
Rather than a very specific environment with correct lighting, calibration, limited movement etc.
Nearly Instant Results
Conducted by any team member at any time
Experience Setup in under 5 minutes
Automatically produces actionable insights
Pinpoints exact moments to improve
Proven, science-backed results
Natural environment for your audience
Easy, low touch audience setup
Ability to test asynchronously at convenient times for your audience
Can scale to thousands of participants without requiring a visit to a lab or testing everyone at once.
 
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FASTER, SCALABLE TESTING

Using Facial Coding requires huge audience sizes with specific environments for testing. Immersion measures any size audience in any environment. 

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SCIENCE BACKED RESULTS

The efficacy of Facial Coding to predict emotional responses has been proven false and debunked in scientific papers as well as general media outlets. Immersion is proven to predict future action from emotional responses with over 80% accuracy. 

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ACTIONABLE RESULTS

Facial coding gives you an educated guess about  emotions but it's hard to know where to go from there. Immersion’s second-by-second measurement pinpoints exact moments in your content to improve and accelerate market outcomes.

Don't take our word for it.  Try it yourself on any video you want. Right. Now.