Pay-Per-Gaze Advertising Coming Soon?

August 19th, 2013 by Savannah McClelland

Last week, Google was granted a patent that possibly could lead to the company offering a new advertising channel: Glass. The patent was granted last Tuesday and outlines how advertisers could be charged according to the number of views an ad received through Glass, both online and offline. Google called the process “pay-per-gaze” advertising.

The patent does not mention Glass specifically; however, it does state that the “gaze tracking system” requires a “head mounted gaze tracking device” which “comprises eyeglasses” and includes “side-arms that engage ears of the user…lenses through which the user views external scenes, wherein the scene images are captured in real-time,” which sounds about like Google Glass, even though in the past Google has said that developers would be banned from displaying ads on the device—potentially because Google was already working out a system.

The patent also states that the system might identify if and when the wearer looked at ads. Not only that, but the application hints at the possibility of “inferring [the] emotional state of the user while viewing the external scenes based at least in part upon the pupil dilation information.” In layman’s terms, Google could potentially identify and collect people’s emotional responses to certain ads and perhaps would vary its charging accordingly. Even if the emotional engagement capabilities take some time to develop, Google’s patent says that it will use information such as whether the wearer looked directly at the ad and for how long, as the basis of its per-gaze charge.

Google does make sure to reassure in its patent application that “personal identifying data may be removed from the data and provided to the advertisers as anonymous analytics” and mentions the possibility of incorporating an opt-in or opt-out feature.

The possibilities opened up by the patent are certainly interesting, and if Glass—as well as other potential similar devices—becomes popular, it could certainly revolutionize advertising. But though the patent has been granted, and doubtless Google is already working towards continued refinement and implementation, it may not be successful for years yet.