Research Finds Images In Social Media Posts Reflect Another Ad Targeting Option

Teens leverage social media as a conversation space and an outlet for self-expression to a greater degree than adults do, according to researchers at Penn State College of Information Sciences and Technology, who used a combination of textual and facial recognition methods in their study. Nearly half of the photos teenagers post reflect a mood or emotion, rather than topics they like. The data shows that adults seem to demonstrate a higher ratio of posts that fall under more diverse topics like art, photos and design or location and nature, though their images still reflect emotions.The researchers also discovered that while teens post fewer photos than adults, they are more focused on posting photos that attract attention to gain followers. 

While the study focuses on how teens and adults use Instagram, marketers may want to look at the possibility of analyzing the images that reflect emotions to target ads. The researchers chose Instagram for their study because more than 90% of Instagram users are younger than 35. They define teens as being between 13 and 19, and adults as those between 25 and 39. Researchers used an API to extract users’ data, and data collection was done between April and May 2014. 



The research is particularly interesting since Google launched Photos last week at the I/O conference. Google Photos is a cross-platform service that works in a browser, as well as on iOS and Android. It reinvents the way people organize photo collections in the cloud. With users saving an increasing number of photos, finding a specific image is getting more and more difficult.

Still, Google has access to those photos to analyze and observe the way the photographer stores and shares them. The app pays attention to facial expressions to identify like photos when it creates personalized catalogs of images. Although many of those photos may not be of people, each image reflects a mood or an emotion. I'm just saying. Food for thought.

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