Idea #8: Emotion-targeted marketing

If you received a ‘Cheer up!’ email, hope it worked! Please let us know your reaction in a comment at the bottom of this post.

Some people see increasingly invasive advertising and marketing as being a negative trend. Future visions like this scene in Steven Spielberg’s Minority Report fill many with a cold dread in so far as their future ventures into the outside world are concerned:

Not the most pleasant of shopping trips. But couldn’t invasive, targeted advertising could actually have positive side-effects for the person on the receiving end? Sound like a dream? Not one of mine. Perhaps one of yours?

Ever dreamt about emotion-targeted marketing?

Careful now. This idea might cause too violent a jolt in the region of your nervous system that deals with advertising. There’s a chance of that. Let’s just consider the background for a moment, to postpone such an event, should one be about to occur.

Basically, the reason advertising is getting more and more personal is that as individuals our connection to the world is becoming more and more intimate. Think about it, with newspapers our great-grandparents (or whatever) got access to a lot more information than before, but companies also found a new way into the homes of consumers.

With TV, advertisers were able to regularly exhibit their wares in our sitting rooms – they could even make sure it would be placed next to a programme their target market would be watching. Now, the internet’s context-related advertising (Google Ads, Facebook Ads) almost guarantees that we are shown ads that are relevant to us as individuals. Part of the reason it’s so successful is that it’s actually becoming more useful. You are getting links to things you might actually want!

But is that all we are – creatures of want, with tasks to perform? No! Let it not be said! We have emotional needs too, and this is something advertisers have not fully recognised.

Advertisers want to be your friend so they can sell you something. But real friends are not just people we think are cool, they also do things for us. Think about when you are feeling down, what do your friends do? They try to cheer you up, right? They don’t try to sell you a product.

This is the kind of thing advertisers need to learn how to do. And learn they will, I’m sure. Now’s your chance to get in there ahead of the pack.

All right, so here’s the idea – careful with that nervous system:

Idea #8: Emotion-targeted marketing. Create a spider program or Facebook app that harvests the email addresses of people who have blogged that they feel (for example) low, down, depressed etc. Send a bulk email to the email addresses, something like this:

Hi, we noticed you were feeling down.

Here’s something to cheer you up:

All the best,

Ideas Exist

Wouldn’t that be nice to get?

Wouldn’t you visit the advertiser’s website to see who had sent you such a considerate message?

Wouldn’t you tell your friends about it, and forward the whole email to them – plus the website link – if you thought the video was funny?


Well, actually, let’s see. I sent the above email to some random people who blogged that they were feeling in a bad mood/feeling sad/feeling like shit. I just searched for the keywords manually on Google blogsearch rather than using a spider program to find thousands. (Actually, it was surprisingly difficult to find depressed bloggers over the past 12 hours!) 

Anyway, if you’re one of those people who received the email, hope it cheered you up a bit. It’d be great to hear your comments.

This idea was partially inspired by Jonathan Harris and Sep Kamvar’s great internet art project We Feel Fine. Have a look.

If you just fancy spreading a little happiness, Acts of and linked Foundation for a better life have some inspiration and tools to help.

Or have a look at the esteemed Mr. Danny Wallace’s book:

3 comments to Idea #8: Emotion-targeted marketing

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