Oreo had fun with the “Eat the Tweet” 3-D printed cookie robot at SXSW this year, customizing cookies based on user-submitted tweets. And Oscar Mayer recently launched the Wake Up and Smell the Bacon  app and iPhone dongle. It’s funny, we are getting used to hearing crazy stuff from marketers these days, a lot of it smartly timed and packaged to generate buzz in the newsfeed. These are wonderful and ingenious storylines dropped into the river of content consumers lap up in social media. As we say in the biz, they have “thumb-stopping power.”

So, when Apple announced a Mood-Based Ad Targeting Patent, I expected it to fall into the same category – a quirky, buzz-generating stunt or piece of clever content. But, nope. These folks say they are for real. They are going to target you based on your mood and serve you more relevant ads. No, really. It turns out, they are going to build your consumer profile, establish a baseline, monitor your behaviors, understand your outwardly expressed cues regarding mood and potentially feed in physical data from fitness trackers and health sensors. All of this will be modeled on the back-end and mapped to a range of moods they plan to leverage.

In turn, brand messaging can be delivered at a time when you are more open or (ahem, some might say) susceptible to it.

In some sense, this is just another arrow in the quiver of digital targeting afforded us by big data suppliers. This sort of mood modeling is just another signal that you, as a consumer, might be ready for a message. Demographics, context, behavior, actual purchase habits and your physical location have all been fair game for a while. This mood thing is a logical next step in the ongoing arms race to find the most efficient way for brands to get you to buy their stuff.

Is it more worrisome than tying offline credit card purchase data to your online profile? Nah, not really. Is it very different from the deep profiling and segmentation that is now available from players ranging from the likes of Google and Facebook to BlueKai and DataLogix? Probably not. The data is out there. It is already being tracked and sliced and used.

But I’ll be honest – I score it a perfect 10 on the creep-factor scale. I don’t want to think about brands and ad networks predicting my mood and serving me ads for ice cream when I’m depressed. Just seems weird. Is it more effective? I’m not so sure. I think the other targeting methods, already line items in the digital marketing scheme, can get the job done. In the CPG space, where we typically work, we are seeing great results when marrying social segmentation with credit card and shopper loyalty card data to drive actual, measurable, offline sales. We are hitting the right consumer, someone who has lapsed or who shops the category but buys the competition and then we are testing messaging and creative variations to see what moves the needle – not just with digital KPIs like engagement, but in real-world sales. Would adding a “mood filter” make it more effective? I dunno. Might be overkill.

However – I do think this whole thing shines the light on big-data targeting capabilities and Apple specifically. It certainly hit my feed. So, maybe after all, it was merely a buzz-marketing play by Apple to say, “Look at us, we’ve got the shiny new object in the big-data world.” Time will tell if it is effective.

Me? I might prefer that Oscar Mayer dongle thingy and waking up to the smell of bacon every day.

David H
David H
Vice President of Engagement

David helps clients envision how the web can improve their business and then devises a plan to achieve that vision.

It all started at First Consulting Group, where David led numerous complex projects, ranging from large-scale network upgrades to first-generation web sites for NYU. Since then he has amassed over a dozen years experience in strategic planning, web development, online marketing, web 2.0 consulting, digital PR, mobile marketing and a bunch of other stuff most people don’t understand - engineering web successes for numerous clients.

Before joining Smith Brothers, David spent seven years at Ripple Effects Interactive managing the company’s largest and most complex accounts, ultimately becoming the EVP of Strategy and Marketing. He also oversaw both the user experience and online marketing departments. He maintains a depth of knowledge with regard to usability heuristics and industry best practices across the interactive spectrum (quite a mouthful, huh?).

Throughout his career, David has worked with major brands such as American Eagle Outfitters, Coke, National City Bank, GlaxoSmithKline, Carnegie Mellon University, Cornell University and the Pennsylvania Tourism Office.

He holds a BA in Geographic Information Systems from the University of Pittsburgh and a Masters in the same ultra-techie sounding major from Ohio University.