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Ormax Xpressive: Get ready for facial coding

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MUMBAI: Expressions say it all, and researchers for long now have been reading people’s faces to know it all. A smile, a frown, a grin and many more can’t hide the real feelings. Keeping this in mind, researchers are now using facial coding to investigate how viewers react and behave towards TV shows.

In India, Ormax Media which has launched various products to help the Media & Entertainment industry has launched a new one - Ormax Xpressive. The newest variant from the house is an automated face coding based content testing tool. It is powered by RealEyes, a Europe-based outfit who are a global thought leader in this technology.

 “Using Xpressive, Indian companies can test video content ranging from five seconds to 50 minutes. Unlike regular research, where consumers are shown the video and then asked a series of questions, this technology captures real behavourial data. It measures the second-by-second response of the audience. TV channels can use it for promo testing and pilot testing, while movies can use it for trailer testing,” highlights Ormax Media CEO Shailesh Kapoor.

What was the thought process behind launching the product, Kapoor says, “Ad testing and video content testing is a common need in the Indian M&E industry. The nature of the industry is such that there is rarely any time to do such studies, because the results are needed within 1-2 days. Ormax Xpressive gives real-time responses, and hence, is highly relevant to the industry.”

Also, since it is based on real response and not claimed response, its output is more credible. “The level of detailing facial coding data can reveal is extraordinary, as you get a second-by-second response, not just an overall response. We believe use of technology for better and more effective consumer research is important, and Ormax Xpressive is an example of our belief,” adds Kapoor.

The media insights firm piloted the product in India in February 2014 for which the technology comes from RealEyes who has a team of scientists dedicated to the best interpretation of the facial response data. “Culturally, India and the West are different, and the expression of emotions can vary. Hence, India benchmarks are critical to build. We bring in that value, as well as the ability to interpret the findings given our strong understanding of the media and entertainment consumers in India,” points out Kapoor.

The beauty of the technology is that it does not require any gadgetry. It is entirely over the webcam. Respondents watch the video and their facial expressions and captured via the webcam and then analysed in the backend by the facial coding software. Results are ready within 10 minutes.

The six basic emotions measured are happy, sad, scared, confused, disgusted and surprised. Then, there are derived parameters, the most important one of which is engagement, which measures the overall engagement levels of the content. All parameters are measured at a second-to-second level, and can be seen by demographic cuts, such as market, age, gender and SEC. Ormax Xpressive studies can be done in two ways: a test link can be sent to respondents who can take the test via their webcam, or a Central Location Testing is conducted, where respondents are invited to a venue and administered the test there via a webcam-enabled computer.

The media insights firm is targeting all media and entertainment companies, who have video content for the new product. It will be used by TV channels and film studios.

However, there are a few media analysts who believe that though it is a good initiative and has its merits, there might be a few demerits attached with it as well. For instance, they believe that the state of mind of the respondent will play an important role in a person’s facial expressions. “Today, social media listening is more important. How well this product will help the industry, we will have to wait and watch,” says a media observer.

Another media analyst agrees and adds, "The results will be subjective and hence, cannot be depended upon solely. If it compliments other parameters then it will definitely be put to a good use."

As for the future, the firm believes that the importance of research will only continue to grow as the market evolves. Technology will play a role in improving the output of research and making it more reliable and actionable. “Technology should not be used for the sake of using technology, but for a better output,” concludes Kapoor.

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