Facebook to Monetize Instagram With Real-Time Facial Recognition Ad Targeting

May 30, 2012

Sources close to top Facebook executives have confirmed to The Daily Currant that the company is planning on using its $1 billion USD acquisition of social photo sharing app Instagram to roll out a radical new advertising platform which is capable of following users' emotions in real time and target advertisements based on how a they are feeling.

The platform - internally codenamed the Tom Parsons Project (TPP) - will "combine Instagram's vast user base and high daily use rate with advancements in facial recognition technology to connect users with products which most fit their immediate needs."

Smile, Frown, or Pout - You're on Facebook Camera

In the new TPP-enabled Instagram whilst you are taking a photo with your smartphone's  rear-facing camera the TPP software will discreetly activate the front facing camera and lock onto the image of your face. The app's facial recognition function will then record the precise positioning of your facial features and send them to Facebook's database where the firm will assign an emotion to the facial pattern and log your emotional state.

The company will then use a highly advanced algorithm which combines this new emotional data with the demographic data Facebook already has to create a near perfect ad targeting system. TPP is expected to be a significant revenue generator for the Palo Alto, CA based Facebook, and has secretly been a key selling point in valuing the company during its IPO roadshow.

Our source inside the company explains that Facebook has always seen matching ads and feelings as its best hope for revenues, and has simply been waiting for technology to catch up with its vision:

"This was kinda our original idea with the status update. Originally statuses only allowed you to choose emotions like "Sad", "Happy", "Satisfied". We thought we could target ads to how people were feeling. The problem was people often didn't want their friends to know how they were truly feeling all the time. Sometimes people would feel depressed and wouldn't even bother to update their status! So it didn't really work. We got rid of that button."

Sharing Feelings is Healthy

Reading emotions from the status page may have failed. But with the new facial recognition technology embedded into Instagram emotions cannot be faked.

If you're taking a picture of a sunset because you're sad and sunsets cheer you up Facebook will know and will make sure Merck, Pfizer, and GlaxoSmithKline's pages for their antidepressants appear in your timeline. If you're a bit drunk because its your birthday and you've just taken a picture of you and your friends Facebook will know and the next morning notification ads for hangover pills will appear on your smartphone as you reach to cancel your alarm.

And matching ads to your emotional state is just the beginning. After many weeks and months of use the TPP system will begin to notice patterns in its users' moods and should be able to accurately predict a user's emotion before it arrives.

Another top Facebook official explains how this feature could be useful:

"If you're a woman with cyclical mood issues due to the harshness of your menstrual cycle, the new Instagram should be able to accurately predict when your cycle is peaking and connect you to valuable products and services which may reduce your discomfort before your moods become a burden on others."

Privacy advocates are expected to protest the new technology, but legal experts say the method is legal in the United States so long as its disclosed in Instagram's new Terms of Service Agreement.

TPP is expected to be integrated into Instagram sometime this summer.

Wall Street analysts are bullish that once the technology is introduced, Facebook's stock price - which has cratered since its IPO - will recover.

"This is gonna make tons of money. Who wouldn't want their mobile phones recording everything they do?"

 


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