‘Automated Voyeurism’ Invites Sellers into consumers’ homes



Product manufacturers have found an exciting new way of tracking consumer interests and practices. It is, an advertising agency president told the New York Times, “like automated voyeurism.”

Numerous entities advertise on Craigslist and elsewhere for people to take surveys and get paid for doing so. Some of those ‘opportunities’ are, no doubt, more or less on the up-and-up.

Well, you can bet good money that the likes of Chicago-based Pay Your Selfie are not just legit, they are the wave of what undoubtedly will become a trend among companies producing and advertising FMCG – Fast-Moving-Consumer-Goods – items.

The system works like this: Consumers are invited to take ‘selfies’ while they do such ordinary tasks as brushing their teeth – displaying in front of them a package or container of the sponsor’s product. Say, Crest Toothpaste.

The photos are computer-scanned to ensure they feature a legible face (and the appropriate product), then passed on to the sponsor, who then credits a small amount – perhaps $.20 to as much as $1.00– to the consumer’s account, then uses that and many other photos to assemble data on the time of day people use the product, how they do so (lots of foam, for example, while tooth-brushing) and even how they are dressed at the time.

Among other things, this data can suggest good times to advertise products, or settings to use as backgrounds for ads, or even who actors in the ads should be dressed to ‘mimic’ the behavior of members of the intended audience.

One thing discovered by Proctor & Gamble, the maker of Crest Toothpaste, is that there is a surge of tooth-brushing going on between 4-6 p.m. – suggesting people are anxious for fresh breath as they embark on ‘happy hour’ activities. This suggests the company could be well advised to promote its product on social media to coincide with that surge.

Consumers can take a one-time or periodic cash-out from one of these programs after accumulating $20 or so in their accounts. The system is set so no one can ‘double dip’ – get two photos credited for the same activity on a single day.

Aparna Labroo, a professor of marketing at Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management, told the NYT that because people participating in this picture-taking activity are in a private place, they are more likely to behave in an ‘authentic’ manner than may be the case when they are participating in a group study or another more ‘observable’ situation. Therefore, their actions are more likely to be believable, at face value, and thus more valuable to product manufacturers and advertisers, Ms. Labroo says.


One thought on “‘Automated Voyeurism’ Invites Sellers into consumers’ homes

  1. Doug, thanks for the post. We founded the company on the premise that consumers take selfies – or any picture – with the people, places and products they love. A quick selfie at the point of engagement can be very useful to brands who don’t have access to these moments. Keep up the thoughtful trends coverage!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s